DREAM: With planning permission achieved, promoters of the new San Francisco Irish Center plan to ramp up fundraising efforts

Irish Finance Minister Pledges Support for $75m San Francisco Irish Center Rebuild Plan

Bold plans for a new $75m Irish Center on the West Coast were given a boost by Irish Finance Minister Michael McGrath during his visit last week to San Francisco.

United Irish Cultural Center President Liam Reidy says the minister pledged Irish government support for the mammoth project when the pair met at the Consulate of Ireland in the Golden Gate City.

"We now have planning permission for the center," said Liam, "itself a journey which involved around $1.2m in 'soft costs' but now we have to raise an almighty amount of money to realise our dream. There are many funding sources we have to draw on but the Irish Government is certainly one. I was delighted that Minister McGrath was very supportive and said the government would support us."

PLEDGE: Liam Reidy presents Minister McGrath with a prospectus for the new center

PLEDGE: Liam Reidy presents Minister McGrath with a prospectus for the new center

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Based in the picturesque Outer Sunset on the Pacific Ocean, the San Francisco Irish Center is the focus of all things Irish in the Bay Area. However, over recent years, the building has not been able to cope with the level of demand from the community. "When we looked at our options, knocking the current structure down and building what will be one of the biggest-ever Irish heritage, arts and culture projects globally was clearly the best way forward."

With 287,000 residents of the Bay Area self-identifying as Irish in the latest census, Reidy plans to cast his fundraising net wide. "It’s our intention now to reach out to those Irish in the Bay Area who have done well - the entertainers, actors, tech gurus and business leaders - to invite them to visit the existing center to meet our community and to see our rebuild plans," he explains. "I am confident that anyone who visits our Outer Sunset base, meets us and sees the plans for a state-of-the-art 120,000 sq ft building, will go away wanting to support our fundraising push.”

A full-time fundraising consultant has now been hired by the center - with funds from the Irish Government - to kick-start the campaign.