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.
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.