Irish Heritage Club

  • By John Keane
  • Posted 1/01/1998
  • Essay 2205
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By 1982, the Irish-American Club, Irish Festivities, and the Seattle Gaels were all going strong, but many times their activities clashed. Because of the cross-membership, there was much duplication of effort in sponsoring dances and concerts. The three clubs finally decided to combine resources and efforts in 1983 under the new name of the Irish Heritage Club.

Membership and interest have skyrocketed since. There are now more than 600 paying members of the Irish Heritage Club, whereas before the merger, the three clubs had a combined membership of about 100. The Irish Heritage Club is also much more active than the original three clubs. During 1998, for example, the Irish Heritage Club organized and sponsored more than 50 different events ranging from concerts, to parades, football games, displays, lectures, movies, and all kinds of Irish cultural activities.

In 1983, members of the Irish Heritage Club, the Friends of St. Patrick, and others worked together to form the Seattle Ireland Sister City Association. This new group, required by the city to be a separate organization, was instrumental in the establishment of an official sister-city relationship between Seattle and Galway in 1986.

An official Seattle delegation led by former Governor John Spellman traveled to Galway to formally sign the agreement in 1988. In 1993, to further mark the relationship, a monument created by the late Don Scott, a Seattle artist, was unveiled in Galway by Seattle City Council President George Benson.

The limestone monument carries on a bronze marker the geophysical data of Seattle - its longitude, latitude, distance and time difference, and an arrow pointing in the true direction of Seattle, and plans are underway for a similar monument in Seattle to be unveiled in March, 2000, which will carry the geophysical data of Galway.

The Mayor of Galway, Alderman Michael Leahy, in March of 1998, was the seventh Galway Mayor to participate in Seattle’s Irish Week celebrations, and Seattle will also be represented at Galway’s 1999 St. Patrick’s Day Parade. An annual student-exchange exists between the University of Washington and University College Galway. This and other exchanges annually strengthen the ties which bind us to our Irish Sister-City.


John Keane was President of the Irish Heritage Society.

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