He was not known as Dr. Moriarty to his Irish language students but simply as Tom. Although he was a scholarly man with significant history and language credentials, he was very approachable and thoroughly enjoyed every Irish language student who attended his classes in Berchmans Hall.

When he started teaching Irish to members of the public, there were not as many materials available as there are today. He used a dictionary, a Christian Brothers’ grammar, and a conversation manual to be able to construct a curriculum that became accessible to members in our western Massachusetts community. Without his leadership as well as help from George Bresnahan and Kathleen Gilhooly, very few in our area would have been introduced to the unique richness of the Irish language that is so important to our shared heritage.

I remember my first class with Tom. Our class lacked confidence, but he would begin with a proverb or an Irish placename. Rather than plowing forward with grammar, he managed to draw you in without overwhelming you with detail. Once the hook was set, there was no escaping. In many cases, the student began his lifelong journey to learn the structure of the language, develop speaking skills, and encourage others to do the same thing. Tom’s salesmanship was unassuming and low key yet very effective.

Over the years, I was lucky to become his friend. We worked together with our wonderful Elms partners to establish our existing Fulbright link, the annual Irish language day, and the recruitment of Irish language poets Nuala Ní Dhomnaill, Louis de Paor, and Darina Ní Chinnéide. None of these events would have been possible without Tom’s leadership and collaboration skills. The development of these extraordinary programs and introduction of these personalities to our community made us unique. As a result of his dedication, there are now many dedicated and capable Irish language students in the area.

I spent time last month in West Kerry with Tim Allen, a longtime friend of Tom’s, discussing what we admired about our friend. Being proud of his Holyoke and Kerry roots was very clear, but it was his personal qualities – courtesy, loyalty, curiosity and appreciation – that won us over. I would be remiss not to mention his attention to detail on preparing a proper pot of tea as well as his appreciation of a nicely drawn pint. It was a nice night reminiscing about our friend.

The following day I met two Irish speaking people from Cork who were involved with the administration of a Gaelscoil (Irish Speaking School). To be comfortable talking with those people in our shared Irish language was a wonderful gift and a reminder of Tom’s special legacy.

I thought back to that first class in Berchmans Hall and the proverb that he used. Is minic a rinne bromach gioblach capall cumasach. (A ragged colt often made a powerful horse). All of us increased our mastery of the language under his guidance. For that and for all his other kindnesses, we thank him and will not forget him.

– by Gerald Costello

The ICC was honored to welcome members of the Kerry County Council to a Mingle with Dingle reception on September 15, 2023, while they were here to meet with local leaders and to tour the Dingle Peninsula Pavilion at the Big E on opening weekend. We continue to nurture the close ties between Kerry and the Springfield, MA area.

The visiting representatives were:
• Councillor Bobby O’Connell – Chairperson of Castleisland, Corca Dhuibhne Municipal District
• Councillor Johnnie Wall – Mayor of Tralee Municipal District and Vice Chairperson of Kerry County Council
• Councillor Brendán Fitzgerald – County Councillor for Castleisland, Corca Dhuibhne
• Christy O’Connor – Director of Corporate Services, Kerry County Council and Dingle Municipal District Manager

Dingle Distillery also provided a tasting of their whiskey, vodka and gin.

Kerry County Council
L to R: Councillor Brendán Fitzgerald, Christy O’Connor, ICC President Sean Cahillane, Councillor Bobby O’Connell, Councillor Johnnie Wall.

Vendors, and businesses from Dingle, Ireland, are showcasing their art, crafts and products in the Dingle Peninsula Pavilion at The Big E.

Big E Dingle Pavilion

ICC President Sean Cahillane welcomed Síghle Fitzgerald (Consul General of Ireland Boston) and Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan (Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media) on a tour of the area and a visit to the ICC on September 17, 2023.

Consul General Fitzgerald and Minister O'Donovan

West Springfield’s Sister City Committee welcomed representatives from sister city Valdarno, Italy this past weekend to the ICC for a wine tasting. The wines and olive oil were all from the Tuscany region specific to Valdarno.

Wine Tasting with Sister City
L to R: ICC President Sean Cahillane, ICC General Manager Michael Ratte, West Springfield Schools Superintendent Stefania Raschilla, West Springfield Sister City Chair Edward Sullivan, Honorary Consul General for the Italian Consulate in Springfield Paul Picknelly, West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt, Valdarno Mayor Nicola Benini, Alessandra Ferrati of the Strada del Vino Terre de Arezzo, bNapoli owner Gennaro Moccia.

Moonglow

Join us at the Majestic Theater for a special performance on Wednesday, October 25 as a fundraiser for the Irish Cultural Center!

