Promoting Irish-American Culture
and Preserving Local Histories
Through Year-Round Programs

2008 5th Annual Irish-American Crossroads Festival

March 8-16, 2008

This year, during the week leading up to the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration, the Irish-American Crossroads 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 the day-to-day figures who construct the paths we live and the families into which we are born.


Children’s Hour

Featured young dancers from the Murphy Irish Dance Company and traditional Irish music — jigs, reels and other fun stuff by fiddler John Caulfield.

Fisher Children’s Center

Irish Musical Performance

The Gasmen play traditional Irish music (jigs, reels, hornpipes, polkas) and the many singers in the band perform a wide variety of songs. From Alaska to Argentina, the band has enjoyed playing music and entertaining audiences for nearly two decades. Band members include Vincy Keehan, Kenny Somerville, Vinny Cronin, Cormac Gannon, Barry O’Connell, and John Caulfield.

Koret Auditorium

Understanding and Rendering the “Family As History”

The public was invited to join in this conversation about the ‘Family as History’ as our honored guests discussed historical, literary, and poetic ways of rendering our family stories, as well as the value of doing so for ourselves, our families, and the Irish-American Diaspora.

Featured Guests:

Margaret Cooley is a cultural worker who writes nonfiction and poetry. Her writing often focuses on her working-class Irish American heritage. She is currently working on a memoir focused on the emigration of her Irish family in the mid-19th century to work in the coalmines of southwestern Pennsylvania. She has done extensive genealogical research on her family, extending back to the 18th century.

Margaret is a member of the National Writers Union, the Labor Heritage Rockin’ Solidarity Chorus, the San Francisco LaborFest Writing Group and the Living Wage Coalition. She lives, writes, performs and sings in San Francisco, California.

Daniel Tobin, is a Professor of Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College. He is the author of three books of poetry as well as the critical study Passage to the Center: Imagination and the Sacred in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney. Mr. Tobin is also Editor of The Book of Irish American Poetry: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present. His awards include “The Discovery” / The Nation Award, the Robert Frost Fellowship, the Robert Penn Warren Award, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Moderated by Hillary Flynn, Irish-American Crossroads Festival

Special thanks for support from the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library


Poetry Night

John Norton

Author of Re: Marriage, The Light At The End of The Bog

Daniel Tobin

Author of Where The World Is Made, Double LifeThe Narrows, and Editor of The Book of Irish American Poetry: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present

Lynn Trombetta

Author of Falling World

This evening includes readings from each poet in addition to a presentation by Daniel Tobin about The Book of Irish American Poetry: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present, the first major anthology of Irish- American poetry which breaks new ground by collecting for the first time the work of over two hundred Irish-American poets, as well as other American poets whose work enjoys Irish-American themes.

MONDAY, MARCH 10, 2008

The Noe Valley Irish: Reflections on the History of the Noe Valley Irish Community in San Francisco

An exploration of the history of the Irish-American community of San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood, including individuals who grew up in the neighborhood and raised their families there. This is an evening of story-telling and remembering.

The public was invited to join in by bringing your own stories, photos, and memories of the neighborhood! This event was part of the on-going series dedicated to the local history of the Irish in San Francisco, a project of the Irish-American Crossroads Festival.


Ella Young: Irish Mystic and Rebel

From Literary Dublin to the American West

A Reading by Rose Murphy

Ella Young (1867-1956), an Irish storyteller of Celtic heroes and magic curses, had a fascinating, overlooked life story. She guarded weapons hidden under floor boards for Dublin rebels during the 1920s, hobnobbed with W.B. Yeats, shared a house with Maud Gonne, talked to spirits in the windswept dunes of California’s Pacific Coast, and lectured to overflowing crowds at the University of California at Berkeley. Author, Rose Murphy read from her work on this little-known and influential figure.


Emigrants at Play by the Bay: The San Francisco Gaelic Athletic Association and the Irish-American Experience

Co-sponsored by the Irish Cultural Centre of California and the United Irish Cultural Center

Gaelic games in San Francisco have a long history stretching back more than a century. Liam Reidy explored this history and discussed the role of the GAA in the sporting, social, cultural and political life of Irish-Americans from the 1880’s to the modern day.

Presented by Liam Reidy, San Francisco GAA


Irish Slang’s Got Snazz (Snas)

A Reading and Musical Performance by Dan Cassidy

Author of How the Irish Inverted Slang

Presented by Bookshop West Portal and the Irish-American Crossroads Festival

Daniel Cassidy is the winner of the 2007 American Book Award for How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads. Cassidy has discovered the hidden Irish language that inhabits the every-day speech of the American vernacular. Words like “jazz”, “poker”, “slum”, “holy moly”, and “dude” are just a few of the more than a thousand words that are revealed in this book and in Cassidy’s ingenious, musical and theatrical presentation about how we’ve all been speaking Irish our whole lives but never knew it.

Find Daniel Cassidy’s book at


An Evening With Peter Rowan: Singing Through The Walls of Time

Peter Rowan is an internationally-renown bluegrass musician who’s been entertaining audiences for more than 50 years with progressive bluegrass tunes, many of them deeply influenced by Irish music. He has played with the legendary band, Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys and performed with artists Gerry Garcia, David Grisman, Jerry Douglas, and Richard Greene in bands such as the Panama Red Riders, Northern Lights and Muleskinners. Audiences joined us this night for a memorable solo performance of Peter Rowan with his mandolin and guitar.


Come to the Hooley!

Audiences were invited to bring a tune, a story, a song, and join us at the Irish-American Crossroads Festival’s celebration of St. Patrick’s Day! An Irish Hooley is a traditional evening of music, dance and story. All are invited to come join in the craic, add a song or story to the evening’s fun and help to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, in the spirit of a traditional gathering.

SUNDAY, MARCH 16, 2008

Beyond Our Green Eyes: Making Meaning of an Irish-American Heritage

This three-hour workshop engaged participants in exploratory conversation about the myriad ways in which we each embody an Irish-American cultural inheritance. The focus will be on identifying the meaningful elements of an Irish-American heritage and the value of this heritage in our lives.

This workshop was facilitated by Maureen Murdock, licensed psychotherapist, memoir writing teacher, author of six books including Unreliable Truth: On Memoir and Memory; The Heroine’s Journey; and Fathers’ Daughters: Breaking the Ties that Bind. Maureen is a 4th generation Irish-American mother and grandmother.