preserving the cultural tradition of Irish ceili and set dancing since 1991
News about the RKIDs
March 14, 2018
March 9 through 12: what a weekend! Even though Alexandria had to cancel its March 3 Old Town St. Patrick's day parade due to 50 mph+ winds the day before, Gaithersburg filled the gap a week later with its annual parade that included the RKIDs. The Friday night before saw the ever-lively March Blackthorn Ceili, with nearly 60 dancers. After the ceili and parade came the traditional party, hosted by the O'Brien's. We rested a bit on Sunday, then the Performance Group visited the Friends' Retirement Community and strutted their stuff. And that wasn't all that went on. Curious? Here are the details. Please note that the videos require high-bandwidth connections and might not play smoothly on cellphones or slower WiFi connections.
The lilt of Irish music once again flowed through McCathran Hall as the Blackthorn Ceili took place on Friday, March 9. Rambling House, consisting of Joe DeZarn, Tina Eck, Marc Glickman, and Patrick Cavanaugh, filled the hall with jigs, reels, polkas, waltzes and hornpipes as Larry expertly called the steps for the 60 dancers. Lots of new faces were seen and some newcomers joined in and “had a blast” such as a North Bethesda woman who had never done Irish dancing before. The mix included standards like the Walls of Limerick and the Clare Lancers Set, as well as newer dances like the Moate Set and the Merchant Set.
Marie G, Marie V, Marieke, and Jim C were winners of raffled baskets assembled by Ann Marie. Washington Grove residents and former members of the Blackthorn Stick, David and Carol, hosted us because Mary and Charlie Challstrom (our usual sponsors) were recovering from the widespread flu of this season. Blackthorn Ceili organizer Obie proclaimed the event a huge success. He thanked Kate for managing the potluck dish tables, Jim C for helping with the money, Maura for taking care of reception at the door, Ann Marie for bringing the door prize and baskets, several early birds for helping to set up, and EVERYONE for joining in the clean up.
Here's a view of the action:
“The Chieftains’ name [is] synonymous with the finest Irish music…” proclaims the Strathmore website. Gerry M, who attended the recent show with her daughter Ellen (a former RKID), agrees. As part of the group’s 56th anniversary tour, they showed a film clip with Chieftains' founding member Paddy Moloney. The show also included dancers from the Culkin School, pipers from the MacMillan Pipe Band, a step dancing team of brothers, a harpist, and singers from the Strathmore Children’s Choir. “It was a wonderful show,” declared Gerry.
St. Patrick's Day Parade
Braving twenty-degree temperatures, 27 RKIDs marched in the Gaithersburg St. Patrick’s Day parade on Saturday, March 11th. The hearty souls were: Connie, Chuck, Maureen, Emmett, Robin, Toni and David D, Colleen, Jim, Marieke, Maddy, Bill, Roger, Kathy and David, Bobbie, Dan C, Willie, Monica, Tom, Maura, Dan O’C, Kate, Marie V., Evan, Sandy, and Marilyn O.
Watching and cheering them on were friends and family, such as Larry S. (Maura’s husband), Tom (Monica’s friend), Jenny and Juris (Evan and Sandy’s daughter and son-in-law), Amy (Obie’s daughter) and Jack (Obie and Marilyn’s grandson). The marchers adapted the Four Hand Reel for the parade. They promenaded down the streets, sidestepping using the tricky sliding doors maneuver and carefully avoiding bumping into each other in the tight spaces between rows. Larry took this video from one of the sky bridges:
Post-St. Patrick's Day Parade Party
After the parade, the festivities continued at the O’Brien’s house. Four versions of corned beef were prepared by able chefs Maura, Jean and Joe Wds., Michelle, and Sonja. Bartender Roger served the Irish coffee using Ethiopian coffee and Jameson’s Irish whiskey, of course. Willie sang and got the audience to clap along to time-tested favorites like Finnegan’s Wake. Colleen led the audience in the Unicorn Song. Debuting her step dancing was 5 year old Nuala, Obie and Marilyn’s granddaughter.
Undaunted when his CD player suddenly failed after many years of service, Obie grabbed his private mixes of Bob Dylan songs, and switched to an old-tech cassette player. He led several of us in merrily singing along to such nuggets as “Like a Rolling Stone.” Finally, Chuck and Maureen recruited six of the guests to dance the vigorous North Kerry set, while Tom supplied the music on his very functional player. In less than 24 hours, members of the RKIDs managed to attend a ceili, march in a parade, and gather to eat and drink for hours. What a great way to celebrate the “holiday”!
Performance Group at Friends' House
Okay, so it took a few minutes before someone opened the door to let them in, but after that, the Performance Group delighted the kind folks at the Friends' House in Sandy Spring with an hour of dance and song. Maureen and Chuck organized the event and choreographed the dances. Kate, the emcee, also led the residents in singing. Tom brought the dance music, and Obie was the photographer. Also dancing were Emmett, Connie, Dan O'C, Marie V., David D, Linda, Michelle, Pat, Ann Marie, Sandy, Maura, Bobbie and Bill.
Afterwards, Chuck, Maureen, Emmett, Michelle, Connie, and Obie assessed the performance at the nearby Greene Turtle, declaring it a fine show. “They really did a great job and the residents seemed to enjoy it,” mentioned Obie.
Students in the Irish Identity course will gather for our next two installments about Joyce’s short stories and the Abbey Theater at 7:15 on Wednesday, March 21 at the O’Brien’s. Check our website's calendar for details. It's their second make-up attempt, so we're hoping third time's the charm.
Among the many-talented RKIDs is David M, a member of the Maryland Band Directors Band. Mostly consisting of wind instruments, the band is directed by Dr. Vincent Patterson and is made up of a variety of music educators and performers from Montgomery County. Davidplays the clarinet and also the piano with this one-of-a kind orchestra. At a recent concert at the Montgomery College Parilla Center in Rockville, they performed a variety of pieces, from “March, Man of the Hour” to “Puszta-Gypsy Dancers.” Kathy, Evan, Sandy, Marilyn, and Bill enjoyed the program and had nothing but praise for David and the entire band. Check out the video:
The AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring hosted the Solas Nua Irish Film Festival during the first weekend in March. The Secret Scripture, starring Vanessa Redgrave, and The Breadwinner, an Academy Award nominee for Animated Feature Film, are just two of the many featured movies, which Evan, Sandy, Marilyn O, Emmett, and Robin found thought-provoking and artistically excellent. Also spotted at the theater were Don Kaliher and Kevita, plus Mitch Fanning, of the band Irish Inn Mates. Mitch also was the fiddle player at the RKIDs’ 25th Anniversary party at Shrine Mont.
Watch for the movie Black 47, a gripping new film about Ireland in the midst of the Great Famine (now referred to as The Great Hunger). From IMDB, “The drama follows an Irish Ranger who has been fighting for the British Army abroad, as he abandons his post to reunite with his family. Despite experiencing the horrors of war, he is shocked by the famine’s destruction of his homeland and the brutalization of his people and his family.” No release date has been set.