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How to be Irish in Philly this Week

How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

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.

On Sunday, two big events. Continue Reading

How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

Liam McLaughlin

Liam McLaughlin

Happy Fourth!

If you’re going to a parade tomorrow, it’s likely you’ll run into an Irish pipe band or two. But from Friday on, this week is jam-packed with Irish goodness.

Here goes:

On Saturday, check out “I’ll Make a Ghost of Him: Joyce Haunted by Shakespeare” exhibition at the Rosenbach Museum, 2008 Delancy Place in Philadelphia. The exhibit is open from noon to 6 p.m., and the exhibition itself runs through August 31. There’re plenty of chances to take it in.

If you’re goin’ down da shore this weekend, you can check out two of our most popular bands. Slainte shows up at Keenan’s, 113 Olde New Jersey Ave, North Wildwood, Saturday at 5. Later on, at 9:30, Jamison takes the stage at Casey’s, 3rd and New York, in the same great town along New Jersey’s Irish Riviera.

The South Jersey Irish Society hosts a picnic Sunday from 11 to 7 at the CYO-Yardville Branch, 453 Yardville-Allentown Road, in Yardville. And there will be no shortage of fun things to do, including dancing, swimming (not at the same time), mini-golf, basketball, and, of course, the obligatory picnicking. Charcoal grills are available.

Last weekend, at the Celtic Festival in Bristol, I ran into a couple of guys who play at the Bristol Traditional Irish Music Session Tuesday nights at Kelch House Eatery at Mill and Radcliffe Street, not far from the wharf, and they swear by it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a newbie or a more experienced player—everybody is welcome. And if you don’t play or sing, you’re more than welcome to drop by and listen. The session starts at 7.

If you’re near Ardmore, there’s a great session at Maloney’s on County Line Road the same night, at the same time. Fado in the city has its own session, starting at 9.

So if you’re looking for live Irish music, Tuesday’s a great night, but … the Philly area is positively up to its eyeball in Irish music sessions. Check out our calendar!

But wait! There’s more Irish music in a great summer setting.

Jamison’s in action again (do these guys ever sleep?) Wednesday night from 7 to 9:30 at Pennypack Park, at the Ed Kelley Amphiteatre, Welsh and Cresco in the Great Northeast. Also on the bill: The Bogside Rogues. Two great bands for the price of one. Which is to say: it’s free.

Thursday night, from 5:30 to 8:30, Irish Network-Philadelphia joins forces with the German American Chamber of Commerce to celebrate a single saint. It’s the St. Kilian’s Day Celebration at Brauhas Schmitz, 718 South Street in the city. (Irish missionary St. Kilian traveled to Bavaria in the 7th Century. Both nationalities hold him in reverence. Cash bar, complementary light hors d’oeuvres. Slainte! And Prost!

On Friday night, from 8 to 11, a rare treat: Liam McLaughlin, renowned as an Irish country music fave, in concert at the Philadelphia Irish Center, Carpenter and Emlen, in Mount Airy. You can take the train, too. Carpenter station is just steps away. But whatever you do: Support the Irish Center!

So put on your track shoes, and get out there.


How To Be Irish in Philly This Week

Irish piper Paddy Keenan will be in town next Friday.

Irish piper Paddy Keenan will be in town next Friday.

This Saturday, lost loved ones will be remembered and honored at the annual Charlie Dunlop Memorial Fund banquet at Springfield Country Club. The event raises money for the fund that continues the work of the late Delco and County Tyrone electrician in providing financial support for community members in need.

Easter is a time of memorial for those in the Irish community—specifically, remembering the Easter Rising of 1916 when a group of Irish republicans mounted an armed insurrection against the British in Dublin. The Gloucester County AOH will hold an Easter Monday flag raising at the Red Bank Battlefield in National Park, NJ, starting at 11 AM, followed by Mass and a luncheon at the AOH hall on 200 Columbia Boulevard. The event is open to all. (Mark your calendars for Sunday, April 27, for the annual Easter Rising Ceremonies honoring Irish republican heroes Luke Dillon and Joseph McGarrity at Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon, where they’re buried.)

On Wednesday, the Derry Brigade will be playing at the AOH Div. 61 Hall at Rhawn and Frankford Streets in Philadelphia.

