Irish culture growing in the heart of the KCMO metro

Posted on: 6:37 pm, March 9, 2013, by

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tens of thousands of people in Kansas City can trace their ancestral roots to Ireland.

With only a week until St. Patrick’s Day, even those with only a wee bit of Irish blood find cause to celebrate.

And there’s no better place for Irish cheer than the 126-year-old Browne’s Irish Market, a green institution in the heart of the metro.

The moment you walk int he door, the bells announce your arrival and like the fabled Irish road, Kansas City’s Irish culture rises to greet you.

“As we get closer to St. Pat’s, it gets better and better, said Browne’s Irish Market’s John McClain.

Since 1887, four generations of Kansas City Irish have cooked up rashers and bangers with soda bread for the metro’s Irish and it’s Irish at heart.

A week before St. Patrick’s Day, even a leprechaun would have to take a number.

But with tradition Irish music floating through the air, the wait becomes a wee bit o’ pleasure.

Mike O’Laughlin and his Irish Roots Cafe band is a rare treat indeed.  They sing traditional Irish Shanohsee — a language and style politically suppressed in Ireland for decades.

Now, like much of the Irish culture, its revival is proudly celebrated.

“A lot of these songs go back to the 17th century when the Irish language, religion and way of life was banned.  At times, they even banned the pipes — the bagpipes because it stirred
emotions in native Irish that they didn’t like,” O’Laughlin explained.

“Different people came in through the years and said, ‘You can worship the God of your choice and speak the native language or dance or do traditional artwork.
It makes it mean that much more, so there’s a resurgence of Irish culture, a resurgence of the language,” Kerry Browne, the market’s owner told FOX 4 News.

Children are also keeping the age-old traditions alive through dance.

The celebration it represents is meant to outlast the festivities at St. Patrick’s Day and build on the rich Irish culture that’s growing in the heart of Kansas City.

“In America, we say “top of the morning to ya.”  The answer from my mother’s generation is “and the rest of the day to yourself,”  O’Laughlin said.

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