When Seamus Heaney wrote, “Walk on air, against your better judgment,” he could have been writing about Pauline Turley.

From Newry to New York, Pauline has paired hard work with serendipity to arrive at her pivotal role in charting the impressive trajectory of New York’s Irish Arts Center from a cramped tenement building to its expansive new home.

On the latest episode of the Irish Stew podcast, she tells of how winning the Green Card lottery led this Trinity College Drama and Theatre Studies grad to depart for New York on something of a lark, of hustling her way into work in bars and restaurants, and of picking up the telephone book to discover the Irish Arts Center, where two weeks after starting work she’d find herself in charge of the whole thing as its executive director.

And the Irish Arts Center would be her professional and spiritual home for the next 26 years and counting, first as its executive director and for the past 16 years as its vice chair with Aidan Connolly bringing his government and non-profit management chops to the executive director role.

Imagine the patience, ingenuity, energy, collaboration, and cajoling that went into conceiving and then realizing the dream for a new home for Irish arts in New York. And as opening day approached, Pauline had another major project in gestation, her daughter Lily who conveniently held off her arrival until after Pauline had wrapped up the year’s IAC Gala.

The migration from its old home has opened new possibilities for Irish arts in New York, with bigger venues for music and dance, spaces for visual arts, and new ways to play a growing role in the multicultural vitality of the city. IAC is a place where you could find the punk rock musical Good Vibrations from Belfast’s Lyric Theatre on the main stage, while in a studio space around the corner, a decidedly non-punk crowd is having good craic with traditional Irish set dancing.

Irish Stew Podcast

Irish Stew, the podcast for the global Irish nation, features interviews with fascinating influencers proud of their Irish Edge. If you're Irish-born or hyphenated Irish, this is the podcast that brings all the Irish together. The podcast is hosted by John Lee and Martin Nutty.

For more episodes, visit IrishStewPodcast.com.