We’ve had festivals of one kind or another for a month—and it’s not ever. There’s a great one in New Jersey this weekend.
Here’s what’s up.
Saturday, October 12
The Smithville Irish Festival kicks off at the Village Greene of Historic Smithville in Galloway, N.J. They’ve got a full schedule of music on two stages, dancing, food, pipers, vendors, and more.
Sponsored by the Ancient Order of Hibernians of Cape May County Division II and all Irish Martyrs, the festival starts at 10 a.m.
You’ll recognize some of the bands—they’re among the best in the area.
Birmingham Six will be on the main stage, along with Jamie & The Quietmen. In the Gazebo, it’s John O’Callahan and Bill Felix and Tom Brett.
Fiddler Winifred Horan is best-known for her work with the band Solas, but she has also forged a productive and creative solo career.
Now she is out with a beautiful new CD, “The Memory of Magic.”
We spent a good long time recently talking about the new album, and the thought and inspiration that went into it.
You can see Win Friday, October 25, at 8 p.m. at the Philadelphia Irish Center in a concert presented by the Philadelphia Ceili Group. She’ll be joined by pianist Utsav Lal and guitarist Dan Faiella.
Purchase tickets here.
Here’s our interview.
Editor’s note: All Irish Philly podcasts are now available on iTunes, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, TuneIn and Spotify.
While pumpkins are not native to Ireland, they’re in great demand during the autumn, especially around Halloween (also known as Samhain, one of the four ancient Celtic festivals).
In the U.S. we use pumpkins in many sweet and savory dishes, but most cooks find it more efficient to purchase canned pumpkin rather than to cut and scrape the flesh from a fresh one.
If you love pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie, you’ll adore this rich pudding made with challah bread! Top it with freshly whipped cream enhanced with mascarpone cheese. You’ll find recipes like this in my cookbook Favorite Flavors of Ireland (now BOGO/buy one get one free); order signed copies at www.irishcook.com.
PUMPKIN BREAD PUDDING WITH MASCARPONE WHIPPED CREAM
Serves 6 to 8
Two Portraits of Richard St. George
During a multi-day visit to Philadelphia, where most of the focus fell on the modern era politics of Brexit and the interest of the Irish diaspora, Ambassador Daniel Mulhall’s presence at the Museum of the American Revolution’s launch of their new exhibit “Cost of Revolution: The Life and Death of an Irish Soldier” was an opportunity to talk history.
Ambassador Mulhall, along with Dr. Martin Mansergh, historian and former Irish political advisor who helped negotiate the Good Friday Agreement, gave context and insight into the influence of the American Revolution on Ireland’s own path to independence. In addition, Dr. Mansergh is a descendant of Richard St. George Mansergh-St. George (from here on referred to as Richard St. George, as he is in the Museum’s exhibit) who is the subject of the “Cost of Revolution” exhibition, providing a personal connection to the historical narrative.
The evening’s events were planned by an Honorary Event Committee including Honorary Chair, Governor Edward G. Rendell; State Representative Mike Driscoll; Charles E. Hopkins; Marita Krivda Poxon; Kevin Kent, Esquire; Honorable James Murray Lynn; Joseph S. Martz; Edward D. McBride and Kathleen M. Sullivan. The crowd was welcomed in by bagpipers William Watson, Frank Watson, Tom Conner and Lee Nolan, and then treated to traditional Irish music throughout the evening performed by musicians including Paddy O’Neill, John McGillian and Darin Kelly.
It’s a short week in Irish Philly land, but what’s on is pretty spectacular.
Let’s jump right into it:
Saturday, October 5, and Sunday, October 6
We’ve been lousy with festivals lately, and here comes another one: Kilt Fest in Bordentown, N.J.
If it sounds like it must be Scottish, it is—but it’s also Irish. Let’s just call it pan-Celtic and have done with it. Whatever, you’ll fit in, and have fun.
Fun is what they’re all about. Here’s a sampling of the bands that will be on hand: The Kennedys, The Shantys, Rancocas Creek Pipe Band, Na’Bodach, Nothing Sacred, and Chaste Treasure. There’s also highland games—or as the folks at Kilt Fest say, “men and women throwing heavy things.” Celtic Flame Irish Dance will be on hand. You won’t go hungry or thirsty, either. Plenty of grub and brew available. There’s also kilted fun run on Sunday morning at 10.
You’ll find Kilt Fest at Liberty Lake in Bordentown. The fun starts at 9 a.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday.
As the days wind down toward a Halloween deadline, Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans seem to shift with the political winds.
Two questions of pressing concern to Ireland remain unsettled:
Will the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union result in a hard customs border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland?
What will be the impact on the Northern Ireland peace process, as codified in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement?
If a Monday night emergency meeting at the Philadelphia Irish Center is any indication, there is keen local interest in the answers to both.
Take a little road trip this weekend, and you’re bound to find yourself up to your hackle in things Celtic and Irish.
We’re talking, of course, about the Celtic Classic, a three-day festival in beautiful Bethlehem.
The Classic is already under way today (September 27), but here’s what’s on tap for the next two days.
If you’re into Highland games—hammer throws, caber tosses and such—you’ll find them on the Highland Field. You’ll also get a chance to check out bagpipe bands, and border collies corralling sheep. That’s both days, from 10 a.m. ‘til about 6 p.m.
They start them young in Ireland.
Aisling Cullen, a bartender at Con Murphy’s on the Parkway, started working in a friend’s bar back in Bailieborough, County Cavan, at age 15. At 18, she moved up to bartender and, one way or another, in Ireland or here in the States, Cullen has been pouring Guinnesses ever since.
“I got to learn the ropes from everywhere,” she says. Cullen has been in the U.S. for 12 years, working first at the New Deck Tavern in University City, and then moving on to Con Murphy’s.
We caught up with her recently and chatted with her about her life behind the bar.