How To Be Irish in Philly This Week
It’s getting closer, that day when ghouls and zombies scare the living daylights out of us—before they take our stuff.
No, I’m not talking about election day. It’s Halloween, silly! What were you thinking?
In Ireland, the holiday is known as samhain (pronounce sow-in). In Ireland, it was always a harvest festival, the end of the “lighter” half of the year and the beginning of the darker half. It used to involve bonfires (perhaps where our lighted Jack O’Lanterns got their start) and gatherings were stories were told.
That said, there’s not a lot of Halloween-themed frivolity going on, except for the Bogside Rogues Halloween Party on Friday, October 28, at Con Murphy’s Pub in Center City and a Ghost Tea and Haunted Tour of Bethlehem sponsored by McCarthy’s Tea Room and the Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem on Saturday, October 29. Of course, there’s the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire in Manheim where they dress in costume all the time.
But there is a lot going on in Irish Philadelphia so here we go:
Also on Friday night, Scottish singer Julie Fowlis is performing at Bryn Mawr College.
On Saturday night, Sligo-style fiddler Kevin Burke and his frequent co-conspirator, multi-instrumentalist Cal Scott, will be performing at the Irish Center at 6815 Emlen Street, Philadelphia. The concert and workshops (learn from the best) are sponsored by The Philadelphia Ceili Group.
On Sunday, join the Donegal Association at its annual mass at the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal in Germantown. A meal follows at the Irish Center.
On Tuesday, Booker-nominated novelist Patrick McGuinness will be giving a reading at Villanova University. McGuinness is a fellow at St. Anne’s College in Oxford, a poet (“The Canals of Mars” is his latest book of poetry) and novelist (“The Last Hundred Days,” about the last months of the Ceausescu regime in Romania).
On Thursday, BUA, a traditional band—and a boy band—from Chicago will be at the Irish Center. Their lead singer, Brian O hAirt, is the youngest and first-ever American to win the top award for singers at the Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in Listowel, County Kerry, in 2002. That’s the equivalent of getting an Olympic gold medal in Irish music.
On Friday, Dr. Sean Kay, a professor of politics and government at Ohio Wesleyan University, will be speaking about the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger—Ireland’s first economic boom that went bust—at Temple University. Dr. Kay’s appearance is sponsored by Irish Network-Philadelphia, a networking organization for people of Irish descent. See our interview with Dr. Kay.
Support the Crossroads Dancers on Friday night at McFaddens on 3rd Street in Philadelphia. The group made up of adult dancers, regular winners in the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day parade, is raising money for costumes, competitions and more. They’ll be competing on Thanksgiving weekend at the Mid-Atlantic Oireachtas, the regional dance competition that draws hundreds of Irish dancers to Philadelphia.
Even more to do on Friday night: You can see what happens when you mix one popular Celtic group with another. Enter the Haggis and Scythian will be appearing at Union Transfer, the newest Philly music venue, located on Spring Garden Street. Or you could go to Brownies 23 East in Ardmore to hear local Celtic rockers Jamison.
Coming up: The Mayo Ball is on November 5, as is the comedy show featuring Joe Conklin at Sellersville Theatre, AOH Comedy Night At Richard Rossiter Memorial Hall (home of the Gloucester County, NJ, AOH division), the Feast of All Irish Saints at the Church of the Holy Family in Sewell, NJ, and a house concert in Lansdale featuring Bob McQuillien and Old New England.
Don’t forget – Mick Moloney and Friends will be here on November 6 for the annual Concert for St. Malachy’s in North Philadelphia (which is usually SRO so get there early and grab a pew), the Irish Immigration Center’s Winter Celebration fundraiser with the Bogside Rogues (who always put the fun in fundraiser, also November 6), and the fundraiser for WTMR-800AM Irish radio show, “Come West Along the Road,” (again, on November 6) at Molly Maguire’s Pub in Phoenixville, featuring The Jameson Sisters, Paraic Keane, Fintan Malone & Company, the King Brothers, Kane and Beatty, Matt Ward, Mary Malone and Den Vykopal and dancers.
Don’t say no one gave you a heads up. Check our calendar for all the details.