Good morning everyone
Yesterday I told you about my time in Indiana, if you missed it, you can play catch up here!
Today, I’m going to tell you all about my first day in Chicago, which was probably my busiest and longest day of the trip, but like every other one, no matter how tiring, filled with so many firsts for me and many smiles. I have to tell you, work has never been so much fun!
Saturday 15th March
Bags packed, Tracy and I said goodbye to Indiana and enjoyed a very pleasant two hour drive into Chicago. We arrived at the Irish American Heritage Center (IAHC) in plenty of time for my first speaking event. By noon, the car parks were almost full. The IAHC hold an annual St Patricks Day Festival every year and they estimate that up to 10,000 people stop by at some point in the day. It’s a beautiful old building, that was bought by a group of Irish Immigrants living in Chicago in the 1970’s who wanted somewhere to hang out together. But what they have achieved since those early beginnings is nothing short of wonderful. Here’s a pic of the IAHC building.
The mission of the Irish American Heritage Center is to nurture and strengthen Irish culture and heritage through programs emphasizing Irish music, literature, drama, traditional dancing, fine arts and the constructive contributions of the Irish and Irish-Americans to the United States of America. The Irish American Heritage Center supports this mission by maintaining its resources, including the museum, Irish school, archives, choir, art gallery, auditorium, library, theatre group and other related programs and partnerships, while providing a gathering place for the Irish American community and those interested in Irish culture.The Irish American Heritage Center is one of the premiere Irish cultural organizations in the United States. It is a destination for people of Irish descent as well as those who wish to learn more about the Irish heritage.
I was so honoured to be part of the day. I received a fabulous welcome from Kathy Walsh the Library Director. I had two speaking events during the day, where I chatted about Beyond Grace’s Rainbow and my journey from stay-at-home-mum to published author with Harper Collins. The talks were intimate and relaxed and very enjoyable. I also did a book signing afterwards and met some new friends! More #selfies natch!
Halfway through one of my talks, I was asked could I step outside for a moment as the Mayor of Chicago, Mr Rahm Emanuel, had arrived and wanted to meet me. Colour me impressed, but did you know that Mr Emanuel previously was the Chief Of Staff to the President Of United States, Barack Obama Cool eh? So you see, now that I’ve met my auld pal Rahm, I am only two degrees of separation from Barack. So Mr President, call me. I reckon Michelle and I could be great friends.
Here is Rahm, Tracy and I posing for a photograph! What the photograph doesn’t show is the copy of BGR that he is clutching in his hand. I’ve no doubt that he’s reading it right now, tears coursing down his face. I would say its right up his street 😉
Joking aside, he was both gracious and a gentleman and it was an honour to meet him.
In the middle of the festival, I was whisked away for my second speaking event that day (told you, was mad busy!) to the Sulzer Library, for a book talk which was co-hosted by the BookCellarInc bookshop. Danielle, one of their charming staff, wrote the most wonderful introduction for me. I wish I had a copy of it, because it was so beautifully written. (by the end of it, I wanted to buy my own book lol)
If you are in the Chicago area, please do support this wonderful bookshop, who now have my book nestled beautifully on their shelves! Pictured below is BGR in BookCellar and another of my #selfies taken with Danielle, Kathy Walsh the Library Director of IAHC (gonna tell you about her tomorrow -shes amazing!!), Tracy and of course my silly looking head!
It was a quick spin back to the IAHC then and after my third speaking event, I had a chat with a lovely TV station in Chicago who have booked me for an interview in October. They attended one of my talks and thankfully liked what they heard! That auld gift of the gab that I got from my Daddy hasn’t let me down yet…….
Tracy and I then got to have some time to grab a beer with St Patrick himself (he looks a little worse for wear here I think haha) and enjoy the live music in the festival, courtesy of a band called Mulligan Stew who had the place rocking! It was jammers there, standing room only, have to admit I would have killed to get rid of my high heels. I was exhausted and hungry! The smells coming from the restaurant (aptly called Harringtons I thought!) didn’t help!
Kathy had kindly offered her beautiful home to Tracy and I that night. So we headed to her two bed limestone condo in Chicago and enjoyed one of Chicago’s legendary pizzas (unreal good!), wine and lots of wonderful chats before I collapsed into bed, biggest smile on my face. Because the next day, I was heading to the St Patricks Day Parade in Chicago to ride on the IAHC float!
Just before I go, quick reminder that BGR is on sale with Amazon at the moment – it’s only £0.99 in UK or $1.61 in US for eBook. I genuinely have no idea how long the sale is going on for – so if you are inclined to buy, grab a bargain before it goes back up! Paperback available of course too! OneClick here!
Part 3 tomorrow my friends, chat then,