Irish President Visits Nova Scotia – Fortress of Louisbourg Tour by William A. O’Shea

The President of Ireland, Dr. Mary McAleese, visited Nova Scotia from October 8-10th, 1998 as part of her official visit to Canada. 

Part of that visit to Nova Scotia was flying to Sydney from Montreal and visiting the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site.

On Thursday Mrs McAleese and her party flew from Montreal to Cape Breton, the island at the northern tip of Nova Scotia, and were driven to Fort Louisburg, a reconstruction of the 17th-century French fortress which was taken twice by the English. Its citizens were expelled to France or fled to French-held Louisiana.

The windswept fort, on a bleak promontory sticking out into the Atlantic, is now a national historic site of Canada, and the presidential party viewed various scenes from the past. Actors in period costume paraded and danced.” – The Irish Times – October 10th, 1998

Many dignitaries visited the Fortress of Louisbourg that day accompanying the Irish President. 

William A. O’Shea, Head of Historical and Cultural Resources (Parks Canada) at the Fortress of Louisbourg was tasked with giving Dr. McAleese an informative and memorable tour of the Fortress. 

“President McAleese and her husband will arrive in Sydney and visit the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site and the University College of Cape Breton. They will have the opportunity to observe the many cultural and historical links between Ireland and Cape Breton.” – News release – Province of Nova Scotia – September 30th, 1998

William A. O’Shea (Bill O’Shea) talking to President of Ireland Mary McAleese on October 8th, 1998 at the Fortress of Louisbourg in Louisbourg, Nova Scotia.

Visit of President of Ireland Mary MacAleese to Fortress of Louisbourg with Premier Russell MacLennan and Senator Al Graham 1998. (William A. O’Shea)

Visit of President of Ireland Mary MacAleese to Fortress of Louisbourg with Premier Russell MacLennan and Senator Al Graham 1998. (William A. O’Shea)

A special thanks to Helen O’Shea for contributing these photos to the O’Shea Archives.

This site is dedicated to the memory of William A. O’Shea:

William A. O’Shea was a researcher, historian, and manager for Parks Canada / Heritage Canada. His professional life was dedicated to learning more about and teaching Canada about the history of our country. One of his personal passions has always been to learn more about local histories and share them with the broader community. He was a founding member of the Louisbourg Heritage Society, Deputy Mayor of the Town of Louisbourg (Nova Scotia) and wrote many books and articles about the town of Louisbourg and the surrounding area. He called Louisbourg home for more than 30 years. Until his passing on October 14th, 2019, he resided in Cornwall, Ontario near his home town of Long Sault, Ontario. 

Bill O’Shea at the Lost Villages Museum in Long Sault, Ontario with his daughter-in-law, Mai O’Shea and grandchildren, Rina and Kai O’Shea in 2018.

This site is maintained and updated by Kevin O’Shea (O’Shea Archives founder).

Contact Kevin (email):

Twitter: @madformaple


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: