Famine Rememberances

irelandparkwall.jpgLast weekend Toronto dedicated a starkly breathtaking park/memorial to the Irish Famine immigrants of 1847. Ireland Park was opened by Mary McAleese, President of Ireland and features a rather striking memorial wall made up of glass bricks commemorating those who died during the exodus and also those who died trying to help them. The aim of this park is to commemorate this historic tragedy and also to remind us of similar events occur today. As the Ireland Park Foundation states “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.” A good reminder indeed.
mcgowanbook.jpgThere is a wealth of information at the Ireland Park Foundation’s website and I found their history of the famine immigration to Toronto to be particularly well written. One of the authors behind this history Mark McGowan, whose Waning of the Green is recommended examination of the Irish Catholic experience in nineteenth century Toronto. He demonstrates rapid and voluntary assimilation into a nascent Canadian culture of Irish immigrants driven to succeed and prosper in a new land.
This is a very meaningful addition to Toronto’s parkscape and one that conveys an important message about the past that is especially applicable today. This really affirms why we study history.

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