About the Festival
The Irish-American Crossroads Festival is a celebrated cultural event in the San Francisco Bay Area promoting the discovery and understanding of the diverse Irish experience in the Americas. This annual Festival takes place in many venues throughout the Bay Area and during the months of March and April.
The Festival offers a wide diversity of inspired musical, literary and cultural events that invite the public to come together in the spirit of discovery and celebration.
We are dedicated to creating a dynamic forum every year where relevant, meaningful, and many-sided conversations take place about our Irish and Irish-American histories, our ancient roots, and modern hybridities, our passions, our work, our presence around the globe and our creative efforts to make sense of it all!
Founded in 2004, The Irish American Crossroads Festival is the only on-going festival of its kind in the country.
Below you will find brief descriptions of just the highlights of each annual Irish-American Crossroads Festival. In addition, most festivals also feature community history through an afternoon of storytelling from the Crossroads Irish Oral History Archive of the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as a workshop on discovering your family history, the Children’s Hour of Music & Song, a reading by local Irish-American poets and local histories through our ongoing collaboration with the California Historical Society.
PREVIOUS FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS
14th Annual Irish-American Crossroads Festival
March 2 – April 2, 2017
Crossroads 2017 opened with renowned Irish fiddler, Gerry O’Connor in a solo concert performance. We also offered a day-long documentary film screening in collaboration with the San Francisco Irish Film Festival, a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Pearse and Connolly Fife and Drum Band, and an exploration of intersections between the Irish and Chinese communities in San Francisco and more.
Audiences loved, once again, our ever-popular Children’s Hour with music and dance from the Brosnan School of Irish Dance and from Richard Mandel and Erin Shrader, our Oral History event featuring members of the Irish Oral History Archive of the San Francisco Bay Area Frank Aherne, Pamela Cronin, Joanne Harnett and Kathy Holly, the Crossroads Salon, a forum for writers/artists to gather, and Margaret Cooley’s Family Stories Workshop.
The 13th Annual Irish-American Crossroads Festival
March 4-April 3, 2016
Through the presentation of 14 events including musical performance, readings by international and local authors, multiple workshops, children’s dance, oral histories, a walking tour and more, Crossroads 2017 produced another unparalleled series of cultural, literary and musical events that entertained thousands of Bay Area audiences. It opened with Connecting Celtic Roots: From Irish Traditional to American Roots Music with Eileen Ivers & Her Band and featured four events that illuminated how the 1916 Easter Rebellion still animates the hearts and minds of many in our community still today. These events included the very popular walking tour of San Francisco’s Mission District entitled, “Walking The Rebellion”, Irish community leaders discussing the legacy and impact of the 1916 Easter Rising featuring local community leaders Parade Grand Marshall Gerry Boyle, Diarmuid Philpott, Jo Coffey and Ciarán Scally, and a presentation and reading with Sinéad McCoole about women’s roles in the 1916 Easter Rising. We also featured the legendary fiddler, Kevin Burke in a one-night-only sold-out solo performance, readings by award-winning, Irish poet Elaine Feeney, as well as local authors, A.E. Conran and (the late) Eddie Stack and local filmmaker, Flora Skivington. Margaret Cooley offered her family history workshop and Lisa Lynne inaugurated a new workshop & concert entitled, “Hands On Harps”.
The 12th Annual Irish-American Crossroads Festival
February 28-March 29, 2015
The 12th Annual Irish-American Crossroads Festival produced the event of the season with A Celtic Appalachian Celebration: Traditional Irish & American Old Time Music featuring acclaimed musician, ethnomusicologist Mick Moloney and the widely-celebrated, Green Fields of America: Athena Tergis (fiddle), Billy McComiskey (accordion), and Joey Abarta (uilleann pipes), performing with 5-time All-Ireland multi-instrumentalist, Michelle Mulcahy, internationally renowned ‘Old Time’ artists Eddie Bond and Kirk Sutphin and local ‘Old Time’ virtuoso, Karen Celia Heil and world champion Irish dancer, Niall O’Leary. The Festival also opened with All-Ireland champion accordion virtuoso, Jimmy Keane. And we presented the legendary Bay Area Celtic Harpists, Patrick Ball and Lisa Lynne and Aryeh Frankfurter. Crossroads also hosted the remarkable conversation about race and culture entitled, “You Don’t Look Irish: A Reading and Conversation with Multiracial Writers of Irish Heritage,”, featuring writers: Dylan Amaro-McIntyre, Caroline Mar, Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu and Clare Ramsaran.
