2010 Irish Gaelic's Rejuvenation Year in NYC

Going through some pictures from events I've attended so far in 2010, I'm realizing how strong the Irish language sector of NYC Irish culture has become. Below are some pictures of the people who make up the Irish language community.

Séamus Blake calls it the meitheal of NYC rather than a community as such. The Meiṫeal goes back to old-old Irish community life where neighbors helped neighbors get stuff done from decorating the house for a big region-wide party to getting big jobs done quickly, like the construction of a culturlann. Below are pictures from just a few of the Irish language events--open to all--that took place this year so far.

Breandán Ó Caollaí has served his country as one of Ireland's most active consulate representatives in New York. He has been in attendance at nearly every event the Irish community has organized here, giving encouragement from Ireland to those in New York. This is a picture of him singing a fine song in both Irish and English at the Greenwich Village Gaelic Festival, which began this year.


The Greenwich Village Gaelic Festival of New York was started by these two men: Dr. Art Hughes, and NYU's Irish language lecturer, Pádraig Ó Cearúill. They performed sean-nós songs and read excerpts from The Big Drum, Dr.Hughes translation of the MacGrianna classic. Dr. Hughes has since returned to Belfast, but it is in the works to have him come back for the Second Annual Greenwich Gaelic Festival. The venue on w4th was plódaithe, blocked with people who came specifically to celebrate Ireland's Gaelic heritage in New York.

Tony DeMarco performed at the festival. He is seen here with two of the step-dancers who performed to his music.

Some of the dancers who performed at the Greenwich Gaelic Festival.


Mid-dervish, the dancers bring wonderful color, power and grace to any Irish event.

Dancers performed solo and in sets.

Pádraig Ó Cearúill as he prepares to read poetry at the Greenwich Gaeilc Festival.

Some of the Irish speakers and learners who were at the Festival.


The Irish language learning community is probably a tighter-knit community of students of any number of languages in New York City. Irish is very good at bringing people together in projects that intersect with the music and other cultural expressions in countless ways.

American students are having great success becoming Gaeilgeoir, and it's not so uncommon now. Irish Americans speaking Irish is no big deal, it's more exotic when people from other backgrounds come into the Irish speaking community, a core community within the New York Irish cultural family. In other words, fáilte is a key aspect to the meitheal concept.


No one has been more a mother to connecting people up to real Irish traditions and culture in the city, than has Maura Mulligan. She teaches dance and is one of those amazing Irish women who put those younger than her to shame for energy and activism. She is a resident ollaṁ at the Irish Center in Long Island City--dancer, writer, language teacher--a treasure.


Thomas Ihde is standing there proudly with his family. Such American-born Irish-speaking families were once counted in the American Census, with high numbers, but language is no longer important to demographic counters who rather make assessments based on racial categories of little basis in meaning, spiritual or material.


Carmel Callan will be returning to Ireland with her husband Breandán Ó Caollaí after having represented Ireland to Irish American groups with humor and constancy for more than four years now. She is pictured here at a reception held for the couple in thanks for their tireless service at Lá Gaeilge, which took place at the Irish Arts Center.

This is an impromptu shot of Breandán Ó Caollaí at the ceremony honoring him for his commitment to promoting and supporting Irish learners in the United States. It was a big turn-out, as he has made many friends since his arrival.

Elaine Ní Bhraonáin organized the Irish Arts Center festivities that honored Ó Caollaí. She is the center's Irish language coordinator and teacher. She recently took her successful Gaelic Kids program to the Irish Center in Long Island City, where she participates in Maura Mulligan's work there to promote the culture of Ireland in New York.

Séamus Blake is an Irish literature professor and radio host who spoke on a panel at the Irish Arts Center event.

Mark Grant is a student of the Irish language, and a musical composer who is using the language for inspiration on many works.

Here are a few of the great characters you meet in the Irish language community of New York: Andrew Carey, Daithí MacLochlainn, Éibhlín Zurrell, Rath Houst, and Constantine.

Breandán Ó Caollaí and his wife Carmel Callan have set a new standard for the diplomatic efforts of Ireland in New York. Whoever is to replace them, will have a community here that remembers Ó Caollaí's tireless work to ensure he was present to represent when people got together.

You can see Alexei Kondratiev--may he rest in peace--watching from the audience before his reading of poems--which can be heard here--as panelists Dr.Art Hughes and Daithí MacLochlainn join others in a discussion of the future of Irish in New York.

Dr.Art Hughes signing one of his books at the occassion.



The organizers of the Lá Gaeilge events at NYU are Pádraig Ó Cearúill and Hilary Mhic Shuibhne. The NYU Lá Gaeilge has sprouted many other ones at other locations, such as at Iona College in New Rochelle, where Mic Suibhne has managed to get a very successful Irish language day started.

Irish Studies departments at universities all through the United States offer without flinching anymore the Irish language option. Laethanta Gaeilge are common in university settings where the language is presented in a cultural/academic millieu in seminar and workshop formats, with lectures and group activitie to introduce the ever-curious about Gaelic, to the Irish language, the fount of the three Gaelic languages.

New York is especially lucky to host so many young Irish teachers. Úna Ní Fhátharta (Úna Faherty) was a very popular teacher, a native of the Árainn Islands. She regularly hosted conversation circle (ciorcal comhrá) in the Woodlawn section of the Bronx, where there are a lot of Irish. She was a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant brought to NYC by the CUNY Irish American Studies Institute. Killian O' Connor is also a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant who was brought to NYU for 2009-2010. He brought a strong Irish media background having worked with TG4, Lá Nua, Foinse, Radio na Life, Radio na Gaeltachta, the Irish Times, Press Association, Newstalk and teamtalk.com.


That's Sheila Fee. She's an Irish events coordinator in New York, and comes from a family of Irish American students who learned Irish. Her sister Éibhlín Zurrell is an accomplished speaker and teacher. With her is Dave Carey, who is a student with Maura Mulligan. Dave is from Dublin, and emigrated to New York years ago. He recently taught a cooking class in Irish during Mulligan's Free Conversation Citcle, where we all learned how to make baked Alaska.

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