The Irish Cultural Center and Elms College are pleased to offer a range of Irish classes for the 2014/2015 academic year. In addition, this partnership is again successful in bringing to campus our fifth consecutive Irish Language Fulbright Teaching Assistant, Vikki Ní Bhréin, from Dublin. She brings a great deal of talent and enthusiasm, and will help us showcase the language in our community.

Vikki will teach a Novice class for credit on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. In addition, she will teach the Intermediate class which may be taken on a credit or non-credit basis. This meets on Wednesday evening.

There will be two sections of the Introduction to Irish I non-credit class. Gerald (Chip) Costello, who has participated in Immersion Programs in Kerry and Connemara and has taught Irish at local schools, will teach on Tuesday evening. To accommodate beginners unable to attend classes during the week, Kathleen Gilhooly, a recently retired English teacher at Central High School, and an instructor at the ICC’s Lá na Gaeilge and the Celtic Adventures Camp, will teach another introductory session on Saturday mornings.

A new offering, Introduction to Irish I+, will be offered for students who have had an introduction to the language but are not yet prepared to enroll in the intermediate class. Tom Moriarty, professor emeritus at the Elms and founding member of the ICC, has taught Irish for many years. He has participated in Immersion Programs in Kerry and Donegal. Tom’s class will meet on Tuesday nights.

The ICC and its language subcommittee seek to provide new and satisfying activities for our membership. If you would like to be involved with our annual language day, to select Irish language films, or make suggestions, please contact Chip Costello or Tom Moriarty.

Finally, the ICC does have funds that have been provided by donations in memory of John Johnson. Because of his kindness, we have been able to offer “tuition free” classes for several people. If you are aware of anyone who would like to study the language and might need some assistance, you should call the Director of the Center, Ellen Dziura at 413-265-2537 for details. The maximum number of grants a student can receive from this fund is two.

We are looking forward to another great year. Talk with your friends about the classes, send in your registrations early, and help us increase our visibility for the program. Learn more about the classes and download a registration form.

This year’s Lá na Gaeilge on May 3, 2014 was marked by increased attendance, wonderful faculty, numerous workshops, and remarkably talented presenters. Students ranged from having no Irish to being fully fluent. The theme for the day was Labhair í agus marfidh sí (Speak it and it will last). With that in mind, everyone was encouraged to use whatever Irish they had and to enjoy the benefits of learning and speaking the language.

Participants came from Boston, Worcester, the metro-Springfield area, Utica, NY and Fairfield County, CT.  Four different classes were offered to accommodate the experience of the students. Instructors Kathleen Gilhooly, Mary McShane, Rath DeHoust, and Síobhra Aiken did fantastic jobs in presenting material, encouraging the students to use what they learned, and challenging them to see and appreciate some of the unique characteristics of the language.

There were several workshops throughout the day to supplement the classes. Many students look forward to the varied nature of the day, and Erin Mulvaugh’s popular Irish set dance class was one of the reasons. In addition, Jonathan Kennedy and Amanda Bernhard, recent masters graduates of the UC Galway Irish Language program, and Rath DeHoust facilitated two Irish conversation workshops. The final workshop offering was Irish film. Friendly English subtitles were mercifully available.

The highlight of the day was the presentation delivered by Breandán Ó Caollaí, the Consul General of Ireland in Boston. The ICC was very appreciative that he would take the time to visit with us on a Saturday to discuss the state of the Irish language in Ireland. He spoke about the Language Act, the government’s strategy to strengthen the language, and various statistics regarding the percentage of people who understand the language and use it outside of school or in the Gaeltachts. Breandán read the Nuala Ní Dhomnaill poem on the “Question of Language” to serve as a reminder of how fragile the life of a language can be. He concluded by asking several members of the audience why they were taking the time to learn the language. Many of the answers focused on the opportunity to learn about one’s heritage and culture. “Enjoy the benefits of learning and speaking a language that has been spoken for 2,500 years,” said Ó Caollaí.

Hearing native Irish speakers converse is a treat. Two familiar friends to the Irish Cultural Center, Mike Carney and Muiris Ó Bric, spoke of their native West Kerry roots and the importance of language in their lives. Both men delivered interesting and humorous stories and gave the audience the opportunity to hear what typical conversations in West Kerry would sound like. Both men are great friends and continue their conversations in Irish weekly by phone. This segment ended with Síobhra Aiken’s class reciting a poem, “For Mike Ceárna, Blasketman” written by the Irish poet Louis de Paor.

The day ended with a seisiúin – an opportunity to play an instrument, sing a song, or recite a poem. Fiddles, uillean pipes, and guitars created a wonderful atmosphere for the group. There were traditional songs sung by the group and fine individual efforts by Tom Moriarty, Rath DeHoust and Katie Fournier. The day concluded with the Irish National Anthem and a desire by many to keep the language alive for another 2,500 years.

