The first annual Sober St. Patrick’s Day was a sellout event at Regis High School in New York.

“It was excellent, we had to turn people away” organizer Maura Kelly told the Irish Voice. “We delivered more than we promised.”

“They are calling it a classy contrast,” she added.

Over 400 patrons packed into the Upper East Side venue to enjoy Irish dancers, traditional Irish music and cabaret singers last Saturday in an alcohol free environment.

“The entertainers ranged from eight to 80 years,” Kelly said.

“Some people who had not been in the city on St. Patrick’s Day for years came in for the event.”

Some well known faces included Irish author Malachy McCourt, award-winning actress Fionnula Flanagan, former Miss USA Tara Connor and Consul General of Ireland Noel Kilkenny.

During the celebrations Flanagan presented the first annual Emerald Spirit award to Sis Gallagher Wenger, CEO of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics.

Highlights included dance performances from the Mulvihill Lynch Dance troupe and the Dolan School of Irish Dance who traveled from Oxford, England for the celebrations.
“People loved the dancing,” Kelly reported.

The audience also enjoyed lively performances from the John Whelan Band and five time All Ireland champion fiddle player Brian Conway.

Those in attendance also watched an extended clip of what’s on offer in Ireland from the new Tourism Ireland “Jump into Ireland” campaign.

Addressing the crowd, Irish Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton suggested introducing the event in Ireland and pointed out that tea, not alcohol, is the national drink of Ireland.

The Sober Saint Patrick's Day event was the brainchild of TV executive William Spencer Reilly. 

“We hit a nerve that people are craving an event that is alcohol free that is about the culture and they can bring kids too and also those in recovery can enjoy,” Kelly added.