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Jeff Meade

How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

It’s baaaaaaaaaaack!

This week, highlights include a delish Sunday dinner, music, and a fund-raiser. Here’s what’s up.

  • On Saturday, November 3, at the Commodore Barry Arts and Cultural Center (The Irish Center) … the Mayo Association of Philadelphia’s 113th Annual Mayo Ball! Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door for $30. Dinner will be available starting at 6 p.m. for an additional $25. The Center is at 6815 Emlen Street in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia.
  • Mick Moloney & Friends return to St. Malachy Church, 1429 N. 11th Street. in North Philadelphia Sunday, November 4. The show starts at 2 p.m. Always a memorable performance. No tickets are required but a free-will donation to support St. Malachy School will be collected at the concert intermission.
  • Sona Pub & Kitchen, at 4417 Main Street in Manayunk, is hosting a Sunday Carvery Sunday, November 4, from 3 to 6:30 p.m. If you’re looking for a delish Sunday dinner, here’s a good place to start. It’s a three-course dinner, with live Irish entertainment from Davie Furey. Among the other tasty entrees—ham, salon, roast beef and much more—you can chow down on turkey with stuffing. Get an early preview of your Thanksgiving feast. More details on Facebook:
  • Also on Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., get your breakfast at the Commodore Barry Arts and Cultural Center. It’s a great value, and a splendid opportunity to check out the Center, if you’ve never been. The full menu is here:
  • On Saturday, November 10, Celtic Connection returns to Breen’s Tavern, 704 Huntingdon Pike in Rockledge, from 8 p.m. to midnight. Guest singers and players are welcome. Prep your party piece.
  • Also on Saturday, November 10, this one starting at 8 p.m., check out the John Byrne Band at The Locks at Sona, 4417 Main Street in Manayunk. More details here:
  • The Irish Immigration Center is hosting Youth Mental Health First Aid classes, designed for adults who assist young people. The class is eight hours long, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Saturday, November 10. The course introduces common mental health issues confronting young people, reviews adolescent development, and teaches how to help youth in crisis and non-crisis situations. Places are limited. Call the Irish Immigration Center at 610-789-6355.
  • Finally, on Sunday, November 11, the AOH/LAOH Annual Fund-Raiser for Irish charities and educational organizations in the North of Ireland. Philadelphia FOP Lodge 5, 11630 Caroline Road in Northeast Philly. Starts at 3 p.m., lasts till 7 p.m. Guest speaker: Carmel Quinn of Relatives for Justice. The $35 donation includes, buffet, beer and soft drinks. You can get tickets at the door. To reserve group tables in advance, contact Pearse Kerr at 267-253-9001.

As always, you can find lots more, including traditional Irish sessions, on our Irish events calendar, here:

If you have an Irish-related event in the Greater Philadelphia/Delaware Valley area, you can also submit your event here:

Your event will appear both on our calendar and the Irish Immigration Center of Philadelphia’s website.


Chris Hagy’s Journey: Irish Fiddling Still Takes Her Away

Chris Brennan Hagy is one of the area’s best-known Irish fiddlers. She is devoted to teaching, retaining and sharing the tradition, and a longtime fixture at area Irish music sessions—including the Mermaid Inn in Chestnut Hill, where she is the leader.

You might think she came by her love of Irish fiddling naturally.

On the one hand, it seems like it was preordained. Music has always played a part in her life, dating back to her childhood on Long Island. Continue Reading

Food & Drink, People

AOH Delco Division Eagles Fund-Raiser Goal: Keep Some Local Families Warm This Winter

The Eagles are squaring off against the Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London this Sunday. Here’s hoping the Birds warm to the challenge.

If you’re planning on watching the game in Delaware County when it airs at 9:30 a.m., you can catch the game, snag a great breakfast, and help keep some of the county’s neediest stay warm this winter in the process.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians Dennis Kelly Division No. 1 of Havertown is hosting a benefit for their home heating program at Hanrahan’s Irish Pub, 690 Burmont Road in Drexel Hill. Doors open at 8 a.m. There’s no charge to get into the pub, but there is a great breakfast buffet to be had for just $12, which includes your first Mimosa or Bloody Mary. The division gets a cut, which will be devoted to the home heating program, according to organizer and division board member Jim McCusker. Tickets for the buffet can be bought at the door. Continue Reading


Get Your Halloween On for the Derry Ball!

