How to become part of the Irish Community in Toronto

You’re new to the city, house and job sorted but now you want to join the Toronto Irish community, make new friends and develop a sense of self in Toronto, But how do you get started?  After four years of living in Toronto, I’m still finding out about a broad range of groups with whom you can get involved. This weekend I had the pleasure of going to The Irish Person of the year Celebration, and I got to meet immigrants who came in the 50’s/60’s 80’s as well the newer immigrants, chatting to these people allowed me to see how successful you can be in Toronto and hearing how they kept their links to home was inspiring. Hence this list which attempts to highlight organisations that are out there. Obviously I’ll miss a few, so If you want to add any please let me know….

You can tune into the local Irish Radio programmes (Yip they exist!) to hear about local events in the Irish community and about groups and organisations

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There we are now…on the wireless 🙂

Saturday Mornings with Ceol agus Craic AKA Mark and Ken, broadcast live at 11AM EST on AM 1430 every Saturday morning.

Sunday Mornings with Mr Hugho Straney, Hugho brings us songs from home every Sunday   10am-11 am on AM 1540.

Toronto GAA: This is probably the most obvious way to get involved in the Irish Community, there are teams all over the city and they are always looking for new members. The GAA recruits members from all ability levels and even if you don’t get involved, its great craic to head out the the park on a Sunday just to cheer the on You can find out more here

Darkness into Light Toronto: The Toronto DIL will take place once again from the Jack DIL75Layton Ferry Docks to Ireland Park and back again on May 6th beginning at 5a.m.Our ultimate goal is to get 1,000 people walking this year. The demographic for this extraordinary event is quite special in that it truly gathers people of all ages, plenty of new arrivals as well as the more established Irish in the city. Taking part in this family orientated event is the first step in eradicating the stigma around suicide and mental health because for the children who take part, the conversation has already begun. In Toronto we work with the local charity Progress Place who work tirelessly to help people – free of charge – with mental health issues. In addition to the annual walk, Toronto DIL holds events throughout the year from table quizzes to skate nights, keep and eye on Facebook to learn of upcoming events

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Toronto Irish Players: The Toronto Irish Players (TIP) was founded by a group of new

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Some of the TIP gang. Photo from FB

Irish immigrants in 1975 and is Toronto’s only Irish community theatre group.  Over the last 40 years, they have produced more than 80 plays, connecting Toronto’s Irish community and sharing Irish heritage with Toronto audiences by presenting classic and modern works from Irish playwrights. TIP has strives to bring the numerous sides of Irish theatre to Toronto. For forty years TIP has seen friendships forged and tested, bonds created, immigration and emigration, and more than one family has multiple generations become part of TIP, while they welcome new members every year. If you wan to learn more about TIP, have a look at their website 

The Ireland Canada Chamber of Commerce: The Chamber’s community involvement includes: a monetary contribution to Ireland Park, support for many community organisations, and assistance for new immigrants through networking opportunities. They are connected to a number of groups and associations and serve as our membership’s voice in the business community in Canada and Ireland. The ICCCTO provide networking events that are ideal for business and socialising. If you are a new immigrant or have been here for years they can provide the venue for this.

Ireland fund of Canada:-The Ireland Fund of Canada, is part of the largest worldwide network of people of Irish ancestry and friends of Ireland, and is dedicated to raising funds to support programs of peace and reconciliation, arts and culture, education and community development, in all of Ireland and in Canada. The Canadian Ireland fund was established in 1978 by Hilary Weston. The Ireland Funds worldwide have raised over $500 million dollars to fund projects in Ireland and in the countries where the funds were raised. Here in Canada, the Ireland Fund over the past 10 years has contributed around $2.5 million to projects in Ireland and in Canada.  Young Ireland fund of Canada hold networking events for young professionals in the city. You can find out more about IFC young Leaders or by emailing jnoonan@irelandfunds.org

The Irish Cultural Society of Toronto: Aims to stimulate interest in, promote, sponsor and foster Irish culture in all its forms, be it historic, linguistic, music, drama, dance, sport or other forms of artistic entertaining or educational expression. They promote mutual understanding and goodwill among the members of the Society. They also sponsor  and conduct activities the Society deems advisable to maintain, develop, promote and foster the Irish cultural heritage in Canada.

