Browsing Tag


Dance, Music, News

The 2011 Mid-Winter Scottish & Irish Festival in Pictures

The lads of Albannach dropped by.

The lads of Albannach dropped by.

Yea, a mighty wind whipped through the land. In a flash and in the twinkling of an eye, darkness descended over the floor of the Valley Forge Convention Center.

Not the least bit put off by the gloom, the Celtic tribal band Albannach took to the stage and banged their drums. And it was good. Really loud, but still really good.

The good news about the annual Mid-Winter Scottish & Irish Festival: There was no snow or ice. The bad news: The massive windstorm that swept through Montgomery County on Saturday blew out all the power to the convention center. But even here, there was a silver lining. Celtic people kept on pouring through the gates. Bands continued to perform onstage. And with battery-powered lights marking the way, bargain hunters cruised the vendor floor in search of claddagh rings, thistle brooches, kilts and swords. They lined up for meat pies, Welsh cookies and Highland Creamery ice cream.

When the lights did finally come on, a roar went up from the crowd. And that’s the point: Even with a power-out, there was still a crowd, and it grew as the day went on. It was pretty sizeable on Sunday, too.

We captured memories of both days. To see what we saw, play the interactive photo essay up top. To see photos with captions, click here.


2010: The Year in Photos

One of our favorite photos from the Philadelphia St. patrick's Day Parade

One of our favorite photos from the Philadelphia St. patrick's Day Parade

If it was Irish, we were there: the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame awards, the annual Irish music concert to benefit St. Malachy’s School, GAA games in their last summer at Cardinal Dougherty, the Philadelphia Ceili Group Festival and Irish Night at the Phillies.

Then there was the Mathew Carey Award, the Miss Mayo, Mary from Dungloe and Rose of Tralee pageants, Irish Network-Philly gatherings, the Penn’s Landing Irish Festival, the Inspirational Irish Women awards, the Irish Stew Cook-Off … and more parades than you can shake a shillelagh at.

News, People

Double Win for the 2010 Rose

The second sash of the night for Mairead Conley.

The second sash of the night for Mairead Conley. (Click on photo to view photo essay.)

Mairead Conley was very pleased to have been crowned as the 2010 Philadelphia Rose of Tralee.

“I feel dumbfounded. You never expect to win,” said the self-described introvert and deputy director of community programming at the Irish Immigration Center of Philadelphia, following her local triumph Saturday night at the Philadelphia Irish Center. “I was completely blown away.”

But the night held one more surprise for Mairead. Saturday night marked the first Mid-Atlantic Rose of Tralee Final. With two other women in the running–Washington, D.C., Rose of Tralee Katherine Walsh and Teresa Marie Parks, Baltimore’s Rose–Mairead was the judges’ choice to become the first Mid-Atlantic Rose. She’ll travel to Tralee, County Kerry, to compete in the Rose of Tralee International Festival August 20 through 24.

It was a special night for yet another reason, Mairead acknowledged. “What a birthday present,” she said as she extricated herself from a throng of friends and relatives. “I was very content with being the Philadelphia Rose. I thought that was a great way to end the evening. Earlier in the night, someone asked me whether I had summer plans. I said, ‘I don’t know… Maybe I’ll go to Sea Isle.’ Now, I’m going to Tralee.”

2009 Philadelphia Rose of Tralee Jocelyn McGillian acknowledged a “huge mix of emotion” as her year came to a close. But she was thrilled for friend Mairead. “Now,” she said, “she gets to feel all the things I felt last year.”

We have many, many photos from Mairead’s big night. (And of course, it was a big night for all of the other bright, talented young women.) Click on the photo at upper right to view the slide show.

Dance, Music, People

A Flood of Generosity for Flood Victims

Rath deHouth and Ann McGee sold tickets for some beautiful baskets.

Rath deHouth and Ann McGee sold tickets for some beautiful baskets.

An evening of music and dancing at the Irish Center last week raised more than $2,000 for the people of Kingston Springs, Tennessee, who lost their local elementary school in the floods that wreaked havoc on Nashville and the entire Cumberland River area in May.

It was a gesture of thanks from a group of 52 Irish Philadelphians who found themselves in Kingston Springs after last May’s flooding turned back their tour bus which was taking them to Memphis for a visit to Graceland.

When the group holed up at a BP station, the tour band—local musicians Fintan Malone, Luke Jardel, and Pat Kildea—set up their instruments and started to play. Many of the Philly tourists were dancers, so an impromptu ceili went into full swing—and it was recorded for YouTube by a Texas tourist who was also stranded.

