New York, NY — Prime examples of Ireland’s grand literary tradition found their way into the hands and hearts of thousands of New Yorkers this St. Patrick’s Day as the Irish Arts Center, in collaboration with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the New York City Council, gave away up to 10,000 free books written by noted Irish and Irish American authors in celebration of the inaugural New York Irish Arts Center Book Day. Joining in this year’s first ever Book Day were Council Members Robert Jackson and Gale Brewer, Ellen McCourt, widower of renowned writer, Frank McCourt, Irish Arts Center Director Aidan Connolly, Vice Chair Pauline Turley and Eamon Gilmore, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Early this morning, Irish Book Day 2011 was kicked off by volunteers from the Irish Arts Center and students from the Frank McCourt High School at the 72nd Street and Broadway subway station handing out books to commuters and residents. They were also at transit hubs in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and in Inwood handing out books by National Book Award winner Colum McCann, Pete Hamill, Edna O’Brien, and many others, including hundreds of titles translated into foreign languages, until the last of the 10,000 books is in the hands of its new owner.

Speaker Christine Quinn spoke highly of the initiative: “What better way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than to share a novel or book of poems by one of Ireland’s literary giants. The Irish Arts Center Book Day is a great idea. I am looking forward to doing my part by sharing some of Ireland’s most precious export, its literature, with my friends and family on the 17th of March.”

In addition to the City Council, Irish Arts Center Book Day is supported in part by the Irish Literature Exchange, the New York State American Irish Legislators Society, and Imagine Ireland, Culture Ireland’s year of Irish arts in America. It was inspired by a similar event in Washington launched by the contemporary Irish cultural organization Solas Nua.

The volumes distributed on Irish Book Day were donated by publishing partners Random House, Knopf, Hachette, Poetry Ireland, Bradshaw Books, Little, Brown and Company, Ireland Literature Exchange, Akashic Books, Atria Books, Bloomsbury, Bradshaw Books, Everyman’s Library, Harper Perennial, Harper Paperbacks, The Overlook Press, Stinging Fly Press & Magazine, and Tigh Filí Arts Centre, Beacon Press and by authors and readers as well.

Other Irish Arts Center events during St. Patrick’s Day week include:
• Mimic, an edgy, dark one-person play, written and acted in by Raymond Scannell, in a virtuoso performance directed by rising Irish director Tom Creed. March 2-20, 2011 in the Center’s Donaghy Theater, Wed-Fri at 8pm, Sat at 2pm and 8pm and Sun at 3pm at the Irish Arts Center and tickets are $27 general/$23 IAC members and available on or by calling 212-868-4444.

• St. Patrick’s Day Open House & Comedy Night Live music and dance performances, Irish language workshop for adults and children, tin whistle workshop for adults and children, step dance workshop for children, films, face painting, traditional foods and more from noon – 5 pm (FREE); followed by Comedy “Sundays at Seven” featuring the best and brightest of New York City’s rising stars of comedy (7 pm Tickets: $10 general / $8 IAC member from or 212-868-4444


IRISH ARTS CENTER, founded in 1972, is a New York-based arts and cultural center dedicated to projecting a dynamic image of Ireland and Irish America for the 21st century, building community with artists and audiences of all backgrounds, and preserving the evolving stories and traditions of Irish culture for generations to come. Our multi-disciplinary programming is centered around three core areas: Performance – including live music, dance, theatre, film, literature, and the humanities; Exhibition – including visual arts presentations and cultural exhibitions that tell the evolving Irish story; and Education – with dozens of classes per week in Irish language, history, music, and dance. Located in New York City, a world capital of arts and culture, Irish Arts Center serves as a dynamic platform for top emerging and established artists and cultural creators to reach a New York, national, and global audience, and as a gateway for other institutions to access first-rate Irish and Irish American culture.