It’s touted as the best corned beef and cabbage in the Maritimes — and you can only get it twice a year, on St. Patrick’s Day and during the annual Irish Festival in Miramichi in the summertime.
“We have people coming from Moncton, Bathurst, Nova Scotia, Ontario, P.E.I. — they come from everywhere,” explained Renee Smyth, treasurer of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 3.
Given the lineup that stretches out the door every time, it’s hard to argue with the group of legion members who’ve been putting on the traditional Irish feast for more than 20 years.
Miramichi has staked claim to the title of being “Canada’s Irish capital” — a title the city takes very seriously. It’s even written in bold letters on their water tower.
In the 1800s, the area saw many migrants escaping the Irish famine. Many settled on Middle Island (a quarantine area) when they first arrived, and many of the families that call the region home can trace back their ancestry to that time.
“All of the sudden some other communities — I won’t mention their names — started to try to take over the ‘Irish Capital of Canada,’ but they can’t take it from the Miramachi,” explained Tim Hoban, scooping out vanilla ice cream at the legion.
To back up their claims, locals enlisted the help of their Member of Parliament, Pat Finnigan — with a name like that, it’s clear he too has Irish roots.
“Truly this is the Irish capital of Canada, I will vouch for that anytime,” said Finnigan with a laugh. “It’s not debatable this is where it’s at. Even the Irish will tell you that!”