IIAS comprises the Center for Great Irish Famine and Irish Immigration Studies, the Center for Irish Language Acquisition Research, the Center for the Preservation of Irish-American Publications, and the Center for Traditional Irish-American Music. This last center will be located in Woodlawn, “one of the larger Irish-American communities in the city,” said Thomas Ihde, the director of IIAS who in 1998 earned a Ph.D. in applied linguistics from Dublin’s Trinity College.
Ihde, whose maternal grandfather was a native Irish speaker from Galway, described IIAS as “a research institute that assists CUNY faculty and staff in projects related to the study of the Irish in America. Our primary activities are writing grants to fund such research and coordinating public lectures and distance education courses that flow from such research.”
The idea of a Center for Traditional Irish-American Music in Woodlawn obviously has a strong appeal for those of us who cherish Irish traditional music made in the New York metro region and in America as a whole. Consider that three pivotal figures in 20th century Irish traditional music all made their mark in the United States: Cork-born Police Captain Francis O’Neill for collecting Irish music in his adopted home of Chicago, Cavan-born Ed Reavy for composing tunes in the traditional idiom in his adopted home of Drexel Hill, Pa., and Sligo-born fiddler Michael Coleman for his hugely influential playing through recordings cut in New Jersey and in his adopted home of New York
Factor in the names of James Morrison, Paddy Killoran, Paddy Sweeney, John McGrath, Larry Redican, Martin Wynne, Hughie Gillespie, Packie Dolan, John McKenna, P.J. Conlon, Patsy Touhey, the Flanagan Brothers, James “Lad” O’Beirne, Louis Quinn, Andy McGann, and Paddy Reynolds, and a Center for Traditional Irish-American Music is clearly overdue.
To further the educational, historical, linguistic, literary, and musical objectives of the City University of New York’s Institute for Irish-American Studies, whose program coordinator is Dublin-born Elaine N