Longtime Philadelphia Ceili Group member Jim McGill shared an old program with Mick Moloney before his concert with Robbie O’Connell and Jimmy Keane Saturday night at the Philadelphia Irish Center/Commodore Barry Club.
I didn’t get a look at it, but it was from the first time Mick played at the center, many years ago. It was a photo, of course, of a much younger and bushier Mick Moloney. O’Connell had a look at it and he drew laughs from the audience when he described Moloney as looking like “Sasquatch with a banjo.”
That’s kind of how the evening went. A concert with these three masters of the trade is an informal affair. They all had stories to tell—moonshine and the Tennessee World’s Fair figured prominently in one particularly quirky tale—and even though the three of them were up on stage in the bright lights and the rest of us were sitting in the ballroom in the dark, it felt like a much smaller room, with friends sharing gossip, a few well-worn tunes and a drink or two.
Better to show you than to tell you. So what we have is three videos and a small collection of photos from the concert. Hope you like them. Continue Reading
In some ways, we’ve entered a post-St. Patrick’s Day lull. In other ways, with the commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising, we’re heading into another period of celebration, with multiple events. You can read more about them here.
As for the rest of this week, a reminder that we’re up to our keisters in traditional Irish music sessions. You can get details on many of them on our calendar. With the exception of the sessions conspicuously not on our calendar. (Hey, you guys: free advertising! Get off your keisters and post them!) BTW, “keister” is ancient Irish Gaelic. It means “buns.” (OK, now we’re totally making this up.)
Here’s what else to look for this week—and, by the way, the second one is a biggie for you Celtic Thunder fans. Of which there are literally herds. Continue Reading
Philly Police and Fire is the only foreign band invited to take part in one of the official commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising, to be held Easter Monday in Ashbourne, County Meath.
Thirty members of the band, all cops and firefighters, are making the trip, said Philly paramedic Mark O’Donnell, the band master, music director and pipe major, in an interview Thursday, just a few hours before the band’s departure out of Newark. Continue Reading
There were three of us down along the parade route on Sunday: Denise Foley, Gwyneth MacArthur and me. Between the three of us, we had the parade well and truly covered, from the first blast of the air horn to the final pints.
I could yammer on. I’ve been known to do that. I had an editor who said I couldn’t clear my throat in less than 2,000 words.
Better, though, to let the pictures tell the story. That’s what you want, anyway, right?
It was a picture-perfect day down at Front and Chestnut, site of Philly’s imposing Irish Memorial.
While lots of people were remembering St. Patrick’s Day by wandering from bar to bar, wearing goofy hats, tacky t-shirts and green plastic Mardi Gras beads—and actually, we won’t bust your chops too much—a very large crowd of Irish and Irish-Americans honored the memory of those who got us her in the first place.
As they do every year, they celebrated in song—thank you, Theresa Marie Flanagan, for your rendition of “James Connelly”—and in dance.
They prayed for the memory of those who fled Ireland during An Gorta Mor—the Great Hunger.
They gave speeches. (Mayor Kenney’s was particularly moving.) They planted shamrocks. They laid a wreath.
How do you capture the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day in one video? You broadcast the whole thing live on television.
Guess what? We have one lonely guy with a small video camera, running back and forth, and also shooting stills.
So we did the next best thing. We shot what we could, with an emphasis on action. If it danced or played, we tried to get it. Obviously, we didn’t capture everything that moved. If your band or dance school isn’t there, it’s not because we don’t love you. (You know that we do!) What we did instead was try to put together a little sampler that captures the fun and excitement of the parade in a little over five minutes.
A large crowd gathered Sunday at West Laurel Hill Cemetery to remember the 57 Irish immigrants from Donegal, Tyrone, and Derry who came to work on the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad in June 1832, and who died six weeks after they arrived on a lonely stretch of track in Malvern.
Brothers Bill and Frank Watson have led the archeological research leading to the discovery of their hidden grave, and they continue to unravel the secrets of the victims—including the lone woman, Catherine Burns, whose remains were repatriated to her native County Tyrone last July. Among the speakers: Bill and Frank Watson, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, and Donegal Association President Frank McDonnell.
Given the ignominious death of the Irish immigrants and the prejudice they endured, the memorial ceremony brought to mind many of the issues currently being raised during the current presidential campaign.
“Let us not forget that when somebody says something ugly about newcomers in this country today, they’re talking about these men,” said Mayor Kenney, turning toward the large Celtic cross memorial. “They’re talking about my ancestors. They’re talking about your ancestors.”
We have close to 25 photos from the ceremony, and one video that sums it all up. Continue Reading