Rotarian’s Welcome Irish Heritage Center

by Pat Moynahan on June 28, 2017

Irish Heritage Center's Kent and CoveyMaureen Kennedy along with Rotary Club President, Pam Goetting.

Irish Heritage Center’s Kent and CoveyMaureen Kennedy along with Rotary Club President, Pam Goetting.

FLORENCE – Maureen Kennedy and Kent Covey are “awakening the Irish” in Greater Cincinnati.

They founded the Irish Heritage Center (IHC) of Greater Cincinnati eight years ago. They are transforming a late 19th century school building on the east side of the Queen City into a museum, theater, library, tea room, pub and music and arts venue.

The center currently houses the award-winning Irish American Theater Company of Cincinnati and stages concerts by well-known Irish performers.

“We want to become the focal point for people interested in Irish art, Irish culture and the Irish community,” Kennedy said at a Florence Rotary Club meeting on June 19.

Kennedy and Covey grew up in western New York and attended school together as teenagers. Some 30 years after graduation, they met again at a reunion. They married three years later.

Kennedy was living in California and operating a dance school and theater. Covey was living in Fairfield, Ohio, where he owned a small business after working for Procter & Gamble and Hillenbrand Industries.

The couple moved to Hyde Park after they married. Kennedy founded and serves as artistic director of the Irish American Theater Company, which won eight of 11 awards at the Acting Irish International Theatre Festival last month in New York, according to the couple. She is also a member of the IHC board.

“What we really aspire to do is to attract the youth to Irish art” and culture, Covey said. He sold his small business and serves as president of the IHC, a board member of the IHC Charitable Foundation, Inc., sings with the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick glee club, and acts with the theater company.

The center offers Irish history lessons, music classes, dance and language lessons in addition to theater performances. The couple and volunteers present programs in libraries, churches and community meetings. They also bring in Irish acts.

For example, Father Ray Kelly, a priest who became a YouTube sensation for his rendition of “Hallelujah!” at an Irish wedding, will perform at the IHC on July 15. Emmet Cahill, a member of the popular Irish group Celtic Thunder, will appear in concert August 11.

The center is located at 3905 Eastern Avenue in Columbia Tusculum. Kennedy said the location is one of the areas of the city where people from Appalachia settled … just the right community for a re-awakening of the Irish.

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Additional information on the IHC or upcoming events is available at http://www.irishcenterofcincinnati.com.