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History, News, People, Photos

Spooky Tales–And Storytellers–at The Irish Center

There was a full house on Mischief Night at The Irish Center in Philadelphia for an evening of original, ghostly tales from five writers who composed them just for the event.

The authors, who came in costume, included Marita Krivda, author of the historical book, “Irish Philadelphia,” who also organized the evening’s entertainment; Marian Makins, PhD, who teaches critical writer at the University of Pennsylvania and is a singer; Thom Nickels, the author of 11 books, the latest of which is the soon-to-be published “Literary Philadelphia;” Gerry Sweeney, and Lori Lander Murphy, a librarian, genealogist, and writer and photographer for

Lori agreed to share her story of young love and death with us so you can feel like you were part of the evening. Continue Reading

Music, News, People, Videos

Video: The Emerald Pipe Band, from Then Till Now

It started out as a police and fire band—only there weren’t really enough cops and firefighters to fill out an entire band. So membership in the Philadelphia Emerald Society Pipe Band was opened up to civilians.

From that point on, the band has moved from its humble beginnings in an American Legion hall, marching in parades throughout the Delaware Valley, to its longtime practice hall in the ballroom at the Philadelphia Irish Center/Commodore Barry Club. After that move, the band became an integral part of the Irish community, playing for everything from county banquets to the annual Joe McGarrity memorial in Holy Cross Cemetery to—of course—the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day parade. Continue Reading

Food & Drink, Music, People, Photos

It’s All About the Lip Sync

Jimmy Fallon, eat your heart out! You may have made lip syncing cool, but last Friday night the Irish Immigration  Center of Philadelphia filled the ballroom of the Paxon Hollow Golf Club in Broomall with its Lip Sync Challenge.  Over 300 people turned out to cheer on the ten acts who performed like the entertainers they were channeling.

And the theme of the night was FUN.

One of the most important missions of the Immigration Center is its work with the seniors in the community,  including a monthly lunch at the Irish Center in Mt. Airy, so it was only fitting that two of the acts, The Jailbirds  and Seniors in Sync, were composed of seniors. Proving age has no season, they brought the house down with  their performances, including interpretations of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” and Beyonce’s “Single  Ladies.” Continue Reading

News, People, Photos, Videos

Tribute to Kevin McGillian

Dozens of people crammed into the tiny MacSwiney Club last Saturday night to pay tribute to Kevin McGillian, who has been playing Irish music on his button accordion at ceilis far and wide since he arrived from Tyrone in the 1950s.

The Comhaltas Ceoltiori Eireann Philadelphia-Delaware Valley Division gave McGillian its lifetime achievement award, appropriately during a break in a ceili at the Jenkintown club. Playing button accordion in the ceili band was Billy McComiskey, a four-time all-Ireland champion who drive up from Baltimore to be part of the event. Later in the evening, he gave McGillian his accordion to hold and the octogenarian, who has been battling cancer, coaxed a tune out of it. McGillians sons, Jimmy and John, also joined in the music making. Continue Reading

Music, News, People

St. Malachy’s Annual Concert Honors Its Fallen Hero and Longtime Supporters

By Kathy McGee Burns

Musician Mick Moloney will be returning to St. Malachy’s Church in Philadelphia for his annual concert on Sunday, November 1. The event raises money for the operating costs of St. Malachy’s School, a mission school and “beacon of hope” in North Philadelphia that serves mainly low-income children.

But this year, something is different. Sr. Cecile Reiley, SSJ, will not be there, physically, to guide us. She passed away on April 24, 2015. She and Mick worked on this event for 28 years and, as Mick said, “Sister Cecile was one of the loveliest people I have ever known. A living Saint, really. The most gentle of souls but with a calm inner strength that was extraordinary.”

