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It Sure Looks Like Dancing

It might be a stretch to say that poetry saved Liam Porter’s life, but the longtime newspaper reporter and editor thinks it might have helped turn his life around after he lost his job at The Inishowen Independent  during Ireland’s drawn-out economic recession.

Poetry wasn’t the only light he saw in the darkness, but that was a good thing, because there was plenty of darkness.

“I was applying for jobs and going on interviews and not getting any positivity,” says Porter of Raphoe, County Donegal, who has about a dozen family members living in the Philadelphia area. “You begin to devalue your own self-worth. My wife was working, but it was hard to be home every day to see the postman coming and bringing another bill and knowing I couldn’t contribute. Our girls were going to dance classes and all of a sudden we had to say ‘You can’t go there. We don’t have the money.’ It came to the point where I was calculating that maybe they might be better off without me. Then you know you’re not in a good place.” Continue Reading

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The Christmas Tree Arrives at the Plough

I’ve always wondered how they got that huge Christmas tree into the Plough & the Stars.

And make no mistake—every year, the Plough, at 2nd and Chestnut, manages to wedge a fir tree that stands over 20 feet into a corner or the restaurant, not far from the fireplace. (Not too close, though.)

I had heard rumors that it was lowered into place through trap door just an arm’s length from the restaurant’s second level. I Never quite believed it, but still … how else? Continue Reading

Pipe Major Emeritus Joe Tobin
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Getting the Last Word In

There’s the buildup to the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame Dinner. Nominations. Selections of honorees. Meetings. Jobs handed out. More meetings.

Finally, there’s the night itself, when all of the honorees gather together in the ballroom at the Philadelphia Irish Center to receive their awards and their richly deserved applause.

Honorees this year were Mary Frances Fogg, Dr. Denis Boyle, Kathy DeAngelo and Dennis Gormley, along with the Philadelphia Emerald Society Pipe Band, recipients of the Barry Award. Joe Tobin, pipe major emeritus, accepted on behalf of the band. Continue Reading

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New Members Inducted into Irish Hall of Fame at Gala Dinner

There are a few more brass plates on the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame plaque at the Irish Center this week.

Inducted at a gala dinner on Sunday night were Denis Boyle, MD, an Upper Darby doctor who cares for the homeless and undocumented; Kathy DeAngelo and Dennis Gormley, the musical duo who co-founded with friend Chris Brennan-Hagy, an organization that brings along young Irish traditional musicians; and Mary Frances Fogg, vice president of the association that runs the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade, whose government savvy has helped the organization cut through red tape–and who has been known to organize a picket line or two whenever the Irish are maligned.

Every year, Emerald Society Pipe Band members “pipe in” the inductees and this year was no different. Except that they also had to pipe themselves in. The pipe band, which is headquartered at the Irish Center, was given the Commodore Barry Award for their service to the Irish community. Continue Reading

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Paul Doris, Irish Republican Activist, Named Philadelphia Parade Grand Marshal

Leading the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade as grand marshal this March will be a man who understands the price of equality, justice, and freedom.

Paul Doris, a native of Coalisland, County Tyrone, in Northern Ireland, was a young man working in Portadown in 1972, when British troops in the mainly Catholic Bogside region of Derry shot 26 unarmed people protesting the British introduction of internment without trial in response to sectarian violence across the six counties. The day became known as “Bloody Sunday.”

Three days afterward, three men showed up at Doris’s door. One was armed. They ordered him to leave, telling him that Catholics would no longer have any work. Doris’s two younger brothers were subsequently imprisoned. One cousin was shot and killed and another wounded in two separate incidents. Continue Reading

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St. Joe’s Fundraiser Kicks Off Jim McLaughlin Scholarship Project

It was just the thing that Jim McLaughlin would have loved. A big room filled with people he knew and a sprinkling of strangers he’d know by the end of the night, right on campus at his alma mater, St. Joseph’s University, his beloved Hawk Hill. There was music—provided by his young friend, fiddler Alex Weir, and his own brothers, Bob, who plays the flute, and Tom and his bluegrass band. And dancing. He loved to dance.

The Irish American Business Chamber and Network planned and executed a perfect Jim McLaughlin night on Thursday to honor its former president who died this year from a brain tumor at the age of 67. At his funeral mass in the chapel of St. Joe’s, the priest—a St. Joe’s professor and friend—called Jim McLaughlin “the most open, kind, and loveable” person he’d ever met. Continue Reading

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Spooky Tales–And Storytellers–at The Irish Center

There was a full house on Mischief Night at The Irish Center in Philadelphia for an evening of original, ghostly tales from five writers who composed them just for the event.

The authors, who came in costume, included Marita Krivda, author of the historical book, “Irish Philadelphia,” who also organized the evening’s entertainment; Marian Makins, PhD, who teaches critical writer at the University of Pennsylvania and is a singer; Thom Nickels, the author of 11 books, the latest of which is the soon-to-be published “Literary Philadelphia;” Gerry Sweeney, and Lori Lander Murphy, a librarian, genealogist, and writer and photographer for www.irishphiladelphia.com.

Lori agreed to share her story of young love and death with us so you can feel like you were part of the evening. Continue Reading