Irish American Club celebrate a week of St. Patrick’s Day

The Irish-American Club’s weeklong observance of St. Patrick’s Day was both a serious study of Irish culture and a light-hearted celebration of it, club officers said.

Beginning March 17 with a lecture on Irish stereotypes and ending Thursday with a performance from an Irish-American modern rock band, the week provided some well-rounded programming, Robert Hedden, president of the Irish American Club, said.

“We’re really excited about these events and proud to put them on,” Hedden said.

James Mullin, president of the Irish Famine Curriculum Committee and Education Fund, lectured on anti-Irish racism and how the Irish as well as Africans and other ethnicities were made into racist stereotypes.

Hedden said that people of all backgrounds must unite to stop racism and prejudices.

“It’s not just certain ethnicities that are stereotype,” he said, “but the Irish, too.”

Mullin, a N.J. resident, helped develop guidelines for ways of teaching the Irish Famine, from which millions died of starvation or fled Ireland from 1845 to 1852.

The famine was a direct result of harsh British policies against Irish peoples, Mullin said.

The topic is pertinent to the Irish and also non-Irish, Mullin said, because it teaches of isolation, prejudice, discrimination, eviction, starvation and how “man’s inhumanity to man” still make “countless thousands mourn.”

The N.J. Commission on Holocaust Education approved Mullin’s curriculum for secondary-education students, and the president lectures regularly on the subject.

During the guest lecture, participants were offered traditional Irish food and drink.

The Irish-American Club’s second event was supposed to be held March 19, but will be rescheduled due to a publicizing error. The program also focused on the plight of the Irish, with a viewing of “Zombie,” a music video of the alternative rock band The Cranberries.

The song was a mid-1990s hit, and the video depicts violence in Northern Ireland, specifically a car bombing which kills a boy.

The final event was a performance at the Rathskellar by Black 47, an Irish-American rock band formed in New York in 1990.

The group scored critical praise and gained a large following from its debut album, “Fires of Freedom,” produced by Ric Ocasek, and its single, “Funky Ceili.”

The performance, which was co-sponsored by the College Union Board, featured songs from the debut as well as the following albums, “Home of the Brave” and “Green Suede Shoes.”

The group, which plans a tour of Ireland in November, is named after the worst year of the Irish Potato Famine, 1947.

Black 47 blends traditional Irish music with catchy pop-rock, and sings mostly about Irish political issues.

Also, as part of St. Patrick’s Day, The Rat offered green beer and Irish drink specials.