Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rapa Nui Paddy

In a recent post, the Peat Blogger mentioned the true story of Paddy McFest according to the Oolou Chronicles.  Most people think Paddy is only 30 years old, but evidence to the contrary seems abundant.  Here's proof.

On Easter Sunday 1722, Dutch explorers landed onthe island of Rapa Nui located about 1200 miles west of the coast of Chile.  Apparently unable to pronounce the real name, the clever Dutch called it "Easter Island".  Too bad they didn't arrive on Rosh Hashanah.

Easter Island Moai
The most famous discovery on this tiny spot in the Pacific was the 887 gigantic 80 ton stone statues known as Moai which is the Polynesian word for the phrase "Does this look like a hernia to you?"  These statues are believed to be well over a thousand years old and were constructed and moved around the island by thousands of workers with no health insurance.  No one is 100% sure of the actual significance of the Moai, but there is a belief there was some connection with the Polynesian hospitality industry - "Come and Get Stoned in Polynesia!"

"What does this have to do with Paddy McFest?" you may ask.  Well, here's the really interesting part. part.  One of the oldest Moai discovered on the far side of the island (right near an ancient pub), bears an eerie resemblance to a certain fun loving leprechaun we all know and love.

Easter Island Paddy (right)

 Looks like Paddy to me . . . . .

Friday, October 22, 2010

Critics Choice

The Shepherd Express released it's listing of "Best of Milwaukee" Awards this week.  In the Critic's Choice portion of the awards, Milwaukee Irish Fest was selected as the Best Summer Festival for 2010.  In the "Readers Choice" section, Irish Fest was the runner up to Summerfest.

Considering the large number of festivals taking place in Milwaukee during the course of the summer, it's quite an honor to receive this award.

And to those 4,000 volunteers who make it happen - our hat's off to you.

Of course we already knew we were the best.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Smith Gannon & Blake - Ten Bucks - Are You Kidding Me?

We don't kid here at the Peat Blog - josh maybe, but no kidding.

We all know about the Great Recession. (It's been in all the papers)  The National Bureau of Economic Research says it's over (remember, we don't kid here).  I know many of you don't believe it either.  I know I don't. 

So were going to help you out with a "recession buster" concert at the beautiful Milwaukee Irish Fest Center on October 29th.  Doors open at 7PM.
Who you ask, is playing at this recession buster show.  None other than Smith Gannon and Blake - three fabulous trad musicians.

If you've never been to a show at the Irish Fest Center - it's a lot like having a concert in your living room.  Any closer and you'd have to play an instrument.

This is a show you won't want to miss.  Jessie Smith (fiddle) Colm Gannon (accordion) and John Blake (guitar and flute).  They've played with Teada, Danu, and Dervish. Three talented musicians - TEN BUCKS!

And if you're looking for a little more, Jessie, Colm, and John will be teaching at a workshop Saturday morning October 30th (the day after the concert for those of you without calendars and smart phones).  So if you want to learn from the best here's your chance.  Bring your guitar, fiddle, or accordion and $40 and you can play just like these guys - guaranteed! (O.K. I'm joshing)

For more details about the workshop send Jeff Ksiazek at the archives an email to reserve your spot. His email is

Jeff will even tell you what a deal this is.  It's a recession buster.

Ten Bucks? - Are you kidding me?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Keith Finnegan Show

O.K. I'll admit it.  I listen to the Keith Finnegan show sometimes when I'm doing paperwork at the office or working on the computer at night. 

 Keith Finnegan?  Who the heck is Keith Finnegan you ask?

Over the past 30 years the Emerald Isle has  sent numerous representatives to Milwaukee to promote travel to Ireland.  Irish Tourist officials, Bord Failte, county council represetatives and the like.

The people of Galway (an astute, intuitive group) realized years ago the value of getting to know the hundreds of thousands of people attending the festival.  So years ago, Galway began sending a contingent of local business people as well as council members to Milwaukee. Galway is now a "Sister City" to Milwaukee

The Galway contingent was led by Keith Finnegan (btw, the most popular radio personality in all of Ireland).  Keith would broadcast his show live to Galway from Irish Fest on Galway Bay FM. Until recently, Galway had travelled to Irish Fest for 13 (I think) straight years culminating with the wildly succesful "Galway Showcase" we did here a couple of years ago.  Keith was very instrumental arranging the details for the showcase and led a group of nearly 70 people from Galway that year.  Indeed, most of the Galwegians (that's what they're called) have developed warm friendships with the people of the Midwest (called "Midwesterners").  Keith's daughter Katie told me each year the same people would stop by the Galway Bay booth at the festival each year to say "Hi" making the annual trip a reunion with old friends.

