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Music, News

Good News RUNA Lovers–They’re Playing at Home!

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. Continue Reading

Music, News, People, Photos, Videos

On To 25 Years!

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.) Continue Reading

How to Be Irish in Philly, Music

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

We’re just a week away from the 24th annual Greater Philadelphia Mid-Winter Scottish and Irish Music Festival at the Valley Forge Events Center in King of Prussia. And as usual, organizer Bill Reid has come up with about a hundred ways to have a fabulous weekend of music, dance, food, drink, and other great Celtic stuff (sword fight, anyone?) just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Many local performers and bands, including The John Byrne Band, Jamison, The Hooligans, Oliver McElhone, Timlin & Kane, Charlie Zahm and Tad Marks, Gabriel Donohue and Seamus Kennedy (back by popular demand) will be on stage, along with long-time festival favorites Albannach, the Brigadoons, Searson, the Screaming Orphans, the MacLeod Fiddlers and the Washington Memorial Pipers and Drummers. While fan favorite Brother isn’t on the bill, the group’s Angus Richardson will be there. And new this year, the Canadian Celtic rock group, the Mudmen will be rousing the rabble, starting on Friday night, February 12.

This could be the perfect time for you to learn Irish, ceili dancing, and how to tell the difference between whiskies—there are also workshops daily over the three-day event. There’s always a great array of vendors whether you’re interested in jewelry, kilts, or haggis-flavored potato chips. Continue Reading


Celtic Thunder’s Emmet Cahill Encores at The Irish Center

Celtic Thunder fans: Are you ready for an encore?

CT’s young tenor, 25-uear-old Emmet Cahill, is returning to The Commodore Barry Club (The Irish Center) in Philadelphia on Monday, February 8, with pianist Seamus Brett for part two of his solo tour before rejoining the world’s most famous Irish boy group. He’s looking forward to it, and not just because of the warm welcome he got when he was there in May 2015.

“When I stop in a place like the Irish Center I genuinely feel at home,” says Cahill, speaking on the phone from his home in Westmeath. “A lot of the people have Irish accents and they’re sitting at the bar drinking Guinness. There’s a great community at the Commodore Barry Club. A lot of people hung around after the show at the bar and it was great craic.” Continue Reading

Dance, Music, News, Photos, Videos

Need a Little Christmas? Right This Very Minute?

We got your Christmas.

This past week saw more than a few Irish holiday-oriented events, and we have souvenirs from three.

On Sunday, the Divine Providence Village Rainbow Irish Step Dancers joined the Tara Gael Dancers at the Irish Center for a memorable Christmas show. The Rainbow dancers are a group of developmentally disabled women taught by local Irish step dancer Kathy Madigan. They live at the archdiocesan home in Delaware County.

They never fail to inspire, and their most recent holiday performance was no exception. Continue Reading

Mick and Liz
Music, Videos

Watch: Two Great St. Malachy Concert Videos

You can read about Ed Reavy on Wikipedia:

“Ed Reavy was an Irish-American musician, composer of numerous traditional Irish dance tunes. Born in Barnagrove, County Cavan, he emigrated to Philadelphia in 1912 where he settled in the Irish-American enclave of Corktown.”

Or you can just get out of Wikipedia altogether and listen to some of the finest traditional Irish musicians play Reavy’s music. We recommend the latter. One note is worth a thousand words.

Mick Moloney and friends, playing at the 28th annual Irish Concert at St. Malachy Church last Sunday, ripped through a bunch of Reavy tunes as their last full set. We have the video here. You’ll be listening to Mick, uilleann piper Jerry O’Sullivan, accordion player Billy McComiskey, local fiddle phenom Alexander Weir, four-time All-Ireland fiddler Dylan Foley, concertina great Brenda Castles, and fiddler Liz Hanley. Continue Reading

Liz Hanley
Music, Photos, Religion

28th Annual Mick Moloney & Friends Concert in Photos

Every year someone says it, and every year it seems true: “This is the biggest crowd ever.”

Since virtually every pew in St. Malachy’s Church, the historically Irish church in North Philadelphia, was full, and there were people standing in the back, you can take it as read.

Also present in spirit, was Sister Cecile Anne Reiley, SSJ, a force of nature who did so much for so many years for the parish and its highly regarded school. One of her many labors of love was organizing the annual Irish concert. This year’s event was dedicated to her. Continue Reading

Music, News, People, Videos

Video: The Emerald Pipe Band, from Then Till Now

It started out as a police and fire band—only there weren’t really enough cops and firefighters to fill out an entire band. So membership in the Philadelphia Emerald Society Pipe Band was opened up to civilians.

From that point on, the band has moved from its humble beginnings in an American Legion hall, marching in parades throughout the Delaware Valley, to its longtime practice hall in the ballroom at the Philadelphia Irish Center/Commodore Barry Club. After that move, the band became an integral part of the Irish community, playing for everything from county banquets to the annual Joe McGarrity memorial in Holy Cross Cemetery to—of course—the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day parade. Continue Reading