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Ireland Park Irish famine memorial, Toronto Canada
- Ireland Park Irish famine memorial, Toronto Canada
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Ireland Park at Eireann Quay, Toronto
opened by H.E Mary McAleese, President of Ireland.
Ireland Park honours the Irish immigrants who fled during the Famine of 1847 and the 38,000 who arrived in Toronto that summer when the City's population was a mere 20,000. Ireland Park is a bridge that will link two nations and two cities. It is the story of a destitute people overcoming unimaginable hardship and suffering, and speaks to the kindness and generosity of Canadians, which is as consistent today as it was in 1847.
It is a reminder of the trauma of famine, which still exists in many parts of the world today. The failure of a harvest is an act of nature. Starvation is the result of our failure to respond with generosity to those who are hungry in our world today
Ireland Park Foundation is a charitable, non profit organization whose purpose it is to create venues and materials that symbolize the arrival and settlement of the Irish in Canada. Objectives include:
.Commemorate the 1,100 people who lost their lives during this tragic period in Torontos history including both the Irish immigrants and those who died trying to help them.
.Celebrate the contribution of the Irish who went on to make meaningful contributions to Toronto and Canada.
.Create awareness of the economic and cultural contribution of the Irish to Toronto and Canada before, during and after the famine period.
.Re-enforce the Canadian traditions of welcoming waves of immigrants from around the world.
.Provide a strong foundation for the ongoing celebration of Irish heritage and its contribution to Toronto and Canada.
Premier McGuinty joins President of Ireland Mary McAleese and Toronto Mayor David Miller at the official opening of Ireland Park in Toronto.
[Dalton James Patrick McGuinty, Jr., MPP (born July 19, 1955, in Ottawa, Ontario) is a Canadian lawyer and politician and, since October 23, 2003, Premier of Ontario.
He grew up in an Irish Canadian family with nine brothers and sisters, with younger brother David representing the riding of Ottawa South in the Canadian House of Commons since 2003.]
In the summer of 1847 the Toronto Waterfront witnessed one of the greatest human tragedies in the history of the city. Between the months of May and October of that year, over 38,000 Irish Famine emigrants arrived from Ireland at a time when the city's population was just 20,000 people.
Over 1,100 didn't survive
Irish famine memorial park offers direction for waterfront
It's called Ireland Park but don't expect shillelaghs or green beer.
Hidden on the shore of Lake Ontario in the shadow of the Canada Malting Silos, this tiny but monumental space was conceived as a memorial to the thousands of Irish immigrants who came to – and died in – this city.
Despite its rather odd location just east of Bathurst St., the pocket park packs a preternatural punch. The designer, architect Jonathan Kearns, has used a minimum of elements but to maximum effect.
The main feature is Kilkenny limestone, a dark and rugged stone quarried in Ireland. Kearns has incorporated it in slabs, blocks and as large chunks seemingly ripped out of the ground and transplanted here. The result is a remarkable landscape-within-a-landscape.
Surrounded by the ruins of Toronto's industrial past and the hopes of its waterfront future, Ireland Park straddles a number of worlds. Amid the ear-piercing din of the Island Airport – no quiet jets here – and the traffic of the harbour, the sudden advent of sacred space is even more surprising.
The city has done little more than provide the property. The concrete edge along the water remains a mess, the silos have been empty for years. Then, there's the nagging question about the airport across the channel, which Mayor David Miller has failed to close despite years of trying. If anything, with the announcement that Porter Airlines has gained permission to fly to New York, the airport might be enlarged, against the wishes of most Torontonians.
But at Ireland Park, all this fades into the noisy background of our urban chaos. In the deliberately rugged setting of Kearns' space, what matters are issues of life, death and memory.
Perhaps the most engaging aspect of the new facility is the inscribed names of Irish immigrants who died after fleeing the famine of 1847. These names are carved in stone, but on surfaces of rocks placed so close together they can barely be read. In this way, they remain almost out of reach and just beyond easy comprehension.
"We could only find 675 of 1,100 names of those who died," Kearns explains. "The rest may be buried in a mass grave at St. Paul's Church."
For many visitors, the highlight of Ireland Park will be five bronze figures sculpted by Rowan Gillespie, an Irish artist who produced a similar series for a companion park in Ireland. It has seven pieces, two more than Toronto – a reference to those who died after leaving their homeland.
Though they verge on melodrama, Gillespie's figures speak of the apprehension, fear, loneliness and hope experienced by immigrants.
Finally, there's a glass-block tower reminiscent of the nearby silos. As well as connecting the park to its neighbours, the lighthouse-like structure will serve as a beacon, especially at night when lit from within.
"My brother [Robert] and I invented the project about 10 or 11 years ago," says Kearns, a practising architect who arrived here in 1975. "The Irish community in Toronto came up with most of the money, $2.5 million. We're trying to raise another million so we can create an endowment."
