Currently at the Museum!
November/December: Irish and German-Americans During World War I.
This new exhibit describes the experience of the two largest immigrant groups in America, as they struggled with their response to World War I. Deeply committed to America's initial policy of neutrality, as war became more inevitable, they found their hyphenated status was criticized. Irish and German- Americans cooperated in the immigrant press on the campaign for neutrality, and later the IRB contacted German diplomats to begin planning Roger Casement's trip to Germany to raise troops for Ireland. The Committee on Public Information urged loyalty and conformity from all Americans. Following the war, the idea of multiple identities and torn loyalties led to increased efforts to control immigration and American identity. Ethnic Americans would find themselves at the center of that debate as they strove to finally define their citizenship on their own terms. Debates about eugenics, racial hygiene, poverty, education, and suitability coalesced after World War I into a growing movement to restrict immigration.
Permanent Exhibits: Irish Immigration to America
A collection of trunks and various items that Irish immigrants brought with them to America - Irish dancing costumes and shoes; a hurl (the object used to play hurling, like Cu Chulainn. A game that is a little like lacrosse, but without the net!), dancing shoes, uileann pipes and an accordion. There are some panels describing conditions and some references to the Famine. There are also Irish artefacts like turf (peat) and a turf spade as well as a model of an Irish cottage.
Several panels discuss the role of Irish and Irish-American Catholics in founding religious orders and communities, like Nano Nagle and the Presenation Sisters. There are some artefacts from the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, including a prayer box and jetons, which were used to pray for deceased sisters.
PREVIOUSLY AT THE MUSEUM!
October: The Irish and Labor
“The Irish & Labor” exhibit examines the contributions of the Irish and the Irish America and in the United States as workers and in the struggle for workers' rights. The Irish played a major role in the industrialization of the United States by providing much of the unskilled labor involved in creating the new American infrastructure. This exhibits explores Irish involvement in canal building, railroads, the domestic field and also examines the Irish and Irish-American experience with child labor, discrimination and prejudice.
August: Thirty Years of Greg Montogmery's Art at Saratoga and The Irish and Horse Racing: John Morrissey and the Founding of Saratoga
The museum commemorated the 149th anniversary of the Saratoga Races with the exhibit "Across the Board: Thirty Years of Greg Montgomery's Art at Saratoga.” Montgomery’s series of Posters for the Travers Stakes race in Saratoga Springs has been the longest running series by a single artist for a single event in racing history. His use of clean colors, dynamic form, and unusual use of white space make his work unparalleled in the field of equestrian, sporting, and poster art. Montgomery also spoke about his work, the process that goes into creating the yearly Saratoga poster, and the evolution of his work at the museum.
The Irish and Horse Racing: John Morrissey exhibition tells the story of Irish American trailblazer John Morrissey (1831-78), who was the architect of the first thoroughbred race meet at Saratoga in 1863. This exhibit shows his growth from ruffin to participant in history. By revealing Morrissey’s aspirations, struggles, and successes the exhibit represents the rise from disenfranchised, marginalized immigrant to powerful and influential citizen.
June - July: Robert Berry: Ulysses Seen!
Ulysses Seen at the Museum is a comic adaptation of the final chapter (Penelope) of the 1922 edition of James Joyce's epic novel, Ulysses. The artist Robert Berry is devoted to using "the visual aid of the graphic novel" to "foster understanding of public domain literary masterworks. "Ulysses Seen” uses the comic narrative to "cut through jungles of unfamiliar references" and to help readers "appreciate the subtlety and artistry" of Joyce's text.
This was complemented by our internationally acclaimed exhibit “Dublin: Then and Now” containing evocative photographs that portray life on the gritty streets of Dublin and in its “docklands” in the 1960s. This stunning exhibit showcased Marvin Koner’s black and white photographs from 1963 which expose a city struggling to modernize and, at the same time, hold on to its culture and traditions. The prints include portraits of dockers at City Quay, a rosary bead seller on the streets of Dublin, a poignant photo of a jarvey driver with pony and carriage used for weddings and funerals, and tenement life. An epilogue of images taken in the summer of 2003 highlights the changes of the last 40 years.
