Wheeling Celtic Celebration Is a Pipin’ Hot Party In Downtown Wheeling

Photos by Alec Berry Members of the Macdonald Pipe Band of Pittsburgh perform Saturday at the 22nd annual Wheeling Celtic Celebration.

WHEELING — The 22nd annual Wheeling Celtic Celebration brought hundreds Saturday to the Wheeling Artisan Center with sounds of bag pipes and the taste of Scotch eggs.

A fundraiser for Wheeling Heritage, the festival featured day-long entertainment in the form of dance and music. It is a local staple each and every year, as it attracts many who hold interest in their ancestry.

John Webber, a vendor at the event, offered visitors an opportunity to learn more about themselves. He sold small cards, on which he would write and provide someone the Celtic version of their name, as well as the meaning behind it.

“My purpose is to educate,” he said. “So what I’m doing here today is educating people about their name. A lot of people are searching for identity these days. It’s common sense. Everybody wants to know who they are.”

Webber, half-Irish himself, said he attended the very first Wheeling Celtic Celebration, and he said he attends similiar festivals elsewhere.

Nearly17 percent of the population of West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle claims Irish ancestry, according to the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Margaret Brennan, a local historian, said in the West Virginia Encyclopedia the Irish arrived in West Virginia in the early and mid-19th century. She wrote they were essential in the construction of railroads, canals and roads.

Performers at this year’s one-day celebration included the Macdonald Pipe Band of Pittsburgh, Burke Irish Dancers, Terry Griffith and Brigid’s Cross.

The event was sponsored by the WALS Foundation, the Wheeling Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Altmeyer Funeral Homes, the Ohio County Commission and Felton CPA.