Pittsburgh Irish Happenings: Irish Heritage Month Events Return

Pittsburgh Happenings: Irish Heritage Month Events Returns
By Diane Byrnes

Remember last month I wrote about Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle and the plans to celebrate their 30th Anniversary in business?  Unfortunately, due to an increase of Covid, and a very strong winter storm, these celebrations are postponed for a bit.  We will look for them once the weather breaks and Covid has subsided a bit. 

It looks like this is a virus that we will learn to live with, and once everyone is vaccinated, then a new normal will be created.  I know not everyone is in favor of the vaccinations and boosters, but it will be safer for everyone. 

I think many of us have learned or are learning to live with Covid and if we are vaccinated, then we should not have too much of a problem, hopefully.  Remember the science here.

Life is a bit slow in the Burg these days, both due to Covid hanging around and the extreme cold weather we have experienced. Coming up this month is our St. Patrick’s Day Parade and associated celebrations.  

This year the annual Button Party takes place on Friday, March 4th at The Priory on the North Shore, which is a new venue this year.  Unique buttons for the Parade are sold here which help to financially support the parade.  Typically, the buttons are created by students attending one of our art colleges and they have been creating these buttons for about fifteen years.

The annual Mass and Communion Breakfast takes place on Sunday, March 6th, jointly sponsored by the AOH Allegheny County Board and Division Nine.  This year the venue is Salvatore’s Events and Catering in the South Hills.  Mass will be celebrated by Bishop David A. Zubik. 

The Communion Breakfast and a brief program will be held immediately after Mass.  As a side note, Bishop Zubik is a member of the Martin Noone – William R. Murphy Division 21 out of Garfield.  This division was founded in 1874 and is the longest serving AOH in Pennsylvania.

Typically, our Miss Smiling Irish Eyes and her Court, and the Hibernian of the Year, are introduced at the breakfast.  Often times, this is the first time many folks get to see and meet the young women until parade day, when they are on the Reviewing Stand.  Miss Smiling Irish Eyes and her Court are usually crowned the week prior to the parade with much PR work conducted in the ensuing week.  This is a hard decision for the committee to make. 

Usually, the young ladies are bright and intelligent students, maybe high school and / or college.  Many are involved in their Irish heritage in some form, and many of the young ladies volunteer within their communities.  These are future leaders and are quite impressive candidates.

The Hibernian of the Year is typically a man with whom many of us are familiar.  This person is very involved in his division and goes well beyond a regular member.  With this new accolade, this gentleman is acknowledged within the community and his peers.

Pittsburgh St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Then we have our Pittsburgh’s 2022 St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshal.  This is a unique individual who has gone over and above in service and contribution of talent, time, energy, and ideas to the Pittsburgh Irish Community.  A true honor and acknowledgement to the person chosen!

On Saturday, March 5th, the Pittsburgh Ceili Club will host their annual ‘Kick-Off Ceili.’  Music is by the ‘Usual Suspects’ and a bit of karaoke presented by Frank Cindrich.  Then there are several raffle baskets with a variety of unique gifts.  This Ceili has been an ongoing event for over thirty years and has a delicious catered dinner; there are so many home baked goodies to enjoy too. 

There is much camaraderie shared this time of year; it is good and mentally healthy.  And with so much to enjoy, often we have said we need a ‘St. Patrick’s Day Fund’ (like a Christmas club savings) to cover us with the expense of the season.  Many of us have spent the past two years pretty much cooped up at home, it will be good to get out and see so many old friends.  At least I am hoping that happens.

Looking for Irish and Scots-Irish Roots
A late date event occurred in February.  Pittsburgh was part of a ‘USA Lecture Tour’ presented by the Ulster Historical Foundation.  This is a non-profit organization with a long established research and publishing history.  They are based in Belfast in the North of Ireland and they help people looking for their Irish and Scots-Irish roots.  This is an annual event and Pittsburgh has been one of their stops over the years.

This year the presenters are providing both physical and virtual workshops.  The host for this event is the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania.  I have attended this workshop in the past and found it to be very informative.

The River City Brass, a 28-piece ensemble, will be performing a special concert, “Celtic Connections Concert,” at a variety of venues around our area.  On February 27th, James Gourlay, Artistic and Management Director, was guest on Echoes of Erin.  James is such a delightful and talented human being; it is always a pleasure to be in his company and have him as a guest on the program. 

This year, RCB will be joined once again by world champion piper Andrew Carlisle and Irish dancers for a program that connects the Celtic Isles to Appalachia and beyond. Scots and Irish music share the bill with country western, hip-hop, and hot Balkan sounds. You’ll hear Riverdance, Lord of the Dance, Amazing Grace, Scotland the Brave, Country Tuba, and Bluegrass Breakdown.

All concerts begin at 7:30pm at the following venues:  Linton Middle School, in Penn Hills, March 3; Carson Middle School in McCandless, March 4; The Palace Theatre, in Greensburg, March 5; Carnegie Music Hall, Oakland, March 1;, and Bethel Park High School, in South Hills, March 22.

Have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

*Diane V. Byrnes, Producer & Host Echoes of Erin on WEDO 810AM, Sunday 12:30pm. Online on Wednesday @ 1:30pm (then click on Listen Live) Email: [email protected]

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