WHEN IRISH EYES ARE SMILING
Thousands celebrate heritage at event
Thousands of event-goers celebrated their Irish heritage on Saturday at the Irish 2000 music and arts festival.
The event was held all day on Saturday at the Saratoga County Fairgrounds in Ballston Spa.
Attendees had the opportunity to hear Irish music, watch Irish dance, eat Irish food, and drink Irish beer at the festival.
Two stages, a rock stage and an Irish pub stage, featured live entertainment throughout the day and evening. Some of the most popular acts to perform this year were Ireland’s own Screaming Orphans, locals Hair of the Dog and headliner Off Kilter, which recently finished a long standing gig at Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
Established in 1996, Irish 2000 is one of the region’s largest Irish festivals. It is known for offering a unique lineup of Irish music, including everything from Celtic punk and jam music to traditional bagpipes songs and everything in between.
More than two decades in, the event organizers’ aim remains to create a familyfriendly atmosphere where people can enjoy Irish culture and Irish music, said Brian Nelligan, president of the nonprofit Irish Music and Arts Festival Inc. Part of the purpose behind Irish 2000 is to expose younger generations to traditional Irish culture, he said. To keep them thoroughly entertained, a Celtic Kids area at Irish 2000 features rides and games just for children.
Nelligan has been involved with the festival since its 1996, when his brother Matt Nelligan and Jim Shaughnessy cofounded it.
While other Irish festivals existed elsewhere, they all thought there should be one in the Capital Region.
“With all of the Irish population that we have, we said this would be the perfect thing to do,” Brian recalled.
The first Irish 2000 was held at a park in Colonie, and then venues changed as the event grew and started attracting more and more attendees. “Then it kept expanding to where we’re now here,” Brian said as festival-
goers flooded in through the main fairground gates.
Looking ahead, Brian said the hope is that Irish 2000 can continue bringing awareness to Irish culture in a fun festival setting for many years to come.
Returning attendees Alison and Will McCarthy traveled north from Virginia to join their Derek and Lorene Reynolds at Irish 2000 for their fifth year in a row. It’s a chance for all of them to hear Irish music, and for the men to bust out their kilts once a year.
“It’s nice because all of the Irish people get together,” Alison said after listening to the Schenectady Pipe Band on the Timothy J. Nelligan & Patricia McSweeney Memorial Irish Pub Stage at the festival. “The camaraderie is nice.”
Bagpipers perform at Irish 2000, a music and arts festival held on Saturday at the Saratoga County Fairgrounds in Ballston Spa.
Emish performs at Irish 2000 at the Saratoga County Fairgrounds in Ballston Spa.
Visitors ordered drinks at an Irish beer truck at Irish 2000, a music and arts festival held on Saturday at the Saratoga County Fairgrounds in Ballston Spa.