Columns, How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

Piping hot

Piping hot

Well, I can tell you for certain how one local Irish group will celebrate the 4th of July.

The Philadelphia Emerald Society Pipe Band is marching in the 114th Riverton, N.J., 4th of July Parade, one of the truly great local small-town Independence Day traditions. I know this because I will be joining the drum line for the day. Why? Because there’s nothing that says “Ain’t that America?” to me more than wrapping a heavy woolen blanket around my hips, strapping on a 14-pound drum and marching a couple of miles in extreme heat and humidity.

Join me in praying for a cooling breeze off the Delaware.

So what are you doing over the holiday weekend and beyond? Well, judging by our calendar, a lot of you have your own plans.

Sure, the South Jersey Irish Society is holding its big picnic Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Yardville. And that promises to be a great day, with Irish music and dance, swimming, grilling and lots of outdoor activities for everybody. Details here.

As for the rest of the week, there are Irish traditional music sessions all over the landscape. I’m always amazed at the folks who have never taken in an Irish music session. Local Irish musicians—it can be a few, or it can be well over a dozen—get together and play every tune they ever knew (even if they don’t always remember the names of those tunes). Sessions take place at pubs all over the place, and the music is free. (The food and drinks aren’t.) Your being there also helps support local Irish businesses, and in a down economy that’s always a good thing. So take a look at our calendar and by all means, go.

We want to draw your attention to something brand new, if a bit off the beaten track, toward the end of this week.

If you’re up for a road trip, trek on down to Anne Arundel, Maryland, for the Annapolis Irish Festival on Saturday (July 9). It’s a bit of a hike, but on the plus side you get to experience the unbridled joy of driving on I-95. Seriously, we’ve been to the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds many times over the years, and it’s a beautiful rural venue, a terrific place for a summer Irish festival.

This is the first Annapolis Irish Festival, as I say, so you can be in on the ground floor. One of our favorite local bands, Burning Bridget Cleary, is on the bill, as are many other Irish musical groups and performers, including the irrepressible Seamus Kennedy (if you haven’t seen him, do), Screaming Orphans, The Rovers, the Shamrogues, and more. The Chesapeake Caledonian Pipes and Drums will circle up and play from time to time. There are Gaelic games, tons of food and drink, vendors galore, and kiddy activities (pony rides!). Don’t worry about the heat. The festival organizers promise there will be a “misting tent.” (I want one of those.) The whole deal runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Details and directions here.

There’s more coming up this month, including the Celtic Heritage Festival in Graeme Park, Horsham, on the 16th, and a great concert at the Coatesville Traditional Irish Music Series—Irish Fiddle & Flute Music: Maeve Donnelly & Conal Ó Gráda—on the 20th. Keep checking our calendar for more. New events pop up all the time.

And if you are holding an Irish event and it ain’t on our calendar, then it just ain’t happenin’. Submit your event here.

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