New Haven Gaelic Football and Hurling Club / Irish-American Community Center

9 Venice Place • East Haven, CT • New Haven County

Historical Significance

The Gaelic Football and Hurling Club (NHGFHC) started in 1949 as an informal group of recent immigrants wanting to play their traditional games of Gaelic football and hurling. The group started holding annual Field Days, at which exhibitions of Irish dancing, a Gaelic football game, a tug or war and a road race were held, in 1963. In 1966 Feis competitions were joined with Field Day activities. In 1989 the Feis and Field Day expanded to a weekend Irish festival, now call the CT Irish Festival.

The Irish-American Community Center was founded in 1982 as a non-profit organization for the promotion and preservation of Irish Culture in South Central Connecticut. Towards that end it has developed a diverse program of activities on its cultural schedule. In addition to the club's interior facilities, there is a playing field for Gaelic football and children's sporting events and fully equipped 'Playscape.'

Photo: View south showing fa├žade and east elevation. (Tod Bryant)

Photo: View northwest showing main entrance. (George Waldron)

Photo: View northwest showing sign over main entrance. (George Waldron)

On an ongoing basis the Irish American Community Center offers classes in the following Irish cultural traditions:

Drama: 'The Gaelic Players' is an active drama group. Drama Workshops are held each Spring. One or two plays by Irish authors are performed at the Club annually. The group has performed in Toronto, Philadelphia, New York, Boston and various Connecticut cities. Members of the group have performed at Long Wharf on several occasions. All of the out of town performances have been for charitable fundraisers and a percentage of the annual productions at the club also goes towards selected local charities.

Irish Language: Classes in Gaelic, the traditional language of Ireland, have been flourishing at the club for nearly twenty years. Classes meet weekly and are taught by native Irish Gaelic speakers.

Ceili and Set Dancing: Traditional Irish folk dancing classes are held weekly at the club. Members give exhibitions at various concerts, convalescence homes and ethnic festivals. Classes in Ballroom Dancing are planned for the future.

Folk Singing: 'The Curlews' are a fun group of singers who meet weekly at the club to practice their folk songs and ballads. They perform at many club functions, festivals, concerts and convalescent homes.

Traditional Irish Music: Groups of musicians playing traditional Irish music can be found at the club at almost any time. As well as playing for their own enjoyment they entertain at many club functions.

Genealogy: A very popular subject nowadays, someone can always be found discussing his or her "roots" at the club. Several members are available to advise and direct with research.

Crafts: Classes are offered periodically in arts and crafts, such as woodcarving, calligraphy, knitting, crocheting, lace making and Irish bread baking.

Library: A small library allows members to borrow from a wide selection of Irish oriented books, periodicals and magazines.

Retirees Group: Retired members meet monthly at the club for brown bag lunch, entertainment and socializing. The Retirees annually hold a corned beef and cabbage dinner, a picnic and a Christmas dinner.

Other activities include a Children's Christmas Party and Easter Egg Hunt, Picnics, Dinners, Concerts and Movies and charitable benefits.

The Club, as well as its individual members, are great resources for local High School and College students, who are doing research on Ireland and its people.

Connecticut Irish Festival: Each year the Club sponsors the two-day Connecticut Irish Festival, Feis and Agricultural Fair at the North Haven Fairgrounds. The festival showcases traditional Irish culture at its best. At the Feis, over one thousand competitors from throughout the United States and Canada participate in Irish step dance, music and singing competitions. Many traditional exhibitions are held throughout the two-day festival weekend, including exhibitions in Highland Games, Scottish Dancing and Bagpipe Bands.

The New Haven Gaelic Football and Hurling Club sponsors live coverage of Gaelic Football and Hurling games from Ireland every weekend. Juvenile Gaelic Football training is held at the club field every Monday night. Club teams participate competitively in Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) events in a variety of age groups.


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Notable Features of Building or Site

This is an end gable building that faces northeast. It has a parapet gable and a centered doorway enframed by rusticated stone. This entrance is flanked by buttresses . There are two entrances and four equally-spaced buttresses on the northwest elevation. A one story addition with a flat roof and a parapet gable facade spans the southeast elevation. There are three dormers on the northwest elevation of the main block and four dormers on its southeast elevation.

Interrelationship of Building and Surroundings

The building is located on a short residential street, surrounded by an asphalt parking lot and a "pitch" or field for playing the traditional sports of Gaelic football and hurling.

Additional Information

Common Name:  Irish-American Community Center
Date(s):  Built: 1984
Style(s):  Vernacular
Historic Use:  Cultural organization
Present Use:  Cultural organization

Exterior visible from public road.
Interior accessible (during business hours).

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