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Lori Lander Murphy

Arts, Music, Videos

Dave Curley in Concert

There’s not much that can top the pleasure of spending a Sunday evening in early June listening to Dave Curley performing live for the Philadelphia Ceili Group. And the crowd gathered at the Commodore John Barry Arts & Cultural Center last week got to bask in the experience firsthand. It won’t be the same as being there yourself, but Irish Philadelphia captured a few of Dave’s songs on video which we bring to you here.

Hailing from Corofin in County Galway, Dave is a triple threat in the world of Irish music: a multi-instrumentalist, a singer and a dancer. For the past several years, he’s been touring with the groups SLIDE and RUNA, and more recently he’s been performing with fellow SLIDE bandmate, Mick Broderick (the duo released an acclaimed CD that can be found on his website).

But Dave Curley performing solo is a treat for the ears that shouldn’t be missed. If you’re able to be in the York County vicinity tomorrow, Saturday, June 15th, be sure to catch him at the Penn-Mar Irish Festival. At the very least, watch the videos and be sure not to miss him the next time he’s in the area!

Music, News, Videos

Scenes from the Jarlath Henderson Concert (And a Preview of Some Upcoming Ceili Group Events)

Last Friday, the Philadelphia Ceili Group brought multi-instrumentalist and award-winning folk singer Jarlath Henderson to a very appreciative Delaware Valley audience (with some driving from as far away as Reading in rush hour traffic to attend). And with a crowd of nearly 50 people in attendance at the Fireside Room of the Commodore John Barry Arts & Cultural Center (AKA The Irish Center) in Mount Airy, the evening was one of brilliant tunes and songs, with Jarlath stunning on pipes (both uilleann and vocal) and accompanied by the talented Glasgow-born Innes Watson on guitar (one audience member was overheard exclaiming “He makes that guitar talk!”). To check out where you can see them perform as they continue their U.S. tour, and to order their CDs, check out Jarlath’s website.

This is just the kick-off to a number of upcoming concerts the Ceili Group is sponsoring, several as a co-production with the Irish Center. First up is next Thursday, May 16, when they bring Beoga to town. In case you haven’t heard, the self-described “new-wave trad” super-group recently shot into the stratosphere when they performed on two Ed Sheeran songs: “Galway Girl” and “Nancy Mulligan.”

Then, on Sunday, June 9, they will be presenting David Curley in concert. Dave is an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist who plays guitar, mandolin, banjo and bodhran, sings and does some Irish dancing as well. He is part of the band RUNA, as well as being a member of SLIDE. Continue Reading

News

Irish Genealogy Group’s Expanding Roots

Aengus Lawlor’s Presentation on Griffith’s Valuation at the April 9th Meeting

 

For over eight years, the Irish Immigration Center in Upper Darby has been steadily and surely attracting a growing crowd of dedicated researchers to their monthly genealogy group. Meeting on the second Tuesday of each month, the gathering has been led by Pat Corey for the past few years. For many people, including myself, who have heard how helpful, valuable, worthwhile and welcoming this group is but are unable to attend the daytime meeting, the Immigration Center has come up with a solution: beginning Thursday, April 25, a second, evening group will be meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. on the last Thursday of every month.

“We get a lot of phone calls from people inquiring about the genealogy group. They want to attend, but because of work and other commitments, aren’t able to make a meeting held in the middle of the day,” Nicola Bell, the Center’s Community Programs and Communications Director, explained.

About a month ago, the Center’s Executive Director, Emily Norton Ashinhurst, and I also discussed this. She knew of my interest and experience in genealogy and the podcasts I had recently started recording for this website. She had several members of the current group who were on board to assist with facilitating a second, evening meeting, but didn’t necessarily want to lead it regularly. She asked if I would be interested. I thought about it for about two seconds, and answered with a resounding, “Yes!”

Attending this month’s daytime meeting on Tuesday to get a sense of how the current group runs, I was struck by the genuine camaraderie and appreciation shown for each other’s research. With over 30 people in attendance (some meetings have seen as many as 60), everyone there came away with some new insight into how to further their own search for ancestors. Pat Corey has done a wonderful job of growing this group and providing guidance and leadership while making everyone feel like this is their meeting. I was also overwhelmed by how many people said that they plan on attending the evening meeting as well the daytime meeting from now on.

And that is what I envision the Thursday night group to be, a welcoming second place to come and share a love of all things genealogical. With current members Aengus Lawlor (who did an incredibly informative presentation on Griffith’s Valuation at Tuesday’s meeting) and Bill McCray on board to help facilitate, there will be a monthly topic to focus on, guest speakers, and lots of discussion.

Nicola Bell summed it up best when she relayed some of the comments and questions she gets from people enquiring about the meetings: “People will say, ‘I’m not Irish, can I join?’ And ‘I have no experience, can I come?’ And “I don’t know where to start, will I be welcome?’ I tell them all, ‘Of course. Everybody’s welcome.’”

“Everybody’s Welcome.” That will be the topic for the first evening meeting. Come out and join us at The Irish Immigration Center at 7 South Cedar Lane, Upper Darby, Pa., 19082, Thursday, April 25th at 7 p.m. For more information, check out the Immigration Center’s website and the Facebook Events page.

Can’t wait for the meeting? Listen to the “Who’s Your Granny” podcasts on “Tea with Irish Philly.

