Irish eyes will be smilin'
When Irish eyes are smilin', sure 'tis like a mornin' spring. In the lilt 'o Irish laughter, you can hear the Angels sing! ...When your sweet lilting laughter's like some fairy song, And your eyes twinkle bright as can be, You should laugh all the while and all other times smile, And now smile a smile for me."
Deep within northwest Iowa's famed German stronghold of Holstein, an Irish celebration like no other is brewing.
Our Lady of Good Council Catholic Church is throwing its St. Patrick's Day celebration on Sunday, March 12 at the Holstein Vet's Hall, featuring the music of the nationally-known three-man band, The Irish Brigade.
A meal of - what else - Irish stew plus traditional hard rolls and congregation-made treats during the concert, will be catered.
Tickets are only $10 for the meal from 5-7 p.m. and the show, which runs from 7-10 p.m. Tickets go on sale this week from any parish member, Father David Hemann, and American National or Heritage banks in Holstein.
On St. Patrick's Day, everyone is a little Irish, says events chairperson Martha Boyle, who is a lot Irish all of the time.
"I think the main thing is that the Irish tend to have fun and are willing to poke a little fun at themselves," said Boyle. "Every year I dress up for St. Patrick's Day. People shouldn't be afraid to have fun with this day.
"It's pretty cool to see 500 people come to a little German town to have a ball listening to an Irish band," she laughs.
The St. Patrick's tradition started years ago in Holstein with a somewhat rowdier and more beer-soaked celebration.
Some church members became concerned about the nature of the event, which falls in the middle of Lent, but still wanted to continue the tradition. So last year, the music was brought to the forefront and the brew pushed to the background to provide for a more family-oriented celebration.
The Irish Brigade, in only their second appearance ever in Iowa, drew a happy crowd of 500 a year ago, and organizers expect that many or more this year.
"This is entirely different than any form of music you will ever hear around here," Boyle said. "This is music like you won't hear anywhere else between Minneapolis and Omaha, and it's great to be able to bring it to our area."
All the members of The Irish Brigade hail from Ireland, but are currently based out of the Twin Cities. They include guitarists Mike Wallace and Darren Crossley, and Irish tin whistle expert Sean Conway.
Joining the band on drums will be Father David Hemann, OLGC's own priest and Spanish celebrant, who is a talented musician in his own right.
All the money raised from this event goes to the OLGC scholarship fund. Last year, enough was raised that every graduating senior going on to college could receive a scholarship. "In this tight economy, that is saying something," Boyle said.
You don't have to be Catholic to come, and you don't even have to be Irish - except perhaps at heart. "We get Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, whatever, we take them all," Boyle laughs. "At least half the crowd comes from outside the area, from as far as eastern Iowa.
* For more information on the event, contact Martha Boyle at 712-368-2635, or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org