The Irish government’s Emigrant Support Programme has awarded the Irish Cultural Center of Western New England a $64,500 grant for support of a new Executive Director position for the facility serving a regional constituency.
The grant will support a full-time position whose focus will be on completion of the facility on Morgan Road, expansion of patrons and donors, and support of events aimed at promoting the Irish culture across the region. The position will be filled in the coming weeks.
Announcing the grant are U.S. Congressman Richard E. Neal, Consul-General of Ireland Fionnuala Quinlan, and ICC President Sean F. Cahillane. The announcement comes after an application process supported by all three, and following months of work to ensure approval.
Neal has long been a liaison between the United States and Ireland, and has been active in establishing the ICC as a regional presence to promote Irish culture here.
“This is great news for the Irish Cultural Center,” said Neal. “Having an Executive Director position will be incredibly beneficial to the region as it will create great international ties and continue to foster Irish culture and education right here in Western Massachusetts.”
Quinlan has visited the center several times from the Irish government’s regional consulate office in Boston, and said the new position will ensure ongoing stability and new growth.
“We are is thrilled that Irish Cultural Center of Western New England has received such a resounding message of support with full funding for this grant proposal,” she said.
Cahillane agreed, saying the center looks forward to getting someone on board quickly to launch this newest phase of growth.
“I extremely happy and proud to see that the Irish government has great faith and confidence in our mission and recent progress,” said Cahillane, one of the ICC’s founding fathers who now serves as president of the board, and has been instrumental in the move earlier this year to West Springfield.
“Recent hard work and progress at our new facility in the City of West Springfield is a pleasant turn of fortunes. It is a testament of our hard work and their support that the Irish government is now giving money to an organization located on this side of ‘the pond’ as they say.”
West Springfield Mayor William C. Reichelt, who recently traveled to Ireland with a group of city leaders to formalize a new sister-city relationship with Dingle, County Kerry, congratulated the ICC.
He called the grant a “step in the right direction and embellishes the strong international relations the City of West Springfield has built with the Irish government.”
“Our new sister-city relationship has paved a way for two diverse communities to work together to bridge cultures and create a network of new possibilities,” he said. “The ICC is the platform and hub that our communities will use and it is vital that the ICC receives this grant money to ensure the constituencies are being properly represented.”
The ICC now has more than 900 Patrons, an active restaurant and pub – the Irish House Restaurant and Trinity Pub are on the second floor of the four-level facility. The building includes office space on the third level. Works in progress include a library and genealogy center in the lower level and a banquet hall on the upper level.
The Irish government’s Emigrant Support Programme (ESP) is administered by the Irish Abroad Unit of the Department in Dublin, in partnership with our Embassies and Consulates abroad.
The ESP provides financial support to organizations engaged in the delivery of front line advisory services and community care to Irish emigrants. Key objectives are to celebrate, maintain and strengthen the links between Ireland the and global Irish, foster a more vibrant sense of community and of Irish identity, further the outcomes of the Global Irish Economic Forum, and to support business networks to connect Irish people to each other at home and abroad.
Since its inception in 2004, the Emigrant Support Programme has assisted over 400 organizations in 33 countries with grants totaling over €143 million. Grants ranged from small amounts for grass-roots groups, to major allocations awarded to voluntary and community organizations operating on a large scale.