The Ulster County chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) will once again sponsor the Hooley on the Hudson in Kingston – a family-friendly festival celebrating all things Irish – on Sunday, August 31 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. This will be the 13th go-round for the festivities, all of which are free of charge to enjoy. The Hooley is held at Kingston’s T. R. Gallo Memorial Park, where the Irish disembarked more than a century ago to work on the D & H Canal.
The events take place on three stages, each with its own emcee kicking off the live entertainment at 11:30 a.m. The Feeney Stage offers local talent, the Tara Stage features national acts and the Spoken Word Stage presents storytelling.
The Tara Stage will feature the New York Show Band with Tommy Flynn, the Andy Cooney Band, BarleyJuice and the New York City-based Irish rock band Black 47, performing for one of the last times before they disband later this year. The overtly political group’s musical influences include reggae, hip-hop, folk and jazz, and the topics of their songs range from the Northern Ireland conflict to civil rights and urban unrest issues in contemporary New York.
The lineup for local talent on the Feeney Stage includes Vince Fisher and Tommy Kiernan, the Ulster County AOH Division 1 Pipes and Drums, Jimmy Walsh, the Celtic Heels School of Irish Dance, the Quinn Brothers, the Solas An Lae Irish-American dance troupe, Mc Groovin and Mac Cana.
On the Spoken Word Stage will be Karen Pillsworth, Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi, Jim Hawkins and Kate Danaher, until 5:30 p.m. when traditional Irish singer Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhride, from County Donegal, performs.
The day before the Hooley, on Saturday, August 30, Ireland’s Ambassador to the US Anne Anderson will be welcomed to Kingston with a reception held in her honor from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Scheduled speakers at the reception include congressman Chris Gibson, assemblyman Kevin Cahill, Ulster County executive Mike Hein, state senator Cecilia Tkaczyk and Kingston mayor Shayne Gallo, actor and author Malachy McCourt, Nancy Carey Cassidy (daughter of former New York State governor Hugh Carey) and Pulitzer Prizewinning author and journalist William Kennedy.
Anderson has served as Ireland’s Ambassador to the United Nations, the European Union, France and Monaco, and is the first woman to hold each of these positions. With the goal of encouraging tourism and cultural exchange between Ireland and the US, she will travel from Washington, DC to Kingston in support of the construction of the Irish Cultural Center on Abeel Street in the city’s Rondout District: a neighborhood that was a melting pot of European immigrants. Anderson will raise the Irish flag on Sunday at 10:45 a.m. to mark the dedication of the building site and then march at the Hooley with a “Parade of Dignitaries” at 11 a.m.
The Irish Cultural Center will be built on land formerly occupied by the headquarters of the D & H Canal Corporation, the site where, for decades, Irish, German, Polish and Italian immigrants walked up Company Hill Path to collect their weekly wages. Though demolished in 1936, the Renaissance Revival-style building that stood on the site is the inspiration for the exterior design of the new center. It will be a 15,000-square-foot space overlooking the Rondout Creek with classroom, performance and retail space on three floors.
Hooley on the Hudson, Sunday, August 31, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., free, T. R. Gallo Park, Historic Rondout Waterfront District, Kingston; (845) 338-6622 , www.ulsteraoh.com. For information about the Irish Cultural Center of the Hudson Valley, visit www.icchv.org or call (845) 389-4673.