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Thursday, March 13, 2014 12:01 am

Saint Pat’s party

Mulligan Munro joins in the St. Pat’s Party at McCormick’s Smokehouse 4 to 6 and at It’s All About Wine 7 to 10, on Sat., plus a Prairie Grapevine concert on Tues. at 7:30 p.m. at the Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Congregation.


I imagine for many celebrating during Saturday’s Saint Patrick’s Day Marching Band Parade and on through the weekend to Saint Patrick’s Day proper on Monday, March 17, much of the history that explains the meaning of the holiday is really not a priority. In fact, the general consensus is to get soused beyond belief whether in honor of all the great things done by the Irish and Celtic peoples through the ages or not. So be it, I say.

I do trust some of those who don’t know the incredible and vibrant Irish story will take the time to research and discover the rich creative history of the “Land of Saints and Scholars,” as Ireland is often called. In books such as How the Irish Saved Civilization, The Book of Kells, Ulysses, The Crock of Gold, the poetry of Yeats and the passionate plays of Behan or through music from The Pogues, The Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem, Van Morrison, U2, Sinead O’Connor, O’Carolan, or the thousands of ancient and forgotten fiddlers who carried tunes through the ages, plus countless contributions by other forms of artistry, the Celtic people, especially those of Irish influence, have brightened the world with an incredible creative light. With this ebullient spirit of Eire leading the way, we celebrate the Celtic (yes, it’s actually pronounced “Kel tik” despite the pronunciation of the Boston basketball team) influence on America and the world with music, drinking, eating and a respect of culture.

Without a doubt, the busiest bees on Saint Patrick’s Day weekend are the St. Andrew’s Society members, including dancers, pipers, drummers and behind-the-scenes organizers and helpers. From marching and performing in the parade, to splitting up the pipes and drums to do some 15 separate performances in a dozen bars and restaurants on Saturday, then continuing on the next two days with a couple on Sunday, then back to full task on Monday, the dedicated area organization is a whirlwind of Celtic activity over the next few days. Next weekend they continue the celebration in Lincoln and Mt. Zion. Keep a heads up for the Highland Games in May, as well.

Next on the list of busy bands, The Emerald Underground, of which I am proudly a full-fledged member, continues a tradition of Celtic fusion with newly added acoustic sounds, by playing Lime Street on Friday, Saturday and Monday evenings with Marly’s Pub from noon to 3:30 on Saturday. I’ve also got a duo performance with Theresa O’Hare, plus guests, from 3 to 6 at the Dublin Pub on Sunday and a few more private shows here and there.

Another of our Celtic-music based groups, Mulligan Munro, with Mark Butler leading the crew through a set of rousing Irish and American folk songs, plays a string of St. Pat related shows. See the quality quartet Saturday at McCormick’s Smokehouse 4 to 6 and at It’s All About Wine 7 to 10, plus a Prairie Grapevine concert on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation. Skibbereen, Hank Helton’s Celtic group, makes a St. Pat’s Day jaunt down to St. Louis for an evening show at Schlafly Bottleworks. The Whiskey Picts, with Dave Littrell rocking some Celtic tunes plus bagpipes, plays Bar None at 1 p.m. on Saturday followed by the indomitable Broomby until the cows come home.

Of course, other shows are happening, including a return by our central Illinois friend Lyman Ellerman with Tyler P. White at Guitars and Cadillacs Saloon on Friday, plus regular bar gigs by all kinds of bands all over town. It’s nice to celebrate St. Pat’s party with the Celtic kind, but it’s certainly not necessary.

Slainte! or as it roughly translates from Gaelic -- To your health!

Contact Tom Irwin at

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