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Irish Community Mourns the Passing of Liam Hegarty

They say if you want to get something done, ask the busiest person.

That summed up the beloved Liam Hegarty, as one longtime friend put it. Hegarty is well-known for serving on the board of the Irish Immigration Center of Philadelphia and in various leadership roles for the Delaware County (Delco) Gaels, the Gaelic Athletic Association locally and nationally, Irish Network-Philadelphia, and the Irish American Business Chamber and Network—but his influence and rampant creativity touched many other organizations and, say those who knew him best, made them better.

Hegarty, of West Chester, born in Ednamuck, Mountcharles, County Donegal, passed away suddenly earlier this week. Born October 10, 1967, he was just 51. His untimely death leaves many trying to imagine what life will be like without his friendship and dedication.

“He really was a visionary,” says his friend of 30 years, Tom Higgins, who played with Hegarty for the Donegal football club and served on many boards with him, from the Immigration Center to the Delco Gaels. “This whole youth sports organization is basically his design, not just in Philadelphia but around the country.  The Liberty Bell championships, which happen a week before the annual Continental Youth Championships for mainly teams on the East Coast—that’s all Liam too. His idea.” Continue Reading

Audio, News

Podcast: An Interview with Radio Host Marianne MacDonald

Listeners throughout the country tune in to hear Marianne MacDonald every Sunday at noon as she hosts “Come West Along the Road” on WTMR 800 AM. The show features traditional Irish music and interviews, along with local concert and event news.

She’s been hosting the show for many years, and for her, clearly, it’s a labor of love. “It’s a highlight of my week,” she says, “and I really look forward to hearing from my listeners.”

It would have to be a labor of love. The show takes a lot of preparation, and costs thousands of dollars to produce.

You can help out. An on-air two-hour pledge drive will take place this Sunday, December 2. Listeners can phone in their pledges and donations of any size at 856-962-8000. 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

Audio, News, People

“Martin McGuinness: The Man I Knew”

Author, journalist and broadcaster Jude Collins visited the Commodore John Barry Arts and Cultural Center in Philadelphia Sunday to give a talk on his new book, Martin McGuinness: The Man I Knew (Mercier Press).

The book is a collection of interviews with prominent figures in recent Northern Irish history, all reflecting on the late Martin McGuinness, prominent Irish republican Sinn Féin politician, a warrior turned peacemaker, who became deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.

McGuiness died in 2017.

Among those interviewed are prominent unionists, including Eileen Paisley (widow of Ian Paisley), Michael McGimpsey and John McAllister, peace talks chairman U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, and friends and allies such as Gerry Adams and Martina Anderson.

Was McGuinness, as some thought, a terrorist who somehow became a different man? Or was he, as others believed, always the same man—a man who never wavered in his pursuit of the same goal but who, when the time came, simply embraced a new approach?

Collins digs deep to find the answers to this and many other questions. He sat with us for a brief interview preceding his talk.

Here’s what he had to say.

Editor’s note: All Irish Philly podcasts are now available on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn and Spotify.

News, People, Photos

More Than 250 Walked From Darkness Into Light

The Sharpie-written notes on the “Banner of Hope” offered the answer to the question, “Why did you get up at 3 in the morning to do a 5K in the rain?”

“In loving memory of my dear Lori. Love you. This one’s for you.”

“In memory of Paddy, Love, Brigid.”

“Missing you always!” This tiny message appeared under a drawing of a yellow butterfly whose artist added a smudge of orange and two tiny antennae with care.

Some left lists of names; Sinead. Johnny. Keiran. Wee Pat. Eddie.

All of them, messages to people who died by their own hand.

More than 250 people gathered outside Lloyd Hall on Kelly Drive at the top of Boathouse Row starting at 3 AM last Saturday to participate in the “Darkness Into Light” 5K to benefit Pieta House, an Irish organization that provides free counseling to those considering suicide or self-harm. Fox29’s Bob Kelly hosted the opening ceremonies and helped rally the runners and walkers who were already soaked by the persistent drizzle. Continue Reading

News, Photos

A Solemn Remembrance of 1916

With solemn ceremony and rousing speeches, Philadelphia’s Irish community celebrated the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising on Sunday, April 24, the lost battle that led to the ultimate victory of Irish independence.

The event started in the blazing sunshine at The Irish Memorial, where a number of local dignitaries, including State Rep. Mike Driscoll and Philadelphia City Councilman Bobby Henon spoke. Using only an index card for reference, Irish-born Patsy Kelly, told the history of the uprising, in which about 1200 armed Irish men and women seized buildings in Dublin, launched by the reading of The Proclamation by Irish teacher Padraig Pearse.

That document, which proclaimed Ireland a free republic belonging to the Irish people, was read later at Independence Hall, first in English by Regina Mullen Bocchino and Dierdre Mullen, the granddaughters of Joseph McGarrity, a Philadelphia-based businessman from Tyrone who was considered the financier of the rebellion, and then in Irish by Temple University cardiologist Brian O Murchu, MD. Continue Reading

News, People, Photos

Meet the New Philadelphia Rose of Tralee

The 26-year-old executive director of a Philadelphia nonprofit serving homeless veterans was crowned the 2016 Philadelphia Rose of Tralee on Saturday night at the Radnor Hotel. The event was emceed by CBS3 consumer reporter Jim Donovan.

The latest Rose, Brigid Gallagher, has the inside scoop on what she’s in for this year. Her older sister, Colleen, was the 2007 Philly Rose. The two wrote and illustrated a children’s book and, along with running the Philadelphia Veterans’ House, Brigid Gallagher is completing her masters of art therapy and counseling at Drexel University. A graduate of West Chester University with a degree in graphic design and psychology, The new Rose is a marathoner and one of the newest members of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, the oldest Irish organization in the US, located in Philadelphia, which recently opened its membership to women.

Brigid is the middle sister of seven girls—so there may be more Gallagher Roses to come. Continue Reading

History, News

Gravesite Remarks by Monaghan Councillor Sean Conlon

Sinn Fein member Sean Conlon, who spent part of his childhood in Delaware County, graciously shared with irishphiladelphia.com the remarks he made at the grave of Luke Dillon at the Easter Rising Ceremony at Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon.

A chairde,
It is an honour for me to be here, on the occasion of the centenary year of the 1916 Easter Rising and stand with true friends of Ireland, and advocates for her liberation, to commemorate the contribution and sacrifices of Ireland’s patriot men and women associated with the Rising, and in all campaigns of resistance waged against the foreign occupation of our homeland. Today here at Holy Cross Cemetery, we invoke in particular, the memory of those who resided in the Philadelphia region, and that despite the distance of separation and communication, remained firm in dauntless spirit, and action, in supporting the efforts of their comrades in Ireland.
Since our last assembling here twelve months ago, we reflect on loved ones who have would regularly have attended events such as this commemoration or other opportunities to raise the flag for Ireland and her total independence. As a fellow activist who I recall in years when I lived in this area is the name of Tommy Flynn, along with the name of Sean Rocks, who as a member of the Breen family, is also especially missed today. Continue Reading