The 2016 commemorations will officially kick off this week in New York when Irish Foreign Minister Charles Flanagan presides over a number of events that will outline how the Irish government plans on marking Ireland’s centenary in the U.S.

On Thursday, January 7, Flanagan will be joined by Irish Ambassador to the U.S. Anne Anderson at the Irish Consulate to launch the U.S. national program for the commemorations, the centerpiece of which is the three week festival starting on May 17, “Ireland 100: Celebrating a Century of Irish Arts & Culture” at the Kennedy Center.

On Thursday evening, a reception for more than 500 guests will be held in downtown New York at Pier A Harbor House, overlooking the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, to unveil the government’s New York commemoration plans. As part of the event, Flanagan will launch the Greater New York Region 2016 Commemorative Program of 70-plus events in the coming months with Professor Maureen Murphy, who chaired the committee behind the program.

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Pier A, a designated New York City landmark, will be the site of an Irish Consulate-led flagship 2016 celebration and showcase on April 24, with capacity for 4,000, titled "A Celebration of the Irish and New York.” Pier A is a multi-level event and catering space, 24,000 square feet in total, partly owned by Co. Laois native Danny McDonald, owner of several hospitality establishments in New York.

Also on January 7, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will host a reception for Flanagan at City Hall in conjunction with City Council Member Danny Dromm and other Irish American members of the council.

Prior to departing for Ireland on Friday, Flanagan will attend the monthly First Friday breakfast gathering at the Irish Consulate, a luncheon with Irish American community leaders, and a gathering with members of the Digital Irish group.