Nov 1, 2019

UTICA, NY – Utica’s Irish Cultural Center Museum is looking for volunteers.

Do you have an overabundance of time on your hands, a willingness to help your community and don’t care about money? Really? Okay, do you have any objections to submitting yourself to human cloning experiments?

On the off-chance that no one fits that call, here’s a more open one: We need volunteers!

The Irish Cultural Center’s museum was granted 501(c)(3) status in 2009, having been chartered by the NYS Education Department as a Historical Society with Collections.  A Historical Society with Collections is “…an institution which gathers, preserves, advances or disseminates knowledge about the past through research, collections acquisition and management, preservation and/or interpretation, which carries on educational and public programs on a regular schedule, which makes its programs and resources accessible to the public.”

Ours is a totally volunteer-run museum.  To that end, there are several opportunities for volunteers on the ICC’s second floor, supporting both the museum proper and the cultural/entertainment activities that will take place in presentation spaces within and throughout the museum.

If you would like to volunteer some of your time and talents to helping us set up and grow the area’s first Irish Museum and Research Library, we would love to hear from you.  We have a need for support in the following areas: Research Assistant, Collections Assistant, Artifact Cataloguing, genealogical research, tour group leader, custodial support, administrative support, membership support, history detective, grant writer, etc.

There are also plans to have a continuous and robust weekly/monthly series of cultural presentations, lectures, performances, movies, etc., and volunteers are requested to schedule and organize these events and to help maintain a persistent event calendar on the soon-to-be-live web site.

Anyone interested should e-mail pak@attorney-cpa.com. We promise you a rewarding (if non-paying) experience!

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The Irish Cultural Center Wants You!

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

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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).

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 events@fivepointspublichouse.com.  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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10 Questions Answered About the Irish Cultural Center

Oct 1, 2019

UTICA, NY – Makem and Clancy Delights Packed Room at Utica’s Irish Cultural Center

If you picked up a paper that said “Makem and Clancy Delights Packed Room…” you could be forgiven if you checked to make sure that you weren’t reading a 20 (or 30, or 40, or 50) -year old newspaper article by mistake.  Nope, it’s 2019, and it’s the sons of Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy that gave the performance.

On Sept 12th, Rory Makem and Donal Clancy played to a full house at the Irish Cultural Center of the Mohawk Valley, both introducing their music to a new generation of listeners and hearkening back long-time fans of the Clancy Brothers/Tommy Makem.

With an even mix of humor and solemnity, the duo played for two hours to a knowledgeable and appreciative crowd, covering classics made famous by their fathers – Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy – including Red Is the Rose, Brennan on the Moor, Gentle Annie and The Whistling Gypsy.  Highlights of the night included an extended version of Roddy McCorley, prefaced with a riveting lyrical intro from Rory, and a rendition of Four Green Fields, which featured Rory, standing ramrod straight, looking and sounding eerily similar to his father.

The concert, which was jointly presented by the Irish Cultural Center and the Craobh Dugan branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, was the first ever in the facility’s spacious event center…but certainly not the last.

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Makem and Clancy Carry On Grand Musical Legacy

Aug 3, 2019

FRANKFORT, NY – Perfect weather, non-stop music mark 2019 Great American Irish Festival

The 2019 Great American Irish Festival gave its attendees just what they have come to expect – the absolute best in Irish and Celtic culture, music, dancing and fun – plus something no one could have predicted: a full weekend without rain.  It all added up to another unqualified success for the festival that has grown to be the pre-eminent Irish festival on the east coast.

From July 26-28, the Herkimer County Fairgrounds came alive with the sights, sounds and smells of the annual Great American Irish Festival.  Kicking things off with a Happy Hour performance was House of Hamill (Brian Buchanan and Rose Baldino), joined by Shane Farrell and bassist Caroline Browning, who supplemented their traditional set with a strings-only version of Guns N Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine.”  And from that point on, it was a race to catch every act on three stages, sample tasty foods (and beverages), practice some retail therapy, and witness awesome feats of strength and stamina in the New York State Highland Games Championships.

Upon completing his set with House of Hamill, Shane Farrell stayed and helped his brother Colin deliver a solid set of top-notch traditional music; perfectly paving the way for  Ireland’s Folk Band of the year, the High Kings, who – despite the absence of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist George Murphy – kept a full pavilion of fans enthralled.  Closing out the trad stage on Friday was the Ottawa Valley’s Searson; this year, joined by ex-Elder Kian Byrne.

As they did the last two years, the American Rogues fired up the contemporary stage crowds with their anthemic and powerful performance, followed by Donegal’s Diver sisters — better known as The Screaming Orphans – who brought everything from traditional, pop, and even a callback to the Turtles’ “Happy Together.”

Making their highly-anticipated return to the festival was the wildly popular band, We Banjo 3, plying their banjo, fiddle, guitar and mandolin skills in an innovation fusion of styles that they dub “Celtgrass.” Their set, played to a tent at full capacity, was highlighted with a very entertaining bodhran battle between WB3’s Fergal Scahill and the youngest performer at this year’s festival, Dempsey Byrne from the Byrne Brothers.  Closing out the night was Toronto’s – and GAIF’s – favorite sons, Enter the Haggis, who delivered a solid set of their signature songs; ending the night with a rousing rendition of Lanigan’s Ball.

Ithaca’s Arise and Go kicked off a full day of music on Saturday, followed by a strong set from GAIF veterans the Blarney Rebel Band.  Making their GAIF debut were the darlings of Dublin and viral video stars, The Byrne Brothers (none of whom were even born when the first GAIF was held!), who delighted the huge crowd. Meanwhile, on the Contemporary stage, American Rogues, the Town Pants and the Glengarry Bhoys all gave solid performances, leading up to the chill-inspiring Massed Pipe March.

Saturday evening saw several more great sets from the Colin Farrell Band, Searson, the High Kings, Screaming Orphans, Enter the Haggis (with Rose Baldino sitting in), and bringing the festival to a close on Saturday were The Young Dubliners, who answered the call for an encore with a raucous version of “Rocky Road to Dublin,” which saw them joined on stage by members of Enter the Haggis, the Town Pants and Searson.

Sunday marked the return of the traditional Irish mass, accompanied by “Irish America’s Favorite Son,” Andy Cooney, who then started the festival proper with a trademark set of his crowd-pleasing music.  While Craobh Dugan, the Mighty Craic and Down By the Glenside held sway on the traditional stage, the Byrne Brothers provided a nice transition on the contemporary stage to a closing set from GAIF veterans, Hair of the Dog.

Photograph by Kathy Stockbridge of Flashback Photography

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In a Weekend With No Rain, Music, Culture and Fun Reign Supreme

May 1, 2019

UTICA, NY – “An Authentic Irish Welcome”

While the spate of activity continues at the Irish Cultural Center of the Mohawk Valley, there is also work being done to promote the center, its history and plans for its usage. Websites for the ICCMV and its Five Points Public House and Restaurant are being populated, and days ago, GAIF’s Sue Romero contributed  an article and photos for the May 2019 issue of the Utica Observer-Dispatch’s monthly magazine, “A’CCENT.” If you missed it, you can read the article, entitled “An Authentic Irish Welcome,” here.

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Irish Cultural Center Article Published