On Route 145, about five miles northwest of Cairo, is the remarkable village of East Durham. At first, nothing seems too out of the ordinary in this scenic spot surrounding by rolling hills, but then you start to notice one shamrock after another, one green building after another, one Irish name after another: O’Sullivan, Kelly, McGrath, McGuire, O’Connor, McLaughlin, Ryan, O’Shea. Ethnic resorts may be dying out elsewhere in the Catskills , but someone forgot to tell East Durham.
Variously nicknamed Ireland’s 33rd County, the Irish Catskills, or the Irish Alps, East Durham and environs have been an Irish resort since the late 1800s, when immigrants living in New York City  escaped the summer heat by coming up here to the hills that reminded them of home. With the advent of cheap flights to Ireland in the 1970s, much of this tourist trade died down. But it’s recently skyrocketed again thanks to a new wave of Irish immigrants to New York.
In the center of town is the Irish American Heritage Museum (2267 Rte. 145, 518/634-7497, noon–4 p.m. Wed.–Sun., June–Sept., adults $4, seniors and children $2.50), housed in an 1850s farmhouse with lots of airy gallery space. Established in 1990, the museum documents the history of the Irish in the United States through changing exhibits on such subjects as Irish immigration and Irish music. Also on tap are frequent concerts, lectures, and readings.
Another unique stop in the village center is Guaranteed Irish (2220 Rte. 145, 518/634-2392, daily Apr.–Dec., weekends only Jan.–Mar.), “the largest Irish import store in the United States.” Inside this sprawling building you’ll find everything from Irish sweaters and china leprechauns to an excellent selection of Irish music and literature. Most everyone who shops here seems to have at least a touch of Irish brogue, so even if you don’t intend to buy, it’s great fun just to listen.
The Michael Quill Irish Cultural & Sports Centre (Rte. 145 in the village center, 518/634-2286, www.irishvillageusa.com ) presents theater, music, dance, and sporting events.
Irish music can also be heard at many of the casual, fly-by-night pubs along Route 145, or the more formal lounges situated in the village’s resorts. Two resorts with extensive concert schedules are the Fern Cliff House (Rte. 67A, off Rte. 145, 518/634-7424) and Gavin’s Golden Hill Resort (Golden Hill Rd., off Rte. 145, 518/634-2582). The Shamrock House (Rte. 145 in the village center, 518/634-2897, www.shamrockhouse.com ), owned by the Kellegher family since 1938, is a well-kept motel ($110–140 d with breakfast and dinner) with a restaurant, pub, and live Irish music on weekends.
The popular East Durham Irish Festival (518/634-2286), featuring Irish bands, bagpipes, and dancers, takes place over Memorial Day weekend.