Tuesday, November 30, 2021
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Irish Center celebrates birthday

As part of the Kansas City Irish Center’s fifth-year birthday celebration, St. Patrick’s Day visitors enjoyed birthday cake and Irish coffee at the Center’s Union Station quarters.

Director Nancy Wormington cut and served the birthday cake, while Irish language teacher and office assistant Renata Rua made Irish coffee provided by The Roasterie, a sponsor of the Center.

The Roasterie created a special blend for the center to use in its Irish coffees. Start with a little of this coffee. Add sugar, a little whiskey, more coffee and fresh cream on top. Jameson and Bushmills were the Irish whiskeys of choice at the celebration.

The birthday celebration lasted from 2 to 4 p.m., and visitors were asked to make a $1 donation.

Although the Center is fairly new, its eclectic offerings include Irish dance lessons, whiskey tastings, Irish language classes, a book club, music concerts, traditional jam sessions, book talks and Celtic spirituality talks.

“We’re growing,” Rua said. “We deal with anything that has to do with Irish heritage and culture.”

Last fall, UMKC English professor Dr. Stephen Dilks, a U.K. native, hosted a poet laureate series at the Center, discussing the likes of Seamus Heaney, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and William Butler Yeats.

“People are comfortable coming here,” Rua said. “If you’re open and you put it out there, people will come. It just happens.”

The Center lacks a solid staff, and instead relies heavily on volunteers to organize and carry out events and activities. A film festival will take place this week, and acclaimed English tenor Alfie Boe will visit the Kauffman Center on May 6, prompted to visit Kansas City by the Irish Center.

Wormington has been the director of the center for a year and a half. Her heritage is three-fourths Irish, and she’s been exposed to the parades, Irish culture and local Irish newspaper since she was young.

“My background is in nonprofit agencies and fundraising, but my passion is in Ireland,” she said. “So I always tell people I’ve found my dream job. I get to share my experiences and learn from others by being here.”

Rua started working with the Irish Center in 2007. Her favorite aspect of working there is the people.

“Nancy makes the top of that list,” Rua said. “I just love all the people you meet and all the people who come in; all the interest in all things Irish.”

The Center will host a tour of Ireland next Fall, from Sept. 27 through Oct. 6. The $3,169 fee includes round-trip airfare, eight nights in a hotel, one night in a historic manor house and full breakfast daily. Rua will escort the group of approximately 20 people, along with travel agent Rosemary Stipe. The entry packet and full itinerary can be found online at irishcenterkc.org. Rua said this trip is the first of three (one each year) that will encompass the entirety of Ireland, a third at a time.

“We are the home to all things Irish,” Wormington said. “Anyone who has a question about Ireland, their heritage, Irish events happening in Kansas City, we are the place for them to come.”

The Center will host the Brian Friel play “Lovers: Winners” March 22-25, 29-31 and April 1. Tickets are $14, or $12 for Irish Center members and students. For reservations, email herman@martintanner.com or call 816-308-7974.

mheiman@unews.com

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