by ROSE BRENNAN, A&E Editor
On Thursday, March 14, members of the Manhattan College community, Irish and non-Irish alike, gathered in Smith Auditorium for the Gaelic Society’s Irish Night event.
Irish Night is a cornerstone event of Manhattan College’s celebration of Irish Heritage Month each March. This year, the festivities included live music, step dancing by some of MC’s own students, a guest speaker and Irish food galore.
Irish Night is truly a favorite event among both students and faculty. Tara O’Shea, president of the Gaelic Society, noted there were several organizations that made the annual event possible.
“It is an annual event that people can look forward to every March,” O’Shea said. “We have collaborated in the past with [the] Multicultural [Center], and this year, we’re collaborating with Student Government, which has been great.”
While Irish Night is a major event for Irish Heritage Month at the college, it is certainly not the only notable one. Ian Scheuer, co-vice president of the Gaelic Society, views Irish Night as a precursor for an Irish Heritage Month event that is known across the world.
“Every year, we march in the [New York City] Saint Patrick’s Day parade so this is basically like the pre-party for our big celebration,” Scheuer said. “As a school, it’s pretty awesome that we get to go into the parade with such a rich history.”
This year’s guest speaker was Frank Brady of the Aisling Irish Community Center in Yonkers, N.Y. Brady’s speech touched on several aspects of the Irish immigrant experience, such as the discrimination they faced as well as their role in advancing American society.
“Today, we hear all the time about how the Irish built America,” Brady said. “And if you look through various books, and do a content analysis, that certainly would be borne out, when you look at the Catholic Church, politics, the Labor Movement, athletics, civil rights, the Army … American and Irish independence, you see that the Irish played a major role over the years.”
“We have heard this very often, that the Irish … immigrants have built the United States. Well, I think, without fear of contradiction, that the Irish have certainly done an awful lot, and more than any other ethnic group.”
After Brady’s speech, the event turned toward Irish step dancing. Two of the featured dancers, freshmen Noel Spillane and Kasey Van Doren, have performed across the nation and the world, and were invited by the Gaelic Society to perform at Irish Night.
Spillane got involved in Irish dance through both of his parents.
“My mother used to dance … and my dad is from Cork in Ireland,” he said.
In addition to MC’s long-standing Gaelic traditions, Spillane also chose the college specifically because of its proximity to his dance school.
“I’m from Long Island, so I wanted to stay close to the New York area so that I could travel to my dance teacher to still practice and train while I’m at school.”
Along with many people on and off campus, O’Shea looks forward to Irish Night every year because of its celebration of Irish heritage as well as its widespread appeal across campus.
“The fact that like Manhattan College is an amalgamation of different people and different cultures … everything [is] different, which is great,” O’Shea said. “So we love … celebrating our differences. So that’s why we love this event, because we’re celebrating Irish culture, and it’s open to everybody, so everybody can learn a little bit, everybody can celebrate a little bit … We’re bringing all kinds of people together, regardless of if you’re Irish or not.”