The Philadelphia Irish Center
This time of year, if you want to be Irish in Philadelphia you often have to go to New Jersey. But that’s okay, because many Irish Philadelphians do.
Slainte—Frank Daly and C.J. Mills of Jamison—will be at Keenan’s in North Wildwood on Saturda at 5, then with Jamison at Casey’s, also in North Wildwood, at 9:30 that night. Quite a day. Hope their voices hold out because Jamison is heading over to Shenanigans in Sea Isle City on Sunday.
The Broken Shillelaghs will be at the Gloucester County AOH (you don’t have to be a member to attend) on Saturday too.
But the big story on action news. . .er, Irish Philadelphia, is the Fundraiser for the Irish Center on July 19 at Maloney’s Pub, 2626 County Line Road in Ardmore. If you’ve been reading along with us, you know that the Irish Center, which was founded in 1958 and is the hub of many of the activities in the Irish community, just got slammed with a huge tax bill, the result of a citywide reassessment that affected many other private clubs in Philadelphia. An appeal brought the 800 percent increase in the center’s taxes down to a 300 percent hike, but the Center still can’t afford it. To make matters worse, the range hood in the kitchen needs to be replaced (it’s at least $20,000). Without it, the kitchen won’t pass a Board of Health inspection and the Center will lose its main source of income—events and catering.
The Center has faced money shortfalls before, but this is the first time it’s faced an imminent shutdown. The Center is the home to all the county societies, the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame, the Philadelphia Ceili Group (and its annual traditional music festival), the Next Generation (the group of youngsters who learn and perform traditional music together), weekly ceili dance classes conducted by John Shields, and the Cummins School of Irish Dance. It’s where the Donegal and Galway, and Mayo Balls are held, the Philadelphia Mary from Dungloe is chosen, the Derry Society holds its socials, famous Irish musicians play in the ballroom or the cozy Fireside Room, the seniors meet once a month for lunch and some music, and Gaelic football fans watch their favorite teams on pay-per-view while eating a full Irish breakfast on Sunday mornings.
Think of what it will mean if those groups no longer have a central place to meet and there is no one stage where Irish traditional music can be performed.
If you can’t come to the fundraiser (it starts at 6 PM), consider making an online donation on the Irish Center’s website, the fundraising website, or by sending a check to the Commodore Barry Club, 6815 Emlen Street, Philadelphia, PA 19119.