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Minister Deenihan to open major Irish art and design exhibition in Chicago

Minister travels to Chicago and Milwaukee for St Patrick’s Day

Minister for Diaspora Affairs, Jimmy Deenihan TD, today begins his St Patrick’s Day visit to Chicago and Milwaukee, where he will meet high-level political representatives, business leaders and members of the Irish community.

Minister Deenihan recently launched Ireland’s first diaspora policy: Global Irish and on his visit he will meet representatives of the Chicago Irish immigrant support groups to discuss issues affecting the Irish community, including the undocumented Irish and the prospects for comprehensive immigration reform.

A highlight of the Minister’s visit will be his participation in the official opening of the Art Institute of Chicago’s major exhibition of Irish art Ireland: Crossroads of Art & design, 1690-1840.

The exhibition will be the first major exhibition to showcase the decorative and fine arts of 18th century Ireland, bringing together more than 300 objects – many never before seen in public. The items have been loaned by public and private collectors from across North America.

Speaking shortly after his arrival in Chicago the Minister said:

“In this Year of Irish Design, I am honoured to participate in the opening of Ireland: Crossroads of Art & Design. An exhibition like this has never before been undertaken on either side of the Atlantic. It will celebrate the Irish as artists, collectors, and patrons. I would like to thank everyone concerned for their generosity in lending these artworks which provide a rich overview of Ireland’s creative legacy.”

In Chicago Minister Deenihan will meet with new Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner. The Minister’s packed schedule also includes a visit to Gaelic Park; the Great Famine memorial sculpture in the city; and the Art Institute Gala Dinner. Minister Deenihan will walk in two St Patrick’s Day parades: the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Southside Parade.

Speaking from Chicago Minister Deenihan said:

“There is a huge Irish community here in Chicago and, for many of them, St Patrick’s Day is a proud celebration of their culture, heritage and their own achievements. I am delighted to share that occasion with them this year and encourage all of them to remain connected to Ireland throughout the year – through supporting their local Irish community organisations in Chicago or keeping in touch with friends and family at home in Ireland.”

He will also host a St Patrick’s Day ConnectIreland Business Breakfast in Chicago. ConnectIreland works to create jobs in Ireland by working through the Irish diaspora to attract foreign companies that are expanding internationally to invest in Ireland.

Finally, the Minister will visit the “Irish Garden” at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show, a major annual event that has been organised since 1847. This year the Show will feature an Irish-designed and themed garden which is being constructed by US-based Irish-born garden designer, Pádraig Conway, of Cotswold’s Gardens. It will be called an “Irish Heritage Garden” complete with Irish stone, backdrops and other elements to create an Irish countryside garden experience.

Minister Deenihan will also travel to Milwaukee where he will visit the Milwaukee Irish Cultural and Heritage Centre and will have the opportunity to view the Labour & Dignity: James Connolly in America exhibition, a touring exhibition part-funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Minister will also meet with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and will present him with a Certificate of Irish Heritage. Minister Deenihan will meet representatives of Milwaukee’s Irish community organisations and will view the Ward Irish Music Archives, one of the largest public collections of Irish music in America.

Notes for editors:

Minister Deenihan recently launched Ireland’s first diaspora policy: Global Irish. Read more about the policy here: https://www.dfa.ie/our-role-policies/our-work/casestudiesarchive/2015/march/global-irish-irelands-diaspora-policy-launched/