Grab your whistles, flutes, and uillean pipes if you got ‘em for April 25-26 workshops with the legendary piper Paddy Keenan, who will also be performing in concert at the Irish Center in Philadelphia, thanks to the Philadelphia Ceili Group.


How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

Saorla Meenagh, wearing her Rose of Tralee face paint.

Saorla Meenagh, wearing her Rose of Tralee face paint.

Tickets were going fast for the Gerry Timlin solo show at Act II Playhouse in Ambler on Saturday. Better call now.

If you happen to be in North Wildwood, the Shantys will be playing at the Anglesea Pub. We happen to know that there will be an influx of Irish folk in Wildwood this weekend for the Cummins School of Irish Dance Feis at the Beach.

On Sunday, see a documentary exploring the controversial case of 10 people shot by British soldiers in West Belfast in 1971 including a Catholic priest and a mother of eight. Relatives and victims will be able to answer your questions in a Skype session after the showing. The event is free at The Irish Center.

The Coyle School of Irish Dance is sending some of its best dancers to the world championships in London this year. They’re holding a fundraiser on Sunday April 6, between 5 and 8 PM, at The Irish Pub, 1123 Walnut Street in Philadelphia. Bartenders for the evening will be world contenders Moira Cahill, a former Philadelphia Mary from Dungloe, and Padraig Glenn. Your $30 covers a delicious meal and open bar. Kids are only $10.

On Friday, one of the classiest events of the year, the Philadelphia Rose of Traleen Selection and dinner will take place at The Radnor Hotel. CBS3’s consumer reporter Jim Donovan will be the emcee (he’s very funny) and a brand new Rose will be chosen to compete in Ireland next summer. The current Philly Rose is congressional aide Brittany Killion.

On Saturday, April 12, about a dozen East Coast university-based Gaelic football and hurling teams will converge on Msgr. Bonner High School in Drexel Hill for a day of competition. We’d say all in fun, but we’ve seen Gaelic football and hurling—it’s serious.

And if you like what you see, the Glenside Gaelic Athletic Association is holding an open house for youngsters and their parents interested in Gaelic sports at Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote on Sunday, April 13.

Save some time that day to attend the Derry Society’s Spring Social at The Irish Center, featuring music by the Derry Brigade, the Cummins School of Irish Dance, and Bill Donohue Jr. will be playing DJ for the kids to compete in musical games. There’s face painting, food, and raffles. And you don’t have to be from Derry to come. It’s a great day out for the kids.

How to Be Irish in Philly, News

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

Home-grown Irish music

Home-grown Irish music

With the Philadelphia Ceili Group Festival, the Delaware Irish Fest, the Mercer Irish Fest, the Celtic Classic, the Gloucester City Shamrock Festival, and the North Wildwood Irish Festival all coming up in September, feel free to consider this week the calm before the storm.

What’s going on is what goes on all the time—but what goes on all the time is amazing, and never to be taken for granted. It’s all great craic.

First off, the radio shows, which we’re incredibly lucky to have:

  • John Buckley’s Celtic Globe, Saturday from 7 to 8 a.m. on WNWR AM 1540
  • Mike Concannon’s Irish Hours, Saturday from 12 noon to 2 p.m. You can find Mike at WVCH-740 AM.
  • Vince Gallagher’s Irish Hour, on WTMR 800 AM, on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 12 noon
  • Followed at noon on the same station by Marianne MacDonald’s Come West Along the Road

Second, discover all the traditional Irish music sessions, including Sunday’s big session at the Plough and Stars on Second Street in Olde City, starting at 5 p.m., going until 9. Also check out one of the oldest and most revered Irish music sessions in the Delaware Valley at the Mermaid Inn on Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill, Wednesday night at 8.

You’ll also love the Session and Supper at Molly Maguire’s in Lansdale, Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m. Terry Kane anchors a session at another Molly Maguire’s, this one on Bridge Street in Phoenixville, starting at 4 p.m.

They’re all the very next best thing to actually being in Ireland. Consider them the sound track of Irish Philly. If you play a musical instrument, most locals music sessions welcome newcomers. Check out our calendar to find even more of them. We’ve just scratched the surface.

And third, take advantage of the serendipitous confluence of local Irish bands and local Irish pubs. This week, the Broken Shillelaghs rock out at Tucker’s Pub on Atlantic Avenue Saturday from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. The next day, catch Jamison at Shenanigan’s in Sea Isle Sunday from 8 p.m. to midnight. If you’re at the shore, do drop in.

