Flight from Famine


Winner of the 1991 QSPELL Prize for Non-fiction

One of Canada’s founding peoples, the Irish arrived in the Newfoundland fishing stations as early as the seventeenth century. By the eighteenth century they were establishing farms and settlements from Nova Scotia to the Great Lakes. Then, in the 1840s, came the failures of Ireland’s potato crop, which people in the west of Ireland had depended on for survival. "And that," wrote a Sligo countryman, "was the beginning of the great trouble and famine that destroyed Ireland."

Flight from Famine is the moving account of a Victorian-era tragedy that has echoes in our own time but seems hardly credible in the light of Ireland’s modern prosperity. The famine survivors who helped build Canada in the years that followed Black ’47 provide a testament to courage, resilience, and perseverance. By the time of Confederation, the Irish population of Canada was second only to the French, and four million Canadians can claim proud Irish descent.


QSPELL Prize for Non-fiction


The Irish were nothing if not resilient, and MacKay peppers his book with little anecdotes linking past and present...MacKay's book is a delight to read because as a historian, he knows that the best way to engage readers is by telling the stories of ordinary people-and he does a superlative job of it.

Calgary Herald, The

"(Flight from Famine) is a story of survival, courage and, above all, hope."

"An intriguing and comprehensive history, Flight From Famine is highly recommended for scholarly collections."

About the Author

Donald MacKay

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014

Donald MacKay

Donald MacKay has had a forty-year career as journalist, broadcaster and author. Born and educated in Nova Scotia, he was a wartime merchant seaman, reporter for Canadian Press, covered stories in a dozen countries for United Press International, was chief European correspondent for UPI Broadcast Services in London, and general manager of UPI in Canada for five years before turning to writing books. Donald MacKay passed away on August 11, 2011.