Every March 17, Americans look forward to a well-known Irish holiday: St. Patrick’s Day. While the festivities are no doubt enjoyable, there is more to Irish culture than drinking green beer and marching in parades.
Lori Gallagher is the director of the William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas where students have taken classes in Irish culture and history over the last ten years.
“We’ve started our center from the ground up, from just one chair, one desk, one phone, one laptop to now a beautiful home on campus”
While the Center offers a Minor in Irish studies as well as a master’s program for graduate students, it also allows non-students to audit the courses and hosts events highlighting Irish culture that are free to the public.
“Whether it’s the St. Patrick’s Mass that we’re having or the music or the dance or a lecture on history or literature or Celtic spirituality, genealogy, whatever the topic, the goal is to reach out with a variety of interests of experts in their field”
Karen Dow is also trying to do her part to raise cultural awareness of the Emerald Isle. She’s been in contact with city officials and, thanks to her efforts, city hall will be lit up with green lights this weekend
“Other cities are getting involved in this and have been involved in this in the last few years for example the Sydney Opera House, Niagara Falls will be lit up green as well. And then other cities in the U.S., the welcome sign in Las Vegas will be lit up in green and also the Empire State Building in New York. So it’s a huge international greening of iconic buildings all over the world.”
Both Dow and Gallagher hope events like this will show people the richer side of Irish culture.