It’s no wonder that Pearl River is home to a thriving Irish culture: the Rockland County St. Patrick’s Day Parade, hosted by the Rockland County Ancient Order of Hibernians, is one of the largest in New York State. In fact, nearly half of the town’s population has some level of Irish ancestry.
We’re convinced the secret to the city’s continued success as a hub of Irish traditions lies with its younger generation. The town’s many outlets for traditional music and dance encourage youth involvement — and the numbers are impressive: More than 400 performers of Irish music and over 1,000 supporters of Irish dance fall under the age of 18. The Pearl River School of Irish Music — run by Margie Mulvihill, Rose Flanagan, Patty Furlong — instructs more than 100 students alone. Their students have a history of success in music competitions and a group of past students even banded together to create the acclaimed all-girls Irish music group Girsa. Since 2009, the band has released two full-length albums and toured both the U.S. and Europe.
Perhaps even more popular than the Irish music scene is dance. Home to both the Woods School of Irish Dancing and a branch of the Inishfree School of Irish Dance, Pearl River has produced some of the nation’s finest young dancers. (In 2013, Inishfree and Pearl River high school student Paige Turilli won her third Irish dancing World Championship.)
Stop by the Irish Cottage Gift Shop for fun souvenirs, then enjoy a tasty meal or drink at popular pubs like T.F. Noonan’s and Gildea’s Bar & Restaurant. Whether visiting for a day or planning a longer stay, Pearl River certainly lives up to its Forbes ranking as the fourth largest Irish community in America and the “Most Irish Place in New York,” according to NerdWallet.com.
For more information on Pearl River or to plan a trip, visit www.pearlriverny.org.
Pearl River’s acclaimed Irish music group, Girsa