Brigid M. liked my idea about giving someone an iPod loaded with Irish music, but she took it one step further. “Why not include an audio book or two?” she wrote. Great idea – and to get the ball rolling, I’ll suggest “Mountain of the Women: Memoirs of an Irish Troubador” by Liam Clancy ($15.95) and “Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann ($26.95), both available from iTunes.com. Maggie D. suggests getting them a subscription to their favorite publication (shameless plug: a year of the Irish Echo is $35 or under — see our ad on Page 35!). She orders a subscription, then wraps up a current issue and presents it with a card. Brilliant! James R. tells me that his wife bakes cookies every year, and packs them in tins along with Irish candy and gives them as gifts. (Hey, Jim — give her my address!) Kiera D. wrote in to tell me that her mother and aunt give one another special Christmas ornaments every year. (Sweet!)
Keep mailing me your best gift-giving tips at email@example.com. Each week, I’ll print my favorite, and the person who sent it in will receive a free, one-year subscription to the Irish Echo. (This week’s winner is Brigid M.)
For the DVD collector . . .
GONE WITH THE WIND: 70th ANNIVERSARY ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S EDITION (DVD and Blu-Ray editions) (Warner Home Video) To mark the film’s 70th anniversary, Warner Home Video has put together an impressive, limited edition collection, issued in a numbered, keepsake box. The set features a restored version of the film, plus documentaries and cast biographies, a reproduction of the 1939 program, a hardcover book, frameable art prints, and a CD soundtrack sampler. Available at major stores and through Amazon.com (List price $69.95 DVD; $84.99 Blu-Ray – but check amazon.com for discounts!).
Glee! Season 1: The Road to sectionals (DVD 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment) My friends and family know not to call me on Wednesday nights between 9 and 10 p.m., because NOTHING gets between me and Matt Morrison — except maybe the rest of the cast of “Glee!” Fox’s new program about high school misfits who join the school’s glee club is filled with music, comedy and drama. In addition to the hunky Mr. Shuester (Morrison), it features Jane Lynch as the hilariously evil cheerleading coach. ($39.98)
Father Ted: The Definitive Collection (DVD, BBC Warner) Revisit the inhabitants of Craggy Island, and discover again why Dermot Morgan (Fr. Ted) and Ardal O’Hanlon (Fr. Dougal) were an inspired pairing. ($79.98 list price; $58.49 at press time, with free shipping on Amazon.com).
Black adder remastered: The Ultimate Edition (DVD, BBC Warner) One of the most wickedly funny series of all time, “Black Adder” featured in its stock company Rowan Atkinson, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Brian Blessed, Miranda Richardson, and Tony Robinson (as Baldrick). The collection includes “Blackadder’s Christmas Carol,” which will put Alastair Sims’s version out of your mind forever. (List price $79.98; $41.99 at press time, with free shipping on Amazon.com.)
Gifts to Amaze and Astonish
Do you have someone on your gift list who would like to show off their Irish pride – and New York style – with official New York GAA gear? Well, here’s your chance! Official NY-GAA jerseys for adults and children will be available exclusively at the NY-GAA’s store at Gaelic Park, 240th St. & Broadway, in the Bronx. The store will be open on two Saturdays — Dec. 12, and Dec. 19, from 3 to 6 p.m. The jerseys are blue with red and white piping, and feature the NY-GAA crest and a picture of the Statue of Liberty. Also available are official NY-GAA hoodies and windbreakers. All gear is available at special Christmas prices: Adult sizes: $50 / children’s sizes $40. For more information, contact Joan Henchey at 914-629-8244.
