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Ireland and Canada share ties that go back centuries. From the cod fisherman who settled in Newfoundland to the immigrants who crossed the Atlantic to escape the Great Famine, the Irish have played a large role in shaping the country we know today. Over 4.4 million Canadians claim some Irish heritage, making it the fourth largest cultural group in Canada.

As early as the 16th century, Irish fisherman would travel to the coast of Newfoundland for part of their catch. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Irish migrants began to settle on the island and gave it the name of Talamh an Éisc, or “land of fish.” To this day, it remains the only place outside of Ireland and Britain to have a distinct Irish language name, making it “the most Irish place outside of Ireland.”

Today, the relationship between the two countries remains strong, especially on trade. In 2015, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and Ireland amounted to $2.3 billion. Canada is already home to over 70 Irish companies and receives an astounding 25% of Ireland’s foreign direct investment. Even Guinness Extra Stout, a variety of the trademark draught of the Emerald Isle, is brewed in Canada. Of course, our trade relations go far beyond refreshing beverages, and Irish companies, like IdentiGEN, that specialize in food DNA traceability, or The Leading Edge Group, a consulting bureau, have chosen to make Canada their North American home.

The ratification of the CETA agreement means these ties will only grow closer. It is expected that, thanks to CETA and ongoing efforts, trade between our two countries will increase by over $120 million per year.

So whether it’s with a pint of stout or a shot of whiskey, raise a glass in honour of St. Patrick’s Day and the profound impact the Irish have had on Canadian culture and our economy.

Slainté.

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