by Ian McNulty
A new nonprofit aimed at local Irish expats, Irish Americans and those who love them is forming in New Orleans. Called the Irish Network-New Orleans (IN-NOLA), the group is part of the national Irish Network USA and combines local and national social networking with real live socializing at cultural and philanthropic events throughout the year and across the community.
The group is holding its first event to recruit founding members on Thursday, Aug. 24, at Finn McCool’s Irish Pub in Mid-City, from 5:30 p.m. on.
“I think this will appeal to young professional people who are interested in Irish culture and also want to have a good time,” says Pauline Patterson, an IN-NOLA board member and Belfast native who runs Finn McCool’s with her husband Stephen. “It’s like an adult Irish Facebook, but one where you get to meet in person at these events too.”
Members get access to online forums for social and professional networking, and throughout the year IN-NOLA plans to host a mix of public and members-only events. In November, the group will hold a launch party downtown at Gallier Hall.
Patterson says programs to come include breakfast meetings with speakers on Irish cultural topics, family events and classes in Irish language, music and dance. Other ideas in the offing include an Irish music festival, an Irish film festival, literary events and cultural exchanges.
“New Orleans is so famous for its food, so one thing we’ll hopefully do is send a New Orleans chef to Ireland and host an Irish chef here for a while,” Patterson says.
IN-NOLA will also raise money through its members and at public events to support local charitable causes.
“The two things I never get tired of are fundraising and potatoes,” says Patterson.
Thursday’s recruiting party will feature plenty of both. The event is free and open to the public. The festivities start at 5:30 p.m. with free food, including salmon-stuffed potatoes, potato pancakes, Scotch eggs (eggs wrapped in sausage, fried), black and white pudding (that’s more sausage, by the way), shepherd’s pie, beef stew, mashed potatoes and more iterations on the spud.
From 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., students from the Joni Muggivan School of Irish Dance in Metairie show off their moves, and from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. the New Orleans-based Irish roots rocker Danny Burns performs. DJ Dylan O’Donnell (of NOLA Bulls fame) will spin tunes throughout the night.
The main order of business will be signing up new members for IN-NOLA, and there are different registration levels for businesses ($150), families ($80), individuals ($50) and seniors and college students ($30).
Those who register get drink deals at Finn McCool’s during the party, as well as a goodie bag that includes a pint glass, Guinness and Jameson brand trinkets and a raffle ticket for prizes including Saints tickets and a Jameson-logo mountain bike (please use bike and Jameson separately).
The pub will be smoke-free all day for the event (part of an ongoing social experiment the normally smoke-friendly Finn McCool’s is now conducting). Extra parking is available behind Grace Episcopal Church two blocks away at 3700 Canal Street during the event.
Finn McCool's Irish Pub
3701 Banks St., 486-9080