As Luck of the Irish would have it, soon after we opened the Irish Cultural Centre a perfect opportunity arose to showcase our culture to Calgary. The Variety Club of Southern Alberta organized a Variety of Nations Festival to further multicultural sharing and understanding. This festival comprised pavilions featuring arts, crafts, music, song and dance, costumes and cultural representations. Pavilions also served ethnic food and beverages. The visiting public was encouraged to visit as many pavilions as possible and have their passports stamped. Transportation was provided between pavilions. The initial occurrence of this event took place on September 21 – 23, 1989.
A large Organizing Committee, chaired by Tom Casey, was formed to undertake the endeavour. The Committee included: Anne Greer, Finance; Ann McCullagh and Mary Kane, Costumes; Graham Doherty, Security; Tony Irwin, Publicity; Betty Pettigrew, Food Services; Dianne Button, Volunteer Coordinator; Sean Hackett and Theresa McComish, Bar Services; Dennis Slater, Displays; Sally Houston and Angela Possak, Entertainment.
The operating team also included: Eilis Foley and Pat Slater, Ambassadors; Mary Kane and Shirley McAuley, Hostesses; Emer Parte, Rosie O’Grady; John Smithers, Mary Hennigan and Sean Buckley Masters of Ceremonies; Joe McClure, Mascot and Hugh Neary, Seanachie. Live music was provided by An Beal Bocht, Finnegan’s Wake, Comhaltas Ceoltoiri, Saturday Night Band, and various volunteers and our dancing schools enthralled the audiences throughout the five day event.
Hostesses Shirley McAuley and Mary Kane
Micleen Og - Joe McClure and Rosie O”Grady - Emer Parte
Tom Casey wrote “How does one capture on paper the emotions, feelings, the supernatural high one experienced during this outstanding weekend? Can we repeat it – never you say. What happened to make it so good, so professional, so polished? Talk about “things” going right for you! Right down to the Guinness being “the best I ever tasted” said Chris Kane (an authority on the pint). To say that someone poured a truck load of cement on our project, would be an understatement.
Why did it work? It worked because we believed. Having the belief, we surrounded ourselves with a committee of skilled volunteers. We organized and organized and we did it with enthusiasm which rubbed off on everyone and finally convinced ourselves that WE COULD DO IT.
We were met with membership support not to be reckoned with. The spirit of enthusiasm, camaraderie, fellowship, belonging, community were all present. A touch of atmosphere and it ignited. What fun, what joy, what a wonderful celebration of our culture!”
Finnegan’s Wake: Sean Casey, Shea Scully, guest fiddle player, Martin Kelly, and Anne Cowman
One of our visitors, Mrs. Lowid wrote “Compliments to the Irish Pavilion!! You REALLY have it together. The spirit is there in full force all the way round. The group is only as strong as its weakest link. There was no weak link. I have critiqued every pavilion, and believe me I could not find a single fault here!! Everyone is very professional and the package is well wrapped.
Thanks for a wonderful evening, top notch entertainment, beautifully hosted. Sheer pleasure! Keep up the splendid work, you got it!”
Houston School of Dance: Nathan McCavana, Beth Thom, Margaret Toye, Claire Hickey, Rebecca Hill, Kerry Houston with Merv Bell on accordion
Volunteers Margaret Toye, Audrey Evans, Joe McClure and Brian Evans
Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann. Fiona Coll, Denis O’Brien, Gail O’Neill, Derek Perry and Derek Lofthouse
Irwin School of Dancing. Barbara Blakey, Andrea Irwin, Jennifer White, Gemma McCaffery, Lindsay Carlton, Ryan Mc Caffery