graphic of shamrock in  neon green

St Patrick's Day Gala Concert

Marking the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington D.C.

A special St Patrick's Day Gala evening, was presented by the Irish Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs, curated in partnership with the National Concert Hall of Ireland.

Introduction from An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD

In this specially curated evening of music, poetry and spoken word, we mark the immense contribution of the United States of America to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and to the continuation of peace on our Island. We do so by exploring and celebrating the deep historical and cultural relationship between Ireland and America ­– and the interweaving strands of our shared story on this earth.

We embark on a journey that is both emotional and surprising, expressing a rich friendship that is unusual, if not unique, in the world.

It was that deep friendship, forged in our common love of freedom, expressed in music and word, that made America a natural partner in the quest for peace on our island. The Irish diaspora in America is as much Ulster as it is Connacht. America, like St Patrick, reminds us of the rich heritage we share across our island.

From our roots in traditional music, to the songs that travelled the globe, to the words of our poets past and present – we trace the cultural odyssey of Ireland and America up to the present day, 25 years after the Good Friday Agreement, acknowledging our past challenges, and now looking forward with justified hope.

Tolü Makay singer, dressed in a feathery white dress under spotlight with the rest of the stage in darkness
Tolü Makay performing Danny Boy at the St Patrick's Day Gala Concert at the Kennedy Centre, Washington.

>> Read 'We tell our story' an essay from Olivia O'Leary, Writer and Broadcaster, from the program.

View St. Patrick's Day Gala Concert program in .pdf format
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a man and a woman musician, he plays the fiddle and she is playing a cello
Leading musician Martin Hayes and Kate Ellis perform at St Patrick's Day Gala Concert at the Kennedy Centre, Washington.

Artists and Makers

  • Garret ‘Jacknife’ Lee is an Irish music producer based in California who works with some of the most renowned and influential artists on both sides of the Atlantic.
  • Martin Hayes is a leading traditional musician. He is founder of the super-group The Gloaming and has headlined at venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Opera House. He performed for President Obama at the White House.
  • Carrie Crowley is a broadcaster and actress. She plays a leading role in the 2023 Oscar nominated An Cailín Ciúin.
  • Paul Muldoon is an internationally acclaimed poet. Born in Northern Ireland, he taught for 35 years in the United States. He is the ninth Ireland Professor of Poetry.
  • Rhiannon Giddens is a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient and Grammy award winner for Best Folk Album. She is Artistic Director of the Silkroad Ensemble.
  • James Vincent McMorrow is a platinum awarded singer-songwriter from Dublin, Ireland.
  • Jan Carson is a writer from Ballymena in Northern Ireland and winner of the EU Prize for Literature in 2019.
  • Tolü Makay is an Afro-Irish singer born in Nigeria and raised in Ireland. She is considered one of Ireland’s most exciting new musical talents.
  • David C Clements is a songwriter from Belfast.
  • Sam Amidon is an American folk artist, originally from Vermont in the United States. He grew up with the sounds of old Irish and Appalachian folk music.
  • SOAK is a Mercury Prize nominated indie pop artist from Derry in Northern Ireland.
  • Síle Denvir is a traditional singer and harpist from Connemara in the west of Ireland.
  • Ruth McGinley is a classical pianist from Derry. She has just released her new album, Aura.
  • Colin Dunne is a leading figure in the world of traditional Irish dance. He is an independent performer, maker and teacher, known internationally for his performances and choreography in Riverdance.

The Ensemble

  • Garret ‘Jacknife’ Lee, Guitars, keyboards, programming
  • Kate Ellis, Cello
  • Sean Carpio, Drums, percussion.
female singer with banjo on stage singing with her eyes closed
Grammy Award Winner Rhiannon Giddens performing at the St Patrick's Day Gala Concert at the Kennedy Centre, Washington.


The Embassy of Ireland, Washington would like to thank the following whose contributions made this evening possible:

  • The National Concert Hall of Ireland
  • Olivia O’Leary
  • The Family of the late Seamus Heaney
  • Michael Longley
  • Moya Cannon.

The Creative Team

  • Gary Sheehan, Creative Director
  • Garret Jacknife Lee, Musical Director
  • Olga Barry, Producer
  • Jonathon Pearson, Producer
  • Marjie Kaley, Assistant Producer
  • Conor Jacob, Lighting
  • Sarah Baxter, Stage Director.
woman actress smiling, lit up on stage reading a poem, holding the text in front of her
Actress Carrie Crowley at the St Patrick's Day Gala Concert at the Kennedy Centre, Washington.