Continuing Community – ‘The Next Bead’

Paul Snee

By Paul Snee, Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at Elms College.

Picture this; a family at the foot of the crossroads embracing each other for one last time, knowing this might be the last time to physically see their child. Unfortunately, here we see a familiar image of Ireland, an image the mind’s eye relates to clutched rosary beads and the infamous white boat. For many generations, leaving Ireland has been a common theme; the Starved Generation, the Fenian movement, the rebellion eras and more recently the Great Recession. In many ways the Irish old saying ‘Cloch eile ar an bpaidirínanother bead on the rosary beads captures the normality of exodus each generation has faced, a country unable to provide for its people.

Of course, the sentiment often feels like a numbed paradigm. The standard narration in response is the backward glance, looking back fondly but left without choice only to move on. Recalling images of rugged landscape, song and warmth of home. For many in the greater Springfield area a small piece of the heart never accepted passage on the boat, the western seaboard clung to the heartstrings. This was a necessary rational for the people of Cork, Mayo, Kerry amongst others where the land would only support one child – home provided suffrage no longer. Coming to the New World brought its own set of challenges, many leaving hunger in Ireland only to come to Hungry Hill and negotiate a new life, which, at times must have felt like the same circumstances in a different location. In many ways the migrants brought home to home.

Group at Elms College

Ben Ó Ceallaigh and lecture attendees at Elms College in January.

My regard for the Irish-American has increased so much since I arrived here almost six months ago. It’s a source of pride to see fellow Irish who left with only the clothes on their back, a crumpled ticket in a clenched fist to achieve what they have. Today’s institutions emerged from the same people, decedents of whom can be seen in the attributing pictures. Our Lady of the Elms provided opportunity for young females to pursue education at a time where neither Catholics nor females held much social capital. In pioneering female education in Western Massachusetts, Irish Catholics laid example to the Catholic community. A better life was no longer unachievable. Many of the second generation earning university degrees, a success simply unimaginable in Ireland given what they left. Later, the community breathed new life, twenty years ago this year with the birthing of the Irish Cultural Center of Western New England (ICC) from Elms College. In review, these developments are a measuring stick of the strides made over the past century, knitting the social fabric of the community together as well as providing a communal focal point. Accounts from members, central to the projects in the pending years attest to as much. Time in bearing witness to these changes has seen progress go from strength to strength with the Irish both sides of the Atlantic – Ireland and Western Massachusetts. The visitors over the years attest to this; Mary McAleese and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill are two speakers of note representative of these ties. A former president and also a poet renowned the world over but to name two. This is a testament to the vibrancy and demand on both sides of the Atlantic to deepen our roots. Not bad for what by United States standards is a small community west of Boston.

Naturally now, the challenge becomes how to nourish this connection, with the next bead on the chain as it were. Today’s society is wrapped in a set of social circumstances different to that of faced by our predecessors. We live in a time ever more individualistic and egocentric. Generations now must grapple with retaining identity while at the same time engaging with a social flux not yet developed. This intersection brings many of our previous values into light, needing re-evaluation. The question remains then, how can we continue to serve our community and remain faithful to the spirit upon which the project was founded.

Ben Ó Ceallaigh

Ben Ó Ceallaigh.

This I argue makes the relationship between Elms College and the Irish Cultural Center (ICC) more important than ever. It represents a constant in a changing environment, a grounding in reality in a life of superficiality. The lecture series coordinated between Elms College and the Irish Cultural Center provided by Ben Ó Ceallaigh was embolic of this relationship. His discussion showed an Ireland not typically discussed, overlooking romance and the benign narrative to induce critical discussion. His lectures drew localised issues and contextualised them on the international setting, treading issues in Ireland to global systematic structures – a microcosm of the whole. Ó Ceallaigh in drawing evidence from his research combed these overarching issues through the eyeglass of capitalism, neo-liberalism and identity. These concepts he argues are intrinsically linked to our everyday life settings.

The first lecture 1, Macroeconomic Forces and Majority and Minority Language Use in particular achieved this, linking overarching aspects of socio-economic change and their impact on the average person. Lecture 2 developed this idea further, championing the need for a social response in the form of education and community; Grassroots Language Activism and Radical Politics: Current and Historical Examples from the Gaelic Contexts.

Lecture 3, Minority Languages and Modernity: Technological and Social Challenges for Minority Language Reproduction focused on the minority language learner, highlighting the challenges and also recommending resources. Workshop Gàidhlig for Gaeilgeoiri (Scots-Gaelic and Irish) examined linguistically the two sister languages, exploring phonological and morphological divergence and how they have become realised in the modern language usage.

