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.
Hope you love a parade. There are a few of them this weekend.
The biggest is the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday. It marches down the Parkway (and, heads up, around all the construction between the library and the Franklin Institute which PennDOT is referring to as “changing traffic patterns”) to Eakins Oval at the foot of the Philadelphia of Museum of Art. Fox29 is broadcasting the parade this year, but it’s even more fun experienced in person.
Some of the best spots to watch the parade: Around 16th Street, near Tir na nOg, though there’s construction there in Love Plaza that could cut down on the standing and sitting room; around the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul, or, as one experienced parade goer recommended, from inside Con Murphy’s Pub on the Parkway. Seamus McGroary will be performing there.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is hoping that the folks who’ll be wearing the green for the next couple of weeks will be willing to part with the green too—and we’re not talking soda tax here.
Through a unique partnership between the Office of the City Representative and the nonprofit Citizen Diplomacy International (CDI), the mayor is asking the Irish community—and everyone else who feels Irish on St. Patrick’s Day—to donate to a special fund for two of the region’s largest and best known nonprofits established to end hunger and homelessness. It will run through the end of March, which Kenney will be proclaiming Irish Heritage Month at city hall ceremonies on Thursday, March 9.
You’ll be hearing more about the “Wear Green, Give Green” initiative during this Sunday’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade which is being broadcast for the first time on Fox29 TV and, if you stop in to a pub for a pint along the parade route, you can read about it on your coaster, made and donated by Condrake, a Philadelphia printing firm.
The first of several local St. Patrick’s Day parades happens Saturday in Mt. Holly, NJ, with a tent full of music afterward featuring Jamison, the Shantys, Galway Guild, Broken Shillelaghs, the Mulligans and Clancy’s Pistol. The annual Burlington County parade starts at 1 pm. The grand marshal is Bob Tippin, president and co-founder of the AOH Mike Doyle Division of Cinnaminson, NJ and a Philly natve )a grad of Northeast Catholic High School).
This weekend we also welcome a new parade to the tradition. On Sunday, March 6, for the first time ever in one of the biggest Irish enclaves in the region, Gloucester City, NJ, there will be pipers and marching bands celebrating the great and glorious St. Patrick, starting on Monmouth Street. The Gloucester County AOH will also be celebrating the evening before at Richard Rossiter Memorial Hall with its annual Irish Night featuring the Broken Shillelaghs, a buffet, draft beer, wine, dessert and coffee.
There are so many events this week that we’re just going to list them in chronological order.
These days, it’s not unusual for Shannon Lambert-Ryan and her RUNA band members to get recognized in the airport. “We’ll hear, ‘hey, aren’t you from RUNA,” says Lambert-Ryan a Philadelphia native. “We’ve had a lot of fun moments like that and they’ve been steadily increasing.”
One reason is that RUNA spends a lot of time in airports and on the road. They’ve criss-crossed the country, taking their unique brand of Celtic roots music from Canada to Florida, from New England to the Pacific Northwest, picking up fans all over whom they fondly call “RUNAtics.”
“In January we left two and a half feet of snow to head to Florida where it was 80 degrees,. It was bizarre,” says the singer, who founded the band with her Dublin-born husband, Fionan de Barra.
For the first time in its 16-year history, the Philadelphia-based Irish American Business Chamber and Network gave its top award—the Ambassador’s Award—to a company founded in Northern Ireland. The ceremony took place on Friday, February 26, at The Union League in Philadelphia with more than 400 people in attendance
The IABCN honored Almac, a pharmaceutical and health care development company with North American headquarters in Souderton, where it employs more than 1,000 people. The company was founded by Sr. Alan McClay in Craigevon, Northern Ireland.
Also honored were IACBN founder, Bill McLaughlin and his wife, Natalie, who run McLaughlin & Morgan, a business and development firm in Philadelphia (the Taoiseach Award) and Msgr. Michael Doyle, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Camden whose work has led to many improvements in the city’s waterfront area.