March - April 2018 - Walking with Ireland into the Sun: Women Revolutionaries and the 1916 Rising
In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, the Irish American Heritage Museum takes a unique look at this seminal event in Ireland’s history by focusing on the role of women during the Easter Rising. This exhibit profiles thirteen women, a number of different organizations, and the progressive nature of Ireland and the Proclamation of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic. It also examines the state of women’s rights and equality in Ireland throughout the 20th century.
February 2018 - The Irish Currach
Currachs are heritage, culture, history, and athletics all in one. A Currach, a traditional Irish rowing boat, is one of the most Irish symbols familiar to tourists all over the world. Exhibit and related events were hosted in Febrauary 2018 by The Albany Irish Rowing Club.
Irish and the Erie Canal
This exhibit is availiable for loan. Please contact the Museum for more information.
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
From the early 17th century to the end of the 20th century, approximately seven million Irish men and women came to North America. These immigrants and their descendants made significant changes to the fabric of American life, and like any ethnic group, the experience of the Irish Americans was contingent, not preordained. Therefore the social, religious, and socioeconomic character of Irish America continuously shifted throughout the course of American history. Perhaps no other topic in this interesting history better illustrates Irish America’s changing face than that of the Erie Canal.
In fact, the Erie Canal may be seen as a microcosm of Irish America- the ethnic group’s experiences along its route closely paralleling those of the Irish across the nation. And just as it is impossibile to think of American history without the Irish, it is just as hard to think of the Erie Canal withut the Irish and the culture they created. From politicians to surveyors, engineers to contractors, laborers to boatmen, more than any other group the Irish embodied the complete story to the Erie Canal.
Ancient Order of Hibernians Honor Guard Exhibit
Irish Memories: Sixteen on Sixteen
(Interviews and family lore about the 1916 uprising)
Contributed by Dr. Margaret Lasch Carroll
Associate Professor, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
When Sociologist Reginald Byron visited Albany, New York in 1989, he was “struck by its Irishness.” Albany, he wrote, is “one of the most Irish places in America and has been so for a century and a half.” Byron then used Albany as the case study for his book, Irish America, published in 1999.
Pictured at right is Thomas Dongan- 2nd Earl of Limerick.
The Irish have been shaping the Albany area since the days of the Dutch. The British Governor, Thomas Dongan was an Irishman and his Dongan Charter contained unprecedented social freedoms for the colony. The Irish formed St. Mary’s in Albany, the second Catholic Church in the state of New York during the early years of the new American Republic; they played a major role in the construction of the Erie Canal; and they changed the demographics of the region in the years of the famine. Michael Nolan was the first Irish mayor of the city of Albany in 1878 and, Times Union publisher, Martin Glynn, the first Irish Catholic governor in 1913. Through the 20th century, the Irish continued to come to the Capital District forming vibrant AOH Halls in Troy, Schenectady, Watervliet, and Albany. The opening of the Irish American Heritage Museum in 1986 stands as testament to the impact the Irish have had in the Capital District, New York State, and, indeed, to the entire county.
At left, James Connolly- signer of the Proclamation of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic in 1916. For portions of time between 1902-1905 he lived in Troy, NY. It is not surprising that the connections between the Irish in the tri-city area and Ireland were fluid and active through the 20th century and remain so today. As part of the centenary commemorations of the Easter Rising of 1916, the Irish American Heritage Museum is posting a column of family connections that sixteen Capital District residents have to the Revolutionary years in Ireland, years that charted the course of Ireland for the future. The memories involve not only 1916, but the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War.
We will continue to look for more family memory and stories. If you have a story to tell about your own family’s connection to the Easter Rising in 1916 or the revolutionary decade that followed, please contact us at the museum and share your story with us!
- Nuala Cummings
- Jim Flaherty
- Michael Byron
- Joe Gallagher
- Chris McCarthy
- Brian Manley
- Mary Ellen Gallagher Lasch
- Angela Doyle McNerney
- Helen Carswell
Additional Traveling Exhibits Available for Loan
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.