Celtic Cross.

September is not only the marking of back to school season, it also marks halfway to St. Patrick Day!

The 2013 Irish Festival at the Jersey Shore will host its 15th annual event at Sea Girt National Guard Armory on Saturday, September 14. Chairperson Jack Sullivan expects this to be the best festival yet.

“We have three stages of music going on all day long, Irish step dancing, ceili dancing, a Civil War reenactment, and a Catholic Mass in Irish,” Sullivan said. “We have an Irish language class. All the kids come and get their name tags with their names written in Irish, not English.”

The event will feature local and international bands including Derek Warfield and the Young Wolfe Tones, Celtic Cross, the Bogside Rogues, Round the House, and the Birmingham Six from Philadelphia. Celtic Cross has been dropping some smokin’ new tunes from their upcoming new album into their sets so you will not want to miss this!

The Irish shopping village will offer a wide assortment of vendors. The festival runs from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Admission is $7 in advance, $10 at the gate, and children under 12 are free.  Visit www.njshoreirishfestival.com.

On September 17, the actual half-way to St. Patrick’s Day, there will be a hooley at Blackthorne in Kennilworth, New Jersey.

I will be reading from my book, This Is Your Brain on Shamrocks, while Patrick Clifford will thrill the crowd with original and traditional Irish ballads as Irish step dancers high-step it.

This will all be staged to raise awareness for bone marrow registries. The Love Hope Strength Organization will be on hand to collect cheek swabs from attendees that will in turn produce DNA samples that will be logged into a bone marrow registry. So, get cheeky with us at the Blackthorn (651 N Michigan Avenue; 908-687-3311.)