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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, July 28, 2007

Cleveland Cultural Festival 2007

The Cleveland Cultural Festival celebrated its 25th Anniversary July 20, 21, 22, 2007. After picking up my good friend Mary Rowley of the Irish Festival Cruise at Pittsburgh International Airport we drove two hours to Cleveland. As always, it is great to see old friends from around the country in attendance.

Off to the festival we went and the first performers we saw were The Dermot Henry Band with Dermot Henry and Jimmy Lavin performing at the Gazebo Stage. Dermot is a marvelous songwriter; so many of his fans urge him to record something, but he usually has some excuse why he hasn’t. Too bad, anyone who hears Dermot would like to take a piece of him home! Anyway Dermot and Jimmy did a great job as usual. Sitting in the audience were long time friends of mine and Dermot’s, Peggy O’Donoghue her daughter Mary Kate and granddaughter Lizzy. The O’Donoghue's lost their husband and father last month, Tom O’Donoghue of Blarney Stone fame. When Dermot Henry first came to the US, he spent much time performing at the Blarney Stone and has been a favorite entertainer with Pittsburgher’s ever since.

Mary Kate, Lizzy and Peggy O'Donoghue.

A really special shot with Peggy and Dermot.

Here is Kevin Walsh from New York, Mary Rowley, Jimmy Lavin and Maureen Strotmeyer.

Dermot and Jimmy on Sunday; they look pretty good!

Tom and Janice Long from Pittsburgh are just recently back from their first trip to Ireland. They were having a blast!

Even though we are at a festival, there is still work to be done. Here is Mary Rowley from Philadelphia, and Irish Festival Cruises and Maureen Strotmeyer from Pittsburgh.

Mike Mazur has been an Emcee with the Festival since it began 25 years ago. He is a good story teller and just a great guy! As always he makes us feel so welcomed in Cleveland.

The Sopranos, Wendy Dwyer, Kay Lynch, Deidre Masterson, performed on the Miller Stage and sang beautifully although I did not take any pictures of them; I think there were too many folks where I could not get close enough.

Next up was
Tommy Fleming Absolutely Brilliant! What a voice! What a Man! What a head of Red Hair! I’m partial to redheads!! Tommy’s voice send goose bumps up and down me! Whatever he is singing, you can feel the joy or sadness through his interpretation of the song. Along with his international recognition, his is a lovely human being and so very approachable.

I first became acquainted with Tommy Fleming in 1993 when he was on tour with Phil Coulter performing in Pittsburgh at Carnegie Music Hall. Everyone fell in love with him, his voice, his whole persona. Now I am happy to see him in America more often. We have a great opportunity in December to see him when he will be featured on PBS stations throughout the country; make sure you catch it.

Here is Tommy at the Gazebo Stage.

Ewan is setting up the stage with Tommy and Emcee, Mike Mazur in background.

Dave on keyboards getting ready.

Ewan checking it out!

Saturday night, Tommy and Maura O'Connell sang a Duet; absolutely beautiful! (it is not the best picture, but their song was the best).

Cherish The Ladies had a brilliant guest soloist performing with them, the indomitable Maura O’Connell, also brilliant. It has been quite a few years since last I heard Maura singing; I believe she was touring with The Chieftains and they performed in Pittsburgh. It was awesome listening to Maura with Cherish. Joanie Madden certainly knows how to pull things together, doesn’t she? Cherish The Ladies are always wonderful to see and hear; Maura added a bit more to the entire performance. Then on Saturday night, Tommy Fleming and Maura O’Connell sang a brilliant duet; it was so beautiful. The blending of their voices was perfect.

Mary Coogan.
Joanie Madden.
Gabriel O'Donoghue with Cherish The Ladies.

The fabulous Maura O'Connell.
Dancers with Cherish The Ladies.

The lovely Cara Butler.

Here is Jon Pilatzke with Cara Butler and two American Step Dancers; just wonderful to watch and enjoy.

Jon Pilatzke, Toronto based fiddle player with Quagmyre, performed with Cherish The Ladies on fiddle and dancing. I don't know what it is with Canadian fiddle players, their feet move as quickly as their fingers across the strings.

The brilliant Dan Stacey with Seven Nations. Dan also performed with Cherish The Ladies on Saturday. Dan is from Ottowa, Canada, a fiddle player and traditional dancer. He is so much fun to watch; when he dances it is like he hasn't any bones and his moves are so great.

They were all such wonderful dancers!

Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul get your feet tapping and hands clapping to the brilliant talent of all of the members of the band. Tommy McDonnell on drums and great vocals to Buddy Connolly on button accordion, Greg Anderson on guitar, and of course all the rest of the fellows, even to Tommy’s little boy on harmonica. Eileen has endeared her audiences for years with her talent, sincerity and stories.


Tommy, Eileen & other band members.

Buddy Connolly


Tommy's son on harmonica.


Tommy singing 'Reconcillation'

For more than the twenty years I have been attending this festival, Clarence has been one of the very important Sound Engineers at the Gazebo Stage. He does a good job!

John McDermott was back this year and sang so beautifully. It was so good to hear and speak with him after so many years. John has assembled quite a talented group of musicians to accompany him. John had a fabulous fiddle player with him Ray Legere, he played an exciting arrangement of The Orange Blossom Special.

John McDermott, he really was excited to be back performing at the festival.

Two musicians from John McDermott's Band.

Art Zelinski from St. Louis and Mary Rowley from Philadelphia.

Me with good friends Joe and Emma Bullock from Wexford, PA.

About one hundred folks were out from Achill Island, County Mayo. This included The Memorial Pipe Band Dookinella made up of forty young folks on pipes and drums; along with parents and friends. They were a lovely group of people.

I had the opportunity to speak at length with Tom Fadian, he shared so much information about the band, Mayo, farmers, mountains; great conversation we had.

Tom and another Mayo man enjoying the 'craic'.

Two marvelous musicians I heard on Sunday were Liz Carroll and John Doyle; these two make great music together. John Doyle is also an excellent singer and quite a producer of other musicians’ recordings. I just received two last week from Compass Records.

Liz Carroll performing on the Miller Stage.

Liz and John.

John Doyle performing on the Miller Stage.

Other Pittsburgher's, Eileen Connelly, Carol Shaunessy, there first time in Cleveland and Maureen Strotmeyer.

There were other great performers at the festival, i.e., The Dublin City Ramblers, Johnny McEvoy, Jimmy Carton Band, New Barley Corn and so many others that I did not see.

This group from Pittsburgh is having a great time - Sheila Hudson; Taig and Carmel Mulkerrin and Sean Nolan originally from Galway.

Back at the hotel Saturday night with Ed McManus and Sandy Haas.

My good friends Johnny Donohue and his cousin Kevin Sean Donohue; great guys!

Good buddy Dutch Creely; he celebrated his 80th birthday in June and he continues to dance up a storm!

Here are some friends from Columbus; we have enjoyed each others company for years at the festival. Now they are relaxing at the hotel.

Dorothy and Patty

Mr. Fallon and Sarah; gee, is Sarah closing her eyes?

Saturday night at the hotel; these two guys are enjoying each other's company - Brian Mulligan, Manager of Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul Band and John Delaney of New Barleycorn.

Here is Danny and Mary Jo O'Toole from Pittsburgh. This was their first time at the festival and they had a really good time.

I got in on this shot with Danny and Mary Jo.

The Cleveland Cultural Festival was a grand time! The entertaiment was brilliant, the weather was perfect and the hospitality was grand. Thank you John O'Brien and your entire committee for a fabulous weekend.

Until next year,