We Had Ourselves a Merry Little Time

Tommy Martin and Séamus Begley.

Tommy Martin and Séamus Begley.

“Irish Christmas in America,” Sunday night at the Philadelphia Irish Center, was a great show. So great that we wanted to share plenty of videos with you so that you could see precisely how great it was. Really, really great.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Web site. Our camera walked—and with it went all our videos. We blame the wiki-hackers.

We can tell you about it, of course. With members of the Irish band Teada at its core and led by fiddler Oisín Mac Diarmada, the ensemble was aided and abetted by uilleann piper Tommy Martin, County Mayo harper Gráinne Hambly and singer-box player-part time comedian Séamus Begley. Sean-nos dancer Brian Cunningham took to the stage frequently throughout the night, threatening to slam through the Irish Center stage. (The crowd—and it was a pretty good crowd—loved him.)

Irish Christmas in America crosses an ocean and cultural boundaries to share the traditions of the Irish—both at home and in their adopted country. So there were stories of the Wren Boys, Little Christmas and the bittersweet “wake” that became the tradition of those who parted from friends and family as they departed for the distant shores of America.

These poignant stories were accompanied by brilliant slides that set the mood and served as a counterpoint to the reels, jigs, airs and songs served up all night by the band. When he wasn’t regaling the audience with off-topic but hilarious stories of his own, Begley held the audience in rapt attention as he sang tunes like “Silent Night”—first in Irish, then in English—and “The Parting Glass.” One minute, you were laughing so hard you almost fell out of your seat, the next moment you were a puddle of tears.

As we’ve pointed out: No videos. But we do have a few photos to help you get into a seasonal mood.

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