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Jeff Meade

How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

Time to get in the Christmas spirit!

One way to do it safely: Check out Facebook live concerts all this week, sponsored by Irish Music Magazine. We’ll tell you about a few of them.

Friday, December 11

Locally-based Celtic roots band RUNA has a new album out, “The Tide of Winter.” We’ve heard it, and you should, too. It’ll put you in the Christmas spirit like nobody’s business. Fortunately, you can get a sneak preview tonight with the band’s virtual release party on Facebook, presented by Irish Music Magazine. The show starts at 6 p.m. Eastern Time. Details here:

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Arts, Music

In a Dark Period, RUNA’s “Tide of Winter” Album Offers Hope, Love, Joy and Celebration

The bandmates of RUNA, one of the area’s best-known Irish musical ensembles, have toyed with the idea of a winter album for a very long time. It never happened because—fortuitously for the award-winning supergroup—they were always busy, frequently on the road as a band or pursuing their own independent projects.

Last year, the project finally got off the ground in a small way, with an EP (a mini-album) of about five songs, with every intention of finishing it off as a full-fledged album in 2020.

Along came the pandemic, putting an end to band members’ otherwise ambitious plans. Complicating things a bit more, all the members of RUNA live some distance from each other. So on the one hand, they had some time on their hands. But on the other hand, they couldn’t be together.

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How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

We’re baaaaa-aaaaaaaack!!!

All website woes finally resolved and ready to tell you where to go.

Wait a minute … that might have come out wrong.

Kind of a lean week, but given the circumstances, perfectly understandable. Just about everything has been pushed online these days.

Nevertheless, no reason not to be Irish, is there? 

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An American Celtic Christmas: This Year, Jamison’s Holiday Spectacle Comes to You

About right now, Frank Daly and his band Jamison Celtic Rock probably would have been in the midst of a big, multi-city breakout tour for their annual American Celtic Christmas show, a glittery seasonal spectacle Jamison has been presenting since 2012. 

“Last year, we took a risk and moved it to the Keswick Theater (in Glenside),” says Daly. “I lost a lot of sleep over that, worrying whether it was the right decision, but the show went over really well there. Afterward, Keswick’s parent company approached us and said they wanted to do the show in multiple cities, which was like a dream come true. We were in talks to do the show in Detroit, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, North Jersey, and then back to the Keswick.”

Those plans went out the window when the coronavirus pandemic hit—a huge disappointment. The parent company made the decision to close all of its venues for the duration.

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How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

Every edition of “How to Be Irish” is an opportunity to celebrate your heritage, but this week even more so, as you can delve into what, in Irish terms, might seem like relatively recent history. You can also dig into your own family story.

Here’s what’s up.

Friday, October 30

Frank Daly of Jamison Celtic Rock takes the stage at Gaul & Co. Malt House, 704 Huntingdon Pike in Rockledge, starting at 5 p.m. A great venue, and a crowd-pleasing musician. Live music is still a rarity—at least not as common as you’d like—so support this performance if you can.

If you’re not out and about and you’d like to indulge your taste for live Irish music, the great Mary Courtney is back with a show live on Facebook. Will she ever run out of tunes? Not likely. Is there any end to her talent? Not really. Anyway, check out her tunes here, starting at 6 p.m.: She’ll be accepting tips, too, so chip in.

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People, Religion

Documentary Shines a Bright New Light on the “Heart of Camden”

The beloved community organizer, poet and peacemaker Monsignor Michael Doyle, native of Rossduff, County Longford, Ireland, is regarded by many as a living saint, though he would dispute such a thing.

To those admirers, Doyle is the life force behind “Heart of Camden,” the multifaceted nonprofit launched in 1984 and responsible for resurrecting the Waterfront South neighborhood in the beleaguered New Jersey city across the Delaware from Philadelphia.

Retired recently after 40 years as pastor of Sacred Heart Church on Ferry Avenue, Doyle’s contributions to that community are manifold, including rehabilitating well over 200 abandoned homes sold to low-income families. He is also the driving force behind the acclaimed Sacred Heart School, which brings hope to children throughout the neighborhood. He established a free clinic—and, really, all of that is just scratching the surface of a life filled with and motivated by a passionate desire for justice and a longstanding commitment to the fight against the cancer of racism.

Now, a recently released 42-minute documentary shines a new light on Doyle’s life and legacy. Taking its cue from Doyle’s creation, it is called “The Heart of Camden: The Story of Father Michael Doyle,” produced by filmmaker Doug Clayton and narrated by acclaimed actor Martin Sheen, a longtime admirer.

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How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

Looking for a Covid-safe dinner out? Hoping to catch some live Irish tunes? Want to catch up on your Irish history?

This is the week for all of the above and more.

Here’s the deal:

Friday, October 23

Jamison Celtic Rock takes the stage outdoors at Sweeney’s Philly, 13639 Philmont Avenue, starting at 6 p.m. If you’re looking for live music, Jamison won’t disappoint.

Saturday, October 24

If you love the Screaming Orphans—we’ve seen them many times—they’re back with a Facebook Live concert starting at 5 p.m. Check it out here. (And if you haven’t seen them, do … they’re a party.)

Sunday, October 25

Caitlin Finley and Will Woodson resume their Facebook Live cocktail hour and a half, Sunday at 5 p.m. Watch it here. You can also watch it on YouTube. We’ve written about Caitlin and Will recently. Be sure to catch their wonderful traditional Irish tunes.

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Learn the Story of County Mayo and Tales of the Vikings

Ireland has a rich and often violent history, from the legendary exploits of Gráinne O’Malley, County Mayo’s infamous pirate queen to St. Patrick’s pilgrimage to the top of the rugged holy mountain Croagh Patrick, and from the Viking raids to their ignominious defeat by high king Brian Boru at the Battle of Clontarf.

Some of us know some of that history, but few of us know it as deeply and as comprehensively as Sean Murphy, a native Dubliner who came to the United States in 2005. If you want to know more, then he’s all too willing to share.

Starting November 5 and continuing for three Thursdays afterward, Murphy is hosting three Zoom-based, hour and a half-long evening classes, one on the history of County Mayo; the other tracing the history of the Viking incursions into Ireland from 795 to 1014 A.D. The cost for each class is $80.

Murphy, of Cape Cod, Mass., has a varied academic background. His initial degree was in science, math and physics, followed by a degree in world politics and philosophy. At a later stage, he took a degree in accounting. He was also involved in local politics in Dublin as a member of the Dublin City Development Board, helping to draw together strategic plans for Dublin City from 2002 to 2012.

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