Lecture at the ICC

Attendees at Ben Ó Ceallaigh’s lecture series at the ICC in January.

The success of the events was not merely a success for Springfield but a success for Irishness and identity. The strong turnout of over one hundred people over the duration of the series indicates the massive financial investment made by the ICC was indeed the correct decision. The experience was made more special in linking up communities within the surrounding areas with people from Amherst, Boston, Brattleboro and Worcester also in attendance.

In bridging the gap between the new and the old, the series succeeded speaking on behalf of both Irish communities. Through recounting shared past experiences the audience without doubt felt a sense of importance in understanding Ireland has shaped the Irish-American but so too has the Irish-American shaped Ireland. It should be remembered that emerging from a common social fabric this heritage is ours to share. The language focus of the series is significant as there is no more profound signifier of identity. Ó Ceallaigh’s presentations remind and help us get closer to that understanding.

A word of thank you to Elms College and the Irish Cultural Center. A special thank you to the following for supporting the series: Dr. Joyce Hampton, William Dziura and David Kimbell from Elms College. Also, to Sean Cahillane, Katie Doe, Gerald Costello and all the staff of the ICC without whom this would not have been possible.

faoi scáth a chéile a mhaireann daoine’– people live under the shadow of one another

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Saint Brigid’s Day Raffle Drawing Held

On February 1, the ICC held our drawing for the Saint Brigid’s Day raffle at the Irish House Restaurant and Trinity Pub. It was a full house and a huge success, thanks to so many volunteers! Congratulations to Carey Noonan for winning the big prize, a trip for two to Ireland on his choice of one of three ICC group tours in 2018. A special thanks to Brian De Staic Jewellers of Dingle, for the donation of our second prize, a beautiful 14K Saint Brigid’s cross necklace. Congratulations to Helen Burnham of Portsmouth, NH on her win.

Raffle organizer Deb Brady gave a warm welcome as guests waited with baited breath to hear the winners called. Thanks for your hard work Deb! ICC President Sean Cahillane and new Executive Director Bo Sullivan also spoke. Danny Eaton from the Majestic Theater said a few words about Saint Brigid, and invited all to the March 3 matinee of Outside Mullingar, which is a fundraiser for the ICC. Deb Brady, Bo Sullivan and ICC board member and travel coordinator extraordinaire Rose Baker all took part in the big drawing.

Thanks to all the local businesses who helped the ICC in the sale of raffle tickets! In Holyoke: Bresnahan Insurance, Highland Card and Gift, and Mrs. Mitchell’s Kitchen; in West Springfield: Elm Street Deli, RF Miller Framing, Flowers by Webster, and Foley Insurance; and in Chicopee: McClelland’s Florist.

Saint Brigid's Day Raffle

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YankCelt Band Perform at the Trinity Pub

YankCelt Band

**Update as of Feb. 4 – we only have about 20 tickets left available, standing room only. If you’re interested in this show, please call and order advance tickets!**

The ICC invites you to an evening with the YankCelt Band on Friday, March 9 at 8:00 pm at the ICC’s Irish House Restaurant and Trinity Pub at 429 Morgan Road, West Springfield, MA.

Tickets are available in two options
• table seating for dinner (reservations required), or
• general seating/standing at the bar or in the back room

Please call the ICC at 413-333-4951 or 413-342-4358 or visit in person to purchase tickets and make reservations. Tickets are limited – advance purchase is highly recommended. Cost is $25 ICC Patrons / $28 general / $30 door.

From Bo Fitzgerald and the YankCelt Band
“As we said last March, we hope that we leave ‘enough on the table’ for a reunion in 2018. So here we are planning our Farewell Tour Part Three for March 2018. Somehow, St. Patrick’s Day would seem very odd and empty without Bo, Craig, Mixie, Jeff, Guy and Billy performing. We all look forward to seeing you in March!”


Presenting Sponsor
Westfield Bank
Gold Sponsor
Freedom Credit Union




Green Sponsors
The Big EAllen St Package Store





All sales are final. Refunds are given ONLY in the event of cancellation by performers.

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Bo Sullivan Named Executive Director of the ICC

Bo SullivanThe Irish Cultural Center of Western New England has appointed Westfield resident Bo Sullivan as Executive Director of the organization.

Sullivan, well known for his 20-year stint as a radio host at WHYN, will begin his work duties at the ICC on January 15. Most recently he has worked in advancement and development at Westfield State University, in fund-raising, development, and developing and maintaining community partnerships.