Paddy Whack’s Pub on Roosevelt Boulevard hosts some of the area’s biggest Irish bands every Saturday from 3 to 7 p.m.

So support our local bands and our local watering holes.

And again, you’ll find more on our calendar.

That’s it for now, but stay tuned for much more stuff in the next few weeks.

How to Be Irish in Philly, News

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

It's Runa.

It’s Runa.

Hugely talented local Irish bands take to the stage at the venerable Philadelphia Folk Festival this weekend. As if you needed a reason to head out to this incomparable annual event out at the Old Pool Farm in the bustling metropolis of Schwenksville.

Burning Bridget Cleary takes to the Craft Stage Saturday the 17th at 11 a.m. And just in case you missed the recently well-traveled band Runa, they’ll head up what’s being billed as A Celtic Afternoon on the Camp Stage on Sunday at 2 p.m. They’ll be joined by the aforementioned Burning Bridget Cleary, and more. Get other details and purchase tickets here.

Also on Sunday, at exactly the same time—we don’t envy you having to make the choice—Kathy DeAngelo and Dennis Gormley, otherwise known as McDermott’s Handy, will be celebrating the release of their new CD at a party. It’s called “Bound for Amerikay,” and you can hear many of the tunes at The Center for the Arts in Southern New Jersey in Marlton. Details here.

If you crave a thoroughly Irish meal in a thoroughly Irish place, we recommend the Sunday dinner at the Philadelphia Irish Center in Mount Airy from 5 to 7 p.m. We recently hired the folks who are preparing the three-course meal, Tullamore Crew Catering, for our own CD release party, and weeks later we’re still saying: Yum! Learn more here.

Earlier in the day at the Center, the Mayo Association will gather at 2:30 for its Lady of Knock Mass, also celebrating the 10th anniversary of Philadelphia’s very imposing Irish Memorial. Has it really been 10 years?

Now catch your breath, because there’s more.

On Sunday night, the Coatesville Traditional Irish Music Series hosts a spectacular concert, featuring concertina player Edel Fox, from Miltown Malbay, County Clare, with fiddler Neill Byrne, who plies his trade around County Waterford. CTIMS is a real gem, and completely worthy of your support. The concert starts at 8 at the Coatesville Cultural Society, which is its own sparkling little gem. Check it out.

OK, we’re finally past the busy weekend, but don’t get too settled. The iconic Celtic punk rock band, the Dropkick Murphys, drop into the Mann Center on Wednesday night at 7:30. The band’s founder Ken Casey is also associated with the very important Claddagh Fund, which raises money for underfunded nonprofits in our area. Visit the Mann Center website.

And now for something completely different: Galway children’s book writer and illustrator Derek Mulveen will be reading from his book “Oisin the Brave-Moon Adventure” at 5 p.m. at Maggie O’Neill’s in Upper Darby. The book is for kiddies 2 to 7. There will also be activities. Check this book out—and the reading, too.

And that’s it for now. Hey, isn’t that enough?

We also want to remind you that tickets are on sale for one of the area’s most important musical and cultural events, The Philadelphia Ceili Group Festival, at the Irish Center September 12-14. This is huge. If you ain’t there, you can’t call yourself Irish. Visit the Ceili Group online.

Arts, Music

How to Be Irish in Philly This Week

No Irish Need Apply

No Irish Need Apply

If you’re looking to indulge your Irishness, then Sunday could be a big day for you.

First up, the 16th Annual Celtic Day in Bristol’s Lions Park, at the foot of friendly Mill Street. It’s always a great crowd, and for good reason. Lots of music, featuring No Irish Need Apply and the Hooligans—and both of those bands are always a party. The Fitzpatrick School of Irish Dance will also be on their toes throughout the day. It’s a sure bet the pipes will be calling, too, as the Philadelphia Police and Fire Pipes and Drums will be on the march.

As with most festivals, you can count on great food and drink, vendors, and plenty of kid-friendly activities. Pack an umbrella on the off-chance, but, hey … we’re Irish. A little rain won’t dampen our spirits. The fun runs from 1 to 8 p.m.

Members of the South Jersey Irish Society are hosting their picnic at the CYO-Yardville Branch, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. You dance the day away under a covered pavilion. The pool will be open until 5, and you can roast your own hot dogs in one of the many charcoal grills. Play mini-golf with the kids, or send them off to the game room.

