irish fest

The Gothard Sisters, a dynamic musical trio from the Pacific Northwest, co-headline this year’s Adams County Irish Festival on July 20 at Moose Park along with Barleyjuice, one of America’s premiere Celtic rock bands. The festival benefits the Hibernian Hunger Project to support local hunger-relief organizations.

The 19th Annual Adams County Irish Festival returns to Moose Park of Gettysburg on Saturday, July 20.

Offering fun for the whole family, the festival will run from 10 a.m. until 6:30 p.m., showcasing all things Irish, music, food, dancing, merchandise and more.

Since 2001, the shady grounds of Moose Park have been home to Adams County’s only Irish Festival which typically draws around 1,000 attendees. Despite a rainy day last year, over 400 people turned out for the event. Another nice turnout is anticipated for this year’s celebration of Irish culture and heritage that features some new musical acts and vendors of Irish merchandise and crafts, Irish and other foods, plus soft drinks and adult beverages. Also, on hand will be the Potomac Valley Irish Wolfhound Club with their gentle giants.

Organizers have assembled another impressive entertainment line-up this year as the festival is co-headlined by two nationally-acclaimed acts, Barleyjuice and The Gothard Sisters.

Barleyjuice returns to the festival main stage after a nine-year hiatus. With six studio albums and an anthology album to their credit, this five-piece band from Philadelphia is currently one of the most beloved Celtic rock bands in America. Frontmen Kyf Brewer and Keith “Swanny” Swanson lithely cover lead vocals, guitars, accordion, harmonica, mandolin, bouzouki, and bagpipes. Both originally piped in the Loch Rannoch Pipe Band and performed in Edinburgh’s Millennium March for Prince Charles.

Backing Brewer & Swanson are a mad trio of characters: captivating fiddler Alice O’Quirke, whose classical roots stray to Irish and bluegrass in the middle of the most authentic jigs and hornpipes; drummer John Tracey, a powerhouse of driving decadence; and hopping bassist Eric Worthington, musical snake-charmer of the deep and dulcet.

Making their festival debut this year, The Gothard Sisters are a dynamic musical trio of sisters who perform contemporary Celtic music and choreographed accompanying Irish dance. Through ten years of performing, touring and writing music together, the optimistic style of their music and performances continue to resonate with their fans, building a loyal international following.

Writing and recording near their home in the Pacific Northwest between touring nationally, the band has released seven albums and has performed over 1,000 live shows over the course of their career. Their latest all-original album release, Midnight Sun, reached #6 on the Billboard World Music charts as the highest-ranking debut on the chart, and The Gothard Sisters have performed in venues large and small all over the country, including a concert at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium stage in Washington DC, performances with Disney Cruise line in Europe, music festivals and performing arts venues nationwide.

Blending Celtic, folk, classical, world and northwest musical influences, The Gothard Sisters bring songs to life with violin, acoustic guitar, mandolin, bodhran, djembe, octave violin, whistle and vocal harmonies, creating music that has been characterized as “vivid, inspirational and captivating” in reviews.

After a one-year hiatus, longtime festival veteran and regional favorite Irishtown Road returns to the main stage. Based in McSherrystown, with three albums under their belt, the group is celebrating its 22nd year of performing together. Their versatile repertoire leans towards traditional Irish songs and traditionally-arranged original work featuring intricate vocal harmonies and instrumental variety. Irishtown Road is comprised of guitarist/fiddler Brian Colgan and sibling Eileen Colgan Bowling (tin whistle, accordion) along with Brian’s son, Jesse (bodhran, percussion); Eileen’s son, Noah Niedererr (guitar, mandolin); and Denny Seitz (banjo, autoharp).

Returning to the festival after debuting last year is Irish Blessing, an acclaimed York-based family band who intensely and unapologetically carries on the purest forms of traditional Irish music and dance. Over their 10 years of performing, the band quickly developed into a highly-acclaimed dance and music troupe that travels around the world, blessing audiences from New York to New Zealand with toe-tapping melodies, powerful dance, and infectious enthusiasm.

Also making their festival debut this year is The Darby Beat, an up and coming trio based in Gettysburg, who play traditional and modern Celtic music featuring fine harmonies and mesmerizing guitar playing.

Rounding out the day’s entertainment slate are two Celtic Children’s Sets by Pickin’ & Grinnin’, the husband and wife team of Ted and Susie Tomalewski of Frederick, Md.

Admission to the festival is still only $10, which includes all entertainment and parking. Children age 12 and under are admitted free. Gates open at 9:30 a.m. The festival will be held, rain or shine, at the McSherrystown Moose Park of Gettysburg (100 Moose Road, Gettysburg), located in Straban Township north off U.S. Route 30, approximately 1.5 miles east of the U.S. Route 15 intersection. Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets.

Major sponsors for the festival are The Garryowen Irish Pub in Gettysburg and the law firm of Axelson, Williamowsky, Bender & Fishman P.C. in Maryland. The festival is presented by Adams County Division 1 of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) to benefit the Hibernian Hunger Project, a nationwide community service program by the AOH to maintain the traditions of Irish hospitality and generosity by feeding the needy while remembering the multitudes of Irish who died from starvation or who were forced to flee Ireland because of An Gorta Mor (“The Great Hunger”) of 1845-1850. Since 2003, Adams County AOH Hibernian Hunger

Project efforts have raised nearly $10,000 for local hunger-relief organizations in the Adams-Hanover area.

For additional information on the festival, visit

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