Event Information

Admission: £12 (£10 concession for students, unwaged and senior citizens) - Includes registration, morning coffee/tea, lecture and finger buffet lunch. 

Location: Mellon Centre for Migration Studies at the Ulster American Folk Park

Tickets: https://mellonmigrationcentre.com/events/life-writings-of-early-nineteenth-century-ulster-migrants/

In this talk, Dr Byrne will reconnect Little to his native Ulster and demonstrate how she established his authorship of the journal. Dr Byrne will then examine the connections between his manuscript and published exploration narratives to offer some broader reflections on the potential of shipboard narratives and personal testimonies to enrich understandings of the nineteenth-century migrant experience.

This manuscript in Library and Archives Canada describes a journey from Derry-Londonderry to Quebec in summer 1830, and an onward journey up the St Lawrence to Kingston and Niagara. Previously attributed to an unknown author, Dr Byrne’s research identifies the author as one David Blair Little, who died a merchant in Saint John, New Brunswick, in 1843. 

A combination of on-the-spot observations, later reminiscences and imagined or exaggerated scenes, the manuscript appears to have been intended for publication, and the author compares himself to James Cook, John Franklin and Mungo Park, demonstrating his engagement with romantic travel literature and the expeditionary narrative tradition.


Dr Angela Byrne is a historian specialising in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with particular focus on cross-cultural encounters and the experiences of women and migrants in the past. She is Research Associate at Ulster University and, in 2018–19, was the inaugural DFAT Historian-in-Residence at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum. She is author of Geographies of the Romantic North (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), A Scientific, Antiquarian and Picturesque Tour: John (Fiott) Lee in Ireland, England and Wales, 1806–1807 (Routledge for Hakluyt Society, 2018), and many articles and book chapters on the histories of travel and exploration, the Irish abroad, and women in the sciences. She has previously held lecturing and research positions in University of Toronto, University of Greenwich, Maynooth University, and the Royal Irish Academy, as well as visiting fellowships at Cambridge University, the All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature (Moscow), and the Huntington Library (Los Angeles).