The vision of Kearns, coupled with the collective interests
of Smurfit and Gillespie, created an instant partnership. What better place to
create a reciprocal memorial than Toronto, Ontario where more than 38,000
immigrants arrived in pitiful conditions over the course of six months during
Gillespie agreed to create the new sculptures as long as an
appropriate waterfront location was secured. Kearns met with Terry Smith,
Ontario’s Deputy Minister of Culture at the time and a kindred spirit who had
also seen the sculptures in Dublin. Smith suggested a visit to the City’s
Parks, Forestry and Recreation Department to seek approval for a spot of land. In July 2000, with the help of then-Councillor
Olivia Chow, Toronto City Council ratified a proposal to make the southeast
corner of Bathurst Quay available for a memorial park to honour the Irish
famine immigrants of 1847. This was an ideal site due to its historical
significance to the famine—just west of Reese’s Wharf, where the immigrants
landed, and just south of the intersection of Bathurst and Front Streets, where
the fever sheds were located.
Since that time, Kearns has assembled a board of directors
from across the city of both Canadian and Irish backgrounds. The park, designed
by Jonathan M. Kearns, has been planned and built, and funds of $3.5 million
raised to cover the costs and endow the park. This park has been built with Irish
and Canadian minds and hands, and a determination to complete the vision and
mandate created by the directors of Ireland Park Foundation.
Today, we are thrilled to
present to you Ireland Park and the “Arrival” sculptures.
May the park be a tranquil place
to remember the past to save the future.
The Board of Directors, Ireland Park Foundation