This past weekend flew past so quickly! We did a few things at the fest differently this year, the first being that we didn't stay on-site (there are two hotels adjacent to the Crown Center festival grounds). We stayed downtown at the Kansas City Marriott (gorgeous view, roomy suite) and drove the mile or so to the festival. I was worried about parking but really had no need to- there is abundant free parking all around Crown Center on the weekends; more than enough for even the large crowds drawn by Kansas City Irish Fest.
The festival kicks off the Labor Day weekend at 5pm Friday with $5 admission- a bargain to see great bands like Scythian, the Killdares and Gaelic Storm. We wandered the grounds, made hats in the children's craft area, enjoyed the music and tried not to melt in the 100 degree heat.
Saturday dawned just as hot as Friday had been. With rain in the forecast we weren't sure what the day would bring- but we didn't expect the torrential downpours or the 30-40 mph wind gusts that caused the stages and entertainment tents to be evacuated- 4 times! Needless to day, my speaking engagements didn't go quite as expected. My time on the Childrens' Stage began late- and without a microphone. The crowd was small as many families had left the festival because of the weather. My Heritage Stage presentation, though I had a microphone and visuals, was even more sparsely attended- and had to be halted early due to another storm moving through. Ahhh, such is life. We made the best of it and spent the evening in the Snug eating KC barbecue, watching the bands and being protected from the rain- which continued through the evening.
Sunday dawned perfectly. Highs in the 70's (and cool enough that evening for a jacket) and sunny, it couldn't have been more beautiful. The girls used their inflatable passes (which didn't get mush use the day before), spent time in the Children's tent playing bingo, making crafts and taking a swing at the Wackalaylee (think pinata with an Irish twist). My session on the Children's Stage went wonderfully; I had a large crowd and the kids really enjoyed getting their own sióg pingin (faerie coin) and touching real swords!
The highlight of my day, though, came about 1pm. I approached the table set up by Beech Hill Country House Hotel, a gorgeous property in Derry, Northern Ireland, and was surprised to meet Mary Pat Kelly, the author of the fabulous book Galway Bay. When she introduced herself I believe my words were, “Oh my gosh, I loved your book!”
If you have Irish heritage and have not yet read Galway Bay I can't recommend it highly enough. The characters feel like they could be your own family; I celebrated, ached and cried with them. It is a “must read” for anyone with Irish blood, especially those who know they had ancestors immigrate during the famine.
Favorite Books of Ireland
I'm a rather voracious reader and if the novel has anything to do with Ireland I'll pick it up. Along with Galway Bay I have a few others that I recommend.
The Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherford began slowly for me but by the end had me buried in its pages late into the night. It begins in AD 430, with the tale ending with Henry the VIII. The second part of The Dublin Saga, The Rebels of Ireland (which is sitting on my nightstand waiting until I have time to lose myself in a book). If you love history you'll want to pick these up.
Another trio of books is written more for a tween audience, but is fun for adults as well. Duane Porter's Molly O'Malley books –Molly O'Malley and the Leprechaun, Molly O'Malley: Rise of the Changeling and Molly O'Malley and the Pirate Queen (not on Amazon). Molly, a girl from Chicago, is sent to Ireland. She is a girl who finds adventure- or does it find her? A really fun set of books- great for your kids to read before your Ireland adventures!
Do you have favorite books about Ireland? Share them in the comments!