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Learn more about Celtic and Irish American culture and heritage

Read articles about the thriving cultural legacy of Celtic nations and the unique contributions of the Irish and Irish-Americans to music, literature, theatre, history, sports and the arts. Learn about the language and folk traditions, cooking, humor and more. Search or filter subjects at right.

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John Muir

John Muir: Scottish-American Naturalist

John Muir was a Scottish-American environmentalist. He spent his life loving the trees, the land beneath his feet and the world around him.

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Blog Topic
  • History
Year
  • 2017
The Man Behind the Mouse

The Man Behind the Mouse

The voice you all know and recognize - Mickey Mouse. Now, meet the Scottish-American behind the mouse and sound effects legend, Jimmy Macdonald.

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Blog Topic
  • History
Year
  • 2017
An Interview with We Banjo 3's Enda Scahill

Interview with Enda Scahill

Enda Schaill, a banjo extraordinaire, talks with us about Irish Fest, the creation of We Banjo 3 and how he contributes his experience and skills to the infectious, high energy quartet.

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Blog Topic
  • Festival
  • Music

St. Patrick's Day in Milwaukee History

St. Patrick's Day has celebrated Milwaukee's Irish heritage for years.

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Blog Topic
  • Culture
  • History
  • Milwaukee
  • Music
  • Ward Irish Music Archives
Year
  • 2016
Irish Fiddle Players

5 More Irish Fiddle Players You Need To Hear

Learn about and listen to five important historical Irish fiddle players: Lucy Farr, Bobby Casey, Julia Clifford, Paddy Canny and Johnny Doherty.

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Blog Topic
  • Festival
  • Irish Fest News
  • Music
Visa Issues for Foreign Artists Coming to U.S.

Disincentives for Foreign Artists

With the current laws and tax/visa rules, it's causing artists to reconsider or even forego coming to the States to perform and tour. This article breaks down costs and barriers artists encounter.

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Blog Topic
  • Festival
  • Irish Fest News
  • Music
5 Irish Christmas Songs to Listen To

5 Irish Christmas Songs to Listen To

The Irish have left their mark on Christmas across the world with their unique and catchy tunes. Listen to 5 holiday songs that range from 12th Century Ireland to the 21st Century.

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Blog Topic
  • History
  • Music
Year
  • 2016
Bing and Burl: Irish Americans' contributions to our Christmas Music Repertoire

Bing and Burl: Irish Americans' contributions to our Christmas Music Repertoire

Irish Americans Bing Crosby and Burl Ives both contributed to our modern Christmas music repertoire.

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Featured Columns
  • Analog Beat
Blog Topic
  • Music
  • Ward Irish Music Archives
Year
  • 2016
The Victorians and White Christmas

The Victorians and White Christmas

The Ward Irish Music Archives takes a look at the evolution of Christmas music from the Victorian Era through the end of Tin Pan Alley.

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Featured Columns
  • Analog Beat
Blog Topic
  • Music
  • Ward Irish Music Archives
Year
  • 2016
5 Irish Flute Players You Need To Hear

5 Irish Flute Players You Need to Hear

The sound of the flute has been a part of Irish music for generations.

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Blog Topic
  • Music
  • School of Music
Year
  • 2016
The Dullahan: The Irish Headless Horseman

The Dullahan: The Irish Headless Horseman

Even for the Irish, and the Celts, Dullahan is a starkly dark creature. Where did he come from, this headless one?

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Blog Topic
  • Culture
  • History
Year
  • 2016
The Story of Halloween

The Story of Halloween

Halloween has its roots with the Ancient Celts. Discover the history and transformation on this centuries-old holiday and learn about the traditions some still practice today.

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Blog Topic
  • Culture
  • History
Year
  • 2016
Ward Irish Music Archives

Audio: The Real MacNamara's Band

Many Irish Americans are familiar with the song "MacNamara's Band" written by Shamus O'Connor and John J. Stamford and popularized by the likes of Bing Crosby.

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Blog Topic
  • History
  • Music
  • Ward Irish Music Archives
Year
  • 2016

Tips for Practicing Irish Music

To help make the most of your Irish music (or any style of music) practice time, we've compiled a few tips to help make getting started less daunting...

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Blog Topic
  • Music
  • School of Music
Year
  • 2016
Irish Session

What is an Irish session?

Irish sessions are fun gatherings of musicians sharing tunes and conversations in a relaxed setting...

