For five years, the Irish Heritage Center — a local non-profit 501(c)3 community arts and heritage center — has been bringing Irish culture to the Queen City. The center is located in the heart of the Columbia Tusculum Entertainment District and is comprised of a theater, museum, exhibit hall, Irish pub, tea room, music room, art room, children’s room, memorial garden, costume closet, prop and set room, library, reading room and conference room — all to be used by the community (and there’s plenty of free parking!).
“All the arts treasures, history, artifacts, books, furniture and improved decor – and there is so much, you really will be amazed – has been donated and/or created by friends of the center who support its purpose and programs,” says Maureen A. Kennedy, who co-founded the Irish Heritage Center with Kent Covey.
Kennedy and Covey are Irish Americans and wanted to bring an Irish Center to Cincinnati. “Cincinnati residents have longed for a center to honor all things Irish for decades, and finally this Decade of Dreams came true in just five years,” explains Kennedy. “It is remarkable what has been accomplished. The Center and all who have created it have even been commended by the President of Ireland.”
In the coming weeks, Cincinnati will host the 22nd Annual Acting Irish International Theatre Festival for the first time ever. The festival features full-length plays written by Irish authors or that are set in Ireland. Kennedy says the plays are performed by select theatre groups from across the U.S. and Canada and are held at the Irish Heritage Center of Cincinnati at 3905 Eastern Avenue.
There will be a total of seven performances, including five evening and two matinee shows. The schedule includes:
-The Cavalcaders by Billy Roche: May 19 at 7:30 p.m.
-The Field by John B. Keane: May 20 at 7:30 p.m.
-The Maiden Aunt by Jimmy Keary: May 21 at 7:30 p.m.
-The New Electric Ballroom: May 22 at 2:00 p.m.
-Sea Marks by Gardner McKay: May 22 at 8:00 p.m.
-The Chastitute by John B. Keane: May 23 at 2:00 p.m.
-Moment by Deirdre Kinihan: May 23 at 8:00 p.m.
“Cincinnati’s own theatre group, The Irish American Theater Company of Cincinnati, will perform The Cavalcaders,” says Kennedy. “The group receive the distinction for Best New Show at the 2014 Acting Irish International Theatre Festival.
According to Kennedy, each performance at the festival is judged by an Irish theatre professional. Following the end of the event, awards are given for excellence in directing, acting and production. The audience also has the opportunity to stay in the theater after each performance and listen to the critique. This year’s adjudicator will be George C. Heslin, an actor and the Artistic Director and Founder of the Origin Theatre Company of New York City.
Kennedy adds that tickets are available for the event. Discounts are available for multiple shows and large groups. You can learn more or purchase tickets by visiting www.irishcenterofcincinnati.com or calling 513-533-0100.
Following the Acting Irish International Theatre Festival will be complimentary Music & Song Nights in the Irish Pub and the Bloomsday Celebration featuring staged readings of the play Ulysses for Beginners by the award-winning Irish American Theater Company. There are also ongoing genealogy sessions with the Genealogy Detective (a former FBI agent) as well as Irish Tea Times and the popular band We Banjo 3, who will be visiting the center from Ireland. Details for this can be found on the Irish Heritage Center’s website www.irishcenterofcincinnati.com.
There are several great benefits when it comes to being a member of the Irish Heritage Center. “The Irish Heritage Center provides many perks to its members, and not just in the form of a great community that is making a difference and creating many firsts for our city,” says Kennedy. “Members also receive discounts to concerts and shows, private holiday parties and picnics, genealogy guidance, a memorial wall, library usage, and as an added bonus, many new friendships.”
The Irish Heritage Center is open to everyone – even those who aren’t Irish. The center also has affordable rentals available in the historic former McKinley School building. Space in the building is available for classes, shows, weddings, life celebrations, showers, parties and meetings.
The building is still undergoing development and is currently being renovated room by room to give the Arts and Heritage Community Center more uses. “The next goal is to create a kitchen facility on the premises, and to place an elevator for the use of senior members,” says Kennedy. “The center is always looking for volunteers in many areas, from using a broom to plastering a wall to helping in the office and coordinating special events.”
To learn more about the Irish Heritage Center, click here. You can also call the center at 513-533-0100 or like the center on Facebook.