The GAIF Cultural Building: New approaches

“We reach out to the world with optimism, and belief in the power of creativity.
Our history taught us resilience, Our struggles gave us strength.
Our culture taught us independence of mind, Our Irish language gave us wit.
We are free in spirit, wild at heart” This is Ireland, Video

Festival patrons, a chara

This year at the cultural building we have reimagined our space, and have focused on the theme of authenticity. We have developed a program that will highlight many of the intricate nuances of Irish culture through music, dance, and history. For the creative patron, we have commissioned artwork from local artists that will be on display all weekend and available for purchase. The artwork will be comprised of the scenery of Ireland from scenic backdrops to everyday life. The artists that have created the paintings will be around all weekend in the cultural building to talk about their work. Returning to the cultural building this year is the photo contest. The photos of Ireland that have been submitted by festival patrons will be on display all weekend in the cultural building and the contest will culminate with the judges choosing the winning photo. Want to submit a photo from a past trip to hÉireann? Great! Entries can be mailed to the Irish Cultural Center address at 623 Columbia Street Utica, New York 13502.

Keeping in line with our theme of authenticity, this year’s cultural building will have one new addition, and she will fly a long way just to see us. We at the GAIF cultural building are proud to announce that Dublin-based historian Miriam Sweeney will be joining us for the festival and will be around all weekend giving lectures on An Gorta Mor (The Great Hunger), and the literary works of W.B. Yeats! Miriam is a historian out of Trinity College Dublin where she completed her Bachelor’s degree in History and then completed her Master’s degree in Irish Studies at the National University of Ireland at Galway. Miriam will be lecturing on Friday July 28th from 5:00 to 5:30pm in the cultural building as well as Saturday July 29th   from 1:00 to 1:45pm. Both of her topics will be overviews of the subject material and will provide any level of Irish cultural enthusiast an opportunity to learn more about their beloved culture.

A new addition to the program offered to patrons at the Cultural Building will be the Pop-up Gaeltacht that will take place on Sunday July 30th from 1 – 2pm. A Pop-up Gaeltacht is an event that is currently sweeping across Ireland. It is an event in which Irish (Gaelige) is the primary medium of communication as opposed to English. The event is seen as a way for novice to advanced speakers of the language to occupy a space and celebrate the language. Don’t know any Gaelige? That’s ok!! Our facilitators at the event (Miriam Sweeney and CNY’s Tom Malley) will be on hand to help teach you a few phrases or show you what the language looks like! The event this year is aimed at introducing people to Irish (Gaelige) and educating them on some of the history of it, and what the language looks and sounds like!

Another new addition to this year’s programs will be a presentation on the Irish and their contributions to the Erie Canal. The presentation has been created by CNY’s own Mike and Chris Hoke. Chris and Mike are both members of the local Irish music group Craobh Dugan, and have created and will be presenting this program on Sunday July 30th from 12pm to 1pm in the Cultural Building.

GAIF Cultural Building Weekend Agenda

Friday, July 28th

5:00 – 5:30pm : Miriam Sweeney, lecture, “The Literary Works of W.B. Yeats”

  • New to the festival this year, and all the way from Dublin, Ireland, Miriam Sweeney is a historian out of Trinity College Dublin and the National University of Ireland at Galway. Miriam will be presenting her lecture on the literary works of the famous Irish writer W.B. Yeats! Her lecture will consist of an overview of many of Yeats’ works which allows even the novice of Irish literature a chance to educate him/herself on one of the literary masterminds in Irish literature.

5:45 – 7:00pm: Gerry Dixon: Irish song

  • Gerry Dixon comes from Buffalo by way of a little town called Kilrush, located at the mouth of the river Shannon, in County Clare at the southwestern end of Ireland. It was here that Dixon honed his craft, singing and playing traditional Irish music and telling stories of his culture. Gerry was greatly influenced by his family and renowned artists, such as Christy Moore and Finbar Furey. Like many others from Ireland, he not only sings, but also plays a myriad of instruments, including the guitar, tin whistle and bodhrán. With his performing skills and engaging personality, Gerry will take you on a memorable trip to the Emerald Isle.

7:15 – 8:15: Irish Variety Hour

  • We are mixing things up this year and pulling in a local comedian with an Irish flare. New York Mills based comedian John Parker will entertain the masses with his comedic routine filled with Irish humor, and stories! John has previously honed his craft at the American Comedy Institute in New York City and has performed at A-list clubs such as Gotham Comedy Club!

Saturday, July 29th

12:00 – 12:45pm: Deirdre McCarthy: Irish Storytelling

  • Ireland native Deirdre McCarthy has put together a presentation she calls “…the next best thing to visiting Ireland.” In “An Imaginary Trip to Ireland,” Deirdre combines Irish storytelling with traditional Irish music, Irish step-dancing and other warm and wonderful elements of her homeland; promising to delight her audience with the fun, beauty, charm and imagery of Ireland.

