People, Religion

Documentary Shines a Bright New Light on the “Heart of Camden”

The beloved community organizer, poet and peacemaker Monsignor Michael Doyle, native of Rossduff, County Longford, Ireland, is regarded by many as a living saint, though he would dispute such a thing.

To those admirers, Doyle is the life force behind “Heart of Camden,” the multifaceted nonprofit launched in 1984 and responsible for resurrecting the Waterfront South neighborhood in the beleaguered New Jersey city across the Delaware from Philadelphia.

Retired recently after 40 years as pastor of Sacred Heart Church on Ferry Avenue, Doyle’s contributions to that community are manifold, including rehabilitating well over 200 abandoned homes sold to low-income families. He is also the driving force behind the acclaimed Sacred Heart School, which brings hope to children throughout the neighborhood. He established a free clinic—and, really, all of that is just scratching the surface of a life filled with and motivated by a passionate desire for justice and a longstanding commitment to the fight against the cancer of racism.

Now, a recently released 42-minute documentary shines a new light on Doyle’s life and legacy. Taking its cue from Doyle’s creation, it is called “The Heart of Camden: The Story of Father Michael Doyle,” produced by filmmaker Doug Clayton and narrated by acclaimed actor Martin Sheen, a longtime admirer.

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Food & Drink

It’s Fig Season; Grab Some Now

Fresh figs are thought to have been used as early as 2000 B.C.

One of the first fruits to be dried and stored, figs appear regularly in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, and they’re revered in many world religions as a symbol of peace, fertility and prosperity.

Most figs grown in the U.S. come from California and are available from mid-May to November. One of the most popular variety is the Brown Turkey, pear-shaped with purple to brown skin.

Similar to the Black Mission but lighter in color, it’s distinguished by the green shades around its neck. It has a light pink interior with robust flavor and is perfect for this delicious dish.

Serve it for dessert topped with whipped cream or for breakfast with honey yogurt and crunchy granola.

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How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

Looking for a Covid-safe dinner out? Hoping to catch some live Irish tunes? Want to catch up on your Irish history?

This is the week for all of the above and more.

Here’s the deal:

Friday, October 23

Jamison Celtic Rock takes the stage outdoors at Sweeney’s Philly, 13639 Philmont Avenue, starting at 6 p.m. If you’re looking for live music, Jamison won’t disappoint.

Saturday, October 24

If you love the Screaming Orphans—we’ve seen them many times—they’re back with a Facebook Live concert starting at 5 p.m. Check it out here. (And if you haven’t seen them, do … they’re a party.)

Sunday, October 25

Caitlin Finley and Will Woodson resume their Facebook Live cocktail hour and a half, Sunday at 5 p.m. Watch it here. You can also watch it on YouTube. We’ve written about Caitlin and Will recently. Be sure to catch their wonderful traditional Irish tunes.

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Learn the Story of County Mayo and Tales of the Vikings

Ireland has a rich and often violent history, from the legendary exploits of Gráinne O’Malley, County Mayo’s infamous pirate queen to St. Patrick’s pilgrimage to the top of the rugged holy mountain Croagh Patrick, and from the Viking raids to their ignominious defeat by high king Brian Boru at the Battle of Clontarf.

Some of us know some of that history, but few of us know it as deeply and as comprehensively as Sean Murphy, a native Dubliner who came to the United States in 2005. If you want to know more, then he’s all too willing to share.

Starting November 5 and continuing for three Thursdays afterward, Murphy is hosting three Zoom-based, hour and a half-long evening classes, one on the history of County Mayo; the other tracing the history of the Viking incursions into Ireland from 795 to 1014 A.D. The cost for each class is $80.

Murphy, of Cape Cod, Mass., has a varied academic background. His initial degree was in science, math and physics, followed by a degree in world politics and philosophy. At a later stage, he took a degree in accounting. He was also involved in local politics in Dublin as a member of the Dublin City Development Board, helping to draw together strategic plans for Dublin City from 2002 to 2012.

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Food & Drink

Dinner Is Served … at the Irish Center

Little neck clams. Irish stew. Guinness braised brisket and cabbage. Roasted half chicken. Pan pizza. Vegan meatloaf. Homemade brownies with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.

Is your mouth watering yet?

Save your whetted appetite for a new restaurant, opening in the cozy Fireside Room at the Commodore John Barry Arts and Cultural Center (the Irish Center). It’s called The Commodore, and it’s opening for a soft launch October 29 and November 1.

All of those delicious dishes and more are on the menu. And, of course, you are cordially invited.

This is a “soft” opening, meant to refine the concept, with plans to open on a regular basis afterward.

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How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

Here’s another week with a nice mix of virtual and in-person events.

Let’s get to it:

Friday, October 16

Irish singer Mary Courtney is back with her weekly concert, streaming live to Facebook, tonight at 6 p.m. Tune in here:

Also, kicking off at 7 p.m., it’s Friday Night Virtual Bingo hosted by the Tyrone Society of Philadelphia. (And every Friday night through November 20, FYI.) For $10 per night, you get to play five games of bingo. Cash prizes are based on how many people sign up to play. All the details are here.

Saturday, October 17

Grab your Irish traditional musical instrument and join a Mid-Tempo Virtual Irish Session hosted by Matt and Shannon Heaton. Meant for tune learners and second instrument players, this session kicks off at 2 p.m. Details here.

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How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

There’s a pretty fair amount of live music in the area this week.

Without further ado …

Friday, October 9

You can catch Jamison Celtic Rock live in concert at Nick’s Roast Beef, 4501 Woodhaven Road in Northeast Philly, starting at 6 p.m.

Also tonight, at 6 p.m., the wondrous Irish singer Mary Courtney streams live again on Facebook. Check it out here:

One quick note … “Heart of Camden: The Story of Father Michael Doyle,” a pop-up drive-in movie scheduled for Cooper’s Poynt Park in Camden, N.J., is now sold out.

Saturday, October 10

The Shantys, one of the area’s favorite paddy rock bands, takes the stage at Palmer Square & McCarter Theatre Center’s “Fall Music on the Square” in the heart of Princeton, N.J., starting at 12 noon.

And … another live performance. This time, it’s John Byrne performing solo at Oktoberfest, at Kelly Center for Music, Arts, and Community, 4 East Eagle Road in Havertown, starting at 3:45 p.m.

Can’t get there? No worries. The tunes will also be streamed live on Facebook.

To watch on Facebook:

Saturday, October 17

The Jamison Duo performs at the New Deck Tavern, 3408 Sansom Street in University City. The show starts at 7 p.m.

And that’s it for this week. Please stay safe, and we’ll see you next time.

History, News, People

SJU Program Explores John Hume and the Northern Irish Peace Process

Former President Bill Clinton described the late John Hume as “the Irish conflict’s Martin Luther King.”

A native of Derry, a founder of the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and co-recipient with David Trimble of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize, Hume is remembered as a determined driving force behind the Northern Ireland peace process, leading up to the Good Friday Agreement.

Hume died August 3. His contribution to the cause of peace in Northern Ireland will be commemorated October 22 in a Zoom-based event sponsored by St. Joseph’s University’s Irish Studies and the English Department. The presentation features a screening of “John Hume in America,” followed by a Q and A with the film’s director, Maurice Fitzpatrick, with an introductory lecture by Nicole McClure, Ph.D. of Kutztown University, “Visualizing Truth, Seeing Empathy: Documentary Films, the Troubles and the Peace Process.”

The first official event for the fledgling Irish Studies program, it was scheduled to take place in early April. Then the pandemic hit and the event was canceled, necessitating the move to online later on.

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