Irish Shows for Irish-American Heritage Month

Christina Knight | March 10, 2022

Fields in Ireland, and a hint of the rain that keeps them green. From Mary Berry’s Simple Comforts: Ireland episode.

March is Irish-American Heritage Month – a celebration of a small island’s culture that 31.5 million Americans feel connected to; Irish is the second largest ancestry group cited on the U.S. Census after German. The pinnacle of the month is St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, when the color to wear is green, representing the Emerald Isle of Ireland.

New York City rolls out the St. Patrick’s Day parade on Fifth Avenue starting at 11 a.m. and people of all heritages join the festivities at Irish pubs and taverns – the city has more per capita than any other, according to a St. Patrick’s Day-themed round up by Wallet Hub. If you’re lucky, you might catch a pub’s traditional Irish music session when musicians circle up to play traditional Irish songs and socialize. Irish hospitality pairs with a gift for conversation – the Irish are always game for “the Craic” – an Irish Gaelic term that boils down to sharing the latest news and gossip with generous humor and wit.

THIRTEEN, the New York City region’s PBS station, is pleased to pipe some music and performance into homes in March via specials, as well as shows that reveal Ireland’s beauty and history.

Ireland in Music: Sclimpíní

The title of this new music series is straight-forward, but does the Irish Gaelic word sclimpíní mean? Manchán Magan, author of the book Thirty-Two Words for Field: Lost Words of the Irish Landscape, explains: “sclimpíní refers to supernatural lights that dance before one’s eyes.”

The Irish eyes are smiling in the series Ireland in Music: Sclimpíní, in which Ireland-based musicians perform on location in Irish countryside and cities. Episodes include poetry with actor Stephen Rea (Flesh and Blood, The Crying Game) and even a whistler! Among the locales are Dublin’s Temple Bar and Millennium Bridge, the Burren in County Clare, castles in County Westmeath and more. Broadcasts begin Sunday, April 3 at 7:30 p.m. (see Schedule), but you can stream episodes in advance.

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Irish Dance: Steps of Freedom

Thirteen airs Irish Dance: Steps of Freedom several times from Thursday, March 17 at 8:30 p.m. to March 21 at 1 a.m. (see Schedule).

Breathtaking Irish dance performances chart the evolution of this global dance phenomenon, from its early Celtic origins to its peasant dance roots to its mix with Caribbean and African slave cultures. Hosted by young Irish dance phenom and viral TikTok sensation Morgan Bullock of Virginia, the program reveals how this dance is a story of religious influence, cultural fusion, mass migration, and revolution. Archival performances showcase Riverdance and Lord of the Dance star Michael Flatley and Irish dance master Jean Butler, among many others.

The program features Irish dance performers from New York City to Ireland.

A young black woman wearing Irish dance shoes stands on her toes on Irish dance board in middle of intersection of NYC street. She wears black tights and a black zip up sweatshirt.

Irish dance performer Morgan Bullock dances at the intersection of Delancey Street and Orchard Street on the Lower East Side in New York City

Six men wear black shoes and dance on a wooden board placed on waterside pier. The sun is setting behind them.

Irish dance performance at Battery Park in New York City.

Two tall young men, twins, are airborne with their bodies vertical above two boards for Irish dance that are placed on path along body of water.

Gardiner Brothers in Steps to Freedom.

Cormac Begley and Stephaine Keane perform waterside.

For live Irish dance, see the Trinity Irish Dance Company (TIDC) March 15 through March 19 at the Joyce Theater. The theater seats just under 500 in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City, and every seat is a good one.

Trinity: Classically Irish

Conor Murphy, Emmett O’Hanlon and Ronan Scolard.

Thirteen airs Trinity: Classically Irish on Thursday, March 17 at 10 p.m. and Saturday, March 19 at 3 p.m. (see Schedule) or stream now.

