“Daddy are you really going to Build a new Irish Center?”

My daughter Roisín turned 7 years old on Sept 19th and I brought her along with me to the Center as I popped in to take some photos at Katherine Scanlon’s 90th Birthday celebration for the bulletin. As we entered the elevator from Wawona Gates, Roisín watched as the door closed behind us and then gazed up at the large posters showing the renderings of the proposed new Irish Center – now known as the 2025 Project. She turned to me and said “Daddy are you really going to build a new Irish Center?” It was at that moment I found inspiration for this month’s bulletin message. There is no doubt that this same question is playing out in households throughout the city, the Bay Area and well beyond the California state line. The word has spread to the congregations, building sites, and hostelries about the eyebrow raising new direction that the 2025 Project Committee is now firmly focused on. The Center’s website traffic, social media platforms and the dedicated new 2025 project site (www.irishcenter2025.org) confirm that interest from the community is gathering momentum, and people are eager to find out as much as they can about the project.

People are now beginning to understand what the 2025 Project Committee has been working towards for the past five months. This new building is going to be built. Why shouldn’t Irish Americans throughout the Bay Area put our own Irish Center firmly on the map as an iconic building that will secure the future gathering space for generations to come to celebrate all of our Irishness.

I was in downtown San Diego in early August and a restaurant manager upon hearing I was from San Francisco said to me “Do you know that they are going to rebuild the Irish Center up there!” I replied “Yes I did hear that and said won’t it be great if they can pull it off!. She replied “it sure would be amazing!” To answer Roisíns question, I turned to her and said “Yes, we are going to build a new Irish Center but I am not going to do it on my own.” It will take an extraordinary effort from the community to get what has been proposed and hailed as a bold ambitious plan executed. Everyone is welcome to participate and help us out. What has amazed me in this entire process to date is the generosity of people to financially support what we have proposed. Thank you to all the who have pledged support up to now. As we move down the road on this journey, we will need even more help from the community. We are going to need everyone to chip in with their time, talent and treasure and everyone to participate in this once in a generation legacy project for the current population of Irish Americans, Irish residing in the Bay Area and those from the Emerald Isle yet to arrive on our shores.

2025 Project Updates
The 2025 Project Executive Committee (PEC) recruited Mark Conroe last month. Mark is an expert in commercial real estate construction and finance with almost four decades of experience here in San Francisco and the Peninsula. Currently living in Marin, Mark served on the Building and Finance committee at SFJAZZ during the construction of its new home at 201 Franklin Street.We also welcome Tony Bucher to the UICC Board, who will guide the effort to build out the content and exhibitions that will be the crown jewels of the new Library, Museum and History Center housed on the building’s 4th floor. Tony is a 5th generation Bay Area native who has written extensively about the contributions of the Irish to the city by the Bay. When I invited Tony to participate to be part of this amazing journey his response was “It would be an honor”. Welcome aboard Tony. I also welcome Jeanne Connolly and Seamus Canning who have stepped up to take roles specifically related to the 2025 Project.We have also commenced the much awaited feasibility study of the proposed new building and have retained Elena Kazlas (Boston, MA) as the Executive Consultant responsible for developing the technical report which will guide the future economics of the new building.

Around the Center
It’s been another busy month in and around the Center. Our Events Manager Aileen Dulohrey has been kept busy since she came on board last July, and I think it’s safe to say September was one of our busiest months this year. We now have five local Irish dancing schools teaching at the Center. What a year it’s been for Irish dance schools and the Center. Long may it continue! We have ballroom dancing classes taking place during the weekday in the St. Patricks room. We host Sunday church for Branches- a new Baptist church group in the Sunset, and also recently hosted services for Beth Israel Judea & B’nai Emunah Congregations.

Wawona Gates Closes Oct 30th
Wawona Gates will close for the season on Saturday Oct 30th but there are several more chances to come out on Saturday afternoons and listen to some live music from several locals including Dan Dectis, Paul Espinoza, rebel Irish band Sean Daly and the Shams and local Bay area group Menagerie Bay.

Save the Date!
The San Francisco Bay Area Law Enforcement Society (Emerald Society) hosts their annual dinner at the Center on Saturday Oct 23rd where our own UICC Board member Josephine Brogan is honored as Citizen of the Year. Congratulations Josephine! Derek Warfield and the young Wolfe Tones are back live at the Center on November 13th and 14th. On Saturday Dec 11th, The Rebel Cork Annual Dinner will take place with 60 Year Rebel Cork Benevolent Association member Tim Murphy being honored as the Corkman of the Year. Turning the page to 2022, we are delighted to have Phil Coulter come back to perform on Saturday February 5th. The St. Patrick’s Grand Marshal Dinner is scheduled for Feb 25th hosted by the United Irish Societies. So much more coming in 2022.

That’s it for this month!
Liam Reidy, President