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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The Late Late Toy Show, Explain that to your Canadian Friends?!

Last night it dawned upon a table of Irish 20-30 years olds, that this week is the week, it officially becomes Christmas in Ireland.

The Late Late Toy Show marks the start of the festive season in most Irish homes, with everyone from your granny tuning in! So why do we love the Late Late Toy Show? And how do we explain it to anyone who didn’t grow up in Ireland?zzzthelatelatetoyshowtrailer2014_large

Firstly and most importantly, the show will be available on the RTE Player, for any of you who want to continue the tradition, or for those of you who want to play the now famous Toy Show drinking game.

 
What normally goes down in the RTE studios on Toy show night.

1. The big act.

Did we not all nearly die with sheer joy when Boyzone came on to see Gay Byrne, Even with those dodgy outfits Last year, One Direction were the star attraction, But we all know Niall Horan has nothing on these lot. Check out Shane Lynch’s moves.

Great moves Lynch

Great moves Lynch


2. A bunch of exceptionally talented children will make you question your life.

Like. Let’s be honest, did we not all want to be a Billie Barry kid?!

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3. At least one toy will malfunction.

The host inevitably, will get wild flustered and repeat “it will have worked earlier in the evening”.

Run Gay, Run

Run Gay, Run


4. You will spend the entire show waiting for Zig, Zag and Dustin to turn up.

5. One kid who will become a legend.

There’s always one really quirky/intelligent/stylish child. Who didn’t love John Joe the horologist??

John Joe

John Joe


6. Christmas Jumpers Everywhere!

Gay Byrne may have started the tradition, but Tubridy has taken it to a whole new level.

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7. There will be “one for everyone in the audience”.

I would still sell my soul to sit in that audience.

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8. We will all want to be five again

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After every toy show who else starts the age old whine “when i was seven all i wanted was a (insert toy) and you wouldn’t get it for me!”

Now pour yourself a glass of wine, put on your Christmas jumper and get ready. S xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Jesus….all about that ice cream!

  
Ice cream, really seems to be having a moment right now, and with the scorching temperatures over the last few days who can blame us for flocking to our local I cream spot!?  

A few Sundays ago, after Ireland’s miserable defeat at the hands of France, myself and Brian (a fellow ice cream devotee) took ourselves on what felt like an epic journey to the entertainment district, 106 John Street to be exact. After a good 10minutes of abysmal attempts at parking, I finally got to try the icecream that is blowing up Instagram…..Was it worth it abso-bloody-luty!

 Luckily we managed to avoid the crazy ques, but having tasted the ice cream, I would definitely recommend persisting in the cue. A pleasant surprise I got inside was the price, the location and cool decor made me think this place was going to be over priced, but nope- it was around $16 for two (massive) cones 

I had the Cookies Cookies Cookies and cream and Brian had the Ferraro Roche. The actual soft serve ice cream is delicious, and not too sweet, paired with the mounds of toppings it is an epic treat. Now your probably going to want to take a photo of your dessert, but be warned these things are heavy. 

We ate outside, there is no inside seating. I don’t think there was much communication from the moment we got the cones, until every bite was gone. 
Now I hear there is a second location coming to Eglinton, I’m sure I’ll go again.

 The question is, where to try next?! If you have any suggestions, send them our way, we are savage ice cream fans! 

Picture thanks to Brian.

Sinéad X

Belfast Love: a proper pub on King West

 After hearing so much about Belfast Love, I decided to head down and see what all the fuss was about. Now before I continue, Belfast love is NOT an Irish bar, nor does it claim to be! It does however have subtle nods to Ireland with the Four leaf clover sign, the awesome walls of Waterford crystal and an extensive Irish whiskey selection.

The first thing that I noted was the atmosphere, the place was buzzing and the patio was packed (despite the lack of sunshine). Inside the decor is really cool, think neon “loo” signs, dark lighting, naked lady wall paper and crystal so much crystal! Belfast Love is a proper high end pub. I especially love that there’s lots of different seating sections and a pool table, this place really uses the space well. The only draw back for me was the acoustics, I found it really difficult to hear the people at my table, but the place was packed so am I just nit picking?!
Now down to the reason I was there…food and drinks. The drinks list is varied, with a big focus on whiskey, with an option to buy a barrel to be enjoyed any time you stop in, nice touch Belfast Love!

The food is not your average pub fare but is still unpretentious. We got a wide variety of the dishes, pizza, poutine, burgers and the chicken and waffles! All of which had a little something unique to this pub, for example, the chicken and waffles were fab but then paired with a sauce of bourbon and maple syrup……amazing! My poutine was not the regular old fries and cheese curds much to the disappointment of the Montrealer among us, but to me it was like a cheesy gravy chip from home, with the added bonus of super fresh rotisserie chicken chunks on top. The pizza looked amazing, freshly made with a super thin crust, I will be back for sure the try it!

There are lots of staff floating around the bar. All of whom are very beautiful and actually really sound, Well the two that I interacted with were! Now the smart thing to do would be remember names, which I don’t, but I know both our servers had links to Ireland (Limerick and Ballybunion) and they chatted away, not in a tip hungry way but in a genuine dead on way! Plus we got some of the Belfast Love badges so yay happy campers!
My advice go check out Belfast Love, I’ll be aiming for a spot on the patio for my next visit, I just need the sunshine to come back!

Thanks Barbara for the pics. If any of you head down to Belfast Love, let us know your thoughts. S xx

Copacabana Brazilian Steak house

Copacabana Brazilian Steak House; If you are a meat lover – you have to go!

The restaurant is all you can eat, for a fixed price of $37 on week nights and $45 on the weekend. Whilst you dine, waiters will circulate to each table offering a choice of 18 different skewered meats to be carved table-side in unlimited quantities.

Copacabana boasts two locations in the city; Adelaide St. West and Yonge & Eg. There are also two outside the city, Niagara and Vaughan, so there’s no excuse not to go!

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My first time here was to celebrate a birthday. Ourselves and another couple went to the new location on Adelaide Street, on a Friday evening. Its super chic and funky exterior is lit up with neon lights, you would be forgiven for mistaking it for a nightclub.

 *FYI if you go on your actual birthday in a group of four or more you get to eat for free – who doesn’t love free stuff!!!

Our server kindly told us to go and help ourselves to the salad bar and then they would come over with the meat.

DON’T FILL UP ON THE SALAD! You have been warned!

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With 18 different cuts of meat to try, you will soon be full. It is mainly red meat with a small amount of chicken also on offer, If you aren’t big into red meat then this might not be the place for you. But if you do like your meat then you are in for a treat. The best I have tasted since I have been here in the city (1 year and 7 months 🙂 )

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Friday and Saturday nights, is the time to go, talk about dinner and a show!! During our dinner we were treated to two shows, including salsa dancers and an aerial artist hanging from the ceiling above. Along with this they had a DJ playing some great tunes whilst we ate our dinner.

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Definitely somewhere I can’t wait to go back to – it is in my top three of Toronto. They have recently launched their new brunch menu available on Sundays from 10:30am-2pm.

Find out more information here http://www.thecopa.ca

Let us know what you think 

L x

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