Jim Reardon of Havertown was there because of Christmas 1976, the day he returned to his Dublin home after visiting friends to learn that it wasn’t because of a card game—“we were a great house for cards,” he says—that the house was teeming with people in the middle of the night. Reardon’s father had been found dead. Laid off after 50 years at the same job, he committed suicide.
Siobhan Towey Regan of Glenside was there was there for her cousin, a young man in his 20s, who also killed himself.
Joan Freeman of Dublin was there because of her sister, Catherine. A 54-year-old mother of four, she too died by her own hand.
You have two ways to celebrate the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising this weekend and another mid-week.
On Saturday, Cherish the Ladies will be at the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia playing tunes that celebrate this major event in Irish history. At least two local performers will be joining them onstage: Gabriel Donohue and Marian Makins, who produced a special song honoring one of the women of the revolution, Countess Constance Markievicz, which has been getting air time both in the US and Ireland.
On Sunday, the annual Easter Rising commemoration takes place at Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon at the graves of Joseph McGarrity, considered the financier of the rising, and Luke Dillon, who was part of a bombing campaign in England and Canada. This ceremony will be followed by an event at Oaks Ballroom in Glenolden with music by The Spirit of 16 and food and drink.
Imagine, said Villanova History Professor Craig Bailey, PhD, that in 1776, the Revolutionary army under the command of General George Washington had lost to the British and “all our founding fathers were captured and executed.”
Although Bailey was preaching to the converted and well-versed this week at Villanova University’s Falvey Library—many in the audience were members of the region’s 1916 Easter Rising commemoration group—it was an apt way of putting the 1916 Irish rebellion into a perspective the average American could understand. It was the lost battle that eventually led to Ireland’s independence,
The Proclamation read on the steps of the General Post Office in Dublin by teacher and revolutionary Padraig Pearse, addressed to “Irish men and Irish women,” owes at least some of its sentiment to Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence prose aimed at freeing American men and American women from the yoke of British colonialism.
The Conshohocken St. Patrick’s Day Parade may only stretch out for a mile, but it’s jam-packed with marchers, bands, dancers, and floats. The sidewalks in this small town are also jam-packed, and there seem to be more people every year. It’s become such a tradition, some families show up decked out in green with food, drink, lawn chairs and even tables!
The festivities started with a 5K race up and down Fayette Street a few times, an outing that also brought out families who were running together.
John Tobin was grand marshal.
You can see our photos of the parade and the 5K below.
The Dropkick Murphy’s front man Ken Casey doesn’t just give his name to his charity, The Claddagh Fund—he gives his all. When DKM blew into town last weekend for a sold-out concert, part of its 20th anniversary tour, at The Electric Factory, Casey and crew carried a banner in the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade promoting the band and the charity, which raises money to help underfunded nonprofits in Boston and Philadelphia.
One of the Boston-born Casey’s pet projects is any organization that serves military veterans, so he met with some from one of the Claddagh Fund’s grantees, Healing Ajax, backstage before the show, where they mingled with fans who made donations to the fund to get into the meet-and-greet.
Healing Ajax is a peer support program in which veterans help other veterans adjust from the battlefield to the homefront. Many of the vets are young men from the Iraq and Afghanistan fronts who may be dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, or other mental health issues.
It’s not over yet! Remember, it’s Irish Heritage month, so there are still plenty of ways to be Irish this week!
Irish musician, songwriter and producer Phil Coulter–winner of 23 platinum discs and a Grammy nominee—will be at the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center with popular singer Andy Cooney on Saturday night. He’s best known for his solo instrumental albums and for being part of the creative brains behind Celtic Thunder, the ultra-popular group of male singers whose fans, known as Thunderheads, follow them all around the country.
Andy Cooney is an Irish-American singer from Long Island who began his career at 17. He was already touring with Irish bandleader Paddy Noonan by the time he was 19. He’s one of the “New York Tenors,” and has performed to sell-out crowds at Carnegie Hall.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney recalled the first time he ever met Paul Doris. Doris, who was born in County Tyrone and came to the US in 1974, drove Kenney and then Mayor Ed Rendell to the Philadelphia airport to meet Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams, who had finally gotten a visa to come to the United States. On the way in Doris’s station wagon, said Mayor Kenney at Thursday’s pre-St. Patrick’s Day Parade ceremonies at City Hall, he and Doris gave Mayor Rendell a short course in Irish politics before he met the famed Northern Irish politician. “Not being Irish, he really didn’t know much,” said Kenney.
So when Kenney hugged Doris, this year’s parade grand marshal, it was the real deal–two old friends, in different places in their lives, meeting up again and bonding over Irish things.
Kenney used the moment to draw a parallel between the antipathy towards the immigrants of today and the Irish immigrants who came to the city in droves, fleeing starvation and oppression in their native land. “As we debate this issue, let’s remember 1844 when a group called the ‘know nothings,’ or nativists” burned down two Catholic Churches and took part in a “pitched battle” with troops at another because of anti-Catholic and anti-Irish sentiment. That bigotry was “directed to us very vigorously and violently,” said the mayor, the first Irish mayor in this very Irish city in 20 years.
You can’t walk through Gloucester City, NJ, without bumping into an Irishman. It has the ninth largest Irish population in the US and has had its share of Irish Festivals, but never a St. Patrick’s Day parade. Until last week.
Photographer Bob Glennan was there and he captured all the joy and fun at Gloucester City’s first.