– By Chip Costello

Irish Language Day 2014

Two Irish Language learners at Elms College were recently selected as recipients for a Gaeltacht Summer Award scholarship to continue their language studies in Ireland this summer. These awards are funded by the Irish Government’s Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and National Lottery.  Through the college’s and the ICC’s participation in the Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant program, we were able to nominate individuals.

The recipients are:
Amy Baker – English major, Irish Studies minor at Elms College
Gerald Costello – Irish Cultural Center member; Head of the ICC’s Language program 

This wonderful opportunity will help Amy as she continues her studies at Elms College in both her English major and Irish Studies minor. Gerald Costello will use his language immersion experience to increase his advanced language proficiency and bring a multitude of benefits to both the Irish Cultural Center and the Irish language students in the community program.
These recipients will study at NUI Galway International Summer School from July 11 – August 8, 2014. 

Pass on the Heritage | July 28 –August 1, 2014 | Download a registration form.

Celtic Adventures for Kids is a week-long program designed to give children in Grades 1 through 9 an introduction to the richness of Irish culture, through the auspices of the Irish Cultural Center at Elms College in Chicopee, MA. Space is limited. Sign up early!

Daily Activities Include:
– Irish language
– Irish dance
– Irish music
– Arts & crafts
– Storytelling/literature

What to bring: Sneakers with non-marking soles; soft dance shoes if your child has them; swimsuit and towel; lunch (optional: money to purchase snacks.) The Maguire Center swimming pool will be available for the children to use daily during the week; lifeguard is on duty.

The program is in session from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Participants should be dropped off between 8:45 and 9:00 am at the Maguire Center. Pick up is promptly at 3:00 pm at the Maguire Center.

WHEN: Monday, July 28 to Friday, August 1, 2014
WHERE: The Maguire Center at Elms College, Chicopee, MA
COST: $200 per child; $20 discount for Irish Cultural Center members; $20 discount for each additional child from the same family
NON-REFUNDABLE DEPOSIT: $50 with registration due by June 12, 2014
Please make check payable to Irish Cultural Center at Elms College.
Download a registration form.

Celtic Adventures for Kids

Representatives from many of Massachusetts’ Irish organizations were guests at the March 16 reception for Taoiseach Enda Kenny, at the Irish Cultural Centre of New England in Canton. The event was hosted by the Consul General of Ireland, Breandán Ó Caollaí. Síobhra Aiken, Elms College FLTA, and I had the pleasure of attending the program, meeting other organizations’ members, talking with old friends, and making new ones. The program consisted of the Taoiseach’s remarks, ranging from the new signs of Ireland’s economic recovery to the lasting contributions of the Irish in Massachusetts. He said that Ireland’s victory over France and its capture of the six nations tournament on Saturday were emblematic of a growing belief at home and in the future. Everyone had an opportunity to meet the Taoiseach, and we left Canton that afternoon thinking about the enduring connections between the people of Ireland and Massachusetts.

Written by previous Board president and ICC member, Chip Costello.



On May 3rd, the Irish Cultural Center at Elms College is sponsoring its fourteenth Lá na Gaeilge (Irish Language Day) on the Elms campus. This day of immersion in Ireland’s ancient language has become a key event in the Irish Center’s annual agenda. It is an opportunity for those with an interest in the language – beginners and those with varying levels of competence – to deepen their knowledge and appreciation of this vital component of Irish culture. The program consists of two classes available at four levels: a beginner’s class, a class for those who have an introductory knowledge of Irish, an intermediate-level class and a class for advanced learners.

As well as formal classes, the Lá na Gaeilge consists of workshops and Cómhrás (opportunities for conversation and dialog at the learner’s appropriate level). We are pleased to announce that the Consul General Breándan Ó Caollaí of the Boston Irish Consulate, an enthusiastic and fluent Gaeilgeoír, has agreed to attend and address our Lá na Gaeilge audience. We also plan to have as participants two great Irish speakers from the area who have been generous supporters of the Irish Cultural Center. Last but not least, one of the major participants on our day will be Síobhra Aiken, our Fulbright Scholar, who is teaching introductory and intermediate level Irish at Elms College. Lá na Gaeilge concludes with a seisiún at which participants have opportunity to display their talents. They are encouraged to bring their instruments.  