As for the rest of the week, hey, did we miss the memo? Are you all going to be in Wildwood this week? Well, hey, if you’re down there working on your burn, drop into Casey’s, 301 New York Avenue in North Wildwood, on Saturday night for Jamison Celtic Rock. Take our word for it … you’ll have a great time.

Also a fun time …

Slainte at Keenan’s, 113 Old New Jersey Avenue, North Wildwood, from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday. You’ll see familiar faces, Frank Day & CJ Mills of Jamison Celtic Rock.

The Broken Shillelaghs at Lazy Lanigan’s, 139 Egg Harbor Road, in Sewell, N.J. The tunes start at 9.

The rest of the week, you can always count on plenty of opportunities to hear Irish music, with traditional Irish music sessions all over the place.

We know it’s a few weeks out, but we also wanted to remind you about the Graeme Park Celtic Weekend in Horsham, July 20 and 21. Lots of music, including the Glengarry Bhoys, Seamus Kennedy and our local piping pals, Irish Thunder. Mark your calendar.

Want to know more? Check the calendar for details. It’s small, but mighty.

Columns, How to Be Irish in Philly

How to Be Irish In Philly This Week

Double proof that you don’t have to be Irish to be an Irish musician: Isaac Alderson and Jonas Fromseier.

Isaac Alderson was 11 or 12 when he discovered Irish music. A friend of his mother’s gave him a set of practice pipes and he was hooked. By the time he was 17, he was being paid to anchor Irish sessions in his native Chicago. At the 2002 Fleadh Cheoil in Ireland—the Superbowl of traditional musicians—Alderson was named the All-Ireland Senior Champion in three instruments, uilleann pipes, flute and whistle, becoming the first American ever to perform that particular hat trick.

Alderson will be on stage at the Irish Center this Saturday, bringing with him Fromseier, the Danish-born bouzouki and banjo player who, with a grant from the Danish government, wound up in Galway studying Irish music after a stint with a Danish Irish trad group called “The Trad Lads.” (The Danes, while not Celtic, do have an Irish connection: They conquered the little island long ago when they were members of the well known group, the Vikings.)

Before the Vikings land here, check out “Cherish the Ladies,” Joanie Madden’s fabulous girl group, performing at the Sellersville Theatre on Friday night. Band members change, but the quality of these amazing musicians never dims. Plus, Madden is a hoot.

Another unusual sighting this week: Belfast-born indie musician Henry Cluney from the group Stiff Little Fingers will be performing at Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia on Sunday.

Sunday is also the second in a series of fundraisers for the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade, this one at AOH 39 on Tulip Street in Philly. On board for this one: Winners of the “best Irish band” in the US battle of the bands sponsored by Strangford Lough Brewing Company in Northern Ireland, Jamison Celtic Rock.

For Valentine’s Day, the Irish Immigration Center is hosting a luncheon and party at the Irish Center, 6815 Emlen Street, in Philadelphia on Monday at noonish. Great food, music, dancing—and love, they promise, will be in the air.

This week, two great Irish plays debut as part of the Philadelphia Irish Theater Festival. The Abbey Theatre of Dublin’s “Terminus,” a playing serial killers, avenging angels, and love-sick demons (of course, you’ll laugh), is at the Zellerbach Theatre. On February 16 and 17, Father David Cregan, OSA, PhD, associate professor of theatre and English, will host a post-show question and answer session with the cast. On February 17, catch the opening of The Lieutenant of Inishmore, one of the Martin McDonagh’s wildly dark and comic plays about a soldier who returns home to find that his only friend. Wee Thomas, the cat, has been assassinated. Bad things ensue. This one is at Plays and Players Theatre on Delancey Street in Philadelphia.

On Friday, Boston’s Matt and Shannon Heaton (with new baby, Nigel!) will be performing at Trinity Episcopal Church in Swarthmore. Shannon, whose newest CD is “The Blue Dress,” was named Live Ireland’s Female Musician of the year two years running (2010 and 2011).

Friday night is also the kick-off concert for the Mid-Winter Scottish-Irish Festival in Valley Forge, now in its 19th year of making winter bearable for fans of Celtic everything. There’s music, drink, food, dancing, and Irish tchotchkes for sale. Always fun.