Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

Celebrate Ireland At The New York Public Library This Spring With A New Exhibition, Documentary Film Series, Programming, And Educational Initiatives


Events throughout Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island are centered around the new multimedia exhibition Ireland America: The Ties That Bind at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

Irish culture and heritage will be celebrated throughout The New York Public Library in March, with over 100 events connected to Imagine Ireland, an initiative by Culture Ireland to promote Irish arts across the United States in 2011.

NYPL locations in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island will offer 115 free programs for visitors of all ages, such as film screenings; staged performances of Irish folk tales and legends for children; cooking demonstrations; Irish language lessons; and a talk on how the Irish landscape influences teen fantasy fiction.  For adults, there are dramatic readings of plays by Oscar Wilde and live Irish traditional music with Don Meade.


In addition to the array of programs, the Library will also offer several education initiatives connected to Imagine Ireland, including professional development for teachers and a collaboration between students from New York City and Dublin. The Irish organization “Fighting Words” — which promotes writing — is working with kids from a Lower East Side school and from an NYPL literacy program for kids age 16 to 21. The kids will work with Irish authors and artists — and then swap their writing with kids in Dublin. All of the work will eventually be published. 

The programming is being done in conjunction with the March 14 opening of the 4,000-square-foot exhibition Ireland America: The Ties That Bind at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, which explores key aspects of Irish American performance history since 1800, and Hidden Ireland, a documentary film series drawn from the archives of the Irish Film Institute, starting on March 17. The exhibition is presented in collaboration with New York University’s Glucksman Ireland House; the film series is a collaboration with the Irish Film Institute.

Ireland America: The Ties That Bind is curated by Professor Marion R. Casey, who teaches in New York University’s Master of Arts in Irish and Irish-American Studies program.  Hidden Ireland is curated by Sunniva O’Flynn of the Irish Film Institute and David Callahan of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Both the exhibition and the film series are part of Imagine Ireland, a year-long season of Irish arts sponsored by Culture Ireland and taking place across the United States throughout 2011.  

"Irish theater, music, and dance have influenced the development of performing arts in America in the most surprising ways,” said Eugene Downes, chief executive of Culture Island. “It's time to explore this story and bring it alive for a new generation."

In the United States, tradition and popular culture are twin strands that determine Irish musical and theatrical expression. Performance has carried the cultural markers of identity across an ocean and through two centuries. Songs, tunes, dances, plays, and dramatic roles from the past resonate in the present. From the enduring melodies of Thomas Moore to the infectious percussion of Riverdance, Irish art continues to appeal to American audiences. The exhibition includes rare scores, prompt books, posters, banners, costumes, photographs, original sound recordings, and oral histories, as well as videotaped excerpts from Irish plays and other performances. Materials have been gathered from the collections of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts as well as from the Archives of Irish America at Bobst Library, New York University.

Designed to be interactive, the exhibition will enable visitors to play music, dance a step, listen to songs and personal stories, and experience how records, radio, and television made the home an incubator for Irish American creativity and cultural transmission in the 20th century.

Ireland America: The Ties That Bind  will be on display from March 14 to August 13, 2011, in the Donald & Mary Oenslager Gallery at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at 40 Lincoln Center Plaza. Programming is free and open to the public. Hours: Monday and Thursday: 12:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.; Tuesday-Wednesday & Friday-Saturday: 12:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.

“The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is honored to be a part of Imagine Ireland by hosting both the terrific exhibition Ireland America: The Ties That Bind and the Hidden Ireland film series,” said Jacqueline Z. Davis, Barbara G. and Lawrence A. Fleischman Executive Director of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. “Ireland’s cultural influence in the United States has been greater than other small western European nations. This exhibition and film series, along with a diverse range of programming throughout the entire New York Public Library system, demonstrates why Americans love Irish music, dance, and drama.  At the same time, it presents new perspectives on Ireland’s history.”

Drawing on unique material in the Irish Film Archive, the documentary series Hidden Ireland offers fascinating insights into Ireland and the Irish immigrant experience in the United States. Films by both indigenous Irish and visiting foreign filmmakers offer a unique view into the realities of Irish society over the last century, at points providing a stark counterpoint to the fictional representations of Ireland that have dominated international perceptions of the country. The program presents films about Ireland; about the Irish immigrant experience in the United States; about a living culture within a diasporic community; and about exile and homecoming, The films range from amateur films documenting rural village life in the 1930s to Walter Cronkite’s suave 1960s television presentations, to young filmmakers processing the contemporary Irish experience in a series of compelling new documentaries.

The series starts with a very special gala screening of the 1935 silent film The Seasons, an intimate portrayal of life in the small village of Kilkelly, County Mayo, with live musical accompaniment by renowned Irish musicians from Kíla and harpist Cormac de Barra.

Screenings will take place on Thursday evenings at 6:30 p.m. and on selected Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. beginning March 17 through May 19, 2011, many of them introduced by Glucksman Ireland House faculty. Some screenings of note include The Emigrant Chaplain, introduced by the film’s lead subject, Father Colm Campbell of Holy Trinity Church in Manhattan on Thursday, April 28.  On Thursday, March 17, there will be a rare screening of The Ed Sullivan Show filmed in Ireland in 1959. And on Saturday, April 9, there will be a screening of the documentary From Shore to Shore: Irish Traditional Music in New York City, featuring an introduction by the filmmaker Patrick Mullins of the University of Texas, El Paso. To get the full schedule of films being shown please, visit

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts will also present throughout the course of the exhibition several poetry readings, musical performances, staged readings, and panel discussions. A series of case exhibitions on American avant-garde theater and dance and music inspired by James Joyce can be seen in the 3rd floor reading room. Rare artifacts from the Library's archival collections include Zero Mostel's annotated script for Ulysses in Nighttown (Off Broadway, 1958) and John Cage scores. For more information about these programs, please go to

In conjunction with the Library’s exhibition and film festival, New York University’s Glucksman Ireland House will present a lecture by Professor Stephen Rohs of Michigan State University on March 24 at 7:00 p.m. Rohs is the author of Eccentric Nation: Irish Performance in Nineteenth-century New York City. For more information about this program, please go to

Contact: Jonathan Pace | 212.592.7710 |
Contact: Amy Geduldig | 212.592.7177 |