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 St. 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 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.
This year will include performances by world renowned masters Kim Robertson and Alisha McMahon of the Kincora Ceili Band of County Clare.

Hedge School

The Hedge School will offer a series of lectures by leading authorities in Irish history, literature, language, and culture. 
In 2013, the Hedge School will feature lectures by Jim Shannon, MP, and Dr. Tim Campbell.

Literary Corner

Milwaukee Irish Fest wants to thank Little Read Book, 7603 West State Street in the Wauwatosa Village for again being the sponsor of the Literary Corner.  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.  Visit The Autograph Tree where authors sign and sell their books.  Featured authors include:

Derek Mulveen  "Oisin the Brave"   Derek is from Ireland and is launching his childrens' book with a tour in the US

John Liam Shea  "Cut and Run in the Bronx"  John Liam is a teacher living in Brooklyn, was born in Ireland and his book is about the NYPD and the violence their members face.

Jeri McCormmick  "Marrowbone of Memory: Ireland's Great Famine"  Jeri is a Madison poet and author. This collection incorporates the travails of her emigrating in-laws and others who shared their circumstances.

Cynthia Neale  "The Making of an Irish American Woman in NYC"  Cynthia Neale is an American with Irish ancestry and an Irish set dancer who loves to travel to Ireland and experience its beauty and haunting mystery.

Karen McCarthy  "The Other Irish: the Scots-Irish Rascals who made America"  Karen is from Ireland, based in New York and the book is about "rascals from Northern Ireland who made America"

Jackie Maggiore & Donald J Mueller  "Fluent in Faith: The Gift of Mary McCormick"  This is a story of a remarkable woman, her faith and her Irish wit who left Milwaukee for Columbia in 1968 with her three young children.

Matt Flynn (Amy & Mary Flynn for Matt)  "Pryme Knumber"  Matt is a local attorney. His book is a local story about a high school student and the CIA. 

Ward Music Archives

Gallery Exhibits & Photo Contest

The History of Irish Rock Music exhibit examines the development of rock music in Ireland.  The photo contest will also be located 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. Lou Harper Memorial Scholarship applications available - see below. Some translating possible. Failte Romhat!!

The Lou Harper Memorial Scholarship for Students of Gaeilge:  Lou Harper's passion for the Irish language took him back to the classroom and across the sea.  An original member of Craobh Curtin, Conradh na Gaeilge, the Milwaukee branch of the Gaelic League, he enrolled in the first semester of John Gleeson's Irish Gaelic, "an uncommonly taught language" class at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee (UWM), before studying at the Oideas Gael cultural center in Ghleann Cholm Cille in County Donegal, Ireland for several summers.  He continued taking classes and attending study groups while acquiring an extensive collection of Irish language books and, for 14 years, he was co-chairman of the book sale in the Gaeltacht area at Milwaukee Irish Fest.  .

Lou died on April 29, 2010, and Conradh na Gaelilge established a scholarship in his memory.  It will be awarded each year to a student who shares his dedication to learning the Irish language.  The scholarship will cover the tuition and lodging costs of attending an Irish immersion weekend or day-long program in the Midwest.  Currently, that will include programs offered by the Center for Celtic Studies at UWM, the Celtic Cultural Center in Madison, Gaeltacht Minnesota in Minneapolis, Indiana Celtic Community at Indiana University and An Ghaeltacht Milwaukee (as Craobh Curtin is known in Ireland).  To apply, please follow these guidelines:

Please respond to each of the following questions on a separate sheet, typed and with the numbers indicated for each question.  You do not have to retype the questions.  Also, please include your name, address, phone number and e-mail address.  The deadline for submission is September 15.  Please send your application to: Sandy Hofmann, 1519 Ridge Court, Wauwatosa, WI  53213.

1.  How long have you been studying Irish?;  2.  Why are you studying Irish?  3.  Where have you been studying Irish?  4. Who has been influential in your study of Irish, i.e. a mentor, friend, relative or teacher?;  5.  What are your plans for using Irish in the future?;  6.  Have you done any outreach or volunteer activites related to the Irish language?;  7.  Have you attended any irish language immersion days or weekends in the past?  8.  What do you want to know that we haven't asked?  Note:  You'll receive extra points for "cupla focail" in your answer.

Cultural Exhibits Pavilion

The Cultural Exhibits Pavilion moves west and brings an exciting mix of displays.

The Cave of the Sun:  Artists Padraig Conway of Galway and Martin Byrne of Sligo will reprise their installation, Cave of the Sun.  This was first mounted at Milwaukee Irish Fest in 1997.  It delves into the prehistoric artwork of burial sites, passage graves and pre-Celtic Ireland.  Martin Byrne is also an archaeologist.

Brian Boru Feile 2014:  1014 is the year that Brian Boru Dalcasian united Ireland.  His home town of Killaloe, County Clare, is celebrating, as is much of Ireland, on the millennial anniversay of this event.  There will be re-enactors, lectures and, possibly, Brian himself.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Ireland:  Ireland's writers were amongst the first contributors to the mediums of science fiction and fantasy.  From Bram Stoker's Dracula, to Lord Dunsany's Land Under England, and the Belfast writers of James White and Bob Shaw, as well as Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman, and onwards to Eoin Colfer today, the Irish have provided some of the best writing in the genres.  And just a reminder that although Soylent Green is people, it was written in a house in the Wicklow Mountains by Harry Harrison.

