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Newsbriefs Catskills’ ‘Irish Village’ plan unveiled

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

Ground-breaking work on a planned Irish theme village for the Catskills town of East Durham, N.Y., could begin as early as next May.

Details of the planned village were unveiled at a recent luncheon at the Shamrock House in East Durham by consultant Denis Meehan, a County Clare native who is spearheading the project.

Meehan told the Echo that the gathering was a big success and was well attended by New York State, Greene County and local East Durham business and political figures.

The gathering heard from Tom Sheedy, director of the Bunratty Village and Folk Park in Clare. Bunratty is being used as a model for the East Durham project.

Sheedy said that Bunratty had faced its share of doubters when it was first proposed but that it was now attracting 700,000 visitors a year while employing over 300 people.

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The East Durham plan envisages a village containing a building for each of the 32 counties of Ireland. According to Meehan, every effort will be made to accurately portray Irish life in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

Before any construction begins, the backers of the village plan are to complete a feasibility study. The study is being partly funded — to the tune of $5,000 — by Greene County Economic Development funds.

The planned village was described by the area newspaper, The Mountain Eagle, as "one of the boldest concepts to hit this area in a while."

Caucus marks 20

The Irish National Caucus is this week celebrating 20 years of inspiring legislation and headlines.

The Washington, D.C.-based lobby group first opened its Capitol Hill office doors on Dec. 10, 1978.

"It’s hard to believe it was 20 years ago," said INC president Fr. Sean McManus.

The Caucus was actually founded in February 1974 but was based in Baltimore for its first few years.

McManus said he moved to Washington because he could not believe that Irish Americans had no lobby office on Capitol Hill.

McManus said that while much had been accomplished, Irish Americans still had a lot to do.

"The peace baby is walking but is still very much a baby. It needs to be nurtured and protected," he said.

"Now that we have the MacBride Principles passed into U.S. law, one of our top priorities is the creation of an acceptable police service in Northern Ireland."

Old church, new plan

Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York is in need of restoration and its bells are tolling for a planned day-long celebration and fund-raiser next month.

Jan. 16 has been set aside for a ceremonies honoring the Civil War dead of Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher’s Irish Brigade.

Solemn Requiem Mass is planned and it will be followed by a Tommy Makem concert, proceeds from which will go toward restoration of a building, which has been described as "the most historic church in Irish America."

Old St. Patrick’s, at the corner of Mott and Prince Streets in lower Manhattan, was built in 1809. The "new" St. Patrick’s, on Fifth Avenue, took over as the seat of the Catholic bishops in the city in 1879.

This weekend marks the anniversary of the Irish Brigade’s action at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Va., on Dec. 13, 1862.

Tickets for the Tommy Makem concert are $40. For details, call Michael O’Hurley Pitts at (212) 226-8075, ext. 13.

Very briefly

Clare native Bishop Anthony J. O’Connell, who heads the diocese of Knoxville, Tenn., has been named the new Bishop of Palm Beach in Florida.

€ University College Cork historian J.J. Lee has been named Glucksman Professor in Irish Studies at New York University. the announcement was made by Robert Scally, academic director at NYU Glucksman Ireland House.

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