Monthly Archives: March 2017

Where to Learn About the Irish in New York City



Creative Commons Flickr photo / Ritchie S


Even being of full Irish heritage, as both a first- and third-generation Irish American, I’m embarrassed to say that I seem to forget to acknowledge St. Patrick’s Day. For shame! But in New York City, there are many reminders of the legacy of the Irish around me. Along with St. Patrick’s Day Parades and Irish pubs throughout its five boroughs, there are noted locations that can put you directly in touch with Irish culture and history – all the way up to the present day.

Here is my list of suggested places to learn more about the Irish in New York City. While most of these locations can be seen by the general public, it’s best to check their websites for hours of operation and ticket prices.


Credit: NPS photo

Ellis Island
From 1892 to 1954, 12 million immigrants came through this immigration inspection station, arriving via boats. Did you know that the first passenger to be processed through Ellis Island was said to be Irish? Annie Moore, a young woman from County Cork, was that person was initially registered through. Part of the National Parks Service, visitors can head to Ellis Island on daily cruises and walk through its great hall that once had clerks interviewing and inspecting new arrivals. Make plans to spend time in its immigration museum and sign up in advance for a guided hardhat tour, offered through Save Ellis Island, of an area that once functioned as a hospital.


Photo by Liz Clayman, courtesy of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Lower East Side Tenement Museum
This former tenement turned museum on Manhattan’s Lower East Side is a prime example of how immigrants such as the Irish settled in and built new lives in their new homeland. In fact, an Irish family once resided in this building, a former tenement at 97 Orchard Street that had housed nearly 7,000 working class immigrants. In 1869, the Moores came to live here. Their restored home inside this museum can be visited on guided tours. This tour, called “Irish Outsiders,” also delves into some of the hardships the Moore family faced. (Note: Ticketholders meet at the Visitors Center at 103 Orchard Street.)


Credit: Merchant’s House Museum Facebook page

Merchant’s House Museum
As for finding work, the Irish took on various labor-intensive jobs, one of them being as household servants. Between what’s now the Bowery and Lafayette Street, the prominent Tredwell family owned this 19th well-preserved rowhouse on East 4th Street for nearly a century (the last member lived here until her death in 1933 at age 93). While the Tredwells are much discussed, their Irish servants also get attention. Most information known about these four female employees is from census records. However, it’s common knowledge that their hours were long and pay was low, but they definitely were instrumental in running a household. On St. Patrick’s Day 2017, the museum will host guided tours relating to these servants throughout the day, plus a candlelight version at night.


Creative Commons Flickr photo / Ken Lund

Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral
Most people know about St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in Midtown, but its older cousin is set in NoLita. On the corner of Mott and Prince streets, this minor basilica once surrounded an improved Irish neighborhood but now caters to a multicultural congregation. During the mid-1800s, at a time when Irish Catholics faced much backlash and bigotry, the church got an outer brick wall for protection after an attempted ransacking and the threat of being burnt down. The church’s history also states that young Irish lads from the neighborhood also provided security as a militia that would become New York’s 69th Regiment (also known as the Fighting Irish). The cathedral has underground mortuary vaults and a cemetery, featuring a who’s who of prominent Catholic New Yorkers from the 16th through 18th centuries. You’ve also may have seen the church in “The Godfather” and “The Godfather Part II” movies.


Creative Commons Flickr photo / Ana Paula Hirama

Columbus Park
The surroundings of this public park in Chinatown were once adjacent to the Five Points, a rough neighborhood slum known for its portrayal in the film version of the book, “Gangs of New York.” Conditions were so bad here, that photographer/social reformer Jacob Riis made an entire chapter about the Five Points in his book, “How the “Other Half Lives.” At one point in its history, the Five Points had an Irish population that was referred to being the largest outside of Dublin. Other ethnicities that came to live here throughout the mid-to-late 19th century included African Americans, German Jews, and Italians (who would go on establish another neighborhood, Little Italy). In the early 20th century, the area around the Five Points was consumed by a growing Chinatown. The area got some new life too, with plans to replace tenements with trees and flowers within a park setting. A developed green space called Mulberry Bend Park (what Columbus Park was once called) opened in the summer of 1897. Columbus Park got its present-day name in 1911; it’s for Christopher Columbus.

Irish neighborhoods within Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx
Irish culture in NYC goes beyond Manhattan, as past and present communities developed. So definitely put extra money on your subway card for trekking to these areas in the outer boroughs. For starters, The Bronx section of Woodlawn, nicknamed “Little Ireland,” has a hearty Irish population, with pubs like Behan’s Pub and the expansive Van Cortland Park. Queens has Rockaway Park, Woodside, and Sunnyside, and Brooklyn’s got Bay Ridge, Windsor Terrace, and Gerritsen Beach, plus Vinegar Hill has a lengthy Irish history.

Warwick Hotels and Resorts Unveils ‘Warwick Journeys’


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Warwick Hotels and Resorts unveiled “Warwick Journeys” at their NYC location.


Recently, Warwick Hotels and Resorts unveiled “Warwick Journeys,” a guest recognition program with a twist. Instead of giving points, the loyalty program will reward frequent guests with personalized benefits, starting with its hotel properties within North America and Europe.

Available for immediate enrollment, “Warwick Journeys” not only gives credit for every completed stay within the program but also features what’s called a cross-stay accelerator benefit. This benefit works by allowing Warwick Journeys members to progress through benefit tiers quicker by staying at multiple Warwick locations rather than just a single one.