1:00 – 1:45pm: Miriam Sweeney, lecture, “An Gorta Mor (the Great Hunger)”

  • Dublin based historian Miriam Sweeney will be presenting her lecture on An Gorta Mor (The Great Hunger). The lecture will provide a brief, yet detailed, account of life during the Famine years of 1845 – 1852. Miriam will discuss the environmental and societal conditions that brought on the potato blight that primarily affected the western, poorer, Irish speaking counties of Ireland.

2:00 – 3:15pm: Seamus Kennedy

  • Singer? Instrumentalist? Comedian? Perhaps the only word that adequately describes Seamus Kennedy is “entertainer.” Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Seamus has been entertaining audiences all over the United States for the past 30+ years. With a ready wit and a vast store of songs, he travels from Alaska to Florida and Maryland to California, performing for audiences which range from Popes and presidents to bartenders and bricklayers, from college students to kindergartners. In concert or festival, in pub or club, in colleges or high schools, Seamus Kennedy has the repertoire and the ability to make folks forget their cares for a while, to relax and enjoy themselves as he encourages the crowd to sing along. Mixing his endless supply of jokes, stories and one liners with traditional Irish tunes and the occasional ballad, Seamus never fails to please.

3:30 – 4:30pm: McGroovin’

  • New to the festival this year is the NYC based group of McGroovin. Instrumental, and very Celtic in nature, this group sounds amazing and will surely impress!

5:00 – 5:45pm: Massed Pipe March

5:45 – 6:30pm: McGroovin’

6:45 – 8:00pm: Arise and Go

  • Another new group to the festival this year and waiting to break into the Irish music scene, the Cultural Building at GAIF is proud to bring you Arise and Go. This band may not be well known, but after their performance festival patrons will not have a hard time remembering this group’s name. Patron’s will have a hard time not tapping their feet to a tune or perhaps dancing a few steps to the musical prowess of Arise and Go!

8:15 – 9:30 pm: Craobh Dugan: Irish Music Session

  • A new concept this year will take over the Cultural Building as we at the building have been sculpting and transforming the stage at the building into an authentic Irish pub! And as every great pub in Ireland has daily, we at the building will bring an authentic session to the festival patrons. The session will be comprised of CNY’s own Irish music group Craobh Dugan as well as ANY performer from the festival that wishes to join! In keeping with the traditional aura of a session, structure and set times will not be allowed! Any musician is welcome to join in the session at any time and the session can last until….well we have to lock up at some point! Come on down and enjoy the rich tradition of Craic agus Ceol (fun and music) that will be available at this part of the weekend agenda!

Sunday, July 30th

Lectures and Language

12:00pm – 1:00pm : Irish and the Erie Canal  (Na hÉireann agus an chanáil Erie)

  • A program that will reveal and educate the new or returning festival patron about the Irish and their contributions locally to our Erie Canal. This amazing presentation has been created and will be presented by Chris and Mike Hoke.

1:00pm – 2:00pm: Pop-up Gaeltacht (Irish language)   (Teanga na hÈireann)

  • This is an event that has become very popular in Dublin. Currently it is sweeping across Ireland and allows new and old speakers of Gaelige to entertain a space and communicate through Gaelige. According to one of the creators of the events:  “In a bilingual state, one language will always be ascendant. In the case of Ireland, that’s English. We sought to create a space where Irish could be every bit as relevant, useful, attractive and fun as daily speakers see it.”Peadar Ó Caomhánaigh.  Facilitators: CNY’s Tom Malley and Dublin-based historian Miriam Sweeney.  (Takes place outside the Cultural Building)

Irish music workshops (Ceol na hÈireann)

  • One of the more popular activities hosted annually in the Cultural Building has been the series of music and dance workshops presented by local and international artists. If you are interested in learning an instrument or a musical style, you are asked to sign up at the Information booth.  Also, while it’s not necessary, you are invited to bring along an instrument to your desired music lesson.

Here is what we’ve got lined up for you for the 2017 series:

In the front end of the Cultural Building:

2:00 – 2:45      Tin Whistle/Flute    Mike Carroll
2:45 – 3:30      Mandolin                   Bill Fahy
3:30 – 4:15      Bouzouki                    Skip Mansur

On the Cultural Building Stage:

2:00 – 2:45      Singing                       Mike Hoke
2:45 – 3:30      Bodhran                     Sue Romero
3:30 – 4:15      DADGAD Guitar       Mark Sisti

In the Whiskey Tasting Pavilion:

1:00 – 2:00    Step dance workshop         Butler Sheehan School of Irish Dance
2:00 – 4:00   Ceili dance workshop          Craobh Dugan Ceili Dancers

Go raibh maith agat (Thank you!)

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