The historic courtroom at West Virginia Independence Hall (WVIH) Museum in Wheeling will echo with the sounds of Celtic music on Friday, Feb. 29 at 6:30 p.m., when the band Gallowglass will perform instrumental and vocal tunes on traditional acoustic instruments in an evening concert. The program is free and open to the public.
The concert at WVIH marks the unofficial beginning of the Wheeling Celtic Celebration, which will take place on Saturday, March 1, at the Wheeling Artisan Center, 1400 Main St.
The group will perform more than 40 tunes, including jigs, reels, slow airs, marches and polkas. Selections include “Wild Rover,” “Nancy Whiskey,” “Finnegan’s Wake” and “Galway City.”
Gallowglass takes its name from the fearsome warrior of medieval Ireland, Gall Oglach. The band was formed in 2000 by musicians Michael Petersen of Charleston and Patrick Coughlan, a Wheeling native. Petersen plays concertina, button-box and hammered dulcimer, and also is a member of the Charleston-based band, Appalachian Celtic Consort. Coughlan is well known as a piper and plays with the Wheeling Celtic Society. He also plays guitar and Irish whistle and plays regularly at weddings, funerals, military ceremonies and parties in the Wheeling-Pittsburgh area.
Coughlan’s wife, Diane, is the band’s lead vocalist. She has performed at many functions in the Wheeling area with Heaven Bound Ministries, including the annual “He’s Alive” show. She plays the bodhran, the traditional Irish drum, during the instrumental numbers. Francine Zajac, of Washington, Pa., plays the fiddle for the group.
Gallowglass has performed in many area venues including the annual Wheeling Celtic Celebration, the Fort Henry Days Festival, Robert Burns Scottish Supper events, as well as various other parties and functions. Their first CD, Single Malt Sessions,” was released in March of 2004 followed by another CD, Tripping Up the Stairs, in September 2005. A third CD, entitled Celtic Noel, a collection of traditional Christmas tunes, was released in 2006.
For more information about the Celtic concert, contact Melissa Brown, site manager at WVIH, at (304) 238-1300.
West Virginia Independence Hall, originally built as a federal custom house in 1859, served as the home of the pro-Union state conventions of Virginia during the spring and summer of 1861 and as the capitol of loyal Virginia from June 1861 to June 1863. It also was the site of the first constitutional convention for West Virginia. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1988, the museum is maintained and operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, with the cooperation and assistance of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the exception of major holidays. The museum is located on the corner of 16th and Market Streets in Wheeling.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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