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Blog Topic
  • Music
  • School of Music
Year
  • 2016
5 Irish Tin Whistle Players You Need To Hear (photo by Daniel Fernandez)

5 Irish Tin Whistle Players You Need To Hear

The tin whistle is a humble instrument but can sound amazing in the hands of an expert musician. Listen and learn about 5 influential Irish whistle players.

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Blog Topic
  • Listening List
  • Music
  • School of Music
Year
  • 2016
Say Hello to CelticMKE

Say Hello to CelticMKE

The new CelticMKE brand embraces the larger and expanded musical world enabling us to better compete in a multitude of Celtic nations for funds, influence and new and innovative ideas.

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Blog Topic
  • Culture
  • History
  • Milwaukee
Year
  • 2016
Etihad World Games North American Hurling Team Champions

Playing at the Croke: Etihad World Games

In August 2016, the North American Hurling Team competed in the Etihad Airways GAA World Games in Dublin, Ireland, winning the Native Championships at the infamous Croke Park!

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Featured Columns
  • Analog Beat
Blog Topic
  • Chicago
  • Music
  • Ward Irish Music Archives
Year
  • 2016
San Patricios

Los Verdaderos Heroes: San Patricios

Mexico and Ireland have a relationship that dates all the way back to the 1840s.

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Blog Topic
  • Culture
  • History
Year
  • 2016
Nash's Irish Castle

Kit Nash and the Bloody Tinker

Everyone I know who frequented Nash's Irish Castle has a story to tell.

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Featured Columns
  • Founder's Corner
Blog Topic
  • History
Year
  • 2016
Kevin Burke's Trips to Milwaukee

Kevin Burke's Trip to Milwaukee

The Ward Irish Music Archives revisits early trips to Milwaukee by Irish fiddler Kevin Burke and guitarist Micheal O Domhnaill.

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Featured Columns
  • Analog Beat
Blog Topic
  • Milwaukee
  • Music
  • Ward Irish Music Archives
Year
  • 2016
Shannon Heaton

4 Steps to Inhabiting Your Irish Music Repertoire

It's not what you play, it's the way that you play it. It's sometimes hard to believe this, especially when you're sitting in a session and you don't know all/any of the tunes being played. There are so many tunes to learn.

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Blog Topic
  • Music
  • School of Music
Year
  • 2016
McNamara's Land

The DERRY-AIRS

In 1977, Ed Ward submitted a request to the Shamrock Club to organize a concert featuring local Irish talent. The concert became the first ever of its kind, using SOLELY local artists. The lineup included a quartet of Irish bar owners, dancers, a fiddler, a ten year old banjo player, and more.

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Featured Columns
  • Founder's Corner
Blog Topic
  • History
  • Music
Year
  • 2016
An Afternoon With Maureen O'Looney

An Afternoon With Maureen O'Looney

The Ward Irish Music Archives staff reflect on their visit with one of Chicago's most beloved Irish figures.

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Featured Columns
  • Analog Beat
Blog Topic
  • Chicago
  • Music
  • Ward Irish Music Archives
Year
  • 2016
Hamburgers

Grandma's Hamburgers

A Grandma's recipe is always the best recipe. Learn how to cook Grandma's Hamburgers, a recipe that's been been in the Nickels family since the 1940s.

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Blog Topic
  • Culture
  • Food
Year
  • 2016
The New England NFL Connection

The New England NFL Connection

The first New England Irish Festival, a two day event, ran inside the Patriots' Sullivan Stadium, in 1984. Michael Chamberlain, Stadium Manager at the time, hired none other than Milwaukee Irish Fest's Founder, Ed Ward to coordinate and run the event.

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Featured Columns
  • Founder's Corner
Blog Topic
  • Festival
  • History
Year
  • 2016
Derry Hegarty's Irish Pub

A Musical and Artistic Glimpse Inside the Fenians

A colorful piece of sheet music cover art leads Ward Irish Music Archives director, Barry Stapleton, on a journey exploring the Fenian Raids of Canada in 1866.

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Featured Columns
  • Analog Beat
Blog Topic
  • History
  • Ward Irish Music Archives
Year
  • 2016
Derry Hegarty's Irish Pub

The Barman and The Bards

Derry Hegarty decided in 1975 that Milwaukee needed real Irish folk music and hired a Boston-based, four person group to appear in his pub, Derry's, in February, 1975. The Bards, originally from Belfast, became a big hit on the local Irish scene.

