Great Irish Fair Celebrates Culture in Coney Island

September 26, 2018 Jaime DeJesus
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A large group of attendees gathered at the Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk, 3052 West 21st Street, for the 37th Annual Great Irish Fair.

Held on Saturday, Sept. 22, the event, hosted by the Irish American Building Society (IABS), is a family-friendly day which celebrates New York City’s great Irish-American heritage and culture. 

“This year’s fair was a great success thanks to all those who participated,” said IABS President Martin Cottingham. “We had awesome vendors from all over the area, an amazing lineup of talented musicians on both our traditional stage and our main stage, and a great team of volunteers who helped it all go without a hitch. This year’s turnout was one of the best we’ve seen in recent years, once again thanks to all of those who contributed to the experience.”

Entertainment included Shilelagh Law, The Canny Brothers Band, Andy Cooney, The Narrowbacks and Unforgettable Fire.

“The performances were top of the line, he said. “The traditional tent, as always, was a great celebration of the roots of Irish music, while the main stage hosted some of the best Irish music bands in the area.”

Cottingham noted the significance the event has on the culture and borough.

“The fair is a longstanding tradition for the Brooklyn Irish community giving folks the opportunity to get out, eat some corned beef, have a cold beer and listen to some of the best Irish music the Northeast has to offer,” he told this paper. “For 37 years the fair has been a celebration of the Irish culture we are all so proud to be a part of, and gives us the opportunity to share that with our friends and neighbors from all over New York.

“The most important part of this, though,” he went on, “is that it’s all done for charity. All of the money raised by this great tradition benefits Catholic Charities, who provide affordable housing, nutritious meals, recreation for seniors, residences for the developmentally disabled, and assistance to neighbors in need. It is important to remain focused on this great cause, as that’s why we have the fair. That’s what it’s truly about.

“I really think this year we hit the triple crown,” Cottingham added. “I can’t choose one aspect of the fair to call the highlight as the food and drink, music entertainment and vendor options were all exceptional this year, and that was evident in the great turnout. It really does take a village and I think everyone who pitched in really added great value for attendees.”

Among the honorees this year were Ed Wilkinson, who was presented with the Al O’Hagan Community Leadership Award. Other honorees included Peggy Smyth for Chief Brehon; MacKenzie Mooney Iburg  for The Colleen Queen; Sheila O’Hagan McGirl for Kathleen Slattery Woman of the Year; Rev. Msgr. Joseph P. Nagle for the Bishop Joseph Sullivan Memorial Award; Paul A. Michels for the St. Thomas More Award; Commissioner Eileen Flannelly Mackell for the Paul O’Dwyer Memorial Award; Brother Leonard Conway, OSF for the Father Mychal Judge O.F.M. Memorial Award; Chief Joseph Duggan for the Captain Timothy Stackpole Memorial Award; Kassie Bracken for the Bard of the Fair Award ; Mark Edwards for the Thomas Cuite Memorial Award; The Phelan Family for The Round Tower Award; Margaret Minson for The Celtic Cross Award; Patrick Donohue for the Edward Byrne Memorial Award, James McDonagh for the Jerry Forest Memorial Award, Sister Kathleen McKinney, CSJ, Ed.D. for the St. Brigid Award and Tom Duffy for the Irish Man of the Year Award.

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