I am very proud to be patron of The Ireland Park Foundation in Toronto. The relationship between Canada and Ireland is a long and enduring one. For many years Canada has reached out a hand of friendship and support to those who have been compelled to leave Irish shores in search of a better life.The Irish Famine of 1845-50 was a particularly tragic chapter in Ireland’s narrative; a time of great suffering and immense mortality. It was a period when over three hundred thousand destitute and starving Irish people arrived on Canadian soil, many of them in Toronto where this great tribute to those emigrants now stands. Ireland Park is a perennial reminder of the great humanitarian spirit which so defines the people of Canada and from which we in Ireland have benefitted for so many years. It also reminds us that the issues of hinder and food security continue to be great moral challenges in the contemporary world and that, as global citizens, we must do our part to ensure that current and future generations will not again experience the appalling plight of famine.
Today the Irish community in Toronto is a thriving and dynamic one. It is a living testimony to the generous welcome so many of our forefathers have received in Canada across the decades. The vibrancy of the Irish presence in Toronto also reflects the spirit of community which remains at the heart of Irish society, and which is shared by our wider family around the world.
I wish to express my gratitude to Robert Kearns, Chairman of the Board of the Ireland Park Foundation, his fellow directors and the many people who so generously donate their time, skill or support to this valuable initiative, ensuring the continued success of Ireland Park and the success of the exciting plans for its future development.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.
MICHAEL D. HIGGINS
Uachtarán na hÉireann President of Ireland