August 17-20, 2017

August 17-20, 2017

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Cultural Village

2017 Highlights:


Cultural Exhibits Pavilion

  • The Three Artists:
    • Finn Harper, Ennis, Clare, Ireland - Portraits of Musicians
    • Laura Coyle, Chicago, Illinois - Fine Art Paintings of Ireland
    • Julie San Felipe, Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Irish Song in Painting
  • The Irish American Hall of Fame Exhibit - Chicago
  • The Wake House - Visit an Irish Wake House (funeral customs and traditions)
  • The Irish in World War One - The Battle of Messines - a major battle that saw heavy losses by the Irish in the British armed forces
  • The Americans in World War One - 1917, the 50th Anniversary
  • Carol Walker - Somme Museum
  • The Irish-Mexicans and the San Patricios - a joint exhibit with Mexican Fiesta
  • Learn about iBAM Chicago - Irish Books, Arts and Music
  • The Irish American News - Chicago and Ohio
  • Meet representatives from the Shamrock Club, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Friends of St. Patrick Centre of Downpatrick, NI, the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center of Wisconsin, and the St. Andrew’s Society of Milwaukee.

Theatre Pavillion

The Theatre Pavillion offers some of the best Irish plays written by Irish playwrights and performed by Irish (and honorary Irish) players. Be sure to join us this year as Bangor Theatre Company returns with a new play called "Galway Girl" and another play called "Lovers: Winners." Sister Bernie from McHale Productions is back with Bingo Bonanza and The Milwaukee Irish Arts return with "Fred and Jane" and "Little Gem." Check out all the play synopses.

Harp Stage

The Harp Stage is the place to hear the music of the harp, the only musical instrument to be the symbol of a country. The mix of music marries the ancient to the modern, in an often electric manner, with some of the best harpers in the world. Check out the full harp stage schedule, here.

Hedge School:

The Hedge School offers a series of lectures and panels from Friday afternoon through Sunday evening. The 2017 topics and speakers include: 

  • Her story/Irish Women and the First World War: Carol Walker, Somme Heritage Centre, Newtownards NI
  • Irish Castles: Colm Donnelly, Queen's University Belfast
  • Irish Genealogy: Brian Donovan and Fiona Fitzsimons, Eneclann, Dublin
  • Life and Death in Medieval Ireland: Eileen Murphy, Queen's University Belfast
  • Music and Migration & Oral History: Sarah Goek, Illinois Mathematics & Science Academy 
  • Northern Ireland Now: Jim Shannon, MP for Strangford, NI
  • The Irish in the First World War: Kenneth Shonk, UW LaCrosse
  • Walking in the footsteps of Ireland's Patron Saint - the Saint Patrick Camino: Tim Campbell, Saint Patrick Centre, Downpatrick, NI

Join us also on Saturday for the launch of the memoir, Little House on the Peace Line by the writer Tony Macaulay from Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Hedge School closes on Sunday evening with poetry readings and the announcements of the winners of the Irish Fest poetry prize.

Moore Street Market:

The Moore Street Market concentrates on Irish/Celtic artisans. Come and meet the artists and shop your way through the market. It is located on the South end of the festival grounds in our Cultural Village, just south of the South gate. 

Poetry Contest

Milwaukee Irish Fest offers two poetry prizes annually; each award is $100. Winnders will be announced at Irish Fest during the poetry events on Sunday afternoon, August 21, in the Hedge School in the Cultural Village on the south end of the grounds. After the lectures are completed in the Hedge School, the area is opened to the Poetry contest and the Poetry jam. Click here for instructions on how to submit poems to the festival. 

Literary Corner

The 2017 Literary Corner is sponsored by The Little Read Book located in the Village of Wauwatosa and selling a wide variety of Irish themed books in the Literary Corner. Our featured authors this year are:

Tony Macaulay, from Northern Ireland, will launch the American publication of his latest book, Little House on the Peace Line at Irish Fest. He will also appear in the Hedge School to discuss his book regarding the work done by him and hiw wife toward reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Other authors this year are Sile Post, Your Own Ones, a novel set on Dingle Peninsula with an ecological twist; John Sexton, The Big Yank, a memoir of his growing up in Donegal; Kathleen Anne Kenney, Girl on the Leeside, a charming tale set in the Connemara; Michael McCarthy, a trilogy of books depicting a family's immigration to Canada; Valerie Biel, a trilogy based on Celtic mythology; Rex Owens, Out of Darkness, second in a series about Cork man, Ian Murphy, and his association with the IRA and the peace effort in the North.

Stop in and chat with the authors. They love to talk about their books and are happy to sign any book purchased. Also located in the Literary Corner is the Rainbow Books for Children selling books for children of all ages.
Learn more about this year's authors, by clicking here!

Entry forms for the Limerick Contest are also available here. Completed forms for the children's Leprechaun Contest may be dropped off at Rainbow Books.

*Credit/Debit cards accepted (Master Card, Visa, American Express and Discover)

Meehan Boat House

The Meehan Boat House displays Currach's for fest-goers to see. Learn about the history of Currachs and sign up to join the Irish Currach Club of Milwaukee.

Gaeltacht - Sponsored by Shamrock Club

Steeped in tradition, brimming with talent and sweetened with native speakers, the Gaeltacht line-up is sure to hit the spot. The Gaeltacht, or Irish speaking area, will showcase the Irish language and traditional Irish culture. You can learn simple Irish phrases or challenge yourself with some flirty chat-up lines! You can stop in any time and enjoy traditional Irish humor, song, dance and language. The Gaeltacht is where the Irish go to feel at home!


This year’s guest genealogists will be Brian Donovan and Fiona Fitzsimons. Both are founders and administrators of Eneclann, the resource for Irish genealogy records and other research materials. More recently Brian coordinated the digitalization and indexing of Irish Catholic Church records, and Fiona is the lead genealogist for the new Irish family Research Centre at the EPIC museum in Dublin. They will be making presentations and will be available for questions and advice.

The genealogy pavilion will again have a reorganized layout designed to help patrons connect with information whatever their level of experience with genealogy. There will be small group presentations on introductory and advanced genealogy topics, as well as displays and handouts. A beginner area can help you get started on family research. The ‘Quick Query’ area will return offering help at walk up kiosks, as well as the always popular surname area where you can learn about your family name and where in Ireland it originates. The DNA area will provide information about this increasingly popular approach to genealogy. The Civil War contingent is returning to help you learn about military records, and there will be an expanded display about reading gravestones and what cemeteries can reveal. If you are stuck in your research, there will be expert genealogists available for sit down, in-depth consultations. And don’t miss the new “What’s Next? area where you can discover the many organizations and resources, both local and Irish, ready to help you in your genealogy journey.


Ward Irish Music Archives

Exhibit: The Isle of Saints: Ireland and Early Christianity


Cultural Village

"Casey at the Bat" Irish in Baseball Exhibit

  • Aer Lingus
  • Catholic Financial Life
  • Celtic, Inc.
  • Habush Habush Rottier
  • Jameson
  • Jameson
  • Lakefront Brewery
  • Miller Lite
  • Potowatomi
  • Sprecher


  • Center: 1532 N. Wauwatosa Ave, Milwaukee
  • Festival Grounds: Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee
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