Short week in the land of Irish Philadelphia, people. We’re all—or mostly—Christmased out.
Here’s what’s on:
Saturday, December 28
The great Philadelphia Irish band Jamison holds court at Curran’s Tacony, 6900 State Road in Northeast Philly. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. Curran’s is a great place to see and hear them. Hoist one for us.
Sunday, December 29
The holidays are not completely over, particularly for those of you who claim County Dublin heritage. Dublin Society Philadelphia hosts its Christmas party at the Plough and Stars. 2nd Street between Market and Chestnut, starting at 12 noon. Bring the family, and up the Dubs!
What’s in a name?
In the case of the newly rechristened Irish Diaspora Center, quite a lot.
Formerly the Irish Immigration Center of Philadelphia, the Diaspora Center has been broadening its mission for quite some time. The new name is just a recognition of all the ways in which the mission has evolved over that time.
“In doing our strategic planning with our board and setting the course for the next three years of the organization, we recognized that we serve a much broader base than just Irish immigrants,” says center Executive Director Emily Norton Ashinhurst. “So we wanted the name to represent the broader base of who we serve.”
The longtime Upper Darby-based organization originally began as the Irish Immigration and Pastoral Center and then switched over to the Immigration Center, but for quite a while center activities have expanded. For example, the senior luncheon has served Irish immigrants for years, as has the free legal immigration clinic, but in the meantime the mission has expanded to include, for example, a youth program known as Foróige and a genealogy program which serves the broader community.
“None of the services that we provide are changing,” says Ashinhurst. “This really was to more adequately reflect our mission and the work that we do.”
The 20th annual Wren Party, sponsored by the Philadelphia-Delaware Valley chapter of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, is done and dusted.
CCÉ’s yearly event commemorates an ancient Irish custom, in which the humble wren is alleged to have given away the hiding place of St. Stephen, Christianity’s first martyr. In olden days, “wren boys” or “straw boys” would parade around their village, bearing the body of a hapless wren on a stick and begging contributions for a big village bash.
In this case, absolutely no wrens were harmed, of course. The only birds were fake.
Party-goers danced on into the night to tunes provided by a big Irish traditional band, Rosemarie Timoney’s dancers put on a lively exhibition, and there was a cute little wren parade, in which participants were awarded for the quality and inventiveness of their wren hats.
It’s a short week for Irish stuff because … Christmas. (Merry Christmas, by the way.)
But fear not, there are still a couple events and activities to get you in the Irish holiday spirit.
Saturday, December 21
Here’s one of the hands-down best ways to celebrate that holiday. It’s an American Celtic Christmas at the Keswick Theater 291 North Keswick Avenue in Glenside.
This show goes back to 2012, and it just keeps getting better and better.
We’re about to celebrate an Irish Christmas custom that has its roots in an unusual ritual going back centuries, and you’re invited.
It’s the feast of St. Stephen—December 26—and the Irish conferred upon this holy commemoration a distinctly unusual twist, which we’ll get to.
Sponsored by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann-Delaware Valley, the local chapter of a worldwide organization that celebrates traditional Irish music, dance, language and culture, the annual Wren Party begins at 7 p.m. the night after Christmas. It takes place at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 235 Limekiln Pike in Glenside, Montgomery County.
Still plenty of opportunities to get into the Irish Christmas spirit this week. We can help you find what’s what and what’s where. Here we go.
Friday, December 13
Take in a Christmas Ceili—that’s a night of traditional Irish dance and music—at the Irish Center, 6815 Emlen Street in Mount Airy. Sponsored by the Philadelphia Ceili Group, the fun starts at 7:30 p.m.
Live music will be provided by the McGillians, with John Shields leading the dancing. Tickets are $15 and kids under 16 are free. You’re encouraged to bring a dessert to share.
Also starting at 7:30, it’s Donegal Philadelphia Christmas Bag Bingo. The event takes place at St. George’s Episcopal Church, 1 West Ardmore Avenue in Ardmore. You could win a handbag (or handbags, if you’re lucky) by the likes of Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, Longchamp and many more. It costs $30 to play. BYOB and food.
Proud Irish-American Ray Sheehan is something of a party animal, and yes, it’s fun, but it’s also a serious business.
Sheehan is a partner at UpcomingEvents.com, a Philadelphia-based event company. The company is responsible for producing and promoting a wide variety of events in the Delaware Valley area and beyond. Some examples: the recent Taste of Philly culinary sampling experience in the Wanamaker Building’s Crystal Tea Room, and upcoming events like the New Year’s Eve Buffet & Fireworks Family Celebration at the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing.
The company has also produced some very large-scale events throughout the nation, including big-ticket items at Major League ballparks.
UpcomingEvents.com also publicizes other, smaller-scale events, such as the recent Celtic Christmas in Bensalem.
Sheehan’s interest in event promotion all started about 20 years ago, when he was going to school at Temple’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management.
“I was just a promoter,” he says. “We were doing events in bars and restaurants. I was a D.J. We were just getting the attention of these bars and restaurants by just throwing parties.”
We hope you’re in the holiday spirit. Last week, almost every event featured a Christmas connection. It’s even more so this week.
Here’s what’s on:
Saturday, December 7
Ready for a brisk run or walk? Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 87 is hosting the Tommy “Wengo” Wenger Memorial Jingle Bell 5K Run and 1K Walk and the Annual LAOH Children’s Christmas Party. The race steps off at 9 a.m. at St. George Elementary School, 2700 East Venango Street in Philadelphia.
Santa Claus will be riding along on Fire Engine 81, “The Pride of North Catholic.” Registration is $25, and $15 for kids 10 and under. Cost of admission includes a pancake breakfast, t-shirt and jingle bells for your sneakers so you can music wherever you go. Text your email or home address to Jim Carr at 215-620-6547, and they will send you a registration.