Sister Cecile, a native of Pottsville, joined the Sisters of St. Joseph as a young woman in 1957. She double majored in music and art at Chestnut Hill College and later got an MS in pastoral counseling. She was a teacher and an immigration counselor in the Diocese of Allentown and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. She was a member of the Catholic Peace Fellowship which has met at St. Malachy’s—her ministry up until her death—for more than 30 years. Continue Reading

News, People

Mary Frances Fogg To Be Inducted into Irish Hall of Fame

By Kathy McGee Burns

When I think of Mary Frances Fogg, whom I dearly love and respect, I think of the phrase “indomitable spirit.” If you look up this term you would see that it is defined as “a spirit that cannot be subdued or overcome; unconquerable, impossible to defeat”. Some synonyms would be virtuous, upright, decent, and honorable.

Now, she would be kicking and screaming at me for saying this but I’m not the only who does. Her son, Jason, said, “She has the strength of 10 lions, is forthright in her ideologies and will fight for the cause she believes in.”

Mary Fogg or Frassee (as she’s known) is being honored at the 15th Annual Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame award dinner. She is the daughter of Helen McCann (Port Richmond) and William Fogg (Kensington).Helen, who attended Moore College of Art was a musician (violin and piano) and an artist. Her Dad played AAA professional baseball (Phillies, Red Sox). Continue Reading

Music, News, People, Photos

Meet Philly’s New Music Dynasty

Philadelphia’s Irish community is known for its musical family dynasties.

There are the Boyces—brothers Michael and John are the linchpins of the Celtic rock group Blackthorn, while sister Karen, formerly with the group, Causeway, still sings solo at many Irish events. The McGillians—they’re Boyce cousins—include accordion player John and guitarist Jimmy. Sister Mary will burn up a keyboard now and again. There’s John, Judy, and Eugenia Brennan, a perfect trio of guitar and fiddle, keyboard, and voice. And siblings Dylan and Haley Richardson, a guitarist and fiddler respectively, have already produced their first CD and they’re not even out of their teens.

Now, these musical siblings have to make room for the McGroarys. Donegal brothers Seamus and Raymond are well known in the area. Both singers and guitarists, they’ve played most of the Irish musical pubs in the city and suburbs though, Raymond says, “Seamus play a lot more bars than I do. I mostly play events and people’s parties.” Continue Reading

News, People, Photos, Religion

Celebrating the Irish People’s Mass

At a Mass at beautiful St. Anne’s Church on East Lehigh Avenue in Port Richmond Wednesday night, the Irish delegation to the World Meeting of Families got to witness brotherly love in all its glory.

The church was packed—you couldn’t find a parking space for blocks—and the fans couldn’t do much to lower the temperature inside. But no one seemed to mind—certainly not the Most Reverend Liam S. MacDaid DD, Bishop of Clogher, Council for Marriage and the Family, Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, or any of his traveling companions.

With St. Anne’s Pastor Father Ed Brady serving as host, representatives of many of Philadelphia’s Irish organizations were well represented. There was an honor guard from the 69th PA Irish Volunteers, a dance performance by the Rince Ri school, and tunes by the Second Street Irish Society Pipe Band.

Also attending with the Irish delegation:

  • The Most Reverend Donal Murray DD, Bishop Emeritus of Limerick, Council for Marriage and the Family, Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference
  • Reverend Peter Murphy DD, Executive Secretary, Commission for Pastoral Care and the Council for Marriage and the Family, Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference
  • Reverend Eamon Kelly LC, Vice Chargé at the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem

We have photos from the evening.

The Most Reverend Liam S. Mac Daid DD, Bishop of Clogher, Council for Marriage and the Family, Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, greets mass-goersAltar serversSecond Street Irish Society pipersThe Mass endsThe Most Reverend Liam S. Mac Daid DD, Bishop of Clogher, Council for Marriage and the Family, Irish Catholic Bishops’ ConferenceSecond Street pipersPiperIrish dancers on the altarDancers honor the guests from IrelandThe Most Reverend Liam S. Mac Daid DDA proud Philadelphia welcome to the Irish delegation to the World Meeting of FamiliesThe congregationThe Most Reverend Liam S. Mac Daid DDSt. Anne's ChoirThe view from the choirFrench horn player accompanies the choirReverend Edward Brady, Pastor of St. Anne’s Church