A Little Bit of Holiday Cheer

Sean nos dancer Brian Cunningham has flying feet.

Sean nos dancer Brian Cunningham has flying feet.

A couple of weeks ago, ticket sales were as sluggish as the Stock Market for Teada’s “Irish Christmas in America” show, a Philadelphia Ceili Group production scheduled for December 9 at Philadelphia’s Irish Center. But by that evening, there was a rally, and hundreds of people filled the vast ballroom for a little taste of Celtic Christmas–a full house to hear traditional Irish tunes and learn a little about Celtic traditions.

Karan Casey, a founding member of the group, Solas, was the featured soloist, and she wowed the crowd with everything from Irish carols to her paean to Barack Obama, the Nina Simone tune, “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free.” “Barack Obama,” she explained, “was like an early Christmas gift to the world.”

Also on the bill: uillean piper Tommy Martin, harper Grainne Hambley, and the remarkable, 23-year-old sean nos (old style) dancer, Brian Cunningham. And, of course, Teada itself: founder and the show’s producer, Oisin Mac Diarmada, an All-Ireland fiddler from Sligo; Damien Stenson, also a Sligo native, who plays flute; guitarist Sean McIElwain, and Dublin’s own Tristan Rosenstock, who plays bodhran and was the night’s narrator and stand-up comic.

If you couldn’t be there and would love to hear some of the performance, Marianne MacDonald will be playing some cuts from the “Irish Christmas in America” CD on her radio show on Sunday, December 14, at noon. Tune in to WTMR-800 AM, right after the Vince Gallagher Irish Radio Show. You can hear it on the web at

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