In his new role, he will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the ICC, from operations and finance to events, promotion and development. His selection to this newly created position is thanks to a grant from the Irish government’s Emigrant Support Programme, aimed at supporting organizations that celebrate, maintain and strengthen the links between Ireland and the global Irish community.

Sullivan said he is ready to go and eager to continue the growth of the ICC, which serves communities across Western Massachusetts, Northern Connecticut and beyond.

“I’m thrilled to have this job. I plan on hitting the ground running,” Sullivan said. “The first phase of the building is done, and the excitement surrounding the Center is evident. It’s now time to initiate a capital campaign and make sure the vision of the Board is fulfilled.”

“The impact on the Irish culture throughout Western New England as a whole, and Western Massachusetts in particular, is obvious and historic. I hope to bring those different programs together to further the heritage and history of the Irish people, and to have some fun while doing so,” he added.

A lifelong resident of Westfield, Sullivan has worked as a political and business consultant, and was President of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield from 2004 to 2015. He has also volunteered his time with several non-profit organizations and charity events.

ICC President Sean F. Cahillane said the choice of Sullivan was an easy one, given his background in community work, development and fund-raising. His passion for keeping the Irish culture alive was also a factor.

“We’re very excited to be working with Bo Sullivan, and we know his dedication to community and the Western New England region will make him an invaluable asset to the ICC,” Cahillane said.

“He’s dedicated to the Western New England region, and he is an able communicator who has a proven record working with organizations that do good things. Bo Sullivan will keep us on a path to growth and continued success,” Cahillane said.

The ICC is in its 20th year supporting Irish culture in a variety of ways, including music, language, history, education and travel. Nearly one year ago, the organization moved to 429 Morgan Road in West Springfield, and launched an expansion program that is well underway.

Currently, the ICC is home to the Irish House Restaurant and Trinity Pub. Construction is continuing for a library, museum and genealogy center, and a performance center.

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Outside Mullingar: ICC Fundraiser Performance

Outside Mullingar

Please join us for a special performance at the Majestic Theater on March 3 at 2:00 pm as a fundraiser for the Irish Cultural Center!

From John Patrick Shanley, author of “Doubt” and “Moonstruck” comes this lovely story set in the Midlands of Ireland. Anthony and Rosemary are two lovelorn neighboring farmers who haven’t got a clue when it comes to love. Anthony’s father, Tony, and Rosemary’s mother, Aoife, have been locked in a bitter land feud. Rosemary has been romantically interested in Anthony for all of her life. But, he is shy and unaware of her feelings. He also doesn’t like the daily grind of farming and his father is threatening to leave the farm to a nephew from America. For these hopeless singletons to find happiness they will have to overcome the land feud, familial rivalries, and their own romantic fears. The story is a tenderhearted portrait full of dark humor and poetic prose that reminds us it’s never too late to take a chance on love.

Reserved Seat Tickets: $26 – $29
Saturday, March 3 at 2:00 pm
All ticket holders will receive a $10 coupon for food purchases at the ICC’s Irish House Restaurant. See coupon for details.

Intermission Snack $5: Irish Scone w/Butter (please pre-order)

Please Call the Box Office to Purchase Tickets
Majestic Theater, 131 Elm Street, West Springfield
Box Office: 413-747-7797

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Lecture Series: The Irish Language

Ben O CeallaighThe Irish Cultural Center invites you to a lecture series presented by Ben Ó Ceallaigh. Ben has spent the last three years teaching Irish in the Celtic Studies Department at the University of Edinburgh, and has instructed adult learners in Irish in the Gaeltachts. He is a PhD student in the Effects of Globalisation on Minority Languages at the University of Edinburgh, and is fluent in Irish, Scots Gaelic, and Manx Gaelic.

1:00 – 2:30 pm
Macroeconomic Forces and Majority and Minority Language Use

3:00 – 4:30 pm
Grassroots Language Activism and Radical Politics: Current and Historical Examples from the Gaelic Contexts

VENUE: Irish Cultural Center • 429 Morgan Road • West Springfield, MA

2:00 – 3:30 pm
Minority Languages and Modernity: Technological and Social Challenges for Minority Language Reproduction

VENUE: Elms College Library Theatre • 291 Springfield Street • Chicopee, MA

7:00 – 8:30 pm
Workshop: Gáidhlig for Gaeilgeoirí (Scots-Gaelic and Irish)
This workshop is mainly focused on Irish language students; the public is welcome to attend.

