The Philadelphia Ceili Group’s annual festival kicks off tonight in Mt. Airy
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Mary Courtney | Photo courtesy of artist

Tucked away in the West Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia is the unassuming Commodore Barry Club, also know as The Irish Center. For one weekend every year this site hosts The Philadelphia Ceili Group’s Traditional Music and Dance Festival.

The annual gathering began in 1975, when founders of the Ceili Group grouped together to share their music with a larger audience, and in a larger setting. In a short time it became the largest-attended one-day Irish festival in this country, expanding to a three-day festival in recent years.

This year’s 41st annual festival has something for everyone. Thursdaty is a night of Irish song hosted by Teresa Kane with featuring John Byrne, Matt Ward and the Jameson Sisters. Friday night begins with a Ceili dance set to live music by the McGillians & Friends and then shifts into a “Rambling House,” or an Irish-style open mic of sorts, hosted by John McGillian. Saturday’s festivities begin at 11:00 a.m. with live performances by Marian Makins & Matt Ward, Haley & Dylan Richardson, the River Drivers, the Philadelphia Ceili Band, and the McDade-Cara School of Irish Dance. The Festival culminates on Saturday night with Girsa and Mary Courtney., and workshops and lectures will be held throughout the weekend.

For more info, visit the Philadelphia Ceili Group’s website.

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