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Louise with her Rose of Tralee sponsors, The Irish Embassy.

The ICST are partnered with the Rose of Tralee and if you are interested in representing Toronto in the upcoming Rose of Tralee you can find information here.

CraicTo had a rose last year, Louise. She said of the experience “Great experience – 10/10. Everyone should do it if they can. Not only did I have a great time but I know my friends and family had a lot of fun too. To be honest I was not looking forward to the competitive aspect of the contest or meeting the other contestants. But I was happily surprised to find out my preconceived notions were incorrect. All the contestants were sincerely nice and friendly. There was little to no competitive nature amongst us, after the first meeting. Throughout the contest I met some really interesting people and made some genuine friends along the way. I think it’s a great way to get involved with the Irish community here in Toronto and to make some friends!”

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Irish design house interior. Image from Facebook

Irish Design House: I know technically not an organisation but a great way to meet some Irish as well as develop a new hobby. Sinéad at the Irish design house has a sewing school The Green Seam that teaches you everything you need to know about sewing and pattern making. Based in a quaint sewing studio in Toronto’s east end in the beautiful Riverside neighbourhood where you can receive one-on-one attention in sewing, pattern making, pattern cutting and all the skills needed to design and manufacture your own garment. Classes can cater for beginners and start with the very basics, and also for those with experience who may need assistance with a particular project.

You can find out more here or email hi@thegreenseam.com.

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DIL at St Patricks day parade

St Patricks day Society: The St. Patrick’s Parade Society are the custodians of a tradition to
celebrate Ireland’s history, culture and heritage through entertainment. They are a not for profit event staging organization responsible for The Grand Marshal Ball and The St Patrick’s Day Parade. They call for volunteers to join in the parade every year, contact them 

If you are an organisation or if you know of any that I’ve missed, Please get in touch. S xx

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A Second a Day, For One Year In Canada

During my time here in Toronto, I have found comfort in meeting and chatting to people from “home”. These initial conversations I have with new faces are all the same (admit it, we all do it) “So how long have you been here?” “How do you find it?” You know the ol’ speel yourself. So imagine how delighted I was when I discovered this video whilst on my morning commute.

The video; which David gave us permission to use, charts his second year in Toronto.

He says of the video; “Before I turned 24, I was building up my career and working long hours, as well as exploring my new home in Toronto in my free time. I wanted to capture my time in Toronto and take on a fun project outside of work. I also wanted to show family and friends back home an updated view of my life, as I don’t get the chance to go home as often as I should.”

Taking inspiration from Kent Frost’s “Just A Second” video, David decided that this would be the best way to capture and share his new and exciting life.

Watching his video it’s amazing to see how much actually happens in a year. David’s Journey around Canada and the US, starting his YouTube channel and a Proposal! I’m definitely inspired to take on a similar project, what a great way to share your experiences with your family in Ireland.

Thanks for sharing David

S xx

Irish Canadian Immigration Centre: Meeting the needs of the newly arrived Irish to Canada

So most of you will have heard about The Irish Immigration centre, If you haven’t you’re missing out on a valuable resource available to the newly arrived Irish in Canada, hey their aim is to MEET THE NEEDS OF NEWLY ARRIVED IRISH TO CANADA-Thats us!ICIC_logo

The Irish Immigration Centre was established in December of 2011 and they offer outreach and information in areas such as employment, social services, and immigration.

They are a not-for-profit organization, which means that they help and services they provide are free of cost. Exactly what us new arrivals need. I have very recently had the opportunity to meet the staff and they are so knowledgeable on all things Canada and are willing to help and advise even though you stop them at a social event. I’m obviously not suggesting you start harassing these guys when they are out and about. (You can contact them here.)

The Irish Immigration Centre have also got involved in helping people who are in crisis for whatever reason.

They have compiled and provided this information, to those of us who may be in need of support.

You can access Crisis Information here

Please do not hesitate to avail of this resource, as always let us know your experience.

S xx

Things you never thought you’d miss about home

Having just returned from my first trip home after a colossal 18 months here in Toronto, I have rediscovered all of the things that I never thought I would miss about home.  In no particular order….