A nearby merchant sent sandwiches and cases of water to the dancers and some of the local residents joined in the fun, dancing and singing as the rain fell.

To repay the kindness, tour coordinator Marianne MacDonald and musician Luke Jardel planned a benefit (“The Gas Pump Ceili Benefit”) at last Thursday’s Rambling House event at the Irish Center.

The people of Kingston Springs responded when photos from the benefit were posted to the city’s Facebook page. Here are a few examples:

“Fabulous!! We heard so much about your visit, yet no one could really tell us who you were or where you came from! Thanks so much for your positive approach during the flood and leaving a positive memory behind. Thanks for entertaining the stranded.”—Laurie Cooper, City Manager

“Thank you… I wish the flood didn’t happen but it was wonderful for us all to come together. Seems like things stopped ( everyday worries) and people came together like they should. What beautiful hearts you have!”—Jennifer Baer Reese

“Thank you all so much for your generosity, kindness and those much needed smiles your created May 2!”—Marie Spafford

We have photos from the benefit. Click on the photo at upper right to view a photo essay.


Hot Afternoon, Icy Lemonade, and a Good Cause

Alex's Lemonade Stand

Hey ... you get the idea, right? Click on the photo to see more.

Last Saturday afternoon, temperatures soared into the high 80s throughout the Delaware Valley, but it felt even hotter out on West Chester Pike in Upper Darby.

But the heat evidently didn’t bother many of the volunteers who turned out to help the Philadelphia Rose of Tralee Centre support pediatric cancer research with a spectacular (and very yellow) Alex’s Lemonade Stand at the Irish Immigration and Pastoral Center at West Chester Pike and Cedar Lane. Even Sarah Conaghan, managing director of the Mid-Atlantic Rose of Tralee Centre, was a study in bright lemony yellow, right down to her necklace—which looked like a string of miniature lemons.

The volunteers included many of the Delaware Valley’s best and brightest young Irish-American women—including 2009 Rose Jocelyn McGillian, the Donegal Association’s 2010 Mary from Dungloe Kiera McDonagh, 2009 Mary from Dungloe Emily Weideman, 2008 Miss Mayo and 2010 Mid-Atlantic Rose finalist Colleen Mullarkey , and Jessica Greene, also a Mid-Atlantic Rose finalist.

(And if I’ve left anyone out, one or more of these women will let us know.)

Also among the volunteers: a wildly enthusiastic collection of Rosebuds, the younger girls who serve as a kind of honor guard. While the rest of us, wilting, sought refuge in the immigration center’s air conditioning, they hung around outside and drew posters, poured cups of lemonade, blew bubbles, made multicolor pipe-cleaner crowns (my favorite: the one that spelled out “H E L P.”), applied little lemon tattoos to their faces, and ran up and down the block below the immigration center yelling at the very top of their lungs for passing drivers to pull over right that very moment (“I KNOW YOU SEEEEEEEEEEE MEEEEEEE!!!!!!”) and buy a big cup of lemonade for cancer research.

Not so surprisingly, this high-pressure salesmanship often worked. They are Rosebuds—hear them roar.

Between the lemonade stand and online donations, the Rose of Tralee raked in close to $700—not a bad little haul.

Click on the photo above to see the whole photo essay.


Blackthorn Does a Freebie in Collegeville

Blackthorn concert

A young listener gets into the act. Photo by Brian Mengini. (Click on the photo for more.)

One of the great things about summertime in the Delaware Valley are the free concerts where you can bring your blanket and your baby and occasionally your bucket of beer, to steal a line from James Taylor.

Blackthorn played a freebie this week in Collegeville (look for them July 7 at Central Park in Doylestown and July 8 at Prospect Park’s Park Square Summer Concert series). Fortunately, photographer Brian Mengini was there and captured these moments.

Click on the photo at right to see Brian’s excellent photo essay.


Hot, Steamy, Windy—But the Crowds Got All Irish at Penns Landing

Penn's Landing

We caught this little miss clambering on the Irish Memorial during the Mass that preceded the Irish Festival. Cute, but don't do it again! (Her parents spotted her and put a stop to it.)

When it comes to the annual Penns Landing Irish Festival, the crowds never let a little heat, wind, or even rain stop them. They load up on “Irish Ice”—what water ice is called this one day a year—and enjoy the day.

On Sunday, June 6, the crowds came. . . to hear Paddy’s Well, the Hooligans, Round Tower, and Blackthorn; see 11 Irish dance schools strut their stuff; and play “duck hunt” in one of the many fountains that dot the multilayer amphitheatre where the event is held each year.

