The mission of the Michael J. Quill Irish Cultural and Sports Centre is to preserve and promote Irish/Irish-American cultural and artistic heritage. While dedicated to preserving the symbols of our past, the Centre will present to the public, state and nation, a variety of Irish cultural programs, both historic and contemporary, in fine arts, language, literature, theater, music, dance, and folk arts. Its mission is to promote and preserve the cultural and artistic heritage of the Irish and those of Irish descent.
We are also active in encouraging and promoting the development of younger artists who will carry their heritage with them into the next century.
While dedicated to maintaining the traditional aspects of our past, the Centre will present to the public a variety of Irish cultural programs, both historic and contemporary, in fine arts, language, literature, theater, music, dance and folk arts.
The Michael J. Quill Irish Cultural and Sport Centre Inc. is a non-profit 501(C)(3), educational corporation that was founded in 1987 by community leaders. Our mission is to preserve and promote Irish/Irish-American cultural and artistic heritage in both the local community and in the northeast region. Our 58-acre property in East Durham currently houses the Irish-American Heritage Museum and hosts various festivals and sports programs.
Our current facility is a four-tiered rural site. The lower portions of which are utilized for sports events and outdoor festivals. The Centre hosts the annual East Durham Memorial Day Weekend Irish Festival which draws approximately 20,000 people from throughout the east coast. In addition, we also host the Catskills Irish Arts Week, the Traditional Irish Music Festival, Irish Film Series, the East Durham Feis, The Celtic Festival and other non-ethnic community-wide events.
The property, which has been developed over 9 years at a cost of $800,000, now includes a main entrance road, graded fields and parking areas, fencing, public bathroom facility, storage buildings and a permanent pavilion structure on the festival grounds measuring 80′ x 144′, a cultural information office, the Peter J. O’Neill Library, John E. Lawe (former President of the TWU) Memorial and a regulation full size Irish Football Sports Field and a community little league field. Also on the property is the summer exhibition home of the nation’s only Irish- American Heritage Museum. The MJQICSC erected an authentic Donegal Irish Cottage on site that was brought over piece by piece from Ireland. In the cottage’s foreground, you will find the largest man made map of Ireland outlining each county with their flag. Most recently, the MJQICSC has constructed a 9/11 memorial with a replica of the twin towers. In recognition of Ireland’s religious suppression, there is also a mass rock on the grounds where periodic masses are held.
Our Office, “Tir Na Nog”, is located on Route 145 just before the entrance to the festival grounds. We are open from April-October.
Known as “the Emerald Isle of the Catskills,” East Durham is a hamlet within the Town of Durham, population of about 2,600 which quadruples during the summer season. It is located in western Greene County, New York. Drawn to the familiarity of one’s own ethnicity, visitors to East Durham found comfort that eluded them in the neighborhoods of New York City. It has been the summer center for the Irish for over 6 decades.
he MJQICSC primary goals are: The survival of Irish traditional arts and sports in the Catskill region, Hudson Valley and Capital District and the economic survival of the Durham business community.
Today, East Durham is still populated by first and second-generation Irish. The resorts, restaurants, craft and import stores remain despite the area’s economic decline and create the community’s visible ethnic character..
In spearheading the MJQICSC, the community looks to the Cultural Centre for its leadership role in bringing together the many cultural, civic and tourism organizations to help stimulate economic growth. The local business association has found renewed stimulation and purpose in their active participation in the MJQICSC. Although substantial support and involvement was generated in our inaugural year, much public outreach work over the next few years remains to be accomplished. These efforts will also result in building associated cultural events throughout our community.
The impact of the MJQICSC has been felt by artists, audiences and organizations in the Catskills, Hudson Valley, Capital District and throughout the east coast. The Irish Arts Week has reached an audience from California to Alaska and Florida to Maine. Irish communities in all corners of the world have looked to the MJQICSC for future programing in expressions of Irish traditional arts, music and sports.
We believe the impact of the MJQICSC is potentially broader than simply encouraging Irish traditional arts and sports in the Northeast region. This model which combines top quality education in the traditional arts with an economic stabilization and growth of ethnically-owned businesses in ethnic communities contains elements that will be useful to other rural ethnic communities throughout the United States. Bringing master artists to our small town and supporting local artists, the MJQICSC enhances traditions that provide cultural enrichment for the local population, attracts new audiences and new sources of economic revenue.
Our goal is to build the MJQICSC to a fully self-sustaining level on certain programs. Development support is required during this period and continued support will be sought through the state, county programs, foundations, private donors and by increasing local fundraising. Support of local and regional businesses, began in 1987, will also continue to be sought out for an increasing share of a secure financial base for the continuity of the MJQICSC.
Funding will be needed in the following areas, grounds improvement, landscaping, building improvements, defray entertainment costs, staff development, feasibility study for research and development of programs for future exhibits and festivals, and expanding the current Irish Arts Week Program, a nationally recognized education program.
The Planning and Development stage of The Michael J. Quill Memorial Cultural Building project was awarded in 1994-95 for a member item by The York State Legislature budget. Possible long-range plans for the remaining property will include the construction of a 19th-century historic Irish village tourist attraction, modeled upon the Bunratty Village in County Clare, Ireland, on the upper level of the property. In addition, we envision developing a park setting for public recreational use with bicycle paths, nature trails and picnic areas.