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History Happy Hour – Irish America

March 7 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Museum Center brings the Luck of the Irish to History Happy Hour!

Tennessee and Appalachia in general have been home for European immigrants for generations. A particularly prevalent group who came over in droves was the Irish, and to commemorate the massive impact their culture has brought to the area, the Museum Center at Five Points is centering its next History Happy Hour March 7 around the Irish people, calling the event Irish America.

History Happy Hour is comprised of four different events throughout the museum’s fiscal year. Irish America will be the third installment, with the first being the Halloween-themed Tall Betsy and Friends, followed by the recent event centering on the 1993 Superstorm.

“This will be such a unique experience focusing on a culture that has significantly shaped our region, and because of that, it goes along perfectly with the museum’s mission of telling the story of the Ocoee region,” said Museum Center Executive Director Janice Neyman.

During the Irish Potato Famine, between 1845 and 1855, more than 1.5 million Irish adults and children left their homeland for the East Coast of the United States to seek a better life, and most importantly, a fertile land for crops to replenish their dwindling food supplies.

Irish descendants today are known to be incredibly proud of their heritage. Museum Center curator of education Mitch Mizell believes these descendants will be happy to see their culture highlighted and celebrated at History Happy Hour.

“A lot of people have Celtic roots around here, and this event will allow us to expand awareness of this culture, while also having examples of appropriate food and drinks,” Mizell said.

Live Irish music will be provided to add to the ambiance of the night by an Irish-style band from Chattanooga called “Pay the Reckoning.”

The main speaker will be Siema Swartzel, the music teacher at Arnold Elementary. Swartzel has introduced traditional Irish music to her students in her class, and is from Southwest Virginia, as the daughter of a coal miner. Growing up in this region populated largely by European immigrants, Swartzel was surrounded by Appalachian music, including bluegrass.

Always fascinated with her ancestral roots, she traveled to Ireland through a grant where she trained with musicians and brought these lessons back to Arnold Elementary.

Swartzel will be speaking about her own experiences and about the similarities between Celtic and Appalachian music.

“A large amount of people have a connection to the British Isles. Living in the foothills of the Appalachians means that a lot of these people settled here, and their cultures heavily influenced our modern day practices,” Mizell added.

Mizell described the Irish culture as being kind, genuine and fun. He cited a trip he took to Ireland, and explained the incredible friendliness of the country’s residents.

Swartzel had told Mizell in the past that music in Ireland is similar to how sports are in America, in that nearly everyone discusses music and plays instruments.

“Whether there’s a few people playing music or an entire band, there’s nearly always someone with an instrument,” Mizell said.

The main sponsor for the evening is Edge Billboards. Two other sponsors, Mash & Hops and Dry Valley Brewing, are providing beer for the evening, including the stereotypical “green beer” famously seen on St. Patrick’s Day.

Impressions Catering is providing food for the evening as well.

Irish America runs from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, March 7. Tickets are free for museum members and $15 for nonmembers. Tickets can be purchased up until the night of the event, online at www.museumcenter.org or at the door.

While wearing green isn’t mandatory, you bet your shillelagh it is encouraged.
Colby Denton
Cleveland Daily Banner

Come celebrate Irish-American roots at this St. Paddy’s themed History Happy Hour. Guest speaker Siema Swartzel will be sharing the story of her Irish roots and the musical influence she brought back to her students. Swartzel is the music teacher at Arnold Elementary.

A great beer selection will be provided by our amazing sponsors, Mash & Hops and Dry Valley Brewing. Additionally, delicious food will be served at the event by Impressions Catering.

FREE for Members

$15 for Non-members


March 7
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Museum Center at 5ive Points
200 Inman Street East
Cleveland, TN 37311 United States
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