The story of the Irish in New York, across the generations and across the centuries, is one of finding each other amidst the confusion and strangeness of a vast urban landscape. It is a story of gathering together, in pockets large and small, in a city far bigger than most Irish immigrants have ever experienced before. In this tradition the New York Irish Center ("the Center") is a place where the community can meet and be together.
It could be said that all communities form in a similar manner, drawn together by the force of some commonality, by some longing for togetherness, bound together by ties of identity. And what is the tie that binds the community that is forming and growing at the Center? Above all it is an understanding and a love of the Irish spirit; of something ancient and Celtic that springs from that tiny island on the western edge of Europe, spreading its wings across the globe. So if you are Irish, of Irish descent, or just 'Irish at heart' in some small way, then the Center is the place for you. That most elemental component of the Irish spirit, the welcome, or failte in Gaelic, is extended to all. You don't have to be Irish to join us, but it helps to 'get us', or as we like to say: 'to know the craic'. And we'll give you time to figure it out, so don't be worried about not fitting in. Pretty soon you'll have figured out the craic too!
Here are some other things of note about our community:
- We have a strong contingent of seniors in our midst, Irish immigrants from as far back as the 1940s. Fr. Colm Campbell was especially keen to provide these seniors with a place they could call home. And when he oversaw the renovation of our old building, to convert it into the welcoming Center it is today, it was the seniors that came forth to help, with skills and trades aplenty to offer.
- The Center, like all Irish centers throughout the US, sprang from the energy and vitality of the 80s Irish, the generation that left Ireland during the deep recession of the 1980s. A quarter century later the 80s Irish are well-established, and beginning now to form the backbone of the Irish community in New York. Members of this generation are increasingly stepping forth to become the leaders of the Center.
- At the Center, the generations mix. Seniors are very happy to spend time in the company of younger people, including children. On the other hand, there are many in our community, far from home, who miss having the elderly in their lives and love to be with our seniors. It is this mingling of young and old that is one of the great strengths of the Center.
- The original pillars of the Center, and still to this day, are members of the building and restaurant trades, two areas of commerce where the Irish in New York have traditionally made a huge mark. But we are also seeing an influx of energy from those working and thriving in the financial, legal and artistic fields, bringing a deeper understanding of the modern Irish identity along with fresh ideas for the future. The Center believes in throwing open its doors and letting the creativity in the community come flowing in. If you have an idea for a program or activity at the Center, and are willing to work to make it a reality, we will do everything we can to facilitate.
- Many Irish community organizations and cultural groups avail of the Center to hold their regular monthly meetings and activities. The Center is delighted to have the heart of the community gather within its walls.