When you can fill a place where you could hold two wedding receptions simultaneously, you know you’re doing something right. The FOP Hall in Northeast Philadelphia–where the bar is big enough to accommodate a police car and does–was jam-packed on Sunday, February 28, for the biggest ever fundraiser for the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The parade marches down the Parkway on Sunday, March 13.
Fundraiser organizer Mary Frances Fogg, vice president of the St. Patrick’s Day Observance Committee, was a green streak on Sunday as she dashed from raffle tables to the stage for the nonstop prize giving. Fox29 personalities Kathy Orr, Bob Kelly (with his wife, Carrie and son, Austin) and Mike Jerrick were on hand to conduct a pep rally for foils who had plenty of pep to start with. This is Fox29’s first year broadcasting the parade, though it will be Orr’s thirteenth year as parade host. She previously announced the parade when she was chief meteorologist at CBS3, where Kelly was traffic reporter.
Here’s something that will make you happy: Blackthorn is doing happy hour at Tom & Jerry’s Sports Bar in Folsom on Saturday night. And you can catch their old bandmate, Seamus Kelleher, the same evening at The Dubliner on the Delaware in New Hope, a whole different part of the Delaware Valley.
It’s a week filled with Celtic delights, often overlapping. Saturday night you can also see and hear poet, musician, and Gaelic scholar Diarmuid Johnson who is presenting his one-man show, The Crooked Road: A Ramble Through History History in Words and Music at The Irish Center, a program sponsored by the Philadelphia Ceili Group. It’s one of many historical performances you’ll have the opportunity to see in March and April as the region celebrates the centenary of the Irish 1916 Easter Rising, which represented a major step forward in Ireland’s fight to become a nation independent from Britain.
Mary Poppins and Bert the Chimney Sweep took top honors in the Delco Gaels’ “Dancing Like a Star” fundraiser last week.
In their real lives, the winners are really Letterkenny, County Donegal, native Brendan Bradley (as Bert), a Gaels’ coach and brother of last year’s winner Louie Bradley, Gaels’ chairman, and his dance partner, Miriam Gallagher, a pre-school teacher from Glenties, also in County Donegal. The two did a rollicking dance number to a song from the Disney movie, “Mary Poppins” that took them into the audience and, in the case of Gallagher, into the lap of someone in the audience.
More than 700 people crowded into the spacious Springfield Country Club Ballroom to watch four couples—many of whom didn’t know each other until January, when rehearsals began—perform three ballroom dances for a panel of judges and, like the TV show on which it’s based, for audience votes.
Some old favorites–Albannach, Screaming Orphans, Timlin & Kane, Searson, the Brigadoons, Jamison, the Hooligans–were back, but there were some new acts at this year’s Mid-Winter Scottish & Irish Festival. We saw Gabriel Donohue with Vonnie Quinn, the Mudmen, McLean Avenue and, while Brother wasn’t there, Angus Richardson and Drew Reid were and they joined Albannach on stage to make it Albannach Plus 2.
We sampled Scottish barbecue (pork and peat!), fish and chips, McDougall’s Irish Victory Cakes, bacon chocolate (yes, you read that right–it was good), Guinness (thanks Sean Crossan!) and, for the umpteenth year in a row, did not have haggis. (We tasted some in Bethlehem at Celtic Fest–we don’t like liver.)
Irish Consul General from New York Barbara Jones spent a couple of days in Philadelphia meeting with local government leaders and heads of Irish organizations in the region. She was welcomed on Friday night, February 5, with a party at the Irish Center in Philadelphia attended by representatives from many of the county societies and organizations such as the Irish Immigration Center, the Irish Memorial, and the Philadelphia Rose of Tralee Centre.
Vincent Gallagher, president of the Irish Center, provided the music, and the Cummins School of Irish Dance and the Circle of Friends Irish ceili dancers, both headquartered at the Irish Center, provided the dancing.
On Friday, February 26, Irish Consul General Barbara Jones will present three awards to some of the leading lights in the Irish community at the annual Ambassador’s Awards Luncheon sponsored by the Irish American Business Chamber and Network.
The Taoiseach Award for business leadership finally goes to William McLaughlin and his wife and partner, Natalie, of McLaughlin & Morgan, a Philadelphia based business development company with a particular interest in helping American companies do business in Ireland and Irish companies enter the US market. McLaughlin is also the founder of the IABCN. Read our profile of him here.
The Uachtaran Award will be given to Msgr. Michael Doyle, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Camden who, among other things, established a nonprofit community development organization that has renovated homes in the waterfront area and transformed an abandoned movie theater into a gym and community center.
It’s shaping up to be bitterly cold this weekend. Wouldn’t you rather be inside? Well, you’re in luck! The 24th Annual Greater Philadelphia Mid-Winter Scottish and Irish Music Festival and Fair is this weekend, launching Friday night with a concert featuring the wild Scottish percussion band Albannach as well as our own homegrown wild men, The Hooligans. And it’s all happening inside at the Valley Forge Events Center in King of Prussia.
Check the event’s website for a complete lineup with times so you can make your plans.
You’ll see Gerry Timlin with partner Tom Kane at the festival, and Timlin will be going solo Saturday night at what’s shaping up to be THE place to hear Irish music in the region, the Dubliner on the Delaware in New Hope. Timlin will be going on at 8 PM. And, frankly, all night, because that’s the way he is. (He knows we love him.)
A funny thing happened this year to Wayne’s Mary Lou Sterge. The guy who came to remodel her house asked her to dance.
But no, it’s not what you think. The guy was Louie Bradley, chairperson of the board of the Delco Gaels, youth Gaelic sports club in Delaware County. Last year, Bradley was the winner of the silver mirrored trophy, along with dance partner Michelle Quinn, for the Delco Gaels’ “Dancing Like a Star” fundraiser, in which eight couples compete in various dance styles that they’ve learned over several months of intense rehearsals.
“Louie recently remodeled my house. My house looks great, and now I’m dancing,” said Sterge, a fundraiser, after rehearsal last Sunday at the McDade-Cara Irish Dance School studio in Newtown Square. She and her partner, Tom Gregory, were sharing some pizza after an hour of dancing to Ike and Tina Turner’s Proud Mary, he in silver platform shoes he bought from the internet.