Irish Culture – Beyond St. Patrick’s Day

Detail of stain-glassed window depicting St. Patrick in St. Bennin’s Church, Kilbennan, Ireland. Photo by Andreas F. Borchert [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (, or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

As today is the day many people of Irish and non-Irish heritage will march up 5th Avenue in honor of Irish saint Patrick (who’s also the patron saint of New York City), here’s a short run-down of Irish cultural activities in the Big Apple.

New York  boasts a number of Irish performing arts/cultural centers. The Irish Arts Center hosts theatrical and musical performances, as well as classes in Irish music, dance and language, not to mention lots of programs for kids!

The Irish Repertory Theatre is back in its renovated space, presenting a full calendar of classic and contemporary works by Irish and Irish-American playwrights.

Just across the East River (and only one stop from Grand Central) in Long Island City, Queens is the New York Irish Center, an intimate space that’s great for concerts,  films and theatre, and has low ticket prices.   The Center also hosts classes in Irish music and language.

The American Irish Historical Society hosts lectures, seminars, readings and performances throughout the year. Its library and archives contain a wide variety of rare books and artifacts from the 17th century to the present.

Glucksman Ireland House NYU hosts concerts, films, and talks, as well as readings by writers, poets and playwrights throughout the year, many of which are free, the others of which are really low cost.

In the fall, Origin Theatre produces 1st Irish, a festival of Irish plays, readings and films that’s simply wonderful.  Every year I attend several of the performances, and they’ve all been great.  Mark your calendars NOW!

The Yeats Society hosts events related to the great poet, and also sponsors an annual poetry competition.

If you’re down by Battery Park, stop and visit the Irish Hunger Memorial at Vesey Street and North End Avenue. It blends very well into its surroundings, and you may take a moment to realize you’ve found it.  Designed by artist Brian Tolle, this calm and pastural site representing  a rural Irish landscape, contains a rebuilt 19th century Irish stone cottage, set in a field with walls made of stones from all across Ireland.


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