The Donegal Ball has its Mary from Dungloe.

The Mayo Ball has its Miss Mayo.

Philadelphia’s Sons and Daughters of Derry just might have their Frankenstein. Or Dracula. Or any number of attendees in full Halloween regalia.

It’s no coincidence that the Derry Society has chosen to have a Halloween Ball and Costume Contest, scheduled for October 27 at 8 p.m. at the Commodore John Barry Arts and Cultural Center—aka the Irish Center. Continue Reading

Audio, News, People

“Martin McGuinness: The Man I Knew”

Author, journalist and broadcaster Jude Collins visited the Commodore John Barry Arts and Cultural Center in Philadelphia Sunday to give a talk on his new book, Martin McGuinness: The Man I Knew (Mercier Press).

The book is a collection of interviews with prominent figures in recent Northern Irish history, all reflecting on the late Martin McGuinness, prominent Irish republican Sinn Féin politician, a warrior turned peacemaker, who became deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.

McGuiness died in 2017.

Among those interviewed are prominent unionists, including Eileen Paisley (widow of Ian Paisley), Michael McGimpsey and John McAllister, peace talks chairman U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, and friends and allies such as Gerry Adams and Martina Anderson.

Was McGuinness, as some thought, a terrorist who somehow became a different man? Or was he, as others believed, always the same man—a man who never wavered in his pursuit of the same goal but who, when the time came, simply embraced a new approach?

Collins digs deep to find the answers to this and many other questions. He sat with us for a brief interview preceding his talk.

Here’s what he had to say.

Editor’s note: All Irish Philly podcasts are now available on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn and Spotify.


Music and Dance! Kevin McGillian Ceili Set for Saturday

Everyone who is anyone in the Philadelphia area traditional Irish music scene knows of, has met, or been influenced or encouraged by the late accordion player Kevin McGillian.

McGillian, born in County Tyrone, passed away April 1 at the age of 90. To say he is deeply missed is a vast understatement.

However, his music lives on this Saturday night as Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann’s Delaware Valley Chapter hosts its Kevin McGillian Ceili at the MacSwiney Club, 510 Greenwood Avenue in Jenkintown, Pa. Continue Reading

Arts, Audio

Audio Podcast: Interview with Peggy Mecham, Director of the Irish Heritage Theatre’s Presentation of “The Plough and the Stars”

The 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, which ultimately led to the liberation of Ireland after centuries of British rule—in all but six counties, of course—has been celebrated proudly in Philadelphia with parades and speeches. That historic event is about to be observed again in another way, through the words of Irish playwright Sean O’Casey—and through the eyes of the Dublin underclass.

From May 26 through June 11 at Plays and Players Theatre, the Irish Heritage Theatre is presenting O’Casey’s “The Plough and the Stars,” the final episode in O’Casey’s Dublin Trilogy.  (Details and tickets here.)

IHT presented “The Shadow of a Gunman” two years ago, and “Juno and the Paycock” last year. It’s no accident that “The Plough and the Stars” is being presented in this, the centennial year. According to director Peggy Mecham, that was always part of the plan. The last two acts of the four-act play take place during the Rising, as experienced by Dublin tenement dwellers.

Mecham took a break during rehearsal to have a chat about O’Casey in general and “The Plough and Stars” in particular.

Audio, Music

Audio Podcast: Interview with Celtic Woman’s Máiréad Carlin

Celtic Woman’s Destiny World Tour is coming to Reading, Pa., June 18, 2016, at the Santander Performing Arts Center in Reading. If you’re willing to drive a little farther, you can also catch them at Eisenhower Auditorium in University Park the night before.

We interviewed singer Máiréad Carlin, one of the four current members of the troupe, which began in 2004 and took off from there.

Máiréad is classically trained, with a background in opera and folk music. She’s well known in her native Northern Ireland for many things, not the least of which is her duet with Glee’s Damian McGinty, singing Carly Simon’s “Let the River Run,” celebrating Derry’s designation as City of Culture in 2013.

She joined Celtic Woman in August of the same year.

We spoke to Máiréad about her career, about going Celtic Woman, and about music generally and what it means to her. We started by asking her: Why is the world still so enamored of Irish music and dance, more than 20 years after Riverdance.

Here’s what she had to say.