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Subject: [IRISH-IN-CHICAGO] Gathering at the Irish American Heritage Center
Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2007 22:57:39 EDT


About 15 members of the “Irish-in-Chicago” listserv gathered at the Irish
American Heritage Society on Knox Avenue in Chicago today. Brian Donovan, the
resident volunteer genealogist, treated us to an in-depth tour of the Center.
Highlights of the day included:
* Frank Crowley, the Art Gallery curator, gave us a tour of the
exhibit: “Samhain/Day of the Dead: Intersection: Exhibits, Performance and
Installations.” The exhibit examines the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain and Mexican
Day of the Dead festivals. Both festivals celebrate the themes of birth, death
and resurrection, the cycle of life and how it is recognized in Celtic and
Mexican cultures. The ancient festival of Samhain is the beginning of winter and
the yearly opening of the Celtic underworld. Puppets play a large part in the
exhibit and they demonstrate the prominence of darkness of the Celtic
traditions and contrast Day of the Dead traditions. It was quite a unique exhibit.
· We visited the Museum and Brian Donovan described many of the
acquisitions including a magnificent collection of Belleek Parian China; a tapestry
by Lily Yeats, sister of W.B. Yeats; a historic chair commissioned by The
Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago on the occasion of the visit of U.S. President
William Howard Taft on St. Patrick's Day, 1910; a square grand piano dating from
the late nineteenth century; an exquisite collection of Irish Lace; the first
organ from St. Patrick's Church in St. Charles, Illinois; a series of
historic maps showing the Irish contribution to European culture from the sixth to
the twelfth centuries, and a copy of The Book of Kells.
· We toured the beautifully decorated library (opened in 2006) which
houses books that deal with every aspect of Irish and Irish American life.
Other media include Irish and Irish American periodicals and newspapers, CDs,
DVDs, videos, cassettes, and phonographic albums. One of the physical highlights
of the library is the literary border, designed and hand painted by artist
Edward Cox. The library is open to the public.
* We then had lunch in the Center’s kitchen where a small buffet was
provided by Maureen and others from Maureen’s favorite store: Costco! Great
turkey wraps, delicious Caesar salads, apples and cookies were enjoyed by all.
While we ate, we shared some genealogy finds, talked about some new resources
and in general had a grand day.
The next gathering of the Irish-In-Chicago group is tentatively planned for
Sunday, January 13, 2008 with a backup date of Sunday, January 20. Suggestions
for a possible venue include The Chicago History Museum, Gaelic Park, and
Harold Washington Library among others.
Maureen, thanks so much for organizing today, it was great to see what the
Irish American Heritage Center has to offer. We hope everyone on the list who
lives near Chicago can plan to join us at our next gathering.

Elaine Beaudoin



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