Irish Center moving to Midtown permanently, hosting Winterfest on Saturday

Director Nancy Worthington says moving to Drexel Hall will allow the Kansas City Irish Center to expand its activities.

Director Nancy Wormington says moving to Drexel Hall makes perfect sense for the Irish Center, because much of Kansas City’s Irish history happened in Midtown.

The Irish were once clustered in what is now Midtown Kansas City, and they are back as a force.

The Kansas City Irish Center will buy historic Drexel Hall in May, director Nancy Wormington said Wednesday.

But meanwhile, it is a renter in part of the hall at 3301 Baltimore and holds its annual Winterfest  there on Saturday.

The front of the Drexel Hall building, currently multiple storefronts.

The Linwood Boulevard frontage of the Drexel Hall building currently houses multiple storefronts.

That means Irish music, dance, food, beer and spirits from 3 p.m. until late at night. Given there are about 250,000 people of Irish heritage in the metro area, the event has been popular for years.

Traditional music groups like Eddie Delahunt & Gabe Reyes, Bob Reeder, DogTree and Tullamore will perform.

So will Irish singer-songwriter Mundy, a star who has performed with Bob Dylan and Neil Young, not to mention played for the president at the White House and played at Royal Albert Hall.

The Irish Center went into the lower level of Union Station in 2007 but outgrew the space. Last year, it moved to Drexel Hall.

That came after a two-year planning process and along with a $3.5 million capital campaign for a new home.

Half that money is to buy the building, Wormington said, and that deal should come together May 1.

They will continue to raise money for renovation and will operate the hall, she said, making money on weddings and other events not Irish.

That will help raise funds for more things like Irish language classes, Irish music and programs on a wide range of Irish and Celtic topics.

The Baltimore frontage of Drexel Hall contains the entrance to the large entertainment space.

The Baltimore frontage of Drexel Hall contains the entrance to the large entertainment space.

There will also be space to put out a donated collection of 4,000 books on all aspects of Irish life and culture, books published from 1547 to modern times.

Some – like original editions of Jonathan Swift – are so valuable they will have to be locked behind glass.

Wormington said the hall location was perfect and where patrons said they wanted it, not in the suburbs.

“The roots of the Irish are in Kansas City,” she said.

Consider that the hall is close to Crown Center, home of the Irish Fest and to Broadway where the St. Patrick’s Parade unfolds and to Redemptorist Church, which long served the Irish, and to Penn Valley Park which was once an Irish alcove of small homes.

McGilley funeral home is across Linwood from the hall, and will allow its Irish center compatriots to use its parking in overflow situations.

Winterfest tickets range from $10 for general admission to $30 for VIP tickets that include two drink tickets and free hors d’oeuvres provided by the Dubliner.

Tickets are available by calling 816-474-3848 or online


One Comment

  1. Brad says:

    Awesome building and great news! I really hope that building is restored, it has beautiful paladian windows on its front, west facing side, and I am guessing those are paladian transoms behind the arches on the North end. I’ve been inside it, it’s a bit rough, but has beautiful bones and a lot or ornamental plaster work. Best Wishes for success there!

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