News, People, Photo Essays

It’s Irish Christmas in Philadelphia

Eileen Lavin playing one of Santa's elves at the Irish Center Senior Christmas lunch.

Eileen Lavin playing one of Santa’s elves at the Irish Center Senior Christmas lunch.

This was the week to get your Christmas spirit on, and we did. There were nine
Irish Christmas events on our calendar and we managed to get to four of them. Lori Lander Murphy spent Sunday with Maria Walsh, the Rose of Tralee, and Seamus Claus at the Saturday Club in Wayne. You can read her story here. And you can see my photos from the other three events below.

For the second year in a row, I took the family to “An American Celtic Christmas,” the magical show—with dancers and singers and Santa and snow (yes, I know I’m rhyming)—at Bensalem High School on Saturday. The annual production comes from those wonderful folks who also bring us the Philadelphia Fleadh in the spring, Frank Daly and CJ Mills of Jamison Celtic Rock and Slainte. Singers Raymond Coleman, John Byrne, Kim Killen and Bob Hurst of the Bogside Rogues joined a stellar band on stage with dancers from Ridgewood Irish Dance Academy from Ridgewood, NJ, Celtic Flame, as well as the Bucks County Dance Center. The Bucks dancers are currently without a home—their studio burned down a couple of months ago—so the show’s producers donated proceeds from a 50-50 drawing to help them out, as did the winner. It was beautiful to see the Christmas spirit in action.

It was out in full force on Sunday too at the holiday recital of the Divine Providence Village Rainbow Irish Dancers, a group of developmentally disabled women who have been part of the Irish dance scene for about three years. Since they were founded by Irish dancer Kathleen Madigan, former dietitian at the Catholic institution in Springfield, Delaware County, the “ladies” as she calls them have marched in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade (where they won an award their first year out) and appeared on the field at Irish Heritage Night at the Phillies. They’ll be dancing at Irish Heritage Night in Camden this spring.

They were joined on stage by the Irish Stars, Parker School of Irish Dance, from Hellertown, where Madigan is a student, and the Villanova University Irish Dance Team, which invited the women to participate at the intercollegiate Irish dance event for the last two years.

On Monday, the ballroom at the Irish Center was filled to capacity—and a sea of red sweaters–for the annual Seniors Christmas luncheon co-sponsored by the Irish Center and the Irish Immigration Center of Greater Philadelphia. The Vincent Gallagher Band performed and the lunch was donated and prepared by The Plough and the Stars Restaurant, 123 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. Co-owners Jerome Donovan and Marian Ryder were on hand to both prep and serve, along with a bevy of volunteers.

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