On Feb. 22, several members of the Robson Ranch genealogy group, Ropin’ in Yer Relatives, took a trip to the Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix. Our tour, led by a docent named Dan, ventured through a traditional Celtic cottage, the Great Hall, and “the Castle,” which houses the McClelland Genealogical Library.
The Castle was built using stone imported from Ireland and constructed in a Gothic style. The second floor houses the Genealogical Library, where experts can help you with your research. The third floor has displays of Irish history, and you have great views of the city from the balcony.
The Great Hall has a dramatic mural, a large fireplace, and Irish stained glass windows. It holds cultural events such as weddings and Irish dancing.
The courtyard is made up of a giant map of Ireland, and sponsors can buy a brick to be inserted in the county of your ancestors’ origin. At the far end of the courtyard is the Potato Famine Memorial, An Gorta Mor, translated as “the great famine.”
Dan explained what life would have been like in the whitewashed Irish cottage. He told us how large families would live in this small setting, that cattle were frequently kept inside at night, and that peat was used for heating and cooking. Inside one room were displays of important Irish cultural heroes, including St. Patrick and St. Brigid.
I think we all agreed it was a worthwhile trip.