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Bethlehem, a Pennsylvania Celtic Cultural Hub

October 11th, 2017 |


Even though Pennsylvania is considered an enclave of Moravian and PA Dutch heritage – the first settlers to the Lehigh Valley and Bethlehem in particular were Scots Irish.  That first wave of emigrants pre-dates the 1742 Moravians and arrived in 1728 to build the Craig settlement in Northampton County.

The pioneering spirit of the Scotch Irish Ulstermen caused them to be among the early movers and shakers because of their fierce patriotism and fighting spirit.  In addition to helping write the Declaration of Independence and then actually printing it these imigrants have helped shape of modern day Pennsylvania and America.

In modern day Bethlehem hosts the Celtic Cultural Alliance – an Educational non profit organization that hosts the Annual Celtic Classic Festival and a myriad of other Celtic Cultural events throughout the year ironically co-founded by local business owner Neville Gardner. Gardner moved to Bethlehem from his native Northern Ireland in 1978 and later opened Donegal Square Celtic Import shop and later McCarthy’s Red Stag Pub and Whiskey Bar to bring his Scotch Irish culture with him to the Lehigh Valley.  The resurgence of Celtic Culture in the valley through organizations like the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Irish Dance Schools and Scottish Pipe Bands made it a natural place to start one of the major Celtic Festivals in North America bringing almost 250,000 people annually to Bethlehem.