You’ll be forgiven if the new 2016 calendar from the Irish Immigration Center of Greater Philadelphia makes you do a double take.
You’ll see album covers from many big-time Irish musicians and bands: There’s Bono, Van Morrison, The Corrs, Enya, The Pogues, Imelda May, and … heyyyy, wait a minute. Enya looks suspiciously like someone who is pretty well known in local Irish circles, Kathleen Murtaugh. And unless we’re mistaken, isn’t that Barney Boyce on the Thin Lizzie cover? And Sean McMenamin on the U2 cover?
You’re not seeing things. There’s a lot of local character—and plenty of local characters—populating the calendar, put together Immigration Center Director Siobhan Lyons and Assistant Director Leslie Alock, with photography by Denise Foley, and wardrobe, set design, musical instruments, makeup and all kinds of other help from many of the center’s friends. (You can read about all of them here.)
The project is a follow-on to the highly successful and popular fund-raising calendar the center produced last year.
All of the shots were staged in late September-early October, five of them at the center, and seven at locations throughout Philly, such as the Tin Angel, Newtown Square Railroad Museum and Laurel Hill Cemetery, Alcock explains.
“It was just a real collaborative piece of work,” she says. “Everyone was open to suggestions and helping out.”
The idea for this year’s calendar came from comedian Chris Williams, says Lyons. Williams is married to Fiona McCabe, vice consul general at the Irish Consulate in New York City.
It was clear the center wanted to do another fund-raising calendar, Lyons says, but what kind of calendar? What theme? “Chris said, ‘Maybe you can do Irish album covers and you could make the calendar square,’” Lyons says. “I said: Bingo! It was hard to think how we’d top the last one because I loved it, but we did.”
Help for the project came from all quarters. Center volunteer Maura McGee, for example, “who works with making curtains,” Alcock says. “She helped me find fabric. We got it for 15 dollars or so. It was just pinned around Kathleen. Tom Donahue he provided all the instruments.”
And, really, we could go on.
The models, she says, were delighted to be asked, and they themselves put a lot of effort into making sure they had their characters down just right. “Everybody did a bit of research on who they were going to be,” she says.
Getting everybody in the right place at the right time was a challenge, but car pooling did the trick, and everybody looked at it as a fun day out, she says. Without question, there were a lot of laughs.
There were also some strange moments, Alcock adds.
The calendar organizers recruited Mike Scott to play the part of Bono. Alcock landed the job of straightening out his long hair. “Never did I think when I was training as a social worker that I would be combing the hair of a 70-year-old man.”
If you want one—of course, you want one—you can buy them online here or pick them up at the Immigration Center, 7 South Cedar Lane, in Upper Darby. The calendars cost $20, discounted to $15 for seniors.
Here’s a collection of pics from Thursday night’s Immigration Center Christmas party, featuring many of the calendar models.