It’s a light week for Irish types, but still manages to provide plenty of interest..
We have three events in the lineup.
The John Byrne Band takes the stage Saturday for a free concert—yes, free—at Drexel Lodge Park in Newtown Square. The concert starts at 4:30 p.m. The park is at 4104 West Chester Pike. A great band in a neat outdoor venue, and did we mention it’s free?
On a different note, catch an award-winning short film called “The American Wake” Sunday at 4:30 at the Philadelphia Irish Center, 6815 Emlen Street in Mount Airy. It’s the story of filmmaker Kevin Quinn’s grandmother’s immigration from County Mayo to New York back in 1950. You can also meet the filmmaker after the presentation. The film will show in the Irish Center’s Barry room right after the Mayo Association meeting.
Non-stop music on three stages, dance, Irish and Celtic vendors, food and drink—it was all on display Saturday at Philly Fleadh 2019, held on the grounds at Pennsylvania Army National Guard Armory & Readiness Center in Northeast Philadelphia.
In a week during which rain seemed to be falling every day, the Fleadh’s organizers got lucky. It was bright and sunny, and the grounds had mostly dried out. People came with their lawn chairs and set up on the lawn to listen to tunes from such bands and performers such as Oakwyn, The Bogside Rogues, the John Byrne Band, Seamus and CJ, Ray Coleman.
We were there for a good part of the day and tried to capture some of the flavor of this big, exciting event.
The pictures are up top, and here’s a recording of the band Oakwyn playing “Come Out Ye Black and Tans.”
Editor’s note: All Irish Philly podcasts are now available on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn and Spotify.
How to be Irish in Philly this week, you may ask?
Funny you should ask!
Let’s start Saturday with a really big event, one of the highlights of the year: The Philadelphia Fleadh—pronounced “flah,” not “flea”—to be held at the spacious Pennsylvania Army National Guard Armory & Readiness Center, 2700 Southampton Road in Northeast Philadelphia.
This event, now in its seventh year, runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
There will be 13 bands and performers, including the Bogside Rogues, the John Byrne Band, Seamus and CJ, Ray Coleman and more, playing on several stages—that ought to keep you going for a long time. If you’re into traditional Irish music, you can take part in—or just listen to—traditional Irish music sessions. Local dance school Celtic Flame will host a dance competition, the Feis (“fesh”) at the Fleadh. Or you can strap on your own dancing shoes at a ceili.
Come hungry and be ready to spend some money on some cool Celtic stuff. There will be plenty of food and drink, plus vendors. The kids will find plenty to do, too, with face painting, a bounce house, balloon critters, and more.
This is going to be a terrific week for music, benefits and more.
We’ll start with a quick reminder: Jarlath Henderson, from County Armagh, Ireland, is the recipient of the BBC Young Folk Musician of the Year Award and is renowned as a balladeer and three-time winner of the All-Irelands on uilleann pipes. He also plays flute, whistle and cittern. In short: multi-talented. And tonight (May 3), he is appearing at the Commodore John Barry Arts and Cultural Center (a/k/a the Irish Center), 6815 Emlen Street in Philly’s Mount Airy neighborhood, together with Innes Watson.
The show starts at 8 p.m. Details here. Add this to your musical to-do list.
The bearded face of Northern Irish poet Michael Longley stares out pensively from its frame in stark black and white. It is one of nearly 100 intimate portraits of Irish authors captured by Robin Hiteshew over almost 40 years, a project that blended Hiteshew’s profound love of literature and his passion for photography—a talent he has refined to crystalline perfection.
Fifty of these author portraits will be brought together in an exhibition, “Portraits of Irish Writers,” which debuts June 5 at Neumann University in Aston, Delaware County. Sponsored by the Donegal Association of Philadelphia and funded by an Irish Heritage grant through the Irish government’s Emigrant Assistance Programme, it is Hiteshew’s second major photographic project funded by the Irish government. The first was “The Face of Irish Music,” portraits of Irish musicians from elder statesmen like fiddler and composer Ed Reavy, Sr., to young fiddler Haley Richardson, presented at the Irish Consulate in New York City in February 2015.
Back in the States for another tour, Irish country music phenom Nathan Carter has come a long way since his hit song, “Wagon Wheel.” He’s enormously popular—as witness his sold-out appearance at the Philadelphia Irish Center a few months ago.
As with so many artists, it was a bit of a slog to get to that first huge hit. Unlike many artists, he’s been able to remain popular and well in demand, adapting to changes in the music industry that might have cut short the careers of many others.
And he’s grateful for every moment he gets to play his music.
Carter is scheduled to appear Saturday, May 25, at Glenside’s historic Keswick Theater. He’ll be accompanied by Celtic Woman’s Chloe Agnew. It promises to be a great show. Tickets and info here. Better jump on it. Tickets are moving fast.
We recently interviewed Carter. Here’s what he had to say.
Patrons of Moriarty’s in Center City can thank their lucky stars that Jennifer Richart Michaels found the 9-to-5 grind so restrictive.
“I tried working in an office, and it was horrifying every minute for me. I did it for two years and I couldn’t wait to get out of it,” she says. “I felt like I was locked in a cage. Every minute, every day. I would get up in the morning and I would think of 20 reasons not to go in. I would make the turn into the parking lot and it felt like somebody had hit me with a two-by-four.”
For the last 15 years, she’s been the day bartender at Moriarty’s, 1116 Walnut Street. Before that, she tended bar at Havana and the Logan Inn in New Hope—she’s from that area—before deciding to give Center City a try. Michaels had been working at a bar that closed when they expanded the Convention Center. That’s when she applied at Moriarty’s.
A busy weekend of Irish-ness lies ahead.
We’ll start Saturday, with an evening with Órfhlaith Begley at the Philadelphia Irish Center.
Órfhlaith Begley is a Sinn Féin politician, the first woman elected as West Tyrone MP, in May 2018.
Begley, who works in a general solicitor practice, is well-known for her passionate human rights advocacy and her longtime interest in politics.
The presentation starts at 7 p.m. You’ll find the Irish Center at 6815 Emlen Street in Philly’s Mount Airy neighborhood.