Boston Irish Calendar of Celtic Music and Dance, July 2023


John Whelan will play at Club Passim in Harvard Square on July 19.


The annual Summer BCMFest on Sun., July 2, and concerts by The Jeremiahs and the Kane Sisters highlight upcoming Irish/Celtic events in Greater Boston. 

Club Passim’s Summer BCMFest is a daylong affair that starts at 10 a.m. with its live music brunch, featuring Irish tunes and songs by Kat Wallace and Jimmy Kelly. At 3 p.m., the event moves outside to Palmer Street, where there will be a free concert with multi-instrumentalist Elias Cardoso and Friends centered on Irish/roots music and experimental folk by Ailsa. At 5 p.m. is a free “Ceili in the Alley” for dancers of all levels of experience (including none), with dance caller Summer McCall and musicians Elizabeth Anderson, Leland Martin, Adam Hendey and Rachel Reeds. Summer BCMFest finishes inside the club with a ticketed evening performance starting at 7 p.m. Performers are Matt and Shannon Heaton; the Carroll Sisters with Adam Hendey; and Yann Falquet and Eric Boodman.

Tickets and other information available through

•There’s been quite a hoolahlah about the new generation of folk/trad-inspired music coming out of Dublin, notably the likes of Lankum, Ye Vagabonds, and Lisa O’Neill. Add The Jeremiahs to the list, and to your calendar, because they’ll be in the Burren Backroom on July 16 at 4 p.m. Their recently released third album “Misery Hill and Other Stories” is an apt showcase for their brand of urban folk, immersed in Irish instrumental tradition while evincing a contemporary lyrical style, and songwriting with a keen sense of storytelling, language, humor and turn of phrase. Joe Gibney’s vocals have a true gravitas, edgy in one moment or incredibly tender in another, supported by James Ryan (guitar, bouzouki, harmonica), former Solas member Niamh Varian-Barry (vocals, fiddle, viola) and Julien Bruneteau (flute, whistle) – crisp rhythm, superbly delivered fills and breaks, and flat-out gorgeous harmonizing. 

The title track, which kicks off the album, is a particularly striking example of the band’s focus on stories that seem relatively small-scale, or have been forgotten or overlooked, but say volumes about the human condition: Misery Hill was the name of a section of Dublin where victims of leprosy were essentially abandoned to live out their days, and where the bodies of those who died on the gallows were displayed. “The Whiskey Song/The Devil’s Pure Drop” plays off the mayhem – and tragedy – that ensued during Dublin’s so-called “whiskey fire” of 1875, while “The Night of the Big Wind (Oíche na Gaoithe Móire)” is a spoken-word musing (with invigorating interludes led by Bruneteau and former band member Jean-Christophe Morel) on a fierce 1839 storm and its presence in the Irish imagination.  

 “Misery Hill and Other Stories” stakes out other places on the emotional/tonal spectrum, too. “The Reluctant Farmer” is a frisky, fanciful, and funny, account of obstinacy in the inevitable face of death. Tenderness tinged with wistfulness and fond reminiscence, respectively, abounds on “She Loves Me” and “In My Father’s House,” while the gently urgent, empathetic “Water’s Edge” relates a family tragedy from the distant past as a call for sensitivity and awareness on mental health issues.

Click here to read a Q&A with Joe Gibney.


For ticket information and other details, go to

•If you missed the Kane Sisters, Liz and Yvonne, during their stop here in March – or if you didn’t miss them, and you want more (for which nobody can blame you) – they’ll be back on July 14, playing at the Irish Cultural Centre of Greater Boston at 7 p.m., and on July 23 at 4 p.m. in the Burren Backroom. The Connemara natives are renowned for their uncanny, high-level unison fiddle playing and Sligo/East Galway influence. Their most recent album (on the ever-burgeoning “to be reviewed here” list), is a tribute to celebrated East Galway fiddler Paddy Fahey.

Go to the ICCGB home page at for the event link. Information on Burren music events is at

•Button accordionist John Whelan, known for his jocularity and all-around bonhomie as well as a consummate grasp of the Irish music tradition, comes to Club Passim in Harvard Square on July 19 at 8 p.m. A seven-time All-Ireland champion, Whelan came to the fore in the 1970s London Irish music scene and has gone on to form numerous collaborations and record more than a dozen albums while appearing on more than 30 others. He’s been no stranger to New England, either, having appeared at venues/events like the New Bedford Folk Festival and accompanying musicians with Boston-area ties such as Flynn Cohen and Katie McNally. Whelan also is noted for his eagerness to mentor younger musicians and, in general, to keep the music tradition alive and accessible through Internet technology: His weekly “Taking Time” slow sessions via Zoom grew into a community of more than 70, and his “Whelan Master Sessions” launched during the pandemic provided a means for viewers and players to connect with leading Irish musicians including Kevin Crawford, Haley Richardson, Joanie Madden, Brian Conway, and Kevin Burke.

Tickets, details available through

•It’s a High Kings weekend later this month at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport, as the immensely popular 21st-century Irish ballad group performs July 28 and 29, both at 8 p.m. Vocalists and musicians Finbarr Clancy, Darren Holden, Brian Dunphy, and Paul O’ Brien derive their sound from the classic Irish ballad style that swept into popularity during the 1950s and ’60s through such bands as the Clancy Brothers and The Dubliners. The band has toured extensively throughout the US and Europe, recorded four studio albums and two live albums, and released two live DVDs, combining modern songs in the folk idiom – and even from other genres – with some of the classic ballad repertoire.


•They’ve been around for more than 30 years now, so it’s unlikely that anyone will confuse The Young Dubliners with The “old” Dubliners of yore. And The “Young Dubs,” as they’re known, will be at Ned Devine’s in Faneuil Hall Marketplace on July 20 from 6-11:30 p.m. Dublin native Keith Roberts (guitar, vocals) started out with English and Irish rock, but after coming to America and opening an Irish pub he got a hankering to play more Irish traditional music, so he recruited other musicians to join him as the bar’s Saturday night band – blending their various influences and interests with a healthy dollop of Irish folk. Since then, The Young Dubs (their line-up also now includes Chas Waltz, violin, keyboards, vocals; Dave Ingraham, drums; Justin Pecot, guitar, vocals; and Ethan Jones, bass) have since gone far beyond their bar-band beginnings: touring internationally, appearing on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “CBS Early Show,” and releasing 10 albums – including 2014’s “Nine-9-Naoi,” which showed that there’s more depth to Celtic rock than songs about knocking back the booze or knocking heads together. 

Go to the Ned Devine’s website,, for more information

•Connemara indie folk-rocker/singer-songwriter Seanie Vaughan will stop at The Porch Southern Fare & Juke Joint in Medford on July 22 at 9:30 p.m. as part of his tour for his newly released third album, “Between Chaos and Order.” Vaughan’s rural upbringing echoes in the tints of blues and country that appear in his acoustic guitar-driven rock sound, and in lyrics that, in one song, explore issues of culture and identity and in another traverse the pathways of love and friendship, expressed in a voice that is confident but capable of vulnerability. He’s not above a little self-deprecation, as his bio notes that his teenage years were spent “behind the taps in the family bar – perfect training for any songwriter.

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