Following a unanimous vote of the Quinnipiac Board of Trustees, Quinnipiac University announced today that it will partner with the Gaelic-American Club (GAC) of Fairfield to serve as the new location for Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum collection. The full collection will be displayed in a new space to be created by the GAC.
The collection has vital historical significance in memorializing the Irish Great Hunger and the plight of victimized peoples. The university’s goal is to preserve the collection, to have it displayed intact, and for it to remain in Connecticut in a more central location accessible to a broader public. The decision follows extensive exploratory conversations with many organizations and community leaders as the university investigated multiple avenues to preserve the collection and its important message.
The partnership with the Gaelic-American Club places the museum in a location at the heart of an already vibrant Irish-American community. The 75-year-old club is one of the largest Irish-American organizations in New England, with 6,000 members and a rich cultural program consisting of many active clubs and committees, and is located only 30 minutes from IGHM’s current location in Hamden. The university remains committed to keeping the collection together and honoring the terms of the original donor agreements for any items donated to IGHM.
After reviewing multiple proposals, the university’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to partner with the GAC after the club submitted a sustainable plan based on its established infrastructure and cultural and financial resources to support the display of the full collection, and given the club’s location.
“The goals of keeping the museum collection together, in Connecticut and cared for by the Irish-American community were paramount in our decision making,” said Arthur H. Rice, Esq., Chairman of Quinnipiac’s Board of Trustees. “Working with the GAC means the university can ensure the collection remains broadly accessible as we also serve the growing needs of our students, faculty and staff. As Trustees, we must focus on the students and academic experience as we continue to adapt to accelerating changes in the higher education landscape.”
The GAC plans to locate the museum within the Fairfield Historic District, alongside other local museums and the downtown shopping district. The museum will be adjacent to the GAC’s headquarters, which includes a restaurant and event space, and within walking distance of the Fairfield MetroNorth train station.
“In light of the university’s decision to relocate the collection, the Gaelic-American Club is honored to partner on a solution that keeps the treasured IGHM collection here in Connecticut, safeguarded and shared widely by the Irish-American community,” said Amy O’Shea, a representative of the GAC.
Gaelic-American Club Vice President John Foley added: “Now that a clear path forward has been established for the collection, it is time we unify our collective efforts and all rally around the shared goal of ensuring the future visibility and impact of the collection and the story that it tells.”
The university also will partner with the GAC on the educational message of the collection and will continue to advance the academic and research programs of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac, the Irish collection in the Lender Reading Room and educational activities related to Ireland. Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute offers lectures, conferences, courses, research opportunities and publications that provide a deeper understanding of the causes and consequences of the Irish Famine. QU encourages the engagement of other schools and universities in the region to amplify the collection’s historic legacy.