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Ireland’s Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport & Media visits Bay Area & LA

Ireland’s Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport & Media visits Bay Area & LA

Ireland’s Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin visits Bay Area & Los Angeles

Ireland’s Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin, T.D., travelled to the Bay Area and Los Angeles from May 13 to 19 for a programme hosted by the Consulate General of Ireland San Francisco and Tourism Ireland. The visit included the Official opening of the new Tourism Ireland office in Ireland House San Francisco.

Minister Martin with Bloomsday organisersThe visit kicked off on Friday evening with a reception at Ireland House San Francisco with key cultural, heritage and community partners. Minister Martin had the opportunity to meet with Bloomsbay partners who are organising the activities in the Bay Area to celebrate the 100th anniversary of James Joyce’s Ulysses. All Bloomsbay activities can be found on Irish Culture Bay Area website and app.

Minister Catherin Martin addresses Ireland House




Composer & violinist Colm O Riain performing at Ireland House ReceptionAt the reception the Minister spoke about the increased Irish governmental investment in California, including the appointment of Cultural Officer Síobhra Quinlan in Los Angeles, and her commitment to deepening Ireland’s cultural links with the Western US. She welcomed the return of tourism between Ireland and California and thanked the cultural, community and heritage organisations present for their work in promoting Irish culture and heritage here in the Bay Area. Her remarks were followed by a moving piece from violinist and composer Colm Ó Riain, who had prepared the piece especially for the event.

Bertie Penny presents Minister Martin with SFYGAA jerseys for her childrenMinister Martin tosses up football in exhibition match

The Minister and delegation had a full day on Saturday starting at Páirc na nGael on Treasure Island to meet with the San Francisco GAA community. The Minister tossed up the ball to start the exhibition match between the Fog City Harps ladies team and this year’s U14 boys Féile Team who will be competing in Ireland this summer. Minister Martin was also given a tour of the Clubhouse by founders Pat Uniacke and John O’Flynn, and gave some remarks to the teams and club members in attendance. She spoke about the importance of the GAA community and expressed her condolences on the recent passing of Barry McGrath and Gary Reilly. Bertie Penny presented Minister Martin with 3 San Francisco Youth GAA jerseys for her children.

Minister Martin at the UICC with musicians

Next up was a visit to the United Irish Cultural Centre (UICC) in San Francisco where the Minister was given a tour of the centre by UICC Board President Liam Reidy and met with various groups including the Irish Language group, local musicians, and Michael Dillon Irish Dancers - who were preparing for their Save the World Feis the following weekend. The Minister also visited the Patrick J Dowling library for a private tour of the library's extensive holding, many from the mid- to late-19th century. The Minister then listened to a presentation by Liam Reidy about the ambitious 2025 Irish Center Project, and welcomed the centre’s commitment to cultural programming and getting cultural artists out to the new centre.

Out in the World Exhibition at the GLBT Historical Society in San FranciscoState Senator Scott Weiner speaking at GLBT Historical Society

The last stop of the day was the GLBT Historical Society in the Castro District of San Francisco where the Minister officially launched the West Coast installation of the EPIC Museum of Immigration's Out in the World exhibition. The exhibition, which made its debut last year at EPIC in Dublin, is currently touring select locations across the world and making its first stop in San Francisco. GLBT Historical Society Director, Andrew Schaffer welcomed Minister Martin to the space and spoke enthusiastically of the collaboration between the museum, the Consulate and EPIC museum. We were delighted that State Senator Scott Weiner attended the event, speaking of the positive international example of Ireland in the protecting and promoting of LGBTQ+ civil rights, particularly referencing the 2015 Irish referendum on gay marriage.

The following Monday the Minister and delegation travelled to Los Angeles, CA to participate in Ireland Week, as well as in Tourism Ireland and Screen Ireland engagements.

On Wednesday the group returned to San Francisco for Tourism Ireland’s annual Media Lunch with key industry partners in the Bay Area and the official opening of Tourism Ireland’s new office in San Francisco. Minister Martin spoke about how this was the first Tourism Ireland office opening in the twelve years and about the strategic importance of having a Tourism Ireland Office on the West Coast. 

Minister Martin with representatives from major arts & cultural institutions in the Bay Area

On the last day of their visit the Minister and delegation met with major arts and cultural institutions in the Bay Area for a discussion about arts programming post-pandemic. The Minister was joined by various organisations, including the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts who recently supported a basic income for artists scheme similar to Ireland’s new pilot programme. The group were joined virtually by Síobhra Quinlan, who dialled in from Kansas City where she was present at the first Network of Irish Cultural Centres of North America (NICCONA) gathering since the pandemic.

After a very busy and successful programme, the Minister departed San Francisco on the Thursday to return to Ireland. 

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