Music, People

No Strings Attached: An Outpouring of Generosity for John Byrne Band Cellist Maura Dwyer

It was the first of November, the night the John Byrne Band hosted a release party for Byrne’s new CD, “A Shiver in the Sky,” at World Café Live.

Maura Dwyer, who plays both fiddle and cello for the band, had just gone offstage to the green room to warm up the violin. Before she did that, she had propped the cello up in a corner, which, she says, is usually a stable position. Suddenly, she heard the sound of guitarist Andy Keenan crying out in alarm onstage. That was followed by a resounding bang.

Long story short: Dwyer’s cello had tumbled off stage, breaking in two pieces.

John Byrne, who was also offstage, has a pretty fair idea how it happened.

“We were sound checking the drums,” Byrne explains. “I guess the vibrations from the kick drum (the bass drum) somehow did it. The cello went right off the stage. Nobody was even near it. None of us could believe it.” Continue Reading

How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

This is absolutely one jam-packed week, starting with a weekend full of events you won’t want to miss.

Without further ado:

Friday, November 15-Sunday, November 17

Tickets are still on sale for The Straight Out of Ireland exhibit, presented by the Irish Immigration Center of Philadelphia, which kicks off tonight with a VIP reception and a preview of this stunning art show in a mansion on the campus of Sacred Heart Academy, 480 S. Bryn Mawr Avenue in Bryn Mawr.

The exhibit showcases more than 20 artists from Ireland and another dozen artists from the United States who have been influenced by the culture of Ireland. Straight Out of Ireland features a range of contemporary art, including ceramics, glass, drawings, lace, jewelry, photography, paintings fashion and more.

The event continues through the weekend, with Saturday devoted to a celebration of the art, with panel discussions featuring the artists, and the opportunity to check out the exhibit at your leisure. Sunday is Family Day, featuring activities for the kids, including a puppet show, dance exhibition and presentation by the local Gaelic Athletic Association.

We previewed the event last week, ever hopeful that many of you would get tickets. If you didn’t, there’s still time, and here’s the link. We also presented a story on Straight Out of Ireland that will give you many more details.

Saturday, November 16

Out at Villanova, you can catch the university’s annual Intercollegiate Irish Dance Festival, starting at 9:30 a.m. at the Jake Nevin Fieldhouse. The day is jam-packed with Irish dance routines presented by college and university Irish dance teams from throughout the country. We’ve been there a few times, and absolutely loved it. The event is hosted by Villanova University’s Irish Dance Team. Continue Reading

Food & Drink

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I haven’t posted in a month and my Irish guilt is gnawing at me! So it’s back to business this week as “that time of year” is fast approaching.

I’ve already started plumping my fruit for the several varieties of fruitcake that I make, but not for this one because the fruit is boiled! I’ve had the recipe for many years and love it now as much as ever.

The original recipe called for Bushmills, but you can substitute another brand. You’ll find this and other holiday recipes in my Favorite Flavors of Ireland cookbook, now BUY ONE GET ONE, and in my soon-to-be-released Teatime in Ireland. Visit www.irishcook.com for more details.

 Bushmills Boiled Fruitcake

Makes 1 large or 4 to 5 small loaves

This fruitcake is an interesting one because the dried and candied fruits are cooked with butter, brown sugar, and crushed pineapple before being mixed with the dry ingredient. The technique produces a very moist cake. Continue Reading

How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

There are two benefits this week, and another big one a little later on. Here’s what’s happening.

Saturday, November 9

It’s Cummins School of Irish Dance dine and donate night at Jerzee’s Sports Bar and Pizzeria, 2609 Mount Carmel Avenue in Glenside. The benefit starts at 5 p.m. Billy from Philly will provide the tunes, and there will be a visit from the newly crowned Miss Mayo 2020, Tara Regan. A portion of food sales from eat-in and take-out will benefit the Cummins School.

Friday, November 15-Sunday, November 17

The Straight Out of Ireland Exhibit, presented by the Irish Immigration Center of Philadelphia, kicks off with a private VIP reception and preview in a stunning mansion on the campus of Sacred Heart Academy 480 S. Bryn Mawr Avenue in Bryn Mawr.

The unique exhibit showcases more than 20 artists from Ireland and another dozen artists from the United States who are influenced by Ireland. This is Ireland as you have never seen it before, featuring a range of contemporary art, including ceramics, glass, drawings, lace, jewelry, photography, paintings fashion and more. Continue Reading

Music

A Look Back at the 2019 St. Malachy’s Concert

A standing room only crowd packed St. Malachy’s Church in North Philadelphia last Sunday for the annual concert by Mick Moloney and Friends concert to benefit to the exemplary church school.

