The rain held off long enough Sunday for the 153rd annual Walk to the Black Rock, which had hundreds march from St. Gabriel’s Church to Black Rock stone monument on Bridge St. in Point St-Charles.
Members from the Irish community sang songs and commemorated the estimated 6,000 Irish souls buried in the surrounding area.
The Black Rock stone monument is a tribute to the immigrants who landed on the shores of Montreal starting in 1847 and honours the memory of the Irish who escaped famine and died from diseases like typhus while crossing over to Montreal.
The crowd huddled together in front of the massive stone as elected officials from Montreal and Ireland attended and spoke at the ceremony.
This year, Dublin Ireland’s Mayor Mícheál MacDonncha made the trip over the pond to attend the event, and was the 2018 honorary guest.
Ancient Order of Hibernians, a non-profit that aims to preserve Irish history, organizes the walk every year for the last Sunday in May.
They have pushed for several years now to transform the parking lot adjacent to the stone into a memorial park.
The desired land is owned by Hydro-Quebec and will be the site of a new electrical substation in the next few years.
“Going up against Hydro-Quebec didn’t look very promising,” Montreal Irish Memorial Park Foundation (MIMPF) director Fergus Keyes said. “But we did not have to do it.”
Keyes says the public entity has been working alongside MIMPF, as well as the city of Montreal, to create plans to share the lot.
Hydro-Quebec officials say they have worked very hard on making the footprint of the substation smaller, allowing more room for the memorial park. Hydro says they will also honour the fallen by calling it the “Irish substation.”
All three parties will be meeting in mid-June to draw out plans on what is next for the historical plot of land.