The Irish American Heritage Museum’s Exhibits 2012-2013
“Irish in the American Civil War”
The Irish American Heritage Museum’s “Irish in the American Civil War” exhibit will be on display in The Hogarty Family Exhibit Center and Trustco Bank Gallery through January 26, 2014, at its year-round exhibit center in the historic Meginniss Building, 370 Broadway, Albany, NY. “Irish in the American Civil War” will be on display Wednesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays 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. Museum Memberships are also available upon entry. Donations and memberships help fund the Museum’s educational programs.
“In commemoration of the Civil War sesquicentennial, the Irish American Heritage Museum honors the service of the Irish through our own exhibit The Irish in the American Civil War,” the Museum’s Executive Director Ryan Mahoney stated: “Our exhibit takes an in-depth look at Union regiments from New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, as well as Confederate regiments from Louisiana and Tennessee and is supplemented by the striking prints of the Irish by such celebrated artists as Don Troiani, Mort Künstler, and Bradley Schmehl and period memorabilia.”
FATHER WILLIAM CORBY, UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME
Fr. William Corby, C.S.C., Chaplain of the famed Irish Brigade and later twice President of the University of Notre Dame, South bend, Indiana, is a featured part of the exhibit. The Museum’s exhibit highlights the role the “Irish Brigade” played in battle as part of the Union’s efforts to turn the tide to victory.
The legendary Irish Brigade played a key role in all the major battles of the Civil War, including the Peninsula Campaign, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Petersburg, and Appomattox. During the Civil War, the soldiers who fought in the all-Irish units that made up the “Irish Brigade” were known for their courage, ferocity and toughness in battle. The Brigade was full of larger-than-life characters, including Lieutenant Colonel James Kelly of the Sixty-ninth New York. Some say that the Irish Brigade lost more than 4,000 soldiers during the War, one of the largest body counts of any brigade, if not the largest. Its legacy is a tale of a critical and incredible fighting force, packed with immigrants that helped win the War and preserve the Union. It’s a story that not only all of Irish heritage should want to learn, but also every Civil War history buff should want to know.
The Irish American Heritage Museum’s “Irish in the Civil War” exhibit is based on very large framed Civil War prints of artists’ renderings of life in battle generously donated to the Irish American Heritage Museum by the Rev. Jeremiah Brady, SSJ, pastor of St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Mobile, Alabama. Accompanying the exhibit is a brochure describing the scene in each portrayal. In addition, the exhibit includes Civil War panels from the Museum’s own “Soldiers Are We: The Irish in Military Service” exhibit, which tells the story of centuries-long service of the Irish to their homelands. The Museum’s exhibit features possessions of Patrick H. White, (1832–1915), American Civil War Medal of Honor recipient born in Sligo, Ireland, including his Medals of Honor, on loan from the New York State Museum, and excerpts from his diary. Patrick H. White is buried in St. Agnes Cemetery, Menands, New York. Metered parking is available in front of the Museum on Broadway and is free on weekends. Please do not park in the private lots behind the Museum.
“Labor & Dignity: James Connolly in America”
“Labor & Dignity: James Connolly in America” exhibit honors the great labor leader’s life and work in America, including in Troy, NY, before he moved his family to the New York City metropolitan area, and then back to Ireland, to help organize labor on much larger scales. Connolly was a major force during the so-called ‘Great Lock-Out’ of 1913 in Dublin to protect striking workers. Connolly was not only a labor organizer in Ireland, but also one of the seven signatories of the 1916 Easter Proclamation who paid for his patriotism with his life when all seven were executed for their roles in seeking Ireland’s independence. The Irish American Heritage Museum is very honored to have been selected by the government of Ireland to help develop this celebrated exhibit and to present it and related programs honoring James Connolly and the labor movement. The Museum was part of the “Connolly Commemoration Committee” that included, among others, Glucksman Ireland House at New York University, Hofstra University, Rutgers University, the AFL-CIO, the National Ancient Order of Hibernians, International Union of Operating Engineers, Irish American Labor Coalition and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
A new exhibit for 2013, wholly developed by the Museum, “The Irish and Horse Racing: John Morrissey” chronicles the life of the founder of the Saratoga Race Course. When John Morrissey came into this world in 1831, there were few to welcome him in the plain cottage in Templemore, Tipperary, Ireland. When John Morrissey left this world in 1878, he was ushered into the hereafter by bishops, Congressional leaders, New York politicians and citizens of Troy and Saratoga Springs, New York, by the thousands. Morrissey’s story is that of the 19th century immigrant in America writ large. Leaving Tipperary when he was a baby, Morrissey’s family settled in Troy, NY, in 1833. He grew fierce; working as a mill laborer at 12, then as a ruffian on the docks of Troy and New York City. He became a Tammany Hall enforcer, then gambling operator and racetrack and sporting impresario. Along the way he was the national bare-knuckle boxing champ. Later on, Morrissey was elected to Congress and the New York State Senate. From there he accumulated the resources to acquire the niceties to which gentlemen of the day were accustomed, Morrissey expanded his business and gambling interests beyond New York City. Seeing a void in the racing circuit caused by the conflict between the North and the South, Morrissey came up with the idea of holding a meet on a trotting track in the upstate resort of Saratoga Springs in August, 1863. He put together a race card that drew the top horses and most affluent owners. Morrissey chose well, for Saratoga drew the upper echelon of a sector of society that was looking for entertainment. Attending the races was an entertainment to be enjoyed. In time, a core group of socially prominent businessmen joined with Morrissey and formed the Saratoga Racing Association. Morrissey became the de facto manager and architect of the first professionally run sporting organization in the country. Under Morrissey’s tenure, Saratoga became the foremost racing venue during the reconstruction period following the Civil War. To this day, 150 years later, hundreds of thousands of racing fans enjoy the racing paradise of Saratoga that all began with John Morrissey’s vision.
