Skip to content

Arts and Entertainment

Fleadh achievers reflect on what they got out of it

By Sean Smith, special to the BIR, July 3, 2013

For some Boston-area Irish musicians, early summer might be called Between-the-Fleadhs season. It’s the period following the Mid-Atlantic Fleadh Cheoil – the annual regional Irish music competition, which this year took place May 10-12 in Parsippany, NJ – and the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, or “the All-Irelands” as it’s often called, the summit of Irish music competitions.
Those fiddlers, accordionists, flutists, singers, and others who participated in the May fleadh are reflecting on the experience, while a subset – those who placed first or second in their particular age, instrument, and performance categories – are also making (or trying to make) plans for the All-Irelands, which will be held for the first time at a Northern Ireland location, in Derry, from Aug.12 to Aug.18. Read more

Colin Hamell explores lost dreams of The Titanic

By R.J.Donovan, special to the BIR, June 3, 2013

From Hollywood to Broadway, the world has long romanticized the sinking of the Titanic. Further, the story of the 1912 tragedy has focused strongly on the ship being a luxury liner that took to its watery grave a fairly well-to-do list of passengers.
What many people don’t realize is that the Titanic – the largest ship in the world at the time – was designed to transport emigrants. And, that it was built in the shipyards of Belfast.
These two points play a pivotal role in the Tir Na Theatre production of the new play, “Jimmy Titanic,” being presented by New Repertory Theatre in Watertown June 19 to 30. Directed by Carmel O’Reilly, the production had its world premiere last fall at the Origin Irish Theatre Festival in New York. Following a run in Philadelphia, “Jimmy Titanic” made its Irish debut in Donegal in April.
By Belfast journalist-turned-playwright Bernard McMullan, the play is set 100 years after the disaster in the north Atlantic, revisiting the journey of Jimmy Boylan and Tommy Mackey, two proud, young, Belfast shipyard workers aboard the ship’s ill-fated voyage. Read more

The Yanks are coming’ – to the Burren- Backroom series feature on June 19

By Sean Smith, special to the BIR, June 3, 2013

A New York City-based Irish band called The Yanks might seem a tough sell in the hub of Red Sox Nation, but Bostonians shouldn’t leap to conclusions: As fiddler Dylan Foley explains, he and his mates did not choose the moniker as a tribute to a certain baseball team.
“ ‘Yanks’ are what the Irish call obnoxious Americans, and we are Americans playing Irish music,” says Foley. “And we are obnoxious – sometimes.” Read more

Reading Joyce Reading À Paris

By Ed Forry, June 3, 2013

I am sitting on the terrace of a café in Paris—in Place de la Contrascarpe, to be exact. In 1921, when James Joyce was putting the finishing touches on Ulysses, he lived just around the corner, in a flat loaned to him by French author Valery Larbaud on a courtyard at number 71, rue Cardinal Lemoine. What better place to thumb through the French novel that purportedly gave Joyce the idea for what is known as “the interior monologue,” the predominant narrative strategy of Ulysses? According to his preeminent biographer, Richard Ellmann, Joyce picked up Les lauriers sont coupés by Édouard Dujardin at a railway kiosk in Paris in 1903—and the rest is literary history: “in later life, no matter how diligently the critics worked to demonstrate that he had borrowed the interior monologue from Freud, Joyce always made it a point of honor that he had it from Dujardin.” Read more

Books: Mary Robinson pens a compelling autobiography

By BY PETER F. STEVENS, special to the BIR, April 8, 2013

‘Everybody Matters’ mirrors an Irish woman and world humanitarian named Robinson
By Peter F. Stevens
BIR Staff

“Everybody matters” – surely those are two words with which countless people agree. What truly matters, however, is how few live up to those words. That precept is not only the title of Mary Robinson’s compelling new autobiography, but also the core conviction that has guided virtually every step of her life on the world stage. Read more

For its farewell salute to ‘Larry,’ Green Briar fills pub, then some

By Sean Smith, special to the BIR, April 8, 2013

By Sean Smith
Special to the BIR

Even by Green Briar standards, it was a big crowd. “There’s more musicians here than people,” quipped one visitor, gazing at the various instrument cases in evidence among the throng that had filled the Brighton pub.
Musicians and non-musicians alike gathered that evening of March 4 at the Green Briar Restaurant and Pub, home of what is arguably Boston’s most famous Irish music session, to honor the memory of its chief organizer and guiding spirit: Larry Reynolds, who died last October. And so, the regular Monday night musical gathering, which most weeks easily fills the room, was multiplied several times over to the extent that it was standing-room-only even for musicians. Read more

Karen MacDonald reinventing “M” as nightmarish good time

By R, special to the BIR, April 8, 2013

By R. J. Donovan
Special to The BIR

Karen MacDonald is one of Boston’s most accomplished and awarded actor-director-teachers. From the angst of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” through the struggle and survival of Brecht’s masterpiece “Mother Courage,” the fun and frivolity of “The Drowsy Chaperone,” profiling the life of Rose Kennedy in “The Color of Rose,” and a multitude of Shakespearean classics, diversity is practically her middle name. Read more

For Dervish, the dance goes on

By Sean Smith, special to the BIR, April 8, 2013

‘25 years of persevering and surviving, and enjoying it.

By Sean Smith
Special to the BIR

Their name evokes a wild and whirling dance so frenzied and transformative that it cannot possibly last. But even with almost 25 years behind them, for Dervish the dance goes on – and there’s no sign of it stopping.
The Sligo-based sextet took to the road late this winter in conjunction with the release of their 12th album, “The Thrush in the Storm,” and their travels took them through New England last month – including a surprise visit to The Burren in Somerville, where they played an approximately one hour-long late-night set. Read more

The Burren’s McCarthy takes pen in hand, result is ‘The Fiddlers of Inishbofin’

By Sean Smith, special to the BIR, March 6, 2013

A musical disaster en route to a picturesque island off the coast of Galway may seem an unlikely inspiration for a play, but these elements suited the imagination of long-time local Irish music personality Tommy McCarthy.

A West Clare native, McCarthy is well known as musician, promoter, and organizer, and as the owner of the popular Boston-area Irish pub The Burren in Somerville’s Davis Square and its sister pub, The Skellig in Waltham. Read more

Old dances can inspire new ones

By Kieran Jordan, special to the BIR, March 6, 2013

As an Irish dancer, I work with traditional steps and rhythms that are hundreds of years old. Irish dance steps are usually not transcribed or written down, and there is little standardized terminology for the movements. Steps are passed on through live teaching, and are retained through practice and performance.  The repertoire lives in the dancer’s body and mind. Read more