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After 25 years, a museum dedicated to recording and presenting the history and heritage of the Irish in America is moving from the quiet area of East Durham to a more prominent location in busier New York capital city Albany to revive declining attendance.
The Irish-American Heritage Museum, the only one of its kind in the nation, holds permanent collections that include ‘Great Hunger’ commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Irish Potato Famine, ‘Home for the Heart’ the story of 150 years of Irish immigration to the United States, as well as biographies of 19 US presidents with Irish roots, and a collection of photographs from 1963 Dublin on exhibit.
With planned fundraising, the museum is expected to open in September of this year after renovations estimated to cost between $150,000 and $250,000.
The museum’s first board chair and guiding force was the late Joe Dolan, who in Ireland released the hit ‘Make Me an Island’ which became a number one hit in 14 countries, later becoming a worldwide star with ‘You’re Such a Good Looking Woman’.
The Joe Dolan trustees had set aside money in a building fund each year for more than a decade. "We always felt we needed a year-round facility, which was a vision of Joe Dolan's for a long time" said Ed Collins of Niskayuna, chairman of the board and a retired state worker, proving the now infamous saying that "There's no show like a Joe show".
Before, where the museum was only open for the summer months, and located in the so-called ‘Irish alps’ due to the cluster of Irish bars and shops, will now be open full time, be situated in clear view on Broadway in Albany, New York, near the Empire State Plaza and Times Union Center tourist attractions, and have parking and wheelchair accessibility.
Founded in 1986, the museum is a not-for-profit educational organization. ‘The Museum develops and presents exhibitions and sponsors activities to educate Irish Americans about their unique heritage and to illustrate to other Americans the impact the Irish have had in our society.’ In addition, the museum’s research library and archives provide scholars, genealogists, and the public an invitation to delve into Irish heritage.
The news conference was planned for Monday to coincide with the 95th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland, which began on Easter Monday.