A Celebration

On June 10th, The Maine Irish Heritage Center (MIHC) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate three recently completed renovation projects. The event recognized and thanked our valued partners: the Government of Ireland’s Emigrant Support Programme and the City of Portland. In attendance was the Honorable Shane Caffrey, Vice Consul General of Ireland to New England, and the Honorable Kate Snyder, Mayor of the City of Portland. 

Despite the pandemic, the MIHC was able to further its mission to restore its historic home with the completion of three projects over the past two years. These projects helped further the transformation of the former St. Dominic’s Church in Portland’s historic West End into a vibrant community center. Check out photo highlights of the ceremony below.

  • Portland Mayor Kate Snyder, Vice Consul Shane Caffrey, and MIHC Board Chair stand on the front steps cutting a green ribbon.

According to MIHC Board Chair Robert Kearney, “The Maine Irish Heritage Center is here in large part due to the support of the City of Portland. It was the City Council’s vision that recognized the former Saint Dominic’s Church as an important anchor of Portland’s historic West End and the building’s value as an architectural gem to be preserved for future generations. We thank them for their role as a critical partner.”  

Kearney continued, “The support of the Government of Ireland’s Emigrant Support Programme has provided us the opportunity to renovate these stunning entry doors and Irish government’s unwavering support also allows us to deliver on our mission to provide relevant cultural programming and foster community connections as the hub of all things Irish in Maine.” 

“The Maine Irish Heritage Center stands today as a symbol of hope expressed by my Irish ancestors who came to this country seeking better lives for their families,” said Portland Mayor Kate Snyder. “It is also a beacon welcoming new immigrants to the promise of Maine and America. The City of Portland is proud to provide support to the MIHC.”  

“Throughout America this center is recognized as one of the most beautiful and impressive Irish Centers in the country, said Shane Caffrey, Vice Consul General of Ireland to New England. The Government of Ireland is proud to support the work of the MIHC as the hub of all things Irish in Maine.” 

Check out the video below to learn more about preserving our architectural gem or continue on for photos of recent restoration projects.

Grand Entry Doors

The 2020 restoration of the grand entry doors to their former glory was completed courtesy of a generous grant from the Government of Ireland’s Emigrant Support Programme and the work was completed by Masonry Preservation Associates, led by Peter Chavonelle. 

Preservation in progress as the front entry doors are restored to their original glory.

Granite Stairway

The 2021 restoration of the granite stairway system was completed thanks to Community Development Block Grant funds from the City of Portland and was also completed by Masonry Preservation Associates. 

Internal Accessibility Project

The 2022 completion of the final piece of our internal accessibility project was also completed courtesy of the City of Portland’s Community Development Block Grant program. This project was led by Carl Chretien of Chretien Construction, Inc. 

What’s next? How can you help?

Brick by brick the Irish of Maine built St. Dominic’s church, a cornerstone of the Irish community in Portland. Now home to the Maine Irish Heritage Center, this architectural gem serves as one of Portland’s most historic and cherished landmarks. Just like our ancestors, the MIHC continues to work tirelessly, brick by brick, to restore and preserve this iconic structure. Several major projects are now needing serious attention, including exterior restoration of the bell tower and restoration of the irreplaceable rose window.

Donations to the Maine Irish Heritage Center can be made by heading maineirish.com/donations/mihc-2022

Interested in Volunteering? Learn more by heading to maineirish.com/volunteer