It is finally happening! The Official Groundbreaking Ceremony was held yesterday in New York City at the site of the new home for the Irish Arts Center! And Gabriel was there to lend his voice and a hand (though somehow he managed NOT to wear a hard hat).

From the Official Irish Arts Center Announcement, October 11 (this arrived in my email inbox at 5:00pm Thursday):

Actor and IAC Honorary Chair Gabriel Byrne; Corey Johnson, Speaker of the New York City Council; Congressman Joseph Crowley; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; New York City Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl; Ciarán Madden, Consul General of Ireland; and other City and State dignitaries joined the Irish Arts Center board, staff, and supporters as they broke ground today on the New Irish Arts Center, a heralded multidisciplinary center that will bring people of all backgrounds together through the excellence and dynamism of Irish arts and culture. The ceremony marked the start of construction on Phase One of the new facility, a state-of-the-art new building at 726 11th Avenue, now fully funded and scheduled to open in late 2020.
On the heels of this milestone, NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced a $5 million grant from the City of New York toward Phase Two—the renovation of the Center’s historic current home at 553 West 51st Street, which will begin upon the new 11th Avenue building’s completion, and will be adjoined to that building in an L-shaped cultural complex. In the coming weeks, IAC will announce a campaign to complete fundraising for the 51st Street renovation, alongside a Growth and Sustainability Fund and Endowment.
Aidan Connolly, Jimmy Van Bramer, Gabriel Byrne, and Pauline Turley
“The New Irish Arts Center is not just a new building, it’s a new understanding of who we are and how we relate to the world,” said Ireland’s first Cultural Ambassador and IAC Honorary Chair Gabriel Byrne, a longtime supporter of the project, who has advised the Irish government on how to actively support Irish culture in the United States. “We need a place where the new voices of Ireland and Irish America can be nourished and celebrated and born. The New Irish Arts Center is that place.”

The Twitter thread below from the Irish Arts Center tells the story of this very special day! Click on the image in the tweet and you will see all of the tweets included in the thread on Twitter.


Aidan Connelly, IAC Executive Director,
Gabriel Byrne, IAC Honorary Chair,
and Pauline Turley, IAC Vice Chair

From Suzanne Lynch at the Irish Times:

Actor Gabriel Byrne helps break ground for new Irish Arts Centre in New York
State-of-the-art building on 11th Avenue could be ready by 2020

The Irish Arts Centre in New York is on track to move into a new home as early as 2020 as construction officially began on the long-awaited project.

Actor Gabriel Byrne, members of Congress and state and city dignitaries attended the groundbreaking ceremony in New York on Thursday afternoon.

The ceremony marked the start of construction of Phase One of the new facility – a state-of-the-art building on 11th Avenue…
In a boost for the project, the City of New York announced a $5 million (€4.3 million) grant on Thursday to help develop the centre’s current home at West 51st Street – Phase Two of the project.

Speaking at the ceremony, Gabriel Byrne, a long-term supporter of the centre, said the new project was “not just a new building – it’s a new understanding of who we are and how we relate to the world”.

“We need a place where the new voices of Ireland and Irish America can be nourished and celebrated and born. The New Irish Arts Centre is that place,” he said.

Gabriel with the amazing Martin Hayes


This year’s very special Spirit of Ireland Groundbreaking Gala will be held on October 19. Gabriel will be there with his Honorary Co-Chair and friend Liam Neeson. Get ready to celebrate the completion of this incredible project! Gabriel’s commitment to the new center and its mission is a constant inspiration to us all and one of the reasons he will always be our favorite Irishman. heart


  1. He might not have had a hard hat but he has dirt on his shovel.

  2. Ben an (Benedicte woman

    Indeed, he doesn’t have an helmet here and he manages often not to have one, but I think he had one when he visited the planetarium (or I don’t remember what) at the Atacama’s desert with Juliette Binoche during the shooting of the 33.

  3. My heartfelt congratulations to all involved, Mr. Byrne , Aidan Connolly and Pauline Turley in particular, who have been working towards this goal for many years. Having participated in comparable initiatives, I understand the blood, sweat and tears that go into the planning, design and fundraising for a redevelopment project of this magnitude. A supreme accomplishment thanks to their vision, commitment and perseverance – BRAVO!!!!

    Angelle from Canada

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