A New Yorker is part of this trio of tenors celebrating Irish-American Heritage month in song. Their concert with the Gulf Coast Symphony in Fort Myers, Florida, features “Toora Loora,” “Red Is the Rose,” “Carrickfergus,” “Danny Boy,” “The Spanish Lady,” “Shenandoah,” “Raglan Road,” “The Rocky Road to Dublin,” “Grace,” “Isle of Hope,” “The Fields of Athenry” and “The Parting Glass.”

Emmett O’Hanlon was born in New York City to Irish parents. After graduation from The Juilliard School with a Master of Music degree, his work as principal vocalist with Celtic Thunder took him to hundreds of cities in the U.S., Canada and Australia.

Conor Murphy has Irish opera in his blood — his great-grandmother, Mimi Devitt, was a famous Irish opera soprano before WWII, who earned the nickname “Mimi” for her well-received Dublin performances in La Bohème. Murphy performs in opera and musical theater and as a solo artist across Canada, the U.S. and Europe.

Ronan Scolard is a multi-talented tenor and musician from Dublin. He studied music at Trinity College, The University of Dublin, and is Trinity’s musical director and arranger. His extensive experience, including choral and orchestra work and arranging for Riverdance and Celtic Woman, has made Ronan one of the most sought-after arrangers and music producers in Ireland.

Celtic Woman: Postcards from Ireland

Celtic Woman ensemble.

As we forward to the return of travel and live music, the Grammy-nominated ensemble Celtic Woman shares a message of love and hope with fans in the form of musical postcards, written with the songs from their latest album. They filmed their TV special in 14 locations in Ireland and are currently on their tour of Postcards from Ireland, with March dates in Staten Island and New Brunswick, New Jersey. Stream the concert TV special now.

Breaking from the usual format of Celtic Woman TV specials, Postcards from Ireland takes viewers on a musical journey through stunning land and seascapes across Ireland, where the ensemble is filmed outdoors with musicians and dancers. Postcards appear throughout the program as signposts to keep you informed of the location, and performers share associations they have with the setting or the song they perform.

Irish Locations and Songs

At Johnstown Castle in County Wexford in the East, the group delivers a spine-tingling performance of “Amazing Grace.” Megaan sings “Bonny Portmore” at the monastic site at Glendalough in County Wicklow. See the pectacular seascapes and cliffs in County Antrim where the group performs a new rendition of “The Dawning of the Day.” “Beeswing,” a beautiful folk song, is performed at a reconstructed early 20th-century Irish village in County Tyrone. The Wild Atlantic Way of the West Coast is represented at Lissadell House in County Sligo, the holiday home of renowned Irish poet W.B. Yeats. There, Muirgen sings “Down By the Salley Gardens.” At Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, County Galway, Chloe delivers a stunning rendition of “Angel.” In County Kerry, Tara performs the magnificent Bach violin solo “Where Sheep May Safely Graze” in the medieval monastic ruins of Muckross Abbey. In the Chapel at Trinity College in Dublin, Susan offers a powerful rendition of “May It Be.”

Mary Berry’s Simple Comforts: Ireland

A woman in green blouse holds a piece of cake on a server; the cake is on table in front of her

Mary Berry.

The co-host of The Great British Baking Show, Mary Berry, has a PBS spin-off called Mary Berry’s Simple Comforts. In this episode, she visits Ireland, where comfort food is at the heart of the local cuisine. Mary visits Cork’s local food market, which is jam-packed with culinary delights, from fresh fish and steaming stews to beautiful breads and the famous Boxty potato pancake. At the Jameson distillery, she meets a cooper (barrel-maker) whose skills were passed down from generations of ancestors before him. Stream now.

Ireland’s Wild Coast

This unique journey along one of the most spectacular coastlines in the world features the wildlife and wild places that make Ireland’s rugged Atlantic coast so special. Wildlife cameraman Colin Stafford-Johnson is your guide to the place he calls home after 30 years making the world’s most celebrated wildlife films. Watch clips and two episodes.