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Irish Network Launch Gala Thursday at Gallier Hall

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  A newly formed organization with a goal to promote the local Irish culture and enhance connections within the local Irish-American community will host a night of Irish music, dancing and cuisine — with help from Irish Ambassador Michael Collins — at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, at Gallier Hall. The group, Irish Network-New Orleans (IN-NOLA), is part of a growing national network that has spawned local branches in a dozen U.S. cities. Representatives from Irish Network chapters in other cities also will join in IN-NOLA's official launch party.

  Ambassador Collins will speak at Tulane University Friday and will visit several sites in the metro area, including Cafe Hope, St. Dominic School, the Celtic Cross in Lakeview and the Lower 9th Ward Memorial.

  IN-NOLA members include "Irish, Irish American and friends of Ireland, collectively known simply as Irish," according to the group's web site (www.irishnetworkneworleans.org). "We are an organization that respects and values the multiple aspects of modern Irish Identity in today's society. IN-NOLA is an all-inclusive organization and as such does not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability or marital status. Our diverse membership draws people from all walks of life, 'from boots to suits,' who are joined together by the common goal of realizing the mission and objectives of our vibrant and dynamic organization."

  The organization began accepting new members on Aug. 25 and already boasts more than 300 individual and 45 business members. The group plans to host an Irish film festival, Irish music festival and other events next year — and to provide a local high school graduate with a scholarship to an Irish university.

  "IN-NOLA not only seeks to promote Irish culture and modern Ireland to the greater New Orleans community, it also seeks to promote New Orleans to the vast Irish-American community and to Ireland," the website states, adding that the group also hopes to bring a New Orleans brass band to tour the west of Ireland and to promote New Orleans' post-Katrina recovery to the Irish-American community and to Ireland.

  Attendance at the Gallier Hall gala is free for members. People can join online at the group's website. — Clancy DuBos

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