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CANADIAN FOOTPRINTS and OTHER CONNECTIONS in IRELAND AND NORTHERN IRELAND
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IRELAND

County Cork

Cobh Heritage Centre, Cobh (Cove). Picture postcard Cobh was a major point of departure for Irish emigrants to the 'new world'. The Queenstown Story (Cobh was once Queenstown), a stunning, multi-media exhibition, dramatically portrays conditions on board emigrant vessels as well as Cobh's subsequent experiences with ocean liners including the Titanic and the Lusitania. www.cobhheritage.com

Air India Disaster Memorial, Ahakista. Ahakista is on the southern shore of the long West Cork peninsula of Muintirvara. The monument is in a field, on the foreshore washed by the waters of Dunmanus Bay, where, on June 23, 1985, an Air India plane crashed en route from Toronto and Montreal via London to Bombay. All 329 people on board, mainly Canadians of Indian origin, lost their lives.

Cork artist Ken Thompson chose a sun dial as the main focus of the monument because he felt it suggested the "wheel of life" and provided a common symbol of the diverse cultural and religious backgrounds of the victims." On June 23, the sun shines on the sundial at exactly 8:23 a.m. the time the disaster took place. Relatives and friends can lay wreaths at this site of solace. An annual commemoration takes place there every June 23.

There are several Canadian expressions of thanks to Ireland for the help given in the aftermath of the Air India disaster: two plaques, one in the main square of Bantree and one at the front entrance of Cork Hospital in Cork; and an Inukshuk in the main lobby of the Cork County head office building in Cork.

County Donegal

Canadian Embassy Dublin

Thomas D'Arcy McGee plaque, Inishowen. Irish-born McGee is sometimes called Canada's most eloquent Father of Confederation, following upon his famous 1860 speech "A Prophetic Vision'. He is also variously described as a rebel, orator, politician, journalist, poet and historian. After twice living in Boston, the latter time for 10 years after escaping from Ireland with a price on his head -- the Inishowen plaque is at the beach from which he made his escape -- he decided in 1857 that Canada could be a better place to settle. In the year following his move to Montreal, he was elected to the legislative assembly of the Province of Canada. He became a cabinet minister, but, by 1866, having alienated many Irish voters, he was dropped from the Cabinet.

As famous for his death, as his life, he was the only Canadian federal politician to be assassinated. His assassination in 1868 gave rise to Canada's last public hanging. The award winning play, Blood on the Moon, by Canadian writer/performer Pierre Brault, which has played to rave reviews in both Canada and Ireland, reflects the uncertainty that subsequently arose about the guilt of the man hung as the assassin, James Patrick Whelan, who was also Irish born. (See also County Louth)

County Dublin

Canadian Embassy Dublin

The Canadian Embassy offices (the Chancellery), the focus for services to and representation for Canadians living in and visiting Ireland, moved on July 1, 2007 to new offices at 7-8 Wilton Terrace, Dublin 2, a new office building beside the Grand Canal, 100 metres west of the Baggot Street Bridge, after more than 30 years in its previous location.

Apart from focus provided by its physical location, the Embassy is also visible to key segments of Irish life through conferences/events at which the Ambassador speaks and performances/events the Embassy hosts.
Of particular note is the Embassy's Trade section support for business development between Canada and Ireland: about 100 Canadian companies have an Irish presence and Canadian Foreign Direct Investment in Ireland -- 5th among all international locations -- is very high. The Embassy's Consular section is also a busy place, assisting Canadians with passport issues on a daily basis. And, of course, there are the many diplomatic interfaces, some ceremonial and some quite delicate, that the Ambassador and his staff undertake for Canada. For example, the Embassy is a leader in the diplomatic community in Ireland through its support on Canada's behalf of the work of the Glencree Centre for Reconciliation, whose contributions extend far beyond Ireland and Northern Ireland, as further noted in the County Wicklow section below.

