Cultural Village (Ballyfest)

Immerse yourself in Irish art, literature, history, sports and theatre in the newly redesigned Cultural Village. There’s a lot to see in the Village, which is home to the Hedge School, Harp Stage and Moore Street Market. Hear lectures at the Hedge School. The harp is the only musical instrument to be a symbol of a country, and the Harp Stage is the place to be to hear the beautiful sounds of this instrument. The Theatre will feature international performances. Shop the artisans at the Moore Street Market. Guests can meet their favorite authors at the Literary Corner. Stop at the Village Pub, where you can experience a diverse cross section of music before you visit the rest of the festival.

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 The mix of music marries the ancient to the modern, in an often electric manner, with some of the best harpers in the world. This year, a a part of the Brian Boru program, the Armagh Pipers Club, featuring Emer and Conor Mallon, will perform. Others include Kim Robertson, Jeff Pockat, Beth Johnson and Turner Collins, Shari Sarazin and Drowsy Maggies.

Hedge School

The Hedge School will offer a series of lectures by leading authorities in Irish history, literature, language and culture.

Literary Corner

New authors this year: 

  • Dr. Sean Duffy, “Ireland 1000-1250: Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf”
  • Dr. Martin Dowling, “Traditional Music and Irish Society: Historical Perspectives”
  • David McDonnell, “Clan Donnell, a Story of the History of Ireland"
  • Monica Dougherty, “Rose’s Ring"
  • Joe Murphy, “Echoes in a Gangway”
  • Rex Owen, “Murphy’s Troubles”
  • Sharyn Barrett Wyllie, “Scotland...Through the Eyes of an American”
Also here: Rainbow Books for Children, Chicago’s IBAM, and a Coffee Shop; enter the Limerick Contest, children’s Leprechaun artwork. Be sure to catch up on brilliant books and great authors. Visit The Autograph Tree and buy an author-signed book. 

The Literary Corner is sposored by Little Read Book of Wauwatosa. Rainbow Books for Children, from West Vliet Street on Milwaukee’s west side, will again be a vendor in the Literary Corner. Both will be located in the Literary Corner with your favorite Irish, Irish American and children’s books.
Featured authors in past years have included:
  • Derek Mulveen, "Oisin the Brave"
  • John Liam Shea, "Cut and Run in the Bronx"
  • Jeri McCormmick, "Marrowbone of Memory: Ireland's Great Famine"
  • Cynthia Neale, "The Making of an Irish American Woman in NYC"
  • Karen McCarth
  • Jackie Maggiore & Donald J Mueller
  • Matt Flynn (Amy & Mary Flynn for Matt), "Pryme Knumber"

Ward Music Archives

The Ward Irish Music Archives presents "Casey at the Bat: The Irish in Baseball" and "The Fighting Irish: The Irish in Boxing." The photo contest will also be held in the Archives Gallery.

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. Join us! Check out the Gaeltacht schedule!

Irish Language Workshop (Ceardlann na Gaeilge)

Irish language books, games, DVDs and CDs for adults and children for sale. Irish language films to view/buy, plus games to play and Irish speakers to help learners practice the language. New this year: Bitesize irish Gaelic from Limerick will be part of the workshop, featuring their Irish language learning system AND offering free beginner lessons at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday, with an intermediate/advanced conversation class at 6 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. Lou Harper Memorial Scholarship applications available. Some translating possible. Failte Romhat!!

Cultural Exhibits Pavilion

Journey to Medieval Ireland as the Cultural Exhibits Pavilion looks back to 1014 and Brian Boru’s Battle of Clontarf. This significant cultural presentation features four Counties associated with Boru - Clare, Tipperary, Dublin and Armagh will have representatives presenting music, crafts, history, genealogy, literature and archeology in conjunction with the High King’s last battle.

Representing County Armagh will be the Armagh Rhymers, Milwaukee favorites; Sheila Rooney and Ciaran McMahan of the Navan Centre of Living History; and Emer and Conor Mallon from the Armagh Pipers Club. From County Dublin will be Dr. Sean Duffy, from Trinity University, Dublin, and Collette Gill, of the Clontarf Historical Society. County Tipperary will be represented by Sean Laffey, Geraldine Wall Laffey, and Joanne Hughes, from Cashel Heritage. From County Clare will be the Kincora Traditional Music Band, with Michael Scanlan; Una Kierse, from the Boru Heritage Trail; Jane Halloran Ryan, genealogist; and 11th Century weaponry expert bow maker, Jack Pinson. 

Milwaukee born Martin Dowling, Queens University, Belfast, is the author of “Traditional Music and 
Irish Society: Historical Perspectives.” The book got its start as a series of lectures at the Irish Fest Summer School. 
1914 -The Irish in World War One. Ten percent of the population enlisted in the British Armed services after the declaration of war. It would have a long-term effect on Ireland that lasts to this day. Longtime Milwaukee Irish Fest photographer John Alley is remembered in “A Life In Photos.” Dublin’s Temple Bar Trad Fest returns. Grant Taylor, artisan, represents the Summer School.
Saint Patrick Center of Downpatrick, Co. Down: Dr. Timothy Campbell will be returning to Milwaukee Irish Fest to provide information on the Saint Patrick Center and its programs. He will be assisted by the Young Ambassadors of the St. Patrick Centre. They will be joined by members of the Milwaukee chapter of the Friends of Saint Patrick Centre. 
Jim Shannon, MP, Westminster, will be returning. He represents Strangford Lough, County Down, and environs.
Dublin's Temple Bar Trad Fest, held each January, celebrating Traditional Irish Music and Culture for over 20 years, returns in 2014. 
The Volta Theatre: Our movie area was named for the first movie theater in Dublin. Its first manager was James Joyce. The Volta will screen a diverse number of films.


Welcome Jane Halloran Ryan, County Clare genealogist with the Brian Boru group. Enjoy our new exhibits showcasing local history resources and Irish research findings. Discover your family surname history, find townlands and start your family tree on Work with our genealogists online, check out military records and Civil War resources. View our Faces of Ireland photo exhibit and see detailed maps of Ireland, Scotland and Canada.

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.

Waltons Music Shop

Looking for a bodhran, music books or other instruments? Waltons is back! Learn how to play the bodhran at the Celtic Groove School: Friday 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturday 1 to 8:30 p.m. and Sunday noon to 8 p.m.

Moore Street Market

It’s BEAUTIFUL! It’s HANDMADE! I got it in MOORE STREET MARKET! Located in the Cultural Village on the South End of the festival grounds, the Moore Street Market is where you will find unique handmade items and be able to chat with the artists that made them. This year, we are welcoming the Galway Bakers, Shard Art Jewelry from Liam Hughes, Rathlin Knitwear from Donal Sweeney, Nature and Nurture Soaps from Justin Theese, Art Glass from  stained glass artist Micky Oliver, Studio Donegal hand-woven goods from Tristan Donaghy, Irish Imports' irish coins and beleek from Mary Teahan, Aran Island basket weaver Vincent McCarran and coffee and tea service from Paddy's Cafe.

Theatre Pavilion
The Theatre Pavilion offers some of the best Irish plays written by Irish playwrights and performed by Irish (and honorary Irish) players. The Theatre is rich in Irish theatre tradition and Milwaukee Irish Fest brings a nice assortment of Irish plays for all fest goers to enjoy. In 2014, groups will include: Kincora Traditional Music Group, Chicago’s Wildflower Theatre, Milwaukee’s In Tandem Theatre, The Armagh Rhymers, The Bangor Drama Club and Milwaukee Irish Arts.