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HEARTS Irish Connection ‘24 Traces Local Irish Roots

The oldest standing store in NC is located in Huntersville, NC, and was built by an Irish immigrant named Hugh Torance in 1779. However, Hugh was a relative newcomer compared to some of his countrymen who settled here even earlier. This year’s HEARTS Irish Connections traces some of those early Irish roots and explores how those families connected to the Torrance family and so many other descendants in our region.

This is a free community event for all ages exploring Irish connections through history, nature, and art. It takes place on Saturday, March 16, 2024, from 2:00-5:00, at Huntersville’s historic Cedar Grove and Hugh Torance House and Store. Tickets are required to ensure admission to this popular event. Please visit the Events page at

HEARTS Irish Connection ‘24 brings together three local luminaries to share their personal Irish connections, and trace the Irish ancestry shared by so many in our region.

Forensic historian Michael Jeffcoat (left) will explore the Irish roots of many founding families in North Carolina and the North Mecklenburg region, including the poignant tale of Margaret Jack Wilson, third wife and widow of Samuel Wilson.

Actor, playwright, professor, and Cornelius native Michael Connor (right) will share his Irish ancestry, which many other African Americans also share.

Meredith Connelly, Cornelius artist whose Irish ancestors settled in what is now Charleston, SC in the 17th century will speak to her Irish connections through her ancestry and her artwork. Her ethereal and magical artwork will be featured in the Cedar Grove Hallway, featuring her exhibit, “Snails,” honoring the Celtic spiral and its perpetual symbolism.

This year’s musical guest is Shamrocks in the Wind. The husband and wife duo of John and Karol Diehnel keep the heritage of Irish and Scots ballads alive with their rollicking performances. Singing, clapping, and/or dancing are encouraged! The Diehnel’s have performed internationally and opened for many well-known performers over the years including the Kingston Trio, Glen Yarbrough, and the Wolftones.

Our nature focus this month is on Irish-themed backyard wonders, including shamrocks, snails, and fairy rings. Join us to learn fascinating facts, lore, and more, about these mythical species.

The grand finale of the event will be a performance by the Connick-Reid Academy of Irish Dance. Don’t miss this chance to see these talented and award-winning dancers in this historic setting.

The Hugh Torance House and Store will be open from 2:00-5:00 offering snacks, beer, wine, sundries, and more. Plan to come early and/or stay late to enjoy the historic grounds and tour the oldest standing store in NC. The Hugh Torance House and Store is one of Mecklenburg County’s few surviving 18th-century structures and is adjacent to Cedar Grove, the 1831 Greek Revival home of James Torrance, son of Hugh and Isabella Torance.

HEARTS (history, ecology, arts, reunion, trails, store) happenings are free, place-based gatherings featuring music, visual arts, and lectures exploring local history, nature, and our shared sense of place. These events are made possible by dedicated volunteers, HEARTS Circle members, Lake Norman Realty, and community donations. All proceeds benefit HTHS’s efforts to further the HEARTS mission of historic preservation, ecological conservation, and forging community connections in our region.

​The Hugh Torance House and Store (HTHS), a private 501c3 nonprofit, operates the store and HEARTS events. Group tours and volunteer opportunities for stewardship, preservation, and conservation are available. For more information, visit, email, or call (704) 920-9931. The historic Hugh Torance House and Store is located at 8231 Gilead Road, Huntersville, NC 28078.

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