Ryan Mahoney Joins Team at Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum of Fairfield, Inc.

Ryan Mahoney will assist with planning and exhibition of IGHM collection from Quinnipiac University.

Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum of Fairfield, Inc., an association of the Gaelic-American Club in Fairfield, CT, is excited to announce that longtime museum professional Ryan Mahoney will be joining the association as an advisor.

Mahoney most recently served as the Executive Director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University from 2017-2021 where he provided general management and oversight of all administrative operations of the museum, while managing all aspects of the collection’s care and maintenance. From 2013-2017, Mahoney was the Executive Director of the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany, NY and he currently works at Springfield Museums in Springfield, Mass., where he helps develop gallery and exhibition themes and supervises installation of exhibition areas.

Mahoney has a dual bachelor’s degree in history and political science from St. John Fisher College and a master’s degree in public history from the University at Albany. He brings over 15 years of professional experience in the museum field to the team at Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum of Fairfield, Inc. Mahoney also has served as a national board member of the Irish American Cultural Institute, as well as a board member of the United Irish Societies of the Capital District, Inc. In 2016, Mahoney was named an Irish “Top 40 Under 40” by the Irish Echo.

“To say I am excited to have the opportunity to continue to work with this collection and help in the development of its new home would be an understatement,” said Mahoney. “This collection is powerful. Not only does it tell the story of Ireland in the 19th-century, but it also draws parallels to many contemporary issues that we see worldwide. The artwork here inspires conversations and provokes questions. It makes a topic like the Great Hunger more accessible to visitors of all ages.”

Mahoney added: “The Gaelic-American Club should be commended for the work that they have done to keep this collection together and home here in Connecticut. Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum of Fairfield, Inc. is assembling an impressive team of professionals to make sure this project is done correctly. This joint effort will secure the future Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum collection and ensure that it will thrive for generations to come.”

About the Gaelic-American Club of Fairfield

The Gaelic-American Club was founded in 1948 in Bridgeport by a group of Irish immigrants for the purpose of maintaining and celebrating Irish culture. By promoting social, civic, and cultural activities, the GAC continues long held Irish traditions and educates future generations. Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum of Fairfield, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) and operates as an association of the Gaelic-American Club.

Fantastic Start to Fundraising Efforts for Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum of Fairfield, INC

(Left to right) John Foley President of Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum of Fairfield, Inc. Amy O’Shea Vice President of Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum of Fairfield, Inc. Connecticut State Senator Tony Hwang Dr. Christine Kinealy PhD founding director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute Gerry Forde President of the Gaelic-American Club.


The Ancient Order of Hibernians hosted breakfast at the Gaelic-American Club on Sunday March 6th and a total of $10,000 was donated to the Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum of Fairfield, Inc.

Dr. Kinealy was the guest speaker for the event and was introduced by Amy O’Shea. The following was Amy’s speech.

“Good morning everyone. My name is Amy O’Shea and I’m delighted to be the very first speaker from Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum of Fairfield.

The journey you join us on today started when a few Gaelic-American board members joined the fight to reopen a shuttered museum in Hamden and it continued months later when we hosted an event there in the pouring rain in October.

What followed was months of quiet negotiations and representation of the Irish-American community in Connecticut.

Months of late night phone calls, text messages, emails and meetings in Hamden and Fairfield which lead us to this momentous decision by Quinnipiac on Friday.

The decision to transfer this great collection to the Gaelic American Club right here in Fairfield.

We are so very grateful that Quinnipiac is entrusting us with this incredibly important and prestigious collection and we fully understand and are prepared for the enormity of the responsibility we have undertaken.

The announcement has already been met with such an unbelievable outpouring of support from the Irish American community and we thank you for joining this small group at the beginning of our journey.

Over the coming months we will build something new and beautiful and we will show the world that Irish-America is as strong as ever. We will build on the story that Dr. John Lahey started and we will tell the story of our ancestors and how we got here.

Today I have the great honor to introduce someone who knows this great collection like no other and one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Great Hunger. It is truly my great pleasure to introduce Dr. Christine Kinealy.”

A total of $10,000 was donated to the Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum of Fairfield, Inc. at the event.  Many thanks to Ted Lovely family , the AOH for matching their donation and those who donated anonymously.