As in previous years, the festival opened after a Mass, celebrated by Father Ed Brady of St. Isidore’s Parish in Quakertown, at the nearby Irish Memorial. This year’s Mass paid tribute to the recent Inspirational Irish Women awardees. Members of the committee that planned the May 23 event participated: Keira McDonagh and Emily Weideman were readers, Jocelyn McGillian, a mezzo-soprano, sang to the accompaniment of harper Ellen Tepper. Honoree Liz Kerr of LAOH 25 and her husband Pearse brought the gifts. Honoree Kathy McGee Burns, vice president of the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Observance Association, participated in the raising of the flags over the Memorial park.

We were there and have photos from both events.

  • View the Mass at the Memorial.
  • View the Penns Landing Irish Festival.
  • View more of the Penns Landing Irish Festival
  • People

    Sold-Out Crowd Helps Honor 11 Inspirational Irish Women

    Rosemarie Timoney

    Rosemarie Timoney, one of the 11 Inspirational Irish Women of the Delaware Valley. (Click on the photo to view a photo essay.)

    More than 300 people watched on Sunday, May 23, as 11 Irish American women from the Delaware Valley were honored at the Philadelphia Irish Center, with the inaugural Inspirational Irish Women Awards.

    The event was launched to recognize the important role women play in every aspect of Irish-American life and to single out those whose grace, courage, generosity, and intelligence particularly embody the Irish spirit. Among the honorees were Princess Grace of Monaco (the former Grace Kelly of East Falls); Sister Mary Scullion, co-founder of Project Home and one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People; and Rosemarie Timoney, an Irish immigrant who founded the Timoney School of Irish Dance to help keep Irish culture alive in the Delaware Valley. J.B. Kelly, nephew of the late Princess Grace, was on hand to accept her award on behalf of her children.

    CBS3 news anchor Susan Barnett was the emcee for the cocktail reception which also honored her colleague, meteorologist Kathy Orr. Artist Pat Gallagher, himself the son of immigrants who grew up on the Main Line, painted abstract impressionist portraits of the women which will hang at the Irish Center for several months before they go to Ireland for a special exhibit at the Oscar Wilde House, American College Dublin. Vincent Gallagher, president of the Commodore Barry Club (the Irish Center), welcomed the audience to the event.

    Proceeds from the event will support the Irish Center and Project H.O.M.E., the nonprofit agency that has been credited with reducing homelessness in Philadelphia.

    The 2010 honorees are:

    • Sister Mary Scullion, co-founder of Project H.O.M.E.
    • Sister Kathleen Marie Keenan, senior vice president of Mission and Sponsorship of Mercy Health System, the largest Catholic health care system in southeastern Pennsylvania.
    • Rosemarie Timoney, founder of Timoney School of Irish Dance, longtime promoter of Irish culture in the Delaware Valley.
    • Kathy McGee Burns, Realtor, president of the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame, vice president of the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Observance Committee.
    • Kathy Orr, Eight-time Emmy Award-winning CBS3 meteorologist, anchor of the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day coverage, and supporter of several local charities.
    • Emily Riley, executive vice president of the Connelly Foundation.
    • Denise Sullivan Morrison, senior vice president and president, North America Soup, Sauces and Beverages Division of Campbell Soup Company.
    • Siobhan Reardon, first woman president and director of The Free Library of Philadelphia.
    • Liz Kerr, RN, longtime member of Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians Div. 25, member of the Heart Transplant Team at Temple University and director of the Patrick Kerr Skateboard Scholarship.
    • Rosabelle Gifford, winner of the Rose of Tralee Centre’s first Mary O’Connor Spirit Award in 2009 for her lifetime of courage in the face of adversity and personal advocate for abused women.
    • Princess Grace of Monaco, Academy Award-winning film star, mother, and founder of The Princess Grace Foundation which serves the needy in Monaco and supports the arts in the U.S.

    Music for the gala was provided by Shannon Lambert-Ryan and RUNA, and Michael and John Boyce and Karen Boyce McCollum. The Timoney Dancers performed in surprise tribute to Rosemarie Timoney. Food was prepared and coordinated by Geraldine Quigg and Sarah Walsh, with assistance from Geraldine Trainor, Carmel Boyce, and Maureen Brett Saxon. Flowers by Susan Yeager and Sarah Meade.

    The Inspirational Irish Women Awards committee included Sarah Conaghan, Karen Conaghan Race, Denise Foley, Marianne MacDonald, Kiera McDonagh, Jocelyn McGillian, Jeff Meade, and Emily Weideman.

    Major sponsors included Connelly Foundation, The Philadelphia/Midatlantic Rose of Tralee Centres, Mercy Health System, the Wall-Burns family, and