Hooley on the Hudson this Sunday

Margie Miggins (photo by Michael Sass)

Hooley on the Hudson, the annual Irish fest held at Gallo Park on the Kingston waterfront, will be held this Sunday, September 2 from 12 noon to 9 p.m. Hosted by the Ulster County Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) and free to the public thanks to the support of numerous local businesses, the Hooley features nonstop music and storytelling celebrating the region’s Celtic heritage.

The event kicks off with opening ceremonies at 11:30 a.m. and features three stages. Scheduled for the Feeney Stage are the following, starting at 12:15 p.m.: Vince Fisher & Tommy Kiernan, the Ulster County AOH Division 1 Pipes and Drums, Mc Groovin, Celtic Heels School of Irish Dance, Jimmy Walsh, Michael Farrell School of Irish Dance, the Band of Rogues and Mac Cana. More musical entertainment is scheduled for the Tara Stage, starting at noon: NY Showband with Tommy Flynn, Ulster County AOH Division 1 Pipes & Drums Band, the Andy Cooney Band, Celtic Heels School of Irish Dance, Hair of the Dog, Michael Farrell School of Irish Dance and the Screaming Orphans.

The storytelling starts at 1:30 p.m. and features Janet Carter, Karen Pillsworth, Jim Hawkins and Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi. For exact times, visit the Hooley on the Hudson’s Facebook page or www.ulsteraoh.com.

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Food and craft vendors will also be set up in the Park. Just up the street, at 21 Broadway, Jim Donnelley and Bob Lusk will be performing more Irish-inspired ditties at the Rondout Music Lounge starting at noon.

The festival attracts up to 20,000 people, and to prevent traffic bottlenecks in the Rondout, buses from Kingston Plaza and the Cornell Street public parking lot will shuttle visitors to the waterfront. There’s also handicapped-accessible parking at Kingston Point, with the CitiBus providing regular service to Gallo Park.

Partly motivated by the huge success of the Hooley, the festival’s organizers plan to establish a more permanent presence down in Kingston’s Rondout with the building of an Irish Cultural Center. It will be adjacent to Company Path, the gravel walkway that leads up the hill from West Strand to the former Bridgewater restaurant. Once, thousands of Irishmen trudged up the path to the offices of the D & H Canal Company to pick up their paychecks, in an area that was known as “Little Dublin,” according to Bob Carey, one of the Hooley’s organizers.

The fundraising effort for the 9,500-square-foot, three-story building, which is in the final stages of the planning approval process and will be built by the AOH, kicks off at the Hooley. The goal is $1 million, which will partly be funded by grants, according to Carey. “It’ll be a mini-university,” he said. “We’ll have classrooms, a banquet hall, a pub and small venues for poetry, art and music. It’ll be a place where people can gather and teach such things as Irish step dancing and the Irish language and practice their instruments.”

Carey said that construction would be completed in three years. “We have to be open by 2016: in time for the anniversary of the Easter Uprising,” a seminal event in Irish history. A simulation of the building projected onto a photo of the actual site can be viewed at the Irish Cultural Center Hudson Valley’s Facebook page.

Hooley on the Hudson will be held on September 2 from 12 noon to 9 p.m. at Kingston’s Gallo Park, located on West Strand along the Rondout Creek waterfront. Admission is free. Visit the Hooley’s Facebook page for more information.

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