The Pittsburgh Irish Festival Will Get a New Home This Year — Again
In its 31-year history, the festival has moved three times.
Pittsburgh’s Irish Festival will return this year — now in a new, historic location.
Organizers announced Friday that the 31st-annual Pittsburgh Irish Festival will be held at Carrie Blast Furnaces National Historic Landmark in Swissvale, a relic from Pittsburgh’s industrial past. The festival is slated to run Sept. 9-11.
“We could not be more excited to present this year’s festival at such a historic destination,” said Mairin Petrone, Pittsburgh Irish Festival executive director, in a statement. “The venue will provide a unique atmosphere where the region’s only remaining non-operative blast furnaces will serve as the backdrop to the vibrancy of our annual Celtic Celebration.”
Carrie Blast Furnace began operations in 1884. In 1898, it was acquired by Andrew Carnegie and sold to J.P. Morgan in 1901. Morgan would go on to create the U.S. Steel Corporation. The furnace is now owned by Allegheny County and managed by Rivers of Steel.
Ronald Baraff, Rivers of Steel’s director of historic resources & facilities, said that the impact of Irish immigrants on America’s steel industry — especially in Pittsburgh — was profound.
“Irish and Irish American heritage and culture have played a large role in the development of our region and our industrial history. The arrival of thousands of Irish immigrants through the years indelibly shaped the iron and steel industry on every level through their ingenuity, hard-work and skill set,” he said in a statement. “Without this rich legacy, it is doubtful that the Pittsburgh region would have developed as the industrial manufacturing center that it became in the 19th and 20th centuries. The ties are deep and profound. We are proud to be part of the celebration of such an important and enduring legacy.”
This isn’t the first time the Irish Festival has moved. From 1991 to 2006, it was held in Station Square. The following year, it was moved to the Riverplex at Sandcastle to provide more space for a larger crowd. The new location provided an area for two more stages, Gaelic sports demonstrations, additional vendors and more. But after a devastating flood in 2019, it moved to The Lots of Sandcastle.
Festival co-founders Maura and Nan Krushinski expressed their excitement for the new venue.
“When the festival was founded in 1991, it was important to us to not only embrace and preserve Irish culture, but also the ‘Irish in Pittsburgh’ history,” they said in a press release. “Our ancestry in the region is strong due to their arrival in Pittsburgh to build new lives with new opportunities. We honor their hard work and dedication today by making the Carrie Blast Furnaces National Historic Landmark our new festival home.”
The festival will feature a wide range of Irish performers, vendors, food and drinks and other family-friendly activities throughout the weekend.