Organizing Committee of the Shannon Irish Show

Year of Award:
Shannon Irish Show

QAHN’s annual Richard Evans Award recognizes outstanding long-term contributions by an organization or group of volunteers to the preservation of Anglophone heritage in the province of Quebec. This year, we are pleased to present this award to the Organizing Committee of the Shannon Irish Show.

The Shannon Irish Show, which celebrated its 54th edition in March 2023, is a major contributor to the promotion of Irish heritage, tradition and folklore in the English-speaking community of Shannon, Quebec. Shannon’s Irish roots date back to the early nineteenth century. Many residents proudly claim descent from those Irish settlers, and jealously guard the traditions, stories, folklore, costumes, music and dance that have been passed down through the generations.

The Shannon Irish Show was founded in 1966 as a way of celebrating that heritage. Originally the idea of Jack and Melita Maher, the annual show continues to this day and has proven to be a major driver of community spirit and volunteerism in this town 30 km northwest of Quebec City. Even Covid could not dampen the tradition, and organizers collaborated with QAHN during the pandemic to showcase the festival online.

Since its beginnings, the Shannon Irish Show has been sponsored by Shannon’s Catholic Women’s League (CWL). The organizing committee is composed of the CWL executive and other volunteers. Months of planning and practice go into each event which takes place annually in March. In the words of Kerry Ann King, one of the event’s lead organizers, weekly practices “enrich and strengthen our community ties... Strong bonds are formed between young and old alike. These culminate in a wonderful 2-hour-long display of local Irish talent that has been passed down through the generations!... [and that] promotes public knowledge of our Anglophone community in Shannon.”

Audiences at the Shannon Irish Show include community members from Shannon and surrounding communities, Quebec City and elsewhere. The show also brings back former residents and performers who have moved away but who have retained a strong connection to their old home and Irish traditions. The show showcases Irish-themed talent, including costumed performers of all ages demonstrating their singing and dancing prowess, and skits featuring Irish stories and humour. Some performers have appeared at the event for over 50 years. And as King says, “audiences have watched them grow up performing.” Some shows have featured performances by multiple generations of the same family. This has created a strong desire to pass down traditions to younger generations. As King says, “the history of this show and its importance to the Anglophone community in Shannon cannot be overstated.”