Lowell’s Irish Cultural Week is underway

Following a beautiful Mass at St. Patrick’s Church, several dozen hardy souls braved the frigid temperatures and biting wind to process from the church to Lowell City Hall for a short ceremony celebrating the start of the 34th annual Irish Cultural Week.

c6lxmmmuoaajyygMayor Edward J. Kennedy and State Senator Eileen M. Donoghue read proclamations from the city and state, respectively, inside the atrium at city hall. Eileen Sullivan, a member of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 1wreath, sang the Irish national anthem before the group headed outdoors for the official raising of the Irish flag, performed by Irishman of the Year Ray Ralls.

The festivities concluded with the group walking to Cardinal O’Connell Parkway to place a wreath at the Irish monument.

Visit LowellIrish.com to view a full list of the week’s activities, including the annual Dinner Dance at Lenzi’s on Saturday, March 11, at which the Lucky Leprechaun drawing, featuring a grand prize of $5,000, will be drawn. On Sunday, March 12, the traditional Ceili will be held at the Lowell Lodge of Elks.

To purchase tickets to the dinner dance ($38) or the Lucky Leprechaun drawing ($25), contact Lowell AOH Division 19 president Steve Daly at (978) 204-4723 or steve-daly@comcast.net.

Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day

If you find yourself feeling a bit more chipper than usual on Saturday, check out the calendar. Sept. 17 holds a special significance for we Irish. No, not because it’s just five days away from the start of fall. It’s because it’s a mere 181 days until St. Patrick’s Day.

Sure we’ve got a long way to go, especially with a typical New England winter just a few brutal cold fronts away. But if you decide to raise a pint or enjoy a delicious bowl of Irish stew, know you won’t be alone.

Recognizing the significance of Sept. 17 began in earnest in 2009 when Guinness marked its 250th anniversary, with the Dublin-based brewery sponsored live music events and other celebrations around the world to help commemorate the day. And it’s become a minor holiday in its own right ever since.

You can read a quick history of the Halfway to St Patrick’s Day celebration here.

So if you see an unusual amount of green-clad Irish folk making their way around town on Saturday, rest assured there’s a pretty good reason for it.