In the summer of 1847 38,000 Irish fleeing the Great Famine landed in Toronto, a city of 20,000. Arriving destitute, and in many cases extremely ill, the story of ‘Black 47′ (or ‘the year of the Irish’) is well documented both in terms of Canadian sacrice, and the impact the influx had on local communities.
Equally recorded is the welcoming hand of friendship, and the economic and cultural contribution of the Irish to Toronto and Canada as a whole, and those early experiences and the shared history have created a relationship between the people of the two nations that continues to grow.
Now, 165 years later, Toronto is again receiving the Irish, however this time it’s a different picture. Arriving healthy, educated, and with the energy and enthusiasm of youth, todays emigrants offer an immediate benefit to Canada; and sadly, just as immediate a loss to Ireland.
The following short film, directed by Barbara Deignan and Cian McDevitt (facebook.com/diasporashortfilm), with music by Valery Gore, ‘highlights the fears and hopes of those calling the city their new home’. It’s a gem that invokes different sentiments depending on your perspective, and it captures a moment in modern Irish history.
Made in association with the Toronto Irish Film Festival 2012.