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St. Patrick’s Day

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St. Patrick’s Day 2014 at Brittingham’s

Tom Webster and Richie Maggs from Down By the Glenside

Tom Webster and Richie Maggs from Down By the Glenside

One of the area’s best known and beloved Irish pubs underwent a facelift last year. We wanted to experience St. Patrick’s Day in the Lafayette Hill eatery’s light and airy new digs.

The day started with a great buffet. The hash was the best we’d ever tasted.

Things got off to a slow start, but business picked up pretty quickly–not long after local singer-raconteur Oliver McElhone started to sing rebel songs, and whatever else anybody wanted to hear, from a stage not far from one of Brittingham’s two bars.

And both bars were pretty busy when we left.

St. Patrick’s Day at Brittingham’s attracted a pretty diverse crowd, including two guys from a band called Down By the Glenside who had played there the night before, and two off-duty nurses who had just come off the night shift. “It’s our happy hour,” they said.

Early or late, it was a pretty happy hour for everybody.

We snagged a few photos. Check them out, up top.

And one video of McElhone himself, singing … of course … a rebel tune. Feel free to sing along. We did.


Conshohocken 2014

Valley Forge Pipe Major Joe Raudenbush

Valley Forge Pipe Major Joe Raudenbush

There’s always a crowd at the Montgomery County St. Patrick’s Day parade. Saturday in Conshohocken was no exception. If anything, the balmy near-60 degree weather brought out many more Irish, and wannabe Irish. We also saw the first flip-flops we’ve seen in months, a harbinger of spring if ever there was one.

Grand Marshal Jay Murray, wearing the maroon kilt of Irish Thunder—he plays pipes—led the bands, dancers, fire trucks, local pols, Hibernians and more down Fayette Street.

Check out the photo gallery.


Recipe: Bar Cookies. . .With Guinness

The key ingredient!

The key ingredient!

When we’re looking for a special St. Patrick’s Day treat, we turn first to our favorite Irish cook, Margaret Johnson, author of “Flavors of Ireland” and nine other cookbooks celebrating Irish cuisine. And she has something special for us this year—Guinness for dessert!

We’ll let her tell it:

“No one was more surprised than I to learn that desserts could be made with Irish stouts, beers, and ales. Drinking them was a no-brainer, and using them for marinades and flavoring stews was a great idea, but I thought desserts were another matter. That was before I realized that the sweet flavor produced by yeast and hops could easily translate to cakes, breads, and bars like these (see recipe below). This recipe originated with the brewers of Guinness more than three decades ago. Note: you can also make this in an 8- or 9-in. square pan for more of a cake-like finish.

Guinness Applesauce Bars with Lemon Drizzle
Makes 27 bars

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup Guinness stout
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Lemon Drizzle Icing
1 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease a 9 x 13 in. baking pan and dust with flour; tap out excess.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, and cinnamon. Set aside.
3. In another large bowl, stir together the applesauce, brown sugar, oil, and Guinness. Mix thoroughly. Add the flour mixture, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the raisins, dates, and walnuts.
4. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Cut the bars into 9 rows by 3 rows.
5. To make the drizzle, in a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, milk, and lemon juice. Drizzle the mixture over the bars and serve immediately.

You can join Margaret M. Johnson on a culinary tour of Ireland next October 8-15 when you can visit and have a tasting at the Guinness factory yourself. The 8-day escorted tour ($2,468, land only price based on double occupancy) includes deluxe accommodations plus visits and tastings at the Burren Smokehouse, the Jameson distillery, and a half-day, hands-on cooking class with Chef Catherine Fulvio at Ballynocken House in County Wicklow, among other things. For more information and a complete itinerary, go to Margaret’s website.


Merry Chris. . . Uh, Happy St. Patrick’s Day from Conshy

conshy-paradeIt rained, it snowed, it sleeted—but the Conshohocken St. Patrick’s Day went on as planned on Saturday, March 16. While fewer people than usual lined the march route (Conshy’s main drag, Fayette Street), the folks who braved the bad weather had a very good time—a very good time, indeed.

If you need proof, check out our photos!


How Did You Spend St. Patrick’s Day?

This McDade dancer didn’t let the cold weather steal her smile.

This McDade dancer didn’t let the cold weather steal her smile.

