Slate celebrates St. Patrick’s Day

slate Irish pic2By Jaime Thomas

It’s time to get out the shamrocks and dress in green for a day of Irish-inspired activities at the Slate Valley Museum on Friday.

To celebrate this heritage and the beginning of spring, the museum will have a day of Irish tea and food, such as cookies, biscuits and soup, and a showing of “The Quiet Man,” in honor of St. Patrick’s Day from 1 to 5 p.m. There will also be children’s crafts for the little ones.

Kate Weller, executive director of the Slate, said the museum decided to create this event after having a huge response to its recent St. David’s Day festivities on March 1.

“We’ve been very surprised at how popular these events have been, and we hope this will be another fun activity,” Weller said. In addition to observing the Welsh and Irish holidays, the museum has also observed Italian heritage for St. Joseph’s Day.

“We try to use springtime to celebrate the immigrant community in a fun way,” Weller said.

Attendees can learn how these different components drove thousands of immigrants, including those from Ireland, to leave their homeland for the Slate Valley, said Kate Weller, executive director of the museum.

Additionally, visitors will be able to see artifacts and resource materials related to the Irish community in the Slate Valley.

“It focuses on pieces in the collection that help people research their own family history,” Weller said, and staff will be on hand to help visitors with this venture through newly digitized collections.

Many of the Irish who came to the Slate Valley were different than the typical immigrant from Ireland. Like the Welsh, they had developed valuable industrial experience and skills from working in quarries in Ireland. Several of them became owners of slate mills and quarries, particularly in the northern part of the valley around Fair Haven, Castleton and Poultney, Weller said in a release.

“This successful core of Irish immigrants attracted other Irish immigrants seeking opportunities through family and local connections. Although never as numerous in the quarries as the Welsh or the later Eastern European workers, the Irish formed an important ethnic community in the Slate Valley.”

The Slate Valley’s Irish community helped spur the infant quarry industry into its most productive period. Many of the Irish immigrants to the Slate Valley were skilled quarrymen from County Tipperary, County Kilkenny and County Clare. Slate had been produced in these counties since at least the 13th century, but the slate industry remained small.

The Quiet Man is a 1952 romantic comedy and drama starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara that takes place in Ireland. Relevant documentaries will be shown at the museum as well.

Weller said the local museum community typically experiences a lull at this time of year, so she hopes residents will partake in what the Slate has to offer.

For more information, call the museum at 642-1417, or find it on Facebook or Twitter.

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