How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

Welcome back to another episode of “As the Philly Irish World Turns.”

It’s a busy week, with plenty to do, see and listen to. Of course, compared to March, it’s the calm before the storm. We’ll touch on that a bit later on.

For now, here’s what’s happening this week.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Just a reminder that one of the best and coolest events of the Irish Philly calendar is happening tonight. The Delco Gaels present season 9 of “Dancing Like a Star” at Springfield Country Club, 400 West Sproul Road, Springfield Delco. Sixteen dancers are competing. It all starts at 7:30 p.m. Continue Reading

How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

Plenty of tunes and two big fund-raisers to get you into the Irish spirit this week.

Let’s get right down to it.

Saturday, February 15.

For all you Survivor fans, here’s your opportunity to meet and greet the show’s Janet Carbin at The Hearth, 1901 Darby Road in Havertown. (We’ve been to The Hearth. You must go.) Janet is a local. You can join her for breakfast from 9 to 11 a.m. She’ll sign autographs and share her experiences on this long-running show. Reserve your table by calling 484-454-3176.

Sunday, February 16

Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 87 hosts its annual fundraiser at the hall at St. George, Venango and Edgemont in Port Richmond, starting at 2 p.m. The Shantys and the Natterjacks will be on hand to provide the music.

Cost of admission is $35, which includes live entertainment, kielbasa, roast beef, meatballs, salad and dessert.

BYO beer and booze.

Soft drinks will be available, and domestic can beer for $1. Continue Reading

How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

Call it the calm before the St. Patrick’s Day storm. We can see from our calendar that March is shaping up to be incredibly nuts. Sooooo much going on.

In the meantime, here’s what’s on tap for this week. It doesn’t compare to March, but what’s on is still plenty fun.

Sunday, February 9

We’ll start with a tasty Chili Cookoff at Hanrahan’s Irish Pub, 690 Burmont Road in Drexel Hill. Yum. It’s Hanrahan’s first event of this sort. Want to claim bragging rights for the best chili? Signups start at 1 p.m., and the contest kicks off at 2. There’s no fee to enter. There will be a 50/50, and the prizes for the winners are pretty great. First prize is a 32-inch flat screen TV. Second gets a $50 gift card, and third place earns a $25 gift card. Continue Reading

Food & Drink

Teatime is the Best Time!

You might say that in Ireland all roads lead to tea. From breakfast and lunch breaks to weddings and wakes, cupan tea is always a welcome guest. Irish tea is far more than just a hot drink to go with a scone and jam: it’s an important custom that serves as a symbol of hospitality, friendship, and pleasure.

Some say the Irish people have a relationship with tea that “transcends the ordinary” — hyperbole, perhaps, but given that the average person in Ireland drinks four to six cups of tea a day, perhaps not!

I discovered this as soon as I enjoyed my first “official” cup at my cousin Kit’s cottage in County Kerry during my first visit there 35 years ago, and soon after at The Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, where I was introduced to afternoon tea, the elegant three-course affair where tea is the main attraction and delicacies like dainty sandwiches, flaky scones, and luscious pastries act in supporting roles. Continue Reading


An Ireland Trip of a Lifetime for Teens

A trip to Ireland is always a thrill, but here’s one for teens—rising high school sophomore, junior and senior, to be specific—that will leave lasting memories, not just of places, but of the peers they’re going to meet along away.

It’s the Summer Immersion Program, sponsored by Philly’s Irish Diaspora Center, and it takes place from June 21 to July 3.

This is the second such trip sponsored by the center, and organizers hope it will be even bigger and better than last year.

Some of the kids who went to Ireland for the trip last summer had been to Ireland before; some hadn’t. But it’s a cinch that even if they’d gone before, they had never seen Ireland in quite the same way.

“We’re trying to show them a different experience from what they might have seen previously in Ireland,” says Center Executive Director Emily Norton Ashinhurst. “I think the beauty of this program is that the students who are participating get a feel for Ireland that you don’t get when you’re on even the best bus tour.

“Our young people last year were able to meet up with young people in Ireland, and form networks and connections that they continue to maintain today. They’re still talking to friends they made over there. That’s really the point of the trip—to give them connections back to Ireland and build those connections for the long term.” Continue Reading

How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

It’s a relatively short week—but the weekend in particular is pretty crowded with great goings-on.

Here we go.

