In July 1838, three soldiers filed claims for land in what is now Saint Paul, Minnesota. Edward Phelan, John Hays and William Evans were all natives of Ireland and were some of the earliest settlers to the area. The first St Patricks Day parade took place in 1851, and by 1857 the Irish were the second largest foreign-born group in the region.
In the 2000 US Census 600,000 Minnesotans claimed Irish ancestry.
The Minnesota Irish Cultural Center was started in 2009 by a group of volunteers who, over a number of years, have nurtured the vision of creating a broad-based nonprofit Center dedicated to the study, preservation and celebration of Irish culture in all its many forms.
The center will provide services and facilities, and a degree of centralization, for the many clubs and organisations that promote and celebrate all things Irish in Minnesota. One of the aims is to become the local primary gateway to Ireland for all those of Irish ancestry living in the state.
Having established the center the priority now is to acquire a suitable property, in the right location, that will serve as a year-round base of operations. MICC has recently found a building along the St. Paul / Minneapolis border, near the intersection of Como Avenue and Highway 280, that meets the criteria.
Looking at the photos on the MICC website it certainly looks ideal. A variety of spaces that would cater for anything from small meetings, to dance and music classes, to conferences, and larger community events such as plays and dance evenings etc in the 3300 square foot ballroom area.
Local government budget cuts have created a hurdle as previously anticipated funding is no longer available. This means that the Minnesota Irish will have to ‘do it off their own backs’ and the center is calling for volunteers, donations, and corporate sponsors to help. If you live in Minnesota (or elsewhere) and can offer time or financial support this is a fantastic project to get involved in.
Here’s the link to the MICC website, and it would be great to do a follow up post in the future marking the next stage in the center’s evolution.