Three other things are worth noting here. On the bright side is the Working Holiday program between Canada and Ireland, which enables up to 2,500 Irish under 35 to travel, study and work in Canada for up to a year. Follow the link at www.canada.ie for details.

A less happy note is that the Embassy has no mandate and no budget to promote Canada as a tourist destination. The Canadian Government's complete blind eye to Irish tourism potential is all the more unbelievable in view of the fact that more Irish travel out of Ireland each year than Ireland has visitors from abroad and there are generations of family connections between Ireland and Canada.

Sadly, too, is that part of the Consular section's 'busyness' is due to the fact that many passports are lost or stolen. At peak times this is reported to average about one per day for Canadians visiting in Ireland. The stolen passport problem is, of course, not unique to any country and, with tourism being of huge importance to Ireland, an Irish Tourist Assistance Service -- www.itas.ie -- has been set up to offer advice and assistance to tourists who are victimised when visiting Ireland. Canadians visiting anywhere that requires their passport are cautioned to safeguard it at all times and, as a particular note of caution when visiting Ireland, to be extra vigilant in Dublin's city centre.

Opening of Canadian Ambassador's Residence Dublin

Glanmire, the (new) Official Residence of Canada's Ambassador to Ireland, formally opened on July 1, 2009, is located at 22 Oakley Road in the Dublin suburb of Ranelagh. Built in 1848, the building is steeped in Irish history, having been owned for close to 60 years by the Pearse family which included brothers Padraig (Patrick) and Willie who were leaders of the Easter Rising of 1916. Glanmire was undoubtedly the center of many important debates and actions around the pursuit of Republic status for Ireland and Padraig was recognized by many as the President of Ireland's Provisional Government. Both he and Willie were executed following the Rising's suppression. Glanmire was part of a larger farm where Padraig started the first St. Enda's Irish Boys school and St. Ita's Irish Girls school. The school, also known as Cullenswood House, was known to have been a 'safe haven' for Irish independence leaders such as Michael Collins. It was wrecked by the Black and Tans while searching for supporters of independence. Glanmire was eventually sold to the Department of Public Works and thence to a private owner, and, newly refurbished, to Canada.

 

Canadian Studies, University College Dublin. UCD, Ireland's largest University views Canadian Studies as an interdisciplinary field that seeks to interpret and promote study of the historical and contemporary distinctiveness of the peoples, cultures and environment of Canada, as well as Canada's contributions to the world. The program, which comprises postgraduate courses, seminars and conferences, is led by a Professor holding the Craig Dobbin Chair in Canadian Studies. The Chair was inaugurated in 1994 through the generosity of the late Dr. Craig Dobbin of St John's Newfoundland, whose forebears came from County Waterford. (www.ucd.ie/canada)

The Famine Memorial, Dublin
Unfortunately, because it is slightly off the beaten path, all too few have seen the Famine Memorial, the most touching of sculptures. Shown in the top picture, this work by renowned Dublin sculptor Rowan Gillespie is easy to reach, however - just a few blocks seaward from O'Connell Bridge along the quays on the North side of the Liffey. The Canadian connection with the site is marked by a large plaque recognizing a donation on behalf of the people of Canada, which was a haven for thousands of those who emigrated because of the Famine.

Fortunately, Canadians who might not have the chance to visit the sculpture in Dublin can experience its counterpart in the new Ireland Park at Toronto's now-named Eirann Quay (formerly Bathurst Quay). There, on the shore of Lake Ontario, five figures collectively entitled 'The Arrival' honour the 38,000 Irish immigrants who fled during the Famine of 1847 and arrived that summer in Toronto when its population was a mere 20,000. 'The Arrival' is also the work of the sculptor of the Dublin memorial, Rowan Gillespie, who was on hand for the June 21, 2007 official opening of the Park by the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese.

Ireland Park is a bridge that will link two nations and two cities. It is the story of a destitute people overcoming unimaginable hardship and suffering, and speaks to the kindness and generosity of Canadians, which is as consistent today as it was in 1847. It is a reminder of the trauma of famine, which still exists in many parts of the world today and the consequences of the rest of the world's failure to respond to it.

