The Irish American community's Big Irish Echo Campfire, on August 28, will focus on how it will emerge from COVID stronger and celebrate the strong bond between the US and Ireland.

When it was thought the solution to the coronavirus crisis would be a fairly straightforward 12-week lockdown, most Irish organizations across the US were hopeful that their activities would resume before summer was out.

Sadly, the virus has continued to roil the country, upending lives, and disrupting normality.

Now that it’s clear the COVID emergency will be more a marathon test of endurance and resolve than a short, if painful, sprint, it’s time to gather the Irish American community together to agree on a roadmap out of the swamp in which we find ourselves.

And what better place to gather friends than around a campfire?

Thus was born the Big Irish Echo Campfire, scheduled for Friday August 28, online, and with a cast spanning the nation.

The chat around the campfire will focus on how Irish America can not just survive this threat but emerge stronger and better. And there’ll be songs and dance too, as you might expect around the campfire.

And, of course, there’s also the small matter of ensuring the bridge to Ireland remains open as we keep faith in the belief that better days lie ahead.

The Campfire will be the most expansive and most inclusive event ever held in Irish America. Registration is free and already speakers, 70 in total, have been marshaled to address the big topics preoccupying Irish American activists:

How do Irish Centers resume their programs of work safely?

How can Irish networks best replicate their work virtually?

Will Irish bars be able to resume their central role as bulwarks of the Irish American community?

Just how can the set-dancing and comhaltas traditional music classes return?

And what about tourism to Ireland – with figures for American visitors to the Emerald Isle topping one million last year but now down to zero?

Joining us to enlighten us with their own experiences are can-do Irish leaders from across America. Among the organizations which will be speaking up around the Campfire are:

  • United Irish Cultural Center of San Francisco.
  • Irish American Center of Cincinnati.
  • Institute of Ireland’s Great Hunger in Connecticut.
  • Harp & Shamrock Society of Texas.
  • AOH
  • GAA
  • Wren Theatre, LA
  • Solas Nua Arts Group, Washington DC
  • Mulkerin School of Irish Dance, Connecticut
  • Irish American Heritage Museum, Albany, NY
  • Irish Cultural Center of New England
  • Maine Irish Heritage Center
  • Milwaukee Irish Fest
  • Irish Fest Dublin, Ohio
  • Irish Fair of Minnesota
  • Celtic Junctions Arts Center, St Paul, MN

We are honored of course to have many prominent figures endorsing and taking part in the Campfire but its real strength will be in the participation of grassroots Irish Americans who have kept the torch of Irish heritage, culture and community burning for countless generations and, COVID be damned, are going to continue to march ever-forward.

Come join them around the Campfire.

This article was submitted to the IrishCentral contributors network by a member of the global Irish community. To become an IrishCentral contributor click here.