Annual Irish Migration Lecture 2020

The Nineteenth Annual Irish Migration Lecture takes place today at the Centre when we welcome Dr Angela Byrne, Research Associate at Ulster University. The title of her talk “Life-writings of early nineteenth-century Ulster migrants” is the fascinating story of how she discovered the author of a diary from 1830 in the Library and Archives, Canada. It describes a journey from Derry~Londonderry to Quebec in the summer of 830, and an onward journey up the St Lawrence to Kingston and Niagara. Previously attributed to an unknown author, my research identifies the author as one David Blair Little, who died a merchant in Saint John, New Brunswick, in 1843. A combination of on-the-spot observations, later reminiscences and imagined or exaggerated scenes, the manuscript appears to have been intended for publication, and the author compares himself to James Cook, John Franklin and Mungo Park, demonstrating his engagement with romantic travel literature and the expeditionary narrative tradition.