The middle and lower photograph, which show the Ireland Park site, are presented courtesy of the photographer 'High Plains Drifter'. More photographs may be seen in his Ireland Park section at Flickr.

More information about this outstanding memorial may be obtained at www.irelandparkfoundation.com.

Malahide Castle, Malahide. There are three Canadian connections to this excellently preserved site: the Talbot family connection, the RCMP doll at Tara's palace and a CPR replica engine at the Fry Model Railway exhibit. Malahide Castle Map

- Malahide Castle and the Talbots. The Talbot family occupied the castle for some 800 years. One of the family members, Colonel Thomas Talbot, received a grant of 5,000 acres of land in what is now southeastern Ontario. The city of St. Thomas, Ontario is named for him and the town of Talbotville, and the Talbot Trail and numerous Talbot Streets (and Roads) incorporate the family name in the area which also has a Malahide Township. Thomas's homestead, Malahide, near Talbot Creek, is open to the public. (Richard Talbot of Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary, got land from his kinsman, Thomas, and took his family, and two hundred neighbours and tenants there. Over time, the Cloughjordan Talbots in Canada spread widely to the south and, especially, to the west.)

The Canadian flag has flown proudly above the castle for each ICS Canada Day picnic since 2004 (see ICS Calendar of Events).

- Tara's Palace. The highlight of this priceless collection, located in the castle's courtyard, is a 22-roomed Dolls House inspired by the three great Georgian Mansions of 18th century Ireland. The quality and detail of its miniature furniture and fittings are as much an attraction for adults as for children. All proceeds from the nominal entrance fee go to children's charities.

Canada's Tara's Palace connection is the limited edition Mountie doll presented to the exhibit's doll collection by the Irish Canadian Society on the occasion of its 2004 Canada Day picnic, held on Malahide Castle's grounds.

- Fry Model Railway. One of the world's largest miniature railways (a working railway covering some 2,500 sq. feet), this unique collection of handmade models of Irish trains from the beginning of travel to modern times, is a treat for 'children of all ages'. Dominating the museum one passes through to the 'train' room is a massive model of a Canadian Pacific engine.

Canada-Connected Retailers. The Canadian flag flies prominently at Grafton Street's Brown Thomas the Canadian-owned department store that, like its Canadian counterpart Holt Renfrew offers high-end merchandise.

And, since a small start on May 5, 2005, Canadian icon Tim Horton's products have become increasingly available in Ireland, to the delight of the Canadian ex-pat community.

County Galway

Alcock and Brown Monument, about 3 km south of Clifden. This monument, in the shape of a wing of the plane, marks Alcock and Brown's historic first non-stop transatlantic flight, which began in Newfoundland in June, 1919. Situated hill near the Derrygimlagh Bog landing site, it is also close to the Marconi transmitter station.

Marconi Transmitter Station. Near the Alcock and Brown monument site is the location of the turf-powered transmitter station from which Marconi exchanged the first transatlantic radio messages with a station in Nova Scotia, in 1907.

County Kerry

The Rose of Tralee Festival. In late August, 'Roses' selected in Rose of Trallee Centres around the world compete for the grand title "The Rose of Tralee. There is a Canadian Rose of Tralee Centre in Toronto, Ontario, and two Canadian 'Roses' have won the Festival's coveted title since its inauguration in 1959. Laura Gainey, from Peterborough, won in 1982; Colleen Mooney, from Toronto, won in 1996. www.roseoftralee.ie

The Jeanie Johnston replica emigration ship. The original Jeanie Johnston was built in Quebec in 1847 as a cargo vessel, but from 1848 to 1855 it carried over 2500 Irish emigrants to North America. Many such ships, also called famine ships, were disease-ridden; the deaths at sea of large numbers of their passengers caused them to also be referred to as coffin ships. But no crew or passenger lives were lost on board the Jeanie Johnston. The building of the replica ship, near Tralee, County Kerry, in 2002, was a huge all-Ireland project involving young people from throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland. Built to commemorate and honour Irish Famine emigrants and to celebrate Ireland's close ties with the U S and Canada, the replica ship's activities can be found at www.jeaniejohnston.ie

