Immerse yourself in Irish art, literature, history, sports and theatre in the recently redesigned Cultural Village. Hear lectures at the Hedge School, hear the beautiful sounds of Ireland's national symbol at the Harp Stage, see international productions at the Theatre Pavillion, shop the artisans at the Moore Street Market, meet your favorite authors at the Literary Corner, or stop at the Village Pub, where you can experience a diverse cross-section of music before you visit the rest of the festival.
Cultural Exhibits Pavilion
- Experience Mining in Ireland, from the prehistoric to the present
- Enjoy Irish-themed quilts of Penny Barnes and Nikki Foley in an internationally developed show, new for 2016 - These quilts were recently displayed in Ireland at the Blasket Centre, County Kerry!
- Look at the Irish at the Battle of the Somme in World War One. This display is being presented with the help of the Somme Heritage Centre
- Find out the roles of the Cumann na mBan and the Inghinidhe na hÉireann in both political and social actions in The Women of Ireland.
- Learn more of the history of the Easter Rising of 1916
- Enjoy a display from Conradh na Gaelige on the use of the Irish language and the Easter Rising
- Jim Shannon, MP, Westminster, representing Strangford, County Down, returns.
- Discover the connection between the Irish and Mexicans, in a joint production with Mexican Fiesta
- Learn about iBAM Chicago - Irish Books, Arts and Music, from its founder, Cliff Carlson
- 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.
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! Don't miss the sean-nos, or "old style," dance lessons, or the amazing performances by Ireland's Oireachtas Winners. 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.
There will be music sessions each day as well as Irish language lessons. Sean-nós dancer Brian Cunningham, as well as Brian Hart, will sing in Irish, and members of the band Bua will be making appearances during the weekend.
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. In 2016, we will feature Kim Robertson, Shari Sarazin, and Drowsy Maggies.
The Hedge School will offer a series of lectures by leading authorities in Irish history, literature, language and culture. In 2016, lecturers include: Eamon O'Cuiv will speak about his grandfather, Eamon De Valera, who was Taoiseach in the first Dail. Juliann Donlan Stanz will relay the story of the women of 1916. Dennis McBride will retell the invasion by the Irish Fenians of Canada in 1866. Marquette professor Tim McMahon will speak about the 1916 Easter Rising. Dr. Tim Campbell will be speaking about the St. Patrick Centre of Downpatrick, Co. Down.
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 we rattle your funny bones and tug at your heartstrings! In honor of 1916, Sean O'Casey's production of "The Plough and the Stars" will be reprised, a performance by Grace Toland and Barry Gleeson called 1916: A Journey in Song will be recited and sung, the Celtic Studies/Milwaukee Irish Arts host Mise Eire (I Am Ireland), which captures the spirit of 1916 recalled through song and poetry with key figures of the rebellion. Sister Bernie from McHale Productions is back with Bingo Bonanza.
The 2016 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:
Judy Lee Burke, Blackrock, a mystery novel set in Ireland; Noirin Leahy Mele, Dancing in the Heather, a romance novel also set in Ireland; John O'Brien, The Lyrics of Irish Freedom, lyrics of songs from the Rising of 1916; Carlo Kennedy, Time Signature and Time Signature II, a time travel novel and sequel; James Redfearn, The Rising at Roxbury Crossing, a novel of the Boston Police Strike of 1919; Ellen Alden, Yours Faithfully, Florence Burke, a novel centered around letters of the author's great, great grandfather as he served in the American Civil War.
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.
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.
Ward Irish Music Archives
The Ward Irish Music Archives will present an exciting new exhibition featuring postcards of "The Easter Rising of 1916."
Irish Language Workshop (Ceardlann na Gaeilge)
New in 2016: A display from Conradh na Gaeilge, Dublin, that will be displayed in both the Workshop and the Cultural Exhibits Pavilion. Irish language books, games, DVDs and CDs for adults and children are for sale, plus games to play and Irish speakers to help learners practice the language. Lou Harper Memorial Scholarship applications are available. Some translating possible. Failte Romhat!
The Genealogy area will be sporting a new look and a new layout with more opportunities for quick lookups as well as the popular in-depth research consultations. Our visiting expert genealogist this year is Dwight Radford, co-author of A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Irish Ancestors (2001, 2012). New this year is a group learning area featuring videos, speakers, and Q & A sessions. Whether an expert or just starting your genealogy journey, you will likely find topics of interest here. There will be resources on the Civil War, US & Irish military records, Irish land records, and the newly released - and now indexed! - Irish Catholic Church records. Learn about a UW-Oshkosh project transcribing Irish cemeteries, and 'try your hand' - literally - at reading replica gravestones.
Moore Street Market
Meet the artists and enjoy the shopping in Moore Street! We will have a new layout in 2016. Donegal is well represented by Donal Sweeney of Rathlin Knits, Tristan Donaghy of Studio Donegal, and knitwear designer Edel MacBride from Knitfield in Donegal. New this year and also from Donegal, is Suzanne Woods from Arroo Designs with her beautiful and unique textile accessories. Vincent Mccarron from the Aran Islands makes and sells handmade baskets. With plenty of variety, you're bound to find a gift for someone - even yourself!
Meehan Boat House
The Meehan Boat House displays Currach's for fest-goers to see. We will be building a new boat during the 2016 Festival, so stop by during construction! A history of the Aud, the German boat that was to supply arms for the Easter Rising, will also be featured. There will be new regattas this year. Learn about the history of Currachs and sign up to join the Irish Currach Club of Milwaukee.
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.