Echoes of Irish Hospitality in the Glebe

Capital Village Party

By Jaason Geerts


“I have to say,” confessed a father from our daughter’s daycare, “we’ve lived in a neighbourhood not far from here for seven years now and we’ve never really felt a sense of community there. But this. . .”  His eyes swept across the motley horde of party goers peppered across Capital Park, basking in the late afternoon sun on a September day, while the band played Dylan’s version of “Forever Young,” and he concluded, “This is amazing”. 

Idyllic as it was, I couldn’t help but agree. That’s why we love it here.

And though I couldn’t perfectly pinpoint the impetus, in that moment, I was reminded of the many years I spent in Ireland.

The Irish have a deep-seated tradition of hospitality that begins with welcoming old friends and visitors alike. The hosts of the second annual Capital Village Neighbours Party – Marge McIsaac, local celebrity D’Arcy McGuire, Ariane, Éloïse and me – attempted to extend this tradition, inviting local residents and friends, including members of the Buy Nothing community, assuring everyone that all were welcome. 

In Ireland, hospitality normally happens in the local pub – and given the size of many Irish living rooms, who can blame them. However, we struggled to find a pub (or living room) that could accommodate a fleet of Cozy Coupes and Master Chef Marc’s massive grill. 

Venue-wise, the park it would have to be, we decided, and fortunately, unlike the perpetual drizzle that keeps the fields lush and the events indoors on the Emerald Isle, the weather gods shone favourably upon us.

In response to the open invitation, it seems word did indeed spread, and estimates of the number who gathered reached towards 500. 

Four classic hospitality features likely account for the record-setting turnout.

First, the giant bouncy castle. Instead of the waves of Viking and English invaders that Irish castles attracted, the party version, partially sponsored by Dominique Milne (Engel & Völkers), summoned children of all ages, as well as a dozen or so overzealous parents, the true test of its structural integrity.

Second, ample food and drink. What we lacked in the signature boiled potatoes and vegetables, we made up for in hot dogs, thanks to a generous donation by Rebecca McKeen and McKeen Metro, sausages and a medley of other grillables that guests brought to share. 

Third, the music. As the national symbol (the harp) suggests, no Irish gathering is complete without some bonny tunes. All afternoon and into the evening, the sweet sound of saxophones, drums, guitars and vocals filled the air. Performers included Dan Mooney, Joe Brounrigg, Jeff Rixx, The Dirty Sheep, Sally Oubine, Chris Brietner, Mike Walkins, Mark Vukas, Mike Hamer, Mark Peters, Gerry Yamensky and D’Arcy, Chris, Molly and Erin McGuire. With three father/daughter combinations included, it showed how music gets passed down among generations.

Fourth, the company. The atmosphere felt like a whole party of welcoming hosts dedicated to ensuring that everyone who turned up was included (and fed).

This is a defining character of our neighbourhood which gives it that village feel in the middle of the city and inspired us to plan the party in the first place. 

Thanks to all who attended, to our sponsors McKeen Metro and Domique Milne, to our musical guests, to grill master Marc and to all those who contributed to the party’s success and reminded me of the best of Irish hospitality. Until next year!


Jaason Geerts is a relative newcomer to the Glebe and one of the instigators of the party held in Capital Park bordered by Ella, Craig and Newton streets.

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