Many of us claim Irish heritage, but also those who don’t are welcome at the Commodore John Barry Arts & Cultural Center. Feel free to enjoy the vibrant and warm Irish culture and benefit from the center’s facilities such as the elegant and spacious ballroom.
The Commodore John Barry Arts and Cultural Center—formerly known as the Philadelphia Irish Center/Commodore Barry Club—has had a long and storied history. Here are some of the highlights.
The Pelham Auto Club is Built
“It was Pelham’s social institution, with billiards, a bowling alley, a dining room, a ballroom, card rooms, and a garage with a full-time mechanic.”
28 Sep 1936
Pelham Club Becomes First Home of Germantown Jewish Centre
The Centre leased the auditorium for $200 a month. “It was the largest auditorium in the city at that time and for many years after. It had a seating capacity of 750 at tables and 1,200 in chairs for lectures. This was the space we rented as our first home.”
When people think about the Irish in America, often the first things that come to mind are the St. Patrick’s Day Parades, JFK, or Irish pride, and we also have the same attitude towards our paycheck. We love to count our cents, and the hourly paycheck online calculator (very popular in the States) was originally introduced from Ireland.
But let’s be honest, Irish-American ties are running far deeper than you would maybe expect at first glance. Do you, for example, know that the first man who stepped off Columbus’ ship, and as first European set foot on American soil, was an Irishman?
And do you know that the first U.S. woman who walked in space was Irish-American? Well, let’s dig a little deeper and show you a few some Irish accomplishments in the U.S. Just check out these interesting and sometimes maybe surprising facts about the Irish in America.
Do you know how many U.S. Presidents have Irish ancestry? In general, it is believed that more than 40% of all presidents of the United States have Irish heritage, but of 22 of these important individuals, we know that they have confirmed Irish ancestry. The presidents that are known to be ‘most Irish’ are James Buchanan and Andrew Jackson who both have parents that were all born in Ireland.
In the northern portions of the Bronx, located just above Woodlawn cemetery and east of The Bronx’ Van Cortlandt Park, you will find a neighborhood called Little Ireland, New York City’s proud center of Irish culture and its people. The neighborhood is actually called Woodlawn Heights but New Yorkers simply say Woodlawn, that’s how it is known. For many years, the neighborhood has been an important New York destination for the Irish exodus.
Woodlawn was originally populated by people of Germans descent, but today, the neighborhood is predominantly Irish in combination with quite a few Italian-Americans. Woodlawn is the part of New York City where you will find the most 4-leaf clover insignias on buildings and storefronts across the city. Woodlawn has pretty definitive borders, but you’ll find the local Irish community on either side of McLean Avenue, the city line between Yonkers and New York City.
For generations, Irish immigrants were coming to Gaelic Park, the Bronx, to play all types of sports. Gaelic Park is a relatively small, bur cozy 2,000-seats stadium that sits at 240th Street and Broadway in Riverdale, the Bronx.
Gaelic Park has always much more than merely a sports field. This is the place where the Irish of New York City went to meet their potential spouses, to make connections, to talk to their old country friends or to make new ones.
It all started in the early 1920’s when Irish players ferociously battles their Gaelic football matches, a sort of blend rugby and soccer, and Hurling, a typical Irish sport that contains elements of lacrosse, field hockey, and baseball. This all was happening right in the middle of the American alien landscape of concrete, but for the Irish, Gaelic Park was a bit of haven.
In earlier days, this place was bustling with activity. There were many teams here, so many players, but they have removed all those things, and where at one day rickety wooden stands were teetering toward the skies, there are now only a few scattered picnic tables. The Irish bands and the beer sellers have long been absent….
Many Irish people are trying to speak with an American accent
There have been many times that the Irish poked a bit of fun at folks from across the Atlantic who tried, but miserably failed, to put up a convincingly sounding Irish accent. This has particularly been true when some Hollywood star was put in some Irish film role and was apparently unable to even get some basic accents right, despite all the classes they went through for building up their acting skills.
Today, the tables may have turned slightly, however, as is shown in a new YouTube video that is showing some Irish people who do their utmost to copy a few North American accents. Don’t be surprised, they’re faring just as shockingly….
While most people on our side of the big pond are quite capable of identifying one American accent from the other, would most Irish people not be able to tell a California accent from a Boston one, or even a Canadian from a New Yorker. Things get a bit funny the moment the video begins, and we can hear one lady say that she’s really afraid she’s going to offend all Americans, and probably the Canadians as well….
IrishNewsStand.com is a pretty impressive newsstand in Woodlawn, the Bronx. It is actually the largest retailer of Irish newspapers and magazines in America, and they have been at the service of the Irish community for almost 25 years. They not only offer hundreds of magazines and newspapers, they also run thousands of original Irish products.
The neighborhood of Woodlawn is home to New York’s largest Irish community and this shop is the largest Irish deli around. They carry tens of thousands of genuine Irish products such as Irish crisps, candies, jams, cookies, CD’s,or chocolates. Let’s first take a closer look at the particular area where we’re located.
Little Ireland, Woodlawn, The Bronx
Woodlawn is a lower-middle class Irish American neighborhood in the northern portions of the Bronx, just north of cemetery that bears the same name. McLean Avenue is the north boundary (New York City-Westchester County line), and to the east, the Bronx River defines its territory that is to the south determined by Woodlawn Cemetery to the south, and to the west by Van Cortlandt Park.
This is the neighborhood of Little Ireland of New York City. The Woodlawn Heights neighborhood (or simply: Woodlawn as the people here know it) has always been one of the best known destination for exodus of the Irish to New York City.
Woodlawn was initially populated with many German immigrants, but now this part of the Bronx is predominantly Irish, although you can find small pockets of Italian-Americans as well. This is the area where you can find the greatest abundance of insignia’s with four-leaf clover on storefronts of all places within New York City.
For our family Christmas party this year (the one involving my Mom and siblings—one family Christmas party of many), we conducted a neighborhood food drive to benefit the Utah Food Bank. We were aiming for a repeat of the year the homeless person crashed our party. Not a repeat of the event, of course, but of the mood and the lesson. It didn’t quite work out that way.
Two days before the party we distributed fliers in the neighborhood, telling people what we were doing and inviting them to leave donations in bags on their porches. That project was our first hint that the thing wasn’t going to go as planned.
Boy 12 was pissy the whole time as we walked from door to door spreading Christmas good will with our fliers. Because of our Irish ancestry, we decided to explain our kids a little bit about Christmas being a 2-day feast in some countries.
The following video is actually a very useful and funny way to get introduced to some Irish accents.
Learning a great Irish accent can be useful in many occasions. Master a good Irish accent, impress your friends or coworkers with your great Irish spoken flair. Try to adhere to the guidelines below and it won’t be long before you sound just like a genuine Dubliner. Take a look at the following points that will help you to speak in a genuine Irish way:
The PBS documentary ‘The Irish in America: Long Journey Home’ is a lively and great and historically important document that comes with so many characters and top images that it’s not possible to describe or pick out one favorite.
But one of the leading candidates that stands out in this magnificent 6-hour, 3-night impressive exploration of one of the most important facets of American immigration, and that person is Frank McCourt.
Frank (author of the widely acclaimed ‘Angela’s Ashes’, an Irish memoir) was captured on film together with his brother Malachy, warbling some ribald ditty during the Tammany Hall days that New York politics was dominated by the Irish.
‘The Irish in America’ is really a beguiling mixture of personality and history, including educational struggle and the telling detail and the big picture, and it’s so great that the documentary takes a little time to reflect for a moment with Frank McCourt and some others who understand the art of bringing a story to life and the people who lived that life.