Ireland Park…not what I expected

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.

Limestone, featuring the names of Irish who died on the way to a new life.

Limestone, featuring the names of Irish who died on the way to a new life.

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.

The Beautiful sculptures at Ireland Park

The Beautiful sculptures at Ireland Park

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?

 

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4 thoughts on “Ireland Park…not what I expected

  1. This is something myself and the girlfriend are pretty excited about. We haven’t been to see it yet, but possibly this weekend we will get down to it… With the girlfriend having a masters in historical studies she will have a great interest in this, As I will for what the memorial symbolises.. I’m really looking forward to it!

    • You will enjoy it Dan. It is a really lovely tribute. It’s hard to find, so I hope the map helps. Get back in touch and let us know what you think.

  2. We went to the Ireland park today on our visit to Toronto. First we could not find it as there was no signs to say where it was, and when we got there I was so disappointed. As an Irish person, these people made your country work hard got no handouts, and this is all they get – there names you can’t even see. Please give my Irish something to be very proud of.

  3. When on Thursday, and I must say I was very disappointed and almost insulted as an Irish person… I know the history but some people might not ( as you said Teleprompters not workin). I don’t understand the list of names in a place you really can’t see them. It looks like that are lights for at night and it is probably beautiful but who in their right mind is going to go down there at night.. Last year saw the memorial in New York with give a lot of meaning this one was disappointing… Sorry

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