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Irish Society Strengthens BC's Irish Heritage With Cultural Events, Collaborations

Club Series

Heights Editor

Published: Sunday, February 16, 2014

Updated: Sunday, February 16, 2014 23:02

From its very foundation, Irish heritage has held profound significance at Boston College. Prevalent anti-Irish Catholic prejudice inspired BC’s forefathers to found the University in 1863 with hopes of providing higher education to those first-generation men otherwise denied it due to their ethnic roots, and Boston itself maintains a very large Irish population. It is fitting, therefore, that the Irish Society seeks to preserve, encourage, and partake in the ancestral tradition inherent within BC.

Founded in 2010, the club collaborates with other Irish programs and enthusiasts at BC, in the greater Boston area and abroad, and it currently features around 50 active members.

By sharing in and emphasizing Irish music, film, sports, dance, literature, language, food, and traditional and contemporary history, the Irish Society of BC celebrates Ireland’s unique culture and national identity.

“[Our] purpose is to increase awareness of and promote participation in Irish cultural activities in the BC community,” said Nicole Carroll, president of the club and A&S ’14, in an email.

In order to experience and appreciate as many aspects of Ireland’s rich and dynamic heritage as possible, the club hosts a wide array of events throughout the year, focusing on a variety of cultural components and embracing many traditional Irish activities both on and off campus.

During the fall semester the executive board screened John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard (2011), prepared popular breakfast dishes several times, allowing club members to taste traditional Irish cuisine, and held weekly Gaelic sports practices for their team —the Eagles Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).

In Gaelic football, there are 15 players per team whose goal is to toss a spherical leather ball (similar to an American football) through two posts for three points, rather than touch down in an end zone for six points. It is also one of the few remaining strictly-amateur sports left in the world.  
Additionally, the club worked alongside the Irish studies department and Gaelic Roots program to promote musical events, and collaborated with the Philippine Society to host a Halloween, halo-halo-eating (a Filipino dessert), and pumpkin-carving event—“which originated in Ireland,” Carroll added.  
An important theme within the Society is that many of the events it hosts emphasize collaboration.

 “In addition to the Halloween event we co-hosted with PSBC, the Irish Society formed a connection with An Cumman Gaelach, the Irish language society at Trinity College Dublin,” Carroll said.

Furthermore, the GAA has cooperated with other Gaelic football teams from various Northeastern universities and clubs to play in games and tournaments, traveling to New Haven, Conn., Philadelphia, Pa., and Hartford, Conn. to compete.

“The Irish Society continues to work with the Irish studies department and Gaelic Roots program and hopes for more opportunities to collaborate with other groups in the future,” Carroll said.    
Even after this busy fall, however, the Irish Society has even more planned for the spring, with events already underway. At its first event, on Feb. 23, the club will bake Irish soda bread together.

 Of course, with March approaching, members are readying themselves for Ireland’s pride and joy: St. Patrick’s Day.

The Irish Society, therefore, is hosting and participating in several functions leading up to the big event that is March 17.

Individuals will have the opportunity to learn about Irish football, Ireland’s second national sport alongside hurling, experience Irish cuisine at a traditional dinner, and attend a student-run musical performance in the preceding days.  
Following St. Patty’s Day celebrations, later on this semester there will be a student-directed ceili—a popular Irish form of folk dancing—in March, a poetry reading event, many Gaelic football games for The Eagles GAAs—including the National Collegiate Athletic Association-hosted championship—a scavenger hunt for pieces of Irish-American history taking place in Boston, and an April retreat to New York City.

Due to the Irish Society’s multifarious administrative requirements and cultural components, it has many different officers and executive representatives to direct the sports, music, fundraising, promotion, and logistics departments.

While the club does not hold regular meetings for general membership, it does host an informational session at the beginning of each semester for interested individuals, which outlines planned events and takes suggestions for additional ideas.

Those desiring to become involved in the Irish Society and learning about its upcoming functions and events can visit its Facebook page or become members by emailing irishsocietybc@gmail.com to be added to the listserv.

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