Set in Lowell, Massachusetts in the 1960s, Moonglow is a romantic comedy that combines fresh dialogue, interesting characters, and a bit of good old Catholic guilt. Ray Healy is a middle-aged music teacher and Catholic School band director whose personal life is “a big question mark.” When his secretary finally comes clean about her romantic aspirations for their relationship, secrets about Ray’s past are revealed. This clever and warm play has some surprises up its sleeve – it is witty and full of heart, sure to surprise and entertain. Written by Jack Neary.  

This performance is a dress rehearsal with half of profits being donated to the ICC.
Tickets: $25
Wednesday, October 25, 2023 at 7:30 pm
All ticket holders will receive a 10% off coupon for the ICC’s Irish House Restaurant (food only).

Intermission Snack for $5: Irish Scone (please pre-order when purchasing your ticket – last day to order scones is Monday, October 23)

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

The Irish Cultural Center is linking up with Irish historian, Sean Murphy, to introduce our community to live, weekly online Irish history courses. Sean presents two monthly topics, divided into four-week modules. Courses are presented on Zoom. Each student will receive an electronic copy of each presentation.

The first topic is a general history of Ireland from ancient times to the present day. The course module for October 2023 is From Gaelic Celts to Christianity. Takes place on Thursdays, October 5, 12, 19 & 26 from 7:30–9:00 pm. Download course flyer >

The second topic is a general history of each of the thirty two counties in Ireland. Featured in August 2023 is County Wexford. Takes place on Thursdays, October 5, 12, 19 & 26 from 6:00–7:30 pm. Download course flyer >

To Enroll
The enrollment fee is $90 for each four-week course. Please contact Sean directly for information or to enroll in his course(s) – send an email to seanmurphy630@gmail.com or register at www.irishhistory.online.

About Sean Murphy
Sean Murphy was born 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.
www.irishhistory.online

ICC Book Club

Join us in the new Irish Cultural Center Book Club. We’ll enjoy good craic and delve into Irish and Irish-American literature, with guided discussion in a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere. This event is open to all, Patrons and the general public. 

Our October meeting will take place on Thursday, October 12 from 5:30–6:30 pm in the Trinity Pub. Participants are encouraged to arrive a few minutes early to get settled, perhaps grab a drink, mix and mingle. You are welcome to stay after at the Trinity Pub to socialize with dinner or drinks.

We are reading “Midlife Irish: Discovering My Family and Myself” by Frank Gannon. At times funny, poignant, and heartbreaking, “Midlife Irish” draws on the universal themes of love, loss, and laughter that have kept the Irish both miserable and happy–often at the same time–throughout the years.

To Register
The Book Club is free to join. Please register ahead so we know how many people to expect. Register online >

Midlife IrishAbout “Midlife Irish: Discovering My Family and Myself”

Irish-American. What does this vague term really mean? Millions of people describe themselves as Irish-American, but beyond celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a drunken zeal, how many of them know really anything about their cultural ancestry? It is this curiosity that got the better of Frank Gannon–the son of a couple of straight-off-the-boat Irish immigrants.

His mother and father, who never spoke about life on the Emerald Isle, raised him in New Jersey, thousands of miles from Ireland. But after both his parents passed away, he realized he knew nothing about who they really were and where they came from–and in effect, where he came from. Now at the half-way point in his life, Gannon decided to fill in the blanks. He embarked on a journey to Planet Green and slowly pieced together the lives of his parents. Before long, he discovered much about his mother and father, and just as much about himself. (text from barnesandnoble.com)

Available from several vendors online or your favorite local book shop. Or, check your local library. 

Eilis Kennedy on September 19

The Irish Cultural Center invites you to a special evening with Éilís Kennedy, internationally-known Irish singer/songwriter from Dingle, and multi-instrumentalist Adam Hendey. This intimate acoustic performance will showcase the talents of one of Ireland’s most celebrated folk singers.

Join us on Tuesday, September 19 at 6:00 pm at the ICC’s Irish House Restaurant and Trinity Pub. Doors open at 4:30 pm. Guests taking part in the buffet are encouraged to arrive early to enjoy your meal.

Purchase tickets online or call the ICC at 413-342-4358.

Tickets: Show Only (food not included)
$25 ICC Patrons / $30 general public

Tickets: Show Plus Buffet
$55 ICC Patrons / $60 general public

Get tickets online

Irish House Buffet Menu
– Braised Pork Shank
– Irish Whiskey Salmon
– Root Vegetable Jardiniere
– Garlic Mashed
– Chef’s Choice Sides

Full bar will be open for all ticket holders.

This is a seated show. Seating location is first come, first served. Seating includes tables with regular height chairs and taller bistro-style. Please let us know if special seating accommodations are required.

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

About Éilís Kennedy
Éilís was born and raised in West Kerry, Ireland by parents who passed on a lifelong and committed interest in the poetry and songs of that region. The emotion and stories associated with Gaelic singing informed her love of song, having been fortunate to listen to many of the finest singers in her locality. As well as being recognized as one of Ireland’s foremost folk singers, Éilís plays whistle and Irish flute and is a fluent  native Gaelic speaker.

