By Deborah DeVane

Ah Milwaukee…home of beer and brats and all things… Irish. Irish? Ok, that was a bit of a surprise. Normally, people associate Milwaukee with its amazing German and Polish heritage. But after doing a little research, I found that one of the first immigrant groups to discover this wonderful spot on the map were actually the Irish who started arriving in the mid-1830s.  If you want to delve more into the history of the Irish in MKE, I highly recommend the PBS video series by John Gurda The Making of Milwaukee/PBS  and also this article by him. Luck of the Irish

When I sat down to write, I was struck with just how much of the Irish soul is woven throughout our community here. Food. Music. Dance. Language. Festivals. Once you start looking around you discover you can’t swing a sauced Leprechaun without hitting something Irish. So, I thought that the best thing I could offer you in this short space is a quick overview and enough links for you to make your own journey through many of the Irish and Celtic offerings in our area. And with that thought … here we go.

First, let’s start with THE CELTIC MKE CENTER in Wauwatosa. Founded in the early 1980s, it is the hive of all activity that makes the annual Irish Festival possible. There are always things happening at Celtic MKE. They have music classes in bodhran, harp and whistle. Every spring they have a full “Immersion Weekend” where you can take intensive courses in the Irish language and attend seminars in a myriad of topics. The week before the Irish Fest they have “Summer School” with dozens of classes in everything from Celtic Calligraphy to Genetic Genealogy, dance and knitting. Check out the links for more information. You’ll be away with the fairies for hours exploring all that they have to offer.

Every August since 1981 Celtic MKE has hosted the biggest Irish Festival in the country. If you have never been, plan to go for at least one day. It’s a blast. Games and food, music and dancers, lectures and presentations… and tons of fabulous Celtic / Irish artists and vendors.

Right here in Milwaukee, you can learn the Irish language, study its history and culture AND get a degree in the subject. There are even exchange programs with Ireland for interested students. Bairbre Ní Chiardha is the co-director and a great resource.

There are so many fun and fabulous places in Milwaukee to get Irish fare that I can’t even begin to do justice to them all. So I picked my top five that are centrally located in Milwaukee proper. However, if you do some googling you will find masses of them scattered throughout our area. Have fun… and bring a huge appetite. Sláinte!

County Clare Pub and Hotel (We love this place!)
Mo’s Milwaukee
Trinity Three Irish Pubs  (for the young whelps)

Well, unfortunately I’m now out of space and so I must bid you slán abhaile! (‘safe home’ or ‘see ya later’)


WC: 543