We hope you had a great St. Patrick’s Day, because we did. We started the day as we usually do, at The Plough and the Stars in Philadelphia for Judge Jimmy Lynn’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast. It’s a charity event, but it’s also a place for local pols to meet and greet. For all we know, deals were being made over the full Irish breakfast, but were too busy listening to the music, the party pieces, and watching the dancers who managed to so some amazing leaps on a very crowded dance floor.

Even more amazing were the dancers who performed outside at The Irish Memorial at Penns Landing, which is marking its 10th anniversary. Mayor Michael Nutter and State Senator Mike Stack spoke at the event, after which they joined members of the Memorial’s board in planting shamrocks at the site. It was very, very cold, yet the young dancers kept their smiles up.

For dancing, nothing beats The Irish Center on St. Patrick’s Day, where both the young and old took to the dance floor after a hearty lunch of ham and cabbage and shepherd’s pie.

Some of us went a little quiet in the afternoon–heading to Lansdale’s Water Gallery where there was an Irish/Old Time Music session going on all afternoon. Water Gallery co-owner Bette Conway is a fiddler herself, and brings not only Irish music but Irish artisans to her shop. And no, we didn’t get out of there without buying something.

We took photos of our festivities.

See St. Patrick’s Day at The Plough and The Irish Memorial.

View photos from The Irish Center.

Check out our afternoon at the Water Gallery in Lansdale.

How to Be Irish in Philly

How To Be Irish in Philly This Week

There’s one of these playing somewhere in the region.

There’s one of these playing somewhere in the region.

We don’t know about you, but some of us have been really Irish for several weeks and would like to take a week off. For those of you who didn’t get your Irish up quite as much as we did, here’s what’s going on:

Robbinsville is having its St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday. The parade route in on our calendar.

And on Saturday night, the Delco Gaels promise a night of comedy and music (and anyone who’s attended their “Dancing like a Star” event knows they can deliver) at St. Laurence Hall in Upper Darby—it’s a fundraiser for the organization’s GAA youth league.

Clancy’s Pistol is playing at the Big Heads Pub in Willow Grove on Saturday night.

On Thursday, Jerry Collins and Shaun McCann of the Broken Shillelaghs will be performing at Schileen’s Pub in Westville, NJ.

Next Saturday is the Charlie Dunlop Memorial Banquet, which is raising money to establish a fund in the name of the popular Tyrone native who lived in Delaware County and who died in 2011 at the age of 45. Blackthorn is playing. The good news: It’s sold out. The bad news: It’s sold out so you can’t get tickets if you want them.

Check our calendar frequently for late-breaking Irish events.

How to Be Irish in Philly

How To Be Irish in Philly This Week

The great and glorious.

The great and glorious.

Does the fun ever end? Well, it might, but not this weekend.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!! (Or Happy Paddy’s Day to you real Irish. To the rest of ye, it’s not Patty. Not now. Not ever. Never. ) The big day is Sunday this year, and there are three local parades on Saturday that will get you in the spirit. They’re staggered a little so you may be able to make all three (some of the bands do two, so it’s possible).

First off the line is the 25th annual Bucks County St. Patrick’s Day Parade which starts at 10:30 AM from St. Joseph the Worker Church at 9172 New Falls Road in Levittown.

At noon, the Springfield, Delaware County parade starts from West Springfield Road.

Then, at 2 PM, the Conshohocken St. Patrick’s Day parade takes over downtown Conshohocken.

There’s plenty more out there to help you get your Irish on. Here it is in chronological order, and we are not taking a breath:


9:30 AM. Paddy Whacks’ St. Patrick’s Day Dash and Bash features a 5K on a closed course to raise money for patients at the Fox Chase Cancer Center, followed by the Bash, an all-day tented event at the bar’s Comly Road location featuring Jamison, Slainte, and the Bogside Rogues. Lots of drink specials.

10 AM. Register for the new Glenside GAA at the MacSwiney Club in Jenkintown.

10 AM. Hear Clancy’s Pistol at The Boat Club in National Park, NJ.

Noon. Enjoy drink specials and lots of music at the Piazza at Schmidt’s Shamrock Celebration on Hancock Street in Philadelphia.

1 PM. Head to the Irish Center for televised GAA sports from Ireland.

2 PM. The Molly Maguires Ceilidh Band will be providing the music at the St. Patrick’s Day Party at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Glenside, a production of the Sean MacBride AOH Div. 2. Lots of dancing and fun for the kiddies.

