Julie Feeney

For a decade and a half now New York has had it’s own Irish film festival in the Craic Fest. Alongside introducing Irish and Irish American audiences here to the latest films from Ireland (frequently introduced the director and stars) it’s also been a successful showcase for emerging and established Irish rock acts like Mundy and harder to classify singers like Julie Feeney.

On June 5 the unmissable summer bash that is the Craic Fest’s benefit night will unfold between 6 and 9 p.m. at the upscale (and Irish run) beer garden at Tuttles on 735 Second Avenue.

“We got a lot of feedback about our previous rooftop parties which have been pretty wild and fun,” Craic festival director Terence Mulligan told the Irish Voice.

“We have been known for some rock and roll events but our audiences is changing over time. We get more young Irish professionals coming now so we wanted to move this year’s venue to Tuttles. It really caters to the crowd that we have been developing with our film, music and comedy events.”

To support the arts is always a worthy cause, and this year’s ticket buys you an open bar featuring appetizers and beer and spirits from Tullamore Dew and Budweiser. Performance wise, Jimmy Lopez will play on the congos and DJ Joe Balance will spin on the decks. If that sounds like a chill summer evening, well, it is.

“It’ll be a festive atmosphere,” explains Mulligan, a Brooklyn native who knows from festivals. “For the 30 bucks you’re getting a sweetheart deal and supporting the work we do year round.”

Surprise guests at the annual bash have included Cillian Murphy, Aidan Quinn, Liam Neeson and other Hollywood heavyweights.

“Our events have always been about the people who come to the Craic events. It’s never been about celebrities, although it’s always fun no matter who turns up. We’ve been running this festival successfully for 15 years and we know how to throw events by now,” Mulligan says.

To give you some idea of how comprehensive the Craic Fest actually is in its portrayal and reflection of modern Ireland, next up on the festival annual list of keynote events is the Craic’s now annual LGBT summer festival held at the Irish Arts Center in New York.

“We have become a venue to show the works of new Irish gay and lesbian filmmakers. We have partnered with the GAZE Dublin International Film Festival to present the most accomplished films from the festival,” explains Mulligan.

In September the Wee Craic Fest, a one night blitz of music, comedy and film will be followed by the Craic Comedy Fest in November (which has hosted headline Irish comedians like Des Bishop and internationally beloved Father Ted alum Ardal O’Hanlon.

What marks the Craic Fest out is its longevity (there isn’t another signature Irish arts event to touch it) and the fact that it’s uniquely embedded in the Irish American scene here, with a devoted and in-the-know audience, that’s unlike any other festival of its kind in the city.

“Our sponsors like Tullamore and Budweiser have really helped to keep the festival running from year to year,” Mulligan reveals.

Another shot in the arm to the Craic Fest’s ongoing relevance is Mulligan’s ambitious plan for the festival’s future, involving a Craic Fest summer festival with the much bigger scope of the much-missed Guinness Fleadh.

“We already have the network to make a major Irish fleadh a reality, since we have built up the relationships and have the proven success to date to make it work,” says Mulligan.

“If a major player sees the potential and wants to underwrite it we can certainly make it happen. Like I said, we have the talent and the contacts. We have been doing this for over 15 years and we know the Irish community here better than anyone. So this could well be the next logical step for us.

“In the meantime we have the benefit night on June 5 at Tuttles and we’re featuring a lineup of talent to make it interesting. And the open bar to make it fun.”

For tickets to the Craic Fest night at Tuttles, visit www.thecraicfest.com.