The 11th Annual Irish-American Crossroads Festival
March 1-March 30, 2014
The 11th Annual Irish-American Crossroads Festival of 2014 delivered a feast of cultural offerings to San Francisco Bay Area audiences including the shared history of African- & Irish-Americans as presented by master musicologist and historian, Mick Moloney and dance historian, Lenwood Sloan. As well, the Festival featured a film premiere, “Men At Lunch”, the history of Hetch Hetchy’s Irish legacy, the unmatched detective fiction writer Peter Quinn, as well as legendary accordionist Paddy O’Brien.
The 10th Annual Irish-American Crossroads Festival
March 9-April 26, 2013
The 10th Annual Irish-American Crossroads featured legendary Irish musicians Kevin Burke & John Carty, as well as acclaimed Irish flutist, Laurence Nugent. We were also the proud host of the documentary film premiere and album release entitled, “Nights In Shanaglish”. We featured Irish-American writers of the San Francisco Bay Area, Linda Norton, Eddie Stack, Catherine Brady & Terence Clark, as well as two celebrated Irish poets, Matthew Sweeney and Patrick Cotter.
The 9th Annual Irish-American Crossroads Festival
March 3-April 7, 2012
The 9th Annual Irish-American Crossroads Festival highlighted Irish-American popular culture by featuring master musicians, Mick Moloney and Athena Tergis in “If It Wasn’t For the Irish & the Jews”, as well as a roundtable discussion on this topic with noted historians and authors, Terry Golway, Joseph McBride, and James Rogers. Our offerings included an exhibit by the critically acclaimed Irish painter, Patrick Graham, plus other performance, and literary arts that included a focus on the History of Irish in the West.
The 8th Annual Irish-American Crossroads Festival
March 4-25, 2011
The 8th Annual Irish-American Crossroads Festival highlights headlined the Grammy nominated Irish-American fiddler and composer, Liz Carroll, in a two-night run. Our keynote literary event entitled, “Imagining Irish America: 250 Years of Literature and Counting,” featured the authors Charles Fanning, Kathleen Hill, and Caledonia Kearns. We proudly hosted the West Coast premiere of Irish author, Julian Gough, as well as Patrick Ball, the internationally celebrated Celtic harpist. We launched our Festival’s first annual writing contest and offered a new view on the history of the Irish in San Francisco via a walking tour entitled, “Irish Labor History in San Francisco: A Walking Tour along the Waterfront.”
The 7th Annual Irish-American Crossroads Festival
March 2-14, 2010
The 7th Annual Irish-American Crossroads Festival Featured Irish Music Legend Tommy Sands and Highlights Irish-American Spirituality.
The 6th Annual Irish-American Crossroads Festival
March 7-15, 2009
The 6th Annual Irish-American Crossroads Festival headlined the renowned Irish traditional fiddler, Martin Hayes, in a two-night run at The Plough and the Stars Pub, San Francisco’s home for Irish traditional music. Hayes, recognized as a master fiddle player and leader in Irish traditional music, gave a rare solo-concert and performed as a duo the following night with Andrew MacNamara, a fellow musician from County Clare, Ireland, celebrated in his own right as an Irish accordion player. Crossroads also chose “Memory” as its theme this year and explored the importance of oral history and community memoir.
The 5th Annual Irish-American Crossroads Festival
March 8-16, 2008
The 5th Annual Irish-American Crossroads Festival presented An Evening with Peter Rowan: Singing through the Walls of Time, a night of solo performance including progressive bluegrass tunes performed on guitar and mandolin by Peter Rowan. Additionally, this year, the Festival expanded the traditional notions of ‘history’ by emphasizing the life stories of families, neighborhoods, and communities — your grandmother, grandfather, uncles, aunts, parents, and yourself — who compose the ‘black matter’ of history; the often untold lives of day-to-day figures, and the communities they formed and flourished in.
The 4th Annual Irish-American Crossroads Festival
March 8-17, 2007
The 4th Annual Irish-American Crossroads Festival highlighted the Irish in Latin America and the Caribbean.