Éilís has recorded three solo albums with her friend and Grammy award winning US guitarist William Coulter – Time to Sail, One Sweet Kiss, and Westward.

In 2007, along with composer Shaun Davey, Rita Connolly, Seamus Begley, Jim Murray, Eoin Ó Beaglaoich, and Dáithí Ó Sé, Éilís was a part of BéalTuinne – Live at St. James’ Church, Dingle. The common thread was a sense of place, and pride in the undeniable magic of West Kerry.

Éilís formed Lumiere with fellow West Kerry musician Pauline Scanlon in 2009, on discovering a shared interest in and love of song and enjoying the new experience of duo singing. They have recorded two award winning albums – Lumiere, and My Dearest Dear.

Songwriting is a new departure for Éilís and her newest album, So Ends This Day, is a themed album of songs she has composed about lives involved in whaling, New Bedford whalers and their wives, including a song about the Fenian rescue in Fremantle by the whaleship Catalpa in 1876. The album received critical acclaim and was nominated for an RTE Folk Award. Eilís also received the 2021 ACLSR Award for Female Vocalist of the Year. The song Petticoat Whalers from the album is a runner up in the 2021 American Songwriter International Songwriting competition.

Éilís continues to sing and play with a variety of musicians at the pub she has run with her husband, John Benny Moriarty, in Dingle for the past 25 years.

About Adam Hendey
Adam is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and composer living in Boston, MA. Known for his sense and skill as a sought-after accompanist in the city’s vibrant traditional music communities, Adam is available for private and group instruction, professional collaborations, and commissions for new music in Boston and beyond.

Adam is a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where he studied Traditional Music as a Master’s student, and the Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon, where he finished with Bachelor’s degrees in Music and Philosophy.

Video > Éilís Kennedy – Petticoat Whalers (Live from John Benny’s Pub Dingle) 

Video > Éilís Kennedy – Ciumhais Charraig Aonair (Live from John Benny’s Pub Dingle) 

Video > Éilís Ní Chinnéide – An Droighneán Donn | Tigh John Benny, An Daingean | Geantraí 2009 |TG4

WEST SPRINGFIELD––“In the Name of the Son,” Irish filmmaker Mark McLoughin’s moving documentary recounting Mags Riordan’s life-saving efforts in Cape Maclear, Malawi, will be shown at the Majestic Theater, Tuesday, September 26 at 7 pm. Tickets, which are $20, can be purchased by calling or visiting the theater’s box office. A talkback session with McLoughlin and Riordan will follow the screening of the 50-minute documentary.

Riordan, who splits her time between Cape Maclear and Dingle, Ireland, started the clinic in 2004 to honor the memory of her son, Billy, who drowned while visiting Malawi five years earlier. After learning that the impoverished but physically beautiful land had just one doctor for every 800,000 residents, Riordan began raising funds, including during annual visits to the Big E in West Springfield. The clinic tends to the basic medical needs of 30,000 Malawians each year.

West Springfield-based non-profit Billy’s Malawi Project USA, which worked with McLoughlin on the film’s development, has funded several projects at the clinic over the past two decades. Those, in part, include the building of an HIV/AIDS clinic; funding solar panels that allow Billy’s Clinic to function independently of the country’s unreliable electrical infrastructure; and purchasing a vehicle to transport patients from Chembe Village to large hospitals elsewhere in Malawi.

The compelling film is the latest accounting of the clinic’s work. Bondsville author and Bay Path University instructor Suzanne Strempek Shea’s This Is Paradise introduced many to Riordan’s remarkable story of resilience and compassion. That was followed by Mags, Majestic Theater producing director Danny Eaton’s stage adaptation of Strempek Shea’s book. The play starred Cate Damon.

The Majestic Theater box office on 131 Elm Street, West Springfield, is open Monday – Friday, 10 am – 5 pm, and Saturdays, 10 am – 1 pm. The phone is 413-747-7797.

In the Name of the Son

The ICCWNE hosted its 4th annual Lúnasa Feis on Sunday, August 27 at the Eastern States Exhibition in West Springfield, MA. Over 500 Irish dancers from all the New England states, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Canada attended the day-long competition.

Lúnasa now has the distinction of being the largest feis in New England. As the only feis in western Massachusetts, Lúnasa also gives local dancers a chance to compete in their own backyard without hours of travel. The location on the Eastern States fairgrounds is perfect in terms of parking, mobility, and amenities.

We were also honored to welcome Vice Consul General of Ireland to New England, Paul Rooney, to the event.

We would like to thank the Cassin Academy and the Black Rose Academy for their partnership with the ICCWNE. Our continued working relationship has proven to be a winning combination for this event. We would also like to thank all the volunteers who gave their time and talents to make the feis a success, and our sponsors for their support.  

