A touch of the Irish is living well in central Illinois
March 17, 2013 by Marla Blair, If you’re family tree has roots in Ireland, your day is here. If not, the saying goes that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick‘s Day, so that’s a free pass for the rest of the population to wear the green and sport the shamrocks. It is one of the most fun holidays of the year, adding a light-hearted green theme to any gathering. And this time of year we’re all ready for some green to replace the grays and browns of winter. It comes just when we need it most. And who doesn’t love the leprechauns?
There is a group in central Illinois that celebrates the Irish traditions year-around, along with those of its neighboring country, Scotland. “Celtic” is the term that refers to the traditions and cultural influences from that region of the world. The Celtic heritage is a story that hails from the ancient mists of time. But the Central Illinois St. Andrew’s Society brings it to life in traditional song and dance the members will gladly share with anyone who wants to enjoy a toe-tapping good time.
Anne Moseley is a member of St. Andrew’s. She is a Celtic dancer and an avid promoter of the Celtic traditions exhibited during performances and annual events. (When she isn’t dancing, her day job is that of the Assistant Director, Lincoln Heritage Museum, Lincoln College). There are several Logan County residents who belong or previously belonged to Central Illinois St. Andrew’s Society. It is not an exclusive organization, but an open group that welcomes anyone with an interest in the Celtic culture and is willing to participate in the dance, musical and sporting activity.
Central Illinois St. Andrew’s Society was established in 1987. The main purpose is “to promote and spread the Celtic culture through our involvement and contributions in the community and the activities of our units and membership”. Units within the society include the Ancient Athletics, Celtic Dancers, Highland Games and the Pipes and Drums. There is a board of directors and unit managers who oversee their respective areas.
For the next 18 months St. Andrew’s will perform with a major goal in mind. In September 2014, the group will conduct what it calls “the World Tour”, performing in Ireland and Scotland. Funds generated between now and then will go into toward expenses for the trip. This is not something it does often and members are intent on making it a successful trip that includes as many of their group as possible.
Upcoming Society events include the Celtic Dancers & Pipes and Drums Band at Pilling Chapel, Milliken University, Decatur, at 7 p.m., Friday, March 22. General admission: $10; Students and Seniors, $7. Exorna, a Celtic band playing traditional Celtic music will be the Special Guest performers. A repeat performance will be held in Annie Merner Chapel, MacMurray College, Jacksonville, at 3 p.m., Sunday, March 24. The same admission rates apply.
The 18th annual Springfield Area Highland Games & Celtic Festival is scheduled for Friday, May 17 (6 to 10 p.m., Pub in the Park) and Saturday, May 18 (Highland Games & Celtic Festival opens at 9 a.m.), at Chatham Community Park, 760 S. Main Street, Chatham.
Attend some events and support St. Andrew’s on its 2014 World Tour. Throughout the summer the Society’s bands, dancers and athletes will participate in community parades and assorted Celtic game events around mid-America. To find an event, schedule a group or two for a performance, or to learn more about Central Illinois St. Andrew’s Society and membership that will release that Scotch-Irish spirit within you, go to www.central-illinois-standrewsociety.com.