Podcast: A Beginner’s Guide to Irish Genealogy

Podcast: The Ins and Outs of DNA Testing

Music, News, People

Mick Moloney & Friends At the Kelly House

Occasionally, there is an occurrence of the kind of inspired synchronicity that causes one to say, “Ah, yes, it was meant to be.”

Wednesday evening at the restored Kelly House in East Falls was just that sort of occurrence. An enthralled audience of about 50 listened as Irish musician and folklorist Mick Moloney presented, for the first time, the Princess Grace Irish-American Sheet Music Collection. The talk was followed by the performance of several of the songs by Mick, Athena Tergis and Liz Hanley.

The Kelly House, in a partnership with the Center for Irish Studies at Villanova University and its director, Dr. Joseph Lennon, is fulfilling one of the missions set forth by Prince Albert of Monaco when he purchased the family home several years ago. With the assistance of, and collaboration between, family members Susan Kelly Von Medicus and her brother John B. Kelly III in Philadelphia, the house is taking on a new life and purpose. Continue Reading

History, News

Duffy’s Cut Memorial 2019

Neither rain, nor rapidly dropping temperatures that changed the rain to snow, could keep away the crowd that gathered Sunday at West Laurel Hill Cemetery to honor the 57 Irish laborers who died at Duffy’s Cut in the summer of 1832. The story of the workers who came from Counties Donegal, Tyrone and Derry to build Mile 59 of the Pennsylvania Railroad, but who were all dead within six weeks of their arrival, is one that has been brought out of the shadows of history by brothers William and Frank Watson. Along with a strong team of volunteers and supporters, they continue to work to recover the bodies of all 57 men and women.

Of the seven that have been reclaimed, two have returned home to Ireland. John Ruddy, from Donegal, is buried in Ardara in a grave donated by Vince Gallagher, and Catherine Burns rests in Clonoe Parish in her home county of Tyrone. Here in West Laurel Hill, all were remembered on the 7th anniversary of the dedication of the memorial.

The tribute included a procession led by the Duffy’s Cut Pipers, the national anthem of the United States and Ireland sung by Vince Gallagher, and remarks by Nancy Goldenberg as president & CEO of West Laurel Hill, William Watson and Frank Watson, Bob McAllister of the Emerald Society of Chester County, Kathy McGee Burns and Frank McDonnell on behalf of the Donegal Society and a poetry reading by author and historian Marita Krivda. Continue Reading

News

Mary Courtney Sings of Ireland and ‘Freedom’s Pioneers’

She’s been living in NYC since 1982, but Mary Courtney’s voice is pure Irish, the acoustic rendering of an evening around a turf fire, drinking a cuppa fortified with whiskey and honey, while the winds blow in from the west and an ethereal mist shrouds the cottage. It’s a voice that is mighty belting out rebel rock, but exalted when it has a ballad to bestow. It’s a voice that never disappoints, and is able to take old songs to new places.

The Castlegregory, County Kerry, native has a new CD out titled “Freedom’s Pioneers” that pays tribute to heroes of the rebellions Ireland has borne witness to over the last several hundred years. She explained, “I felt that the sacrifice of those souls needed to be remembered and honoured as well.” And not only the Catholics who fought for Ireland, for, as she points out, “A lot of our patriots were Protestants, both those that fought and those who were writers. I feel that their sacrifice is often overlooked, and I hope this CD shines a light on their contributions & highlights the fact that the struggle for freedom was not always split along religious lines.” Continue Reading

People

“You Don’t Realize How Lucky We Are.”

Sister Frances Kirk, SSJ, third from right

On Sunday, November 18, 2018, when Sister Frances Kirk, SSJ, is honored by the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame, it will be for a lifetime devoted to education and service. But it was as chairperson and organizer of Project Children for over 30 years that she was able to make an extraordinary impact on the lives of thousands of children in both the United States and Ireland.

Born in 1932 in Northeast Philadelphia to parents Frank Joseph Kirk and Elizabeth Rose “Lizzie” Falls, who had come over from County Tyrone in the early 1920s, Sister Frances has always embraced her Irish heritage. Nine of the 14 siblings in her mother’s family left their village of Glenelly Valley to make Philadelphia their home, but they kept in close touch with the ones who stayed behind. “Letters, letters, letters,” Sister Frances explained. “And money, money, money. Every letter had to have a five pound note in it. There was no money at home.”

The oldest of the five siblings in her own family, Sister Frances came to the convent at age 19. Though she took a year off after graduating high school to work, she had no doubt that her life would be devoted to the Sisters of St. Joseph. Continue Reading

People

“Denise, You Are Relentless.”

Those were words spoken to Denise Foley—in a good way!—back in 2015 in the middle of her dedicated campaign on the Irish Philadelphia Facebook page to raise money for the Commodore John Barry Arts & Cultural Center in Mount Airy. The Irish Center was looking at thousands of dollars in repairs and back taxes, and as part of the group that had come together to make sure the doors of the center didn’t close, Denise was going to make sure they succeeded.

And succeed they did, raising over $83,000. For Denise, the triumph was as much in how they did it as in the fact that they did it. “This was another case where it was just a great group of people. Everybody did everything they could, everybody was 100 percent behind raising this money. And this was hundreds of people giving $10, $20 … all these people working together for something.” Continue Reading