Pittsburgh Irish Festival brings Celtic culture to the Carrie Blast Furnaces | Pittsburgh City Paper

Pittsburgh Irish Festival brings Celtic culture to the Carrie Blast Furnaces

click to enlarge Five people on a stage playing violins, a guitar, and a bass in front of a sign that says "Irish Festival Est. 1991"
Pittsburgh Irish Festival
There's axe throwing, and then there's ancient Celtic axe throwing. This is according to the list of activities set to unfold at the Pittsburgh Irish Festival, an annual weekend event dedicated to Irish history and tradition in the city.

For the first time since being founded in 1991, the festival will take over the famous Carrie Blast Furnaces, a historic, Rankin-based industrial site that was converted into a cultural venue. From Fri., Sept. 9-Sun., Sept. 11, the Furnaces will host a line-up of bands, solo performers, local Irish dance groups, and more across five stages, one of which has been newly added this year.

Organizers promise to highlight "traditional and new items including music,
dance, axe throwing, Carrie Furnace tours, cooking demos, shopping, Irish cuisine and beverages, children’s activities, genealogy, and so much more."

“We could not be more excited to present this year’s Festival at such a historic destination,” says Pittsburgh Irish Festival executive director Mairin Petrone. “The venue will provide a unique atmosphere and serve as the perfect backdrop for the lively and vibrant Festival entertainers!”

New this year are demonstrations by Five Farms Irish Cream, during which professional and amateur bakers and chefs will spotlight Celtic cooking, ranging from the preparation of "old-world recipes with new world adaptations." According to the Five Farms Irish Cream website, the multi-farm cooperative based in County Cork, Ireland produces single-batch Irish cream liqueur sold all over the world.

Guests will also see a sharp new show by Jared Ondovchik, owner of Artifact Metalworks. The local blade smith will showcase the "various forging techniques" behind his "hand-making beautiful and functional knives for chefs, farmers, adventurers, home cooks, artisans and anyone who seeks a good-quality blade."

The festival will also present the Real Irish Comedy Tour featuring David Nihill, the first-ever Irish winner of the San Francisco International Comedy Competition, Adam Burke, a regular panelist on NPR’s comedy quiz show Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and winner of Second City’s Up Next Comedy Competition, and stand-up act Mick Thomas.

Adding to the festivities is a showcase of Irish authors, an area where people can meet and learn about Irish dog breeds, and an Irish marketplace featuring over 50 booths. There's also the aforementioned Ancient Celtic Axe, presented in partnership with Ace Axe Throwing.

The weather already looks promising for the event, so fingers crossed that, unlike previous years, it won't get rained out.

Pittsburgh Irish Festival. Fri., Sept. 9-Sun., Sept. 11. 801 Carrie Furnace Blvd., Rankin. $17-50, free for kids 12 and under. pghirishfest.org