3 PM. The Bogside Rogues go on stage at Paddy Whacks at 9241-43 Roosevelt Blvd. n Northeast Philadelphia.

5 PM. Clancy’s Pistol is on the move. They’re playing at Maynard’s Café in Margate, NJ.

6PM. Jamison goes on at Paddy Whacks’ Paddy Bash.

8 PM. Catch Burning Bridget Clear at World Café at the Queen in Wilmington, DE.

8 PM. Celtic Pride will be showing it off at the Temperance House in Newtown.

8:30 PM. The Broken Shillelaghs will fix you up at Brittingham’s in Lafayette Hill, now under new ownership (Brittingham’s that is).

9 PM. If you need a break from Irish music, check out Electric Boa and Hammer Down at World Café Live in Philadelphia. Not sure what they’re doing on our calendar, but, oh well. Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

10:30 PM. Hope they get mileage. Clancy’s Pistol is setting up at yet another Jersey location on Saturday—the great old Anglesea Pub in North Wildwood.

Sunday-St. Patrick’s Day!
7 AM The Annual AOH St. Patrick’s Charity Breakfast takes place at Fado Irish Pub on Locust Street in Philadelphia.

8 AM. Have another charity breakfast at The Plough and the Stars in Philadelphia. Your host: Judge Jimmy Lynn, who can always be counted on to sing.

8:30 AM. The Derry Brigade will be at Marty Magee’s in Prospect Park.

9:30 AM. More televised GAA games at the Irish Center in Mt. Airy.

11 AM. This is a special year for the Irish Memorial—its 10th. There will be prayers, speeches, music, and, of course, Irish dancers, at this lovely location at Penns Landing Park.

11 AM. The Shantys open up the Erin Pub in Norwood for a day of celebrating.

12 PM. Clancy’s Pistol, on very little sleep, will be playing at Paddy Whacks on Comly Road in Philadelphia.

12 PM. Galway Guild will be at Fado in Philadelphia.

12 PM. Join John Brennan and the musical Brennan family, harper Ellen Tepper, and fiddler Bette Conway and more at The Water Gallery in Lansdale for a day of live music (and lovely handcrafted Irish items). You can also buy our CD, “Ceili Drive: The Music of Irish Philadelphia,” which features the Brennans, Tepper, members of Blackthorn, The John Byrne Band, and many of your local favorite traditional musicians.

12 PM. Have your lunch at Roller’s in Chestnut Hill and hear Kitty Kelly Albrecht and her husband, Mike Albrecht. For $10, you get a copy of the latest Philadelphia Ceili Band CD, “Kelly Time.”

12 PM. There’s an open house at the Gloucester County AOH/Richard Rossiter Memorial Hall in National Park, NJ, featuring live music by the Broken Shillelaghs.

1 PM. There’s a family friendly event at Tom & Jerry’s in Folsom featuring Blackthorn—and they promise Irish music all day long.

1 PM. Attend the annual St. Patrick’s Day Mass at the Irish Center. Afterwards, enjoy a lunch of ham and cabbage and shepherd’s pie (it will be authentic, believe us) along with music and dancing.

1 PM. Bill Monaghan and Celtic Pride make their annual trek to the stage of the Sellersville Theatre.

4 PM. Mick Moloney and Friends come to the Cape May Convention Hall. Expect topnotch traditional Irish music and some great stories.

5 PM. Mary Beth (Bonner Ryan) and Friends Irish Band will be playing at The Springfield Inn in Springfield. What a voice!

6 PM. Pack the House Entertainment is going green at World Café Live Downstairs. Listen to three rock and three hip-hop bands, wear something green, participate in the leprechaun costume contest (winner gets a green $50 bill—do they come in other colors?).

7 PM. Chances are I will know about half the audience at the TLA because I count many Saw Doctors fans among my pals. These Galway rockers come to Philly every year because of the love.

8 PM. Burning Bridget Cleary will be at World Café Live.

8 PM. Clancy’s Pistol (where were you all day?) will be playing at Dubh Linn Square in Cherry Hill, NJ.

8 PM. Catch the Shantys at Reedy’s Tavern on Frankford Ave. in

9 PM. Galway Guild will be rocking RiRa at the Trop in Atlantic City.

That’s it so far for Paddy’s Weekend, but keep checking back because new events are being added to our calendar about every hour. Please note: Some sessions on our sessions calendar that repeat every week may not be as scheduled because of the weekend events. Call ahead to find out about any changes. There are more details on all these events on the calendar, including addresses and even maps.

