West of Ireland Celebrates Second Anniversary of Library and Expanded Cultural Facilities

(Photo by Annie Whalen)

The Second Life charity estate West of Ireland’s (WOI) Festival of Saint Patrick will conclude its sixteen day annual event with a dual celebration: the second anniversary of the West of Ireland Library and Cultural Center, and the dedication of its new expanded facilities on Sunday, March 21 beginning at 2pm SLT.

The West of Ireland’s mission in Second Life (SL) is to promote Irish and Celtic cultural awareness, and to raise funds for the real world charity Project Children. The Library and Cultural Center was created two years ago in the ongoing development of that mission. “Legends, stories and poetry are deeply rooted in the Irish cultural tradition,” said WOI Librarian Derry McMahon. “We chose to make our programming focus on the spoken word, and two years ago began with just a few people doing live voice readings and presentations.” This has blossomed, with the Library currently presenting as much as ten hours of live voice presentations to a growing audience in any given week. “Stories of all kinds are the firm core of our program – we bring great literature to life in Second Life,” continued McMahon. Audiences have continued to grow steadily with a current average attendance that is twice what it was for the same period a year previous.

(Photos of "Poe: A Reading" from October 2009 & the 2009 presentation of "A Christmas Carol" by Shandon Loring and Crap Mariner respectively)

The Library will reflect that success on March 21 with a presentation that will feature over a dozen live voices celebrating the power of stories and storytelling. The program will include Corwyn Allen, Marian Dragovar, Aoife Lorefield, Shandon Loring, Derry McMahon, Gyro Muggins, Gina Pralou, Elder Priestman, Onyx Plutonian, Dubhna Rhiadra, Caledonia Skytower and Elegia Underwood. This diverse cast of performers will present everything from poetry and prose, to the short story How to Write an Epic Novel, and an excerpt from Cornelia Funke’s popular Inkheart.

The WOI Library’s new expanded lower level will be dedicated as part of the program and will be officially open for exploration. This addition to the original library build will provide accessible information on Ireland, its history and culture, in a variety of formats. There will be opportunities for visitors to connect with, and explore virtual creations of real-life Irish cultural sites within the WOI estate, as well as providing diverse environments for different kinds of programs within the library itself.

“The real miracle,” said McMahon,” is that we have accomplished this expansion without significantly changing the ground level profile of the original library build.” “I love it!” said West of Ireland’s CEO Sioban McMahon, "It's bright, organic, and draws inspiration from Celtic cultural linkages to both stone and water.The Anniversary Celebration and Dedication will be followed by “Dancing in the Stacks” to music provided by one of West of Ireland’s popular DJs.

All presentations at the West of Ireland Library and Cultural Center are done live in voice chat. All the performers are volunteers and donations are accepted to support Project Children, a real world non-profit positively affecting the lives of children in Northern Ireland: Second Life activity, with meaningful Real Life results.

(Aoife Lorefield Hosts A Virtual Whiskey Tasting, March 2, 2010, Photo by Shandon Loring)

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