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Home / Art & Culture / Feature: I.NY

Feature: I.NY

I.NY is an international cultural project that celebrates and brings to life the shared story of Ireland and New York. The broader project includes year-round digital story exchange, collaborations and residencies, and cross-Atlantic initiatives in art, education and enterprise.

Ireland and New York have long been synonymous with each other – there is a shared history, an ever-continuing exchange of culture, the shaping of respective identities and the impact of each place on the other. Of the 34.5million people in North America who claim Irish heritage, it is New York State that the largest number of them call home. Anchored in cultural programming, I.NY festival celebrates the history and modernity of the relationship through music, literature, film, theatre, exhibitions, presentations, street-art and the Annie Moore talks series.

The festival also explores the breadth and depth of the connection between Ireland and New York through widened programming highlighting historical and contemporary stories of public service, sport, politics, fashion, food, religion, crime and more.

I.NY is the brainchild of David O’Donovan and Aoife Flynn, who developed the project with the help and support of numerous individuals and organisations in Ireland and New York over a two-year period. David says, “It’s from a fascination with and love for both the history and modernity of the Ireland New York relationship that I.NY is built.

“The intention is to uncover the stories that are the fabric of that relationship, to tell them to a wide audience, encourage that audience to share their own, and once a year, through these stories, bring that relationship to life in an Irish city. I.NY creates opportunities for an audience to explore what it means to be local and global, Irish and American, emigrant and native, and to share and experience these stories.”

The ambition is that the I.NY project will become a key place of exchange and engagement between Irish and New York audiences and communities, and a flagship national annual event with a unique international focus and with an incredible line-up for their first year. And what better place to hold it than in Limerick, with Shannon Airport on our doorstep meaning New York is just a 5 hour journey away.

What to expect
Dr. Jane O’Meara Sanders, founder of the Sanders Institution, has been added to I.NY programme, alongside dancer Jean Butler, author Joseph O’Connor, film producer Maura Kelly, Disney executive Trish Long, and much-loved broadcaster Mícheál Ó’Muircheartaigh.

Born in Brooklyn to Irish parents, Dr. Jane O’Meara Sanders is a founding member of the Sanders Institute, a fellowship comprised of leaders dedicated to transforming democracy through the research, education, outreach and advancement of bold, progressive ideas and values. Dr. O’Meara Sanders was also at the centre of the 2016 American presidential election as senior political advisor to, and wife of, Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders.

Dr. O’Meara Sanders is appearing as part of the I.NY Annie Moore Talks series, in conversation with Joseph O’Connor, award-winning novelist and Frank McCourt Chair of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick. She will discuss the 2016 Presidential election, the Sanders campaign and Institute, the Republican and Democratic rivals faced, and the current political climate in America. She will discuss as well her own Irish heritage, her upbringing in 1950’s Brooklyn in an Irish-American home, and the influence of Irish art, music and literature on her life. Finally, she will tell her and Bernie Sanders’ shared story, having grown up just blocks from each other in Brooklyn, but who first met decades later as political candidate and activist in Vermont.

A multitude of artists will be also performing in Limerick throughout October, with some big names pairing up for a fascinating night of conversation and music, including Damien Dempsey and Chris Byrne, and Glen Hansard and Joseph O’ Connor at The Lime Tree Theatre, plus Gerry Leonard & Eoin Devereux at Dolan’s Warehouse.

To take the conversation even further, The I.NY Gathering invites and welcomes Irish and Irish American guests to Dromoland Castle for an evening of story, music and exchange.

During the evening, guest speakers Orla Kiely, Tim O’Connor and Maura Kelly will tell the stories of their history and relationship with New York, and the personal and professional impact the city has had on them. The I.NY Gathering aims to prompts this conversation across the room – and the organisers invite guests to share their individual experience of the Ireland New York story on the night. This will be the first of what is intended as an annual event, where the Irish diaspora can gather at the end of their visit, eat and drink with friends and relatives from home, and celebrate the relationships revived or made new. A ticket includes a welcome reception and five-course gala dinner in the exceptional surroundings of the five star Dromoland Castle. If you wish to stay overnight in Dromoland Castle there is an exclusive I.NY rate of €230 per room Bed & Breakfast. To avail of this rate please contact Dromoland Castle directly on (061) 368 144 and quote ‘I.NY Gathering’. Please note rooms are limited so book early to avoid disappointment.