Ah, but that was just the weekend. There’s more.

Blackthorn leaves this week for spring training—if you didn’t book, you missed out.

On Tuesday, Sir James Galway, celebrated Irish flutist (flautist?), comes to the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.

On Thursday, Mary O’Malley, the Heimbod Chair at Villanova, will be reading from her newest work, Valparaiso, which deals with themes of Ireland’s economic boom and bust, at Villanova.

There’s also a new recurring event on our calendar—Irish Music Thursday at Schileen’s Pub in Westville, NJ.

On Friday, the Yanks are coming. American-born trad musicians Dylan Foley, Dan Gurney, and Sean Ernest will be playing a house concert in a private home in Ambler. Contact info is on our calendar.

Coming up: the Robbinsville St. Patrick’s Day Parade is next Saturday, as is the Delco Gaels Night of Comedy and Music (I thought that was what “Dancing Like a Star” was) at St. Laurence Hall in Upper Darby. And Clancy’s Pistol will be playing at Big Heads Pub in Willow Grove next weekend. Like Chicken Man, they’re everywhere, they’re everywhere! Hats off to ya, lads!

Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day and don’t do anything we wouldn’t do.

News, People

After Years of Service, an Honor For Tom Coughlin

Tom Coughlin Sr.

Tom Coughlin Sr.

It came on a night when Tom Coughlin, Sr.’s social calendar was already full, with three events to attend before bed.

The first event was Members Appreciation Night at the Ancient Order of Hibernians Notre Dame Division in Swedesburg. The invitation was not unexpected. Coughlin is a longtime Hibernian, and a charter member, former president, and now organizer of the AOH’s “Yellow Jack” Donohue Division in Hatfield. Coughlin also serves on the state AOH board as organizer for Eastern Pennsylvania, and he is president of the Montgomery County board. He cheerfully admits to wearing many hats.

What was unexpected? The announcement by officers of the Notre Dame Division that Coughlin would lead the 2013 Montgomery County St. Patrick’s Day Parade down Fayette Street in Conshohocken. The so-called “Best Littlest Parade in America” steps off at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

“I was totally taken aback,” Coughlin recalls. “I was totally shocked and humbled to have been chosen. My wife Kathy knew about it, and she kept it a secret.”

Maybe he shouldn’t have been so surprised. Coughlin’s Hibernian roots run deep—he was a member of AOH Division 39 in Philly’s Tacony neighborhood for 20 years before he and his family moved to Harleysville, Montgomery County, about 14 years ago—and being a Hibernian was never something Coughlin could do just halfway.

Coughlin, who lived near Oxford Circle before moving out to Montco, was drawn into Division 39 by one of his close friends, Tom O’Donnell. (O’Donnell is now state president.) It didn’t take much persuasion.

“He didn’t have to talk me into it,” Coughlin remembers. “I wanted to learn what the AOH was all about, and I wanted to find out more about my heritage, and the charitable works the AOH does.”

Coughlin happily jumped in with both feet. “I got involved right away. I become an officer within two years, and I was recording secretary for about six years.”

After the move to Harleysville, Coughlin and his oldest son, Tom Jr., continued to drive into Northeast Philadelphia for meetings at Division 39. But then he heard about an effort to start a brand-new division much closer to home. To no one’s surprise, he was all in.

“I was the founding vice president of Division 4,” he says. “Within three months of forming the division, the charter president stepped down, and I became the president for the next three years.”

Coughlin’s enthusiasm must be contagious. Membership in the AOH is a Coughlin family affair. His wife Kathy is in the Ladies AOH, as is daughter Kelly Ann. Sons Tom, Jr., and Brendan, 21, are also continue to be active Hibernians.

After all these years, Coughlin retains his original enthusiasm for the AOH. “I like the camaraderie, and we keep doing good deeds in the community, such as the Hibernian Hunger Project. “We also roll Irish potato candies to help pay for scholarships for children going to Catholic high schools.

Coughlin is also known for his leadership in his division’s annual effort to raise money for ballistic body armor for the North Penn Tactical SWAT Team.

On Saturday, as the parade rolls down the hill in Conshohocken, Coughlin will be surrounded by members of his family, as well as his brothers in Division 4, and the Hatfield American Legion, of which he is also a member.

As for the day of the parade, Coughlin says he has no special plans, except to just take in the moment. “I’m just going to be happy to see all the people there. It’ll be a sea of green.”