Lúnasa Feis 2021 a Success

The ICC held our annual Lúnasa Feis on August 29. We welcomed over 400 Irish dance competitors and their families and friends. Thank you to our adjudicators, musicians, dancers and families, vendors, our many hard working volunteers, committee members, and the Eastern States Exposition! Special thanks to our Main Stage Sponsor Congressman Richard Neal, and Dance Stage Sponsor Ed Sullivan.

See more photos in our Facebook album > 

Lúnasa Feis 2021 Montage

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New Book from Local Author Mary Lou Connolly

Growing Up IrishMary Lou (Sullivan) Connolly lived the first 14 years of her life on Newbury Street in the Hungry Hill neighborhood of Springfield, Massachusetts. Her unique experiences growing up in this primarily working class, Irish Catholic section of the city shaped her childhood. She decided to commit her wonderful memories to paper— hence, Growing Up Irish, Memories of a Hungry Hill Childhood.

In her book, Mary Lou shares stories of the characters and events that were an integral part of her childhood in the 50’s and 60’s, including memories of her Irish immigrant grandparents, her parents and three brothers, friends, and her Catholic education. Full of self-deprecating humor and warmth, this book is about a special childhood in a special time and place.

Mary Lou is a graduate of Cathedral High School in Springfield, St. Francis Nursing School in Hartford, Boston College (BSN), and Boston University (MSN). She practiced nursing in a variety of settings and ended her 40-plus year career managing a home health consulting business. 

After living in the Boston area for several years, she met and married her husband Barry and following a short stay in Dearborn, Michigan, moved to Del Mar, California where they raised their children Meaghan and Michael.

Growing Up Irish, Memories of a Hungry Hill Childhood can be purchased online.

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Lúnasa Feis Irish Dance Competition August 29

Lúnasa FeisThe Irish Cultural Center of Western New England presents our annual Lúnasa Feis on Sunday, August 29. The Feis (Irish dance competition) is presented along with the Black Rose Academy of Irish Dance and Cassin Academy of Irish Dance. We are excited to welcome dancers back after last year’s necessary hiatus.

The ICC’s Lúnasa Feis has new location this year. The competition will take place rain or shine at Gate 1 of the Eastern States Exposition, 1761 Memorial Ave, West Springfield, MA. Parking is free and is located at Gate 1. The Feis features Irish dance competitions running from approximately 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.

Bakers can enter an Irish soda bread competition at the Feis.  First, second and third place winners in each category will win a Lúnasa Feis medal. The fee is $5 per entry, payable at the Feis. Visit the Lúnasa website for more information on entering.

A food truck will be available on-site. Storrowton Tavern and an open-air Beer Garden are located within a short walk of the dance venue. Both are open during the Feis. There will be several vendors of Irish dance-related products.

The Irish Cultural Center of Western New England has arranged for admission for all competitors’ families and guests, plus all visitors, to be free of charge.

Visitors are welcome to bring their own lawn chairs as seating is limited. Dogs are not permitted, except service animals. There is no video recording allowed at the competition.

Visit the Lúnasa website more information, FAQ, and guidelines for competitors and visitors.

Thanks to our Main Stage Sponsor, Congressman Richard Neal, and Dance Stage Sponsor, Ed Sullivan.  

The Irish word Lúnasa (LOO-nuh-suh) is traditionally used to describe an ancient Irish festival to celebrate the beginning of the harvest season and end of the summer months.

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Celebration of Life for Steve Goldthwaite

This past April, the Irish Cultural Center mourned the loss of our longtime friend, Patron, and advocate of the ICC, Steve Goldthwaite. Steve was an integral part of the Irish House Restaurant and Trinity Pub as a bartender, always ready with a smile or a joke from behind the bar. Steve’s family will be holding a celebration of life memorial with memories, music, and drinks at the ICC on August 21, from 12–4 pm. Our ICC Patrons and restaurant customers are welcome to attend to raise a glass and remember Steve’s kindness and friendship. Please RSVP to Remembering.Steve.G@gmail.com.

Steve Goldthwaite Celebration of Life

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Irish History Courses in September

The Irish Cultural Center is linking up with Irish historian, Sean Murphy, to introduce our community to live, weekly online Irish history courses. The courses are presented using Zoom. If you are unfamiliar with Zoom, no problem. Sean will contact you directly and assist you to get connected.

Sean presents two courses, divided into four-week modules. The first is a chronological general history of Ireland from ancient times to the present day. Students can enroll on a rolling basis for those parts of Irish history they are most interested in or have the time to participate in. The course module for September is The Protestant Ascendency and the Penal Laws: Late 17th and 18th Century Ireland. Takes place on Thursdays, September 9, 16, 23 & 30 from 7:30–9:00 pm. Download course flyer. 

The second course is a general history of each of the thirty two counties in Ireland. This covers the major events from ancient times to the present day. A profile of the major clans and of the most famous individuals from the county will be featured. Segments will also focus on historic sites, the county name, landscapes, and music and dance. This course will be particularly useful to those interested in their Irish heritage, seeking to understand their ancestral home, and the reasons their ancestors left. Featured in September is County Galway. Takes place on Thursdays, September 9, 16, 23 & 30 from 6:00–7:30 pm. Download course flyer. 

The enrollment fee is $80 for each four-week course. Courses are presented on Zoom. Each student will receive an electronic copy of each presentation. The classes are one and a half hours long to allow adequate time for questions and answers.

