Independence Day 2015 with ‘Picnic in the Park’

A group of people standing with hands over hearts
From left to right: Debbie Boehner; John Boehner , Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Kevin O’Malley, U.S. Ambassador to Ireland and Dena O’Malley while Velvin Lamont (front) performs the The Star-Spangled Banner.

On Friday, July 3, 2015, U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Kevin F. O’Malley welcomed nearly 3000 guests to his residence in Phoenix Park for the Embassy’s annual Independence Day Celebration.  This year’s ‘Picnic in the Park’ music festival theme showcased emerging Irish bands inspired by U.S. musical genres.

“Today we honor the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the democratic values we so cherish,” said U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Kevin F. O’Malley.  “Our Founding Fathers’ vision of equality and freedom continues to be a touchstone of hope around the world.  I’m delighted to celebrate my first Independence Day in Ireland, and reflect on the ways so many Irish people shaped America’s story.” To kick off the celebration, parachutists descended onto the lawn to deliver the American flag for the presentation of the colors.  Ambassador O’Malley opened the event with remarks.  He was joined by the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner, who was in attendance along with several members of the U.S. Congress.

Ireland’s premier young tenor Paul Byrom sang the Irish national anthem, followed by the U.S. national anthem sung by Voice of Ireland alumnus Velvin Lamont. In keeping with the Ambassador’s ‘Creative Minds’ series launched earlier this year which aims to strengthen cultural ties between U.S. and Irish youth, the event showcased the talent of young Irish musicians whose music has been influenced by American musical styles, genres and history. With a nod to the jazz, funk, brass and rap beats of urban American, the ‘City stage’ featured Dublin hip-hop artist Simi Crowns, Ireland’s first New Orleans-style brass band, Booka Brass Band, and new all-star American jazz ensemble, Forq.

The ‘Farm Stage’ showcased acoustic, folk, blue-grass, blues and gospel music inspired by the American heartland, with performances by Cork-born singer/songwriter Brian Casey, vocal harmony group Wyvern Lingo, and Sligo-based instrumental folk group, Moxie.

Performances on the ‘Bandstand Stage’ featured nostalgic barbershop harmonies and old-timey ragtime tunes of the early 20th century with performances by Dublin City Rounders, 4 in a Bar barbershop quartet, and Andrew Sisters tribute group, The Bugle Babes.  The Army No. 1 Band entertained attendees with patriotic tunes in the Diplomatic Marquee. Guests of all ages enjoyed hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream and other traditional American treats. The Family fun day atmosphere of the event remained hugely popular with the Kid Zone pull of face painting, giant inflatable slides and bouncy castles.

The US Embassy Independence Day celebration is made possible through the generous donation of U.S. companies and multinational and Irish companies with presence in the United States.  This year more than fifty sponsors participated.