SOUTH BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The High Holy Day of St. Patrick’s Day is upon us! Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.
Festivities will be taking place all weekend in South Buffalo and across Western New York. Everyone is welcome at the Irish Center who will bid a Cead Mile Failte — one hundred thousand welcomes to one and all.
“There’s a richness to the culture and the heritage. When you come here you feel it and you want to support it. As they say ‘He became more Irish than the Irish’. You’re taken in by it,” Randy McPhee, chairman of the Buffalo Irish Center, said.
This weekend marks more than a celebration. It shares and passes down Irish traditions, keeping them alive for generations to come.
“This is my favorite building to dance in because I know everybody is here for the Irish Culture and it just makes it that much more exciting when the crowd is hyped up. It’s just really fun,” Mattie Pennington, 15, and a world qualifying Irish Dancer from Rince Na Tiarna, added.
The Irish Dance community has a rich history in Buffalo with its roots at the Irish Center. Many dancers feel a connection to their Irish heritage and celebrate it with each jig they dance.
“I’m just really lucky. When I come in here, I’m going to take the knowledge bestowed on me and teach other kids and have them carry on with it is just amazing,” Mary Kay Heneghan, owner and founder of Rince Na Tiarna, continued.
The Irish Center on Abbott Road used to be the local YMCA. In 1970, it transformed to be a cultural hub and a place to share traditions, stories and laughs.
“If this building didn’t exist, I don’t know how enriched the Irish culture would be in Buffalo,” Heneghan added.
“When I first started coming here because my daughter decided to be an Irish dancer, it was the one place I went in my life where I didn’t really have to explain a joke or what I meant. They got it,” McPhee said.
Heneghan is the daughter of Mary Heneghan, who was the Chairwoman of the Irish Center for 25 years. She passed away in 2022, but her legacy lives within the walls of the Irish Center.
“She was the heart, she was the soul, she was the worker. She took her love and emotion for Irish Dance and turned it to action,” Heneghan added.
“You wanted to do a good job for Mary. And it’s funny we still have people here doing a good job for Mary,” McPhee continued.
Heneghan says without this building the Irish Culture wouldn’t be as rich in Western New York.
“I think it’s just so important for us to know our history and know where we come from, pass it on, pass those traditions on. America is the melting pot. South Buffalo is like a little slice of Ireland in New York. To keep those things going is so special it makes us unique,” Heneghan continued.
Through generations, the Irish Culture in Buffalo is rooted on Abbott Road with people proud to pass it along.
“I think they think it is really cool. I think we have to keep inspiring the little kids to keep it alive,” Pennington said.
The Buffalo Irish has events all weekend long:
- Celtic Cowboys 6 p.m.
- Rince Na Tiarna Irish Dance 6:30 p.m.
- Kevin Flanagan at 7 p.m.
- Harris-Greco Irish Dance at 8:30 p.m.
- Irish Center opens at 12 p.m.
- Gerry Dixon performs 1 p.m.
- Reardon and Garvey performs at 3 p.m.
- The Mulligans perform at 6 p.m.
- Three Parts Whiskey performs at 6 p.m.
- Rince Na Tiarna Irish Dance at 7:30 p.m.
- Irish Center opens at 12 p.m.
- Kevin McCarthy performs at 1 p.m.
- Himself performs at 5 p.m.
- Rince Na Tiarna Irish Dancers at 5:45 p.m.
- Stone Circle performs at 6 p.m.
- Harris-Greco Irish Dancers at 7:45 p.m.
There is no cover charge on Friday. There is a $10 cover charge Saturday and Sunday.
Where ever you go and whatever you do, may the luck of the Irish always be with you.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native and Emmy nominated reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.