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Featured Columns
  • Founder's Corner
Blog Topic
  • Festival
  • History
Year
  • 2016
The French Connection

The French Connection

Ed Ward talks about the beginnings of Irish Fest and the seeds that planted the creation of his Irish band, Blarney, in the 1970s.

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Featured Columns
  • Founder's Corner
Blog Topic
  • Festival
  • History
Year
  • 2016
The Color Purple

The Color Purple

My generation's exposure to purple was Sheb Wooley's song, "The Purple People Eater." Well, that and finding out that purple crayons don't taste like grape. But you may be surprised to know that in the mid-1980s the color purple and Irish Fest had much in common.

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Featured Columns
  • Founder's Corner
Blog Topic
  • Festival
  • History
Year
  • 2016
Paddy's Daddy

Paddy's Daddy

In the past week, long-time Irish Fest supporter and creator of the smiling leprechaun image that came to be known as Paddy McFest, Jim Finnerty, passed away from cancer at the age of 68.

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Featured Columns
  • Founder's Corner
Blog Topic
  • Festival
  • History
Year
  • 2016
1916 Easter Rising Centennial

1916 Easter Rising Centennial

Independence. Identity. Ownership. What leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising strived and fought for.

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Blog Topic
  • Culture
  • History
Year
  • 2016

Painting: the Fairy Bridges at Tullan Strand in Bundoran, County Donegal

Milwaukee Irish Fest board members were awarded this beautiful painting by The Institute of Study Abroad Ireland at the Transatlantic Connections Conference in Donegal in January in recognition of the work we do to keep Irish culture alive...

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Blog Topic
  • Culture
Year
  • 2016
AARIR Ludwig Bass Drum

From the Ward Irish Music Archives: Ludwig Bass Drum

This Ludwig bass drum came our way via Los Angeles and played an interesting role in Irish America’s support for Ireland’s independence...

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Blog Topic
  • History
  • Music
  • Ward Irish Music Archives
Year
  • 2016
Tommy Makem

Milwaukee Irish Fest Receives Rare Gifts from Makem Family

The family of Tommy Makem has donated two rare and valuable letters to Milwaukee Irish Fest to be added to the existing Tommy Makem Collection in the Ward Irish Music Archives...

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Blog Topic
  • History
  • Music
  • Ward Irish Music Archives
Year
  • 2015
St. Patrick's Day

Seven Things You Should Know about St. Patrick’s Day

With such a strong and vibrant Irish community, it’s important to remember what St. Patrick’s Day is really about. Here are seven things you should know about this special day.

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Blog Topic
  • Culture
  • History
Year
  • 2016
St. Stephen's Day

The legend of St. Stephen's Day

Also known as Boxing Day and Wren's Day, this day commemorates the life of St. Stephen, known for his service to the poor and as the first Christian martyr...

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Blog Topic
  • Culture
  • History
Year
  • 2015
Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving - with an Irish twist!

While many know the heartwarming story of the first Thanksgiving feast shared between the pilgrims and the Wampanoag natives, few are aware of the Irish influence on this American day of thanks...

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Blog Topic
  • Culture
  • History
Year
  • 2015
Milwaukee Irish Fest 35th Anniversary

Thank you for celebrating with us!

On behalf of the Board of Directors of Milwaukee Irish Fest, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of the volunteers, sponsors, special guests from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Canada and Scotland, the patrons, performers, vendors, City of Milwaukee officials and everyone else that helped us celebrate 35 years of Irish music and culture...

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Blog Topic
  • Festival
  • Milwaukee
Year
  • 2015
Milwaukee Irish Fest School of Music

School of Music Student Delivers Powerful Message about the "R Word"

Our very own Irish Fest School of Music student Jonathan Schmidt was invited to speak to the young men at Marquette University High School during their "Spread the Word to End the Word" liturgy on March 19, 2015...

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Blog Topic
  • School of Music
Year
  • 2015
Ward Irish Music Archives

Ward Irish Music Archives visits the 48th Annual Association for Recorded Sound Collections

Ed Ward, Irish Fest Founder, Barry Stapleton, Director of the Ward Irish Music Archives, and Jeff Ksiazek, Archivist, represented Milwaukee Irish Fest at the 48th Annual Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) Conference this May in Chapel Hill, North Carolina...

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Blog Topic
  • Ward Irish Music Archives
Year
  • 2014
The Murphy Beds

The Murphy Beds perform live at the Milwaukee Irish Fest Center

On Friday, October 10, The Murphy Beds (Eamon O'Leary and Jefferson Hamer) performed at the Irish Fest Center...

