Irish poetry, music, dance, drama and film will highlight Wake Forest University’s weeklong Irish Festival March 17-25.
Irish Festival events are sponsored by the Wake Forest University Press, the premier publisher of Irish poetry in North America. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the press.
The celebration of Irish culture will begin on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, with the Irish Festival Community Day at Reynolda House Museum of American Art (adjacent to campus). The free community event will run from noon to 3:30 p.m.
It will feature three musical groups, including Naomi’s Fancy, a traditional Irish band. The five-member group plays harp, uilleann bagpipes, flute, fiddle, pennywhistle and several other instruments. Linda Hickman, best known for her performances with the group Celtic Thunder, will also present traditional Irish music with vocalist and guitarist Julee Glaub and bodhran player Kevin Goodan. As a founding member of Celtic Thunder, Hickman has performed at the White House. Glaub is a Wake Forest graduate who lived and worked in Dublin for six years and Goodan is a self-taught bodhran player, who has lived and traveled in Ireland.
Another musical group, the Morris Family, will demonstrate the links between Celtic and immigrant American music. The outdoor event will also feature hands-on crafts for children, as well as storytelling and poetry reading. Irish food will be for sale.
As part of the festival, “Odd Man Out,” the 1947 suspense film set in post-WWII, will be shown in Wake Forest’s Pugh Auditorium in Benson University Center at 8 p.m. on March 19. Admission is free.
Wake Forest student and dancer Sinead O’Doherty and members of the Triad Irish Dancers will teach the jig and the reel from 11 a.m. to noon on March 20 in Wake Forest’s Benson University Center. Admission is free.
That evening, Wake Forest students and community members will present “A Night of Drama, Dance and Decapitation: Three One-Acts by Yeats,” at Reynolda House. Mary Helen Huff, assistant professor of theater at Wake Forest, will direct the 8 p.m. performance. In his plays as in his poetry, Yeats drew on the rich body of Irish myth and legend. The three plays presented will include, “On Baile’s Strand,” “The King of the Great Clock Tower” and “The Death of Cuchulainn.” Admission is free.
Irish poet Ciaran Carson will read from his works on March 21 at 8 p.m in Carswell Hall’s second floor reading room on the Wake Forest campus. Born in Belfast, Carson is the author of seven collections of poetry, all published in North America by Wake Forest University Press. The Press will publish his new “Selected Poems” in March. His books have won numerous awards, including the prestigious Irish Times/Aer Lingus Irish Literature Prize for Poetry and the first T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry. Admission is free.
On March 22, Celtic violinist Eileen Ivers will perform as part of Wake Forest’s Secrest Artists Series. A seven-time, all-Ireland fiddle champion, Ivers is probably best known for her performances with the original “Riverdance.” The 8 p.m. concert in Wait Chapel will combine a wide range of traditional and contemporary Irish music. Tickets are $18 for adults, $13 for senior citizens and non-Wake Forest students. They are available through the Wake Forest Box Office at 336-758-5295 or the Secrest Series office at 336-758-5757.
In conjunction with the Wake Forest Irish Festival, the Theatre Alliance will present “The Cripple of Innishman” on March 16 and 17 and March 22-25 at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art. Written by playwright Martin McDonagh, the play explores the effect a Hollywood film has on a small Irish town in 1934. Admission is $12 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens. Reservations can be made by calling the Theatre Alliance Box Office at 336-768-5655.
For additional information about the Wake Forest University Irish Festival, call Wake Forest University Press at 336-758-5448.
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