On October 6, the McClelland Irish Library officially opened its doors in Phoenix, Arizona as part of the  $5 million Irish Cultural Center. The new Library boasts information on all things Irish and is set to become the leading Irish genealogical research center in the country.

Arizona’s Newszap reports on the opening that saw more than 100 visitors on its first day. The new 15,000 square foot Library, built in the style of an old Norman castle, houses 6,000 books and has a genealogy section where visitors can trace their roots.

Meant to educate not only the Irish but people of all backgrounds, the entrance to the Library features the words of Irish author W.B. Yeats on the wall: “Education is not the filling of the pail but the lighting of a fire.”

“America is a melting pot,” said Mary Moriarty, operations manager for the Irish Cultural Center. “I think it is important that we know and embrace all cultures that came together to make up this country.”

The new Library was founded by Norman McClelland, chairman of Shamrock Foods. His company, along with other members of the local Irish community and the Irish Cultural and Learning Foundation established a unique public-private partnership with the city of Phoenix. The new Library will work in conjunction with the Phoenix Public Library.

“I have a great sense of joy and peace,” said McClelland of the library’s opening. “Now we can reach out and invite people in to showcase the books and provide an opportunity to search out family histories.”

Visitors enjoyed performances by Irish dancers, and Irish treats like soda bread and tea on the Library’s opening day. Some were drawn to the Book of Kells exhibit, while others made their way to the genealogy center.

The Library is set to play host to traveling Irish exhibits, like the Book of Kells exhibit that is running now. Irish movies, periodicals, and events are sure to capture the attention of the approximate half million people in Arizona who claim Irish heritage.

“I don’t think Phoenicians realize what they have here,” said Maureen Sullivan, 67, who recently moved to Arizona from Connecticut, “There really isn’t anything like it.”