New Jersey native Haley Richardson, a young fiddle player well-known within the Philadelphia traditional Irish music community, where her love of the genre first took root, joined the cast of Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin this summer.
Often described as a “child prodigy,” at 17 Haley is no longer a child, and regardless of the honors and accolades thrown her way, remains a thoroughly grounded young lady.
Anyone who has ever heard her play—from her childhood playing an appropriately child-sized violin to her victories at the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann (the world championships of Irish music) and appearances on stage with the likes of The Chieftains—knows those honors and accolades are well-deserved.
We recently spoke with Haley about Riverdance, her upbringing in music, and thoughts on her future. Here’s what she had to say.
Tony DeMarco’s family story isn’t unusual for New York and other big Northeastern cities. He’s the offspring of that classic “Gaelic and garlic” heritage, a DeMarco on one side, and, on his mother’s side, Dempseys.
“I’m in a book that was all about the Irish-Italian condition in New York, called ‘An Unlikely Union’, written by Paul Moses,” says DeMarco. “He goes into the whole story about Italians and Irish in New York, and how they did and didn’t get along. My whole family consists of those kinds of relations and marriages.”
In many, if not most cases, the Catholic church was the common denominator. Italians and Irish were both Catholic, and they settled in the same neighborhoods. “So the dominant nationalities were Italian and Irish and they married a lot, and I’m a product of that,” DeMarco says. “So we had Irish music and good Italian food.” In DeMarco’s estimation, it was the best of both worlds.
Carl “The Jackal” Frampton visited the Philadelphia Irish Center to talk about his August 10, 2019, fight against Emmanuel Dominguez at Temple University’s Liacouras Center. “The Pride of Belfast” held forth on a range of subjects, too, from fatherhood and family to career highlights to his legacy. And he talked about how the next fight could be his last. (Although he expects to win.)
The 2019 Philadelphia Irish Festival at Penn’s Landing is history. A very good festival it was. With temperatures in the 80s and a nice breeze along the Delaware, it was picture-perfect most of the day.
Seamus McGroary, C.J. Mills and Joe Kirschen started playing just after noon, and the tunes flowed on into the afternoon, with the McLean Avenue Band of New York City and Philly band Jamison taking the stage later in the day, undaunted by occasionally threatening skies.
A good-sized crowd showed up to take in the tunes, buy Irish shirts and hats, slurp water ice, sip a brew, feast on funnel cake, or watch the Irish dancers. For the kids, there were balloon hats, face painting and a moon bounce.
Non-stop music on three stages, dance, Irish and Celtic vendors, food and drink—it was all on display Saturday at Philly Fleadh 2019, held on the grounds at Pennsylvania Army National Guard Armory & Readiness Center in Northeast Philadelphia.
In a week during which rain seemed to be falling every day, the Fleadh’s organizers got lucky. It was bright and sunny, and the grounds had mostly dried out. People came with their lawn chairs and set up on the lawn to listen to tunes from such bands and performers such as Oakwyn, The Bogside Rogues, the John Byrne Band, Seamus and CJ, Ray Coleman.
We were there for a good part of the day and tried to capture some of the flavor of this big, exciting event.
The pictures are up top, and here’s a recording of the band Oakwyn playing “Come Out Ye Black and Tans.”
Editor’s note: All Irish Philly podcasts are now available on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn and Spotify.