It’s the final countdown to Christmas and there are a few things you may want to do instead of shopping and wrapping.
For one thing, the Notre Dame Ladies Gaelic Football Club is having an Ugly Sweater Party at Paddy Rooney’s pub in Havertown on Saturday night. There will be prizes for the best. . .er, ugliest sweater. The event raises money for the footballers.
Also on Saturday, catch Bob Hurst of the Bogside Rogues at Reedy’s Irish Pub Christmas party, 9245 Frankford Avenue in Philadelphia.
The Irish Immigration Center’s annual Christmas party had a bittersweet tinge to it on Thursday night. It’s the last party Siobhan Lyons will preside over as executive director.
The Dublin-born Lyons has taken a new job as CEO of Citizen Diplomacy International of Philadelphia, an international relations organization that, among other things, runs international exchange programs for the federal government and the city of Philadelphia and matches leaders from other countries with their counterparts in the US. Their slogan: “Make friends. Make contacts. Make peace.”
Weatherwise it may feel like spring, but you’ll still get into the Christmas spirit this week in Irish Philadelphia.
This Sunday, musicians Gabriel Donohue and Cathy Maguire will arrive via horse carriage at the Dubliner on the Delaware in New Hope for an afternoon and evening of Christmas and other music. The show benefits Fisherman’s Mark, a Lambertville, NJ, nonprofit serving the local community.
On Wednesday, Cherish the Ladies, along with singer Don Stiffe, will be performing some of the songs and tunes from their new album, “Christmas in Ireland,” at The Grand Opera House, 818 N. Market Street in Wilmington, DE.
This, says writer Liam Porter, is his favorite of the 366 poems he wrote over the course of a year after losing his newspaper job.
It might be a stretch to say that poetry saved Liam Porter’s life, but the longtime newspaper reporter and editor thinks it might have helped turn his life around after he lost his job at The Inishowen Independent during Ireland’s drawn-out economic recession.
Poetry wasn’t the only light he saw in the darkness, but that was a good thing, because there was plenty of darkness.
“I was applying for jobs and going on interviews and not getting any positivity,” says Porter of Raphoe, County Donegal, who has about a dozen family members living in the Philadelphia area. “You begin to devalue your own self-worth. My wife was working, but it was hard to be home every day to see the postman coming and bringing another bill and knowing I couldn’t contribute. Our girls were going to dance classes and all of a sudden we had to say ‘You can’t go there. We don’t have the money.’ It came to the point where I was calculating that maybe they might be better off without me. Then you know you’re not in a good place.”
It’s going to be a very Christmassy week here in Irish Philadelphia land.
An American Celtic Christmas, a multi-media, multi-genre spectacular, produced annually by Frank Daly and CJ Mills of Jamison and American Paddy’s Productions, will be on stage twice on Saturday at Bensalem High School—a matinee at 3 PM and an evening show at 7 PM. Along with Jamison, you’ll hear John Byrne of the John Byrne Band, Bob Hurst of the Bogside Rogues, singer Kimberly Killen Clark, and Sean Hicks. The Celtic Flame School Of Irish Dance and the Bucks County Dance Center will, obviously, be providing the dancing—and it will be thrilling.
On Sunday morning, local Irish folks and organizations will be massing on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum for a photograph to send support and holiday wishes to political prisoners in Northern Ireland. All are welcome.
Still feeling too stuffed to move? Not the case for the teems of Irish dancers from the Mid-Atlantic region that are in Philadelphia this weekend at the Oireachtas, a major competition being held at the Marriott Downtown on Market Street. It’s an annual event, open to the public and a lot of fun, even if you’re competing.
The Donegal Ball is Saturday night at the Irish Center. The Philadelphia Mary from Dungloe, Shannon Alexander, will be giving up her crown to a new Mary who will compete this summer in Dungloe, County Donegal.
There are a few more brass plates on the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame plaque at the Irish Center this week.
Inducted at a gala dinner on Sunday night were Denis Boyle, MD, an Upper Darby doctor who cares for the homeless and undocumented; Kathy DeAngelo and Dennis Gormley, the musical duo who co-founded with friend Chris Brennan-Hagy, an organization that brings along young Irish traditional musicians; and Mary Frances Fogg, vice president of the association that runs the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade, whose government savvy has helped the organization cut through red tape–and who has been known to organize a picket line or two whenever the Irish are maligned.
Every year, Emerald Society Pipe Band members “pipe in” the inductees and this year was no different. Except that they also had to pipe themselves in. The pipe band, which is headquartered at the Irish Center, was given the Commodore Barry Award for their service to the Irish community.