By Ray O’Hanlon
he groundbreaking for Phase One of a planned Irish theme village in the Catskills is set for this Saturday, Sept. 2, at the Michael J. Quill Irish Cultural and Sports Centre in East Durham.
"We are planning to have the groundbreaking followed by hurling and football games and a concert," Ken Dudley, president of the Quill Centre, told the Echo.
The groundbreaking is the first stage of a plan that ultimately envisions a theme village that will be entered through an area shaped to resemble the map of Ireland.
The 32 Irish counties will be outlined in the area, which will be named "Irish Park." The park will be paved with engraved bricks, which the public can purchase and will also include picnic tables and flags representing each county, Dudley said.
Saturday’s groundbreaking is for "Irish Park" and is the first physical advance in a plan that is still mostly on the drawing board.
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Indeed, there are two plans. One is the Cultural Centre’s, the other, also for an East Durham theme village, has been advanced by New Jersey-based businessman Dennis Meehan.
"We haven’t heard from him. He’s welcome to work with us, but right now we just want to make sure that our planned village happens," Dudley said.
Last month the Echo reported that Meehan, who wants to build his village on the 108-acre grounds of the Cultural Centre and claims copyright over the Irish theme village concept, was consulting with attorneys while also contemplating taking his plan elsewhere.
Meanwhile, this Saturday’s groundbreaking ceremony starts at noon at the Weldon House, Rte. 145, East Durham. For details, phone (518)634-2286.