“The Irish and the Erie Canal”
The Museum’s new exhibit “The Irish and the Erie Canal” reveals the historical contributions of the Irish to the planning, designing, engineering, funding and construction of the famed achievement that transformed early America, and in particular New York City, into a world economic power, linking the Great Lakes and the interior of the young nation to the Atlantic Ocean. Our exhibit expands the common perception that the Irish were limited to only the actual construction of the canal. The Irish were involved from start to finish, from originally proposing the concept a hundred years before a shovel was even put into the ground, to the routing, to its design, to securing support from elected officials, to the elected officials themselves, to its construction and finally to its navigation and transportation services once it opened. In support of the exhibit, the Museum developed with assistance from teachers a complementary set of fourth and seventh grade lessons about the Erie Canal based on New York State’s curriculum requirements.
“Dublin: Then & Now”The Irish American Heritage Museum’s celebrated “Dublin Then and Now” exhibit premiered at the Museum’s new Exhibit Center Grand Opening in January 2012 after being presented at the Consulate of Ireland, 345 Park Avenue, New York City; The National Library of Ireland in Dublin; the Gaelic Center in Fairfield, CT, and; The Commodore Barry Club (The Irish Center) in Philadelphia, PA. The internationally acclaimed exhibit of stunning photographs portrays life on the gritty streets of Dublin and in its “docklands” in the early 1960s as well as life in Dublin in the same areas during the first decade of the 21st century to reveal the transformation in Irish life over the last five decades as Ireland became the “Celtic Tiger.” These stunning black and white photographs taken by the late world-acclaimed photographer Marvin Koner reveal the dramatic transformation the people of Ireland have experienced in daily life during the last many decades. These photographs move young and old who view and experience them; the Irish transformation over the last half-century is so perfectly preserved by these evocative and poignant images. The photographs capture moments in lives that connect people directly to the city of their youth. Men pull a handcart laden with goods to sell in the early morning dew on one of Dublin’s many cobblestone streets. A laborer in worn suit sweeps “fertilizer” on a Dublin dockside. A father shares a taste with his young son in a Dublin pub. Daily life is portrayed in Dublin’s tenements. “Mad Mary” strolls a Dublin street. These are among the black-and-white images of the Docklands in the Irish capital captured by American photographer Marvin Koner in 1963. The images Koner produced for a competition sponsored by the Eastman Kodak Co. have been collected and archived and combined with new photographs of modern Dublin life into the acclaimed 40-image exhibit.
“150 Years of Service: The Sisters of Mercy in Albany”
The Museum presented this exhibit developed by The Circles of Mercy in autumn 2013. The Sisters of Mercy have left an indelible imprint on New York’s greater Capital Region since their arrival here in 1863. With just 80 cents among them, the sisters set out to fulfill their mission to educate and care for the poor. This exhibit traces the Sisters’ history and accomplishments. Through the years, they’ve built numerous schools, established St. Peter’s Hospital and tended to the needs of the young and old. Today the sisters continue to serve in schools, colleges, hospitals, nursing homes, parishes, jails and non-profit organizations around the region. Though the ministries may change with the needs of the times, the charisma of Mercy is a constant.
