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New York’s Annual CraicFest Music and Film Festival Turns 20

Rivalry City premieres at the 2018 CraicFest. (Photo: Courtesy CraicFest)

By Mary Gallagher, Editorial Assistant
April / May 2018

This year marks the 20th year of New York City’s celebrated CraicFest, a music and film festival that takes place each March throughout the city to highlight Irish culture and inspire new generations of Irish and non-Irish Americans to explore the rich history of Ireland.

Founded in 1999 by Terence Mulligan, a second-generation Irish American from County Mayo, the festival originally began as a minor film festival, dubbed the New York Film Fleadh. “I was an emcee in the ’90s and working as a doorman at Club Macanudo,” Mulligan tells Irish America. “I wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before.”

Terence Mulligan and actor Colm Meany. (Photo: CraicFest)

Over the years it grew and eventually expanded beyond film and was re-christened CraicFest, after the Irish word for “fun.” This year, the music-based portion of the event begins March 3 at the Mercury Lounge in Manhattan, featuring headliners Natalie Clark, Colin Devlin, and Count Vaseline, with the film festival beginning the following week at the Cinepolis Theatre.

Participating films include Rivalry City, a documentary on the intense competition between the NYPD and FDNY hockey teams in the aftermath of 9/11 (March 8), the New York premiere of George Best: All By Himself (March 9), the IFTA Award-winning Cardboard Gangsters (March 10), and Irish director Jim Sheridan’s new documentary Inside Apollo House, also in its New York City premiere (March 10). Sheridan will be in attendance for the screening, which will be followed by a Q&A.

“It’s all about the experience it gives New Yorkers, and not just Irish in New York,” Mulligan says. “The chance to experience Irish culture through film or music is a powerful feeling.”

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