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Blog Topic
  • Music
  • Year-Round Events
Year
  • 2014
Patrick Boyle

Patrick's Trip to Scotland

Early this month, I traveled to Scotland for the North American Irish & Celtic Festival Organizations Conference...

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Blog Topic
  • Year-Round Events
Year
  • 2014
Nicholas Carolan

Nicholas Carolan to present 2015 Chuck Ward Memorial Lecture

Nicholas Carolan, Director of the Irish Traditional Music Archive (ITMA) in Dublin, travels to Milwaukee this week...

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Blog Topic
  • Music
  • Ward Irish Music Archives
  • Year-Round Events
Year
  • 2015
Nancy Madden Walczak

Nancy Madden Walczak named 2014 Volunteer of the Year

Nancy started with Irish Fest in 1981, the first year of the Festival, working the information booths...

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Blog Topic
  • Festival
Year
  • 2014
Milwaukee St. Patrick's Day

Milwaukee, plan your Green Season with us!

The weeks leading up to St. Patrick's Day are always busy here in Milwaukee! Irish culture lights up the city with music, dance, food, drinks and some great parties...

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Blog Topic
  • Culture
  • Milwaukee
Year
  • 2015
An Irish Night at the Musem

Milwaukee Irish Fest Hosts "An Irish Night at the Museum"

A celebration of the 35th Anniversary of Milwaukee Irish Fest, An Irish Night at the Museum, will take place Saturday, April 25 at the Milwaukee Public Museum...

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Blog Topic
  • Year-Round Events
Year
  • 2015
Cathy Ward at KGMB Gala

Milwaukee Irish Fest honored at Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful 2014 IDEAL Awards Gala

Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful honored Milwaukee Irish Fest at the IDEAL Awards Gala on November 1, 2014 at Milwaukee's Intercontinental Hotel...

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Blog Topic
  • Festival
Year
  • 2014
American Library Association

Irish Sheet Music Archives site reviewed by American Library Association

If you have yet to explore the Ward Irish Music Archives' Sheet Music website, now is the time...

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Blog Topic
  • Ward Irish Music Archives
Year
  • 2014
Best of Milwaukee 2014

Irish Fest Voted Best Outdoor Festival

The Shepherd Express honored us this year in its 23rd Annual Best of Milwaukee event, held on November 11, 2014 at the Milwaukee Art Museum...

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Blog Topic
  • Festival
Year
  • 2014
WISN A-List

Irish Fest Voted #2 Best Festival in WISN A-List

We are honored to have been voted #2 in the Best Festival category of the 2014 WISN A-List competition...

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Blog Topic
  • Festival
Year
  • 2015
Tosa Tonight

Irish Fest teams up with Tosa Tonight

Last night, Tosa Tonight welcomed two special guests in partnership with the Irish Fest Foundation...

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Blog Topic
  • Year-Round Events
Year
  • 2014
Milwaukee Irish Fest Song Circle

Irish Fest Song Circle visits Riverview Village Assisted Living Center

The Milwaukee Irish Fest Song Circle had so much fun visiting the Riverview Village Assisted Living Center in Menomonee Falls on September 11, 2014 to celebrate "Halfway to St. Patty's Day" with the residents.

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Blog Topic
  • Music
  • Year-Round Events
Year
  • 2014
Festival Experience Interns

Interns from across the globe go behind the scenes at Milwaukee Irish Fest

Each summer we invite students and recent graduates from across the globe to Milwaukee for a unique, behind-the-scenes look at how we run the world's largest Irish festival...

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Blog Topic
  • Festival
Year
  • 2015
Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from Milwaukee Irish Fest!

On behalf of the entire Milwaukee Irish Fest organization, we would like to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving!

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Blog Topic
  • Festival
  • Year-Round Events
Year
  • 2015
Jon Schmit

Featured Student: Jon Schmit

Timmy’s older brother Jon took a huge interest in Timmy’s lessons, listening in often and continuously adding more and more Irish music to his iPod...

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Blog Topic
  • Music
  • School of Music
Year
  • 2014
Patsy Touhey

150 Years of Patsy Touhey

Uileann piper Patsy Touhey was the most celebrated Irish traditional musician of his day...

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Blog Topic
  • History
  • Music
  • Ward Irish Music Archives
Year
  • 2015

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