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One hundred thousand welcomes to you to my official blog of all things Irish from me, Diane Byrnes, host of the Echoes of Erin radio show on WEDO Radio 810AM.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Pittsburgh Irish Happenings

Happenings Around My Town – Pittsburgh, PA

November 19, 2006

It was just a few weeks ago when last I wrote; so many events are happening n Pittsburgh over the next few weeks that I decided to write again.

Due to a variety of reasons the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival went out of business this past summer, which was a huge disappointment to entertainers, attendees and folks who worked the festival. As a result, Lori Lazar, who did the marketing and PR for the Ren Fest has organized the
Renaissance Artisan Market,
which will take place at The Irish Centre of Pittsburgh, Saturday and Sunday, November 25 & 26. There will be a holiday performance by The Wicked Wenches, Magic & Music by Vincent Polowy of Morgan de Grey, Celtic Songs with Richard Brentar of Anam Khara and Story Telling with Allan Irvine.

Lori has planned a variety of Renaissance Vendors that will provide a unique shopping experience. The Renaissance Artisan Market takes place from 10 am to 6 pm both days and a $3.00 Admission at the Door. It is a time for make-believe, so get out those Renaissance Costumes and wear them for the weekend. It should be a lot of fun!

On Saturday, November 25th, The Pittsburgh Celtics Gaelic Football Club is sponsoring their Second Dinner / Dance at the Sokol Club on the South Side. Our football club did very well again this year, winning the Midwest Division Title and competing in Philadelphia for the Nationals. But the title was not to be Pittsburgh’s this year, maybe next. In any event, it is time to celebrate the Celtics accomplishments this season. Guaranteed Irish will provide the entertainment and you can contact Rob Tierney at rtierney@hotmail.com or Johnny Connolly at jconnolly71@comcast.com if you would like to attend.

The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh is an organization that has been in existence since 1989. They work with academia, government and businesses, both in the North of Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, along with these institutions in the US. Their mission is to help in building a lasting peace and lay groundwork for reconciliation between the Catholic and Protestant cultures in the North of Ireland.

The IIoP administers the Walsh Visa Program in Southwestern Pennsylvania and participates in the Wider Horizons Program. Both programs enable disadvantaged young people from the North of Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to come to the Pittsburgh area for work and educational opportunities, which in turn helps to build their skills and confidence for their return back home. As the island of Ireland is working at developing entrepreneurs, these skills learned and developed will be very beneficial.

The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh (IIoP) on Saturday, December 2nd, will presentGive Me Your Hand’ an Evening of Irish Dance featuring, for the first time in Pittsburgh history, a performance by The Dancers of The Bell School of Irish Dance, The Burke Irish Dancers, Pittsburgh Ceili Club, Pittsburgh Irish Reelers and Shovlin Academy of Dance at the Catherine Thomas Theater at Benedict Hall, The Benedictine Sisters, 4530 Perrysville Ave. Tickets are available by calling the Institute at 412-394-3900.

Move over
Michael Flatley, here comes the Pittsburgh extravaganza! In case you haven’t heard, Mr. Flatley is in a hospital in London suffering from a viral infection; we certainly wish him well and a speedy recovery.

The five dance schools in Pittsburgh accommodate over 1,000 students; this is amazing! I believe Michael Flatley and Jean Butler deserves a tremendous amount of credit for bringing Irish Dancing to the forefront in society and demonstrating the ‘will and desire’ to achieve and encouraging young people to ‘step it out’. Bravo Michael Flatley and Jean Butler !!

All of the Irish Dance Teachers do a fabulous job in teaching our young people the ‘dance’; they too are a tremendous credit to our community.

Another international talent will grace the stage at
Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle on Wednesday, December 6th. Scottish singer, songwriter and musician Andy M. Stewart will be back in Pittsburgh.

About a year ago, Andy had undergone very serious back surgery and his recuperation has been long and tenuous. Because of his physical condition, Andy was unable to work – no work, no income. Many organizations around the East Coast conducted fund raisers this past year to help him out; we had ours in the spring.

Andy Stewart had played Pittsburgh many times over the years in
Silly Wizard, with Manus Lunny, and with Gerry O’Beirne. He endeared us to him; there are some very ‘hard core’ Andy M. Stewart fans in this region; so much so that at our fundraiser in the spring, Andy Stewart was here – live and in person! He has some very generous benefactors, Rick and Shanan Jackson, who took care of his airfare and accommodations. Well they are doing it again!

The music begins at 7:00 pm with Guaranteed Irish, followed by Corned Beef & Curry, then Mike Gallagher. The highlight of the evening will be The Man Himself, Andy M. Stewart. Our local talent, who performed in the spring, recorded a CD with 14 tracks of Andy’s songs; they did a brilliant job! This CD and T-shirts will be available for purchase on December 6th; (they’ll make excellent Christmas presents). For further information you can contact RiverShananMusic@yahoo.com.

On Tuesday, December 12th Supergroup The Boys of the Lough will perform at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, 1815 Metropolitan Street on the North Side. The Boys, an ensemble of Irish and Scottish musicians will present their acclaimed Celtic Christmas Concert ‘Midwinter’s Night Dream’. The music and stories of this concert will delight and enchant the audience as it will be reflective of the groups’ memories growing up in Ireland, the North of Ireland, Scotland, the Shetland Islands and Northumberland. The concert will be recorded to DVD by the Grammy-winning jazz producers at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild.

The venue is one of the most acoustically perfect venues in Pittsburgh and has quite an interesting history.

Tickets are available by calling the Box Office at 412.322.0800 or online at http://www.worldmusicseries.com/

As a side note, years ago when Boys of the Lough performed in Pittsburgh, they used to stay with George and Nancy Balderose, founding member of Calliope House; which is what his home was called. David Richardson from Northumberland, wrote a jig entitled ‘Calliope House’ in honor of the hospitality and grand times extended to the Boys. That jig is featured in over one million recordings and was performed in Lord of the Dance and in the video of the show with over 5 million sales; plus it was also featured in the TV series ‘Sex and the City’. Oh I have heard of some grand times spent at Calliope House over the years!!

Over the next couple weeks, interviews scheduled on Echoes of Erin include:

November 26 - Brenna Briggs, Author, of her second book of
Liffey Rivers’, a young Irish Dancer sleuth. The first book was a great read and this second book will be in time for Christmas.

December 3 - Andrew Paul, Artistic Director of the Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre. PICT’s final performance for 2006 is ‘The Shaughraun’ by Dion Boucicault, will be holiday fun for the entire family.


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