If your notion of an Irish celebration is a green-beer-fueled donnybrook, with shillelaghs and fists a-flying, prepare to be educated in the finer points of Celtic culture (and still have a boisterously great time) at the 15th annual Hooley on the Hudson, which takes place, as always, on the day before Labor Day at Kingston’s T. R. Gallo Memorial Park. “The Hooley’s focus every year is on family. It’s a free, safe and endlessly entertaining venue for families and friends to get together before the school year starts,” says Jim Carey, president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), Con Colbert Woulfe Division 1, Ulster County, the event’s sponsor.
The waterfront park lies just downhill from the Abeel Street site designated for the Irish Cultural Center, whose plans are currently undergoing zoning review by the City of Kingston. “The Rondout historically holds special meaning for the Irish,” Carey explains. “It was here that the Irish immigrants landed, more than a century ago now, to escape poverty and starvation, political oppression and religious persecution in our homeland. They arrived at Rondout Creek to work on the D & H Canal: hard, dirty work.”
Though there are few left alive today who remember the days when the Irish were among the more recently arrived (and therefore widely despised) waves of immigration, negative stereotypes still persist in popular culture, such as the pugnacious “Fighting Irish” mascot of the University of Notre Dame’s varsity sports teams. Perhaps that’s partly why some Rondout residents and business-owners have expressed concerns about potential noise and other impacts from the Cultural Center’s arrival.
The Hooley on the Hudson is known largely for its music and dance offerings on three stages. National acts the Andy Cooney Band, the Canny Brothers and Get up Jack will headline on the Tara Stage, while the Feeney Stage hosts local talent, including the Wild Irish Roses, the Ulster County AOH Division 1 Pipes & Drum Band, the Little Creek Band and Alternative Ulster. The relatively new Trad Stage is the place to be if you like your jigs and reels unsullied by modernity; it will feature the T. McCann Band, the Wild Swans, Toss the Feathers, Gaelic vocalists Joy Dunlop and Noeleen Ni Cholla and tenor harpist James Ruff.
The Hooley also offers storytelling, craft demonstrations, food vendors, authentic Celtic products and more. The fun goes on from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday, September 4, preceded by the “fast, flat and first-class” Hooley on the Hoof scenic 5K run along the Rondout Creek. Runners interested in participating can get all the details by calling (914) 906-1165 or visiting www.hooleyonthehoof.org.
Parking venues for Hooley on the Hudson will be the Kingston Plaza, the Cornell Street public lot and Kingston Point. Free shuttle buses will be provided to the Hooley site on the Rondout. For more info, call (845) 338-6622 or (845) 246-7195, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ulsteraoh.com.