County Louth

Thomas D'Arcy McGee plaque, Carlingford. Born in Carlingford in 1825, McGee is sometimes called Canada's most eloquent Father of Confederation, following upon his famous 1860 speech "A Prophetic Vision'. He is also variously described as a rebel, orator, politician, journalist, poet and historian. After two stints in Boston, the latter for 10 years after escaping from Ireland with a price on his head, he decided in 1857 that Canada could be a better place to settle. In the year following his move to Montreal, he was elected to the legislative assembly of the Province of Canada. He became a cabinet minister, but, by 1866, having alienated many Irish voters, he was dropped from the Cabinet.

As famous for his death, as his life, he was the only Canadian federal politician to be assassinated. His assassination in 1868 gave rise to Canada's last public hanging. The award winning play, Blood on the Moon, by Canadian writer/performer Pierre Brault, which has played to rave reviews in both Canada and Ireland, reflects the uncertainty that subsequently arose about the guilt of the man hung as the assassin, James Patrick Whelan, who was also Irish born. (See also, County Donegal)

County Meath

Oldcastle. Signs proclaiming the 1999 twinning with Oldcastle (Tecumseh), Ontario welcome you to this friendly town. It's well worth a visit to it and to its nearby ancient monuments and picturesque surrounding scenery.

County Waterford

The Waterford Museum of Treasures, Waterford - this permanent exhibition celebrating the close ties between the south-east of Ireland and Newfoundland that spring from centuries of fishing and migration was opened in June 2004 by the President of Ireland. www.waterfordtreasures.com

County Wexford

Enniscorthy. It's worth a trip to Enniscorthy just to see the "Home to Canada" sign as you enter it. Better yet, drop into a pub or coffee shop there and thank the locals for the wonderful hospitality you've heard their town gave to the Team Canada participants in the 2003 World Special Olympics. Cities and towns throughout the island hosted participating teams from throughout the world (the first time those events were held outside the US); there can never be enough said about the generous hospitality of the Irish hosts and volunteers who made the huge undertaking of the Games such a success.

County Wicklow

The Canada Room, Glencree Reconciliation Centre, Glencree - Through the Canadian Embassy in Dublin, Canada has been a major supporter of Glencree's internationally renowned role in helping parties to political and other conflicts to peacefully reconcile their differences. Its main meeting room, which has been furnished, with Canadian assistance, as a lounge rather than a boardroom to create a congenial atmosphere to promote dialogue, is named the Canada Room.

Refurbishment of the Canada Room is a major 2004/ 2005 Irish Canadian Society project. ICS representatives obtained a very generous financial contribution from the Bombardier Foundation to refurnish the Room. (Bombardier, a Canadian company, is a major participant in the economies of Ireland and Northern Ireland and is the largest industrial employer in Northern Ireland.)

Canadian artworks have also been generously contributed to the Room. They include Group of Seven prints contributed by the McMichael Gallery www.mcmichaelgallery.com, the Spiritual Home of the Group of Seven.

Become a Glencree volunteer or intern. Glencree delivers its various programs through a small professional staff supported by volunteers who have come from Canada and more than 20 other countries. The volunteers are young people (typically between 18 and 30) who are committed to reconciliation and wish to help Glencree in its peace building work locally and globally. The volunteers’ diverse nationalities help to create an inclusive and non-judgemental atmosphere that mirrors the kind of society Glencree is trying to build. Glencree welcomes volunteers for periods of three, six and 12 months. Internships also form a valuable part of the work of Glencree and give prospective practitioner learners an opportunity to develop research and practical skills in a supportive and engaging environment. For more about Glencree volunteering and internships visit www.glencree.ie.


