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Lori Lander Murphy

News, People

Meet Sister Marguerite O’Beirne, 2019 Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame

Father Suresh Raj, OFM Cap., Neumann Chaplain with Sister Marguerite

Sister Marguerite O’Beirne has covered some considerable distance in her life and journeyed far greater than the 3,176 miles it took to get from Cloonloo, County Sligo, to Neumann University in Aston, Pennsylvania. But at the heart and soul of every step taken has been both the presence of faith and her dedication to the importance of education.

Born in 1942 to Joseph O’Beirne and Margaret Mullen, in a time not so long ago, but when electricity had not yet arrived in the rural areas of Ireland, Sister Marguerite was one of six children. Part of a close and loving family, her office at Neumann, where she has been vice president for Mission and Ministry since 1997, is adorned with photos of siblings, nieces and nephews and her home back in Sligo.

After her days as a student at St. Ronan’s National School in Cloonloo (the Irish spelling is “Cluain Lough,” meaning “Meadow by the Lake,” which in this case is Lough Gara), she attended the Convent of Mercy Secondary School in Boyle. It was there that her opportunity to continue her own education availed itself. Representatives from several religious congregations visited the school to invite the young women to join them. Sister Marguerite was drawn to the mission of the the Sisters of St. Francis, and in 1958 she went to Mallow in County Cork for six months of studying there. She learned that she was going to the Sisters of St. Francis in Philadelphia, and in January of 1959 she was one of a group to start a new life in the United States. Continue Reading

News, People

2019 Commodore John Barry Award Recipient: Russ Wylie

Russ Wylie, second from right

“The way I approach it is, if I can be kind to others in my little orbit, in my family and the people who are around me, if everybody did that, it would be a wonderful world. So I’ll just keep trying to do that. And that’s the best I can do.”

If, indeed, everyone was able to do just a small bit of what Russ Wylie does, the world would be a better-than-wonderful place. The man who is being honored this year with the Commodore John Barry Award by the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame has lived a life guided by that principle, one that along the way has resulted in considerable and far reaching contributions to the Philadelphia Irish community. His work on behalf of the 69th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Old St. Mary’s Church, the Commodore John Barry Memorial at the United States Naval Academy, St. Anne’s Church, Duffy’s Cut and the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick has insured that the people who may have once been consigned to merely a place in history will instead live on for future generations to know and actively remember.

Born in 1949 and raised in South Plainfield, N.J., Russ grew up influenced by the kind of example he himself lives by today. He describes his father, Russell D. Wylie, as “the kindest man that I’ve ever known.” Trained as a machinist, his dad worked his way up to the position of plant manager at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J., which at the time was the top research facility in the world. “He was fascinated by scientific things. He didn’t go to college, he went to technical school. But he could do anything. He and his dad had a custom auto care business in Plainfield, where they would do custom upholstery, redo convertible tops, work on the inside and do bodywork. They’d even do custom work for private airplanes. My dad taught me a lot of stuff, we had a workshop down in the cellar of our house, and he taught me carpentry, painting … we had a lot of good memories working together in the shop downstairs. My mom [Edwina Hazen] was a nice lady, she loved gardening and was very close to her sister, my Aunt Marian. I’m very fortunate to have been drawn to my parents in this life.” Continue Reading

Arts, History, News, People

A Night at the Museum of the American Revolution

Two Portraits of Richard St. George

During a multi-day visit to Philadelphia, where most of the focus fell on the modern era politics of Brexit and the interest of the Irish diaspora, Ambassador Daniel Mulhall’s presence at the Museum of the American Revolution’s launch of their new exhibit “Cost of Revolution: The Life and Death of an Irish Soldier” was an opportunity to talk history.

Ambassador Mulhall, along with Dr. Martin Mansergh, historian and former Irish political advisor who helped negotiate the Good Friday Agreement, gave context and insight into the influence of the American Revolution on Ireland’s own path to independence. In addition, Dr. Mansergh is a descendant of Richard St. George Mansergh-St. George (from here on referred to as Richard St. George, as he is in the Museum’s exhibit) who is the subject of the “Cost of Revolution” exhibition, providing a personal connection to the historical narrative.

The evening’s events were planned by an Honorary Event Committee including Honorary Chair, Governor Edward G. Rendell; State Representative Mike Driscoll; Charles E. Hopkins; Marita Krivda Poxon; Kevin Kent, Esquire; Honorable James Murray Lynn; Joseph S. Martz; Edward D. McBride and Kathleen M. Sullivan. The crowd was welcomed in by bagpipers William Watson, Frank Watson, Tom Conner and Lee Nolan, and then treated to traditional Irish music throughout the evening performed by musicians including Paddy O’Neill, John McGillian and Darin Kelly. Continue Reading

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