Nathan Carter: A Sneak Preview!

Here’s a good reason to keep your night before Thanksgiving open.

On Wednesday, November 21, Irish Country mega-star Nathan Carter will be on stage at the Commodore Barry Arts & Cultural Center (The Irish Center). Take a look at this video, and you’ll see what all the fuss is all about.

Tickets are currently available online here or by contacting the Irish Center at (215) 843-8051.

The Irish Center is at 6815 Emlen St., Philadelphia, PA, 19119, in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia.

How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

Your weekend starts out with a full day of Irish dance. If you’ve never taken in the Intercollegiate Irish Dance Festival at Villanova, now’s your chance to see some of the best college-level Irish dance teams strut their stuff. Saturday marks the sixth festival hosted by Villanova’s dance team. We’ve gone, spent the day, gotten the T-shirt. It’s incredibly fun to see how creative the competitors can be. This year, there will be 10 teams.

The festival takes place in the Jake Nevin Field House, 800 East Lancaster Avenue on the ‘Nova campus in Radnor. The competition starts at 9:30 a.m., with a Grand Irish Show starting at 4:30 p.m. Tickets available in advance for $10 on VUTix, and $12 at the door. Kids and student admission, $5.

On Sunday, two big events. Continue Reading


“Every AOH Has Someone Whose Number One Concern Is the Six-County Issue … This is Where My Heart Lies.”

Pearse Kerr has all the qualities of a great storyteller: pace and timing; a skill for voices and dialects; a ready laugh that shakes a room.

But most of all, he has stories.

They’re the stories of a young boy who witnessed his first violent death when he was 12 and living in Belfast. He and his family were leaving his grandmother’s house when they saw a British Army foot patrol approaching up the road. In Belfast in the 1970s, it wasn’t an unusual sight. “We were watching them,” he says, “when someone jumped out at them with a handgun and shot one in the back of the head.”

This was life during “The Troubles.” Continue Reading


“Her Humility and Prayerfulness Are a Blessing to Everyone She Encounters.”

Known fondly to many as the “dancing nun,” Sister James Anne, IHM, born Nancy Feerick, is the daughter of Irish immigrants Anne (Caulfield) and James Feerick. She started Irish dancing when she was 7, studying with Sean Lavery School of Irish Dance in West Philadelphia for more than 10 years. She also played the violin, performing on the Will Regan’s Irish Hours, a long-running radio show that debuted before World War II on Philadelphia’s WDAS station. She also served as secretary of the old Irish Musicians Union in Southwest Philadelphia for two years.

Her home was always filled with music, recalls Helen DeGrand, who first convinced Sister James Anne to join the Mayo Association of Philadelphia, where Sister James Anne has served as chaplain for 20 years. “When I first came to this country from Ireland in 1968, some of the first people I met were the Feericks” says Mrs. DeGrand. “They were the party people. She was in the convent then, but [her brother] Jim would be playing the piano and [her brother] Mike would be playing the fiddle. We used to go to the Shamrock Club every weekend and we always saw them at some point.” Continue Reading


“You Don’t Realize How Lucky We Are.”

Sister Frances Kirk, SSJ, third from right

On Sunday, November 18, 2018, when Sister Frances Kirk, SSJ, is honored by the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame, it will be for a lifetime devoted to education and service. But it was as chairperson and organizer of Project Children for over 30 years that she was able to make an extraordinary impact on the lives of thousands of children in both the United States and Ireland.

Born in 1932 in Northeast Philadelphia to parents Frank Joseph Kirk and Elizabeth Rose “Lizzie” Falls, who had come over from County Tyrone in the early 1920s, Sister Frances has always embraced her Irish heritage. Nine of the 14 siblings in her mother’s family left their village of Glenelly Valley to make Philadelphia their home, but they kept in close touch with the ones who stayed behind. “Letters, letters, letters,” Sister Frances explained. “And money, money, money. Every letter had to have a five pound note in it. There was no money at home.”

The oldest of the five siblings in her own family, Sister Frances came to the convent at age 19. Though she took a year off after graduating high school to work, she had no doubt that her life would be devoted to the Sisters of St. Joseph. Continue Reading


“Denise, You Are Relentless.”

