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Whispers from the Past: Tracing the History of Ireland's Eye, Newfoundland

Updated: Apr 30

In the rugged coastal beauty of Newfoundland, where the Atlantic Ocean crashes against ancient cliffs, lies a place that resonates with whispers from centuries gone by. Ireland's Eye, a small island off the eastern coast of Newfoundland, holds within its rocky embrace a rich tapestry of history, mystery, and legend. From the resilient footsteps of early settlers to the poignant echoes of Indigenous peoples who once roamed its shores, Ireland's Eye stands as a testament to the resilience and diversity of Newfoundland's past. Join us on a journey as we delve into the layers of time, uncovering the untold stories and forgotten secrets that lie beneath the windswept surface of this enigmatic island. From its earliest inhabitants to the present day, Ireland's Eye offers a glimpse into a world shaped by the forces of nature and the resilience of those who called it home. Embark with us as we unravel the captivating history of Ireland's Eye, Newfoundland, and discover the whispers of the past that still linger in the salty sea air.


This will be a very short blog post as there is not a lot of information about Ireland's Eye available online.

 

Nestled at the entrance to Smith Sound, Trinity Bay, Ireland's Eye flourished as a vibrant fishing community from its early days, attracting planters as far back as 1675. Its strategic location made it a prime hub for the inshore cod fishery, sustaining a thriving population that peaked at 157 residents in 1911. Throughout the decades, the island buzzed with the energy of maritime life, its shores echoing with the rhythms of fishermen hauling in their daily catch. The Church of England Church, a prominent landmark, stood as a symbol of the island's predominant religious denomination, serving as both a spiritual sanctuary and a communal gathering place for its inhabitants.


Despite its prosperous past, Ireland's Eye faced challenges as Newfoundland underwent significant changes in the wake of Confederation. With the nearest road connection situated over 13 kilometers away in New Bonaventure, and the decline of the once-booming fishery post-1949, the island's isolation became increasingly pronounced. As economic opportunities dwindled and modern conveniences remained out of reach, the population began a steady decline. In 1959, under the provincial government's centralization program, resettlement efforts intensified, prompting many residents to bid farewell to their ancestral home in search of better prospects elsewhere.


By 1966, the once-thriving community had dwindled to a mere 16 residents, marking a poignant chapter in Ireland's Eye's history. Abandoned homes and weathered structures bore witness to the island's gradual decline, serving as silent reminders of a bygone era. Despite its diminished population, Ireland's Eye remains steeped in the echoes of its past, offering a glimpse into a time when life revolved around the sea and the rhythms of nature. Today, as visitors explore its rugged shores and crumbling ruins, they uncover not just the story of a community lost to time, but the resilience of a people who once called this windswept island home.

 

  1. St George's Anglican Church- ca. 1960

  2. Ireland's Eye- 1950

  3. Joseph and Elizabeth Hodder on their flake at Ireland's Eye- ca. 1950

  4. Drying cod on flakes- 1960

  5. Visiting Black Duck Cove- ca. 1973

  6. House of Max Watton being moved to Trinity East- 1965

  7. Llewellyn Toope's abandoned house and twine store- ca. 1989

  8. Post office- ca. 1989

  9. St George's School- ca. 1989

  10. Ireland's Eye from across the harbour- ca. 1989

 
 

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As we bid farewell to the windswept shores of Ireland's Eye, Newfoundland, we are reminded of the resilience of its people and the echoes of their stories that linger amidst the crumbling ruins. Though time may have dimmed its once-bustling vitality, the island remains a testament to the enduring spirit of Newfoundland's coastal communities. As we reflect on the whispers of the past carried on the salty sea breeze, we honor the legacy of those who called this rugged landscape home, ensuring that their memories endure for generations to come.

 
Spring scene with vibrant green grass, a mountain in the background and colorful flowers in the foreground


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