Four years of Finnegan’s Wake

For the fourth year, our own Tim Brennan, will be heading back to the Coal Region to serve as the bartender for a very good cause at the 23rd Annual Irish Weekend in Heckscherville, PA. This builds on the pro bono work Mr. Brennan has done for the Friends of St. Kieran’s, a non profit religious organization seeking to preserve the history of the Irish Valley.

PRESS RELEASE
July 13, 2010

For the fourth year, our own Tim Brennan, will be heading back to the Coal Region to serve as the bartender  for a very good cause at the 23rd Annual Irish Weekend in Heckscherville, PA.  Each year Mr. Brennan goes back to act in the famous Irish play, “Finnegan’s Wake,” where he is the bartender in the play that recounts the humorous deeds and misdeeds of Tim Finnegan, a working man who fell from a ladder only to wake up at his own funeral. Mr. Brennan has been a student of Irish history and studied in Ireland, at Trinity College, while attending law school.

The Irish Valley has great significance to Tim because his great, great, great grandfather, John D. Brennan, was laid to rest in the parish cemetery at St. Kieran’s Church in 1888, only a few hundred yards from the stage he now performs on. The elder Brennan was a well known mine engineer who worked with John Siney, the famous labor leader who formed the Workers Benevolent Association, in the 1870’s to intercede in and resolve a number of labor disputes between President Gowen, of Reading Anthercite, and the local miners.

After the St. Kieran’s Church was closed by the Diocese of Allentown, Mr. Brennan began helping several residents of the Valley and local Ancient order of Hibernian (AOH) members to preserve the church on a pro bono basis. Mr. Brennan helped the group form the Friends of St. Kieran’s, a non profit religious organization seeking to preserve the history of the Irish Valley and to tell the unique and compelling story of Irish Immigration, heritage and culture.

The area is indeed historic and worthy of preservation, the church was built by the hands of local miners,  many of whom spoke Irish as their first language, in 1858 and was christened by St. John Neumann. It is said that the Saint learned Gaelic just to minister to local coal miners.

The National Board of the AOH in America recognizes the site as an icon in the history of the Order. The AOH, which is a national Irish religious fraternal organization has its roots in the Irish Valley. Members from the area went to the NY parade in 1836, partly to discuss discrimation and violence against Catholics and the clergy by the Know Nothing Party. Within a few months the AOH was born to protect the faith, the church and the culture of the Irish. Conceivably, some of those with AOH grave markers or those without such markers buried in St. Kieran’s cemetery could have been the actual founders of the AOH who went to NY in 1836 for the NY parade.

Please go out and support this fine group, there is entertainment form Friday, July 23rd to Sunday July 25th. The schedule of entertainment is listed below. Mr. Brennan will be performing in the Wake at 6pm on Saturday, July 24th.

The Clover’s 23rd Annual Irish Weekend
Heckscherville
8 Clover Road, Pottsville, PA 17901
FRIDAY, July 23
5:00 to 7:00  THE TROUBLES
7:00 to 10:00  THE IRISH BALLADEERS
8:00 THE McCORMICK SCHOOL OF IRISH DANCE

SATURDAY, July 24
2:00 CHARLIE ZAHM & TAD MARKS
5:15 THE McCORMICK SCHOOL OF IRISH DANCE
6:00  FINNEGANS WAKE
7:00 to 10 KILMAINE SAINTS

SUNDAY, JULY 25
7-11 AM BUFFET BREAKFAST AT THE CLOVER HALL
11:30 AOH/LAOH MARCH TO MASS
12:00 IRISH MASS
1:00 THE MARTIN FAMILY BAND
4:00 THE IRISH LADS

In addition:
The Breaker Boys
Campa na bhFiann   Irish Encampment, hands on demonstrations
Tom Dempsey, Local Genealogist and a Family Message Board
Historian Rich will discuss Irish Valley and area history
the Molly Maguire connection; the Civil War Riots

FINNEGAN’S WAKE LYRICS

Tim Finnegan lived in Walkin’ Street
A gentleman, Irish, mighty odd;
He had a brogue both rich and sweet
And to rise in the world he carried a hod.
Now Tim had a sort of the tipplin’ way
     With a love of the whiskey he was born
     And to help him on with his work each day
     He’d a “drop of the cray-thur” every  morn.

Whack fol the darn O, dance to your partner
     Whirl the floor, your trotters shake;
     Wasn’t it the truth I told you
     Lots of fun at Finnegan’s wake!

Whack fol the darn O, dance to your partner
     Whirl the floor, your trotters shake;
     Wasn’t it the truth I told you
     Lots of fun at Finnegan’s wake!
One mornin’ Tim was feelin’ full
His head was heavy which made him shake;
He fell from the ladder and broke his skull
And they carried him home his corpse to wake.
     They rolled him up in a nice clean sheet
     And laid him out upon the bed,
     A gallon of whiskey at his feet
     And a barrel of porter at his head.

Whack fol the darn O, dance to your partner
     Whirl the floor, your trotters shake;
     Wasn’t it the truth I told you
     Lots of fun at Finnegan’s wake!

His friends assembled at the wake
And Mrs. Finnegan called for lunch,
First they brought in tay and cake
Then pipes, tobacco and whiskey punch.
     Biddy O’Brien began to bawl
“Such a nice clean corpse, did you ever see?
     “O Tim, mavourneen, why did you die?”
     Arragh, hold your gob said Paddy McGhee!

Whack fol the darn O, dance to your partner
     Whirl the floor, your trotters shake;
     Wasn’t it the truth I told you
     Lots of fun at Finnegan’s wake!

Then Maggie O’Connor took up the job
“O Biddy,” says she, “You’re wrong, I’m sure”
Biddy she gave her a belt in the gob
And left her sprawlin’ on the floor.
     And then the war did soon engage
     ‘Twas woman to woman and man to man,
     Shillelagh law was all the rage
     And a row and a ruction soon began.

Whack fol the darn O, dance to your partner
     Whirl the floor, your trotters shake;
     Wasn’t it the truth I told you
     Lots of fun at Finnegan’s wake!

Then Mickey Maloney ducked his head
When a noggin of whiskey flew at him,
It missed, and falling on the bed
The liquor scattered over Tim!
     The corpse revives! See how he raises!
     Timothy rising from the bed,
     Says,”Whirl your whiskey around like blazes
     Thanum an Dhul! Do you thunk I’m dead?”

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