Cape May’s Irish Weekend

Irish Weekend in Cape May

St. Patrick’s Day weekend in Cape May is a great reason to call it Cape May’s Irish weekend. We know we’re not taking anything away from Wildwood in September, but Cape May rules the weekend near St. Patricks Day. This past Saturday was no slacker.

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Top O’ the Mornin to the leadership of Congress Hall Hotel (my neighbors) for bringing back the John Byrne Band. It must have been an exhausting weekend for John’s group. Selling out the World Café in Philadelphia on Friday night and making a pit stop at Tropicana’s Chickie and Pete’s on the way to Cape May. They were properly warmed up for an exceptional performance in the Boiler Room of Congress Hall. Fiddle player Maura Dwyer, battling the flu, was still in good form.

John Byrne’s return to the Boiler Room,  for me, signifies his growing popularity in Cape May.  I’m also not surprised the Congress Hall’s former General Manager John Daily showed up to hear the John Byrne Band. It’s no secret that Mr. Daily loves his Irish music. The crowd quickly became standing room only. With closed circuit television neatly fixed on the band and dance floor there was not a bad seat in the house.

The only thing that would make it better in my humble opinion would be having the band at the back of the dance floor facing the bar crowd. But with the new draft beer and soon to be popular brick oven pizzas the Boiler Room is going to be Cape May’s favorite underground pub atmosphere.

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The afternoon performance of the the newly created duo: “Whiskey in the Jar”- Barry and Susan O’Ticshler had the crowd at the Mad Batter doing humpty-back-camels and chimpanzees with barely any alcohol consumed. Tom Naglee on Fiddle gave the group a genuine Celtic feel. Toasts by Susan O’Ticshler brought giggles and cheers to the crowd.

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This was one of those “how to be everywhere at the same time” Saturday nights. The Kilmaine Saints brought their Pogues/Drop Kick Murphy’s/Flogging Molly show to Cabanna’s late evening crowd. The Whiskey is Calling and Jump around combined a Metalesque with bagpipes style performance that Cape May doesnt see to often. It was worth the quick sprint to Cabannas  between John Byrne’s sets at the Boiler Room.

I did manage to get back to the Boiler Room in time for the John Byrne Band’s final set. It seems I may have been the fourth person to request John’s Cape May written: Already Gone song. A song he wrote while stuck in town one winter storm.  Presumably, he saved it intentionally for next to last song as he did on Friday night at World Cafe in Philadelphia.

For the final number of the night the band performed a moving rendition of  Parting Glass as a tribute to someone in the audience, near to John who recently lost a loved one. Judging by the tears it was a fitting end. 414March15 011

Cheers to the Congress Hall family of Curtis, Patrick and Myra for orchestrating the return of the John Byrne Band. Here’s to it continued success.






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  1. Myra
    March 17, 2015 / 7:58 pm

    Thanks, John! Couldn’t be happier about the reception John Byrne’s talented band receives this time each year in the Boiler–and we have you to thank for helping to spread the word. Love your blog–thanks for the shout out!

    • JohnCooke
      March 17, 2015 / 8:27 pm

      Nice of you to say so….Cheers.

  2. Hugh Murray
    March 18, 2015 / 7:47 am

    We have become die hard John Bryne fans thanks to you John. What a great weekend.