Located on Toronto’s waterfront, Ireland Park was established as a tribute to the shared heritage between Canada & Ireland. The park occupies a location signifying the 'Arrival' of Irish Famine immigrants who first landed on Canadian shores, in 1847. It is a reciprocal tribute to the 'Departure' - a sculptural group of emigrant figures located on the Custom House Quays in Dublin, Ireland.
Ireland Park honors the Irish immigrants who fled during the Great Famine and the 38,000 people who arrived in Toronto in the summer of 1847, when the city’s population was a mere 20,000. Ireland Park is a reminder of a specific historical tragedy while drawing attention to the greater issue of famine, which still exists in many parts of the world.
Located at the foot of Bathurst Street at Eireann Quay, Ireland Park is defined and enhanced by its surroundings: Three former grain silos abut and define the northern edge of the park, towering over sculptures and visitors alike, while also serving as a reminder of the continued prevalence of hunger amid plenty. The park’s location at the water’s edge, represents the site where the Irish Famine immigrants would have first arrived in Toronto. Expansive views of downtown Toronto and of Lake Ontario encourage visitors to reflect in a secluded environment, without being too far removed from the city.
Ireland Park is a statement of confidence in the ongoing restoration of the quays and the extension of the Waterfront Trail around the edges of Eireann Quay, linking it to the rest of the city. Though access to the park is guided by lighting and signage, designating its relatively isolated location, the park forms a quiet retreat, waiting to be discovered. Ireland Park has taken a lead in the future development of the surrounding area, existing as both destination and ‘sacred space,’ expressing in a contemporary manner the history of the city.
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The beautiful Park which you designed is a wonderful addition to the shoreline of Lake Ontario. It will be a haven of tranquility in a bustling 21st century city.
We're living in a time of incredible consumption, and everything's about economics and everything's about cash flow, and I think he [Jonathan Kearns] has an ability to stand away from that stuff and feel something that motivates him. He's motivated to do his work in a way that I think a lot of architects and a lot of designers aren't. What I'm saying is that he's got a depth of emotion and feeling, and it comes out.