Get a head start to St. Patrick’s Day—which takes place on March 17—with humor, music, dance, history, stories, and two parades in Queens this week.
The fun kicks off with the Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Rockaway Beach on March 5. As this year is the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, a 1916 insurrection against British rule, participants will start with a “Catholic Mass for Peace and Justice in Ireland” at St. Francis de Sales Church before stepping out from Beach 130th Street and Newport Avenue. John J. Murphy, the business manager at Plumbers Local Union Number 1, is the grand marshal for this 41st annual march.
Then the fife and jigs head to Sunnyside for the St. Pat’s For All Parade the following day. This 17th annual march began as a reaction to the Manhattan parade, which didn’t allow members of the LGBT community to march as part of LGBT groups. The all-inclusive crowd will head up Skillman Avenue from 43rd Street, ending at 61st Street in Woodside. Then the event will morph into a veritable pub crawl through the area, beginning at Saints and Sinners bar on 60th Street and Roosevelt Avenue.
There are also three indoor events on March 6. At 1 p.m., Niall O’Leary, a former All-Ireland dance champion, and arts organizer Lenwood Sloan will demonstrate how Irish and African-American culture blended to influence tap dancing with a workshop and performance at Flushing Town Hall. A half hour later, the Rockaway Artists Alliance will present a special event with homemade corned beef, story-tellers, and performers such as the Acosta School of Irish Music and Dance at Studio 7 in Fort Tilden.
Meanwhile at 2:30 p.m., Hofstra University professor Maureen Murphy, who wrote Compassionate Stranger: Asenath Nicholson and the Great Irish Famine, will present a free lecture on women’s participation in the Easter Rebellion of 1916.
Then there’s a break in the action for a week before The Irish Comedy Tour hits the stage at the Queensborough Performing Arts Center in Bayside on March 13. Billed as “an alcohol-heavy night of politically incorrect fun,” this five-man show—featuring proud hooligans and fiddle players—combines stereotype-enforcing stand-up comedy with Celtic music. The troupe features Derek Richards, Mike McCarthy, Damon Leibert and Derrick Keane whose humor may be heard on XM and Sirius Radio and seen on Comedy Central and Showtime.
The group has also just released a DVD titled Dublin' Over.
The final event of the borough’s St. Patrick’s Day season will take place at the New York Irish Center in Long Island City on March 18. Opera legend Karl Scully, a former member of The Irish Tenors whose resume includes gigs in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the the Teatro Carlo Felice Opera House in Genoa will perform a concert, “The Journey An Irish Tale.”
Rob MacKay is the director of public relations for the Queens Economic Development Corporation. He loves the borough's diversity, restaurants, cultural venues, public spaces, and most of all, people.