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 16th Annual Adams County Irish Festival

Patrick Bowling

(7/2016) The 16th Annual Adams County Irish Festival returns to Moose Park of Gettysburg on Saturday July 16. Offering fun for the whole family, the festival will run from10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and will showcase all things Irish – music, food, merchandise and more.

Since 2001, the shady grounds of Moose Park have been home to Adams County’s only Irish Festival. After a successful re-launch last summer following a hiatus in 2014, this year’s celebration of Irish culture and heritage promises to be one of the biggest ever with over 30 vendors of Irish merchandise, crafts, food and beverages. Many of the merchandise vendors are new with unique items including Irish lace making, mead kits, etched glassware, photographic prints, Irish sweaters, rugby jerseys, stringed instruments, tartan scarves, painted family crests and Irish Garda items. Food vendors will be selling pulled pork, chicken and beef sandwiches, waffles with unique toppings, Irish bangers, hamburgers, hotdogs, ice cream, fruit smoothies, iced coffees, and a variety of Irish foods in addition to soft drinks and adult beverages.

Also on hand will be a Civil War living history encampment by the 69th Pennsylvania Irish Volunteers, an all-things-whiskey display by Dill’s Tavern and a demonstration of Celtic pictograph stone carving. The Potomac Valley Irish Wolfhound Club will also return with their gentle giants.

Three bands making their Adams County Irish Festival debuts plus a returning local favorite highlight the music line-up. This year’s festival features Girsa, an all-female traditional Irish music group that formed a dozen years ago in Pearl River, New York. Originally an octet of high school-aged girls who learned to play traditional Irish music from their family members, Girsa’s energetic and enthusiastic performances of traditional Irish music, song and dance have been quickly met with outstanding national acclaim. With three well-received albums, the band is currently comprised of Maeve Flanagan on fiddle and tin whistle; Pamela Geraghty on accordion, guitar and vocals; Emily McShane on piano, guitar, vocals and bodhran; Blaithin Loughran on accordion; and Bernadette Flanagan on piano and bodhran. Girsa captures audiences with their melodious voices, electrifying musicianship and witty banter. Their individual instrumental and vocal excellence combine to create a powerful force that is breaking into the forefront of Irish music in the US.

Also making their festival debut is The John Byrne Band, led by Dublin native and Philadelphia-based John Byrne. With influences ranging from The Chieftains to Tom Waits to Planxty, Byrne’s songwriting honors and expands upon the musical and lyrical traditions of his native and adopted homes. John has toured with or opened up for acts as diverse as The Hothouse Flowers, Ian Gillan (of Deep Purple), Patti Smyth, Gaelic Storm, Finbar Furey, Luka Bloom, The Saw Doctors, The Screaming Orphans, Solas and The Greencards. The band has three albums to their credit.

Collectively known as The Brayzen Heads, Shane Farrell and David Gilmore will also be making their first appearance at the festival. The duo, from England and Ireland respectively, has been performing live since 2000 and has performed over 4,000 shows throughout Europe, Asia, Australia and the US. The Brayzen Heads have just finished a 3-year residency at Raglan Road Irish Pub, Walt Disney World, Florida where they played to audiences 7 nights a week. They are now traveling around the US and Canada sharing their style of Irish music.

Also returning to the main stage is longtime festival veteran and regional favorite Irishtown Road. Based in McSherrystown, the group has been performing together since 1997 and the versatile repertoire of Irishtown Road leans towards traditional Irish songs (some in the Irish language) and traditionally-arranged original work featuring intricate vocal harmonies and instrumental variety. Irishtown Road is comprised of guitarist/fiddler Brian Colgan and sibling Eileen Colgan Bowling (tin whistle) along with Brian’s son Jesse (bodhran, percussion), Denny Seitz (banjo, banjola), Ben Wenk (bass, mandolin) and piper Rodney Owens. Also, original band member Lynn Colgan Cohen (harp, keyboards) and her husband Henry Cohen (fiddle) will be sitting in with the band at the festival. With two albums to their credit, the band is work is nearing completion on their third album, On the One Road. Rounding out the music slate and making their second festival appearance is the 69th Pennsylvania Irish Volunteers musical group who will be performing Civil War and Irish Period music. The band has two albums under their belt that help fund gravestone dedications to honor the original members of the regiment.

Admission to the festival is still only $10, which includes all entertainment and parking. Children age 12 and under are admitted free. The festival is sponsored by Adams County Division 1 of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) and benefits the Hibernian Hunger Project, a nationwide community service program by the AOH to help feed the needy by maintaining the traditions of Irish hospitality and generosity while remembering the multitudes of Irish who died from starvation or who were forced to flee Ireland because of An Gorta Mor ("The Great Hunger") of 1845-1850. Bolstered by funds from the 2015 Irish Festival, the Adams County AOH provided donations totaling $2,500 to three Adams-Hanover area hunger-relief organizations in February 2016. Since 2003, Adams County AOH Hibernian Hunger Project efforts have raised over $6,000 for hunger-relief organizations in Gettysburg and the surrounding area.

The Festival will be held at the McSherrystown Moose Park of Gettysburg (100 Moose Road, Gettysburg), located off of US Route 30, approximately 1.5 miles east of the US Route 15 intersection. Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets.

For additional information on the festival, visit

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