Music composed and performed by Todd Thommes.
Phoenix, Arizona – The McClelland Irish Center in Phoenix, Arizona has been in existence for twenty years and its landmark building is downtown and not far from several Phoenix art museums. The building is cobbled gray stone with a grand entrance way. It is distinctive in this desert city.
The Irish Center has a large lending library, an exhibit hall, a genealogy center, and they offer classes for the Irish language. They also offer community outreach and events throughout the year. Each year, the Irish Center “has a huge fundraising gala that draws people of Irish descent or those just interested or in love with Ireland,“ said Caroline Woodiel, the Library Manager.
Irish centers began with the first wave of Irish to America, but these centers were places to bond and not conduct general community outreach. Often they helped, in cooperation with the Catholic Church, with aiding the Irish. There was significant racism against the Irish when they arrived in America. Many business owners would often place in their window – Irish Need Not Apply.
According to History.com, “Some 33 million Americans can trace their roots to Ireland…which has a population of just 4.6 million.” The famine drove the first the waves of Irish immigrants and then the 1916 Revolution drew more. Interestingly, the diaspora got reversed when De Valera, an American born Irish, went to Ireland to aid in the revolution and later held government posts.
Irish Centers are now places of pride for many Americans. Our jubilant celebration of St. Patrick’s Day is a testament to how Irish pride has filtered those of Irish descent. Ms. Woodiel did mention that many who support the Irish Center simply like Irish culture or have traveled to and loved Ireland.
The Irish Center in Phoenix receives support from the Irish government and proves that Ireland is highly invested in the many diasporas and even cherishes them as a spreading of Irish culture around the world.
For more information go to www.azirish.org.
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Story by Risa Peris