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Sunnyside’s Irish Music Festival Hits All the Right Notes

Photo: QueensPost

March 6, 2018 By Bill Parry and Christian Murray

When the St. Pat’s for All Parade on Skillman Ave. concluded on Sunday afternoon, many marchers and spectators headed straight to Queens Blvd. to participate in the first annual Sunnyside Irish Music Festival.

The festival drew hundreds of party goers to 10 neighborhood bar/restaurants, all located on or near Queens Blvd between 40th and 48th Streets.

In a coordinated effort, each venue had live Irish music.

Fiddlers, accordion players and guitarists were performing throughout the neighborhood. Some pubs had four-piece bands while others had solo acts.

Meanwhile, a roving pipe band—complete with drum players and bagpipers—were going from pub to pub. About 12 young dancers from the Niall O’Leary school of Irish Dance also went from venue to venue performing an array of Irish favorites.

“The place was so packed I could barely find room to talk,” said Mickey McCreesh, the co-owner of Bar 43 said. “Every [bar/restaurant]  I spoke to said they were busy all day.”

McCreesh said that the full pipe band—with about 18 members—was a big hit in his pub and elsewhere. He said the band would play a few songs—and then the dancers would perform.

“People were getting on their feet and clapping,” he said.

“This was better than I ever expected for the first year,” McCreesh said. “It was a fantastic day.”

Molly Blooms, Maggie Mae’s and the Gaslight all appeared to be doing a brisk business on Sunday night.

Meanwhile, Mary Flannery, a manager at Sidetracks, said she loved the event. “We’ve had big crowds all day,” she said, adding, “We need to do more of this.”

Some bars/restaurants served Irish food, such as corned beef, and had drink specials as well.

Others were inventive.

Arriba Arriba, the Mexican restaurant participated in the event and served Mexican shepherd’s pie and green margaritas. “It’s fun, there’s a lot of camaraderie today,” said Arriba Arriba’s manager Sarah Munoz.

People of all ethnic backgrounds were at the pubs. “There’s been a nice mix of people all day, not just the Irish crowd,” said Sinead, tending bar at The Courtyard.

The event was also used to help raise funds for Engine 325/Ladder 163, the firehouse on 51st Street.

The 10 establishments have placed firefighter helmets behind their bars and people have been filling them with cash. “We are leaving them there for the whole month of March,” McCreesh said.

The bars are also selling buttons.

Liz Taylor, a manager at Bliss Street Station, said, “It’s our honor to help them out.”

McCreesh said that the bars hope to raise more than $5,000.

One firefighter from that ladder 163 who didn’t want to be named, said, “We think it’s awesome that the neighborhood is doing a fundraiser for us; it’s nice to know their thinking of us.”

The Courtyard (Photo: QueensPost)

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Ian McGowan

Hey everyone – Stop picking on John! I’m sure what he meant to point out is how great it is that the same group, “Sunnyside Boulevard Bars,” that came together to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, will also be collaborating in two-months time to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, which is mentioned on their Facebook page, linked in the second sentence of this article and I quote: “Thank you to everyone who came out on Sunday night and made Sunnyside’s first Irish Music Festival such a success … stay tuned for information about our next event to celebrate Cinco de Mayo…”


@ John

Sorry you weren’t keen on an Ireland-themed event in connection with a St. Patrick’s Day parade. Perhaps someone will host a Miserablebastardland event at which you’ll fit in a little better.


I would gladly give money if they promise to hose down the Chaaaange Bum.


Some people must hav a miserable life. Nothing seems to make them happy and they want to knock everything that happens in the neigherhood. Go live under a rock John because sunnyside could care less about u. Sunday was a wonderful day and I met up with a lot of friends( most of whom were not Irish) we had such a fun time. It’s an honor to b able to help our local firehouse. Hope ur apt doesn’t catch fire John.

The Rope

Ignore the troll. I happen to be Irish American, and was at 2 of the bars mentioned for the festival. There was a great mix of neighborhood people. Saw what you like about the Irish bars, but they are welcoming to all. I can’t say the same for some of the Romanian restaurants in the nabe.



There is nothing preventing other ethnic groups in the neighborhood from organizing similar events. The Irish seem to excel at it, it’s not their fault that others don’t take the same initiative.


I don’t remember the last time I saw a black or latino firefighter in Sunnyside


This was for charity for firefighters, get a life John you troll , what do you do for this neighborhood


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