The park has clearly galvanized the community, the president of Ireland, Mary McAleese, Premier Dalton McGuinty and several thousand others attended the official unveiling yesterday.
Now let's hope the park will have the same effect on the city, that it will galvanize our no-can-do bureaucrats and dim-bulb councillors into grasping the potential of a revitalized waterfront.
These kinds of projects are exceptions that prove the rule, but in a city beset by its inability to rise above its entrenched habits of mediocrity, only the exceptional will do.
IRELAND'S FAMINE DEAD - TORONTO, 1847
The 675 Irish victims of poverty known by name. Their names will be forever engraved in the limestone at Ireland Park and have been returned to the citizens of Ireland in a commemorative book presented to H.E. President of Ireland, Mary McAleese on the occasion of the opening of Ireland Park, June 21, 2007.
Following is the list of the Irsh who did not make it. It is the foundations intention to continue the search until they have found all the names and space has been left in both the wall and the book to add these names when they are found.
|W. Acton |
Sally Ann Baxter
Sarah Ann Biggar
Mary Ann Booth
Margaret A Bowman
Mary Anne Conn
Mary Jane Correy
Mary Ann Creagh
|Thomas Grindale |
Jane Anne Heatby
Mary Anne Higgins
A Widow Hughes
Thomas H. Hunter
Eliza Bell Hunter
David Alex Hunter
Arther M. Hutton
Mary Joyce ( Joice)
Mary Ann Keogh
Mary Ann Leary
Anne Jane Lettice
Eliza Ann McCann
|Martin Monahan |
Mary Ann Murray
Mary Ann Owens
Mary Ann Paterson
Mary Ann Paterson
Bp. Michael Power
Sarah Jane Sherwood
Mary Jane Whiteside
A Child From the Wharf
The Pregnant Woman is sponsored by the Hurley Corporation
Dedicating the sculpture to the generations of Ireland’s immigrant sons and daughters.
For the Irish living under the colonial British crown it was a life of hunger and poverty even at the best of times. The crown terrorist military stole all the land and exported all the food. The potato was all most of the Irish were left with. seed potato to grow as best they could on the rocksoil and hillsides.
When the potato blight came it brought mass starvation to our ancestors. Shown no charity the Irish were forced out of their own homes. When the Irish could not pay the British crown landlords rents, their tiny homes were destroyed, burned and raised to the ground.
Leave Ireland or die.
Mass evictions or "clearances" will forever be associated with the Irish Famine. "It has been estimated that, excluding peaceable surrenders, over a quarter of a million people were evicted between 1849 and 1854. The total number of people who had to leave their holdings in the period is likely to be around half a million and 200,000 small holdings were obliterated"
Under a law imposed in 1847, called the "Gregory Clause", no tenant holding more than a quarter acre of land was eligible for public assistance. To become eligible, the tenant had to surrender his holding to his landlord. Some tenants sent their children to the workhouse as orphans so they could keep their land and still have their children fed.
Other tenants surrendered their land, but tried to remain living in the house, however, landlords would not tolerate it. "In many thousands of cases estate-clearing landlords and agents used physical force or heavy-handed pressure to bring about the destruction of cabins which they sought."
Many others who sought entrance to the workhouses were required to return to their homes and uproot or level them. Others had their houses burned while they were away in the workhouse.
"When tenants were formally evicted, it was usually the practice of the landlord's bailiffs - his specially hired 'crowbar brigade' - to level or burn the affected dwellings there and then, as soon as the tenants effects had been removed, in the presence of a large party of soldiers or police who were likely to quell any thought of serious resistance."
"These helpless creatures are not only unhoused, but often driven off the land, no one remaining on the lands being allowed to lodge or harbor them. Or they, perhaps, linger about the spot, and frame some temporary shelter out of materials of their old homes against a broken wall, or behind a ditch or fence, or in a bog-hole, places unfit for human habitations .... disease, together with the privations of other kinds which they endure, before long carry them off.
As soon as one horde of houseless and all but naked paupers are dead, or provided for in the workhouse, another wholesale eviction doubles the number, who in their turn pass through the same ordeal of wandering from house to house, or burrowing in bogs or behind ditches, till broken down by privation and exposure to the elements, they seek the workhouse, or die by the roadside."
"There were hoards of poor on the roads every day. The Irish who could gave some little they had to these, a saucer of oatmeal, a handful of potatoes, a drink of milk or a little bottle of sweet-milk to carry away with them. It was not unusual to see a woman with two, three or four children half-naked, come in begging for alms, and often several of these groups in one day, men too. If the men got work they worked for little or nothing and when they were no longer needed they took to the road again. These wandering groups had no homes and no shelter for the night. They slept in the barns of those that had barns on an armful of straw with a sack or sack or some such thing to cover them."
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