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Jeff Meade

How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

This week features a few big fund-raisers, so it’s time to hit the ATM and be prepared to give generously.

On Saturday, there’s a benefit for the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It takes place at Keenan’s North Wildwood, 113 Olde New Jersey Ave., North Wildwood, N.J., from 3 to 7 p.m. It costs $30 to get in, and includes domestic bottle beer, wine, food, and music provided by a DJ. Tickets will be available at the door. For details, contact Kathy Fanning at 267-237-2953.

Closer to home on the same day, the Commodore John Barry Arts and Cultural Center, otherwise known as the Irish Center, is hosting a fund-raising bash at J.D. McGillicuddy’s, 8919 West Chester Pike in Upper Darby. The event runs from 6 to 8 p.m.

For $25, you get light food, music and raffles. There will also be a special raffle for four tickets to the Carl Frampton-Emmanuel Dominguez fight on August 10. Continue Reading


Jamison’s Alice Marie Has the World on a String—Well, Four, Actually

The musicians of Jamison are motoring noisily through sound check at Curran’s Tacony on a steamy Friday night, getting ready to begin their show. Off in a corner that is only marginally quieter than the rest of the area around the bar is the band’s fiddler Alice Marie Quirk, the humidity making her long curly hair even curlier.

She has just arrived from a 4thof July gig at a retirement community—a pretty fair indication of how busy and versatile she is. Her sound check is just a few minutes away, but for now she is taking a few moments to tell her story—how she made the transition from classical viola to fiddle in a Celtic rock band.

It’s an incomplete transition because classical music remains an important part of her life, but for some time she has been a fixture on the Philly paddy rock scene.

Quirk—who just goes by the name “Alice Marie” because people tended to mistake “Quirk” for names like “Kirk” and unfailingly mispronounce it—has come a long way from her Bachelor of Arts degree in music, with a minor in theology, from Immaculata University and her teaching certification from Eastern. (She also taught music for a time in the Philadelphia School District.) Continue Reading

How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

Summer doldrums may be setting in, but fear not. There are two big Irish fund-raisers coming up—both of them next Saturday, July 13, with one at the shore and the other in Upper Darby. So unless you’re prepared to drive like the wind up the AC Expressway (it’s been done, of course) you might not catch both.

We’ll start with the shore gig, a benefit for the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Yes, it’s months till the next parade, with the bands, the floats and all the dudes wearing funny hats, but it’s always a good time to support the cause.

It’s at Keenan’s North Wildwood, 113 Olde New Jersey Ave., North Wildwood, N.J., from 3 to 7 p.m. It costs $30 to get in, and your entry fee gets you a lot—domestic bottle beer, wine, chow, and tunes by a DJ. Tickets will be available at the door. Details, contact Kathy Fanning at 267-237-2953. The shore’s a great place to be this time of year, so if you’re planning on a beach trip, don’t forget to check in. Continue Reading

Dance, Music

Remembering Eugene O’Donnell

The world of Irish music and dance is mourning the passing of the supremely gifted fiddler Eugene O’Donnell. News of his death came Friday, June 28, from his longtime musical partner, multi-instrumentalist and folklorist Mick Moloney.

In the Philadelphia area, he is best known for that partnership. He was also a founding member of the Philadelphia Ceili Group.

As a fiddler, he was renowned for his mastery of slow airs—although he certainly had a broad repertoire—but for many in this region, he was also known as one of the greatest step dancers ever to have taken to the floor.

According to Compass Records, for which he recorded, O’Donnell “began Irish dancing at the age of three and was the first Irish dancer ever to dance on television in London at the age of 12, all the while playing and perfecting Derry-style Irish fiddling. As a teen, O’Donnell won an unprecedented five consecutive All-Ireland dancing championships.”

O’Donnell arrived in Philadelphia from Derry in 1957. From there, it didn’t take long for him to begin sharing his many gifts.

Many recall him for his superb musical skills, but they also remember him as one of the finest, most inventive, and occasionally the most exacting of dance instructors. Continue Reading

How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

We’re coming into the big 4thof July week, so the Irish events seem to have given way to picnics and fireworks. But what there is this week is pretty great.

