The Bound for Amerikay show at the Cape May Convention Center in 2014

Special Programs with McDermott's Handy

Bound for Amerikay

The Irish Emigrant Experience: Coming to America as told through Music, Song & Story

Many of the songs from this program are on McDermott's Handy's new CD, Bound for Amerikay. Our duo McDermott's Handy does this as a standalone program or with our Bound for Amerikay show.

What must it have been like? How did it feel to leave everyone and everything that is familiar to go off to a fabled land of freedom with streets paved with gold and untold wealth and opportunity? What was it like—that journey to America?

McDermott’s Handy has been collecting the music, stories and songs about “going to America” for more than 40 years and integrating this music into their concerts. Now they have assembled this broad repertoire into a distinctive musical program in order to tell the emigrants’ story. This is the Irish viewpoint, to be sure, but in essence it is the story of every ethnic group who struggled in their homeland against political upheaval and repression, endured grinding poverty and racial or religious persecution to build a new life in America and something better for their children.

They were happy to leave. They were heartbroken to leave. They were mostly young. And it was not easy when they got here. They toiled and worked at the dangerous jobs or the ones that nobody wanted, all in the hope of building a future. Every immigrant then became part of the patchwork quilt of America—each contributing a distinct color and texture to the fabric of American culture. And now we’re here to sing their stories.

Bound for Amerikay show

Performing with McDermott's Handy are Patch Glennan on fiddle, Alanna Griffin on fiddle, concertina and vocals, Bob Glennan on guitar and Mike Glennan on whistles and flute. We also include step dancers in our show.

“Their music took the facts about immigration and transferred them into the emotion and experience.” —Marie Ely, living history coordinator, Strawbridge School PTA


This was the most successful program of our year. The audience was most enthusiastic and sang along very happily. The variety of instruments as well as the skill and talent diplayed by Kathy and Dennis were most remarkable. The evaluations were nearly unanimous is wanting us to invite McDermott's Handy back to perform again. —Christine Rose, Friends of the Edison Public Library

Their songs tell their stories.

Songs include:
The Rambling Irishman
Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore
Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears
Mrs. Durkin
Spancil Hill
Farewell to Ireland

Download program to take to your next meeting

Libraries & other organizations can request a complimentary copy of our new CD, Bound for Amerikay
Contact Kathy at 856-795-7637


Harp Workshops

with Kathy DeAngelo

Kathy DeAngelo is a well-respected teacher of traditional Irish music on the harp in the South Jersey and Philadelphia area as well as on the national scene. She has been running the Harpers Escape Weekend since 1992 and teaches at other harp conferences. She now runs the Somerset Folk Harp Festival & Conference, one of the largest harp events of its kind in the US and Europe. With a lot of experience teaching all playing skill levels, her workshops can be quickly adapted to the needs of the participants. Workshops are taught "by ear" and attendees are encouraged to bring recording devices. Handouts are provided at the end of the workshop. Workshops are generally 1½ to 2 hours. Topics offered include, but are not limited to, the following list:

    Playing Irish Traditional Dance Music: Learn two different types of tunes, one in a major key and the other in a minor key, while incorporating a variety of ornamentations and getting tips on fingering patterns. Learn how to work up left-hand accompaniment.

    You've Got Rhythm: Taking basic chord progressions and learning to work them into driving bass lines and playing on and off the beat.

    Song Accompaniment: It is possible to sing and play at the same time! Learn how to work chord progressions into a few accompaniment patterns and then add some creativity, then your voice.

"It was useful for me. . . how Kathy has organized her approach to ornamentation and accompaniment. She does a very nice job of making it clear. . . Actually, it was the clearest presentation of ornamentation I've heard to date!"
Mary Fran Stafford, Vermont

Harpers Escape Weekend

Somerset Folk Harp Festival


Special Programs with McDermott's Handy

These programs can be presented at schools, libraries and to cultural clubs and organizations.

An Irish Christmas:
Christmas Comes but Once a Year!

The McDermott’s Handy Christmas music program is a natural extension of their passion for the wonderful varieties of Irish traditional music and their talent for synthesizing the rich cultural lore of the season into a rollicking holiday house party, right in front of the audience. This is not the music you’re likely to hear at the mall!

The Holidays are all about traditions and so much of our customs here came from "the old country" and many of the symbols go back to ancient times. Hear these stories woven into the fabric of lively music and songs. Some will make you laugh and others will bring a tear to your eye. This concert is a blend of lively dance tunes, songs with the kind of choruses to make you sing along, and poignant stories about some of the customs that are now part of the seasonal tradition. You’ll hear the harp, fiddle, flute, tinwhistle, guitar, bouzouki and bodhran.

Kathy and Dennis wrote the scripts and performed for the popular Joys of Christmas Past program at the Historic Village of Allaire for many years. They have also performed this concert at: The Watchung Arts Center, Gloucester Township Library, Mom & Pop’s Coffeehouse, Wheaton Village, and for the Delaware Valley chapter of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Mullica Hill Library, Willingboro Library and the Colts Neck Historical Society.

Special Programs with Kathy DeAngelo

The Harp & Shamrock:The Harp in Irish History

Ireland is the only country in the world with a musical instrument, the harp, as its national emblem. From the time the Celts arrived in Ireland in 5th century BC with their harp-like instruments, music has inextricably been linked with their history: warriors and scholars, pagans and poets, conquerors and conquered.

This program takes a musical journey through Irish history with a wide variety harp repertoire, folk songs, and Irish music styles that tell the story of the Irish. Significant historic events have always been captured in folk songs. The early harpers had an exalted and honored status in Irish society and they and their music are known in tales and legends. The later conquest of Ireland and the misfortunes of its harpers are reflected in the music of the 17th and 18th century. Then the Great Famine and ’98 Rebellion saw the harp’s near extinction and its elevation in the patriots’ psyche and nationalists’ and emigrants’ fervor to “unchain the harp”.

Download program to take to your next meeting

Songs & Tunes of the Season

The Wren Song
The Holly & the Berry
Dark December
Miss Fogarty's Christmas Cake
Christmas Eve Reel
Oiche Nollaig
Drive the Cold Winter Away
Auld Lang Syne

  Copyright 2018, McDermott's Handy
All rights reserved. All logos, trade names and trademarks are the property of their respective owners.