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Irish Cultural Center celebrating 10th anniversary with Christmas festivities

The Irish Cultural Center begins the holiday season with its celebration of Christmas with an Irish Touch on Dec. 6 at 4 p.m. As we approach our 10th anniversary we are proud that this is our 10th annual program ushering in the season. Monsignor Christopher Connelly will preside at the liturgy in Our Lady's chapel. Some of the prayers, song and readings will be led in Irish. Immediately following the Mass, we will host a traditional Irish Christmas entertainment in the Cooley Campus Center dining hall with music, dancing, poems and storytelling. Families with children are especially welcome. In 1999, shortly after the official opening of the Irish Cultural Center, the Board of Directors initiated this popular program called Christmas with an Irish Touch. Mass is celebrated in Our Lady's Chapel on the Elms campus. The entertainment and refreshments follow the liturgy. The festive touches put everyone in the mood for celebrating the season. Children who participated in the Celtic Adventures for Kids join us to entertain us by dancing, singing and playing Christmas or Irish tunes on their tin whistles. This is truly one of our best-loved events and definitely one not to be missed. This annual event is one of many we offer throughout the year to promote and celebrate our Irish heritage and culture. Over the years we have featured stories and poems of traditional Irish Christmas customs: the candle in the window that welcomes Mary and Joseph to the home; the origin of holly; the stories of the season, including the decorations in the kitchen; Christmas day on the Great Blasket; and the celebration of Little Christmas. Two years ago Mary Franz delighted the audience by singing "Mrs. Fogarty's Christmas Cake," and we are happy that she has agreed to play the role again. One year Tom Feeley and friends portrayed the Wren Boys by singing their song; another year he led the audience in singing "Jingle Bells" in the Irish language. Every year we sing "Silent Night" in Irish and English led by Kathleen Gilhooly. The children who participated in or summer camp are directed by Mary Ellen O'Brien and Mike Rancitelli. At the liturgy our Irish speakers, including Tom Moriarty and George Bresnahan, do the readings in Irish and English, as well as leading the congregation in Our Father in Irish. Gilhooly sings the parts of the Mass in Irish: the "Kyrie," the "Holy, Holy, Holy" and the "Lamb of God." Both the chapel and the campus center are handicapped accessible. Admission is free but a free will offering will be taken. For further information, call the Irish Cultural Center at Elms College at 265-2537 or e-mail irishcenter@elms.edu. Check our Web site at www.irish-cairde.org.

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