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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.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Happenings Around My Town

Pittsburgh, PA

February 24, 2007

Caoimhin Vallely
in Pittsburgh March 3rd

Now that we are in the ‘St. Patrick’s Season’ there are many functions taking place in which you might be interested in attending.

On Sunday, February 25th at 3:30 pm, two former Irish Republican POW’s will be speaking at Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle, (24th Street and Penn Ave. In The Strip, Pittsburgh). Terry Kirby and Bobby Lavery, formerly of Belfast, Northern Ireland, will talk about their experiences in Long Kesh during the Hunger Strikes and present their view of the Good Friday Agreement and the Peace Process today. This speaking engagement is being sponsored by the Irish American Unity Conference.

The Wolfe Tones
will be back in Pittsburgh performing to a sell-out crowd on Monday, February 26th. The concert is sponsored by the Pittsburgh Celtics Gaelic Football Club, The Pittsburgh Banshees Ladies Football Club, and the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 11 in Oakland. The Wolfe Tones have been coming to Pittsburgh since the early 1970’s and have garnered some ‘hard core’ fans.

On Saturday, March 3rd, the Wheeling Celtic Celebration takes place at the Wheeling Artisan Center, 1400 Main Street, in Wheeling. The festivities continue from 10:00 am until 11:00 pm. Entertainment consists of the MacDonald Pipe Band, Pittsburgh Scottish Country Dancers, Gallowglass, Burke Irish Dancers, West Virginia Highlander Pipe Band, Brigid’s Cross from Cleveland, Pittsburgh Ceili Club, Bell School of Irish Dance, Ballad Singer Mike Gallagher, Maiden’s IV, and Stifel Dancers. There will be plenty of activities for the children, plenty of food and beverage to satisfy your appetite and whet your whistle, plus many vendors for your shopping pleasure.

This is the 11th year the Wheeling Celtic Celebration has taken place. The Venue is a renovated industrial, three story atrium in the heart of downtown Wheeling. Admissions is $5.00 per adult and children 10 and under are free. This always promises to be a good time.

Naill Vallely Donal Clancy

Also on March 3rd, Buílle (p. Bwee Luh) with Niall Vallely on concertina, Caoimhin Vallely on piano and Donal Clancy on guitar, will grace the stage at Carnegie Lecture Hall at 8:00 pm. This concert is sponsored by Calliope, The Pittsburgh Folk Music Society.

This trio of multi-talented instrumentalists have years of experience under their belt. Niall and Caoimhin Valley were born in Armagh, NI. Their parents, Brian and Eithne Vallely founded the Armagh Pipers Club. Niall began playing the concertina at age seven. He founded the group NOMOS in 1990 and completed his degree in music at University College Cork in 1992. Over the past several years Niall has been involved in many musical projects along with teaching and conducting Master Classes internationally.

Caoimhin Valley is the youngest of three brothers and performs on the piano. He started off playing tin whistle then moved on to learn and play the fiddle. He has his M.A. in Traditional Music Performance from the University of Limerick. Caoimhin co-founded the group North Cregg and toured extensively.

Donal Clancy, the youngest son of Liam Clancy of The Clancy Brothers, is one of the most sought after multi-instrumentalists today. Donal has played music since he was fourteen with other young men around Ring, Co. Waterford. He was one of the founding members of Danú and is a leading member of supergroup, Solas.

Books – I just finished reading a fantastic book entitled 'The Guineapigs’ by John McGuffin. The book first published in 1974, sold out on its first print run and then was abruptly taken off the market following pressure from the British Government. “The Guineapigs’ is about fourteen Irish political prisoners on whom the British Security Forces experimented with sensory deprivation (SD) torture techniques in 1971. McGuffin tells us how the men were rounded up on the first sweep of internment on August 9, 1971. He also talks about the British Army psychiatrists, psychologists and counter-terrorist strategists who conducted experiments and the results. If you are interested in ‘The Guineapigs’ try purchasing it at http://www.irishresistancebooks.com/guineapigs/guineapigs.htm

Interviews / Guests – Coming up on March 4th my guest in the studio is Pennsylvania Congressman, Mike Doyle, representing the 14th District of Pennsylvania. We will be discussion his position on Irish issues.

Tommy Sands and I will conduct a telephone interview on March 11th. Tommy is performing in Pittsburgh at Central Catholic H.S. for the Brendan Foley Memorial Concert. This event began 11 years ago to remember Brendan Foley after he died in a bicycle accident. Brendan at 16 was a student at Central Catholic; he was a rower on the Crew Team and performed in the Band. His parents, Bruce Foley and Maggie Folan have been involved in the Pittsburgh Irish Community with music and dance all their lives. They organized their musical friends to perform in concert in which the proceeds benefited the Crew Team and the Band. It has been a huge success every year and the committee, whose sons have long graduated, continue to plan, organize and work the event. It takes place at 6:00 pm at Central Catholic H.S. in Oakland. Tickets are available through Arlene Miller at 412.621.9339 or Email: arlenej.miller@gmail.com.

There is much activity surrounding the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, March 17th. Next week I’ll write about them.

For now,

Diane Byrnes


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