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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.
Irish Canadian Immigration Centre (I/CAN)
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.
For more information, check out their website and follow their Facebook page.
You can also call 416-603-9549 or 1-877-603-9549 and contact Cathy Murphy at [email protected].
Irish Association of Toronto
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.
If you have children who want to play GAA in Toronto, you can contact the Toronto Chieftains club, who cater for underage players. You can contact the club on [email protected].
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Irish & New in Toronto Facebook group
If you’re considering moving to Toronto you’re probably already a part of the ‘Irish & New in Toronto!’ Facebook group. With more than 14,800 members (as of March, 2018), this active group is a great resource if you are looking for information about moving to Toronto but don’t know who to ask. Thankfully, common questions about moving costs and apartment availability are easily searchable. Previous posts and discussions can be accessed at any time without you needing to post yourself.
The group is also useful for finding a room to rent, since it can be quite tricky to get your own place without referrals from previous landlords and a credit history. Renting a room (which includes shared accommodation) is an easy way to obtain such referrals and credit history before moving into your own place, if you wish to do so at a later stage.
The group can also come in handy when it comes to furnishing any new room or home. Most apartments in Toronto come unfurnished, so you may need to buy everything or make some kind connections willing to give you the items they no longer need. With the relatively transient nature of the Irish community here, there is always someone moving home that is selling or giving away the things you need. The ‘Irish & New in Toronto!’ Facebook group is a great place to find that. Join the group here.
Irish Chamber of Commerce
The Irish Chamber of Commerce supports hundreds of Irish-related businesses in Toronto and Southern Ontario, which makes it the place to go for budding entrepreneurs.
Even if you’re not a business personm, the organization hosts regular meetups. These meetups are a great networking opportunity for jobseekers. There are varying levels of membership, ranging from $25 to $500 annually. For more information, visit the website or email [email protected].
Toronto Irish Film Festival
The annual Toronto Irish Film Festival (TIRFF), one of the city’s most popular Irish events since launching in 2009, typically runs in March (2nd-4th March, 2018). The festival is always looking for volunteers, which means it’s a great opportunity for cinephiles looking to meet new people and make new friends. Find the Facebook page here.
For some traditional Irish meats, Brennan’s Irish Food Products can be a lifesaver. The website has a list of places to buy its goods in the GTA. There are also a number of British stores where you can find some home comforts that you won’t be able to find in regular Canadian supermarkets and food stores. Some of those you may want to visit include:
Beyond food and drink, the Irish Design House in Riverside has clothes and other crafts with a Gaelic twist.
There are plemty of Irish bars in the city, but many are themed franchises. It’s not difficult to spot which are the genuine Irish ones, and which are not. Regardless, they can all be a good place to go if you’re looking for a quick hire when you arrive in Toronto and looking to make extra cash, or if you’re just looking for a familiar setting for a pint or a bite to eat. Some of the most authentic include:
- Dora Keogh’s
- PJ O’Brien’s
- The Rose and Crown
- The Galway Arms
- Ceili Cottage
- Muckish Irish Pub
Ceol agus Craic
This radio show broadcasts each Saturday on AM1430.com at 11 a.m. and airs features for the Irish community. You can also listen back to their podcasts on the website.
The local branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann runs traditional music workshops and lessons, while also hosting concerts every month. For more information, contact Maureen O’Leary by email at [email protected], phone via 416-446-6993, or visit their website. To learn more about the group and meet other people from the community make sure to visit their Facebook group here.
Open door ceilis Toronto
The Set Dancers who organise monthly ceilis in Toronto not only offer great dancing, but also baked treats and Barry’s tea. Their monthly ceilis are held at 3591 Dundas Street West, a short bus ride from Jane TTC station. The annual Toronto set dance weekend which is held every May. See their website for more details.
St Michael’s Cathedral
If it’s mass you’re after, St. Michael’s Cathedral, located downtown, is probably the most striking of the Roman Catholic churches in Toronto. It was founded by Bishop Michael Power and funded by Irish immigrants, and has undergone extensive restoration work in recent years. The cathedral can be found at the Church and Shuter Street intersection, just off Yonge Street.
Toronto being a very multicultural city, there is a place of worship for many faiths; you can find a list of some of those here.
- Irish Language Classes at St. Mikes College – contact [email protected] for more information.
- Irish Choral Society – for inquiries email [email protected].
- Toronto Irish Players – drama group.
- Toronto Irish Cultural Society
Moving to Toronto
Irish people who settle in Toronto typically arrive first on temporary status, such as a work permit or as a student, before taking steps to achieve permanent resident status.
Toronto attracts a huge number of Irish newcomers arriving with a working holiday open work permit though the International Experience Canada (IEC) initiative. This work permit is a wonderful opportunity for youth to experience all the city has to offer before committing to a longer-term stay. Here are some resources for you to plot a pathway to Toronto:
Once you arrive, make sure to visit our full Toronto section for a full range of living in Toronto resources, including a comprehensive guide to Toronto neighbourhoods.
We also maintain an updated Jobs Board, please visit our Outpost Recruitment agency for construction and engineering jobs.
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