J R R Tolkien's Irish Connection:  Tolkien wrote the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings long before he took on the tasks of reviewing graduate students papers in Counties Galway and Dublin.  Still, many of the place names in his works seem to come from County Clare.  Was there a connection?

The Wee Folk of the British Isles:  Nancy Madden Walczyk looks at the connection of Tolkien and the history of the wee folk in Ireland, England and parts of Europe.

Saint Patrick Center of Downpatrick:  Dr. Timothy Campbell will be returning to Milwaukee Irish Fest to provide information on the Saint Patrick Center and its programs.

Ulster Scots Agency returns, represented by Jim Shannon, MP, Westminster, and Dublin's Karen McCarthy, author of "The Other Irish: The Scots-Irish Rascals who made America", who will host visitors to the Scots-Irish booth.  They will be assisted by the 2013 Young Ambassadors of the St. Patrick Centre.

Dublin's Temple Bar Trad Fest: held each January, celebrating Traditional Irish Music and Culture for over 20 years. 

Volta Theatre: will screen a diverse number of films.



Welcome Jane Halloran Ryan, County Clare genealogist with the Brian Boru group.  New also is the Certificate of Irish Heritage with Grainne Gallen.  Returning is Fintan Mullan of the Ulster Historical Foundation.  Discover your family surname history, find townlands and start your family tree on  Work with genealogists online, check out military records and Civil War resources.  View our Faces of Ireland photo exhibit and see mapes 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 Currach's 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 8:00 p.m.

Hurling Club - Celtic Sports Pub

Learn about Hurling, the Gaelic Athletic Association and the Milwaukee Hurling Club at the North End of the grounds, off the lake front walkway. Try your hand at hurling by giving a sliotar (ball) a whack at our hitting tube. Just outside of the Sports Pub, watch Master Craftsman Philip Doyle Senor of County Wexford as he demonstrates his craft, explains the characteristics of a good hurley and chats about this cottage industry in Ireland. Witness live hurling games at the Urban Hurling Park located just outside of the North Gate.

Sports is a vital part of all cultures.  With unique sports such as Hurling and Gaelic Football, the Irish are no exception.  But, how do you follow your favorite team when they are out of town?  The local Sports Pub of course.  The Milwaukee Irish Fest  Celtic Sports Pub features six screens to watch some of Ireland's best sports.  Hurling, Gaelic Football, Boxing, Rugby and more will be shown all weekend.  Special highlights are the 2011 and 2012 All Ireland Hurling and Gaelic Football Finals!  Come enjoy a pint while cheering on some of Ireland's greatest homegrown athletes!

Moore Street Market

The Moore Street Market is where we bring Ireland to you.  Come meet the Irish artists and purchase their authentic Irish wares.  This year we are welcoming, from Donegal, Donal Sweeney of Rathlin Knits, and Edel MacBride of MacBride Design.  Both will display their classic and unique hand knit wares.  From the Aran Islands, Vincent McCarron will be demonstrating the making of, and selling his handmade baskets.  Liam Hughes Shard Art Jewelry returns.  Galway Bakery, three sisters now operating in the states.  Martin Byrne and Padraig Conway will have historical Celtic Art.

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.

Playing at the Milwaukee Irish Fest Theatre Pavilion in 2013:

McHale Productions:
ister Bernie's Bingo Bash: You have never experienced a bingo game like this one.  Holy Hilarity!  Give them a dime and they just might save your soul.  This traveling trio has the funniest bingo game in town.  You will have fun... or else!

Milwaukee Irish Arts:

Those Sick and Indigent: (by Alan O'Regan) In a Dublin inner city hostel for men, two long term "clients", together with a young care worker, are gathering the belongings of a recently deceased resident.  They discover an old letter, written but never sent, to the dead man's lost love...

Milwaukee Irish Arts:
(by Patricia Burke Brogan)  Patricia Burke Brogan's autobiographical and acclaimed play that exposed the terrible truth behind Ireland's Magdalene Laudries industry.  For 100 years or so, the plight of Ireland's "fallen women" was kept from public knowledge.  Their tragic story is captured, sometimes comically, through the five young women whose poignant personal accounts will leave you asking... why?  This Milwaukee Irish Arts presentation of "Eclipsed" captured the prestigious Best Production Award at the 20th Annual Acting Irish International Theatre Festival - Chicago, May 2013.

The Little People
: (by Marty Donovan)  Two ghost investigators prepare to have a close encounter of the "little" kind.
An original play by actor/director Marty Donovan.

Short Term Affairs: (by Donna Spector)  At the Bureau of Short-Term Affairs, love has many stipulations. (Produced by special arrangement with the Dramatic Publishing Company of Woodstock, Illinois)

In Tandem Theatre:
Purgatory:  (
by W.B. Yeats)  A youth, a father and the sins of the past collide in a tragic conflagration.  In Tandem presents the Nobel laureate's dark and disturbing meditation on patricide and perdition.

Phantom Cicada Theatre:
Forgive Me, Father: 
(by Kelly Younger)  A young Irish priest hears his first confession from an old Irish farmer lost on his way to the post office.  But who ends up confessing to whom?  And, who really needs forgiving?