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Jeff Meade

How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

We have a few items on tap for this week, including one event that is an absolute must for anyone who cares about the future of the Commodore Barry Arts and Cultural Center—more commonly known simply as the Irish Center, a beloved institution in the city’s Mount Airy section.

Let’s get right down to it.

Saturday, August 22

You’re invited to attend an Our Lady of Knock Virtual Mass at 9 a.m. Father Ken Hallahan will celebrate. The special feast day Mass will be streamed live on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GloucesterCountyAOH.

Satisfy your craving for traditional Irish music with a Virtual Behan Session, live on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/virtualbehansession. The tunes start at 5 p.m. Continue Reading

News, People

For Irish Ex-Pats Unable to Return Home, the Next Best Thing to Being There

Above: chocolates from Marlene’s Chocolate Haven in Westport, County Mayo

Suppose for a moment that you are an Irish ex-pat living in Delaware County. Your mom and dad and all your other relatives and friends still live in Ireland. Because of coronavirus travel restrictions, you aren’t able to make it back home for a birthday, an anniversary, a wedding—or just your annual visit.

For all too many, it’s a heartbreak. Nothing completely makes up for that, but now you can let all those folks back home know you’re thinking of them—and you can help Irish businesses survive the pandemic as well.

It’s called the Ireland E-Commerce Diaspora Directory, put together by the Philadelphia-based consulting firm Littus—Latin for “seashore.”

“Littus is a company that developed out of work that I’d been doing in our accounting firm Maguire Hegarty, and another chap, Rob Rae, had been doing with his company, Columbus Business Partners,” says Paul Maguire, managing director of Littus. “The idea was to work with Irish companies that were looking to enter the U.S. marketplace. Our target companies are small- and medium-sized enterprises that we can provide ground coverage for in the United States. So we decided to formalize our informal arrangement into this company, Littus.” Continue Reading

How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

Welcome back!

We’ve got a couple of festivals for you—one relatively small, another one about as big as it gets—and a few other events you might want to take in.

By the way, do whatever you can to support live music—even if “live” means live streamed.

Here’s what’s up:

Friday, August 14

Songstress Mary Courtney is back for her weekly Friday concert, live streamed to Facebook at 6 p.m. Catch it here: https://www.facebook.com/MorningStarBand

Also at 6, you can join Caitlin Finley and Will Woodson for a cocktail hour (and a half). Catch the live stream at www.facebook.com/woodsonandfinley/live.

Raymond Coleman, one of the hardest-working peeps in local Irish music, shows up at The Wharf, 708 West Burk Avenue in Wildwood, starting at 6:30. Always a good show.

Friday, August 14 – Sunday, August 16

It’s time for the Philadelphia Folk Festival! Unlike previous Philly Folk Festivals, this one will be streamed live for all the obvious reasons. Curse you, pandemic.

However, the lineup is still just as appealing as it always is, featuring more than a few Irish and Celtic acts, including the always exciting Téada, Liam Ó Maonlaí of the Hothouse Flowers, The Henry Girls (fabulous), Kris Drever, Breabach, and Philly’s own John Byrne. Continue Reading

Music

Review: Órla Fallon’s “Lore”

Around the time the coronavirus pandemic hit, Órla Fallon—a founding member of Celtic Woman—sneaked a new CD in just under the wire.

In some ways, the timing could not have been worse. Artists typically tour after an album release to promote their new recordings. Obviously, that wasn’t in the cards. But from another viewpoint, the timing was fortuitous—for all of us who could use a little cheering up.

Fallon released “Lore,” a collection of 12 tunes, in late July. Many should be recognizable to her fans and to Irish music aficionados generally. She says she chose them because each one meant something to her, and that fondness shines through each and every one.

You’ll hear old standards like “Galway Bay,” “She Moved Through the Fair,” “Wild Mountain Thyme,” “Siúil a Rún” and “Two Sisters”—all of which should take your mind off the time of covid and redirect your thoughts to the timeless hills, valleys, beaches, islands and cliffs of Ireland. Continue Reading

Genealogy, History, People

In Memoriam: William Brennan

Above: William Brennan, left, and Sean McMenamin, point out some items of interest in the Irish Center’s library to Irish Ambassador Michael Collins.

Frank Hollingsworth, a board member of the Commodore Barry Arts and Cultural Center, recalls a time when William Brennan was a guest at Villanova for a ceremony celebrating the digitization of the Commodore John Barry papers.

About 25 people were there, including the chairman of the board of Ireland’s County Wexford, Lori Dillard Rech, president of Independence Seaport Museum, and Villanova President Father Peter M. Donohue.

One by one, guests were invited up to the dais to give a brief talk about the historic event. When Brennan was asked to say a few words, Hollingsworth recalls, he stood up and offered these comments: “I think just about everything that can be said has been said. I don’t have anything additional.”

And then, Hollingsworth recalls with a chuckle, Brennan sat down.

Ironically, there was probably no one in the room who knew more about Barry than William “Billy” Brennan. His knowledge of Irish history, and in particular, the story of the Irish in Philadelphia, was encyclopedic, rivaling that of the late Dennis Clark. He was a keeper of the flame.

Brennan passed away July 28 at the age of 83. Continue Reading

How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

Some of what’s on this week—but not everything—is virtual. That’s the way things go these pandemic days. But that doesn’t mean these events are not still fun. (Of course they are!)

So here is what’s happening:

Friday, August 7

Sweeney’s Philadelphia, 13639 Philmont Avenue, hosts ELEVEN starting at 6:30 p.m. out on the outdoor patio.

The First Friday Traditional Irish Music Session, typically held in The Before Times at the Irish Center, tonight goes completely virtual via Zoom, starting at 8 p.m. To take part, direct message Hollis Payer from her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/hollis.payer. Continue Reading

Music

Exploring “Lore” … Interview with Orla Fallon

Best known as a founding member of Celtic Woman, Orla Fallon has long forged her own musical path. An accomplished singer and harpist, Fallon is out with a new collection of familiar tunes—tunes she has chosen both because they have meant something in her life and because they are likely to resonate with her fans.

The new CD, “Lore,” was released in late July. We recently chatted—about as socially distanced as you can possibly be, with the interviewer in Philly and the interviewee across the Atlantic in Ireland. And we discussed the new recording and the thought that went into it.

We also talked about the pandemic, and how “Lore” is likely to ease those Covid-19 anxieties.

How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

The summer fun just keeps on coming, close to home and down at the beach—and, of course, virtually.

Here’s what’s what:

Friday, July 31

You can catch the glorious Mary Courtney live on Facebook again this week at 6 p.m. She’s a veritable treasure trove of tunes and one of the most stirring voices in Irish music today.

Also at 6 p.m.—you’ll have to make a touch decision here—flutist Will Woodson and fiddler Caitlin Finley, who hails from Philly, host a cocktail hour (and a half) live on Facebook. Catch their act here. (Video below.)

Saturday, August 1

Hard to believe we’re heading into August already. We have one event you can watch from the comfort of your own air-conditioned home. Barleyjuice appears on the lineup for a concert from this year’s virtual Dublin Irish Festival. The show starts at 2 p.m. on Facebook.

Later in the day, Philly’s very own Jamison unPlugged hits the stage at the North Shore Bar & Kitchen, 301-303 New York Avenue in North Wildwood, starting at 5 p.m. Contact North Shore for reservations. Outdoor seating is limited. 609-551-4112.

One quick note: A drive-in concert for Saturday night, featuring The John Byrne Band at People’s Light in Malvern, is sold out. Continue Reading