###MEDIA CONTACT: Jeff Cleary, Executive Director Irish American Heritage Museum (518) 209-1916
Albany, N.Y. -- On Jan. 17, the Irish American Heritage Museum will celebrate the Grand Opening of its new, year-round facility at 370 Broadway in downtown Albany, starting at 10:45 a.m. Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings and representatives of the New York State government and the Irish government will cut the "green ribbon" to open the Museum. Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany Bishop Howard J. Hubbard will deliver the invocation. Siena College President and Museum Trustee Fr. Kevin J. Mullen, O.F.M., Ph.D., will deliver the benediction. An evening reception will honor the American Irish Legislators Society for its long-time support of the Museum. "This museum is an important part of our community, inspiring countless residents and visitors to discover the story and many contributions of the Irish people and their culture in America, and even learn a bit about their own heritage along the way," stated Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings. "For 26 years, the goal of the Museum has been to have a facility where we could more fully realize our commitment to education and to share our message that one's heritage is of great importance in shaping who we are," said the Chairman of the Museum's Board of Trustees Ed Collins. "Today's Grand Opening is historic. It is the culmination of years of planning, dedication and hard work, especially that of our visionary founding Board Chairman, the late Joseph J. Dolan, Jr." Mr. Collins said. The Museum is unique in the United States, where almost 40 million people claim Irish ancestry. The Museum is committed to the tenet that preserving one's heritage is vital to providing a cultural and historical foundation to future generations of Americans. The new Museum occupies a 3,000-square-foot, ground-level easily handicapped accessible space in the historic Meginniss Building, dating from the late 19th century. The Museum was established in 1986 by the New York State Legislature. Prior to moving to Albany, it had been a summer-seasonal operation located near the Quill Center in East Durham. The new Museum opens with its acclaimed exhibit, Dublin: Then and Now, which portrays the contrast between the gritty streets of Dublin in the 1950s and early 1960s to its transformation in the early 21st century, reflecting Irish life in in general in both eras. In addition to its on-going exhibits and Gift Shop, the Museum also features The Paul O'Dwyer Library and the Ancient Order of Hibernians' archives for scholars, genealogists and all who wish to delve into Irish history and heritage. The Museum will present its newest exhibit, The Irish and the Erie Canal, during March leading up to St. Patrick's Day. The Museum will be open Wednesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 12 Noon to 4 p.m. The suggested donations for admission are: $3 adults, $2 seniors and free for children 14 years of age and younger. Memberships are available. To celebrate its Grand Opening, the Museum will host a number of special events: Wed., Jan. 18, -- 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. : Dublin: Then and Now exhibit Wed., Jan. 18 -- 7:30 p.m. An Evening with Author William Kennedy. An Albany native, Mr. Kennedy's honors include the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters induction and a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant. He recently published a new novel, Chango's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes, a follow up to his 2002 novel, Roscoe. FREE. Thurs., Jan. 19: -- 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. : Dublin: Then and Now exhibit Thurs., Jan. 19: -- 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. : Grand Opening Reception With special guests Hair of the Dog, one of the Capital Region's foremost Celtic rock bands, performing from 6:30 to 7:30 to benefit the Museum. SUGGESTED DONATION: $25 Fri., Jan. 20 -- 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. : Dublin: Then and Now exhibit Fri., Jan. 20 -- 7 p.m. Traditional Irish music by Sean O'Riada Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (CCE), from Albany. Comhaltas is worldwide organization with over 400 branches dedicated to the promotion of Irish traditional music, dance and language. The Sean O'Riada branch was established in 1984. FREE. Sat., Jan. 21 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. : Dublin: Then and Now exhibit Sat., Jan. 21 -- 1-4 p.m. -- Step Dancers from the Farrell School of Irish Dance and demonstrations by the Capital District Irish Set Dancers FREE. Sunday, Jan. 22. -- 1-4 p.m. - Museum Member Open House. Memberships available at the door for those who wish to visit during the Member Open House to experience Dublin: Then and Now. The Irish American Heritage Museum thanks its many Friends for their support during its Grand Opening Week: William Kennedy, Rick Bedrosian and Hair of the Dog, Yono and Donna Purnomo, Yono's Restaurant, Tess Collins, McGeary's Irish Pub, Brad and Rebecca Junco, Empire Wine and Liquor Outlet, DeCrescente Distributing Co., Inc., Fr. Tansey Division 5, Ancient Order of Hibernians, Albany, Capital District Celtic Cultural Association, Sean O'Riada Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Farrell School of Irish Dance, Capital District Irish Set Dancers, and Mike Donegan. About The Irish American Heritage Museum The Irish American Heritage Museum was created by New York State Legislation in 1986 and permanently chartered by the New York State Education Department in 1992 as a 501c3 non-profit educational institution. The Museum's mission is to preserve and tell the story of the contributions of the Irish people and their culture in America, inspiring individuals to examine the importance of their own heritage as part of the American cultural mosaic.