Ten Questions Answered About Utica’s Irish Cultural Center
By Peter A. Karl III, reprinted from the October 27, 2019 edition of the Utica Observer-Dispatch
- What is the Irish Cultural Center of the Mohawk Valley?
The Irish Cultural Center (ICC) is the abbreviated name of the organization formally named the Irish Cultural & Historical Society of the Mohawk Valley. It is a 23,500 square foot multi-use facility encompassing a museum, event center and an authentic 19th century Irish tavern-restaurant (Five Points Public House) located in Utica’s Brewery District at 623 Columbia Street, Utica, NY.
- Why was the location in Utica’s Brewery District chosen?
It is the site of the first Irish Catholic Church in Utica (St. Patrick’s, which subsequently merged with St. Joseph’s). During the excavation, stonework from the original Church’s foundation was preserved and used on the site.
- Who is the owner of the ICC realty?
The owner of the realty is the ICC, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The ICC owns a separate for-profit entity, Five Points Hospitality, Inc. (FPH) that operates the tavern-restaurant and event center. As with any commercial enterprise, FPH will be subject to the payment of all applicable taxes including real property tax assessments.
- What is the significance of the Five Points name?
Five Points is derived from the epicenter of the Irish in New York City during the 1800’s having the same name (as seen in the movie, Gangs of New York, starring Leonardo DiCaprio). It was called that because that area in NYC contained the merger of five corners. The ICC also sits at the confluence of a four-street intersection (Columbia, Varick, Huntington Street and St. Marianne Way).
- What type of cultural activities are anticipated at the facility?
A wide range of Irish cultural activities will be held at the ICC including Irish music, movies and dance performances. In addition, it is anticipated that workshops will be offered in Irish cooking, language and crafts. The building will be providing meeting space for various Mohawk Valley Irish organizations (which currently do not have any central location) such as the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the University of Notre Dame Alumni Club of the Mohawk Valley.
- Is the ICC open to the public?
Yes, the entire facility is open to the public. The Irish tavern and restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner (except Sundays) from 11AM to as late as midnight on weekends. The event center is available to host a number of activities such as wedding receptions, reunions, business meetings, and holiday parties. The event center has a capacity for 285 attendees with the ability to be separated into three smaller rooms.
- What does the tavern/restaurant feature?
The tavern restaurant portion of the ICC, the Five Points Public House, offers an American and Irish menu. There is an outdoor patio that will in the future feature a large gas fireplace, while inside there is a music stage for performers. All of the furniture, tile, wooden bar and room dividers were built in Ireland and shipped in three containers to Utica in order to provide patrons the feel of a 19th Century establishment in Dublin.
- What does the second-floor museum offer?
The current exhibit “Irish in Music – Traditional and Rock” is from Milwaukee’s Ward Irish Music Archives. In Spring 2020, the next revolving exhibit (also from the Ward Archives) will be “Irish in Sports,” encompassing boxing and baseball. This is intended to take advantage of the 2020 Cooperstown Hall of Fame Induction of Derek Jeter, along with Canastota’s Boxing Hall of Fame. Subsequently, the museum will feature displays of Upstate NY Irish history, featuring items that will be donated or loaned to the ICC. The ICC has a separate Museum Committee which includes Brian Howard, Executive Director of the Oneida County Historical Center.
- How will this affect the Brewery District and its other businesses?
Our goal is to truly make this as the “second anchor” to the Brewery District and a magnet for regional tourism. The ICC is working with both the Oneida County Visitor’s Bureau and NYS Tourism Department in order to bring tourists from outside the area (including tour buses) to our area and the Brewery District. The expectation is that all nearby businesses will benefit from the additional traffic.
Where can additional information be obtained about the ICC?
The ICC phone number is (315) 733-4228 and e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact us to make dinner reservations at the Five Points Public House, schedule a function at the Event Center, volunteer at the Museum and for ICC cultural event programming, donate or loan Irish memorabilia to the ICC or to make a tax-deductible contribution. (The ICC has partnered with the Community Foundation and established an ICC fund for individuals who wish to either donate tax deductible gifts during life or at death. These monies will be used for enhancements to the facility along with assuring that the highest quality of programming will continue over the decades at the ICC. Donations can also be made directly to ICC at our mailing address, 623 Columbia Street, Utica, New York 13502. Donors may also be interested in one of many naming opportunities (including “in memory of”) that will be memorialized by a plaque which are being granted for rooms within the ICC and its furnishings.
For more information about the ICC on the Web, check its Facebook page or Google “Irish Cultural Center of Utica,” as the web page will be operational in the near future.
Peter A. Karl III is Vice President and Counsel to the ICC and President of the Great American Irish Festival
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