Friday, March 06, 2015

The Colm Before The Strum

Last weekend we kicked off the holiday season in grand style at the Irish Center's great annual event Winterfest. The fun–and the funny–continues as we get closer to the big day, with a comedy performance by one of the funniest men in Ireland, Colm O'Regan. He also has a hysterically funny last name.

Part of The Irish Kings of Comedy tour, Colm will be appearing one night only at Kansas City Irish Center in Union Station, a week from today, Friday, March 13th. The show starts at 7:00 and tickets are $10 at the door.

Colm is the author of  three bestselling and very funny books about Ireland as seen through the prism of the formidable figure of the Irish Mother–"The Books of Irish Mammies." They sprang from the equally successful @irishmammies twitter account which Colm began in 2012. He now has more than 160,000 followers making it one of the top 40 accounts in Ireland. His comedy festival appearances include the prestigious invite only Montreal Just For Laughs, the Kilkenny Cat Laughs, Electric Picnic and many, many more. He has played all over Ireland and the UK and even as far away as Cape Town, Tokyo and Osaka and appeared on The Late Late Show.

Fun fact: Colm hails from the bustling metropolis of Dripsey, Co Cork, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as being home of the world's shortest St. Patrick's Day parade. Here are a couple samples. Don't miss this show!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Carswell & Hope

One of the great bands performing at Winterfest this weekend is Lawrence-based Carswell and Hope. Tim Finn did your homework for you and has the scoop on these great Irish Fest alums. Check out his profile here.

Winterfest Saturday

12 degrees. That's the temperature in Cowtown as I write this. Twelve. Fahrenheit. This coming weekend will bring more cold, maybe some snow.

Now, there's two ways to react to conditions like that. One: you could wrap yourself in a blanket, sit on the couch, sip tea, watch bad TV and complain about the weather. Fun quotient: zero. Or two: warm up the car, head to warm Drexel Hall, stow the coat, grab a pint, greet your friends and laugh right in winter's big fat frosty face. Fun quotient: off the charts.

If you're made of the stout stuff I think you are, you'll choose number two and I'll see your smiling face Saturday at Winterfest, the annual St. Patrick's Day season kick-off party hosted by the good people at the Kansas City Irish Center. This year, it's the biggest and bestest yet–so big it's moved to beautiful Drexel Hall, right in the heart of Irish KC at Linwood between Main and Broadway. The cost is just $5, and the kids under 12 are free. And check out  this line-up:

Musical performances by:
  • Bob Reeder
  • Eddie Delahunt
  • Scarlet Town
  • $3 Band
  • Carswell and Hope
  • Flannigan’s Right Hook
Dance performances by:
  • Driscoll School of Irish Dance
  • O’Riada Manning Academy of Irish Dance
  • Céilí at the Crossroads
If you really want to do it up, and I think you do, spring for the VIP Experience. That $25 ticket gets you all that great entertainment plus access to food prepared by Irish chef Shaun Brady from The Reserve restaurant and whiskey tastings! VIP tickets are limited to a lucky 100 people. To claim  your spot, buy your VIP ticket online now before they're gone*.

Tell winter exactly where to stick that icicle and join me at Winterfest. Saturday 3:00-10:00 PM.

*A $3 service fee is added to online purchase.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Ladies and Gents...Yer Cow

It's with great excitement, exhilaration, hullabaloo and other synonyms that I present to you good people the official 2015 Kansas City Irish Fest cow. This year's bovine beauty is the creation of my old friend Payton Kelly, who I've known for nearly 30 years, since we were both one and a half years old, give or take. You may know Payton's work through his non-cow-related job as the creative force behind all those great and award-winning Boulevard Brewing Co. graphics. 

Payton is one of the most talented people I've ever known, and having spend my life in creative endeavors, that's saying something. I say that not only because he did this illustration in exchange
for a weekend's free beer at Irish Fest, but also because it's true. Here's his face and his official bio:

 Payton Kelly’s association with the local craft beer scene dates back to the mid 1980s, when he homebrewed with John McDonald, who went on to found Boulevard Brewing Company a few years later. The result of that collaboration suggested that Payton’s talents were better suited for things that go on the outside of the bottle, so John asked him for help designing the very first labels, in 1990. Never one to turn down free beer, Payton designed virtually every Boulevard brand that followed, more than 50 to date. Since 1995 he has been full-time Creative Director for the brewery. Payton earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Missouri State University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Oregon. Before joining Boulevard he spent 11 years as an artist with Hallmark Cards, designing greeting cards for Shoebox Greetings and teaching printmaking in the Rice Innovation Center.