Sadly, with all the teeth falling out of the Celtic Tiger's head recently, the Galwegians have been unable to attend the festival.  So I listen to Keith's show to catch up on all the news in the West of Ireland (traffic troubles on the N6), weather (rain, sunny spells, rain) and the neat Irish custom of reading the death notices on the air.  I've also discovered Keith knows absolutely everyone in Ireland.

Hopefully the economy in Ireland will improve soon enough for our good friends from Galway to make their return to Milwaukee.  There's a spot reserved for all of them

We can't wait.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Who's Your Paddy?

Paddy McFest
Most of you are familiar with Paddy McFest.  For those of you who aren't, the Peat Blogger has only one question; "How is the weather in Jakarta this time of year?"

Paddy McFest has been the official face of Milwaukee Irish Fest for the past 30 years.  To find out exactly where Paddy came from the Peat Blogger turned to the only person with all the definitive memories of Paddy - that would be Ed Ward, Festival Founder and "Keeper of the Collective Irish Fest Memory"

According to Ed, in late 1980, Irish Fest organizers were presented with several logo ideas at the Mr. Guinness Pub (no surprise there) in Milwaukee.  One of the designs was Paddy and the other a stylized design of blue and green waves (would've been perfect during the storm on Friday night this year!)  Although not a unanimous decision, the Paddy logo was selected because people thought it represented FUN!

A couple of years later the artist who actually drew Paddy raised a wee bit of a stink about owning the design (did I mention Ed is a lawyer too), and after some negotiating (cash, spuds, and Guinness) Paddy became the legally owned trademark of the festival.

Way back in the 80's Paddy travelled home to Ireland for a little R&R after the festival one year.  While there he attended the Matchmakers Festival in Lisdoonvarna in County Clare (I'm not making this up), where he met the comely future Molly McFest.  After a whirlwind romance, they flew back to Milwaukee for a big wedding at the Pius X school gymnasium.  They couldn't hold it in the church because it was a Druid ceremony (No really. The Irish Fest Druids performed the ceremony).  Joe Donovan and Muriel Crowley were the best man and maid of honor.  Schooner Fare was the wedding band.  Honeymoon details were a closely guarded secret, but I think Charlie McCarthy drove them to the airport.

Healthy Paddy
 Over the years Paddy has, like most of us, evolved.  Bowing to social pressures he gave up his beloved pipe.  I also heard he was taking a Spin Class as part of the "Limber Leprechaun" program at the Y.   He was recently spotted looking at the organic cabbage at Sendiks, and the last time I spoke to him all he wanted to talk about were his PSA numbers and his mini-marathon split times. . . . . .sigh.

Although you may think this is the whole story about Paddy McFest you couldn't be more wrong. No, nae, never!  In the weeks and months ahead the Peat Blogger will tell the real history of Paddy McFest according to the recently discovered Oolou Chronicles.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

For Sale - Northern Irish Zebra (Slightly Used)

Evidence of the continuing economic crisis in Northern Ireland continues to mount.

Hugh Simpson and Verry (Hugh is on the right)
 It would seem things in Ireland are getting so bad that retirees (or "pensioners" as they are known there) are finding themselves without the means to care for their exotic pets.

Not quite sure what a bag of Purina Zebra Chow is going for these days in the North.

With the VAT tax going up to 20% in January what else can you do?

First the Celtic Tiger . . . . .Now the Ulster Zebra. 

Where is it going to end?

Saturday, October 2, 2010


The Red Hot Chilli Pipers appeared at Milwaukee Irish Fest for the first time last year.  They nearly didn't make it because of problems with their visas.

They're getting much better because this year they made it but their merchandise ("merch" to us insiders) didn't until after the festival. So Irish Fest offered them a deal - give us a small supply of shirts and we'll sell them on our website for our fans who missed out on the opportunity to get one of these cool shirts.

I know, I know, you're all saying "Hey does this mean I can get those Blarney Leg Warmers on the Irish Fest website too?" Hold 'yer horses.  This is a one time deal to accomodate a bunch of Scottish Bagpipers who know nothing about immigration and customs here in the US. (Although they did adapt pretty well to the custom of staying up all night and drinking beer at the Hilton).

So go to the Irish Fest website and take a look, but don't dawdle since we only have a few (The Peat Blogger has one of the golf shirts and it's cool!).
Otherwise you'll find youself at the Quik Trip on December 24th grabbing that "last minute bag of softener salt for dad" for Christmas. C'mon, you can do a lot better than that.

And while you're on the website pick up the "Celtic Rock: Music from the Celtic Rock Stage at Milwaukee Irish Fest" CD.   It's a classic and you got to get it.

Guaranteed to fit into any stocking hung with care