In The Center

In The Center 2017-04-18T10:39:01-05:00

The museum was officially opened by the President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, on October 13, 1991.

Museum acquisitions include a magnificent collection of Belleek Parian China; a tapestry by Lily Yeats, sister of W.B. Yeats; a historic chair commissioned by the Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago on the occasion of the visit of U.S. President William Howard Taft on St. Patrick’s Day, 1910; a square grand piano dating from the late nineteenth century; an exquisite collection of Irish Lace; the first organ from St. Patrick’s Church in St. Charles, Illinois; and a series of historic maps showing the Irish contribution to European culture from the sixth to the twelfth centuries.

Due to our extensive collection, a docent must accompany all visitors and tour groups through the museum. It is also open during selected programming, special events and art exhibits. Call the Center office to arrange for a museum tour.

Belleek Collection

Our Belleek Parian Collection comprising over 500 pieces, reflects the 150 year history of The Belleek Pottery based in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.

library[1]The Irish American Heritage Center’s Library opened its doors to the public in January 2006. The library includes books, periodicals, newspapers and audiovisual materials that focus on every aspect of Irish and Irish American life.

One of the physical highlights of the library is the literary border, designed and hand painted by artist Edward Cox and researched by Peg Reid. The border wraps around the ceiling and includes names of well-known writers of Irish descent: Arthur Conan Doyle, William Faulkner, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, Sean O’Casey, Edgar Allen Poe, George Bernard Shaw, John Steinbeck, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats, Brendan Behan, Sean O’Casey, Flannery O’Connor, Oscar Wilde, C. S. Lewis, Henry James, Joyce Kilmer, John Steinbeck, Veronica Guerin, Maeve Brennan, Ellen Berlin, Dorothy Day, Alice McDermott, Joyce Carol Oates, Jack London and more.

It serves as an invaluable way of learning about Irish and Irish American leaders who established academic institutions, founded movements and spread ideas that have impacted Irish American culture forever.


  • Archival Rare Book Collection that includes a facsimilie edition of the Book of Kells, Lindisfarne, Annals of Ireland and the Chief O’Neill musical anthologies
  • Genealogy Collection, plus ongoing free genealogy sessions
  • Dennis Watson Musical Collection of CDs and Sheet Music from 1850 to 1950
  • Eileen McNulty Poetry Collection from Kennys in Galway
  • Emmett Larkin Collection on the Church of Ireland
  • Liam MacGabhann Celtic Language Collection that includes books and audiovisuals

Irish American Heritage Center Great Irish Books Club

Through May 2016

On the last Sunday of most months, we gather to discuss Irish and Irish American writers. We charge no fees and don’t require perfect attendance. For more information, contact Moderator Virginia Gibbons at

Book Selections

December 27 Of Irish Blood by Mary Pat Kelly

January 31 A History of Loneliness by John Boyne

February 28 Searching for Grace Kelly by Michael Callahan

March 27 Philomena by Martin Sixsmith

April 24 Time for Frankie Coolin by Bill Granger

May 29 Faithful Place by Tana French


Tueaday and Thursday 10am to 2pm

Wednesday 4pm to 8pm

Saturday 10am to 2pm


The Library will be closed from December 22-January 3, with the exception of December 27 from 1pm to 4pm for Book Club and Genealogy. We will also be open from 10am to 2pm on December 29.

Please note that the monthly genealogy sessions meet only on the last Sunday of each month. Can’t make a session? Call the Library to make an appointment.

The Library is expanding its access to the collection of Irish materials. There is a great need for new equipment, such as two desktop computers and two laptops. A monetary donation or an equipment donation is most welcome. This will allow the staff to enter its materials and collection to have it available on the IAHC website.

If you wish to honor someone in your life on their graduation, birthday, anniversary or as a memorial, you may make a monetary donation to the library and the staff will purchase a book on Irish studies in a field of your choosing. A name plate will be placed in the book in honor of the individual . Make your check to: IAHC Library and mail it to Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 North Knox Avenue, Chicago, IL 60630, or call 773-282-7035, ext. 19.

The beautiful IAHC Art Gallery, located on our Second Floor Arts Wing, hosts as many as 10 exhibits per year. Artists from all over the world exhibit their paintings, photography and sculpture in shows that feature Irish themes.
cultural-committee[1]Our curators carefully selects artists whose work is representative of the diverse Irish culture. The Gallery has hosted the work of Belfast muralists, Mark Ervine and Marty Lyons, who painted live peace murals at our iBAM! Irish Books, Art and Music Celebration. At the very first iBAM! in in 2009, the Gallery hosted the Bogside Artists, who also painted live in the Gallery. Other noted artists have included Maura O’Rourke, Michael Carroll, Laura Coyle and the Bogside Artists, Alice McMahon and Cindy Matyi and Barry “Jazz” Finnegan; another iBAM! artist.



Learn to paint in watercolor with artist and teacher Kathleen Kelly in this six-week class designed for all levels.

Each lesson includes one-on-one guidance with focus on the principles of creating a solid painting; learning how to draw, valuing relationships, paint color interpretation, composition, water color techniques and how to use art supplies. As students begin to understand these elements through painting pictures, they will gain a deeper understanding of the creative process of transparent watercolor painting.

Instructor Kathleen Kelly is trained at Southern Illinois University and studied at Expression Graphics. She has been deeply inspired by the great American 20th Century watercolorists. Kelly has been a high school art teacher for the past 32 years, teaching watercolor as part of her art classes. Her passion for painting and teaching will allow students of every level to develop a greater awareness of the beautiful art of watercolors.

The class runs from January 13-February 17, 2016 on Wednesday evenings from 6:45pm to 8:45pm. Tuition is $130 for IAHC members and $140 for non-members. A supply list will be provided when registering. To register, call 847-341-1351 or email