To celebrate the Manchester Irish Festival, Central Library invited Irish dancers and musicians to join us for an afternoon of traditional Irish culture. The event opened with a great performance from The Fianna Phadraig Pipeband, who played to a large crowd on the steps of the library followed by a parade around the Archives+ Oculus area.

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In the performance area, drum and chanter workshops with the Fianna Phadraig Pipeband were popular with our young visitors. Ukulele performances and workshops from Watson Music Library volunteer Jessica, showcased our new collection of ukuleles for the regular ukulele workshops which start at the end of March.

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Joining us for the afternoon were the Manchester Children’s Book Festival storytime tent, providing traditional Irish stories which all ages enjoyed. The Irish World Heritage Centre were on hand with their stall to give information about their venue and activities and the Archives+ handling table of Irish material was very popular.

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To set the scene, Young, Gifted and Green and the Mayo Tradfest Association provided a photographic collection of their Irish archives, including photographs of none other than the Lord of the Dance himself, James Keegan, which we displayed on the large screen and on the virtual digital wall. Using these great photographs we had fun with the green screen activity for those wishing to share the positive family message of the Manchester Irish Festival. The Northwest Film Archive (NWFA) highlighted 2 Irish film clips from their collection on the home screens in the film pods.

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The crafts tables were filled with children and adults alike, creating Irish banners of Celtic design, Irish spoon dolls, origami shamrocks and a special Celtic Manchester bee!

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Photograph courtesy of Manchester Irish Festival

For the finale to a great afternoon, The Keegan Academy of Irish Dancing performed to a packed audience in the performance space with Irish jigs, hard shoe dances such as the St. Patrick’s Day set dance and many more, which were stunning to watch. All ages were enthralled with the skills of the dancers, such a fitting end to a lovely family afternoon.