If you’re looking for a way to beat the late winter blues while getting in the mood for St. Patrick’s Month, the Irish American Heritage Center is the place to be Saturday, Feb. 23.
That’s when and where the Young Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago is hosting its third annual Craic and Culture Crawl.
You won’t have to worry about the weather, as there will be six bars scattered across the four stories of the Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox Ave, Chicago. And you might even learn a thing or two while you have a pint.
“We will be starting off in the Fifth Province Pub, the main bar on the first floor, where we will be doing our check-in and a quick lap to learn how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness,” YIFC VP of Cultural Affairs, Brendan Byrne, said.
The 5th Province Pub kitchen will be where you find out how to make Irish scones from the Galway Bakers. Byrne said the bakers will be serving up a bit of history about Irish baked goods along with a variety of scone recipes.
In the Art Room on the second floor, instructor Michael Carroll will be teaching Irish art history, including about some pieces that can be found in the IAHC, and will help attendees create works to take home.
“Michael is teaching the class Knotwork by Hand & Eye at the IAHC on Sundays, so we’re happy to have him on to lead that stop,” Byrne said.
The Center’s library is where you will find Mike Regan and Karen Reshkin schooling pub pupils in the Irish language, offering a quick lesson including a few phrases to use over the upcoming holiday.
“We will be screening ‘Yu Ming Is Ainm Dom’ for the next stop at the theater in the building,” Byrne said. “It is a funny short film about a Chinese man who becomes a bit disenfranchised with life, and in seeking escape, spins a globe and decides to move to Ireland. Before he goes, he decides to dedicate himself to learning the national language to better assimilate – Gaelic.”
Byrne said the film was selected by Maeve McSweeney, a member of the South Side Irish Film Festival who is on the board of the Young Irish Fellowship Club, “so we’re excited to be incorporating an Irish film portion into the crawl for the first time.”
For the final stop, the crawl will have an Irish dance portion.
“We saved this for last to make sure everyone will be ready to take to the dance floor. It will be run by a pair of dancers from Trinity,” Byrne said.
Each activity will have two or three sessions, cycling participants out between the bar in the area, and the activity itself, Byrne said.
“Each cultural activity will take about 20 minutes, which is about the perfect amount of time if you’re walking in with a beer to get it done and not skip a beat,” Byrne said. “It also allows us to run multiple sessions at each stop and helps us keep the group sizes small so that everyone has a more enjoyable experience.”
Byrne, who volunteers with the Young Irish Fellowship Club and with the Irish American Heritage Center, said the center is “an absolute cultural treasure here in Chicago. I wanted to find a way to bring a younger generation of people into the world of Irish culture at a depth greater than the sometimes superficial experience many people get around St. Patrick’s Day. So with the board of the YIFC, I worked with the IAHC to craft this event to both showcase the building but also explore different aspect of Irish culture.”
Of what he likes about the event, Byrne said, “I really enjoy getting to expose many people for the first time to different aspects of Irish culture. I realize that I may need to trick them and entice people in with a pub crawl to do it, but in the end I am happy to see people genuinely and pleasantly surprised by how much they enjoy the event.”
Tickets are just $30 ticket which gets you full access to the event, as well as open bar from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. Guinness, Harp, Smithwicks and Miller Lite will be on tap and wine and Jameson Irish will be available, too.
If you are thinking of going, you may want to act fast, as attendance is capped at 80.
“We like to keep the event manageable and offer a fun and enjoyable experience for everyone,” Byrne said.
If you miss it, plan to attend the Club’s premier event, Forever Green, which bills itself at Chicago’s largest St. Patrick’s Day party, and which is is set for March 8, for the first time at Theater on the Lake.
For tickets to the Craic and Culture Crawl or Forever Green or more information about the Young Irish Fellowship Club, see www.youngirish.com.
If you’re just young at heart, but not on your driver’s license, and are Irish in spirit, not in name, that’s perfectly fine.
“We’re open to all,” Byrne said.