To Enroll
Please contact Sean directly for information or to enroll in his course(s) – send an email to seanmurphy630@gmail.com or call 508-790-0438.

About Sean Murphy
Sean Murphy was born and reared in Dublin and came to live on Cape Cod in 2005. He has a passion for his homeland and loves to share his knowledge and interest about his heritage through classes, workshops and conversation. He is a teacher of Irish history, music, and dance. Over the past twelve years he has taught courses at the Irish Cultural Center of New England in Canton, Cape Cod Sons of Erin, Cape Cod Cultural Center, the Cotuit Center for the Arts, and at venues on Nantucket.

His interest in Irish history and culture stems from his involvement in a wide range of community activities in Ireland starting in the late ’60’s. In 1998 he was elected as the representative of the community and voluntary sector on the Dublin City Development Board that produced the strategic Plan “Dublin: A City of Possibilities 2001-2012.”

In 2014 and 2019 he was awarded the Thomas P McCann “Altruism Award” trophy by the Cape Cod St. Patrick’s Day Committee for his “support and commitment to the Culture and Heritage of Ireland and its people.” He leads a traditional Irish music session in O’Shea’s Old Inne in West Dennis every Sunday night. He speaks on Irish cultural and historic issues at libraries, and at private and community events across the Cape and beyond.

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Another Great Year For Irish Language at the ICC

A strong partnership with Elms College and the Irish Language Fulbright Program served as the foundation for a great 2020/2021 academic year for Irish language learners at our Irish Cultural Center. Registrations for classes increased and new activities were introduced resulting in more local visibility for the language.

Gita Gallagher, our eleventh Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA), was an incredibly positive ambassador for the language, her culture, county, and Ireland itself. She played an instrumental role in establishing a local branch of Conradh na Gaeilge enabling students and others the chance to use their spoken Irish. In addition, she contacted writers and musicians to participate in Zoom presentations and our annual language Day. Gita has many new friends in western Massachusetts and her influence will continue to be felt.

We offered five classes at various learning levels last year on Zoom, necessitated by the pandemic. As usual, Kathleen Gilhooly provided great help by teaching two classes. Zoom has enabled us to attract some students from outside our immediate area including eastern Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Our annual Lá na Gaeilge (Irish language day) held on Zoom had over one hundred registrations. The theme for the day was “Voices of Cork.” UCC professors Aidan Doyle and Ríona Ní Churtáin presented on poet Seán Ó Ríordáin, while another poet, Greg Delanty, offered commentary on his newly published translations of Ó Ríordáin’s poetry. Bilingual poet Siobhán Ní Dhomhnaill also presented readings of her selected works, and traditional musicians Clíona Halley and Darragh Carey-Kennedy joined us live from Ireland. 

As the fall 2021 semester approaches, we are very blessed to welcome our twelfth Fulbright, Réaltín Nic Giolla Chainnigh (Mc Elhinney), from Inis Eoghan, Donegal. Réaltín attended the University of Ulster. In addition to her love of the Irish language, she has a keen interest in Gaelic football. She is an accomplished athlete who has played on her local club, school, and university teams. She is looking forward to sharing her knowledge of the Irish language and Gaelic football with us. By the way, she likes her Lyons Tea.

As you can see, the Irish language is alive in our area. Join us this semester and make some new friends. Language learning is more fun and effective as a social event. Classes this fall will again be taught on Zoomclick for more info on class schedules and to enroll.

– written by Irish language instructor Gerald Costello

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Thanks to PeoplesBank

The Irish Cultural Center of Western New England thanks PeoplesBank for their recent $500 donation to support our mission of preserving and promoting the Irish arts, culture, language and heritage. Pictured: Nicole Stevenson, Banking Center Manager West Springfield and Laura Hurley, Chief Advancement Officer ICCWNE.

PeoplesBank Check Donation

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Sangria Pairing Dinner on August 12

Sangria Pairing Dinner

Please join us at the Irish House Restaurant for a special Sangria Pairing Dinner on August 12 at 6:00 pm; dinner begins at 6:30 pm. Four courses, including Burrata Caprese Crostini with Prosciutto, Pasta Fagioli, Frutti di Mare Seafood, and Tiramisu, are paired with four perfectly chosen sangrias to accompany the meal.

Tickets are $45 for ICC Patrons, $50 for general public. There is a special ICC Patron presale for the first 7 days – tickets for the public go on sale August 4. General public may call for reservations during this time, and will be placed on a wait list until the presale is over. Seating is limited for this special event – for tickets, please call 413-342-4358.

Download information flyer and full menu.

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Westfield Starfires Baseball Irish Night on August 3

The Westfield Starfires Futures Collegiate Baseball Team is hosting an Irish Night at their game on August 3! Tickets are just $10 – they can be purchased in person at the ICC or the Irish House Restaurant. Or, you can purchase tickets online. The Starfires play at Bullens Field on Smith Ave in Westfield, MA. Click for more info on the team. 

Westfield Starfires Irish Night

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Make the ICC Your Sunday Gathering Place

SUNDAY BRUNCH BUFFET
Come join us for brunch served from 10 am – 1 pm. Dine inside or on our outdoor patio. Featuring a delicious offering of brunch items for a traditional Irish breakfast, and much more for every palate. $21.95 per person and $10.95 for children 10 & under. Plus classic brunch cocktails and our Bloody Mary bar with all the fixings.

On Sunday afternoons, the Trinity Pub is open from 1 – 6 pm (kitchen is closed). 

For reservations, call 413-342-4358 or reserve online at OpenTable.

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emigrant support program