Happy Memorial Day weekend!
Here’s how the week is shaping up.
Saturday night, Nathan Carter brings his Celtic country show to the Keswick Theater, 291 N. Keswick Avenue in Glenside, Montgomery County. The show starts at 8. Carter is hugely popular all by himself, but for this concert he is also joined by Celtic Woman alum Chloe Agnew. He has a superb band as well. Carter was a big hit a few months back at the Irish Center. Here’s another chance to catch his act.
People have been celebrating their Irish heritage by taking in The Philadelphia Irish Festival at Penns Landing for more than 20 years. That translates to thousands of Irish or those who just want to be Irish for the day. You can add to those impressive stats. The festival is coming up again on June 2. Best of all—it’s free.
Part of the PECO Multicultural Series, the festival offers a day of great Irish tunes, dance, food and drink, vendors, and plenty of activities for the kiddies.
“It’s a family-friendly event,” says organizer Michael Bradley. “It attracts everybody from newborns to people in their 90s. Everybody’s welcome. It’s a nice way to get your family out and to keep the Irish tradition alive, at a beautiful location along the river. It’s just a really neat place to be.”
Free admission means people who might be struggling financially can come out and enjoy the music, the vendors and all the rest. “It’s not a price-conscious thing,” Bradley says. “You don’t see free admission too much anymore.”
Yes, there are kilts—in at least one case, obligatory. Sure, there’s ax throwing, bagpipes, a kilted fun run, and highland games. But Kilt Fest, coming to Bucks County June 7 and 8, is really a mishmash of all Celtic culture.
Kilt Fest on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware is an offshoot of a festival by the same name held in New Jersey. This will be the first year here in the Philadelphia suburbs, at the Trifecta Sporting Club, 4666 East Bristol Road, Feasterville-Trevose.
“Ours is more of a Celtic festival. We have Irish and Scots,” says organizer Chris Beyer, owner of American Highlander Kilts. “A lot of it is Irish. It’s easier to get Irish involved in these things. We try to keep it where it’s a little more all-inclusive.”
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.