For the first time in its 16-year history, the Philadelphia-based Irish American Business Chamber and Network gave its top award—the Ambassador’s Award—to a company founded in Northern Ireland. The ceremony took place on Friday, February 26, at The Union League in Philadelphia with more than 400 people in attendance
The IABCN honored Almac, a pharmaceutical and health care development company with North American headquarters in Souderton, where it employs more than 1,000 people. The company was founded by Sr. Alan McClay in Craigevon, Northern Ireland.
Also honored were IACBN founder, Bill McLaughlin and his wife, Natalie, who run McLaughlin & Morgan, a business and development firm in Philadelphia (the Taoiseach Award) and Msgr. Michael Doyle, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Camden whose work has led to many improvements in the city’s waterfront area.
When you can fill a place where you could hold two wedding receptions simultaneously, you know you’re doing something right. The FOP Hall in Northeast Philadelphia–where the bar is big enough to accommodate a police car and does–was jam-packed on Sunday, February 28, for the biggest ever fundraiser for the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The parade marches down the Parkway on Sunday, March 13.
Fundraiser organizer Mary Frances Fogg, vice president of the St. Patrick’s Day Observance Committee, was a green streak on Sunday as she dashed from raffle tables to the stage for the nonstop prize giving. Fox29 personalities Kathy Orr, Bob Kelly (with his wife, Carrie and son, Austin) and Mike Jerrick were on hand to conduct a pep rally for foils who had plenty of pep to start with. This is Fox29’s first year broadcasting the parade, though it will be Orr’s thirteenth year as parade host. She previously announced the parade when she was chief meteorologist at CBS3, where Kelly was traffic reporter.
Diarmuid Johnson, noted scholar and musician, is in town to present “The Crooked Road: A Ramble through Irish History in Words and Music,” Saturday, February 27th, at 8 p.m. at the Commodore Barry Club/Philadelphia Irish Center.
Johnson takes “a musical and poetic journey through Irish history leading up to the Easter Rebellion of 1916.”
The event is sponsored by the Philadelphia Ceili Group.
We chatted with him a few days ago. Here’s what he had to say.
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.)
Irish Consul General from New York Barbara Jones spent a couple of days in Philadelphia meeting with local government leaders and heads of Irish organizations in the region. She was welcomed on Friday night, February 5, with a party at the Irish Center in Philadelphia attended by representatives from many of the county societies and organizations such as the Irish Immigration Center, the Irish Memorial, and the Philadelphia Rose of Tralee Centre.
Vincent Gallagher, president of the Irish Center, provided the music, and the Cummins School of Irish Dance and the Circle of Friends Irish ceili dancers, both headquartered at the Irish Center, provided the dancing.
Call it a cop cliché, but John Tobin, a retired Norristown police officer, has a thing for doughnuts.
That’s how his wife Beth Anne became the first to know that he was going to be the grand marshal of the 23rd annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Conshohocken on March 12.
“As one of the guys who started this whole thing, I had my way of doing things,” says Tobin, who is credited as the member of Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 1 who talked Norristown Mayor Jack Salomone into allowing the AOH to sponsor the parade, which then marched down Main Street in the county seat. “Our way was, you called up the person and talked to them and made sure they were happy with being selected, and you made sure they were going to be there.”
A funny thing happened this year to Wayne’s Mary Lou Sterge. The guy who came to remodel her house asked her to dance.
But no, it’s not what you think. The guy was Louie Bradley, chairperson of the board of the Delco Gaels, youth Gaelic sports club in Delaware County. Last year, Bradley was the winner of the silver mirrored trophy, along with dance partner Michelle Quinn, for the Delco Gaels’ “Dancing Like a Star” fundraiser, in which eight couples compete in various dance styles that they’ve learned over several months of intense rehearsals.
“Louie recently remodeled my house. My house looks great, and now I’m dancing,” said Sterge, a fundraiser, after rehearsal last Sunday at the McDade-Cara Irish Dance School studio in Newtown Square. She and her partner, Tom Gregory, were sharing some pizza after an hour of dancing to Ike and Tina Turner’s Proud Mary, he in silver platform shoes he bought from the internet.
Michael Toner, one of Philadelphia’s best-known character actors and well known to many in the Irish community, has appeared on the stage for decades. Like many actors, he has never had any desire to do anything else, and that’s what he thought he was always going to do.
That confidence was shattered sometime before 1 a.m. on Tuesday, June 9.
Toner, 69, was struck by a hit and run driver and critically injured on 11th Street below Market in Center City Philadelphia. The force of the collision severed his left leg above the knee. Toner doesn’t remember anything about the accident, though he recalls what happened before.
“I was in the middle of [the run of] a one-man play, ‘Crossing the Threshold into the House of Bach’ by David L. Simpson, at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on the Penn Campus,” he says. “I was going to catch my commuter train home.” How long Toner lay in the street isn’t clear, but he says he owes his survival to a passing Good Samaritan. “A homeless man found me and called an ambulance.”