The Aisling Irish Community and Cultural Center in Yonkers, New York welcomed Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore to speak at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the center’s new, expansive wing. The building, located at 990 McLean Avenue, catered to a throng of dignitaries, volunteers and members of the press.
To celebrate the joyous occasion, Gilmore had the honor of cutting the ribbon on the entrance to the new extension. The Irish Government plays an active role in assisting the Center to provide services and support to the Irish and Irish-American communities in New York.
Gilmore said, “I want to congratulate, first of all, Agnes [Delaney, board member], Órla [Kelleher, executive director], your board and all of the people that work with you on what is a very special occasion for you, which is the official opening – the cutting of the ribbon – of this extension and expansion of your building here at the Aisling Center, which will, no doubt, help you to continue to deliver the services that you are already delivering and the support that you are delivering for the Irish community, and the wider community in Yonkers, and to be able to expand those services.”
Members of the community and supporters of the Aisling Center gathered on McLean avenue at 11am on the sunny Saturday morning. There was an exciting atmosphere to be felt as people walked through the extension’s new door into the new half of the center which is almost the double of the other half. Everyone then made their way into the back room where Agnes Delaney spoke of the hard work that the center continuously does for the community. She then introduced the guests on the day which included Eamon Gilmore who spoke afterwards, followed by the Mayor of Yonkers, Mike Spano.
Clare man Noel Kilkenny, who holds the position of Consul General,was among the guests enjoying the excitement of the day as well as feeling the nerves prior to Clare's All Ireland hurling match against Cork. Also in attendance were Anne Anderson, the Ambassador of Ireland to the United States, and Niall Burgess, the former Consul General of Ireland.
Gilmore had good news about the Irish economy in Ireland and is assured that it is coming right and more jobs will be created, not only for the people in Ireland but also for the people who leave Ireland with sets of skills that can be used abroad. He also congratulated and thanked the Aisling Center for everything they continue to do for the big Irish family who live abroad.
Mayor Spano congratulated everyone involved with the Aisling Center and shared his excitement with others about the many more services the center will be able to provide for the community. He issued the Proclamation of the date of the opening to the Center’s executive director, Orla Kelleher.
Orla thanked everyone who has helped the center over the years since it opened in 1996. She especially thanked the landlord of their building, the tradesmen who completed the work and to Mark who designed the sign on the outside of the center after winning the design a sign competition. She mentioned that he is an example of the talent that Ireland has to offer.
Orla wanted everyone to know that the center would not be able to run so smoothly and successfully without the help and support from the Irish community and local businesses, the city of Yonkers and the Irish government.
Following the speeches of appreciation the crowd made their way outside to witness the bow being cut by Eamon Gilmore to symbolize the center’s official opening. The crowd made a cheer as the bow was snipped.
The Irish community in New York look forward to the many more services the Aisling Irish Center will now be able to provide.
Nora, an Irish woman who observed the ceremony, stated that the event was “absolutely wonderful to celebrate . . . [The expansion] looks beautiful, particularly the floors, and it is a true credit to the neighborhood.”
Local companies, including Michael Fitzgerald Contracting, contributed to the renovations.
For more information about the Aisling Irish Community and Cultural Center, please call 914.237.5121 or visit www.aislingcenter.org.
Irish Central Community News would also like to congratulate the center on this newest achievement.