The Philadelphia Ceili Group kicked off the 45th Annual Festival with its time-honored tradition of Singers Night. Hosted by Terry Kane (one half of the popular Jameson Sisters) and dedicated to the late Frank Malley, who was a driving force behind both Singers Night and the Festival itself, last night also brought poignant tributes to other beloved Irish Philadelphia musicians who have recently passed away.
The late Eugene O’Donnell, Kitty Kelly-Albrecht and Eugenia Brennan were all at the forefront throughout the evening, remembered in favorite songs and personal stories. Among the performers who took the stage were Ellen Tepper (the other half of the Jameson sisters) on the harp, Matt Ward, Rosaleen McGill, Jim McGill, Steve Stanislaw, John Handy, Kathleen Warren, Don Simon, Seamus Carmichael, Don Gill, Trish Callahan and Mike Albrecht.
Jeff took some photos and I got some videos. So, if you couldn’t be there in person, enjoy! And join us for the rest of the weekend; tonight’s Rambling House hosted by the River Drivers and the Ceili Dance with the McGillians & Friends starts at 8 p.m., and tomorrow’s day of concerts and activities begins at 11 a.m. and continues throughout the day and evening. For more information, check out the Philadelphia Ceili Group website.
Irish musicians throughout the world are familiar with the music of Philadelphia’s Ed Reavy. That so many know his work is largely a tribute to his son, Joseph M. Reavy, 91, recipient of Mid-Atlantic Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann’s Gradam Comaoine/Outstanding Contribution Award, conferred June 8 at the 2019 Mid-Atlantic Region’s Hall of Fame Banquet. It was Joe Reavy—a talented multi-instrumental musician in his own right—who collected and transcribed his father’s many tunes into a thick book of sheet music.
He is characteristically self-effacing when he talks about the project.
“I don’t want to put myself in the forefront,” he says. “This is my father’s music. I published it so people would know it. He had an unbelievable musical memory, but my father did not write out the music. Of course, I read music and so I did most of the work, unless it was very, very technical stuff, and then I would call on someone else to help with it. Musicians—especially among advocates and people who loved his music—welcomed this (compilation) because they could put it in front of other musicians who maybe didn’t know too much about Irish music. I spent two years’ time with my father; almost every week we worked on it.
“It was just wonderful working with him. I learned so much. Even though he didn’t know how to write out the music, he knew how to talk about music. He had the greatest memory for tunes.”
Hanrahan’s bartender Bobby Callan has lived in the Drexel Hill area all of his 30 years. He has a house in Clifton Heights now, but he grew up three blocks from this bustling Irish bar on Burmont Road, catty-corner from the Aronimink Avenue SEPTA station.
Callan got into the bar business a few years ago when one of his best friends suggested that he join him in working at a dive bar. “He said to me, ‘This is easy. It’s great. You get to meet new people.” He took to bartending, but after a while he tired of the dive bar scene. Fortuitously, he played on a local softball team, and a Hanrahan’s employee who was on the team recruited him.
Occasionally, there is an occurrence of the kind of inspired synchronicity that causes one to say, “Ah, yes, it was meant to be.”
Wednesday evening at the restored Kelly House in East Falls was just that sort of occurrence. An enthralled audience of about 50 listened as Irish musician and folklorist Mick Moloney presented, for the first time, the Princess Grace Irish-American Sheet Music Collection. The talk was followed by the performance of several of the songs by Mick, Athena Tergis and Liz Hanley.
The Kelly House, in a partnership with the Center for Irish Studies at Villanova University and its director, Dr. Joseph Lennon, is fulfilling one of the missions set forth by Prince Albert of Monaco when he purchased the family home several years ago. With the assistance of, and collaboration between, family members Susan Kelly Von Medicus and her brother John B. Kelly III in Philadelphia, the house is taking on a new life and purpose.
My first memory of Phil Bowdren is that he came across as just what he was: a dedicated, selfless, giving guy.
My second memory is that he made one tasty Irish stew. That’s maybe how I first got to know him—through the Hibernian Hunger Project’s annual Irish Stew Cook-off, years ago. He took a lot of pride in his ability to dish up a memorable stew.
Of course, there’s so much more than that to say about Philip H. Bowdren, former Philadelphia police officer and well-known throughout the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) and the Irish-American community for his great dedication and hard work. Bowdren passed away recently at the age of 66.
We’ll leave the memories of this good man to those who knew him best.
Liam J. Kelly
On March 1, the Irish American Business Chamber & Network will be hosting the 2019 Ambassador’s Awards Luncheon at Philadelphia’s Union League. Among the honorees is Teleflex, a global provider of medical technology products. recipient of the Ambassador Award. Accepting on behalf of Teleflex will be Liam J. Kelly, Teleflex president and CEO.
We recently spoke with Liam Kelly. Here’s what he had to say.
Irish Philly: Teleflex is a global provider of medical technology products and I’m wondering if you could give me some examples.
Liam Kelly: Teleflex has a number of divisions. We have a vascular division. There, our main product is a central venous catheter and a PICC catheter. And also a product called an EZ-IO. They all basically give vascular access to patient. If a patient has a heart attack, the one thing that they need is vascular access. We need to get fluid into the body and we provide a whole series of catheters that allow that to happen.
We also have an interventional access division. Our main products there focus on coronary disease states within the hospital. And that business is a business that has continued to save lives every day and we’re very proud of that fact.
Sarah and Dan Keating
On March 1, the Irish American Business Chamber & Network will be hosting the 2019 Ambassador’s Awards Luncheon at Philadelphia’s Union League. Among the honorees are Daniel J. Keating, III, executive vice president, Gilbane Building Co., and Sarah P. Keating, Esq., principal owner and chief executive officer of Keating Environmental Management. They will receive the Taoiseach Award.
We recently spoke with Daniel Keating. Here’s what he had to say.
Irish Philly: Did you and Sarah have any idea you were in the running?
Daniel Keating, III: Actually, we did not have any idea we were in the running, but we’re certainly honored.
Irish Philly: I imagine you’re pretty pleased about that.
DK: Well, you know, it’s a wonderful group of guys and gals, and they all get along and a nice company to be involved with.
When Sister Judy Oliver, SSJ, was a student at St. Hubert’s High School, she was taught by sisters from several religious orders, but for many reasons, the Sisters of St. Joseph appealed to her.
“I graduated high school in 1965 and worked for a year as a teacher. In 1966, when I entered (the order), I had already made contact with the sisters, and my great aunt was a Sister of St. Joseph,” she recalls. “In Catholic high schools in those days, you had all different kinds of sisters and a small population of lay teachers, so you had Sisters of St. Joseph who lived in one convent, there were 10 Sisters of Mercy, and they lived up the road, and so on.
“But there was something that was attractive about the charism and mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph that I think, for me, was a grace. I don’t know if, when you’re 18, you know that you’re being led by grace, but it really was a grace of invitation for the Sisters of St. Joseph, and as I’ve lived the vocation, I have found more and more that our charism and mission really do fit who I am and who I’ve become.”