Being a bit of a history nerd, especially in regards to our fair country, I was excited by the news that flooded social media last week that Ireland Park had reopened in Toronto.
Imagine the thrill too when my family who were visiting from home agreed to take a walk to see the park. I was all geared up to learn about the first Irish immigrants who paved the way for us after fleeing during the Great Famine of 1847. The Park is a tribute to the 38,000 Irish who arrived in Toronto that summer when the city’s population was a mere 20,000, and a commemoration to the 1,100 who did not survive and died upon their arrival.
The park, whilst in theory is a great idea is really hard to find (that is I walked past it twice). If you do want to find it however, here is a map.
The setting is symbolic, due to its historical significance to the famine—just west of Reese’s Wharf, where the immigrants landed, and just south of the intersection of Bathurst and Front Streets, where the sick and dying newly arriving Irish were treated in fever sheds.
But I was disappointed by the fact that this touching tribute was stuck out the back of an ugly malting factory. Once you get past all this however, you are left with a genuinely touching and emotional scene. The scene includes five sculptors all telling different stories about the new arrivals. The Jubilant man, The Pregnant Woman, Woman on Ground, The Orphan Boy, and The Apprehensive Man. Now I’m not an art critic but these depictions really capture the emotion that these people felt and as knob-y as this sounds, I felt very patriotic and emotional seeing it.
I was amazed at the list of names carved in the limestone at Ireland Park, a list that the foundation searched and grew from 30 -675. On the day I visited there was a teleprompter, but it wasn’t working (typical Irish fashion) so we had to research ourselves. Hopefully this is something that can be fixed to encourage more people to make the trip down.
I would recommend it as a way to pass a few hours of a Sunday and to learn more about the people who came before us.
Have you been? Let us know your thoughts?