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Poignant Easter Rising Ceremony at Holy Cross Cemetery

The annual Easter Rising ceremony at Holy Cross Cemetery on April 3 took on special poignancy this year, which marks the 100th anniversary of the Dublin battle between Irish revolutionaries and British soldiers that played a pivotal role in the birth of the Irish Republic in 1922.

Members of the families of three prominent Irish freedom fighters who are buried in the Yeadon cemetery took part in the ceremonies, which included rifle salutes by the Pennslvania 69th Irish Volunteers re-enactors, speeches by Sinn Fein’s Sean Conlon, the Monaghan town councillor who spent part of his childhood in Delaware County; Judyann Gillespie McCarthy of the local 1916 Easter Rising Commemoration Committee, and Tyrone native and historian, Patsy Kelly. Continue Reading

News, People

“Darkness Into Light” Launches in Philadelphia

Jim Reardon of Havertown was there because of Christmas 1976, the day he returned to his Dublin home after visiting friends to learn that it wasn’t because of a card game—“we were a great house for cards,” he says—that the house was teeming with people in the middle of the night. Reardon’s father had been found dead. Laid off after 50 years at the same job, he committed suicide.

Siobhan Towey Regan of Glenside was there was there for her cousin, a young man in his 20s, who also killed himself.

Joan Freeman of Dublin was there because of her sister, Catherine. A 54-year-old mother of four, she too died by her own hand. Continue Reading

News

As Ireland Honors the Heroes of 1916, Philadelphia Police and Fire Pipes and Drums Will Be There

Arriving to a water cannon salute from the Northern Ireland Fire Service, the Philadelphia Police & Fire Pipes & Drums band is on the ground in Ireland, and getting set for the thrill of a lifetime.

Philly Police and Fire is the only foreign band invited to take part in one of the official commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising, to be held Easter Monday in Ashbourne, County Meath.

Thirty members of the band, all cops and firefighters, are making the trip, said Philly paramedic Mark O’Donnell, the band master, music director and pipe major, in an interview Thursday, just a few hours before the band’s departure out of Newark. Continue Reading

History, News, Photos

Philadelphia Remembers the Heroes of 1916—Including Its Own

Imagine, said Villanova History Professor Craig Bailey, PhD, that in 1776, the Revolutionary army under the command of General George Washington had lost to the British and “all our founding fathers were captured and executed.”

Although Bailey was preaching to the converted and well-versed this week at Villanova University’s Falvey Library—many in the audience were members of the region’s 1916 Easter Rising commemoration group—it was an apt way of putting the 1916 Irish rebellion into a perspective the average American could understand. It was the lost battle that eventually led to Ireland’s independence,

The Proclamation read on the steps of the General Post Office in Dublin by teacher and revolutionary Padraig Pearse, addressed to “Irish men and Irish women,” owes at least some of its sentiment to Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence prose aimed at freeing American men and American women from the yoke of British colonialism. Continue Reading

News, Photos

The Philly St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Pictures: 290 of ‘Em

That’s right: 290.

There were three of us down along the parade route on Sunday: Denise Foley, Gwyneth MacArthur and me. Between the three of us, we had the parade well and truly covered, from the first blast of the air horn to the final pints.

I could yammer on. I’ve been known to do that. I had an editor who said I couldn’t clear my throat in less than 2,000 words.

Jerk.

Better, though, to let the pictures tell the story. That’s what you want, anyway, right?

So here are three huge photo essays for your happy perusal. Continue Reading

News, Photos

2016 Sober St. Patrick’s Day Party

You can have fun at a St. Patrick’s Day party without raising a pint—and that’s what they did Sunday after the Philly parade down at WHYY.

The public station’s Commons was a great room in which to celebrate, and that’s what the visitors who crowded the room did with gusto.

Music was pretty much non-stop, with great bands like The Yanks and Reel to Reel, local talent like fiddler Alex Weir, flutist Paddy O’Neill and guitarist Darin Kelly, and a massive ceili at the end.

There were dancers from McDade-Cara and Emerald Isle, visits from the Philly Rose of Tralee Mairead Comaskey, and all of it was emceed by WHYY’s Ed Cunningham. Continue Reading

News, Photos

2016 Irish Memorial Ceremony

It was a picture-perfect day down at Front and Chestnut, site of Philly’s imposing Irish Memorial.

While lots of people were remembering St. Patrick’s Day by wandering from bar to bar, wearing goofy hats, tacky t-shirts and green plastic Mardi Gras beads—and actually, we won’t bust your chops too much—a very large crowd of Irish and Irish-Americans honored the memory of those who got us her in the first place.

As they do every year, they celebrated in song—thank you, Theresa Marie Flanagan, for your rendition of “James Connelly”—and in dance.

They prayed for the memory of those who fled Ireland during An Gorta Mor—the Great Hunger.

They gave speeches. (Mayor Kenney’s was particularly moving.) They planted shamrocks. They laid a wreath.

We have the pics. Continue Reading

News, Videos

Video: Your 2016 Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade Highlight Reel

How do you capture the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day in one video? You broadcast the whole thing live on television.

Guess what? We have one lonely guy with a small video camera, running back and forth, and also shooting stills.

So we did the next best thing. We shot what we could, with an emphasis on action. If it danced or played, we tried to get it. Obviously, we didn’t capture everything that moved. If your band or dance school isn’t there, it’s not because we don’t love you. (You know that we do!) What we did instead was try to put together a little sampler that captures the fun and excitement of the parade in a little over five minutes.

Hope you like it!