Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Irish Festival Follow Up

Posted by David Keelan on Monday, September 4, 2006

This is the fourth time I was contacted by a reporter for something I wrote, “Irish Festival Abandons Baltimore” (the second most popular post for August) and the third time they actually wrote something as a result.  The Baltimore Sun wrote an article about the “Dualing Irish Festivals

The article mentions the intent for the heads of the two organizing committees to “get along”  It certainly would be nice if both the festivals can get along.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am not calling or a boycott or anything remotely related.  I am relaying my disappointment in O’Malley’s actions.  There are scarce resources out there for Festivals and Parades and to have O’Malley set up a competing Irish Festival just makes it that much more difficult.  It probably never crossed his mind of any potential harm.  His first thought was most likely of having an Irish Festival in the City while he is Mayor campaigning for Governor.

I don’t expect the Irish Festival of Baltimore City to last beyond Martin O’Malley’s last day in office (that remains to be seen) so in the end I think we will only have one Festival.

I know all the Irish people quoted in the article and have nothing but respect for each one of them.  For some we are of the same opinion.  For others I just chaulk it up to a difference of opinion.

Now I was amused to see this exchange in the article.  It certainly adds color to the story, however, I didn’t bring this up to Jill Rosen because the other party, Mr. DeVille, asked me to remove both his comments from my blog.  I honored his request and then forgot about it.  After reading the article I checked and the only comment left is my reply to his second comment. 

Mr. DeVille first left the “advertisement” (as I call it) about the other festival.  I changed the link and he left another comment telling me that he thought I was being “cheezy” for changing the link.  I replied that given the contents of my post and the feelings expressed that I thought he was being “cheezy” for posting the other festival’s information on my blog and left him a couple of Irish quotes to ponder. 

We exchanged a couple of what I would characterize as professional emails and I agreed to delete the offending and his follow up comments.

See Mr. DeVille’s comments below.  Interesting that he wasn’t contacted given the prominence of this part of the article.

As Jill Rosen of The Sun relates:

Matt DeVille, who designed the new festival’s Web site, went to Keelan’s blog and posted a link to the new event. Keelan rerouted the link to the old festival and then blogged, “Competing Irish Festivals are the opposite of community building. What is more, they are divisive as well as insulting to the memory of the founders of the Irish Festival.”

Back on his own blog, DeVille fired back with a quote from Ireland’s Samuel Beckett. “The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.”

Not to be outgunned in the Irish author quote-off, Keelan topped off his scolding with a little edited Oscar Wilde: “Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often [un]convincing.”

Relative to the supporters of the other festival.  It is true.  Campaign contributers of Martin O’Malley’s are also contributing financially to the other festival.  I have no issue with 1st Mariner Bank since they support all the Irish events and have been very generous in the past with many other community events.  It is nice to know that a home builder and a law firm are coming out as sponsors of an Irish Festival.  In fact it may be a first for Baltimore City to have a builder and law firm sponsor an Irish event.  Well, they need sponsors since they are not charging admission and they have some national music acts coming in for the event.  That costs money.

Makes me wonder what the city is charging them for use of the venue.  Are they charging for the use of Duburns or the waterfront?  How about traffic control and security?

The article does fail to note that Irish Charities of Maryland (they actually run the original festival) is a 501c3 (a charity) and donated over $20,000 to charity in 2004 or 2005.  As a charity their financials are a matter of public record.  A review of those financial statements makes it is clear, it is not cheap to run a good festival. 

So, I continue to wonder what Ceol Maryland, Inc’s costs will be and I wonder what Ceol Maryland, Inc. will do with any net proceeds.  Especially given the fact that the time and effort being expended on this other festival could have been spent to keep the original festival in town.

Finally, the article makes no mention of other festivals that have left town and the “Irish” mayor didn’t pull out the stops or tap campaign supporters to start a festival to replace those. 

O’Malley’s spokesman Rick Abbruzzese shrugs off the accusations.

“I just don’t get it. Baltimore City stops at Gittings Road to the north. Where’s the other festival? Timonium. It’s as simple as that,” he says with no small amount of exasperation. “They left this city with a hole to fill, and I’m trying to fill it.”

The German festival left Southwest Baltimore after 2005.  Where is the Oktoberfest being held this year?  Come on Rick.  You are avoiding the question and the whole point.  You didn’t replace the German Festival.  Will you replace the Oktoberfest?  Why not?  Because of the EMBARASSMENT factor.  Just like O’Malley threatened to start his own St. Patrick Day Parade if we moved out of the City.  Would he do that for the Columbus Day Parade?  Would you?  I don’t think so…


7 Responses to “Irish Festival Follow Up”

  1. Bubba said

    Be careful the Mayor is a mighty powerful diety and you never know when he might cancel your blog!


  2. hocomd said

    Do you think he might start his own blog? Say it isn’t so!

  3. David,

    I was a little appalled to see that the Sun included our correspondence in their article. Frankly, I never wanted to be involved in the discussion of the politics of the event.

    My original intent in posting the link on your site was just to share that the site was out there for anyone who might be interested. At that time, I admit, I was completely unaware of the complicated nature of the discussion surrounding the event. I also admit that I hadn’t carefully read your original post.

    This morning I took down my post momentarily because I thought the title had been misinterpreted (which it likely has). I titled it so to pay homage to Beckett, whom you had previously quoted. I feel now that it was a poor decision, and have renamed the post.

    Curiously enough, the Sun never contacted me about the hold exchange that you and I had.


  4. oops, I meant “whole exchange” above.

  5. hocomd said


    The Sun never contacted you? That is strange. I think Jill Rosen took some liberties with her writing.

  6. Indeed, no contact at all. I’m certainly not used to seeing my name in the paper, so, I agree. I thought it was a bit irresponsible.

  7. hocomd said

    Yes. I should have contacted you before I posted that. I pulled a Rosen. In any event please accept my regrets. We agreed to disagree and moved past it. I am sorry she dragged it out…

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