I.NY Gathering – speaker profiles

Orla Kiely
Orla Kiely began her career studying at the Dublin’s National College of Art, before travelling to New York to a design company where she claims she ‘gained the best colour training anyone could possibly have’. She subsequently obtained her master’s degree from the Royal College of Art in London, and in 1997 The Orla Kiely Partnership was formed with her husband Dermott Rowan, anchored in the unique and immediately recognisable signature ‘Stem print’. In 2004, Orla was awarded the Irish Tatler Irish Woman of the year. She was named one of HBOS 100 most entrepreneurial women in 2008, and in 2009 was a finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. In 2011 Orla was awarded an Honorary OBE by the Queen of England for her services to Business and Fashion. Orla’s industry consultancies include designing ceramics/wallpaper for Habitat and sitting on the Dulux Design Council.

She has designed three capsule collections for the Tate in conjunction with summer exhibitions such as Bauhaus, sixties era and a new collection is currently available in the Tate gallery, and has won four UK Fashion Export Awards including the Gold award.
Orla’s London flagship store and showroom opened in September 2005 in Covent Garden followed by a second store on the Kings Road in 2010. Her first New York store opened in Soho’s Mercer Street in 2011, with a second opening on Bleecker Street in the West Village in 2016.

Tim O’Connor
A native of Killeedy in West Limerick, Tim O’Connor is a distinguished former public servant and diplomat who played a pivotal behind the scenes role in the Northern Peace talks. Tim served as the Consul General of Ireland in New York from 2005-2007, was to the forefront of bringing arts and culture to the centre of the relationship between Ireland and the diaspora in New York at that time, and was a key initiator and driver in the development of the new Irish Arts Centre in Manhattan.

He served as Secretary General to President Mary McAleese from 2007 to 2010, be retiring from the civil service and dividing his time between his own advisory business and voluntary work, both in the public sector and with NGOs Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Government’s Gathering Ireland initiative in 2013, Tim was also Chairman of the Clinton Institute for American Studies at UCD from 2010-2015. He has also served in many leadership roles for his native Limerick, including as Vice-Chairman of Limerick National City of Culture 2014, and Vice-Chairman of Global Limerick, an innovative initiative of Limerick Local Authority, through which Limerick is reaching out to its 3 million diaspora around the world.

Maura Kelly
Maura Kelly is originally from Killarney. Maura and her family set down roots in New York when she was seven years old. She is an Emmy Award-winning producer, and principal of Purple Mountain Media, a consultancy practice that helps creators and entrepreneurs develop and launch media and cultural initiatives.

Her career spans leadership positions in broadcast television at PBS/ WNET (Executive Producer) where she built media franchises and helped raise close to $20million for programming – to working with global companies like, The Jim Henson Co, Scholastic Inc, Tribeca Film Institute and PBS Kids. Civic minded, Maura has served in leadership roles with NY Irish business groups that promote the Irish diaspora and is currently on the Board of Directors of NY Irish International Business Network. An early advocate for diversity and inclusion in the workplace, she was elected to the Board of Directors of NY Women in Film (2013-2016), a leading association that campaigns for gender equality in entertainment. Maura is a frequent speaker and curator of entertainment and business events and often promotes the Irish animation, film and television sectors. Currently, she is on the jury panel and speaker at the international Kerry Film Festival 2017.

Inspired by her experience with UN agency UNDP, Maura carved out time for non-profit work with NY based Irish NGO’s Concern, GOAL, and more recently with Helping Other People. She has a Masters in Media Arts from NY Institute of Technology where she was also an adjunct lecturer.


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