Bones found on Canadian beach likely to be those of Irish children from 'coffin ship' of Ireland's Great Famine
Bones washed up on a Canadian beach are likely to be those of Irish children fleeing the horrors of the famine that ravaged Ireland in the 1840s.
In 2011 vertebrae and pieces of jawbone were discovered on Quebec's Gaspe Peninsula around 500 miles away from Montreal.
Since the discovery the remains have been forensically examined by scientists and historians - now a heritage protection group say they probably belonged to children who died in a tragic ship sinking called the Carricks' in 1847.
As The Great Famine tightened its grip on Ireland more than 150 years ago - one million died and two million people fled.
Today, the population of Ireland and Northern Ireland combined is still lower than it was before Abraham Lincoln became president.
And now, remains of some of those who tried to flee have been identified on a beach in Canada.
Parks Canada said while it can't prove the connection, there are a number of factors and indicators - including the fact that they belong to children, two of whom are between seven and nine and one 12-year-old.
Parks Canada archaeologist Pierre Cloutier said: "They are witnesses to a tragic event.
"You can't have a more tangible witness to tragedy than human remains," he told the Globe and Mail.
North America was just an ocean away for those desperate to escape from famine stricken Ireland.
But for those without means problem the only way to get there were “coffin ships.”
And though they carried refugees of the Great Famine, coffin ships — illustrations of which resemble the sleeping quarters of Nazi concentration camps - were themselves deadly, claiming the lives of up to 100,000 would-be migrants, the Washington Post reports.
“These ships were packed with people,” Kathryn Miles, author of “All Standing: The Remarkable Story of the Jeanie Johnston, the Legendary Irish Famine Ship,” told NPR last year.
“Most families of four would be given a platform that was about 6 feet square. So they were sleeping head-to-toe and there was no sense of quarantine or hygiene.”
The research has also showed the bones had vitamin D deficiencies and malnourishment and are from those with a 'plant-based' diet.
Researcher Remi Toupin said the work had gone as far as possible in connecting the remains with Famine victims.
"We can't always reach absolute conclusions, but it's always our goal to go as far as possible in identifying people."
The doomed Carricks set sail from Ireland to Quebec city in 1847 but never made its destination.
The ship went down in a storm off the peninsula.
Up to 100 on board survived while 87 people perished. In 1900, a monument was erected in memory of the disaster.
In 1900 a monument was erected to memorialise the disaster.
Source Irish Independent
Belfast Telegraph Digital