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Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

Here in NYC, Patrick’s Day means millions of people clad in green celebrating at the parade and countless others packed into bars and restaurants throughout the city. Unfortunately, many of us will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day from home this year. While you cannot visit your local bar for your Guinness, please patronize your local businesses for your St. Patrick’s Day meal of (delivered) corned beef & cabbage. While Village Preservation cannot make up for the crowds of revelers, we can provide you with hours of entertainment.

St. Patrick’s Day in Union Square, circa 1874; Library of Congress

We dove into our archives for videos of past programs focusing on the rich history of the Irish immigrant and Irish American experience in our neighborhoods and selected four wonderful programs:

The NEW New York: 19th Century Irish Immigration and the Revolution

This talk at the Merchants House Museum featured historian Dermot McEvoy lecturing on archbishops, saints-in-waiting, gangsters, rogues, jesters and other colorful characters. There was a special emphasis on “Fenian New York,” a refuge for Irish revolutionaries since the failed Rising of 1867. Fenian New York was home to the likes of John Devoy, Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, 1916 martyr Thomas Clarke (the only American citizen executed by the British in 1916), and Sir Roger Casement, who since his death has not only become a patriot but a gay icon. Click here to watch the lecture (63 minutes).

The NEW New York: Immigration, 1820s to 1880s – An Overview

Immigration in the 19th century brought diverse cultures together, illuminated global struggles, triumphs, and movements, and made our neighborhoods what they are today. This talk by SJ Costello, Senior Educator at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, illustrator, and general story-teller, focused on the microcosm of Bond Street, an exclusive area east of Washington Square, developed in the 1820s by John Jacob Astor, a German immigrant. The neighborhood was a residential enclave for wealthy merchant families, notably the Tredwells on East 4th Street, whose roots ran deep in English soil. Their lifestyle was assured only by the existence of domestic servants, many of whom were Irish immigrants. Costello explored the motivating push-pull factors that led Irish, Germans, Chinese, Eastern Europeans, and Italians to emigrate. Click here to watch (54 minutes)

 James Wall Finn Plaque Dedication

Irish-American muralist and decorative artist James Wall Finn was widely recognized for his “Irish wit.” Born in New York in 1867 and a graduate of École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, he returned to New York in 1905 and moved to 16 West 9th Street, where he lived for many years. Finn was a muralist for J.J. Astor, Payne Whitney, and Tiffany Studios, and painted large, spectacular interiors to grace the Hotel Knickerbocker, the Morgan Library, and the New York Public Library, which underwent a 2016 restoration of Finn’s ceiling mural of a sky with rosy clouds.  Click here to watch the plaque dedication ceremony (18 mins).

Illustrated Lecture: Journey of Hope, The Irish in New York with Tara Ryder, Ph.D

Held at the The Church of St. Brigid, built in 1848 by Irish immigrants for those fleeing the Great Famine, this lecture was a multimedia look at the history and culture of the Irish of New York from their immigrant beginnings to the present day. To escape religious persecution, poverty, and famine, waves of Irish immigrants arrived in New York from the 18th century on. By the mid-19th century, one-quarter of the City’s population was Irish. Their journeys are reflected in the shared experiences of all immigrants coming to America. Lecturer Tara Rider earned her Ph.D. in history from SUNY Stony Brook, where she is now the director of their international academic programs to both Ireland and England. Click here to watch (53 minutes).

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