Michael Martin visits an Irish center that offers a home away from home in New York

A warm Irish welcome awaited Tánaiste Micheál Martin when he visited Queens on the third day of his trip to New York to mark the St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

Despite being thousands of miles from his home county, Mr Martin managed to bump into some Cork faces at the New York Irish Centre.

The center is vital to Irish immigrants who left our shores in the 1950s and 1960s to seek a better life in America and, as one Dubliner explained, the center “keeps us alive”.

Whether you are Irish, Irish-American, or have multi-generational roots in Ireland, or even Italian or Korean, Indian or Ecuadorian, the center opens its doors to provide a space for senior members of the community meet every day. .

“For those who may not know, my name is Micheál Martin,” he told the crowd of about 70 people who had gathered for a meal provided by one of the city’s many Irish restaurants.

Many in the room knew about him as they kept in touch with issues back home and were aware of the housing crisis and cost of living crisis, the same challenges his community was facing. .

Community resources

The center offers a number of resources for the community, including Solace House mental health services, based on the third floor of the property.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin during his trip to New York to commemorate the St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

Clients, aged up to 97, have enjoyed the services of the New York Irish Center, particularly the counseling service which has been flooded.

A tax expert as well as an immigration attorney also hold weekly clinics as community members come to the center for speed dating, bingo, music and tips on how to use technology.

Music by cork men Donie Carroll and Máirtín de Cogain was recognized by the Tánaiste who took the opportunity to let the public know that Máirtín, a regular at the centre, appeared in the famous film. The wind that shakes the barley.

Martin was also pleased to see the familiar face of Donie who trained with the Tánaiste’s father known as Paddy ‘the Champ’ Martin many years ago while boxing in Cork.

Donie is best known in New York for his musical and philanthropic work.

On his walk through the room, which was draped in green flags and St Patrick’s Day decorations, the Tánaiste met Tony de Dingle who moved to the US in 1956.

Martin told the crowd that Tony had some tough words for him, pointed out that his son Micheál Aodh plays in goal for Cork, and told him “let’s get him” when Kerry and Cork meet in the rural area. .

Government support

The Tánaiste assured users of the center that the Irish Government will continue to support the services they provide to the Irish community in Queens.

“We are a fading race, the old people are disappearing and there are no replacements,” was a fear expressed by Tommy Ring from North Cork who moved to America in 1957, initially for “wandering lust” .

Many Irish immigrants said the center was a place to go to hang out together, highlighting the importance of human engagement, something the Tánaiste touched on in his speech where he said the center offered space for the community to gather and remember

He said it must have been difficult for the senior community during covid-19, adding that the company of others was what he missed most during the pandemic. And it was clear that the New York Irish Center provided that home away from home.

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