This is going to be a busy week, with a particularly busy weekend.
Let’s jump right into it.
Friday, January 24
A quick look at tonight’s schedule: The Shantys will appear at the Black Taxi, 25th and Aspen Streets in the city’s Fairmount neighborhood, starting at 7:30 p.m. Tunes and pints!
Saturday, January 25
It’s Burns Night at Plough & the Stars, 2nd Street between Market and Chestnut in Old City. Poet Robert Burns was Scottish, not Irish, but he was a Celt, and that’s close enough—and the Plough is nothing if not Irish, of course. The festivities start 6 p.m. There’ll be pipers on hand to play tunes, Highland dancers, and an opportunity or two to sample a wee dram. And best of all (maybe not, though—it’s an acquired taste) haggis!
Big doings in Irish Philly land this week.
We’ll just launch right into things, first a little out of sequence.
Tuesday, January 21-Sunday, January 26
The 25th anniversary show of Riverdance will be at the Merriam, 250 South Broad Street, this week, featuring Anna Mai Fitzpatrick in a lead dance role and once local (Pittsgrove, N.J.) phenom Haley Richardson on fiddle. Some changes are in store for the show but at heart it’s going to be that same incredible Riverdance you’ve loved all along—lots of high stepping and incredible music. If you’ve never seen Riverdance before—hard to believe you haven’t—by all means, make time in your schedule.
The best way to buy tickets is through the Commodore John Barry Arts & Cultural Center (the Irish Center). The center gets $1 for every ticket sold using the code IRISH. A very worthy cause.
Now back into sequence …
Regan Sweeney and Olivia Lisowski finish each other’s sentences. They’re a font of shared experiences, with a deep love of Irish dance, music and culture.
And one more thing: family.
“Our families are very close, ever since we were little,” says Regan. “We’ve done everything together—more siblings than cousins. And we’re lucky to have that because she (Olivia) lives in Havertown, I live in Malvern, and we just do a lot of the same things together. Since our moms (Sheila McGrory Sweeney and Maureen Heather Lisowski) are sisters, they’ve really instilled in us the idea that family is important.”
They also share each other’s victories. For Regan, a member of the McDade-Cara School of Irish Dance, it was a 1st place finish for her Loyola University Maryland Irish dance team at the Southern Region Oireachtas in the college ceili competition. The week before, she finished 17th in her solo competition at the Mid-Atlantic Oireachtas in Philadelphia.
For Olivia, a sophomore at West Chester University, it was being crowned Mary from Dungloe by the Donegal Association of Philadelphia. The college ceili competition and Mary from Dungloe happened on the same night in early December.
Do you feel lucky? This could be your week, with two opportunities to place your bets and win some money.
Here’s what’s on.
Friday, January 10
It’s Delco Gaels Night at the Races at JD McGillicuddy’s, 8919 West Chester Pike in Upper Darby. The event benefits the Gaels’ Feile team heading to Ireland this summer. They’re off and running at 7 p.m. and it costs $30 to get in. Horse and race sponsorship opportunities are available.
Contact Jim McCormick 484-433-1472 or Christin Harvey 610-547-0062.
Saturday, January 11
Check out Poker Night, sponsored by Kevin Barry Gaelic Football Club, at Con Murphy’s Irish Pub, 1700 Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Center City. It all starts at 8 p.m. and costs $100 to enter. Good luck!
You might say Anna Mai Fitzpatrick’s role as a lead dancer in the U.S. touring company of Riverdance was preordained.
When Anna Mai was 3, her mother Sharon saw Riverdance on television in one of the show’s earlier incarnations and signed her up for Irish dance lessons in her local primary school.
Not everyone who begins Irish dance carries it much beyond adolescence, but for Fitzpatrick all those jigs and reels evolved into a passion that carries on today into her 20s.
Along the way, she won a third place in the under-19 category at the World Irish Dancing Championships—no mean feat—and came out on top in the Great Britain Championships and the British Nationals, among other honors.
It’s a light week, but there’s always a reason to get your Irish Philly on, even if it’s just to visit your favorite Irish watering hole. Maybe especially.
Here’s what’s on:
Friday, January 3
Tonight is the First Friday Music Session at Philly’s great Irish Center, 6815 Emlen Street at Carpenter in Mount Airy.
The session starts at 8 and ends at 10.
If you’ve never gone to a session, it’s a great opportunity to listen to Irish traditional music—or if you play an Irish musical instrument, to sit in and play along with the rest of the crowd. And what better place than at the Irish Center?
Friday, January 10
It’s Delco Gaels Night at the Races! You can join in the fun at JD McGillicuddy’s, 8919 West Chester Pike in Upper Darby. The event benefits the Gaels’ Feile team heading to Ireland this summer. It starts at 7 p.m. and costs $30 to get in. Horse and race sponsorship opportunities are available.
Contact: Jim McCormick 484-433-1472 or Christin Harvey 610-547-0062.
Looking ahead, Riverdance is coming back to Philadelphia January 21-26. You can purchase tickets and help the Irish Center at the same time. Here are the details.
For more events of a regularly scheduled nature, we recommend you visit our calendar. Want to learn how to ceili dance? Looking for more traditional Irish music sessions? Want to know when to catch the latest Irish radio show? It’s all there.
That’s it for this week. See you next time.
Short week in the land of Irish Philadelphia, people. We’re all—or mostly—Christmased out.
Here’s what’s on:
Saturday, December 28
The great Philadelphia Irish band Jamison holds court at Curran’s Tacony, 6900 State Road in Northeast Philly. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. Curran’s is a great place to see and hear them. Hoist one for us.
Sunday, December 29
The holidays are not completely over, particularly for those of you who claim County Dublin heritage. Dublin Society Philadelphia hosts its Christmas party at the Plough and Stars. 2nd Street between Market and Chestnut, starting at 12 noon. Bring the family, and up the Dubs!
What’s in a name?
In the case of the newly rechristened Irish Diaspora Center, quite a lot.
Formerly the Irish Immigration Center of Philadelphia, the Diaspora Center has been broadening its mission for quite some time. The new name is just a recognition of all the ways in which the mission has evolved over that time.
“In doing our strategic planning with our board and setting the course for the next three years of the organization, we recognized that we serve a much broader base than just Irish immigrants,” says center Executive Director Emily Norton Ashinhurst. “So we wanted the name to represent the broader base of who we serve.”
The longtime Upper Darby-based organization originally began as the Irish Immigration and Pastoral Center and then switched over to the Immigration Center, but for quite a while center activities have expanded. For example, the senior luncheon has served Irish immigrants for years, as has the free legal immigration clinic, but in the meantime the mission has expanded to include, for example, a youth program known as Foróige and a genealogy program which serves the broader community.
“None of the services that we provide are changing,” says Ashinhurst. “This really was to more adequately reflect our mission and the work that we do.”