Our mission is to promote positive associations to Ireland and matters Irish in the town of Amherst, Massachusetts by hosting events that explore aspects of Ireland's diaspora, culture, language and society.
In our commitment to equality, inclusion and diversity, we welcome all members of the Amherst community to our events.
We deliberately host our events at a beautiful community venue in downtown Amherst (Unitarian Social Room), not a pub, and serve complementary tea and scones at our "Tea & Tunes" segment after each presentation.
You can learn more about the history of the AIA by following this link!
Emily Dickinson, 1830 - 1886, Amherst College Special Collections. Photo purported to have been rescued from destruction by Irish servant Margaret Maher
Dickinson Irish servant Margaret Maher, Jones Library, Amherst
Margaret Maher Award 2020
On Sunday, Oct. 18th, 2020, the Amherst Irish Association held the first newly-restructured Margaret Maher Award ceremony via Zoom. The gracious recipient, Rosemary Caine, is a renowned musician, playwright and performer here in the Pioneer Valley. Born at Ardee in County Louth, Rosie has been gracing the stages, both large and small, in the Valley for decades. She is presently at work on a piece involving Emily Dickinson and Margaret Maher.
This AIA event was highlighted by live performance. Michael Haley, as Lady Wilde herself, offered personal perspective of Rosie and her career, while introducing a number of fanciful character “tributes” played by members of Wilde Irish Women, a stage and musical group founded by Rosie. Member Brooke Steinhauser, Program Director for the Emily Dickinson House, acted as co-host for the program, which included video reviews of past performances and a photo montage of players.
The beautiful wooden Margaret Maher Award was designed and handmade by Al Ladd, a magnificent woodcrafter and a musician of Le Chéile, which has performed regularly with the AIA following our in-person events. Al, a man of many talents, has been featured as well with other members in their own AIA events.
Boston Consul General Laoise Moore presented the award to Rosie virtually, it having been given to her in person several days ago. Consul General Moore was the presenter at last year’s Margaret Maher Award competition. Amongst her remarks, she offered, “I’m delighted that you are awarding this year’s award to somebody who really has done so much to dedicate her life and her considerable talents to the promotion of Irish music and history and the Arts, and in such an interesting and enjoyable way.”
So, once again, congratulations to Rosie and we look forward to seeing what she has up her sleeve next! Well done!
You can watch a video recording of the program on YouTube by following this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ivz6gIeVcEs. You can also find previous AIA videos posted by searching for the “Amherst Irish Association” while on the YouTube page or by following this link: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=amherst+irish+association.
You can find out more about Margaret Maher by following this link: /files/Brief_history_Margaret_Maher_2017.pdf.
We hope this message is finding all of you well and safe. While the pandemic has been raging, forcing us all to change our schedules, to change our ways of communicating and sharing (and indeed, to change our daily lives), the AIA Directors have been discussing how best to deliver presentations for our community going forward. Based upon the newest research and health recommendations, we felt it best to organize a fully remote series of events for our 2020/2021 season. While this is obviously not an ideal solution, it is the safest and most apropos to the current situation.
To that end, we will be conducting a real-time Zoom meeting on event days at 2 pm. Many of you are likely familiar with Zoom already, due to its pervasive use for meetings and family visits. The software is free for you, the user (the AIA has taken out a subscription so that we can host additional participants for longer meeting times than the free app allows). During the presentations, you will be able to submit online questions to a moderator who can pass them along to the speaker. All the events should last about 45 minutes and will be recorded. These digital sessions will then be posted to YouTube.com. In that way, should you be unable to be present on the day of any given event, you can still watch the presentation after the fact, although you will not be able to submit real-time questions.
So how will you be able to join a meeting?
If you are an AIA member, you will receive an e-mail which will include a link to the Zoom meeting. Simply clicking the link at 2 pm on the event day and following the prompts will bring you into the meeting.
If you are not an AIA member, YOU ARE HEARTILY WELCOME! At least two days prior to each event listed on the flyer below, please send an e-mail requesting to attend to email@example.com. You will be sent a link to the event. Simply clicking the link at 2 pm on the event day and following the prompts will bring you into the meeting.
Please do not wait until just before the event has started to try to contact us via e-mail!
For optimal interaction, it would be best to use a laptop (as it has a video camera installed on it), an iPad, or a desktop with a video camera. You can also use your android smartphone or iPhone by downloading the Zoom app, although some features may be limited.
Not familiar with Zoom? There are innumerable free videos on YouTube that will walk you through the process. Just go to YouTube.com and search for “Zoom for beginners." For example, here are 2 such videos:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOJkfflN8O4. This one will show you how to use your smartphone for the Zoom mobile app.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1CwZFiAyxY. This one is a good Zoom overview.
Should you have any questions regarding Zoom or any AIA event, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. But please do not wait until just before the event has started to try to contact us via e-mail. That may not be enough time for us to properly respond.
As we mentioned, we know that a fully remote series is not ideal. But given the circumstances and their likelihood to continue for the foreseeable future, this option provides a solution that keeps us closest to our “normal” presentations.
Our event series for 2020-2021 is presented below. You can download it by following the link below the flyer. It will begin on September 27th at 2 pm with a presentation by Malcolm Sen, Professor of English at UMASS/Amherst, on “Race in Irish Literature & Culture,” a particularly appropriate subject for these times. We hope you will be able to join us.
Until then, best wishes and please keep safe and well!
You can download the flyer by choosing this link.
You can download the flyer by choosing this link.