The Irish Trail leads to St. Patrick’s Church

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Photo: Mike Noonan

Mike Noonan was chosen as Valedictorian in 2009, resportedly was one of the fi rst to be Valedictorian from the Irish community of Québec. He and two other Laval students collaborated on the Irish Trail, a short film about the Irish presence in Québec.

As many as 40 percent of the people now living in Quebec City have at least some Irish blood, a fact not lost on Michael-James Noonan and two of his fellow classmates at Laval University.

"Being Irish and raised in Quebec, often the French students would call us ‘Les Anglais,'" said Noonan, 31. "I wanted to show that those who speak English are more than just English."

Noonan, who graduated last year, got his chance two years ago when he teamed up with classmates Julie Boisseau and Jessica Hutchings in a course called Pedagogy III. Boisseau and Hutchings are finishing their studies "as we speak," Noonan said.

"The professor asked us to do a project that could be used in class," said Noonan. "It could have been a comic strip, a movie, a documentary."

The result was a nine-minute film called The Irish Trail, which was shown Monday at St. Patrick's Church on rue de Salaberry.

The occasion was an event sponsored by Irish Heritage Quebec, where those in attendance saw interviews with such local Irish luminaries as John O'Connor and the late Marianna O'Gallagher.

"They were at Laval together," said IHQ's Joseph Lonergan, "and they had to put together this educational video and they got together to do this video on the Irish contribution to Quebec."

Nearly everyone in the Irish community is familiar with the contributions of O'Gallagher, who passed away this past spring. She was involved in nearly everything Irish in the city in addition to being the author of numerous books.

Not so many are familiar with the extent of the Irish contribution to the city's development.
"I'm trying to bring out the fact that a lot of the community that speak English are not English but Irish," Noonan said.

Noonan said the Irish presence here is so strong that he could have made a 60-minute film on the subject. He, Boisseau and Hutchings had to cut over 60 percent of what they shot. Even at that, they had to negotiate an extra two minutes with their professor to exceed the original limit.

"I took it with a passion," said Noonan, who now teaches ESL at Polyvalante de L'Ancienne Lorette, where he has over 90 pupils.

Still, when reflecting on the finished product of his collaboration on The Irish Trail, Noonan is not satisfied.
"I would love to make the complete version, all 60 minutes," he said.