The long-awaited construction of the Irish Cultural Center of the Mohawk Valley is in full swing, with stalwart workers braving the elements of a Central New York winter.
The center – a joint vision of the John C. Devereux Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Great American Irish Festival – has seen good progress since construction stepped up in late September. After literally starting from the bottom and working up, workers have now finished pouring concrete for the first floor.
Situated directly at the “five points” on the site of the original St. Patrick’s Church — the first Irish parish in the area, having been established and built in the mid-1850s by a burgeoning population of expatriate Irishmen – it is considered “sacred ground” by many in the local Irish community.
Vaughn Lang, a Syracuse-area based attorney and developer who joined the project last year in an effort to help move it forward, said the project, which is estimated to cost about $2.5 million, is expected to include a new 21,211-square-foot building, an Irish heritage museum, an event center that would seat about 250 to 300 people and an 1800s-style Irish pub that is being constructed and shipped from Ireland. Lang said they hoped to work through winter on the project, and on-line posts have suggested a completion date sometime during the Summer of 2017. Encouraged at the spate of activity, a once-skeptical Utica Mayor Rob Palmieri offered this more upbeat prediction: “I think the Irish culture center, if the theme is what they say it’s going to be, it’s definitely a tourist attraction for the city and a great part of Varick Street.”