Now that Canadian scientists have confirmed that the bones found washed up on a Quebec beach in 2011 and 2016 belonged to Irish Famine victims from the 1847 Carricks shipwreck, a minister in the Irish government is calling for them to be memorialized. 

Ireland's Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan called the confirmation a "very poignant remainder, a matter of weeks after our annual famine commemoration in Sligo, of the horror and abject suffering of that time and of the fate that awaited some of those trying to escape from it.”

In 2011, after a severe storm, the bones of three children washed ashore on the beach at Cap-des-Rosiers in Gaspé, Quebec, and in 2016, 18 more sets of remains were discovered and excavated before restoration work at the beach. 

Last week, researchers at the Université de Montréal confirmed the long-suspected theory that the bones of these 21 individuals belonged to victims of the 1847 Carricks shipwreck, which had been carrying Irish famine victims from Sligo to their new lives in Canada. 

From the painting "Below Decks" by Rodney Charman

From the painting "Below Decks" by Rodney Charman

Analyzing the chemical composition of the bones, the scientists concluded that the bones belonged mostly to women and children who showed signs of malnourishment and whose diets were characteristic of a rural population dependent on agriculture and potatoes in particular. 

The ship, carrying 180 passengers, departed from Ireland in March 1847, under the command of Captain R.Thompson. It was carrying emigrants ejected from the Irish estates of Lord Palmerston, whose agents had chartered the ill-equipped boat to get rid of them.

Read More: Heartbreaking artwork depicting Great Hunger coffin ships now on display

On April 28, 1847, the ship ran into a severe storm in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and was wrecked about four miles east of Cap-des-Rosiers. It was headed to the quarantine station at Grosse Isle and then the Port of Quebec when it sank. 

Of the approximately 180 on board, 47 people are known to have survived and either settled in the area or continued their journeys to Quebec or Montreal. To date, 87 bodies of those who perished have been found. 

Read More: Children’s bones from Irish Great Hunger discovered on Canadian beach

Minister Madigan stated: “I have asked my officials to liaise with their colleagues in Parks Canada on this discovery, to see in the context of our recent international twinning, what appropriate memorial and mark of respect can be organized,” she said. 

According to the CBC, locals, many of whom have Irish ancestry, have long considered the beach to be a mass grave of the shipwreck victims. 

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I love unplanned stops that end up having a mini history lesson! We didn't know about this site when we had set off driving that morning. I was the one who spotted it and became adamant that we must turn around and check it out. The history of the site is that it's a memorial for those who died on an immigrant ship, the Carricks of Whitehaven, sailing from Ireland to Canada during the Great Famine in 1847. The ship, carrying 187 passengers, went down off the coast of Cap-des-Rosiers. 87 people perished and 100 survivors were taken in by the townspeople. The cross was offered as the Carricks Monument in 1900 by the St. Patrick's Parish in Montreal. In 1966, the bell of the ship was found in Blanc Sablon and was enshrined next to the original monument. The plaque was put on the bell in 1977 by Canadian Parks Service and gives a brief history. . . . #forillonnationalpark #gaspé #capdesrosiers #québec #canada #gulfofstlawrence #stlawrence #explorequebec #explorecanada #parkscanada #nikon #nikonphotography #nikoncanada #historyfacts #history #livelovecanada #neverstopexploring #getoutside #goexplore #visitcanada #visitquebec #quebecregion #quebecoriginal #tourismequebec #tourcanada

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A memorial to the Carricks victims was erected in 1900 at Forillon National Park, which overlooks the beach, gifted from St. Patrick’s Parish in Montreal to the Cap-de-Rosiers parish church. The ship’s bell, which was found on September 24, 1968, on the beach at Blanc-Sablon on Quebec’s North Shore, is located next to the monument, and a plaque was placed by the Canadian Parks Service in 1977. 

The remains will be buried near the monument this summer, with further details about the ceremony and memorialization to come. 

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Irish Famine survivors at Grosse Île, where the Carricks ship had been heading. GROSSE ÎLE AND THE IRISH MEMORIAL NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE