9 Ways to Celebrate Irish American Heritage Month
By Mary Gallagher
March 9, 2018
At the end of February, President Trump officially declared the month of March to be Irish American Heritage Month for 2018. He also took the opportunity to mention the numerous historical and cultural contributions the Irish have made to America over the years, mentioning specifically the nine signers of the Declaration of Independence who were “of Irish origin” – which included Thomas Lynch of South Carolina, Thomas McKean of Delaware, and George Taylor of Pennsylvania. He went on to mention later icons of Irish descent, among them entrepreneur Henry Ford and Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. The president concluded, “As we spend this month honouring Irish Americans, we also pledge to further strengthen our relationship with the Emerald Isle itself, as we look forward to a bright future of greater friendship, cooperation, and commerce for centuries to come.”
This announcement initiated the multitude of festivities in order for the month of March, which has been officially celebrated as Irish American Heritage Month since 1991. In accordance with the centuries-long association of St. Patrick’s Day with Irish American pride, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar plans to make his first ceremonial offering of a bowl of shamrocks to President Trump in his capacity as prime minister, a tradition that has been in place for more than half a century.
Irish Language Mass
The Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral
The New York County Ancient Order of Hibernians announced plans for the annual Irish language mass to be held on Saturday, March 10 at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral. Designated a basilica in 2010, St. Patrick’s is the oldest Roman Catholic cathedral in New York City, construction having been completed in 1815. The Irish mass will be celebrated by Father Andrew O’Connor, with Paddy Connolly performing the role of cantor, organist Jared Lamenzo playing the Basilica’s antique 1868 Henry Erben organ, and guest volunteers delivering the readings in Irish. The mass will be followed by a celebration at St. Patrick’s Youth Center, complete with a performance of traditional Irish music and Irish soda bread.
Attendance is free, but any contribution to the spread will be accepted. The cathedral is located at 263 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10012. The mass begins at 12:00 p.m., and the festivities are expected to end by 4:00 p.m. Click here for more info.
The Chieftains with Paddy Moloney
The Town Hall
Irish band The Chieftains, led by Paddy Moloney and accompanied by other guests, will be performing at The Town Hall venue in Manhattan on Saturday, March 10. The event is being held in tribute to Irish American Heritage Month, as well as the band’s celebration of 55 successful years in the music industry. The recipient of several prestigious honors including six Grammy awards, the Ireland-based group has pioneered concerts in areas that vary from the Great Wall of China to the U.S. Capitol Building. This August, they will perform for the visit of Pope Francis.
Tickets to Saturday’s performance start at $50, and are available for purchase at The Town Hall box office or website, as well as on Ticketmaster. The Town Hall is located at 123 W 43rd St, New York, NY 10036, and doors open for admission at 7:30 p.m. Click here for more info.
The 3rd annual gathering to celebrate and promote Irish culture and economy through food in the month of March is taking place on Sunday, March 11, in Houston Hall in Manhattan’s West Village. The event provides a unique opportunity to connect American-based consumers inclined toward Irish cuisine with some of its producers, while also attempting to improve upon Ireland’s international culinary reputation. Besides the chance to meet and interact with the up-and-coming new makers in the Irish food industry, FarePlate offers food samples, cookbooks, and other products for perusal and purchase.
Kidville St. Patrick’s Day Party
Kidville FiDi and other select locations
For younger individuals interested in ringing in St. Patrick’s Day with entertainment and activity, there is Kidville’s St. Patrick’s Day party. Offering pizza, arts and crafts, and a St. Patrick’s Day-themed photo wall, the event is geared toward participants aged six and younger.
The Manhattan venue hosting the party is located at 40 Gold Street, New York, NY 10038, and begins at 5:30 p.m.
Other Kidville locations offering the event include venues in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, California, and more. Search locations on kidville.com to find one near you. Admission fees vary depending on location.
New York St. Patrick’s Eve Lucky Hour Tour
BarCrawls.com is hosting a nationwide pub tour in the U.S., with 24 cities, including Boston, Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and New York. All the local tours start the evening before St. Patrick’s Day to set off the holiday weekend with a bang.
Registration guarantees participants free admission to each bar on the tour, with additional access to food and drink specials. Tickets are available for purchase starting at $15 and increasing with the length of a desired tour. Participants must be over 21. Visit BarCrawls.com for more info and see if your city is on the list.
Irish Stand 2018
Activist group Irish Stand will host its second annual rally for civil rights and equality at Manhattan’s Riverside Church on March 16. The pro-immigration activist group, founded upon tenets of tolerance and social justice, stands firmly in opposition to the values promoted by the Trump administration in the United States. Irish Stand has hosted events of this nature in both New York City and Dublin, highlighting the undeniably strong, generations-deep connection between the two nations. The choice date of St. Patrick’s eve for this particular gathering is no arbitrary decision, serving as a pointed reminder of the once precarious, second-class status of Irish in America – a reminder that Irish Americans are descended from Irish immigrants, many of whom suffered the exclusion and resentment of the “native” Americans that current first-generation immigrants endure today.
Last year’s launch of the event deliberately coincided with Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s presentation of a bowl of shamrocks to President Trump on St. Patrick’s Day. The rally was held to express vehemently that the Irish prime minister did not and should not speak for all Irish – or Irish Americans – with his continuation of the annual, symbolically charged gift. Irish senator Aodhán Ó Ríordaín spoke openly on the subject in a statement on this year’s gathering, saying, “While the Taoiseach has diplomatic responsibilities as head of government […] there is absolutely no excuse for any other Irish political leader to be validating this odious administration on St. Patrick’s Day.”
Tickets to Irish Stand are $20, or $8 for senior citizens, students, and members of immigration groups, and are available for purchase on Eventbrite. The church is located at 490 Riverside Dr, New York, NY 10027. Admission starts at 6:30 p.m., with the event beginning at 7:30 p.m. Click here for more info.
Sober St. Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick’s Youth Center
An evening of family-friendly entertainment and celebration of Irish heritage is available at the seventh annual Sober St. Patrick’s Day festivities, one gathering of which is being hosted at Manhattan’s St Patrick’s Youth Center. In an effort to untangle the essential aspects of Irish culture from its long, singular association with alcohol, the event offers an experience of traditional Irish music (including contributors John Whelan, champion Button Accordion player, and Brian Conway, renowned fiddler) and Irish step dance, performed by students of the N.Y.C.-based Donny Golden School of Irish Dance. Light refreshments will be offered, along with more substantial food available for purchase.
The Youth Center is located at 268 Mulberry St., New York, NY 10012. The festivities begin at 4 p.m., and general admission is $25, with discounts for students, senior citizens and children under 10. The international event is also being hosted in Philadelphia, Richmond, Dublin, and Belfast, with dates, times, and entertainment varying on location. Click here for more info on the celebration.
Rhythm of the Dance
Raritan Valley Community College Theater
Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg, New Jersey, is hosting the National Dance Company of Ireland in a one-night performance of Irish step dance on St. Patrick’s Day. The Company, which was founded in 1998 and has since garnered an international reputation, retains a troupe of 22 dancers, international singing group The Young Irish Tenors, and a live band. The show combines ancient with modern, portraying Ireland’s early history with elaborate costumes and stage technology.
Tickets can be purchased online at the RVCC Arts webpage, with prices starting at $25. The performance will be held in the RVCC’s theater, located at 118 Lamington Rd, Branchburg, NJ 08876. 8 p.m. Click here for tickets.
Ireland’s Poet Patriots, A Musical History
Ireland’s Poet-Patriots, A Musical History, sold out the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., this past October 12th and now WETA Classical Radio 90.9 will be broadcasting and simulcasting a recording of this concert on St. Patrick’s Day evening, Saturday March 17 at 9 p.m. EST. The simulcast can be found (on that same date and time) at WETA.org/fm.
Ireland’s Poet-Patriots is the work of American Composer Richard B. Evans. It celebrates Ireland with a concert of original classical crossover and Irish traditional tunes that vividly bring to life the words of 12 of Ireland’s great Poet-Patriots – from Aindreas Mac Craith and Donncha Rua Mac Conmara to Robert Emmet, Jeremiah O’Donovan Rosa, and James Connolly.