 

Community Support for Museum’s Move to Fairfield

St. Patrick’s GAA Club, Fairfield CT

IRELAND’S GREAT HUNGER MUSEUM TREASURES SAVED
Saving Art Treasures Critically Important to the Irish Community

Fairfield, Connecticut. March 3, 2022 – St. Patrick’s GAA Club welcomes the transfer of the collection from Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum to the Gaelic American Club in Fairfield, Connecticut.

“This is terrific opportunity to preserve the unique artistic remembrances of the Great Hunger so that our community never forgets this tragedy,” said Jimmy Feeney, Chairman of St. Patrick’s GAA Club. He further added, “We are so grateful that the leadership of Quinnipiac University and the Gaelic American Club could work together and find a solution that maintains the public’s access to this important historical collection.”
In addition to preserving and promoting Gaelic games in Fairfield County, St. Patrick’s GAA Club supports Irish cultural programs and initiatives including traditional Irish language, music, dance, and literature.

Fairfield University’s response to Gaelic American Club saving and preserving Irish artifacts from Great Hunger Museum

The Irish Hunger Museum is not only among the most important Irish cultural institutions in the region and nation, but it’s collection is a crucial example of the role of art in rendering the human dimensions of loss, trauma, and the unspeakable. The museum represents and commemorates loss, injustice, and dehumanization. To see the museum survive, to have such a respected institution as the Gaelic American Club involved in its’ stewardship, and to have it located in such a well travelled area as downtown Fairfield is a blessing to us all.

Nels Pearson, PhD
Director, The Humanities Institute

Ancient Order of Hibernians JKF Division 1 Bridgeport, CT

It truly is great news to hear that Quinnipiac University is going to gift the entire collection of Art and artifacts of the Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum to the Fairfield Gaelic American Club. As an Irish American I am proud of our heritage. As President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians JKF division 1, Bridgeport, CT my chest swells with pride that such an important collection will be in Fairfield. “Fair play to ye” and well done.

If there is anything our organization can do to assist in transfer and set up of the collection do not hesitate to reach out to me. I know our membership will be overjoyed and “over the moon”, happy to hear the news when it is public knowledge.

Mark T. Ryan DMD
President
AOH JFK Division 1
Bridgeport CT

View Letter

The Irish-American Community of Connecticut has saved Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum Collection

Ireland’s Great Hunger Collection will be transferred by Quinnipiac University to the Gaelic-American Club of Fairfield. This means that the Collection, which tells a story not only at the heart of Irish identity and history, but also American history, will be in the custody of and shared widely by the Irish-American community of Connecticut.

“In light of the university’s decision not to reopen the museum in Hamden, the Gaelic-American Club is thrilled to have forged a solution that keeps the treasured IGHM collection in Connecticut and safeguarded and shared widely by the Irish-American community,” said Amy O’Shea, a representative from the GAC. The Club’s Vice President John Foley added: “Our intent is to work with Irish and Irish-American community to build a new home for the collection, that will not only allow the collection to thrive, but to grow and become a way for our children to understand who we were, who we are, and even who we could be. Now that a clear path forward has been established for the collection, it is time we unify our collective efforts and all rally around the shared goal of ensuring the future visibility and impact of the collection and the story that it tells.”

The GAC has already begun working with many people who are connected with the collection to create a new vision moving forward. This will include cooperation with various universities who are interested in connecting to their own Irish studies programs. The aim is to provide educational opportunities to many institutions to provide a deeper understanding of the causes and consequences of the Great Hunger in Ireland, and by extension, the pressing issues of food security and migration more globally.

The Collection will also be accessible to the public as well as various civic and cultural groups from around the world.

As part of the GAC’s plans, the museum will sit within the Fairfield Historic District, alongside other local museums and the downtown shopping district, and within walking distance of the headquarters.

It is cause for great celebration that the Great Hunger Collection will not remain shuttered; that this remarkable and terrible part of the story of Ireland will once again be shared and understood alongside the equally remarkable and brilliant paths that Irish people – many of whom became Irish Americans – have forged. We thank you for your support and interest in this project that we can all share.

Community Support