1. Yer mam’s nagging. Have you eaten enough? Have you threw in your washing? All phrases that used to induce much eye rolling, however after returning home, these phrases are a source of much comfort and are normally followed up with food being cooked, or washing being not only washed, but folded and put away. God bless Irish Mam’s

Irish mam's the pioneer of washing your face, by spitting on their sleeve!

Irish mam’s the pioneer of washing your face, by spitting on their sleeve!

2. Snow days. Was there anything more joyful, than getting the school bus in the snow in Ireland?! Knowing that at some point the driver was going to meet a road that the gritter didn’t get to, the bus would have to be turned and the whole thing would be dropped back at home. Even if your driver was a persistent one, inevitably you would get to school, the nuns wouldnt turn on the heat and you’d have to go home any way (true story)

Turn the bus, open your lunch...It's a snow day!

Turn the bus, open your lunch…It’s a snow day!

3. Tea. Only in Ireland can you order a tea out and not be greeted with an array of variations. In Ireland Tea means tea, not Earl Grey, or English breakfast or Orange Pekoe, or any of the fancy fruit sorts.

The fact that this exists is testament to our tea love!

The fact that this exists is testament to our tea love!

4. Our Slang. Acting the maggot, Banjaxed, Chancer, Pure Lured, Lashed, Divil, Eejit, Melter, Header, Langers, Manky, Nip, Shifting, Shenanigans, Throwing shapes. Etc etc etc

A handy slag guide

A handy slag guide

5.Pennys/ Primark. A place once loathed by teenage girls all over the land, Penney’s other wise know as Primark becomes a mecca once we have to start buying our own clothes and by God do we miss it! You just don’t get the same sense of pride from a compliment on your new top if you can’t follow it up with “Fiver! Primark!”

Penny's aka Mecca

Penny’s aka Mecca

6.Quoting Father Ted to people who actually appreciate it. ‘I’m putting you on my list of enemies’ is taken very literally by our new Canadian friends, try explaining to them that is a quote from a fictional priest know as Fr. Noel Furlong.

What's the point?! they just don't get it!

What’s the point?! they just don’t get it!

7. Do ye know such and such? “No there are lots of Sean O’Neill’s in Ireland of course I don’t know him”, even though you do. In fact hes either related you to or you’ve shifted him!

Did yer hear about yer wan?!

Did yer hear about yer wan?!

8. Not having to censor yourself. “F#@k I’m dying” is not an acceptable response to your boss’s morning greeting of “how are you?”

Careful now!

Careful now!

9.Giggling at place names. Where else in the world can you dive in Muff? eat a slap up meal in Trim? and freeze yer ass off in Ovens?

we know its immature, but teheheheehe

we know its immature, but teheheheehe

10. The local. The bar man knows your drink, your family and probably more than he should about your personal life. Whats not to love?!

A local legend!

A local legend!

What’s your thoughts, did I miss anything? What is it that you lot miss most about home? 

S xx

Must Watch: To go out or stay in? That is the question!

Any one who has been in Toronto for a winter will know that the decision to go out is especially difficult. Your wardrobe is completly different, you can wear heels but you do so at you own risk of either

a. Having your feet frozen or

b. Loosing you balance as a result of the heel, wine and ice.

How much did we laugh then,  when we saw this Facebook post from Alice Diver 

This is one seriously funny lady and I have to say her observations of us Nordy ladies is spot on!

 

Check her out folks

S xx

A Great Breakfast Bite in the heart of Yonge & Eglinton

It’s hard to beat a decent fry! This is especially true after a tough night on the sauce and a plate full of grease is the only cure.

In fact right behind family & friends, a decent rasher was one of the biggest things I missed from home (yes Mam, I am comparing you to a slice of bacon!).

But salvation came one particularly hungover Sunday morning when myself and the other half stumbled across Good Bite restaurant.

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This no-frills, old school diner is based in the heart of the Yonge/Eglinton neighbourhood which is home to a lot of the Irish living in Toronto.

Based at 2463 Yonge Street since 1969, the family-run restaurant has been the go-to breakfast destination of many locals in the area for almost five decades!!! And after 45 years serving up eggs, bacon and pancakes to a loyal legion of repeat customers, we reckon they know a thing or two about that all important first meal of the day.

