Several members of the Gaelic-American Club in Fairfield have started a group with a goal very dear to their hearts -- commemorating Irish uprising of 1916 in Dublin during the Irish fight for independence from Britain.
The Fairfield group, called the 1916 Easter Rising 100th Anniversary Committee, is raising money to install a statue commemorating the event on the Beach Road grounds of the Gaelic-American Club. They're sponsoring a concert Sunday with the Irish rebel band, the Druids, to raise money for the project.
"Most Irish Americans will tell you that it's very, very important and it's commemorated every year," group member Chris Conway said of the uprising. "It's just one of those important dates in Irish history."
The committee has plans to dedicate the statue on April 24, 2016 -- the 100th year anniversary of the event.
"That will be a big day," said Richard Owens, chairman of the 100th Year Anniversary Committee. "It really means a lot not only to the Irish born but also the Irish-American community," he said.
The Fairfield committee has commissioned New Haven sculptor Susan Clinard to craft the memorial, which will consist of a bronze plaque with images of the seven men who were executed after their attempt at independence, on a granite foundation of about 4 by 5 feet. The committee needs $45,000 for the anniversary commemoration and has collected nearly half already, Owens said.
The performance by the Druids, on the Sunday of St. Patrick's Day weekend, is expected to add to the committee's coffers. The band's appearance is part of a two-week U.S. tour supporting the group's new album, "Freedom." The Druids' performance includes traditional Irish folk music and storytelling and shared lead vocals accompanied by mandolin, bass, guitar and bodhran, an Irish drum.
The 100th Year Anniversary Committee also plans to have a booth at the Fairfield Irish Festival in June on the campus of Fairfield University. At the festival, and all year, the committee is selling pins with a tri-colored crest of the Irish flag and an Easter lily in the middle commemorating the Easter day uprising. The pins cost $5.
Conway, whose great-grandparents emigrated from Ireland, has studied at Trinity College in Donegal, Ireland, and is the second generation of his family to belong to the Gaelic-American Club of Fairfield.
It's important for Irish-Americans to cherish their Irish culture and heritage, and the project to install the statue on the 100th year anniversary of the Irish fight for independence does just that, Conway said.
"This is Irish- American history," he said. "We want to make sure that Irish Americans realize where they're from and how they got to where they are."
Admission to the 3 p.m. Sunday performance is $20 per person with a cash bar available at the Gaelic-American Club, 74 Beach Road. Event information and tickets are available by e-mailing Pat O'Connell at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 203-644-9073.