The Fr. Bernard Donnelly Division, Johnson County No. 1, again manned the gates for Kansas City’s ninth annual Irish Festival. The Fest is always held on Labor Day weekend and, again this year, was located in the area of Kansas City’s Crown Center, just south of downtown.
Kansas City’s Irish Festival claims to be the third largest Irish festival in the U.S., and includes many of the best Celtic and folk bands available in the U.S. or Europe. Combined with great food and Boulevard Beer, a KC home brewery, the music makes for the best festival in the city every year.
After a great Friday night session with record attendance, the skies opened up on Saturday and repeatedly drenched the KC Irish. Sunday proved to be beautiful, and attendance records were smashed as Kansas City’s very own “The Elders” closed out the festival that evening.
The Donnelly Division provided member manpower for the KC Irish Fest’s only “Hibernian Gate.” Our Brothers from the Patrick Pearse Division in Kansas City, Missouri, and the AOH Division in St. Joseph, Missouri, also assisted at the Fest gates. While manning the “Hibernian Gate,” the Donnelly Division enjoyed many encounters with Brothers from several other AOH Divisions in Oklahoma, Nebraska, Illinois and Wisconsin, including Joe Casey, State Board President for Ohio. This was a real treat for members of the only active Division in Kansas as we rarely have the opportunity to interact with other Hibernians from outside the KC metropolitan area.
We found our Brothers to be a great reflection of the motto and hope to see them every year on the frontier in KC. The Donnelly and Pearse Divisions participated in the Fest’s Irish Mass on Sunday morning with the Donnelly men bringing in the U.S., Irish and Vatican flags while the Pearse men brought in banners for the four provinces. The AOH was well represented and many Mass attendees remarked, as with every year, that the AOH’s mix of kilts, flags and banners make for a very special and uniquely Irish celebration of the Mass.