Irish Cultural Center of the Mohawk Valley Update

 Well, it’s been a few months since we presented an update on the Irish Cultural Center of the Mohawk Valley (ICCMV), and a lot has happened in those few months. We plan to continue this series over the next few months, which we hope will culminate in a lead article called “Irish Cultural Center Is Open for Business!”

The Building – Progress and Plans

The ICCMV’s business model is a combination of non-profit and for-profit entities. The Center’s downstairs portion is designed for-profit and will include an authentic Irish pub that’s being built in Ireland and shipped over, due to arrive in late May or early June. Center officials and engineers met with representatives of the Ireland build team on April 29-30 to compare notes and construction specs, and both factions left satisfied. The final coats of paint have been applied to the event center, which will be capable of accommodating 250-300, or can be trisected to support multiple events at once. A local caterer, A Moveable Feast, will be moving in and setting up shop.

The second-floor, non-profit space will feature an Irish museum showcasing local and revolving exhibits from other Irish cultural centers, as well as office space, meeting and reflection rooms, and a performance area for reading, poetry and music, as well as rooms/infrastructure for conducting genealogical searches and other research of local Irish interest. There will also be an outdoor courtyard with a fireplace, and parking for about 150 vehicles.

“The Five Points Tavern”

The pub will be called “The Five Points Tavern,” hearkening back to the famed “Five Points” section in NYC, while also paying tribute to the fact that the pub – situated on the same spot once occupied by the original St. Patrick’s Church — also sits on a five-street intersection.  Capable of accommodating 100 patrons, it will be decorated with classic Irish fabrics, tiles and fixtures, and will also feature a traditional Irish “snug.”

“Building the future, Uncovering the Past”

Beginning on April 16th, the structure most recently known as “Al’s Auction House” was razed, both for safety reasons and to make way for a proposed parking area. As construction teams began to remove the rubble, foreman John Sullivan made an interesting discovery: a time capsule…or what was left of it. Believed to be the same time capsule that was the subject of a frantic search by German Lutheran School historians just days before the building’s demolition, it unfortunately had never been adequately sealed to protect its contents, and all that remains are some shreds of documents marking the dedication of the building as a school hall for the Zion Lutheran Church on Sept. 12, 1880.

Museum/Collections Display

The Irish Cultural Center of the Mohawk Valley has been chartered by the NYS Department of Education as a “Historical Society with Collections.” Over the past couple months, a small Museum team has been meeting to discuss the whats, wheres and hows involved in setting up a museum/historical society with collections. The museum, once completed, will feature a combination of permanent exhibits (documents, period pieces, dioramas, artwork, etc.) and temporary, rotating exhibits. While it’s far too premature to predict when the Center’s 2nd floor museum will be fully functional, there are plans to start small, bringing in traveling exhibits from the famed Ward Musical Archives for extended periods at the upstairs viewing area, beginning with “The Irish in Rock/Traditional Music,” tentatively scheduled to arrive in early July. Want to get involved in helping the team identify and locate various artifacts? Stay tuned for “calls for collections” in the near future.

What’s next?

While no firm date has been given for a grand opening – other than it will be in July — there are activities planned for the July time frame, including the Irish Breakfast on Sunday, July 29th, hosted by the Great American Irish Festival. Officials are also lining up a series of presentations to begin in July, including “The Irish and the Erie,” “Pop Up Gaeltacht,” “Irish Songs: Their History & Meanings,” and musical workshops of every stripe. Be sure to check back here often for our “Irish Cultural Center of the Mohawk Valley Update.”