Despite the unseasonably authentic Irish weather for late May, the combination of music, dance, food, drink and sport drew thousands of intrepid attendees to the Hoboken Irish Festival throughout Saturday afternoon.
Kicking off with Hoboken Firefighter Colin Nisbet on bagpipes, the event in Sinatra Park got underway with a hurling clinic by the Hoboken Guards, while the Aherne Sheehan School of Irish Dance, Kerri Smith Academy of Irish Dance and the Garden St. Irish Step Dancers & Emerald Fire dazzled the crowd with impressive displays of traditional Irish dance—while the equally impressive Manhattan skyline served as a backdrop.
Clan Suibhne got the day’s live music off to a start with a set of Celtic folk songs, followed by a rousing set from A Band of Rogues, with Hoboken’s own Gold N’ Brown bringing the event to a close—just as the lingering ominous skies finally began to open with a steady rain.
Over on the field, men’s and women’s GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) squads from the NYPD, Rockland County, Boston, and Chicago did battle in a tournament hosted by the Manhattan Gaels, with the Rockland men’s and Chicago women’s sides taking home medals that night. Matches were sponsored in part by Crunch – Hoboken and Willie McBride’s.
There’s was not the only contest of the day, as 84-year-old Peggy, from County Kildare, took first place in the annual Irish Soda Bread Contest. Fish & Chips, Corned Beef & Cabbage and other fare was on the menu, along with a number of vendors—plus activities like bouncy houses and a petting zoo for kids.
Started in 2011 as a way to celebrate Irish culture following the cancellation of the Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Irish Festival continues to build momentum—garnering support from the City of Hoboken, Irish Network USA and even the Consulate General of Ireland in New York.
“I was especially struck by the enthusiasm of everyone I spoke to—parents, young adults, the athletes and artists that participated, our special guests—to keep growing this celebration of Irishness along the Hudson River,” stated Steve Lenox, President, Irish Network NJ. “The festival is now a mainstay in efforts to keep growing the connections of the Global Irish community, and will only keep getting even bigger and better.”