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NORTHERN IRELAND

County Down

Belfast Giants

Rockies Bar, The Odyssey, Belfast

A lifelong hockey fan, Canada's Ambassador to Ireland, Loyola Hearn had an extra treat when he attended his first Giants game on March 5, 2011: ICS Chair Dave Wilson introduced him to the Giants' Finn McCool mascot.

Belfast Giants

The Odyssey, Belfast. This magnificent complex (www.odysseyarena.com) is home to a number of Canadian connections: the Belfast Giants ice hockey team; the W5 Science Centre; and an IMAX theatre.

- Belfast Giants. A Canadian-founded team, with many Canadian players, the Giants provide high quality ice hockey entertainment. www.belfastgiants.com

- W5 Science Centre. Developed with the benefit of insights gained from counterparts in Toronto and Vancouver abounds with intriguing hands-on exhibits. www.w5online.co.uk

- IMAX theatre. IMAX theatres are renowned for their Canadian based technology.

Rockies Bar, The Odyssey, Belfast

- Rockies sports bar: Canadian passion for hockey is everywhere! In fact, undoubtedly the finest display of game-worn, Canadian team hockey jerseys anywhere and a tourist magnet for Canadians living in and visiting Ireland and Northern Ireland is the Canadian-owned Rockies sports bar in Belfast's Odyssey entertainment multiplex (above). Over 200 team-donated jerseys are on display, including those from about 50 Canadian universities, almost all the OHL and many other Jr A teams and the NHL teams. There are also jerseys from a host of national teams and teams in European leagues.

Marking the presentation of a jersey from the 2009 AND 2010 Memorial Cup Champion Windsor Spitfires are three Canadian ex-pats, from the left, Dave Wilson, formerly of Windsor, Ontario, Todd Kelman, formerly of Calgary, Alberta, and Jim Graves, formerly of  Gimli, Manitoba. Dave, who lives in Dublin, is Chair of the all-island Irish Canadian Society. He regularly visits his hometown to cheer the Windsor Spitfires on and presented the Spitfires jersey  to Jim, Rockies' owner, on the team's behalf.  A graduate and professor emeritus of the University of Windsor, he is holding the Rockies' collection jersey from its hockey team, the Lancers.

Jim and Todd live in Belfast. Jim played professional hockey in Europe, finishing with the Nottingham Panthers in 1993, and coached the Irish national team for several years. He owns and operates Rockies, an integral part of the Odyssey complex. Todd, who was a St Louis Blues pick in the 1993 NHL entry draft but opted to play in Europe instead, was the first player signed when the Giants were formed in 2000. Now the Giants GM, he also provides leadership to the Giants Community Foundation, which brings together youths from the two sides of Northern Ireland’s sectarian divide. 

Castle Espie, Strangford Lough. Perhaps "goose prints" would be a more apt description of the Canadian connection with this site! The Western shores of Europe host thousands of wintering waterbirds. The Light-bellied Brent Goose, some 20,000 of which complete an epic migration from Arctic Canada, is reputed to be the most important species taking refuge in the Irish wetlands, and Strangford Lough is the most important site in the world for the Eastern Canadian population of this species. Hosting not only the Brent geese, the Lough's Castle Espie (not a castle) is also the Wildfowl and Wetlands home of Ireland's largest collection of ducks, geese and swans. www.wwt.org.uk/brent/brent_goose.asp

Amusingly, the BBC will be tracking the 8,000 kilometre round-trip journey of six of the light-bellied Brent geese in a 2005 survival-of-the-fittest reality TV program! The show's title is SuperGoose: Six Go Wild in Canada. Its principals "from thousands six have been chosen" are Geysir; Resolute; Homer; Espie; Lagan; and Myrar. www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/supergoose

County Tyrone

Ulster Folk Park, Omagh. A superb, open-air museum on a grand scale, the Park tells the story of emigration from Ulster to North America and other 'new world' destinations in the 18th and 19th centuries. www.folkpark.com

   
 
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