A Look Back at the First Great Irish Fair


First Fair
At the first Great Irish Fair, the ribbon-cutting ceremony involved, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan; Elwin Larsen, first Chief Brehon; Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden; and Mayor Edward I. Koch.

Thirty years ago, Catholic Charities conducted its first Great Irish Fair in Downtown Brooklyn, in the streets underneath the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. It was meant to be the first of a series of annual ethnic festivals which would highlight the diversity of the Diocese of Brooklyn. Because it was so successful, it was decided that the fair would remain Irish as an annual event. Msgr. Joseph Funaro of Catholic Charities’ staff coordinated the first two fairs. In 1983, members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians were enlisted to assist and they were directed for many years by Al O’Hagan. Beginning in 2007 the event was sponsored and organized by the Irish American Building Society Charities, Inc., a licensed and registered not-for-profit corporation whose mission is to carry on the great Irish American tradition of giving. In keeping with the Fair’s charitable tradition, 100% of all net proceeds derived from the Fair are donated to a charitable fund for the benefit of Brooklyn Diocesan Catholic Elementary Schools.

first fair 2
Irish step dancers entertain the masses.

One thought on “A Look Back at the First Great Irish Fair

  1. The Irish Step Dancers in this photos were from the Maureen Bakke School of Irish Dance. I am not pictured in the photo, but I was with the dancers. It was a great Fair and it continues to be a Great Irish Fair. Thank you for this article, it brings back great memories.