Let’s get right into it.

Tonight (Friday), you’re really going to want to catch the fabulous Byrne Brothers at the Irish Center (Commodore John Barry Arts & Cultural Center), 6815 Emlen Street in Philly’s Mount Airy neighborhood.

The Dublin/Donegal family includes: 14-year-old Luca on button accordion, Finn, age 12, on banjo, mandolin and whistle, Dempsey, 9, on whistle and bodhran, together with dad Tommy and show director playing uilleann pipes, guitar, whistles, fiddle, bagpipes and bodhran. Mom Julie handles the sound.

The boys are also Ulster Irish Dancing Champions, and Finn qualified for the World Irish Dancing Championships in 2017.

This is one incredibly talented family. How can you not go?

Doors open at 6, and the show starts at 7.

Details and ticket info here.

Sunday is Celtic Heritage Day down at the wharf in beautiful Bristol Borough, Lower Bucks County. You’ll find plenty to do, with music by the John Byrne Band, the Jolly Tinkers and The Shenanigans, with an appearance by the Fitzgerald Irish Dancers.

There’s a raffle for a wheelbarrow of goodies, together with vendor tables, food and drink, and activities for the kids.

It all starts at 1.

It’s at 100-148 Basin Park, if you’re setting your GPS.

That’s it for this week, but we’d also highly recommend that you check out our calendar for event like Irish music sessions that happen on a regular basis throughout the Delaware Valley. When it comes to music sessions, you might want to call first. They’re occasionally canceled, or the times are changed.

Take care and have a happy and safe 4thof July.


A Look at the Past and the Future at the Immigration Center

(Photo by Tom Reing)

Young people and those who’ve been around a lot longer have a lot to learn from each other, and a good deal to share with the rest of the world.

That’s the general idea behind “How I Got Here – Where I’m Going,” a series of monologues to be presented Monday night at 7:30 at the Irish Immigration Center of Philadelphia, 7 South Cedar Lane in Upper Darby.

The monologues will be presented by three actors from Philadelphia’s acclaimed Inis Nua Theatre Company, and the material is drawn from both the senior and youth programs at the Immigration Center.

Tom Reing, the theatre company’s founder, is directing the presentation.

“It’s an intergenerational piece where we have some immigrants who became Americans, and some first-generation people,” says Reing. “Then we have some young people who have connections to Ireland as well and are part of the youth group—they’re the next chapter of the story.” Continue Reading

How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

Welcome to another scintillating episode of “As the Philly Irish World Turns.”

Aside from all the other features on our heavily populated events calendar, there are five events in particular this coming week to which we’d like to draw your particular attention.

First, on Saturday, it’s the third annual Havertown Irish Festival, behind the Manoa Shopping Center, 1305 West Chester Pike in Havertown. It’s sponsored by Acme Markets.

Much like all the other Irish and Celtic festivals this summer, the Havertown event features plenty of entertainment, food and drink, fun for the kids (and everybody else). Music includes a day of tunes from a variety of Irish and Celtic bands, including the John Byrne Band, Dylan McGuire, Scott McClatchy Band, Shades of Green and Poehemia. If you’re into bagpipes, look for appearances by Philadelphia Emerald Society Pipe Band and Brian Boru Pipes and Drums. There’ll be appearances by Irish dance schools and plenty of crafters selling their Irish-themed goods. Continue Reading

How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

A busy weekend ahead for Irish goings-on. Let’s get right down to it.

On Saturday, it’s time for the Charlie Dunlop Memorial Fund Golf Outing at Cobbs Creek Golf Course, 7400 Lansdowne Avenue in Philadelphia, with a shotgun start of 1 p.m.

The Charlie Dunlop Memorial Fund helps people who have run into financial difficulty due to illness, death, or loss of income through no fault of their own. The fund has helped 65 families or individuals over the past six years, to the tune of more than $150,000.

There will be prizes for closest to the pin on all par threes and longest drive on 7 and 11. Entry fee is $100 per player, and includes light snacks, dinner, golf and prizes.

For information contact John Cullen 610-213-5370 or Paddy Rooney 610-789-6969. Continue Reading