Irish Center Reopens Under the Wawona Gates Big Top

Historically, the months of January and February at the Irish Center are spent preparing for the St. Patrick’s season which is only a few short weeks away. This year has been no different (although we have been shuttered since early December) we have been busy behind closed doors preparing for the year ahead. This past month several volunteers and Board members came together to do some spring cleaning throughout the facility. Much of the focus has been in the St. Patrick’s room, with the chandeliers getting some much needed TLC, along with all the woodwork and furniture getting cleaned and polished. The carpets in the room and entry staircase on the Wawona side of the building will be professionally cleaned in early February. We also did some maintenance painting in the high traffic areas of the second floor.

While we will certainly miss hosting the United Irish Societies sponsored Grand Marshals Dinner this year, we welcomed the news from Mayor Breed on January 25 that we could re-open our outdoor dining experience-Wawona Gates. Upon hearing the news that outside dining was being allowed again, the Board immediately moved to install the canopy which it had purchased last Fall in the back parking lot. The grand re-Opening of Wawona Gates is scheduled for Superbowl weekend February 6th-7th. We are looking forward to seeing everyone again. Wawona Gates will be open every Saturday in February.

Got Irish Bread? We are organizing our First Annual Irish soda and brown bread competition this February. Entry fee is $10, and all entries have to be dropped off at Irish Center on February 13th, so get baking and send in your best brown bread or soda cake creation to impress the judges and possibly win a prize. Judging will happen on St. Valentine’s Day February 14th, and the top 5 winners will be announced daily online via Facebook and Instagram until the Grand Prize Winner is named on February 19th.

Our retail activities have remained strong with steady in person and online sales, throughout the most recent Shelter In Place order. The Irish Shoppe offerings are expanding to include fresh Irish soda and brown bread baked at Fiddlers Green, Millbrae. Bread orders can be made online and picked up in person at the weekend.

In March, the St. Patrick’s Day festivities and celebration have always been a big boost for the Irish community and (to our annual revenue), as throngs of people flock to the Center to celebrate. We hope many of our members and supporters will drop by to see us and the new Big Top which will shield us from the elements until the weather warms up. During the first weekend of March 6th-7th we will host a Spring Boutique, featuring local artisans, and small business owners. The boutique was a big success last December and we are hoping for the same this time round. We will have the added attraction of being open for outside dining, with Corned Beef and Cabbage on the menu throughout March.

In our Cultural Programming Department, Director Anne Cassidy Carew has been busy organizing events coming up in the next few weeks. Highlights include a Facebook live interview on February 3rd to celebrate St. Brigid’s Day (February 1st) with Sr. Mary Teresa, Brigidine Sisters, originally from Ireland and now residing in San Antonio Texas. On Thursday February 11th, a Facebook live event called Biscuits and Books, will examine the rare and antiquarian books available in the Library holdings with Librarian Jennifer Drennan. On Sunday February 28th, Anne will be in conversation with best-selling Irish author Ruairí McKiernan, who recently published the book entitled “Hitching for Hope: A journey into the Heart and Soul of Ireland”. Based on the success of the online Christmas concert, Anne is co-producing another virtual entertainment show for the St. Patrick’s season on Wednesday March 17th at 7pm PST, with the Cooley-Keegan branch of Comhaltas and Boscaí Beaga Artistic Director Michael Dillon. Check back to our website for additional events, details and information.

During St. Patrick’s week we will be serving Corned Beef and Cabbage on March 13th, 14th & 17th, in person dining and also Dinner to Go. The annual Memorial Mass for deceased members of the UICC will take place at St. Gabriels Church at 8am on February 28th. Online reservations are required on the parish website.

On behalf of the Irish Center, I want to extend our deepest sympathy to the family of Catherine Linehan who passed away on Jan 20th. Catherine was a great supporter of the Irish Center, and was heavily involved with the Cork Ladies club and was ever present in organizing the Cork Dinner every year. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam. May her soul be seated on God’s right hand.

Liam Reidy, President of the UICC