The line of people waiting to get in the door every Saturday and Sunday is obvious proof of this joint’s popularity.

Comfy booths, friendly waitresses who are constantly running over to fill up your coffee cup and hearty meals, make Good Bites a homely option on a street over-flowing with fussy, over-priced restaurants.

If you are looking for a replica of an Irish-style fry-up, this place won’t deliver. But if you are looking for a great Canadian equivalent of the cooked breakfast, we highly recommend taking a trek to Good Bite.

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One reviewer described it as ‘one of the last great diners of Toronto‘ and we couldn’t agree more.

Don’t expect a pretty, hipster cafe…this it most certainly ain’t! But it delivers the goods, the staff are unbelievably friendly, most breakfast options are under $10 and you will not leave hungry.

Bon appetit.

C. x

 

 

 

 

How to live with your BFF (and stay BFF’s)

BFF's for life

BFF’s for life

It’s true that best friends do not always make the best room mates, but when faced with the option of a complete stranger and your BFF, you know who’s going to win.

I have on several occasions lived with my best friends and we all came out relatively sane at the other end. More importantly we have all remained friends (I think?! Folks?!). It was not however all sunshine and lollipops, and it never will be when there is a group of people cohabiting in a small space.

This is what I have learned from my experiences, that No. One, I’m a joy to live with and No. Two there needs to be rules.

So before the ink is dry on that lease, talk about the following…

Food: “Joey doesn’t share food” was often roared by my friend if you approached her whilst she was eating. This, coupled with the fact that she was frantically waving a fork, was a pretty clear sign that we did not touch her food! The rest of us had our own cupboard and bought our own food but shared on the important items like milk and vodka but she was not of this communal-living policy at all.

This sounds trivial, but check if it’s an ‘eat-as-you-like but replace it’ fridge or a ‘do not touch EVER’ fridge. Believe me, nothing will make you feel more small that being asked ” did you eat the last yogurt. If you do eat your friends emergency Dairy Milk replace it within 24 hours, there is nothing worse than checking the fridge and finding the thing your craving is gone.

Joey doesn't share food

Joey doesn’t share food

Cleaning: Living with friends is where I learned that there are two types of people, those who are tidy and those who are clean. I’m the latter – I don’t care about the magazines on the counter and the board games in the corner but my friend did. She liked everything in it’s place.  I, on the other hand, liked the mirror clean and floors moped so we had to strike a balance. I would refrain from leaving a months worth of fashion mags on the coffee table in return for her cleaning her hair from the sink.

Rotas work, just because you enjoy a clean bathroom, doesn’t necessarily mean you enjoy cleaning it.

Extreme Clean

Extreme Clean

Bills (bills bills): Not to sound all Destiny’s child, but this is a deal breaker and nearly ended a friendship in my house. It’s important to take responsibility for your portion of the bills. I have tried several different approaches, such as each taking a bill and splitting the difference but the best way I found was a bill kitty which everyone contributes a set amount to each month and if any remains after the bills are paid it can roll over to the following month OR you have wine money….simples 🙂

Can you pay my bills

Can you pay my bills?

Communal rooms and bed rooms: Just because you live together doesn’t mean you need to spend every waking moment together. My friend and I worked out a system whereby if our doors were open, come on in but if a door is closed, the person behind it is probably needing some space.
The communal or living area was rarely used as the male housemates took that area as a football watching, poker playing, beer drinking, fart den. I always had a TV in my room for the times when we had to eat chocolate and watch Clueless AGAIN.

alone

The Boyf/Girlf situation: When your BFF is loved up it can feel that you are constantly walking into your shared living space and feeling like you shouldn’t be there. Set boundaries so your not constantly walking in saying “Hi Kevin” and then eating dinner in your room. At the very least if he’s going to be there he can contribute, by buying biscuits and making the occasional cup of tea.

Two's perfect, three's a crowd

Two’s perfect, three’s a crowd

R.E.S.P.E.C.T:Yes we know you have fabulous taste in music but not everyone wants to hear it. Be mindful that sometimes it is not OK to stumble in loaded and blast your music or chat loudly.

So there you have my pearls of wisdom on best friend living. What have you found whilst sharing with friends? Any tips?

Sxx