On Friday, Dec. 5 the community is invited to enjoy a few hours of “wild, eclectic fun” at the Annual Irish Christmas, hosted by Bob McCarthy at The Gin Mill, located on Ellicottville’s main drag.
“It’s a unique and unusual event,” McCarthy said. “It’s been running for approximately 15 years, and I continue with it year after year because it’s so successful for our community that it bears repeating. It’s become an iconic night.”
Although the night of Irish music, storytelling and fun begins at 7pm, McCarthy suggests arriving earlier to grab a seat for the old-fashioned Irish auction (4pm). “The auction includes handcrafted items from Ireland, Irish whiskey and of course, pies,” McCarthy said, emphasizing the popularity of the pies. “The pie auction has become a phenomenon where people come just to watch. Each year I change it up a bit, and each year the bids have increased. I already have one bid of $700 for a pie … but it’s not about the pie. It’s about the person who made it and that those pies are going to make a difference.”
The pies are made by ten local ladies, each making one of their own favorite recipes. Ten pies, ten boxes … and a special raffle after the pies are distributed to the winners.
“The ladies always ask if they can make more than one, but I just need one,” McCarthy said. “Each pie comes in a handcrafted pine box with shamrocks inlaid in them.”
The entire event lasts only about an hour / hour and a half. Anyone is welcome to attend, as there are no tickets or charges, and all funds raised during the auction and raffles benefit Family Support for Ellicottville, an affiliate of the local rotary club.
“People come, open their hearts and their pocket books because they know where the money is going,” McCarthy said. “I don’t charge for my events because I believe in coming and supporting with no limit. There is nothing needed for the Irish Christmas other than the kindness of your heart.”
Anyone attending the Irish Christmas is asked to bring an unwrapped gift for any age and gender, including parents, teens and children, which will then be given to families in need during Santa’s Workshop, held the following day at a location yet to be determined.
“There is a big wagon out front - all day - with a tractor attached,” McCarthy said. “It’s lit up and people can leave their gifts.”
For anyone who has not attended the Irish Christmas in previous years, McCarthy suggests coming out to see what it’s all about. “You have to see it to partially understand it,” he said. “It’s emotional. People laugh, and people cry because they know something special has happened. It’s been years, but the amount of emotion and love and caring has never diminished.”
“I’m a romantic at heart,” McCarthy added. “I believe in the magic of the Irish, and I believe in children. People are so generous and kind, and it’s been a constant all these years. It’s an incredible event.”
For more information on the event or donations, please contact Greg Cappelli, Rotary Club of Ellicottville, at 716-474-7832.