For those of you who may be new to the whole Irish Fest/cow thing, here's a primer. 

Thank you, Payton! And welcome to the herd!


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Retreat This Weekend

Saturday morning, this coming one, is the annual Board Retreat wherein all the men and women and Craig Duke who have served on the Irish Fest board of directors gather to discuss how we will continue to advance, improve and not completely bollix up the great event entrusted to us. It's an impressive thing to be part of, let me tell you. Actually, last year I disclosed many of our secrets and I won't make that mistake again, boyo. I still have nightmares about the reeducation camp I was sent to.

Anyway, if there's a burning issue about Irish Fest that keeps you up at night and it's been your dream to have all the mover and shakers in one room to address to your concerns and listen to your ideas, I encourage to you get out more. Make take up a hobby.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to drop my ceremonial robe off at the cleaners.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ceili Saturday!

It's Thursday and I know what you're doing. You're sitting there this chilly morning with your tea wondering where I'll be spending my Saturday night this coming weekend. Well, wonder no more. I'll be at the Driscoll School Of Irish Dance ceili.

The ceili is a fund raiser for what will be as I understand it, the only feis in the state of Kansas, the upcoming inaugural Sunflower Feis, to be held this April. The ceili is Saturday from 5:00-10:00 PM out south at the Lenexa Community Center, 13420 Oak Street. Tickets are $25 and that covers your food and drink. Live Irish music, performances by the Driscoll dancers (including my lovely niece Julie, full disclosure) and ample opportunity for you to get up and get your jig on as well.

Come on out and warm up with a great night of Irish entertainment.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Fáilte Roimh, Sarah agus Matthew!

January 1st, 2015 begins the long and we're sure distinguished board of directors careers of our two newest leaders, and both are long-time Irish Fest veterans: Sarah Walsh and Matthew O'Callaghan.

Sarah first joined Irish Fest when she and her husband Barney, himself a former director and president, founded and ran the erstwhile Site Host committee. In recent years, Sarah has co-chaired our Volunteer committee. She is, it goes without saying, a hard working and dedicated festie. She is also a bright, sunshiney beam of light that makes Irish Fest a more fun place to be for anybody lucky to come in contact with her. That is nothing but good news for you, fest -goer. Please welcome Sarah to a well-deserved place at the board table.

Did you or someone you know get murdered or otherwise crimed-upon at Irish Fest? If your answer is no, you may want to thank our other new director, Matt O'Callaghan. Matt comes to the board from leading the Public Safety committee and he has been stellar at that job for years. After training his replacement and taking a year as a civilian, the call of the festie life was too strong to ignore and he returns to join the board of directors. Matthew is also a Marine, a Husker, and an all-around great guy. He's going to be a huge asset to the leadership team of the fest.

Welcome to both!

Monday, January 05, 2015

Slán Go Fóill, Craig agus Mindy

The 1st day of this month and new year brought to a close the terms of two of our festival directors, President Craig Duke and Secretary Mindy Johnson. Both joined the board back in 2010.

Craig, our first director and president from the north of Ireland, is a Kansas City (Kansas) deputy fire chief in his day job. He assumed the role of president tin his final year on the board and lead with his trademark good humor and charm. While always quick with a joke and a laugh, Craig took his duties seriously, especially in his year as president. As a firefighter, Craig took special interest in keeping out patrons and staff safe over out long weekend and he was a critical leader during the weather emergencies we experienced the last couple years. Not one to let the grass grow under his feet, Craig recently joined the board of directors of the Kansas City Irish Center where He'll no doubt provide leadership, insight, and groans at his jokes. All of us at KCIF are grateful to Craig for his 5 years of service to the board.

