Ireland praises Canada; gets a park in Toronto with its name on it

160 years ago, a bunch of Irish people fled the Great Irish Famine. Canada welcomed them in with open arms, and it was in this second-largest country in the world that they began their new life. More than a century on, Irish president Mary McAleese visited Toronto based on this magnanimous gesture – forgive me if I consider this a slightly ‘fragile’ reason for a visit. But wait, the Irish president had other duties in Toronto – she had to open Ireland Park.

Irish President Cutting Ribbon

Photo By: Joshua Sherurcij

So let me get this straight. 160 years ago, Canada took in a bunch of Irish immigrants. After all this time, the Canadian and Irish governments decide to build a park in commemoration of this, (each country pledging $500,000 donations towards the cost). I’m sure it must be an amazing park with a price tag of $3.5 million, (the rest of the money came from fund-raisings and individual donations). To me, it seems like a bit of an expensive park to build on a whim.

Before cutting the ribbon, McAleese walked around the park and admired the various monuments adorning it, (followed by about 45 people). This includes a set of five bronze statues, shipped to Toronto at a cost of $325,000. After her walk, McAleese proceeded to give a speech to the crowd that had gathered, saying “the amazing Toronto welcome hasn’t changed in 160 years”. I have to wonder how she would know, unless she’s spoken to one of the original immigrants from 160 years ago. As Karole mentions, McAleese also thanked Canada for its economic support, which makes more sense, being more recent.

Maybe ribbon-cutting events just aren’t my thing.

– Nishant


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