How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

The Campbell’s Highland Dancers and the Washington Pipe Band at last year’s Midwinter Scottish and Irish Fest.

The really smart people have booked rooms for the weekend in the Valley Forge area because it’s that time again—the Philadelphia Mid-winter Scottish and Irish Festival.

It’s all about the music. Festival favorites Albannach, Barleyjuice, Brother, Hadrian’s Wall, and Seven Nations will be joining groups like Donegal’s own Screaming Orphans, a very hip sister act, and Searson, an equally hip sister act from Canada, both of which have a huge fan base in the Mid-Atlantic region. There’s dancing. We’re hoping for a dance-off between the Fitzpatrick Irish Dancers and the Campbell Highland Dancers. Bring it! And you can dance too—there’s plenty of dance music for rockers, ceili dancers, and step dancers. You can even sign up for a few lessons!

You can learn to speak Irish or Scottish Gaelic, taste some aged whiskey, buy some CDs, a kilt, a new sporran, a crazy t-shirt, or some stunning jewelry, and taste some Scottish ice cream, fish and chips, or meat pies. Seriously, this is the most fun you can have with your clothes on, and most people do keep their clothes on so you can bring the kiddies.

We’ll be there all weekend, hawking Ceili Drive: The Music of Irish Philadelphia, our newly minted CD featuring some of the region’s top Irish musicians which was crowd-funded, as they say on public radio, by listeners just like you. Any money we make from the sales of the CD, which we hope will become a piece of Irish Philadelphia history, will go to making a second featuring some of the musicians we didn’t capture the first time around. So, stop by and see us, and buy a CD (they’re only $15 and will also be available online).

There’s an incredible bounty for Irish music lovers this week. At the Irish Center on Sunday, and at the Coatesville Cultural Center on Sunday, you can hear Laura Byrne, Rose Flanagan (sister of noted fiddler Brian Conway), and Eamon O’Leary on flute, fiddle, and guitar. The three will be offering workshops at the Irish Center before their show, which starts at 8 PM.

The John Byrne Band will be appearing at the Winter Doldrums Folk Fest (we do love that name!) at World Café Live, along with many other local folkies.

On Sunday, Galway’s own Don Stiffe, fresh from “The All Ireland Talent Show,” will be making his second appearance at The Irish Center in Philadelphia. Go early for the traditional Irish meal prepared by Tullamore Crew at 5 PM.

The first parade of the region is always Burlington County, and they have the first fundraiser too—at the High Street Grill in Mt. Holly, NJ, on Wednesday, 7-10 PM, with Irish music provided by Slainte.

Philadelphia’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be holding its first fundraiser (of two) on February 24 at The Heroes Ballroom, FOP Lodge 5, in Philadelphia—appropriate since this year’s grand marshal is retired Philadelphia Police Officer Harry Marnie, who has been active for many years with the FOP and the Emerald Society, an organization of police and fire personnel of Irish descent.

Then, on Friday, February, 22, the fundraiser you’ve all been waiting for—the Delco Gael’s “Dancing Like a Star,” which pits 8 amateur couples against one another in a dance-off that last year drew more than 700 people to the Springfield Country Club. The event, which is fun personified, raises money to support the Gaels, who are helping keep Gaelic athletics in Philadelphia alive through youth teams.

There are loads of events on our calendar—more and more every day as we approach St. Patrick’s month. Keep checking back!

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