Stephen Flanagan and His “Port of Albany” Exhibit
The Museum presented in 2012 Mr. Flanagan’s paintings, photographs and objects that he created over the past 25 years related to discarded machines and outdated technology. These ruminations on the passage of time and obsolescence have parallels in life itself. These images reflect a more basic desire to resurrect these decaying materials and imbue them with a new life, albeit in a different arena. “Port of Albany” is comprised of artistic depictions from the rail and shipyards beside the Hudson River, the working environment during the late 19th and early decades of the 20th centuries of thousands of Irish and Irish Americans. The songs of these machines have been silenced by time, yet they remain as brute sentinels over scarred landscapes. Once harbingers of the future, their surfaces are testimonials to weather-beaten journeys and struggles waged long ago by the Irish and others whose sweat and muscle labored in these landscapes. “In walking through these yards, I am first struck by the silence—punctuated by the distant grinding of still running gears, the muted banging of couplers, and low groans of hulking locomotives. The air is thick with the scent of grain, wood pulp, and spent diesel fuel. These industrial icons are meant to conjure the seductive patina of those abandoned skins”, said Mr. Flanagan.
A former diplomat who worked in at the United Nations, European Bank and the European Commission who came within moments of death after suffering from a brain aneurysm, Roisin Fitzpatrick turned this adversity into a positive life change and has become a leading artist with international success. She was inspired to create a series of contemporary artworks – the “Artist of the Light” collection. The intention of this art, on loan to the Museum for summer presentation in 2012, is to share the beauty of the light and create a greater sense of well-being in both residential and corporate environments. These artworks invoke a sense of serenity and peace in anyone who views them. Roisin Fitzpatrick literally ‘saw the light’ after suffering the near death experience at her home in Co. Wicklow, Ireland. Today, her artworks created with finest quality silk and crystals, adorn the homes of celebrities around the world. Ms. Fitzpatrick has carved out a niche for her contemporary art among some major world figures including Deepak Chopra, Richard Branson for his luxurious new resort in the New York area and Loretta Brennan Glucksman, Chairperson of the American Ireland Fund. Her art has been purchased by Mark Burnett (TV Producer of The Emmys and The Voice) and Roma Downey actress from Touched by an Angel.
The Museum’s Rich History of Acclaimed Exhibits
Over the last two decades, the Museum has developed and produced a number of very successful exhibits.
- “The Irish and the Erie Canal” In keeping with its mission, the Irish American Heritage Museum presents its newest exhibit “The Irish and the Erie Canal.” This exhibit reveals the historical contributions of the Irish to the planning, designing, engineering, funding and construction of the Canal. This famed achievement transformed early America, and in particular New York City, into a world economic power by linking the Great Lakes and the interior of the young nation to the Atlantic Ocean and the world.
- “Dublin: Then and Now.” Our internationally acclaimed exhibit of stunning photographs portrays life on the gritty streets of Dublin and in its “docklands” in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It likewise portrays life in Dublin in the same areas during the first decade of the 21st century to reveal the transformation in Irish life over 50 years.
- “Soldiers Are We: The Irish in Military Service” tells the story of centuries-long service of the Irish to their homelands.
- “The Irish in Music” chronicles the contributions of the Irish to music in our culture, including writers, composers, performers and entrepreneurs.
- “Corporate Irish” celebrates the lives of the men and women who rose to powerful positions in the business world and helped shape the economic future of the United States — from the colonial period to many contemporary entrepreneurs.
- “The Irish and Labor” reveals the contributions of the Irish to the American labor movement.
- “An Gorta Mór: The Great Hunger” chronicles the tremendous impact of the Irish famine in the mid-19th century.
- “Fire Upon the Hearth” celebrates the contributions of women of Irish heritage in America.
- “Go and Preach the Kingdom of God” tells about Irish religious and how they clothed, fed, housed and educated the waves of Irish immigrants that flooded America’s shores.
- “Presidents of Irish Descent” is the story of our 20 presidents who claim Irish ancestry.
All of the Irish American Heritage Museum’s exhibits are available for presentation on a loan basis and are in great demand. In 2010, the Museum presented “Dublin: Then and Now” at the Irish Consulate in New York City, the Commodore Barry Irish Center in Philadelphia, the Gaelic-American Club in Fairfield, CT, and the Waterford (NY) Senior Citizens Center. The same exhibit drew international acclaim in 2006 when the Museum became the first American Museum of its kind to exhibit at Ireland’s National Library in Dublin.
The Museum’s various exhibits have been on display in such venues as the Children’s Museum of West Virginia; the Heritage State Park Visitor’s Center, Lawrence, MA; the Kerry County Library, Tralee, Co. Kerry, and the US Embassy in Dublin Ireland; The Margaret Mitchell House, Atlanta, GA; the Milwaukee Public Library, Milwaukee, WI; the Trade Center in St. Paul, MN; the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans; the Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, MO; the Hatikvah Holocaust Education and Research Center in Springfield, MA; the Arlington Heights Historical Museum, Arlington Heights, IL; and the St. Petersburg International Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida.