News from the Utica NY Area Irish Coalition (UNYAIC)

April 15, 2017

UTICA, NY – How do you coordinate the goals of, and foster communication between, the multiple Irish cultural organizations currently operating in the Utica area? One recently formed group has a solution: put them around the same table!

In January 2016, representatives of six of Utica’s Irish cultural organizations met to discuss plans for the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin. Each group had been active for many years in the area, but this was the first time they had all joined forces for one purpose.

The events that resulted – a documentary screening of the Easter Rising and a lovely dinner with music, poetry and speeches – went so well that they decided to formalize their ad hoc group, and thus was born the Utica NY Area Irish Coalition (UNYAIC).

In September 2016, UNYAIC was able to bring another fine event to the area when Dublin-based storyteller and singer Helena Byrne performed at the Kirkland Arts Center to a packed and appreciative audience.

The group is currently working on two more events in the not-too-distant future.

The “Bloomsday Pub Crawl,” tentatively scheduled for June 17th, is based on a day in the life of Leopold Bloom, the fictional protagonist of Irish author James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. “Bloomsday,” which is celebrated on or around June 16th every year in Dublin as well as many cities throughout the States, features historical and literary elements of that day in 1904, readings from the book, and of course, refreshments at each pub.

“The Irish and the Erie” is a multimedia presentation designed to help commemorate the 200th anniversary of the start of the Erie Canal in Rome NY. Envisioned and written by Mike Hoke of the Craobh Dugan branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, the presentation describes the major role played by the Irish in the Canal’s construction; combining historical narratives, dance music and songs. Plans are underway to bring the presentation to local libraries and historical societies, and possibly as a scheduled performance/lecture during the Great American Irish Festival.

The group has also begun entertaining ideas for a series of cultural activities that could be hosted in Utica’s Irish Cultural Center, once its construction is complete. These activities include workshops, lectures, classes, historical displays, literary events and other educational and entertainment activities.

These plans are still on the drawing board, and the group is wide open for suggestions. If you’ve been to a Bloomsday event, or caught an Irish-themed exhibit or documentary, or are interested in giving a lecture, teaching a language, hosting Irish dance or music workshops, etc., they would love to hear from you.

And making your suggestions known couldn’t be easier. Simply go to their website, where you’ll find a survey form on the home page. Also, “like” their Facebook page to stay current on event details as they are announced.

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