Those were words spoken to Denise Foley—in a good way!—back in 2015 in the middle of her dedicated campaign on the Irish Philadelphia Facebook page to raise money for the Commodore John Barry Arts & Cultural Center in Mount Airy. The Irish Center was looking at thousands of dollars in repairs and back taxes, and as part of the group that had come together to make sure the doors of the center didn’t close, Denise was going to make sure they succeeded.

And succeed they did, raising over $83,000. For Denise, the triumph was as much in how they did it as in the fact that they did it. “This was another case where it was just a great group of people. Everybody did everything they could, everybody was 100 percent behind raising this money. And this was hundreds of people giving $10, $20 … all these people working together for something.” Continue Reading

How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

It’s baaaaaaaaaaack!

This week, highlights include a delish Sunday dinner, music, and a fund-raiser. Here’s what’s up.

  • On Saturday, November 3, at the Commodore Barry Arts and Cultural Center (The Irish Center) … the Mayo Association of Philadelphia’s 113th Annual Mayo Ball! Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door for $30. Dinner will be available starting at 6 p.m. for an additional $25. The Center is at 6815 Emlen Street in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia.
  • Mick Moloney & Friends return to St. Malachy Church, 1429 N. 11th Street. in North Philadelphia Sunday, November 4. The show starts at 2 p.m. Always a memorable performance. No tickets are required but a free-will donation to support St. Malachy School will be collected at the concert intermission.
  • Sona Pub & Kitchen, at 4417 Main Street in Manayunk, is hosting a Sunday Carvery Sunday, November 4, from 3 to 6:30 p.m. If you’re looking for a delish Sunday dinner, here’s a good place to start. It’s a three-course dinner, with live Irish entertainment from Davie Furey. Among the other tasty entrees—ham, salon, roast beef and much more—you can chow down on turkey with stuffing. Get an early preview of your Thanksgiving feast. More details on Facebook:
  • Also on Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., get your breakfast at the Commodore Barry Arts and Cultural Center. It’s a great value, and a splendid opportunity to check out the Center, if you’ve never been. The full menu is here:
  • On Saturday, November 10, Celtic Connection returns to Breen’s Tavern, 704 Huntingdon Pike in Rockledge, from 8 p.m. to midnight. Guest singers and players are welcome. Prep your party piece.
  • Also on Saturday, November 10, this one starting at 8 p.m., check out the John Byrne Band at The Locks at Sona, 4417 Main Street in Manayunk. More details here:
  • The Irish Immigration Center is hosting Youth Mental Health First Aid classes, designed for adults who assist young people. The class is eight hours long, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Saturday, November 10. The course introduces common mental health issues confronting young people, reviews adolescent development, and teaches how to help youth in crisis and non-crisis situations. Places are limited. Call the Irish Immigration Center at 610-789-6355.
  • Finally, on Sunday, November 11, the AOH/LAOH Annual Fund-Raiser for Irish charities and educational organizations in the North of Ireland. Philadelphia FOP Lodge 5, 11630 Caroline Road in Northeast Philly. Starts at 3 p.m., lasts till 7 p.m. Guest speaker: Carmel Quinn of Relatives for Justice. The $35 donation includes, buffet, beer and soft drinks. You can get tickets at the door. To reserve group tables in advance, contact Pearse Kerr at 267-253-9001.

As always, you can find lots more, including traditional Irish sessions, on our Irish events calendar, here:

If you have an Irish-related event in the Greater Philadelphia/Delaware Valley area, you can also submit your event here:

Your event will appear both on our calendar and the Irish Immigration Center of Philadelphia’s website.

Food & Drink

Poach Pears for Lovely Seasonal Dessert

Pears are one of the world’s most ancient cultivated fruits. There are over 3,000 known pear varieties grown around the world in temperate zones (peak season is July through January), each with a distinctive character, texture, and flavor.

The most popular and recognizable pears are the yellow Bartlett, with a true pear shape, followed by the elegant, egg-shaped Anjou, (also called d’Anjou), the graceful Bosc, pudgy Comice, and tiniest Forelle.

Pears poached in red wine or Port make an elegant-but-simple dessert, but this sweeter method of poaching in white wine is a pleasant alternative.

Serve the pears with Italian mascarpone, tangy crème fraîche, blue cheese, or lemon curd whipped cream. You’ll find recipes like this in my cookbook Favorite Flavors of Ireland; signed copies available at

Continue Reading