Celebrating Irish Heritage

Given Australia has proportionately more people of Irish descent than any other place outside Ireland with one in ten of us claiming Irish ancestry, the Immigration Museum’s Irish Festival on Sunday 18th November is sure to appeal to many.

There will be so much to see and do at the Irish Festival at the Immigration Museum Melbourne, on Sunday 18th November that it might be advisable to have a plan of action! Doors open at 10am. The Irish Minister of Tourism Mr Leo Varadkar TD and the Irish Ambassador to Australia, Mr Noel White will deliver the official welcome address at the Courtyard Outdoor Stage at 11am. This will be followed by a full program of traditional folk song and dance, including choirs, acoustic individual and duo performances and several Irish dancing troupes. Indeed you are invited to bring along your dancing shoes, fiddles and tin whistles (or any other instrument!) and join in the Céili and Sean Nós dance and session which will finish off the days activities in the Courtyard.

If you want more interactive hands-on activities you can make your way to the Discovery Centre also on the ground floor (urlár na talún) to research your family history or your Irish surname and learn more about Irish immigration to Australia. There is a Family History Workshop and Tour with Phillip Moore at 1pm or 2.15 pm which will also help you to trace your family’s Irish Immigration story.

Activities on the First floor (chéad urlár) also encourage interactive participation from uileann pipes demonstration and discussion to traditional Irish ballads with well-known Sean Nós singer Mossie Scanlon and harpist Jane Belfrage. The Family Craft Activities promises to be both fun and productive and you can learn all about the Irish Government’s initiative to encourage members of the Irish diaspora to visit Ireland in 2013 – The Gathering 2013 – at the Community Information and Display stand. Or you can learn how to dance and/or sing and/or speak Irish at several workshops offering an introduction to these skills on the first floor (chéad urlár) from 2 pm. Bring your own dancing shoes/musical instruments and enjoy the experience!

More intellectual pursuits are not neglected. Be informed of ‘Hidden Ireland in Victoria’, a talk by Dr Val Noone in the Theatrette Indoor Stage at 12 pm and enthralled by a performance by Drew Tingwell and Frances Devlin-Glass, based on the writings of that most famous of Irishmen, James Joyce, also in the Theatrette, at 1 pm.

Don’t miss David Monahan’s much-praised, terrific photographic exhibition ‘Leaving Dublin’ on the 2nd Floor (dara urlár). The photographs expertly capture the angst of leaving home – an experience familiar to many Irish exiles! You are encouraged to share your own story of departure and exile. The Exhibition will run at the Immigration Museum until the 25th March 2013.

So on to more practical matters. Food and drink with an Irish flavor will be available on the ground floor, supplied by such stalwarts as PJ O’Brien’s, The Irish Times (restaurant) and Paddy’s Meats. Last but not least, discover, admire and maybe even purchase boutique home wares and fashions designed by Irish Australian duo designed in brunswick which can be found in the Atrium.

It promises to be a most entertaining and enlightening event!

Irish Festival Program (200kb PDF)

Elizabeth McKenzie