NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

March 15, 2012

Concerts, parties on tap to celebrate St. Patrick's Day

The Newburyport area will be a sea of green Saturday as local restaurants and churches display some Irish pride.

Revelers looking to don some green and revel in their Irish heritage can enjoy a variety of St. Patrick's Day entertainment — whether it's listening to renditions of "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" or "Wild Rover" or some more traditional tunes, such as "I'll Tell Me Ma" or "Come by the Hills."

At First Parish Church in Newbury, singer Michael O'Leary, 57, of Gloucester will entertain with "traditional Irish songs and tunes" on Saturday night.

"I cover a wide range," he said.

"Traditional songs go so far back that you can't pinpoint their origin or who wrote them," O'Leary said. "They have been passed on from generation to generation."

His repertoire includes narrative ballads, celebratory songs, instrumental tunes like jigs and reels, and a number of airs. Each of these genres features a different style, and O'Leary likes to mix them up in his concerts.

"An air is a slow, very emotive, poignant, Celtic melody," O'Leary said. "A lot of the songs I like to sing, if you stripped away the words, you would be left with an air: a lone piper or whistler."

O'Leary especially loves Celtic singing in its purest form, which is called "sean nos," or "old style," singing.

"That's the true song tradition in Ireland — unaccompanied singing. I like to do one or two a cappella songs in my concerts, to touch on those traditions," he said. One a cappella song he plans to sing on Saturday night is "Erin Gra Mo Chroi" or "Ireland of my heart."

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