Mindy, the Small But Mighty, leaves the big shamrock-shaped board of directors table after five years, the last spent as board secretary–a tough job because it meant she had to transcribe what Craig was saying in board meetings, without the help of a translator. Mindy came to us from back stage at the big beautiful Boulevard Stage, which she has managed for years with her lovely sister Marcia, where she plans to return. From from embracing retirement pool-side at the old directors home, Mindy is going right back to work and will be representing Irish Fest in Dublin later this month at the Temple Bar Trad Fest, finding new bands to bring back to Cowtown for future fests. We're lucky to have had Mindy's leadership these past five years and luckier still that she's not going anywhere now that they're complete.

It was an absolute honor for me personally to get to serve with Mindy and Craig during both their first and final years on the board, and all us offer them our heartfelt thanks for jobs well done.


It's been 80 days by my calculations since my last post here. That's the gestation period of an otter. And I must say, the hue and cry from Tir na Blog's fans for its return has been deafening. Why, no fewer than one person (also, no more than one person: specifically, my mother) has asked me why come the hiatus.

Well, since Mom asked, a few reasons. One, fatigue. It's hard coming up with stuff half-way interesting to say about a 2-and-a-half-day annual event, let alone all-the-way-interesting, all year long. Two, Facebook. I don't indulge in the Facebook juggernaut myself but I know that I'm in the vast, vast (though proud) minority. And Facebook eats blogs, supplementing its regular diet of man-hours and brain cells. Just the way it is. Three, most of Irish Fest's patrons, even the most dedicated ones, aren't really thinking about us in the off season anyway, so readership plummets among that demographic that did not give birth to me. Makes it hard to get up a head of steam to post.

But it's a new year and we do have things to talk about, don't we? So I'll try to get the get the old blog muscles stretched out once in awhile. See how that goes. Sure, it'll make my mammy happy anyway.

If you support or decry this effort, please let me know. Getting comments that don't involve the marketing of erectile dysfunction medications are always welcome and appreciated.

Happy new year, kids.

Friday, October 17, 2014


We're on a winning streak here in Cowtown. Don't even get me started on our beloved Royals, American League champs.

No today we're talking about Irish Fest, winners in this year's Visitors Choice Awards as best ethnic/heritage festival!Whoo hoo!

Thank you to all our out-of-town fans for voting for us!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wandering Mind, Mapped

News that one of the doomed ships of the Franklin expedition has been found in Canadian waters brought to my mind a lovely song about that ill-fated voyage, called Lord Franklin. Thinking of that song made me recall what is for me at least, the definitive version of it, sung by one of the most haunting and beautiful voices to come out of Ireland, ever, that of the too-soon-departed Micheál O'Domhnaill. And thinking of Micheál made me think, with a little sadness, that some of you might not know of this amazingly talented musician, who was taken from us in 2006. And that thought made me want to correct that. And the desire to share this talent with anyone who might have been denied the pleasure up to now made me want to bring you this film about the life and music of Micheál O'Domhnaill. And that is why I'm not getting much work done.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014


Our 2014 Irish Raffles winners are, for the 12th year in a row, not me! They are these lucky people:

1st Prize-Trip to Ireland: Hannah Ivanuska of Roeland Park, KS
2nd Prize- Boulevard Tasting Party: Matthew Carmichael of Holt, MO
3rd Prize- Snug memberships for 2015: Jenni Hodge of Overland Park, KS

Congrats to all!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Phone Free Info

True story: when we started Irish Fest in 2003, I was forced, kicking and screaming, to get my first cell phone to communicate with my fellow board members during the event. I hated it. So I sympathize with those of you who have been less than thrilled about our decision to go paperless this year and abandon the printed program for a (really cool) smart phone app.

For those of you who don't have a phone or don't have a phone that will run the app or who just would rather have a piece of paper in your hand, we have you covered. Over on our website you'll find both a printable schedule and a printable map of the grounds making it easy for you to not wander around in circles shouting "WHERE THE HELL IS EVERYTHING AND WHAT TIME DOES MY FAVORITE BAND PLAY???" which between you and me, makes you look a little like a crazy person.

Now tech nerds and Luddites are united at last in peace and harmony. And sure isn't that what Irish Fest is all about?