Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Arts & Culture
Published on April 30, 2024
Irish Tradition Celebrated at the Inaugural Céilí on the Lake Festival In Marin CountyAll photos: Cheryl L. Guerrero/Hoodline

Great Irish craic, in other words a good time, was had by all at the inaugural Céilí on the Lake Festival in Marin over the past weekend. The two-day festival celebrated the arrival of spring with traditional Irish dance, music, food, drink, and crafts at Marin County’s Lagoon Park. 

The new festival seeks to create a space for artists and performers to not only celebrate the arrival of spring, but also to focus on and showcase their arts. By embracing traditional Irish music and dance, the festival hopes "to encourage the long-term health of this important cultural heritage.”

The Jackie Flynn Irish Dance Academy performs on the Beltane Stage|Photo: Cheryl L. Guerrero/Hoodline


The United Irish Cultural Center of San Francisco was on-site to provide some information on their cultural program, Keepers of the Steps. The program explores the history of Irish dance in the Bay Area and currently has a special exhibition at the San Francisco Historical Society. The exhibit, which runs through August 30th,  explores “how Irish dancing has fostered community and celebrated culture since the city’s inception.”

The festival was produced by Marin-based Red Barn Productions, which was founded in 1963 by the Patterson family. As well as creating the original Renaissance Pleasure Faire, which ran for 30 years, the group is also behind the ongoing Great Dickens Christmas Fair each year at the Cow Palace. 

“We feel this is the perfect time to create a new celebration to share the joys of music, dance, good food, and drink with neighbors, family, and friends,” event producer Drew Patterson said in a statement, “Irish traditions are well-loved and are meant to make everyone feel welcome.” 

Paul Reeves plays an Irish bodhrán (drum) while singing. Reeves plays in the band Clan Nahigum, which will appear at Céilí on the Lake in 2025. | Photo: Cheryl L. Guerrero/Hoodline


The festival had something for everyone. Musicians from across the Bay Area, as well as local Irish dance studios performed throughout the weekend. A “Poet’s Corner” paid tribute to contemporary and past poets with readings. And there were daily demonstrations of sheep-herding and sheep shearing, as well as lawn games and an Irish pub set up on site. 

The Redwood Empire Sheep Dog Association does a sheep herding demonstration. | Photo: Cheryl L. Guerrer/Hoodline


Although this year’s celebration has come to a close, artisans, craft makers, bakers, storytellers, musicians, dancers, and more, are invited to reach out and join the festival next year. 

Here are more photos from this year’s Céilí on the Lake:

The Pipe & Bowl Morris Dancers perform under the Maypole. 


Silver flasks hang at the Bad Hatter Dude stall.


The SonoMarin Irish Set Dancers invite audience participation in an Irish dance number. 


An Irish bodhrán, or drum, is played.


A musician with the Pipe & Bowl Morris Dancers smiles for a portrait.


Andy Edmondson, a sheep farmer from near Marysville, CA, demonstrates sheep shearing.


Glassware at the Crosby Girls Crafts stall at the festival. 


Festivalgoers play a game of Jenga.


Nicole Sivell of the Pipe & Bowl Morris Dancers.


Sheep huddle in a pen while a sheep herding demonstration is in progress. 


Sheep trivia is displayed for festival goers near the sheep demonstration area. 


Moriah Hart, of The Woven Potter, holds up pottery she created at her stall. 


Children play with the ribbons of the Maypole. 


Irish Dance shoes on display at the United Irish Cultural Center of San Francisco booth. 


The Pipe & Bowl musicians perform. 


A sheepdog watches over a small herd of sheep in the demonstration area. 


Cormac Gannon, owner of Heartbeat Bodhrán’s, plays an Irish drum at his stall at the festival. Gannon has produced bodhráns for several years and is part of The Gas Men, a local band that has been playing Irish traditional music for over 25 years.


Sheep farmer Andy Edmondson presents the wool he just sheared from a yearling sheep.