That the church was so jammed should come as no surprise. This year’s concert, a memorial to longtime Moloney friend and accompanist, musical icon and dancer Eugene O’Donnell, featured an all-star cast, including Donie Carroll, Billy McComiskey, Haley Richardson, John Roberts, Jerry O’Sullivan, Niall O’Leary, Gerry Timlin, Seagda Coyle and Clare Horgan.

Moloney quipped that much of the show comes together at the last minute, sometimes without a lot in the way of rehearsal, but with such seasoned pros up on the altar stage, you’d never know it, as the group seamlessly transitioned from one set of tunes to the next.

We were there to take it all in. Check out our photo essay.

News, People

Patrick Dugan: A Judge, A Vet and a 2019 Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame Honoree

Judge Patrick Dugan

There are Irishmen walking on the streets of Dublin who aren’t as Irish—DNA-wise, at least—as Judge Patrick Dugan.

“I’m 99 percent, with some British Isles in there,” laughs Judge Dugan, sitting in his memento-bedecked office on the 13th floor of the Justice Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice where his view encompasses the south side of City Hall and bustling Penn Square.

Dugan, chief judge of Philadelphia Veterans Court, descended from great-grandparents who emigrated to the US from Mayo and Cork, but his childhood wasn’t steeped in his Irish heritage.  “We knew we were Irish but I wasn’t hearing folklore and stories,” he says. “I had my awakening as a young man. It came when I was watching news of ‘the Troubles’ and trying to understand how we got there.”

His newly awakened interest led him to the Ancient Order of Hibernians. He’s a member of Div. 25 in Fox Chase.  Every year he gives a speech at their annual Day of the Rope, which remembers the four members of the Molly Maguires, dissident miners, who were hanged in the jailhouse in what is now Jim Thorpe, Pa., after what is now widely considered to be a judgment by a kangaroo court.

It’s a different speech each year but, he says, the theme is always the same. “It takes us back to what our people had to endure when they came here,” he says. “I get something new out of it every year and I reach more people who I hope understand what labor went through, what Irish immigrants went through, to get where we are as a people.” Continue Reading

News, People

The Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame Honors the Memory of Liam Hegarty

Liam with his partner Paul Maguire at a business meeting

William “Liam” Hegarty was part of a generation that his friend, Donegal native John McDaid, describes as “the last off the boat.”

McDaid was talking about the fact that fewer and fewer Irish immigrants are taking that well worn path to the United States, even during the last worldwide recession. “The next generation won’t be Irish in the same way,” said McDaid, former secretary of the Delaware County Gaels youth Gaelic sports program, during this summer’s Continental Youth Championships (CYC) which was dedicated to Hegarty, chairman of the annual international event

Liam Hegarty tragically died of a heart attack on Dec. 3, 2018, at the age of 51.

Liam, said McDaid, wanted to make sure these children of immigrants never forgot their Irish roots. “He said the more we stayed involved, the more they will be involved.” Continue Reading

News, People

Meet Sister Marguerite O’Beirne, 2019 Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame

Father Suresh Raj, OFM Cap., Neumann Chaplain with Sister Marguerite

Sister Marguerite O’Beirne has covered some considerable distance in her life and journeyed far greater than the 3,176 miles it took to get from Cloonloo, County Sligo, to Neumann University in Aston, Pennsylvania. But at the heart and soul of every step taken has been both the presence of faith and her dedication to the importance of education.

Born in 1942 to Joseph O’Beirne and Margaret Mullen, in a time not so long ago, but when electricity had not yet arrived in the rural areas of Ireland, Sister Marguerite was one of six children. Part of a close and loving family, her office at Neumann, where she has been vice president for Mission and Ministry since 1997, is adorned with photos of siblings, nieces and nephews and her home back in Sligo.

After her days as a student at St. Ronan’s National School in Cloonloo (the Irish spelling is “Cluain Lough,” meaning “Meadow by the Lake,” which in this case is Lough Gara), she attended the Convent of Mercy Secondary School in Boyle. It was there that her opportunity to continue her own education availed itself. Representatives from several religious congregations visited the school to invite the young women to join them. Sister Marguerite was drawn to the mission of the the Sisters of St. Francis, and in 1958 she went to Mallow in County Cork for six months of studying there. She learned that she was going to the Sisters of St. Francis in Philadelphia, and in January of 1959 she was one of a group to start a new life in the United States. Continue Reading