In Ireland, February 1 is the feast day of Saint Brigid, a woman whom many believe should be granted equal billing with Saint Patrick as Ireland’s female patron saint and that her feast day should be declared a national holiday.
Saint Brigid’s Day also coincides with the start of the festival of “Imbolg,” one of the four major “fire” festivals celebrated by the ancient Celts. Saint Brigid is known to be the patron saint of cattle farmers, dairy maids, beekeepers, midwives, babies, blacksmiths, sailors, boatmen, fugitives, poets, poultry farmers, scholars and travelers. She’s also known as the founder of the first Irish monastery in Kildare in the fifth century.
One of the best-known traditions associated with her is the tradition of weaving St Brigid’s Crosses from reeds. According to the legend, she was called to the bedside of a dying pagan chieftain, and while she watched over him she bent down, picked up some rushes from the floor, and wove a cross to explain the Christian story. The chieftain was promptly converted to Christianity.
Lots of music this week, including an excellent opportunity to hear it in person.
In these tough times, it’s critical that we do what we can to support musicians and keep the tunes alive.
Here’s the deal:
Friday, January 29
Raymond Coleman is back with a live show at New Deck Tavern, 3408 Sansom Street in Philly’s University City neighborhood, starting at 6 p.m. The tavern promises heaters, blankies and hot spiked drinks under a tent to keep you toasty. Of course, there’s also Ray’s warm personality, too.
If you’re online, Cork ballad singer Elle Marie O’Dwyer hosts a show, live on the Irish Singing Sessions Facebook page, starting at 8 p.m.
A nice, crowded calendar for you this week, including a few live acts. Live, in these times, is nothing short of great. Pandemic restrictions apply, of course, but we’ll take what we can get.
Without further ado:
Friday, January 22
Kevin O’Shea performs for you at the New Deck Tavern, 3408 Sansom Street in University City, starting at 5 p.m. The New Deck is a real landmark. If you haven’t been, go.
Seamus McGroary plays the Henry James Saloon, 577 Jamestown Avenue in Philadelphia, starting at 6 p.m. The folks at Henry James promise the Guinness will be flowing. Always a good thing. And you get to listen to Seamus, too. Even better.
Catch the Jamison Duo—that’s Jamison Celtic Rock front man Frank Daly and fiddler Alice Marie—at Tom N Jerry’s, 1006 MacDade Boulevard in Folsom. The show starts at 6:30 p.m. Social distancing and reduced occupancy rules apply. It’s a last-minute gig, Frank says, so please do spread the word.
Irish songbird Mary Courtney is back with her Friday night Facebook concert, starting at 6 p.m. Catch her show here. Tips gratefully accepted.
When it comes to anxiety, depression, addiction, self-harm—and even thoughts of suicide, the act of suicide or the emotional aftermath afflicting survivors—no one is immune. Any of those issues can affect anybody at any given time.
During the pandemic, this has been particularly true. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports “considerably elevated adverse mental health conditions associated with COVID-19.”
Research also reports higher rates of mental health concerns among Irish and Irish-Americans compared to other ethnic groups, says Emily Norton Ashinhurst, executive director of the Irish Diaspora Center in Havertown, Delaware County.
“I think that’s something that we all need to face,” Ashinhurst says, “and we need to recognize that getting help is not a failure. It’s actually setting yourself up for success.”
Paddy McStravog, 26, a member of Na Toraidhe Hurling Club and the Kevin Barry Gaelic Football Club, is awaiting a third surgery on his badly injured left leg following a motor vehicle accident on Kelly Drive near Falls Bridge on December 30. McStravog, who resides in Manayunk, is from Dungannon, County Tyrone. He arrived in the United States in March 2019.
Driver Paul Young, 35, of Mitchelstown, County Cork, and passenger Scott Ball, 36, did not survive the crash.
McStravog, a bricklayer by trade, is in Penn Presbyterian Hospital. He underwent 10 hours of surgery to repair injuries to his ankle and lower leg immediately following the accident. “He had gone in for a second surgery, but they didn’t complete that because his leg was too swollen,” says Katrina Terry, club secretary for Na Toraidhe.
A relatively slow week is on tap, but … at a time like this, we’ll take anything we can get, right?
So here’s what’s going on:
Friday, January 15
Difficult choice tonight:
The effervescent Raymond Coleman will be playing at the Henry James Saloon, 577 Jamestown Avenue in Philadelphia, from 6 to 9 p.m. He’s always a guaranteed good time. Masks required, of course.
Jamison Celtic Rock front man Frank Daly is slated to appear at Gaul & Co. Malt House, 704 Huntingdon Pike in Rockledge, from 7 to 11 p.m. Also one of our very best performers.
With COVID-19 still very much an issue and a city moratorium on large gatherings in effect, the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day 250th parade is postponed until next March.
But fear not—you’ll probably be able to get your parade fix, at least in a little way.
The Philly parade was the first major event to be canceled in the city last year when the pandemic first started to take root. It was a major disappointment, but completely understandable. Making the same call this year also made sense, says Michael J. Bradley, Jr., a member of the St. Patrick’s Day Observance Association’s executive committee and parade director from 2002 to 2019.
Hope you all had a nice Christmas and New Year. (And here’s hoping and praying for a better new year, while we’re at it, though we’re clearly off to an incredibly rough start.)
We have a bunch of Irish-ness lined up for you.
So here’s what’s on tap:
Saturday, January 9
Frank Daly, front man for Jamison Celtic Rock, and fiddler Alice Marie, take the stage at Haggerty’s Cafe, 2373 MacDade Boulevard in Holmes, starting at 7 p.m.
Sunday, January 10
And … catch them again at Mifflin Tavern, 1843 South 2nd Street, Philadelphia, beginning at 1 p.m.
Tuesday, January 12
The Irish Diaspora Center hosts its genealogy group (virtually), starting at 11 a.m. This session’s guest is Emily Schmidt, author of “The Galvin Girls.” (Story about that here.) You can register for the presentation right here.