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2007 06 15
Ireland Park - A History Born Of Tragedy

In 1844 the population of Ireland was eight million people. The following year a plight devastated the potato crop, and over the next five years famine reduced the population by half. The million or so who fled the country to North America were surpassed only by the millions who starved to death.

What is little known to Canadians is that from May to October in the year 1848, 38,560 Irish travelled down the St Lawrence River from Montreal, where they first landed, to disembark on the wharfs here in Toronto. The 20,000 Toronto residents who witnessed this were overwhelmed but made efforts to assist the sick and dying - but thousands did die, many right where they set foot on this new land.

To make this historic tragedy known to all, and to celebrate the culture of acceptance of immigrants to Canada and Toronto, Robert and Jonathan Kearns ( Robert is a businessman and Jonathan is an architect who designed the Park who are Irish born Canadians) started a foundation to raise the funds necessary to build a memorial to those who died. They secured a site by the lake at the foot of Bathurst Street, and on the 21st of June a new memorial there will officially open.

Called the ( http://www.irelandparkfoundation.com ) it features a series of four Dublin Bronzes statues by Irish artist Rowan Gillespie. The names of all those who died during that time will be enshrined on the walls of the park.

The President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, is giving the opening its due respect by attending as the honored guest speaker. A Luncheon in her honor is being held on the 20th of June in the Royal York Hotel. To read more about this tragic history in our city and about the park, please visit the web site:

[email this story] Posted by Frank Dwyer on 06/15 at 01:25 PM

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