Canadian Prime Minister Meets Irish Palatines

Members of the Rathkeale-based Irish Palatine Association (IPA) travelled to Ontario, Canada, in early September and met the Canadian Prime Minister, Steven Harper, and his wife, Laureen Teskey-Harper.

The Irish tour group joined fellow German, Canadian, American, British and Australian members for a 10-day tour of the sites where Irish Palatines settled and established farms in the second half of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Irish Palatine Assoc-iation was established in 1989 to encourage and develop a sense of identity among Irish Palatine families and their descend-ants throughout the world, and to forge links with their ancestral homeland in Germany.

Austin Bovenizer, chairman of the Irish Palatine Association and other group members including Lorna Shier, Foynes, Philip and Barbara Bingham, Limerick and Christy Switzer of Tralee were joined by the Canadian Prime Minister’s wife, Laureen, for part of their tour of the settlements, and given a special tour of Canada’s Parliament Buildings by Mrs. Harper.

Mrs. Harper introduced the group members to her husband, the Canadian Prime Minister, and later hosted a tea party at the Prime Minister’s residence on Wednesday 11th Sept-ember, in the Canadian capital, Ottawa.

During the 10-day tour the group heard a number of guest speakers on subjects of Irish Palatine interest. Austin Bovenizer, chair-man of the Irish Palatine Association was invited to speak about his early days living in the Irish Palatine colony of Killeheen in Co. Limerick and received the Eula C Lapp Award for his work with the Association.

The Eula C Lapp award recognizes those individ-uals who have made a significant contribution to Irish Palatine genealogy. It is presented periodically by the Special Interest Group of descendants of the Upper Canada pioneer families who emigrated from the German Palatinate to Ireland in 1709.

Mrs Teskey-Harper said that she hopes to visit the Irish Palatine Museum in Rathkeale at some stage. She joined part of the tour and visited a settlement called Appleton, once known as Teskeyville, where the Irish Palatine pioneers Joseph and Robert Teskey founded a saw mill.

The group toured Joseph Teskey’s house and met descendants of the Irish Palatines in other settle-ments who hosted a number of dinner parties for the group. These included the Shier family in Brock Township, the Switzers of Switzerville and Doupe and Shier descendants in Kirkton.

The group also visited places associated with the Delmages, Millars and other families of Irish Palatine descent, as well as the Blue Church at Prescott founded by the Ballin-grane-born Barbara Heck – the mother of North American Methodism. She is buried in the churchyard where a monument stands to mark her achievement.

The group visited Centen-ary United Church in Hamilton which is named in honour of the 100th birthday of Methodism in North America as well as several of Canada’s major tourist spots such as Niagara Falls, and the cities of Ottawa, Kingston and Toronto.

For further information and to support the Assoc-iation visit