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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

News

Irish Center Audience Hears from Congressman, Irish Ambassador on Brexit Impact

As the days wind down toward a Halloween deadline, Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans seem to shift with the political winds.

Two questions of pressing concern to Ireland remain unsettled:

Will the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union result in a hard customs border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland?

What will be the impact on the Northern Ireland peace process, as codified in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement?

If a Monday night emergency meeting at the Philadelphia Irish Center is any indication, there is keen local interest in the answers to both. Continue Reading

News

Brexit on the Menu as Irish Business Chamber Hosts Northern Irish Diplomat

Dr. Andrew McCormick

What happens next with Brexit is far from clear. The outcome is a moving target.

It’s one man’s job to take the long view, to inform Northern Irish government officials of the range of possibilities, depending on that eventual outcome.

Dr. Andrew McCormick, director of general international relations, is Northern Ireland’s senior civil servant. He spoke before the Irish American Business Chamber & Network in Philadelphia recently to share what he knows—about Brexit’s potential impact on the peace process and how the lingering political uncertainties might affect the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, along with the impact on the economy and U.S. businesses that have headquarters or operations in the north.

In a conversation before the roundtable, McCormick explained his mission during his stateside tour of Irish organizations. Continue Reading

Arts, News

Orbis Books and Villanova University’s Center for Peace and Justice Education Host Event Honoring Daniel Berrigan

NEWS RELEASE: Orbis Books, the publishing arm of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, and Villanova University’s Center for Peace and Justice Education will host an event honoring the late Jesuit priest, poet, prophet and peace activist Daniel Berrigan on Sunday, June 9th, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Driscoll Auditorium of Villanova University. The event is free and the public is invited.

James Carroll, former Catholic priest and award-winning author, will be the featured speaker at the event. Carroll, a fellow activist and former priest on the Catholic Left, was a close friend and spiritual brother of Father Berrigan.

The event will include the unveiling of a commissioned 4- by 5-foot oil portrait of  Father Berrigan by renowned artist Ruane Manning and a book signing and talk by Jim Forest, author of At Play in the Lion’s Den, a memoir and biography of Father Berrigan, followed by a reception and entertainment by Hollis Payer on fiddle and Rob Curto  on accordion. Continue Reading

Dance, Food & Drink, Music, News

A Little Bit of Ireland on the Waterfront

People have been celebrating their Irish heritage by taking in The Philadelphia Irish Festival at Penns Landing for more than 20 years. That translates to thousands of Irish or those who just want to be Irish for the day. You can add to those impressive stats. The festival is coming up again on June 2. Best of all—it’s free.

Part of the PECO Multicultural Series, the festival offers a day of great Irish tunes, dance, food and drink, vendors, and plenty of activities for the kiddies.

“It’s a family-friendly event,” says organizer Michael Bradley. “It attracts everybody from newborns to people in their 90s. Everybody’s welcome. It’s a nice way to get your family out and to keep the Irish tradition alive, at a beautiful location along the river. It’s just a really neat place to be.”

Free admission means people who might be struggling financially can come out and enjoy the music, the vendors and all the rest. “It’s not a price-conscious thing,” Bradley says. “You don’t see free admission too much anymore.” Continue Reading

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

Get Your Green On at Morris Arboretum’s Irish Day

It would be hard to imagine a place greener than the University of Pennsylvania’s sweeping 92-acre expanse of trees and spectacular plantings, Morris Arboretum in Chestnut Hill. So it’s only fitting that the arboretum should host a special Irish Day—a day chock full of Irish culture including music, dance, history, and even a sampling of beer.

Irish Day takes place on Sunday, May 5. All of the festivities are included in the price of admission.

“We did an abbreviated version last year,” says special events coordinator Michelle Conners. “We did it on a Monday, when not as many people were able to take part.” It was largely a special outing for the Irish Immigration Center’s senior luncheon group. 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