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Bytown Museum Collections and Exhibitions Manager Grant Vogl displays his tattoos which symbolize his Famine Irish ancestry and family history.

Interior shot. Close up of potato plant tattoo on left bare arm, and man’s grey shirt, with chain, barrel, and red display board in background.

My name is Grant Vogl. I am the Collections and Exhibitions Manager here at the Bytown Museum, at the Rideau Canal, in Ottawa.

But I have deeper roots in the Irish Famine history than just what is going on around us in the museum. The vast majority of my mother’s family were Famine Irish, and through ancestral research and history I have come up with many stories about those family connections.

And so digging deeper into my own family, it gave me a greater interest and greater ideas about what I could look at in terms of the history of Bytown: and the connections with both the early Irish settlers and the famine history in Canada in general, and in this area in specific.

So to commemorate that side of my family, I have a number of tattoos.

Grant Vogl points to tattoo on his left arm with his right hand.

This one is actually a potato plant that has been effected by the blight. That obviously is a direct nod to the members of my family who came to Canada during that time.

The direct line of family on my mom’s side actually came during Black 47, and were settled in York before moving up to Grey County in Ontario. So that is a direct nod to that history.

Grant Vogl touches tattoo again with his right hand, and then rotates his left arm so that another tattoo can be seen on the other side of it. This second tattoo is of the fingers of a hand holding a shamrock with waves beneath. Grant gestures towards the sections of the tattoo with his right hand as he speaks.

And then I also have on the back another piece that references the shamrock, of course, which everyone is aware of. The waves represent the Atlantic Ocean and the crossing, as well as the anchor representing the famine ships that they had to endure the travel upon.

Most of my mother’s family was from the Ulster counties, and so I have got the Hand of Ulster holding the shamrock there.

Camera pans back and up to reveal Grant Vogl’s face. He has short dark hair and a trimmed beard. In the background a museum exhibit with tools, a portrait, a silver chalice in a glass case, and display boards can be seen.

Family and family history is very important to me, and so these two pieces really allow me to remember the people that I came from and tell that story.

Final image of water with onscreen Ireland Park Foundation logo. Celtic style music playing.