Nestled in the Northern Catskills, East Durham is perhaps the Hudson Valley’s most well-known Irish gems, thanks to the Michael J. Quill (MJQ) Irish Cultural and Sports Centre, which spearheaded the town’s pervasive culture. From St. Patrick’s Day to Christmas — and pretty much every day in between — you can bet there’s an Irish-themed event happening.
The town is host to not one, but two, major annual festivals: the East Durham Irish Fest (in May) and Trad Fest (June). Held on the town’s Fair Grounds, both festivals are impressive showcases for Irish art. While the Irish Fest has a more contemporary edge, Trad Fest focuses more on traditional music, dancing, and storytelling. Trad Fest also caps off Catskill Irish Arts Week: six straight days of workshops and classes in every form (and for all skill levels), from music and dance to sculpture and jewelry-casting.
The Fair Grounds are at the forefront of most of the major Irish events here, actually. There’s even a state-of-the-art sports complex with regulation-size fields for sports like Gaelic football and hurling. During the summer, the fields are home to the Gaelic Athletic Association Games and act as a base for training sessions for athletes. During the holidays, the Fair Grounds put an Irish spin on Christmas traditions.
If you’re staying the night, you’ll even find Irish-themed inns. The Shamrock House has been accommodating guests for more than 70 years, and plays host to a variety of events, such as weddings and reunions. Gavin’s Irish Country Inn is another popular destination, delighting guests with nightly entertainment, a climbing wall, and live Irish music; we recommend booking a few nights during Columbus Day weekend to enjoy its annual Guinness Festival. And before you leave, be sure to pick up some authentic Irish souvenirs from Guaranteed Irish, one of the largest Irish import stores in the United States.
For more information on East Durham or to plan a trip, visit www.durhamny.com.