On Friday mornings I do my morning walk with my friend Christy. It rained this morning, so we decided to stay on the sidewalk rather than along the Harbourfront, and walk farther west on Toronto’s Queen’s Quay than we normally do.
And that’s when we came across a little park on the waterfront called Ireland Park.
It was a cloudy, wet morning, and these statues in the park came as something of a surprise to both of us.
Quite the eerie sight! I’m glad I was there with Christy; there was no-one else around, and the air had that thickness to it you often get when it rains. Queue some scary music and a bit of fog, and I would have been out of there like a shot. But since Christy is one of those comforting, practical people you’d want to have with you in a haunted house, I stayed and even took pictures.
So of course I had to look up “Ireland Park” when I got home. It turns out Ireland Park is a memorial to the 38,000 Irish immigrants who came to Canada in 1847 to escape famine; more than 1,000 of them died that summer.
The statues are by artist Rowan Gillespie, and there are similar statues on Dublin’s quay side.
There is also a large limestone wall, which was shipped from Ireland. The names of those who died are engraved on it. According to Robert Kearns, the chair of the Ireland Park Foundation, “It represents the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland, the last sight seen by emigrants leaving home. The names of the dead are engraved on the gaps in the wall. The park is really a cemetery without bodies, for the people who didn’t make it.”
Yes, it was definitely a very interesting walk today!