Toronto is a city with a strong Irish tradition, ever since thousands of Irish emigrants arrived during the famine of the 1840s. While today’s new arrivals are coming for other reasons, Toronto continues to represent opportunity for thousands of people, young and not so young, with a connection to Ireland. There are many ways for you to get involved in the Irish community in Toronto, even if you are not Irish yourself.
With Irish people moving to the city in large numbers again over the last decade, a vibrant Irish community now thrives across Toronto. Here are some of the best and most useful organizations to lean on.
This is an important resource and one new residents should definitely consider making use of. If there’s an Irish mammy for the young Irish people of Toronto, it’s probably Cathy Murphy. Cathy is well known in the community for her work as the executive director of the Irish Canadian Immigration Centre, which is based in the heart of downtown at 44 Victoria Street, near the King and Yonge intersection.
The not-for-profit organization, part-funded by the Irish government, provides helpful information to Irish newcomers at all stages of the Canadian experience.
I/CAN hosts regular employment seminars where successful Irish businessman Gerry O’Connor will walk new arrivals through the nuances of the Canadian job market. Gerry is known to go above and beyond to help individuals with their resumes and job interview preparation.
I/CAN also provides helpful information and seminars about work permits and the permanent residency process, which make these sometimes daunting tasks more straightforward.
You can also call 416-603-9549 or 1-877-603-9549 and contact Cathy Murphy at [email protected].
The Irish Association of Toronto is a great place to learn more about Irish cultural events taking place in both downtown Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Their website and accompanying Facebook group has a wealth of information about Irish traditional music sessions, Irish dancing classes, Irish language lessons, and so much more. Leah Morrigan is the President and can be reached by email at [email protected].
The first stop for many new arrivals is to find a local GAA club. This can be a reassuring community for Irish people, as the GAA ethos of looking after each other is the same anywhere in the world — a kind of Freemasons without the funny handshakes, as Joe Brolly once put it.
Newcomers to any of the Toronto GAA clubs can benefit on and off the field. Through these tight-knit communities you can find tips about how to find jobs, a place to live through one of the teams, or even just make new friends. It’s also a good way to keep active if you don’t feel confident enough to try one of the Canadian sports, such as hockey or skiing, and typically costs less than other team sports, such as soccer or volleyball, which can prove pricier in Toronto.
As of 2018, there are five men’s football teams:
The St. Michael’s (more commonly referred to as “St. Mikes”), Durham, and St. Patrick’s (“St. Pats”) clubs also offer women’s teams, while there’s also the Roger Casements, which is exclusively a women’s club. The small ball isn’t forgotten about either, with two men’s hurling clubs — Na Piarsaigh and Clan na Gael — as well as Toronto Camogie club.
The games are played at Centennial Park in Etobicoke in the west end of the city, and Championship Finals day in August is always a charm in the Toronto-Irish calendar. The association also holds an indoor seven-a-side tournament in March, where anyone can come, including beginners. The March tournament is a great way to get acquainted with other players if you haven’t got a club of your own.
All the teams have their own Facebook presence, as does Toronto GAA itself. The Facebook page is a good starting for newcomers to the city, as well as local newcomers to the world of GAA. Who you choose to align yourself with may depend on where you live in the city. You can also check out www.torontogaa.com or email [email protected] to find out more.