Irish American Heritage Month and its most recognizable holiday — St. Patrick's Day — are over, but Philly is far from ready to cease the celebrations. With a new, budget-friendly airline flying nonstop Philly to Dublin and a spring events calendar packed with the spirit of the shamrock, Philly's gearing up for an Irish encore.
Upcoming events include theater performances, a Celtic concert, and a massive festival in Northeast Philadelphia. In between, consider a visit to one Philly's mainstay Irish pubs, such as Fergie's or Fado's, where you can yell "sláinte" (Irish cheers) over a beer or two with friends, possibly as a practice run for an Irish excursion sometime in the future.
As of March 25, Ireland's Aer Lingus is offering nonstop flights between Philadelphia and Dublin, joining existing Philly-to-Ireland carriers American Airlines, Finnair, and British Airways. Aer Lingus currently has departures on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, and is scheduled to begin daily service mid-May. The carrier is what's known to the trade as a "value hybrid" airline, like Southwest and JetBlue, with better prices than full-service airlines and better amenities than the bargain-basement ones. Round-trip tickets between Philadelphia and Dublin are currently priced as low as about $500 round-trip.
Fierce female characters are the crux of Women of Ireland, a series of short plays curated by the Irish Heritage Theatre in coproduction with Plays and Players Theatre. Each performance brings to life John Millington Synge's tragedy Riders to the Sea, the nationalistic one-act Cathleen Ni Houlihan by William Butler Yeats and the Lady Gregory, and an array of contemporary shorts from Fishamble's Tiny Plays for Ireland. All components of the multipart production are directed by women, creating a female-focused celebration of Mother Ireland and a poetic insight into what it means to be an Irish woman. Advance reservations are strongly recommended.
7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday April 5-21, Plays and Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Place, $25 for adults, $20 for seniors, $15 for students, 215-751-8495, playsandplayers.org
The Inis Nua Theatre Company is devoted to producing contemporary and provocative plays from Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales. Starting April 25 (through May 13), it presents Irish playwright and screenwriter Mark O'Rowe's Our Few and Evil Days. The play focuses on a married couple who unexpectedly find themselves hosting their daughter's new boyfriend, and becomes a psychological thriller full of cliff-hangers and tension, all centered in a large living room and kitchen. The show's run includes two opportunities (May 2 and 9) to dive deeper in postshow discussions with guest scholars and theater practitioners.
April 25-May 13, various times, the Drake, 302 S .Hicks St., $25-$30, 215-454-9776, inisnuatheatre.org
The area's largest Irish American festival unfolds in May, filling multiple stages with live Celtic rock, traditional Irish music, and dance performances spread out across 10 hours. Those who play their own tunes are invited to bring their instruments and join jam sessions, and all are encouraged to wear dancing shoes. Food, refreshments, and Celtic merchants are also part of the fun, and there's a kids' play zone for the little ones. Tickets to the all-day festival can be purchased in advance online.
May 12, The Pennsylvania National Guard Armory, 2700 Southampton Rd., $20, free for children 12 and under, phillyfleadh.com
The trio Poor Man's Gambit, inspired by traditional Irish music, performs in May at Longwood Gardens' Beer Garden. The group brings to the stage a diverse array of instruments, including the accordion, fiddle, bodhran, and cittern, along with vocals and an element of dance. Be sure to arrive early and spend some time exploring the beautiful gardens before settling in for the 6 p.m. show. Victory Brewing Company beers will be available to accompany eats from a wood-fired pizza station and a BBQ grill.