Stars of the Southwest

Phoenix Art Museum. Photo by Bill Timmerman

June / July 2007

With an estimated 450,000 Irish and counting living in Arizona, it’s suitable that the Irish Cultural Center of Phoenix’s expansion plans were celebrated with an exhibit of one of the largest and finest private Irish art collections in the world, which opened with a black tie dinner preview at the Phoenix Art Museum this past March.

Proceeds from the event benefited the Phoenix Irish Cultural Center’s library project. Once built, the 11,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility, will house a permanent collection of 5,000-6,000 books and materials such as paintings, poetry, music, films, newspapers, magazines, and other artifacts.

The exhibit, which was open for viewing at the Phoenix Art Museum from March 3 through April 27, 2007, featured The Brian P. Burns Collection of Irish Paintings and included mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century paintings by Willian Orpen, Paul Henry, Jack B. Yeats, Walter Osbourne and others.  The exhibition was enhanced by a display of rare books and manuscripts by William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and others, which were on loan from  the John J. Burns Library at Boston College.

“It’s time that Ireland’s contributions to the arts are more celebrated and enjoyed in Phoenix,” said Norman McClelland, Chairman of Shamrock Foods Company and co-chair of the Irish Cultural Center Library Committee. The exhibit helped launch fundraising for the library which will ultimately serve as an exceptional resource to the greater Phoenix area and the rest of the Southwest.

“Arizona is proving to be a major player in preserving and celebrating Irish culture,” said Émer Deane, Ireland’s Consul in the Southwest, who attended the opening with other notables including Former Prime Minister of Canada, Brian Mulrooney.

The Phoenix Irish Cultural Center, a private-public partnership with the City of Phoenix, is located at 1106 N. Central Ave. in downtown Phoenix. For more information see their website: www.azirish.org ♦

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