VENUE: Elms College Berchmans Hall Room 218 • 291 Springfield Street • Chicopee, MA

About These Lectures – Ben Ó Ceallaigh
In this series of talks, we will explore one of the most significant cultural shifts taking place in the 21st century, the process of language extinction which is seeing the vast majority of the world’s languages falling out of use in favour of a handful of “mega-languages.” While receiving only a fraction of the publicity, languages are actually far more endangered than flora or fauna – experts believe that by the end of this century it is likely that some 90% of the roughly 7,000 languages currently spoken will have died out. This is clearly a staggering rate of loss, one which is equivalent to the destruction of the vast majority of the world’s libraries, museums and sites of historical interest.

Based on my doctoral research in the University of Edinburgh, I will examine this phenomenon of language shift with specific reference to Ireland’s indigenous, but minoritised, language. As well as giving some historic background, by looking at the challenges posed by the major social changes of our age – globalisation, economic crisis, technological development, and so on – I will explain many of the key factors responsible for language endangerment in Ireland and elsewhere. Having explored the nature of these challenges, I will also discuss some of the ways in which speakers of Irish (and the other Gaelic languages in Scotland and the Isle of Mann) are challenging these trends and attempting to ensure that our languages remain vibrant for many years to come.

I will also run a “pan-Gaelic” workshop on the differences between Irish and Scottish Gaelic. In this workshop we will look at some of the shared Gaelic history of these two countries and give tips for overcoming the main sources of difficulty faced by Irish speakers when attempting to communicate with our Scottish Gaelic cousins.

Lecture series is free and open to the public.
Beatha teanga í a labhairt. The life of a language is to speak it.

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Grant Awarded by the Irish Government’s Emigrant Support Programme

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.”

Emigrant Support Programme

ICC board member James Cannon, ICC Director Ellen Gallivan, board member Mary Ellen Lowney, Consul-General of Ireland Fionnuala Quinlan, ICC President Sean Cahillane and board member Jeanne Ahern at the Irish Consultate in Boston.

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.

Additional coverage on MassLive >

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Year-End Giving

Wow! This was a year of great opportunity, progress and growth for the Irish Cultural Center of Western New England.

We strive to be one of your favorite non-profit groups, along with your college, church or favorite cause. Are you committed to promoting and preserving Irish heritage? As the year comes to a close, many people make additional charitable donations, and we gratefully ask that you consider increasing your support to the Irish Cultural Center.

Your support as a Patron this year and in prior years demonstrates that you have made a commitment to preserve, promote and cherish Irish culture and heritage. We look forward to your visit at our new home. The Irish House Restaurant and Trinity Pub will provide a welcoming atmosphere. Our Library/Museum is currently under construction and is nearing completion.

The ICC is an IRS Section 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization. All donations are tax exempt. The distinguishing characteristics of the ICC are its emphasis on cultural and educational programming. The ICC also serves as a bridge between the Irish government, the citizens of Ireland and the Western New England region.

We have worked steadfastly these past two years at our new location at 429 Morgan Road in West Springfield. The 10-acre facility has enabled the ICC to establish a new home, a place in which to gather. We are making significant progress in our efforts to renovate and restore the building. Construction of the various elements of the facility have been ongoing and will continue in stages well into 2018.

We sincerely appreciate and thank you for your support of the Irish Cultural Center. Please donate online today – you will also receive a letter by mail if you’d prefer to donate by check. We wish you a wonderful holiday season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thank you,

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Gift Certificates to the Irish House Restaurant

Gift certificates

A gift certificate to the ICC’s Irish House Restaurant and Trinity Pub makes the perfect gift or stocking stuffer! Please call 413-342-4358 or visit us at 429 Morgan Road, W. Springfield, MA. Open Wednesday through Saturday / 3 – 10 pm.

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Celebrate New Year’s Eve from Ireland

New Year's Eve from Ireland

*Update: We are completely booked for our first New Year’s Eve from Ireland. We are taking names and numbers if there are any cancellations. Please call if you would like to be notified: 413-342-4358.*

Join us at the Irish House Restaurant and Trinity Pub on the evening of December 31 as we ring in the New Year at 7 pm local time, with a live stream of the ball drop in Ireland at midnight Irish time!

Festivities include a buffet from 5 – 7 pm with a selection of hearty appetizers, including potato skins, chicken guyons and colcannon flat bread, and decadent desserts. Plus, live music with Tim and Cindy starting at 6 pm. We’ll celebrate the New Year with a champagne toast at 7 pm as the ball drops in Ireland.

Cost is $25 per person, and includes buffet and champagne toast. Reservations are required – please call 413-342-4358. Pub will be open from 3 – 10 pm.

If you would like to join us and not have the buffet, we will be offering a smaller menu to accommodate you.

Download the flyer for more information.

New Year's Eve from Ireland

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