She’s been living in NYC since 1982, but Mary Courtney’s voice is pure Irish, the acoustic rendering of an evening around a turf fire, drinking a cuppa fortified with whiskey and honey, while the winds blow in from the west and an ethereal mist shrouds the cottage. It’s a voice that is mighty belting out rebel rock, but exalted when it has a ballad to bestow. It’s a voice that never disappoints, and is able to take old songs to new places.
The Castlegregory, County Kerry, native has a new CD out titled “Freedom’s Pioneers” that pays tribute to heroes of the rebellions Ireland has borne witness to over the last several hundred years. She explained, “I felt that the sacrifice of those souls needed to be remembered and honoured as well.” And not only the Catholics who fought for Ireland, for, as she points out, “A lot of our patriots were Protestants, both those that fought and those who were writers. I feel that their sacrifice is often overlooked, and I hope this CD shines a light on their contributions & highlights the fact that the struggle for freedom was not always split along religious lines.” Continue Reading
This coming week, there’s a lot to be thankful for—including some night-before-Thanksgiving Irish activities sure to get you in the holiday spirit.
One quick reminder: Sunday night, the 18th, starting at 5 p.m., we’re celebrating the contributions of four of our favorite peeps at the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame Dinner, at the Commodore Barry Arts & Cultural Center (the Irish Center), 6815 Emlen Street in the Mount Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia. Honored will be irishphiladelphia.com founding editor Denise Foley, Pearse Kerr and Sister Frances Kirk, SSJ. Receiving the Commodore John Barry Award will be Sister James Anne Feerick, IHM. Details here.
If you’re still looking to add an Irish “touch” to your American Thanksgiving meal, look no further than this delicious starter featuring Cashel Blue, Ireland’s first (and most delicious) blue cheese. This recipe comes from award-winning chef Kevin Dundon, proprietor of Dunbrody House in County Wexford, and is part of a collection of Cashel Blue recipes from Kerrygold, who now imports the cheese.
You’ll find other recipes featuring this cheese in my cookbook Favorite Flavors of Ireland; signed copies available at www.irishcook.com
A bright, balanced blend of Irish music and dance drawing on seasonal inspirations, Irish Christmas in America arrives on stage at Sellersville Theater 1894 Tuesday, November 27. Fiddler Oisín Mac Diarmada, of the Irish traditional supergroup Téada, has been producing the show for 14 years, which never ceases to delight audiences from one end of the country to the other—regardless of whether their roots are Irish.
“We started in 2005, a few years into touring with Téada, he says. “We really enjoyed it, so we kept on doing it.”
March, of course, is perhaps the best time of year to acquaint people with Irish culture, but, he adds, Christmas is a great time, too.
Irish Christmas in America features some of the finest musicians and dancers you’re likely to find, including well-known singer, accordionist and story-teller Séamus Begley and harper Gráinne Hambly, who has performed frequently in the Philadelphia area over the years. Continue Reading
Here’s a good reason to keep your night before Thanksgiving open.
On Wednesday, November 21, Irish Country mega-star Nathan Carter will be on stage at the Commodore Barry Arts & Cultural Center (The Irish Center). Take a look at this video, and you’ll see what all the fuss is about.
Tickets are currently available online here or by contacting the Irish Center at (215) 843-8051.
The Irish Center is at 6815 Emlen St., Philadelphia, PA, 19119, in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia.
Your weekend starts out with a full day of Irish dance. If you’ve never taken in the Intercollegiate Irish Dance Festival at Villanova, now’s your chance to see some of the best college-level Irish dance teams strut their stuff. Saturday marks the sixth festival hosted by Villanova’s dance team. We’ve gone, spent the day, gotten the T-shirt. It’s incredibly fun to see how creative the competitors can be. This year, there will be 10 teams.
The festival takes place in the Jake Nevin Field House, 800 East Lancaster Avenue on the ‘Nova campus in Radnor. The competition starts at 9:30 a.m., with a Grand Irish Show starting at 4:30 p.m. Tickets available in advance for $10 on VUTix, and $12 at the door. Kids and student admission, $5.
Pearse Kerr has all the qualities of a great storyteller: pace and timing; a skill for voices and dialects; a ready laugh that shakes a room.
But most of all, he has stories.
They’re the stories of a young boy who witnessed his first violent death when he was 12 and living in Belfast. He and his family were leaving his grandmother’s house when they saw a British Army foot patrol approaching up the road. In Belfast in the 1970s, it wasn’t an unusual sight. “We were watching them,” he says, “when someone jumped out at them with a handgun and shot one in the back of the head.”
Known fondly to many as the “dancing nun,” Sister James Anne, IHM, born Nancy Feerick, is the daughter of Irish immigrants Anne (Caulfield) and James Feerick. She started Irish dancing when she was 7, studying with Sean Lavery School of Irish Dance in West Philadelphia for more than 10 years. She also played the violin, performing on the Will Regan’s Irish Hours, a long-running radio show that debuted before World War II on Philadelphia’s WDAS station. She also served as secretary of the old Irish Musicians Union in Southwest Philadelphia for two years.
Her home was always filled with music, recalls Helen DeGrand, who first convinced Sister James Anne to join the Mayo Association of Philadelphia, where Sister James Anne has served as chaplain for 20 years. “When I first came to this country from Ireland in 1968, some of the first people I met were the Feericks” says Mrs. DeGrand. “They were the party people. She was in the convent then, but [her brother] Jim would be playing the piano and [her brother] Mike would be playing the fiddle. We used to go to the Shamrock Club every weekend and we always saw them at some point.” Continue Reading