St. Patrick’s Day and its related parades may have passed, but according to Tim Driscoll, any time is a good time to celebrate the Irish spirit.
And in a state which is either the first or the second (according to variable data) in terms of percentage of Irish descendants, Massachusetts is a place as good as any other to show Irish pride, declares Driscoll , a resident of Florence and longtime member of the Saint-Patrick association of the city.
Add to that the fact that Holyoke’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the third largest in the country, Driscoll adds, and there’s yet another compelling reason to bring the Ireland Forever festival to the Three Country Fairgrounds on 4 juin pour une journée complète de musique sur le thème irlandais. , dance, beer and more.
The festival, organized by members of St. Patrick’s Association of Northampton and the Holyoke Parade Committee, represents the beginnings of what Driscoll and other planners hope to organize an annual event – the one they imagine could be extended to two or even three days and incorporate additional events, such as a rugby match, Irish theater and possibly a road race.
“We live in a state and region that has such a strong connection to Ireland,” said Driscoll, who has visited Ireland many times himself. “Why not recognize that and have a summer event where we can bring people together?”
The Ireland Forever festival will run from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on June 4 and will take place in the Allsport Arena at the fairgrounds, which will take away any worries about bad weather. There’s plenty of music on tap, from traditional Irish music and new interpretations of it, to Celtic rock and more.
Indeed, the festival will close with a performance by Unforgettable Fire, a U2 tribute band who were joined on stage a few years ago by guitarist The Edge and bassist Adam Clayton from the real band.
Students from the Duffy Academy of Irish Dance in Hadley, led by Alycia Duffy, who grew up in a family Irish dancing business in Connecticut, will also provide entertainment. On her website, Duffy says her Dublin-born grandmother, May Duffy, became the first certified Irish dance teacher in North America and her mother, Elizabeth Duffy, became “a beautiful world championship dancer. “.
Driscoll, the main organizer of the Ireland Forever festival – “I was a bit nervous about it,” he said – says part of his inspiration for creating the event was seeing and d just hear about the annual Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival at Look Park, an event that dates back to the 1990s.
“It’s a big event, and I always thought, ‘There must be more Irish than Scots here, so why don’t we have something too?’ ” he says.
Ireland Forever will include vendors selling Irish-themed products, and there will be a dedicated children’s area for games and other activities. Food and drinks will be at hand, including – of course! — Guinness Stout ainsi que l’Irish Red Ale de Berkshire Brewing Co.
The music kicks off at 2pm with Banish Misfortune, the Celtic band from the valley who played in Northampton at the annual St. Patrick’s Day toast hosted by the town’s St. Patrick’s Association. They will be followed by Boston Blackthorne, who offers a mix of Celtic and Americana — “more rock than the Clancy Brothers, more folk than the Dropkick Murphys,” as the band’s website puts it.
“They’re great – the band still has all of its original members after 25 years of playing,” says Driscoll, who remembers hosting Boston Blackthorne when he owned the old City Cafe in downtown Northampton.
Rounding out the music will be the Big Bad Bollocks, the drunken Celtic rockers from Northampton who, since the 1990s, have been fronted by singer John Allen, who may be British by birth but has plenty of Celtic spirit.
As for the future of the festival, Driscoll explains that some time ago he learned that Springfield has a rugby club – and wouldn’t that be a great addition to the event, he says, if the organizers pouvaient organiser un match entre le club de Springfield et un de Boston?
Tickets for the festival are $30 – children 13 and under are free – and can be purchased in advance from the event website, irelandforeverfestival.com.