The Irish Cultural Center's McClelland Library Opens to the Public This Weekend
When the grand-opening gala for the Irish Cultural Center's new research library takes place on Saturday, one of the happiest persons in attendance is likely to be Norman McCleland, and not because the structure is adorned with his name.
Benjamin Leatherman The McClelland Library at the Irish Cultural Center.
According to the 85-year-old, who serves as the CEO of Shamrock Foods, tomorrow night's Anam Cara Gala and unveiling of the $3.5 million McCleland Irish Library -- which contains more than 6,000 works relating to Celtic genealogy and culture -- is the culmination of half a decade of "diligent work."
See also: Irish Cultural Center Building Castle-Shaped Research Library
See also: Opening of Irish Cultural Center's Research Library Delayed Until May
"I've been fully engaged for this last five-year period with making the library a reality," he says. "I was the person that worked on behalf of the Irish community with the City of Phoenix to get permission to build this, to get everything in compliance with all the things that they required, and to lead the fundraising efforts behind the scenes."
It was time well spent, McCleland added, creating the only Irish-oriented library in the western United States.
Courtesy of the Irish Cultural Center Norman McCleland
At Saturday's ritzy grand opening gala - as well as during the library's free public opening on Tuesday, October 2 - Valley residents will finally get a chance to peruse the voluminous amount of the Irish-oriented material contained within the three-story structure.
McCleland says its purpose of the library -- which took approximately 18 months to construct -- is twofold: Helping folks of Celtic heritage and descent research their family's ancestry while simultaneously being an epicenter of Irish culture.
As such, the library will not only house a wealth of books, records, photographs, and other historical material, it will also feature numerous tomes devoted to traditional Irish music and dance, as well as works by such legendary Emerald Isle scribes as Samuel Beckett, Jonathan Swift, and C.S. Lewis.
"That's what I'm hoping for, that the library will accomplish those two things," McCleland says. "First of all, the genealogy, and secondly the opportunity to share some of this information about all these artists and people that has been a part of the whole movement of Irish to America. We have all these works by George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, and hundreds of others."