The 20th annual Wren Party, sponsored by the Philadelphia-Delaware Valley chapter of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, is done and dusted.
CCÉ’s yearly event commemorates an ancient Irish custom, in which the humble wren is alleged to have given away the hiding place of St. Stephen, Christianity’s first martyr. In olden days, “wren boys” or “straw boys” would parade around their village, bearing the body of a hapless wren on a stick and begging contributions for a big village bash.
In this case, absolutely no wrens were harmed, of course. The only birds were fake.
Party-goers danced on into the night to tunes provided by a big Irish traditional band, Rosemarie Timoney’s dancers put on a lively exhibition, and there was a cute little wren parade, in which participants were awarded for the quality and inventiveness of their wren hats.
Andrew John Hozier-Byrne—between us, known simply as Hozier—stopped by The Met Philly on his Wasteland Baby tour.
The 29–year–old folk rock singer from County Wicklow (UP WICKLOW!) is on the road supporting his second album, the tour’s namesake, with opening act Angie McMahon.
Born to a blues drummer father and artist mother, the Trinity College graduate realized international and commercial success with his 2014 debut single, “Take Me to Church.” The popularity of the song was helped with a now iconic video featuring renowned ballet dancer Sergei Polunin which was directed by famed visionary, David LaChapelle and choreographed by Jade Hale-Christofi.
Between 600 and 700 art lovers eager to savor the best of the Emerald Isle’s contemporary works visited the “Straight Out of Ireland” exhibition last weekend in Bryn Mawr.
Organized by the Philadelphia Irish Immigration Center in an ornate mansion on the campus of Sacred Heart Academy and pulled together by a dedicated crew of volunteers and committee members, the display showcased the work of 20 artists from Ireland and another dozen artists from the United States who have been influenced by the culture of Ireland. “Straight Out of Ireland” featured a range of contemporary art, including ceramics, glass, drawings, lace, jewelry, photography, paintings, fashion and more.
The event began with a grand gala Friday night, followed by a day of exhibits and informative panel discussions the next day, and a special family day on Sunday.
Immigration Center organizers were expecting 500 or so visitors, so the event exceeded expectations, says Emily Norton Ashinhurst, executive director of the center.
The Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame held its 2019 Dinner this past Sunday night, honoring four well-respected representatives of the local Irish community. They included: Judge Patrick Dugan and Sister Marguerite O’Beirne, OSF, with a Commodore John Barry Award presented to Russell W. Wylie. The beloved Liam Hegarty, of Gaelic Athletic Association Fame—and so much more—was honored posthumously.
About 400 friends and relatives of the honorees filled the Philadelphia Irish Center ballroom wall to wall. All told, one of the best DVIHOF celebrations ever. Standing O’s all-round.
The 2019 Philadelphia Ceili Group Irish Traditional Music & Dance Festival is over, but what a packed, fun-filled festival it was.
We showed you the Thursday night singers night last week, but that was just the beginning of a long weekend of tunes, high stepping, and workshops on how to do everything from play tin whistle to learn a bit of the Irish language to plumb the depths of your Irish heritage.
There was a dance exhibition by the Temple University Dance Team (go Owls!), along with a small orchestra of musicians from the area’s many traditional Irish music sessions, and a superb, intimate concert by piper Ivan Goff and fiddler Katie Linnane. There was a children’s story time, St. Brigid’s cross making, face painting, a hall full of Celtic and Irish vendors, and the kitchen kept on cranking out chow that had people going back for more.
If you were up for a pint or two, that was there, too.
Then, of course, there was the Saturday night finale concert in the ballroom, featuring singer Donie Carroll and Tony DeMarco and his band, the Atlantic Wave.
We have plenty of pictures, courtesy of Denise Foley and Jeff Meade.
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.
You couldn’t have asked for a better day for Philadelphia Gaelic Athletic Association action.
Sunday, in the shadow of the Limerick cooling towers, with bright sun, a gentle breeze and temperatures in the mid-80s, eight teams went at it for guts and glory in football and hurling. The crowd along the sidelines was big and enthusiastic.
We were there for a few of the games and shot a ton of photos. We also have scores:
In hurling, it was Allentown 5-22 over Philly’s NaToraidhe 3-14, and Jersey Shore 4-07 over the South Jersey Rebels 4-06—an exciting, hard-fought matchup.
In the junior football finals, it was Donegal 3-16 over the Delco Gaels 1-12. And in the senior finals, the Young Irelands topped Donegal 3-18 to 2-16.
Check out the pics!
The Gaelic Athletic Association’s 2019 Continental Youth Championships are over, drawing crowds of fans and players by the busloads to the Greater Chester Valley Sports Association Complex in Malvern for four days last week. Volunteers made sure everything ran smoothly for teams from throughout the country.
Not far from anyone’s mind was the late Liam Hegarty, well-known for his involvement in the Delaware County (Delco) Gaels and the GAA broadly.
Denise Foley and I attended the games on Saturday afternoon, and put together the above photo essay. It should give you a taste of what happened on the fields and off.