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.”