The Carricks shipwrecked en route to Canada

18th May 1847
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On May 18, 1847, the brig "Carricks of Whitehaven" a famine coffin ship (carrying tenants from Lord Palmerston’s estates in the northwest of Ireland) sunk after striking a reef near Cap-des-Rosiers, Canada. Of the 173 passengers on board - all fleeing the Great Irish Famine - only 48 reached the shore alive.

In March 1847, the brig The Carricks of Whitehaven, under the command of Captain R.Thompson, sailed from the port of Sligo bound for Quebec. It was loaded with emigrants from the Irish estates of Lord Palmerston aka Henry John Temple, III (1784-1865), an absentee landlord with immense estates in Ireland, and one of Britain’s most powerful politicians. Of 176 passengers, nine had already perished during the 28-day voyage.

On the 28th April she ran into a severe storm in the Gulf of St Lawrence and was wrecked about 4 miles east of Cape Rosier. 

"After a rough and uncomfortable passage of 23 days, the captain missed his reckoning in a blinding snowstorm, and in the darkness of the night, struck the cruel cape. One stroke of the angry wave swept her clean. Comparatively, few were saved, after hours of cold, hunger and fear such as may be imagined.

The inhabitants came to the rescue and treated the pitiable survivors with kindness. Truly the beach presented a gruesome spectacle the following day, strewn for a mile and a-half with dead bodies. For a whole day, two ox carts carried the dead to deep trenches near the scene of the disaster.

In autumn the heavy storms sweep within sound of the spot. Thus peacefully, with the requiem of the waves and winds they rest. In recent years, a monument has been erected to their memory by the parishioners of St. Patricks in Montreal. Alas! This is only one of the many sorrowful tales which are related to Cap de Rosier.”

Numbers of those lost vary with different reports, but it appears that 119 died after the wreck, leaving 48 survivors. Of the crew, all survived except for one boy.

Letter from Captain R. Thompson [The Liverpool Mercury 29 June 1847] 

CAPE ROSIER 19th MAY, 1847.

“I am sorry to inform you that the brig Carricks, was wrecked about four miles to the eastward of this place… out of 167 passengers, only 48 reached the shore. The crew, except one boy, were all saved.”

Cap-des-Rosiers is on the edge of the Gaspé Peninsula (to the far northeast of Montreal)

Despite the horrific family tragedy, a few Kaveneys would survive to become the French-speaking Kavanaghs of Gaspé. Their story was preserved for five generations. 168 years later, Georges Kavanagh and his family reversed the journey home…