Milwaukee Irish Fest

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The Mid Gate of the Henry Maier Festival Park, during Milwaukee Irish Fest 2005
The Cultural Village during Irish Fest

Milwaukee Irish Fest (locally known as Irish Fest) is a yearly ethnic festival held at the Henry Maier Festival Park, on Lake Michigan, United States, every third weekend in August. More than 130,000 people attend the Fest each year to take in nearly 250 acts on 17 stages. The four-day festival in downtown Milwaukee started in 1981, founded by Edward J. Ward.[1] Irish Fest is the largest of the ethnic festivals held at the Summerfest grounds which report attendance,[2] and holds claim to the largest celebration of Irish Culture in the world.[3]

The 2019 festival will be held August 15–18, 2019.

Festival highlights include:

  • Performances from local Milwaukee Irish Dance troupes
  • Music from nearly 250 artists from around the world, sung in both English and Irish
  • Stages for Céilí dancing
  • An area to learn Céilí dance
  • Celebrations of Irish sport:Gaelic Football[4], Hurling, and Currach racing
  • Authentic Irish Cuisine
  • A 5k Run/Walk to the festival
  • Poetry and photography contests
  • Liturgy for Peace and Justice held in the Marcus Amphitheater on Sunday morning

The annual closing event is the Scattering, a gathering of many of the festival's musicians playing together in one combined session, with fifty or more musicians on the stage at one time not uncommon.

Irish people the world over come to see the festival from as far off as England, Scotland, Egypt, Pakistan and Ireland itself. Many of Ireland's news stations will send reporters over to cover the festival.

Irish Fest celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2005, which saw the opening of the new Celtic Roots stage. President of Ireland, Mary McAleese also attended that year's fest.

Each year, a particular Irish family name (clan) is honored at the festival.

Some of the Irish clan names that have been honored:

  • 1987: Mangin
  • 1995: Conarchy/Conachy
  • 1999: Cummings/Cummins
  • 2000: Delaney/Delany
  • 2001: McAteer
  • 2004: Murphy
  • 2005: All festival Volunteers (in honor of 25th anniversary of Irish Fest)
  • 2006: Toomey/Twomey (O'Tuama)
  • 2007: Gogin/Goggins
  • 2008: Carroll
  • 2009: O'Donoghue
  • 2011: Fitzgerald
  • 2012: Higgins
  • 2013: Gallagher
  • 2014: O'Loughlin


  1. ^ "Ed Ward, who created the world-class Irish Fest, has died". October 15, 2019.
  2. ^ The Business Journal
  3. ^ "Milwaukee Irish Fest Celebrates 37 Years with Best in Celtic Music and Culture". Shepherd Express, August 7, 2017.
  4. ^ "Traditional Irish Sports - Gaelic Football and Hurling". Retrieved 2018-09-19.

External links[edit]