If you’re new to Savannah, you may not know the story behind Tara Feis.
First of all, “Tara” is the region of Ireland where St. Patrick encountered the Druids and introduced them to Christianity, and “feis” is the Gaelic word for a festival with music and dancing. Bernadett Winters, an organizer for the annual Tara Feis event in Savannah, says the name just made perfect sense when they founded the free community event for the city 26 years ago.
Tara Feis will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 11 at Emmet Park (a site in Savannah where Irish families have gathered for generations). The family-friendly day is one of the few St. Patrick’s-related happenings in the area that is a non-alcoholic event and is sponsored by the city. The event features live music, food, art activities, crafts, rides for children and games.
According to Winters, Tara Feis is a “nice way to pay homage to our Savannah Irish ancestors.”
The event kicks off with an opening ceremony.
“We have several Savannah pipe and drum groups, the Emerald Society, the Scottish American flag unit and the parade flag unit with the 33 county flags of Ireland,” she says.
“We meet in Warren Square and go down Habersham and across Bay to Emmet Park. We invite city and county officials and the parade marshals and their aides … and we usually have the bishop do an opening blessing.”
Winters says the opening ceremony lasts about 15 minutes and then the entertainment begins. She says guests can look forward to a performance by local Irish musician Harry O’Donoghue, who is also in charge of recruiting authentic Irish talent for the event.
The day will also include performances by the Savannah Ceili Band and local Irish dance schools such as Legacy Irish Dance Academy and Irish Dancers of Savannah. Headlining the main stage is the legendary Irish band The Outside Track, and the children’s stage will feature Michael Corbett and Colleen Settle, puppeteer Conrad Hartz, magician Magic Marc and more Irish dancing.
Winters says they also have Irish-themed arts and crafts for the children as well as face painting.
And she adds that since the inception of Tara Feis in 1991, she’s been a part of the planning and she and her husband, Mike, along with their children have continued to work with this event over the years.
“I wouldn’t have put as many years into this event if I didn’t believe in it,” she says. “I’m not in any way trying to take away from the parade and the Irish Festival because they are great … but they are different from us.
“This is a day … more to honor our ancestors and what they have been through and done to bring us to where we are today … so the next generation doesn’t forget and they have some connection to it.”
IF YOU GO
What: Tara Feis Irish Festival
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 11
Where: Emmet Park, Bay Street
Info: 912-651-6417, savannahga.gov/tarafeis
TARA FEIS SCHEDULE
11 a.m. Opening ceremony: presentation of the colors, Irish National Anthem, United States National Anthem
11:30 a.m. Legacy Irish Dance Academy O’Donoghue
1 p.m. The Outside Track
2 p.m. Irish Dancers of Savannah
2:45 p.m. The Savannah Ceili Band
2:45 p.m. The Outside Track (autograph signing at the ticket tent)
3:30 p.m. Harry O’Donoghue
4 p.m. The Outside Track
4:55 p.m. Closing remarks
11:30 a.m. Conrad Hartz Puppets
12:15 p.m. Irish Dancers of Savannah
1 p.m. Magic Marc
1:45 p.m. Michael Corbett & Colleen Settle
2:15 p.m. Legacy Irish Dance Academy
3 p.m. Magic Marc
3:30 p.m. Conrad Hartz Puppets