The Irish Cultural Center of the Mohawk Valley, Utica, is hosting several programs in March in celebration of Irish Month.
Every year since 1991 when the U.S. Congress made the official designation, March has been Irish American Heritage Month. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent statistics (2019), 30.4 million or 9.2% of the American population claims Irish ancestry. And 2.1 million of those live in New York.
People from Ireland have sought a new life in the United States since before the American Revolution and still do today. These people have contributed to the rich variety of American culture in many ways, from music and dance to literature, theater, politics, and more. To celebrate Irish American Heritage this year, the Irish Cultural Center of the Mohawk Valley (iccmv.org) has put together a series of events both online and in-person.
Project Children and Peace in Northern Ireland
Thursday, March 11 at 7 p.m. on Zoom and at the ICC
Project Children, a non-profit founded by Denis Mulcahy in 1975, brought more than 23,000 Catholic and Protestant children to the United States for summer visits. Most stayed with families in Upstate New York. Far from strife at home in Northern Ireland, these kids were able to forge unexpected friendships. They found they had more in common with the “enemy” than they thought.
In this panel discussion, audience members will get to meet Denis and hear his insights on the program credited with playing a major role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland.
Joining Denis on the panel will be: Eddie Gilmartin, one of the young people who took part in the program. He’ll talk about the violence he saw in Belfast as a child and how Project Children changed his life forever.
Geordy Austin, who lived through the Troubles in Belfast and now resides in Syracuse. He’ll share his first-hand account of events during that time. Pat Costello, ICC board member and Project Children volunteers will speak about the hundreds of Irish kids he worked with in the Utica-Rome area.
Admission is $5. Attendees can watch from home via Zoom. Tickets are available on Eventbrite:https://www.eventbrite.com/e/project-children-and-peace-in-northern-ireland-tickets-143360445953.
Those who would like to attend in-person should send an email to Al Sisti at firstname.lastname@example.org so the number of attendees can be monitored. In-person attendees will pay $5 admission in cash at the door.
The members of the panel will speak from their own homes in different parts of New York. The Irish Center will project the Zoom discussion on a screen at the ICC museum. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, 25 seats are available in the museum.
Debunking Irish Myths
Friday, March 12, 7 p.m. on Zoom
Most Irish-Americans know a lot about Irish culture, Irish music, Irish cuisine. But what if almost everything you know is wrong? Almost everything. Your favorite Irish songs. Your favorite Irish food. Even your favorite Irish saint – none of them are Irish. Find out what’s truly Irish – and what isn’t – when one of the center’s most popular speakers, Mark Sisti, presents a lively discussion debunking Irish myths once thought to be fact.
Admission is free. Register on Eventbrite to get the Zoom link.
Rory Makem a St. Patrick’s Day Concert
Wednesday, March 17, 7 p.m. on Facebook Live and at the ICC
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in true Irish style at the Irish Cultural Center.
After feasting on authentic pub fare at Five Points Public House, participants can enjoy music by famed Irish singer and guitarist Rory Makem.
The pub will be open from 4-10 p.m. with the dinner menu available from 4-9 p.m. Reservations should be made by calling 315-733-4228.
Rory Makem will perform via Facebook Live and the concert will be projected on the big screen in the event center. Due to COVID restrictions, seats in the event center are limited to 50. Those who would like to attend in-person should make a reservation for the concert by sending an email to Al Sisti at email@example.com and pay $5 at the door to help cover the pub’s expenses.
The concert may also be enjoyed at home on Facebook. Consider making a donation to Rory through his tip jar link during the concert.
The Blarney Rebel Band in Concert
Friday, March 19, 7 p.m. on Facebook Live
The Blarney Rebel Band, Central New York’s premier Irish band, is known to get the audience dancing, clapping, singing and laughing with rousing renditions of traditional Irish music, rollicking pub tunes, lively sea songs, moving ballads, stirring rebel songs, and their award-winning original compositions.
Their CDs have sold all over the world, and their most recent CD — “Ever Onward” — is their most ambitious effort yet, with one track, “Devil’s Ditch” garnering semifinal honors in the “Song of the Year” song and lyric writing competition.
They’ll be performing this benefit concert as part of the Irish Cultural Center’s Irish American Heritage Month celebrations to raise funds for the ICC’s new museum. A donation link will be available during the show.
The Troubles in Northern Ireland
Thursday, March 25, 7 p.m. on Zoom
Learn about the three decades of violent struggle in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles from someone who lived it. Geordy Austin will speak about the violent clashes between Nationalists and Unionists that took place between 1969 and 1998. He’ll also cover how civil rights are faring in Northern Ireland today.
Austin was born in a Catholic ghetto in Belfast called Carrick Hill. He worked as a longshoreman on the Belfast docks where he was elected as a union representative. While living in Belfast from 1969-1981, he witnessed many of the atrocities of the Troubles first hand. After several attempts on his life, he emigrated to the U.S. and settled in Syracuse.
Join the online event via Zoom. Register for a free link on Eventbrite.