Culture News

Opening of Irish Cultural Center's Research Library Delayed Until May

During next weekend's annual Saint Patrick's Day Faire in downtown Phoenix, thousands of convivial revelers will flock to the Irish Cultural Center's Great Hall or the adjacent Margaret T. Hance Park to mark the Celtic holiday in style.

One place they won't be gathering to celebrate St. Paddy's, however, is inside the center's new 15,000-square-foot research library. The two-story building, which resembles a traditional castle from the Emerald Isle, will still be covered with scaffolding and closed to the public due to delays in its construction schedule.

Originally scheduled to be open in time for the holiday, the opening of the research library -- which will house thousands of books and records on Celtic history and genealogy -- has been moved to late May at the earliest.

This is the second time in six months that the opening of the $3.5 million project has been delayed. Originally scheduled to open in January, the library's construction schedule was moved back to March after the untimely death of Bernie Velez, the original contractor for the project, last fall.

According to ICC spokesperson Mary Moriarty, this latest delay also stems from Velez's passing, which caused a ripple effect on the building process. Construction on the Research Library originally began last summer but was halted for the better part of a month due to Velez's passing and the search for a new general contractor, she explains.

"Having to find a new contractor to oversee the construction and then getting all the subcontractors lined up and all those sort of things caused a major delay," Moriarty says.

While a majority of both the interior and exterior of the library is finished, she adds, there's still much work to be done before its grand opening.

"It's getting there," Moriarty says. "Hopefully in a few weeks they'll have all the stonework done and take down the scaffolding and then you'll really be able to see it."

The annual Saint Patrick's Day Parade and Faire will take place on Saturday, March 17, in downtown Phoenix. Click here for more details.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.