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Colcannon, fiddles, and hurling: The Eugene Irish Cultural Festival

Teada, a traditional Irish musical group, will be performing at the Irish Cultural Festival
Teada, a traditional Irish musical group, will be performing at the Irish Cultural Festival 2010

One of the many amazing things about Eugene is its incredibly diverse population. Not only does this diversity exist, but it is celebrated consistently and on such a scale that it can be appreciated by virtually any individual at any time. The city is overflowing with events that celebrate the culture, heritage, and history of the its residents. One such celebration of Eugene's multifariousness returns in 2010: The 7th annual Irish Cultural Festival, which runs Friday, March 5th and Saturday, March 6th. Whether coming to honor your own family heritage, to learn more about Ireland and its people, or simply to have a good time while surrounded by the culture of a nation, the Eugene Irish Cultural Festival is packed with enough entertainment to satisfy the entire city and beyond.

Whether you are familiar with Irish culture or not, it is always nice to have an idea of what you might be getting yourself into. So what can be expected from the Irish Cultural Festival? Well, the Irish are certainly not strangers to the arts of music and dance, and the festival has some extraordinary groups, performances, workshops, and demonstrations to prove it. Teada, voted "Best Young Irish Traditional Act" 2009 in Ireland, will be holding workshops showing how to play various instruments in the traditional manner. Teada will also be performing on the University of Oregon campus Friday, March 5th, as well as both the morning and evening of Saturday, March 6th. Teada will not be alone at the festival, however, for they will be joined by a slew of other performers who will also give visitors a taste of traditional Irish music. Dance workshops will also be available, including one that will discuss the history of Irish dance and its various styles.

Cautiously predicting the next question that may be in the back of your mind, the answer is 'yes', there will most definitely be food available. The traditional Irish fare will be supplied by Alpine Catering, who will be providing a slice of Irish culinary history with dishes like Shepherd's Pie, Corned Beef & Cabbage, and Colcannon - a traditional Irish dish made with potatoes, cabbage, butter, and milk that closely resembles the British dish called "Bubble and Squeak". If you have yet to sample the true taste of Ireland, the Eugene Irish Cultural Festival is definitely one place where you can extend your global palette.

All that the festival has to offer does not stop with song, dance, and food, but furnishes visitors with the complete Irish experience. This includes multiple presentations on Irish language given by Ger Killeen, a celebrated Irish poet who is a current resident of Oregon and a Professor of Humanities at Marylhurst University. Art workshops will also be offered, including basket weaving, calligraphy in the Irish font, and Celtic knot drawing. Also available to visitors will be many different vendors selling various crafts, books, music, and other merchandise.

Rounding out the lineup of stellar traditional Irish entertainment and cultural offerings is an explanation of the history and rules of hurling, a traditional sport of Ireland with a prehistoric heritage. As a follow-up to this lesson, and to see the rules and play in action, the festival will provide spectators with a demonstration of an actual hurling match. Played with wooden sticks (hurleys), a ball (sliotar), and a nearly complete lack of protective padding, hurling is thought to be considered the world's fastest field team sport in terms of game play. It is not often that a sport with such prehistoric origins can be witnessed in live action, and it is certain to be a wonderful presentation of Irish sports history in action.

So grab your family, friends, neighbors, and anyone else that is looking for a good time and bring them out to the 7th annual Eugene Irish Cultural Festival. Snag a plate of colcannon, learn how to play the fiddle, and watch men hit the sliotar with their hurleys. After all, where else are you going to be able to do all of that in one place?


For more information on the festival, be sure to visit their website: Eugene Irish Cultural Festival


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