Saturday, February 1

It’s time for Irish Rebel Saturday with the 2nd Street Plough Bhoys at Marty Magee’s, 1110 Lincoln Avenue in Prospect Park. Shaun, Matt and Joe will perform an all-rebel set for the Bhoys, our local Celtic Supporters Club, and it all starts at 4 p.m.

Also Saturday, Poor Man’s Gambit plays at Rigby Mansion, 523 East Church Lane in Philadelphia. It’s all tunes and food—bring your fave dish to share for the potluck. There’s a $20 suggested donation. The show starts at 6 p.m.

Later on, the John Byrne Band is in concert at the new Kelly Center for Music, Arts, and Community, 4 East Eagle Road in Havertown. The show starts at 7:30. Tickets are 15 bucks.

Finally, there’s a beef and beer Team Orange Fundraiser for Delco Gaels/Dancing Like a Star at Paddy Rooney’s Pub, 449 West Chester Pike, in Havertown. It starts at 8 p.m. Music by Shaun Durnin.

Tuesday, February 4

There’s ceili dancing—it’s billed as “stress-free,” always a good thing—at Annunciation Church, Brookline Boulevard and Wexford Road in Havertown. The foot-stomping starts at 7 p.m. Continue Reading


A Conversation with the Chieftains’ Paddy Moloney

The Chieftains, the powerhouse group that reawakened an interest in traditional Irish music 57 years ago, is headed back to the Kimmel Center on March 11 for their Irish Goodbye tour. What that means exactly is perhaps deliberately left unexplained. Does it mean we’ll never hear from the Chieftains live again? Or is there a hidden meaning altogether?

We recently chatted with the Chieftains leader Paddy Moloney to find out more about that subject, plans for the show, and to look back on more than half a century’s worth of Chieftains music-making.

Here’s what he had to say.

Irish Philly: Well, let me just jump right in here and ask about your return visit to the Kimmel Center and Philadelphia.

Paddy: One of my favorite cities is Philadelphia, I just absolutely love it. It’s magic altogether, it’s a great place to go.

Irish Philly: Well, I do know. The Kimmel Center is an especially great place to play.

Paddy: Oh the Kimmel, well the Kimmel to me is like an egg. And the people are up at the top of that egg looking down at the top of you. And everything just evolves—it’s brilliant. Coming back, I just absolutely adore the place. And we’ve been going there many times and always loved it, always loved the Kimmel. There are great people there, too.

Irish Philly: Yes. Well I have to tell you something. Several years ago, I was a drummer in a bagpipe band, and my band accompanied you guys.

Paddy: Great stuff.

Irish Philly: That was a real thrill for us, let me tell you.

Paddy: Well, we’re going to reenact the same thing again this year. With the march, “The Battle of San Patricio” and “The Andro” at the end, the people dancing around and all that. We’ve also got a choir, one of your local choirs joining in to do the songs we did on The Long Journey Home—Shenandoah, and the song that Elvis Costello wrote the words for, I did the music. And that was the anthem from The Long Journey Home. So, we have that as part of the show that’s going on. Continue Reading

Arts, Music

Caitríona O’Leary Sings Ón Dá Thaobh

Caitríona O’Leary did not conceive of the concept to translate the music of Joni Mitchell into Irish, that idea originated with the poet and writer Liam Carson who is the founder and director of IMRAM, the Irish Language Literature Festival. She did not do the initial translation of the lyrics from English to Irish (although she has done so on other projects), that “transcreation” was brought about by poet Gabriel Rosenstock.

But it is the Donegal born singer who has infused the words with her ethereal voice and her passionate rendering of the Irish interpretation of Joni Mitchell’s classic song, “Both Sides Now.”

In her vibrant and eclectic career, Caitríona has performed music that spans multiple genres, a variety of time periods and several languages; it’s absolutely instinctual that she was drawn to singing Joni Mitchell in Irish, “Ón Dá Thaobh.”

“She’s such an amazing songwriter. Her music just bowls me over, it really does. I can’t sit through all of the album ‘Blue’ without just being an emotional mess, reduced to tears every time. It’s so unique, actually, she has a voice all her own – her singing voice, but also a poetic voice. She just touches on subjects and brings everything to life, she brings a whole story to life in just a few words. I think she is absolutely remarkable, so it was a total joy for me to immerse myself in her music and her songs, and to be part of the “transcreation” of them into Irish…that’s the word that Gabriel Rosenstock always uses. He doesn’t translate, he transcreates. Of course, he says that in Irish!” And, in Irish, that word is “trascruthu.” Continue Reading