The Lá na Gaeilge begins with registration at 8:30 am and concludes with the seisiún at about 5:00 pm. The cost for members of the Irish Cultural Center is $40 and for non-members is $50. The cost for college-age and under students is $15. The price includes coffee, tea and light refreshments throughout the day and a generous luncheon. The Irish Cultural Center’s Lá na Gaeilge is a unique opportunity in our area to encourage and promote the Irish language. We hope that as many as possible will support our effort and participate. For further information contact Ellen Dziura at (413) 265-2537 or email us at You can also download a registration form.

Thanks to the Chicopee Cultural Council for their support.

Irish Language Day

Help us celebrate the ICC’s 15th anniversary by marching in the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade! We are excited to be participating with our float again this year, with a design that celebrates the ties that bind us to our Irish heritage: arts, language, travel and culture. We invite you to join us and walk proudly behind the Irish Cultural Center banner. Have an Irish breakfast at Elms College on parade morning, and then join us in Holyoke.

We hope you can join us!
Please let us know if you would like to march with the ICC – RSVP to or 413-265-2537 by March 17. More detailed information on meeting time, etc. will follow as we organize for this great event.

Parade Details
The parade is a 2.9 mile walk through Holyoke. We will meet at the K-Mart parking lot on Route 5, Northampton Street, in Holyoke, the morning of March 23. The parade will start at the parking lot just before noon, and ends at Holyoke City Hall. Marchers should arrange for their transportation at the end of the parade. We will be wearing our Irish sweaters or green jackets, with dark trousers.

This year’s parade promises to be another outstanding one. The Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade is the second largest in the country, with 200,000 onlookers regularly lining the parade route, and a total audience of 400,000. Learn more about the parade at

St. Patrick's Parade

Leave the driving and parking to us!
DANÚ CONCERT Bus Trip to UMass/Amherst Bowker Auditorium
Wednesday, March 12, 2014

$50/ICC members, $55/non-members, $35 Youth 17 & under
(Includes Bus + driver/tip + reserved orchestra seat ticket) 
Join the ICC now and pay member price!

CALL TODAY! For reservations, call Kathy Gallivan at 413-536-9709.
It’s NOT too late! We are still taking reservations! Limited to ONLY 30 Passengers.

Bus will depart from Elms College at 5:45 p.m. from the Sheila Ryan Flynn Parking Lot on the corner of Springfield Street and Fairview Avenue, Chicopee, MA (near the traffic lights). Doors open at 7:00, performance starts at 7:30 p.m.

DanuDon’t miss this rare appearance! Hailing from historic County Waterford, Danú is one of the leading traditional Irish ensembles of today. Their standing room only concerts throughout Ireland are true events featuring high-energy performances and a glorious mix of ancient Irish music and new repertoire.

For over a decade, Danú has played around the globe and recorded seven critically acclaimed albums. Winners of numerous awards from the BBC and Irish Music Magazine, Danú has toured throughout Europe, the Middle East, and North America.  Twice named the best traditional group by the BBC. Hailed as a “spirit-raising concoction” by The Irish Times, this five-member ensemble is among the most charismatic and sophisticated traditional Irish group performing today. Their traditional and modern sound is built around a vibrant mix of virtuoso players of the flute, tin whistle, button accordion, percussion, fiddle, and bouzouki coupled with the unforgettable rich vocals of Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh. Danú takes its audiences on a musical journey to their native Ireland, offering a moving and memorable concert experience.


In celebration of the upcoming 15th Anniversary of the Irish Cultural Center at Elms College, the Center is sponsoring its ninth “Journey of the Soul” tour to Ireland exploring Ireland’s spectacular Western and Southwestern Coastlines in early fall (September 7-17, 2014).

Tour itinerary: Download a PDF of the itinerary and additional information.

If you’ve ever wanted to experience the best of the Emerald Isle or follow your ancestral trail, this is the time – visit Westport, Achill Island, Galway, Cliffs of Moher, Dingle Peninsula, Killarney, Ennis and more. This is the “real” Ireland you dreamed about visiting that lets you embrace Ireland’s culture, warm hospitality and breathtaking beauty as you explore Ireland’s majestic western coastline and beautiful countryside.

Learn more about this West Coast of Ireland Tour.

The Irish Cultural Center has many events being planned for 2014. See the list below, and check our website and facebook page for updates in the coming weeks.

Irish Language Classes
Beginner and intermediate classes start in January 2014.

Ireland Tour Information Session
January 12, 2014

Irish Film Series
January 29, February 5, 12, 19, 2014

Irish Céilí
March 2014 TBD

Danú in Concert: UMass bus trip
March 12, 2014

Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade
March 23, 2014

Irish Film Festival
April 2014 TBD

Lá na Gaeilge: Day-long Irish language workshop
May 2014 TBD

Celtic Adventures for Kids
July 2014 TBD

West Coast of Ireland Tour
September 7 – 17, 2014