North Wildwood Irish Fest billed as East Coast’s largest

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Performers include Broken Shillelaghs, above, along with Timmy Kelly, Maura McKinney-Mastro, Ballina, Birmingham 6, Celtic Pride, 10-year-old fiddler Haley Richardson and others.  Performers include Broken Shillelaghs, above, along with Timmy Kelly, Maura McKinney-Mastro, Ballina, Birmingham 6, Celtic Pride, 10-year-old fiddler Haley Richardson and others.

NORTH WILDWOOD - The 22nd annual Irish Fall Festival, a celebration of Irish culture and heritage through food, drink, music, dancing, boxing and a variety of other events, returns to North Wildwood Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 19-22.

The Irish festival is sponsored by James J. Reilly Division 1, Ancient Order of Hibernians, an organization that fosters and preserves Irish culture and heritage.

The festival, described by organizers as the East Coast’s largest, teed off Thursday with a golf tournament at the Wildwood Golf & Country Club in Cape May Court House, followed by a night of USA vs. Ireland Live Amateur Boxing.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, all the festivities will take place 8 a.m.-7 p.m. along Olde New Jersey Avenue. More than 100 vendors are expected, and they will be selling everything from food and drink to Irish memorabilia.

There will be free live music along Olde New Jersey Avenue from noon-10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. As always, the concert will begin with the national anthem sung by Dolly McGee, followed by the Irish national anthem. Other featured performers include Timmy Kelly, Maura McKinney-Mastro, Ballina, Broken Shillelaghs, Birmingham 6, Celtic Pride and others. Special guest Haley Richardson will perform 2:30-4 p.m. Saturday. The 10-year-old has won multiple awards both here and in Ireland for her fiddle playing.

Festivities on Saturday kick off with a 5K run at 8 a.m. The entry fee is $15. Register in advance at Owen’s Pub, 119 E. 17th St., North Wildwood or the day of the race at the Ancient Order of the Hibernians tent on Olde New Jersey Avenue between First and Second avenues. Various prizes will be awarded after the race.

Saturday’s entertainment begins 10 a.m. with the Brian Riley Pipe Exhibition at Eighth and Central avenues featuring some of the top pipe bands in the East. Free Irish dance lessons will be available 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Anglesea Volunteer Fire House at Second and Olde New Jersey avenues.

The Irish Music Tent, in the municipal parking lot at Moore’s, will feature nonstop entertainment by Broken Shillelaghs, Celtic Connection, Sean Fleming Band, Secret Service, 2 U and Belfast Connection. A discount admission ticket for all three days is $20; call 215-397-5909.

On Sunday, everyone is welcome to celebrate Mass 10:30 a.m. at St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church, Glenwood and Atlantic avenues. A parade will follow starting 12:30 p.m. at 24th and Surf avenues and continuing to Spruce and Olde New Jersey avenues.

Jere Cole, national director of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America, will serve as grand marshal. Seamus Boyle, past national president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, will be a special guest. The parade will also feature Miss North Wildwood Maureen Hennessy, fraternal organizations, bagpipe bands and Irish dance groups.   

Shuttle bus transportation will be available for the weekend. Buses will loop continuously from Second and Olde New Jersey Avenues along Surf Avenue to 26th Avenue. Shuttle bus service through Wildwood and Wildwood Crest will also be available.

For information about the festival call 800-IRISH-91 or see www.CMCAOH.com .


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