BUFFALO TRIO: State Senator Tim Kennedy, Consul General of Ireland in New York Helena Nolan and Congressman Brian Higgins at last April's Irish Arts Awards.

All Roads Lead to Buffalo for National Celebration of Heroes of Irish America

Buffalo, NY earned the moniker of City of Good Neighbors for extending the welcome mat to migrants from many countries — including Ireland — from the mid-1800s to the present day. 

It's more recent title as Capital of Irish America acknowledges its standout efforts to promote all things Irish and to keep strong the golden bridges of commerce, culture and community with Ireland.

Indeed, the accomplishments of the city's Irish community are storied and often unique: for example, alone among American cities it boasts a ward with bilingual Irish and English street names. The city's Irish community is also rightfully proud of the fact that prior to the "Troubles", as recently revealed by author Niall Ó Dochartaigh, the only organization in the U.S. connected to a civil rights group in the North was the American Congress for Irish Freedom based in Buffalo. 

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Now Buffalo is going all out to live up to both its claims to fame — as a welcoming city and a nexus of Irish America –  when it hosts the first-ever Heroes of Irish America Awards in the city's convention centre on Friday 26 April.

And al of Irish America is on the invite list.

"We are promising a céad mile fáilte to our colleagues from Irish associations, networks, Hibernian divisions, theatres, cultural centres, sporting clubs and community hubs," said State Senator — and current challenger for a soon-to-be open seat in Congress — Tim Kennedy who is joining the Irish Echo to host the celebration. "We have a lot to share from our own vibrant Irish community here in Western New York but also a lot to learn from champions of Ireland right across 50 States."

Last year, Buffalo's Irish community successfully hosted a national Irish arts awards evening in the city, drawing in writers, artists and actors from as far away as San Antonio, TX, San Francisco, CA and St Paul, MN.

HERITAGE: The Great Hunger Memorial in Buffalo, NY

HERITAGE: The Great Hunger Memorial in Buffalo, NY

"We are hoping to have a strong showing from the most dynamic Irish communities in the U.S.," says Irish Echo publisher Máirtín Ó Muilleoir. "The Echo is rightly proud of the many events it hosts in New York but to really appreciate the scale, depth and breadth of the Irish American community, it's important to spread our wings. At last April's Buffalo arts extravaganza, those who travelled to the city had a unique change to benchmark their progress against the advances made by Buffalo while also making new connections and, indeed, new friendships."

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes and as well as first responders and officers of the law, The Heroes of Irish America Awards welcome nominations from community stalwarts who are at the heart of Irish American or wider community activities. "We have unsung heroes right across Irish America and our gathering in Buffalo will give us all a chance to tip our hat to them," added Ó Muilleoir.

Support for the event is being led by O'Donnell and Associates of Buffalo and the Curtiss Hotel, where Belfast man Conor Hawkins is GM. 

Nominations can be made online here.