For the past twenty-five years, the Aisling Irish Community and Cultural Center has proudly served as the heart of the New York Irish Community in Woodlawn and Yonkers.
Our story began in the early 1990’s as Tír na Nóg (Land of the Young). At this time, a group of Irish chaplains were sent to the United States to help a growing number of Irish immigrants moving to this area. Sr. Edna McNicholas and Fr. Tom Flynn established Tír na Nóg to carry out this mission in St. Brendan’s Parish in the Bronx.
In 1996, we moved to McLean Avenue, a street known far and wide as a hub of Irish culture. With a leap of faith and very little money, we began renting our current space at 990 McLean. A committee of Irish immigrants under the leadership of Sr. Edna and Fr. Tom raised funds and donated their time, energy and talents to open and run the now-renamed Aisling Irish Community Center (AICC). Fr. Tom and Sr. Edna returned to Ireland in early 2000s, but their important work continues under the guidance of our Board of Directors. The Aisling Center is now run by our executive director, support staff, and a licensed clinical social worker.
Over the years, we have continued to grow and change along with our community. In 1988, we expanded with the help of local tradesmen who created a studio for The Flynn School of Irish Dance. We later doubled in size by renting additional space, and in 2018, we purchased the entire building. This significant step shows our ongoing commitment to serve generations of Irish and Irish-Americans to come. Since purchasing the building, we have renovated the space to build a beautiful new center that will allow us to better serve our community. We look forward to unveiling that this fall!
We pride ourselves on being responsive to both the community’s needs and cultural interests by offering a broad range of programs and classes. Our programs appeal to all age groups, from our toddler music and play groups to our Young at Heart senior group. Youth programs include art classes; Irish language, music, and dance classes; karate classes; and a fun and immersive Celtic Summer Camp experience. Our Young at Heart group enjoys weekly lunches, chair yoga, book club, and movies. And, for those in between, we offer yoga, our Team Aisling fitness club, and frequent community events. To look after our community as a whole, we offer counseling, a home base for weekly AA meetings, and many mental health and wellness workshops. We are excited to welcome our community into our new center this fall and continue to grow our programs in the future.