Preserving Connecticut’s Irish Culture

Stories similar to these are interspersed throughout local histories and in many cases, such as Farrell’s Rock Ledge, they provide a tangible tie to the history of the Irish-American experience in Connecticut from the Colonial period through to the present day. Irish immigration to Connecticut continues during the 21st century and, as in the past, many of these transplants depart rural areas of Ireland to join a sibling or other relative who preceded them.

Through this sustained connection to the old country, as well as due to the active participation and contributions of established Irish-Americans, Irish history, culture, customs, and traditions are being preserved throughout Connecticut. As such, while historic buildings and sites make up the vast majority of the resources identified by this survey, other connections to the important history of this ethnic group can also be found in a number of long-standing Irish social clubs, celebrations and festivals, museums, university and college ethnic studies programs, and historical organizations found throughout the state today.

Examples include the Musaem An Ghorta Mhoir, in Hamden; the Connecticut Irish American Historical Society, also in Hamden; the Irish Studies Programs at Sacred Heart and Fairfield Universities, both in Fairfield; and an array of traditional Irish dance groups or schools, St. Patrick’s Day events, Irish festivals, and Social Clubs.

Among the longest-standing events or groups are New Haven’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, this begun in 1842; several divisions of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, whose first Connecticut division was established in Bridgeport in 1869; New Haven’s fraternal Knights of St. Patrick, in continuous existence since its founding in 1878; and social and educational groups such as the Gaelic American Club of Fairfield (1948), and the New Haven Gaelic Football and Hurling Club (1949). Listed among newer additions to these cultural organizations is the Irish Heritage Society of Milford, founded in 2006.

The aforementioned organizations facilitate both celebration and preservation of vestiges of Irish and Irish-American culture in a period in which this ethnic group has largely been absorbed into the American cultural fold. Along with the dozens of historic buildings and sites identified by this study – as well as the hundreds more that could not be included or are yet to be identified – these facets of Irish history and culture help tell the unique and significant story of the Irish-American experience. They also connect the public to the valuable contributions this group has made to the State of Connecticut since its settlement just under 300 years ago. As

one must look to both the past and the present to fully understand the Irish and Irish-American experience in Connecticut, those who are interested in the subject are fortunate to have such a diverse litany of resources at their disposal.

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