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Outdoor patio area of a Warwick New York suite, once used by Cary Grant


Here’s how it happens. With enrollment, introductory members will receive complimentary Wi-Fi during their first stay and can book Warwick Journeys exclusive member offers. Purple level members will have completed two to three visits at a participating property and receive perks such as continued free Wi-Fi access.

Warwick New York was once a residential building owned by William Randolph Hearst, which he built for his associates and, in particular, his mistress Marion Davies.

Upon completing a stay at two separate Warwick hotels or between four to 15 stays at one property, gold status members get additional bonuses such as guaranteed availability with 72-hour advance notice of arrival, when booking the member-exclusive rate, and a late checkout at 4 p.m. Then, upon completing a stay at four different participating hotels or 16 plus nights at one property, black-level members will get both gold-level amenities and additional bonuses, including guaranteed availability within 24-hour advance notice.

The unveiling of the program took place at Warwick New York, a property with a special history. Publishing giant William Randolph Hearst had the building built in 1926 as a residential tower to accommodate his friends in Hollywood as well as for his long-time companion, Marion Davies. She had her own specially-designed floor in the building. Other noted occupants include actress Jane Russell and actor Cary Grant.

Experiencing Quebec City and Carnaval de Quebec


Hilltop views of St. Lawrence River, adjacent to Quebec City

As with other travelers, a pre-Valentine’s Day snowstorm changed my plans to fly up to Quebec. Originally I was to visit both Montreal and Quebec City, but I ended up getting to Canada a day late but still with enough time to see Quebec City. I was there for Carnaval de Quebec, also known in Quebec Winter Carnival, an annual festival celebrating the season.


Quebec City has had on and off variations of a winter carnival since 1894. Carnaval de Quebec, its contemporary version, began in 1955. Taking place from late January through early February, Carnaval de Quebec features parades, children’s activities, an ice sculpted palace, and parties. There are culinary offerings like caribou, a warm alcoholic beverage, and the opportunity to enjoy maple taffy, a syrupy treat freshly made upon a large ice block.


Carnaval de Quebec even has an official mascot. It’s a snowman looking creature named Bonhomme Carnavale, a friendly fellow with a red hat and a red tuque and arrow sash (a winter scarf/belt). The carnival opens with Bonhomme Carnavale being presented with the key to the city, making Bonhomme king of the festivities and overall public representative.

While Carnaval de Quebec is a great time to visit Quebec City, this destination has much to offer in all seasons. Founded as a French settlement in 1608, Quebec City has sections that still hold onto an Old World feeling, while also having trending districts. I spent much of my time exploring Quebec City’s Old Quebec area.


Certified as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Old Quebec is said to have the only remaining city wall fortifications in North America, north of Mexico. It’s divided into two sections: Lower Town (also known as Basse-Ville, where the original Quebec City settlement once stood) and Upper Town (also known as Haute-Ville, with views of the St. Lawrence River). You’re able to pass through the ramparts of this fortified section, with 4.6 kilometers (or roughly 2.86 miles) of walls, and walk along cobblestone streets and modern shops housed inside centuries-old buildings. Here’s what I saw and recommend you head to.


Château Frontenac
A key landmark here is Château Frontenac, a grand hotel facing the St. Lawrence River that has had quite the guest list of celebrities and world leaders (think Charles Lindbergh and Ronald Reagan). Technically called Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, this circa 19th-century luxury property can both be stayed in and/or seen on public tours. Or take a stroll along its surrounding Terrasse Dufferin.


Citadelle of Quebec
An active military installation for Canada’s Royal 22e Régiment, this three-century-old fortress contains a ton of history. Those walking up the long and steady way to reach this hilltop area will be rewarded with photo-taking views of the St. Lawrence River and Quebec City. Take the time to go on a guided tour of the vicinity, around the outside and a bit happening indoors. Inside the visitor’s center, there are display exhibits relating to the history of the Royal 22e Régiment. During June through September, catch a daily morning changing of the guard.


Petit Champlain & Place-Royale
These two areas have their ties to Quebec City’s beginnings. Place-Royale is referred to as where the city’s founder, Samuel de Champlain, marked its roots. Nowadays, shops are found in this plaza as well as an impressive building surface mural called Fresque des Québécois. Located on Côte de la Montagne, this mural displays Quebec City’s history with inclusions of prominent references and visual nods to its fortifications. Petit Champlain is a narrow cobblestone street district with period homes holding cafes, boutiques, and galleries where a nice treat or souvenir can be bought. You’ll also want to have your camera ready, as you’ll find the street scene to be postcard picturesque.

Cathedral of the Holy Trinity
This small Anglican church has some lovely stained glass windows and is also known for its two members – a donkey named Aldo and his companion, Holly. Holly came on the scene in August 2015 and stays with Aldo in the garden of the Bishop, next to the Cathedral. You can spot the twosome outside at times.

Old Quebec Funicular
What visitors will notice about Old Quebec is that there are staircases for getting to certain sections between Lower Town and Upper Town. There’s another option. Since 1879, this Old Quebec Funicular provides an easier and efficient way to get between these sections without having to walk up flights of steps. This funicular railway travels up and down between Quartier Petit Champlain and Dufferin Terrace near up to Le Château Frontenac. Buy a ticket and step inside one of these box-shaped cabins to go up.

As for eats, you’ll find a good mix of options from fine dining to more casual fare. If you appreciate something sweet or filling, go to Café Boulangerie Paillard. On Rue Saint-Jean, this eatery has eye-catching and even mouth-watering pastries, breads, soups, and sandwiches. Try their Gallette de Rois, a pastry with an almond creme filling. Yum!