Presenting Sponsors: Congressman Richard Neal, Westfield Bank. Main Stage Sponsors: AAA Northeast, Consulate General of Ireland/Boston, Specialty Bolt & Screw. Dance Stage Sponsors: Arclin, The Dowd Agencies, Elm Family Dentistry, Lattitude Restaurant, Pignatare & Sagan, Ed Sullivan, Sullivan, Keating & Moran.

Visit our Facebook Gallery for more photos of the Lúnasa Feis >

Lúnasa Feis 2023

House of Hamill

The ICC invites you to an afternoon of indie Irish fiddle and folk music with the premier trio House of Hamill – Brian Buchanan, Rose Baldino, and Caroline Browning. Their dynamic performances have been extremely popular in their many years of playing for the ICC, and include original instrumentals, reimagined folk ballads, and original songs that showcase the trio’s versatility.

House of Hamill performs on Sunday, November 12 at 3:00 pm at the ICC’s Irish House Restaurant and Trinity Pub. Doors open at 1:00 pm. Food and drinks will be available for purchase (not included in ticket cost). Guests are encouraged to arrive early if ordering food.

Purchase tickets online or call the ICC 413-342-4358. Tickets are $23 for current ICC Patrons, and $28 for the general public, online fees apply.

Once the main room sells out, tickets will become available for our rear Celtic Room. The room has an obstructed view of the show when seated; guests may stand in the main room during the show. Celtic Room tickets are $25.

This show will sell out! Online sales end at 8 am on November 12. Day-of tickets at the door are $30, cash only.

This is a seated show. Seating location is first come, first served. Seating includes tables with regular height chairs and taller bistro-style. Please let us know if special seating accommodations are required.

Get tickets online
About House of Hamill
Pennsylvania-based House of Hamill was created by Brian Buchanan and Rose Baldino (Enter the Haggis, Burning Bridget Cleary), with bassist Caroline Browning joining four years later. The trio is a fixture on festival stages across the US, and have shared their music and stories on premier folk stages throughout the country and beyond. Their latest release, “Folk Hero,” captures perfectly the energy and eclecticism of their always engaging live show. Whether they’re ripping through a set of original jigs and reels, adding lush three-part harmonies into traditional folk ballads, or cracking up an audience with stories from the road, House of Hamill puts on a show that captivates audiences from the very first note.

Listen to their latest album “Folk Hero” now!
Video > “The Bully of Skidmore Town”
Video > 2019 Performance at the ICC

Presenting Sponsors
Westfield Bank, Freedom Credit Union, PeoplesBank. Thanks to our Business Sponsors.

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

Celtic Harvest Festival

Please check our social media throughout the day for any weather-related updates: Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Twitter


Celebrate the season of the Celtic autumn equinox at our first Celtic Harvest Festival on September 10 from 12 – 6 pm. Just like our Celtic ancestors used to join together at this time of year to reap the fall harvest and celebrate their good fortunes, you are invited to enjoy a variety of free activities and fun events for kids and adults alike.  

Enjoy shopping from local craft vendors with items such as jewelry, pottery, homemade decorative crafts, essential oils, quilts and much more. Try the Irish House Restaurant menu as you enjoy performances from The Stout Porters, our trad Irish session, and the Cassin Academy of Irish Dance. The kids can enjoy face painting and our County Kerry Castle Bounce House. Take part in a Céilí Dancing Workshop! Drinks and food available for purchase.

We will also hold our Handmade Irish Blanket Raffle – the drawing will be at 4:00 pm (winner need not be present).

The festival takes place on the patio, on the field, and inside the Trinity Pub. There is some tent coverage available in case of rain.

Craft Vendors
Dingle Linens: Irish clothing and accessories
Mama Life Oils: Essential oils, syrups and beverages
Dingle Stone Rubbings: Handmade Celtic stone art
Charley’s Mom Creations: Handmade decorative crafts and accessories
Hustle and Heart: Unique and original home decor
Holiday Stitches: Variety of quilted items
Seashells By Michelle: Seashell art and beach decor
Barney McElhone Celtic Creations: Stained and etched glass art, Dichroic jewelry and miniature Irish Cottages

Schedule
Trad Irish Session: 12:00 – 1 pm (in the pub)
Cassin Academy of Irish Dance: 1:30 – 2 pm (in the pub)
Céilí Workshop: 2:15 – 2:45 pm (in the pub)
The Stout Porters: 3 – 5 pm (on the patio)

Refreshments
Irish House Restaurant and Trinity Pub
Sweet Capri Treats
Holyoke Ice Cream Truck

(Please note: the originally scheduled Kosinski Farms has had to withdraw from the festival.)


Supported by the Mass Cultural Council.
Mass Cultural Council