You’d be hard pressed to find climates and building styles more dissimilar than Phoenix and Ireland, which makes the walk up to the Irish Cultural Center feel almost unreal. Despite the three-story castle-like library building being completed as recently as 2012, the entire complex looks like it just got transported from centuries ago and half a world away.
The complex contains three buildings — the Great Hall, the Cottage and the Castle — that surround a central Clos, or large courtyard, and An Gorta Mor (The Great Hunger Memorial). The Great Hall contains Irish artwork, a fireplace with stone from County Clare, and hosts regular dancing, swordfighting and other cultural activities, while the Cottage replicates a typical 1850s Irish cottage.
Towering over both, the Castle houses McClelland Library and serves as a place to study genealogy, attend classes and view exhibits from Irish history. In fact, a color fascimile of the famed 8th-9th century New Testament manuscript the Book of Kells resides there on permanent display.
Regular, seasonal and annual events at the complex include Christmas at the Castle, Winter Solstice Celebration, genealogy workshops, family story hour, celtic singing, ceili dancing and more. You can also take classes in music, dancing, art, genealogy, language and drama.Tours are available during normal open hours and start at The Cottage.
Location: Margaret T Hance Park, 1106 North Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ
Fall/Winter/Spring: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday for Tours, Library and Genealogy; 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday for Library and Genealogy; 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on First Friday
June and July: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday for Tours, Library and Genealogy; 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday for Library and Genealogy
Cost: Free to visit
Tours: $5 adults; $3 sensiors, students, members; Free for children under 5
Exhibits: Varies, The Book of Kells is free
– Justin Ferris, Phoenix.org