Second Annual Irish Festival this Weekend
All are invited for a day of Irish music, dancing, food, crafts, goods and more from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 31 and Sunday, June 1 at the St. Camillus Parking Lot on Beach 100th Street and Shore Front Parkway. Admission is $10 each day per person, and children 12 years and under are admitted free. Tickets can be purchased at the gate. All proceeds go toward local Hurricane Sandy relief groups.
“Even though a lot of people are getting on and things are getting better, there are still so many people out there who are not back home. We need to get them back home,” festival chairperson John Manning said.
Close to 3,000 people came out to last year’s festival, which was a great success. Manning is hoping for an even bigger turnout this year.
“Rockaway and Breezy Point are getting on, but many people are still recovering. We’re hoping more people will be able to come down,” Manning said. “I think a lot of people thought the festival would be the same chaotic Irish Festival as it was 17 years ago and they didn’t realize that’s not what this is about. The AOH works really hard all year long to make this event as successful as possible. The festival is a weekend of Irish tradition and culture.”
The two-day event will entertain families and people of all ages. There will be vendors selling food, crafts and drinks. The AOH will have one of the tents, with members available to share information about the group. Peggy O’Neill will also have a tent, serving up food and beverages. Guests can enjoy traditional Irish goodies like corned beef on rye or barbecue favorites like hamburg- ers and hot dogs. There will be plenty for the kids including free face painting, rides, popcorn, cotton candy and a snow cone machine.
One of the biggest attractions is the musical entertainment that will hit the stage over the course of two days.
“There will never be any dead silence. There will always be Irish music playing,” Manning said. “We can’t have a great festival without great music.”
On Saturday, May 31, the performers include The Canny Brothers at 11 a.m., Jameson’s Revenge at 1 p.m., the Narrowbacks at 3 p.m., Unforgettable Fire U2 Tribute Band at around 4:45 p.m. and the day will finish with Shillelagh Law at around 6:15 p.m. or 6:30 p.m.
Sunday will follow a similar schedule but with a whole different host of bands. Sunday’s event opens with Celtic Justice at 11 a.m., the all-women Irish band Girsa at 1:00 p.m., The Cunningham Brothers at 3 p.m., McLean Avenue Band at 4:45 p.m. and the evening will end with Black 47, which is disbanding at the end of this year.
“Black 47 will be the last of the bands because it will be their final performance in Rockaway. What a way to end our festival,” Manning said.
Throughout the weekend, there will also be performances by the O’Malley Irish Dance Academy, the County Tyrone Pipe Band, Tara Pipes and Drums of AOH Division 15 of Massapequa and the Breezy Point Catholic Club Pipes and Drums.
The festival will begin with a start with a mass held by Father Ahlemeyer at St. Camillus Church at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
For anyone not able to be in Rockaway for the festival, Manning says the entire event will be broadcast live online at www.irishfest21.com.
The AOH Division 21 Rockaway Beach/Breezy Point Irish Festival is expected to go on for many years to come. “After we get through this hopefully successful festival, we’re already working on the third annual festival, which will be May 30 and May 31, 2015. The festival will always be the weekend right after Memorial Day,” Manning said. “Come on down for a great weekend and a great festival!”
AOH Division 21 is always looking for more members. The group gained 41 new members as a result of last year’s festival. It is open to men ages 16 and older who are Roman Catholics of Irish descent and citizens of the United States. They meet at 8 p.m. on the last Tuesday of each month at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Beach 90th Street. Those interested in joining can email AOH Division 21 President Mark Edwards at email@example.com or can find out more info at the AOH tent at the festival.