Prime Cuts, perfect gifts
Nothing says “Happy holidays” like a basket of Irish goodies. Whether you’re looking for Cadbury’s Selection Boxes to delight the candy lovers on your list, a Christmas Pudding to finish off your holiday meal or a gift basket to send a taste of Ireland to a friend or relative, Prime Cuts Irish Butchers, Deli & Caterers, 4338A Katonah Ave., Woodlawn, New York 10470, has you covered. Choose from a large selection of Irish foods, cookies, teas, condiments and baskets, including the Breakfast Special, which includes rashers, sausages, and black and white puddings ($32.95 plus S&H) and the Prime Cuts Gift Box (Irish ham, rashers, sausages, black and white puddings, Irish Gold butter and brown bread ($79.99 plus S&H). To order, visit their website at www.primecutsirishbutcher.com or call (718) 324-9262 .
A Christmas Carol
The McCarter Theater Centre at Princeton University will present its annual production of Charles Dickens’s classic, “A Christmas Carol” from Friday, Dec. 11, through Sunday, Dec. 27. The show, which features delightful music, spirited choreography (literally!) and eye-popping special effects, is a beloved holiday tradition in New Jersey. Directed by Michael Unger, with musical direction by Charles Sundquist and set design by Ming Cho Lee, the show stars James A. Stephens (pictured) as Ebeneezer Scrooge. Tickets, which start at $33, go quickly, so order yours by phone at 609-258-2787 or online at www.mccarter.org. The theater is easily accessible via New Jersey Transit Northeast Corridor Line (www.njtransit.com for schedules).
Enjoy the sights and sounds of the holiday season . . .
Tony Kenny’s ‘Christmas Time in Ireland’
Irish singer and all-around entertainer Tony Kenny brings his “Christmas Time in Ireland” show to the New York area through Dec. 15, 2009. The show features popular performers Joe Cuddy, Victoria Kenny and the Dublin City Dancers. For dates, times and ticket information, see the Events listing in this issue, or visit www.TonyKenny.com.
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Irish Arts Center presents ‘An Irish Christmas’
Irish music legend Mick Moloney hosts An Irish Christmas at the Irish Arts Center 553 West 51st St., NYC. The show, which features Athena Tergis, Brendan Dolan, Billy McComiskey, Liz Hanley and Niall O’Leary, runs over two weekends, Dec. 10-13, and Dec. 17-20. Tickets are $45 (general), $35 (members), and are available from Smarttix.com or (212) 868-4444.
Ring in the New Year . . .
If you’re looking for an alternative to staying home with Dick Clark and a mug of hot cocoa on New Year’s Eve, you could catch Gaelic Storm at the Grammercy Theater, 127 E. 23rd St., NYC. Doors open at 9 p.m., the show starts at 10 p.m., and tickets are $40 (visit www.livenation.com or call 1-877–598-8694). Or if you like your kickin’ rock and roll flavored with an Irish sensibility and a strong political point of view, catch Black 47 at Connolly’s at Times Square, 121 W. 45th St., NYC. Tickets are $25 (a bargain for NY’s Eve) – call (212) 597-5126 for details or visit www.black47.com.
More shows . . .
A Special Irish Christmas Concert starring Ciaran Sheehan, Eily O’Grady Patterson, Gay Willis and Gaelic Singers & Harpists, will take place on Sunday, Dec. 13, at 2:30 p.m., sponsored by the Parish of St. Patrick and Assumption All Saints Festival of Music, Bramhall & Ocean Ave., Jersey City, N.J. For information, call (201) 433-1258.
Merry Christmas, New York City, a benefit for the Faith & Family Foundation, will take place at Alice Tully Hall Starr Theater at Lincoln Center in NYC, on Saturday, Dec. 19, at 2 p.m. For tickets and information, call (212) 721-6500 or visit MerryChristmasNewYorkCity.com.
A Wilde musical
This month, the brilliant Irish Repertory Theatre will present “Ernest in Love,” a musical adaptation of Irish playwright Oscar Wilde’s sublime verbal opera, “The Importance of Being Earnest.” The show, directed by Charlotte Moore, with musical direction by Mark Hartman and choreography by Barry McNabb, opens on Dec. 12, and runs through Jan. 31, 2010. Tickets are $65 and $55, and can be ordered by calling (212) 727-2737.