New Irish library planned for Charlottetown

A new resource is coming for Irish culture and heritage on Prince Edward Island — The Benevolent Irish Society is gearing up to open a library inside its Edward Whelan Irish Cultural Centre in Charlottetown.

The group plans to offer books and periodicals, genealogical resources and a catalogue of traditional music for reference or loan to the public.

"We have complained in the past that there's not enough history in our schools, particularly Irish history," said George O'Connor, chair of the BIS library committee.

The library is the next step in an ongoing effort to offer more learning opportunities to Islanders — something the BIS has done through its lecture series, short course offerings and other social and cultural events.

"We always wanted to have a small, specialized library that would deal with Irish, Scottish, Celtic themes, and that's what we are doing here. The idea would be that this would be a social and cultural centre," said O'Connor.

The library already has several thousand books and periodicals, many donated and some purchased by the Irish Embassy. Organizers would love to see more added to the collection. 

More books, volunteers needed

"We have room for about four or five thousand books in our library, so we need more books," said O'Connor.

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

"We also need more volunteers. We are a strictly volunteer organization and we want to be able to open the library as much as we can, that's obviously going to depend on the number of volunteers we have," he said.

O'Connor hopes to have enough volunteers by May to open the library a few days per week, to start.

"Seventy-five per cent of the Island population is of Gaelic or Celtic origin — that's over two-thirds of the Island's population," said O'Connor. 

"We know they are interested and we are sure that once they find out about us, they will be making use of us," he said.

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

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