Happy Mother’s Day to all the Irish American Moms! As I was trying to choose a topic for my first column, I reflected on my family and their influence on my life. A huge part of my Irish family and I suspect to be part of others, is Irish music. There is something about Irish storytelling and music that speaks to our souls.
Memories of my grandmother singing songs as she did her household activities, include Mother Machree, My Wild Irish Rose and Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ra are some of my fondest memories of my grandmother. I, myself, have an Irish playlist on my iPhone and find comfort in the variety of songs: some traditional folk, some Irish Rebel songs, and others are contemporary Irish musicians. I am also fortunate to live in an area of the country where live Irish music is very accessible.
Allegheny County has several establishments that promote live music and, in particular, live Irish music. These pubs promote and continue to keep Irish music alive for the next generations. Located in Carnegie, in the west suburbs of Allegheny County, you can visit Riley’s Pour House.
Besides hosting several AOH/LAOH members for lunch on Friday’s, Riley’s is a popular meeting place where music occurs daily. The newest Irish pub featuring music in Pittsburgh is Cork Harbour Pub. Cork Harbour opened in the Lawrenceville section of the city in October 2022. Cork Harbour hosts live music several times a week, including traditional music seisiuns.
A staple of the Pittsburgh Irish scene is Mullaney’s Harp and Fiddle in the Strip District section of Pittsburgh. Mullaney’s has been part of the Pittsburgh Irish scene for thirty years. Mullaney’s has live music several times a week by a variety of artists.
In addition to the various possibilities to listen to Irish music, if your feet are inspired by the music, there is no shortage of Irish dance opportunities for you or your family members in the region. Adults who want to listen to Irish music and learn Irish dancing are welcomed at Mullaney’s on every Tuesday. The Pittsburgh Ceili Club sponsors a ceili at Mullaney’s where free dance lessons are provided as part of the night of fun, music, and camaraderie.
The region is also the home to three Irish Schools of Dance: Bell School of Irish Dance, Fitzpatrick School of Irish Dance-Pittsburgh, and Shovlin Academy of Irish Dance.
Bell School of Irish Dance is in the northern suburbs of Allegheny County and has been inspiring and instructing students since 1999, led by Julia Bell. Lessons are available for preschool through adult. All three of these great Irish Dance Schools participated in Pittsburgh’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and made the city’s celebration special. It is always a highlight to see the next generation learning and enjoying the Irish dance tradition.
The newest school of dance is the Fitzpatrick School of Irish Dance-Pittsburgh. While this school is new to the region, its founder is not new to Irish dance. Having started dancing at the age of four, Siobhan Gallagher is excited to continue her families’ dance tradition in Pittsburgh.
Shovlin Academy School of Dance in the southern suburbs of Allegheny County has been promoting Irish dance to western Pennsylvania since the late 1960s. Sheila Shovlin and Liz Shovlin Grinko continue the tradition that their parents started.
There is no shortage of Irish music and dance in the Pittsburgh region. Please immerse yourself in our culture and history. There is good craic to be had in Allegheny County and I hope to see you out and about enjoying the Pittsburgh Irish!
Save the Date
Music and dancing at AOH Division 4’s Day of Irish Entertainment—the fun will be happening Saturday, July 29, 2023, at Schuetzen Park in Ross Township. Pittsburgh’s own Mike Gallagher and the Fitzpatrick School of Dance will be featured, with the day ending with the vocal styling of Rory Makem! Please contact any member AOH Division 4 for more information.
*Kathleen is a LAOH member since 2007, holding current office as the PA State Vice President. She is married to Paul and has two children. She can be contacted at pa******@gm***.com.