Second James McNally Wilson Festival set for Sept. 22

Second James McNally Wilson Festival set for Sept. 22

PAWTUCKET - Musicians from across New England will be on hand for the second annual James McNally Wilson Irish Music Festival sponsored by the Sons and Daughters of Erin Pawtucket on Sunday, Sept. 22, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The sights and sounds of Ireland will fill Slater Park in Pawtucket for this free family event.

"Last year's debut festival was a huge success. There are many Irish living in and around the Blackstone Valley who love the music of the old country and they came out in force," said Christopher McDonald, president of the Sons and Daughters of Erin. "This year, we've created a fabulous lineup of traditional and modern Irish music and expanded our vendor area so there will truly be something for everyone."

The festival is named in honor of James McNally Wilson, one of the seven Irish rebels rescued from an Australian prison by Irish Americans on the whaling ship Catalpa out of New Bedford in 1876. Wilson lived out the remainder of his life in the Blackstone Valley and is buried in Pawtucket. McDonald and another group, the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, led the movement to recognize the bravery of Wilson in graveside ceremonies in 2010.

"James McNally Wilson is the epitome of the Irish spirit and his rescue demonstrates the strong bond the Irish feel for each other. We as a group want to pay tribute to his life and bravery, and to cultivate that sense of Irish pride," said McDonald.

The event will include live Irish music, stepdancing, and storytelling by local and New England performers, and Irish food and gifts offered by a variety of vendors and restaurants. The entertainment line-up includes The Tom Lanigan Band, a Rhode Island-based group fronted by Tom Lanigan of Dublin; Rakish Paddy, a duo from western Massachusetts featuring vocals and the sounds of whistle, fiddle and guitar; the John Egan Band, a singer-songwriter from Warwick; and stepdancers from the Damhsa Irish Dance Studio in Warwick.

In addition to the music on the festival stage, there will be storytelling for children and adults by Irish author Eoghain Hamilton and friends.

Area restaurants will be selling traditional Irish food, such as corned beef sandwiches by Doherty's Irish Pub.

For more information, call Susan McDonald at 401-728-4382.