Thomas Hume and The Irish Diaspora of Muskegon

If you visit the Hackley and Hume Historic Site there is a rock in the Hume’s parlor that is purported to be from Hume castle in Scotland!

Want to know why? Give a listen to this “Muskegon History and Beyond with Lakeshore Museum Center” podcast.

The podcast is part of a wonderful cultural collaboration between the Lakeshore Museum Center, Hackley Public Library and Michigan Irish Music Festival. The collaboration includes 2 podcasts and 2 videos meant to compliment our Hackley Hooley (taking place on September 18th) and the rich history of Muskegon’s Irish heritage and history. The podcast was exhaustively researched by the Lakeshore Museum’s Patrick Horn and Aaron Mace.

Listen ⤵️ and let Patrick know how much you enjoyed learning more about Mr. Hume!

Born in 1848 in Hillsborough, County Down, Ireland, Thomas Hume came to Muskegon in 1870. Finding work in the lumbering industry as a scaler and tallyman before becoming Charles Hackley’s bookkeeper in 1872, and business partner in 1881. Over the next 24 years, Hackley and Hume built a business empire that included timberlands all over North America. After the lumber era Hume helped create Muskegon’s industrial trade, which continues to this day.

Book of Kells

You can travel all the way to Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland to view the Book of Kells…or visit the Hackley Public Library right here in Downtown Muskegon!

In 1990 Trinity College granted permission for 1,480 replicas to be published at a price of $14,800 each.
The Muskegon Irish American Society & Michigan Irish American Hall of Fame (then a chapter of the Hibernians) and the Friends of Hackley Public Library undertook a fund-raising campaign to purchase this exact replica to celebrate the Library’s 100th Anniversary.
The Hackley Public Library may be one of only two public spaces in North America with a facsimile edition of the Book of Kells on permanent display! Hackley Public Library’s magnificent copy can be seen in a large, beautiful wooden and glass case located in the Main Reading Room. A beautiful Waterford Crystal bowl accompanies the manuscript.
A page of the manuscript is carefully, and ceremoniously turned once monthly by a white gloved member of the library staff.

Couch Potato St. Pat’s Virtual Concert

To celebrate St. Patrick’s day and this wonderful Irish tradition, please join us for the Couch Potato St. Pat’s Virtual Concert brought to you by the Michigan Irish Music Festival and PNC Bank. This free event will premiere live on both Facebook and Youtube (links) on Saturday, March 13th at 8 pm EST.

Hosted by Bill Marshall, the voice of MIMF and the host of the Sounds Like Ireland radio program, he will lead us through an evening of music, culture, and fun. Featuring performances by Doolin’, Seamus Kennedy, The Friel Sisters, and Dave Curley.

▪️There is not a link to share prior to the concert. Do NOT click on any comments or posts claiming to have a link.
▪️This is a FREE show. Do NOT respond or provide any personal information to anyone claiming to have tickets for sale or a link for the concert.

👀 How To Watch
Go to the Michigan Irish Music Festival Facebook page at 8 pm EST on March 13th on your phone, computer or connected TV. You will find the concert streaming from a post at the top of our page.

Go to the Michigan Irish Music Festival YouTube channel at 8 pm EST on March 13th.

Go to IGTV on the Michigan Irish Music Festival Instagram account.

💗 Thank You To Our Sponsors!
PNC (Event Sponsor)
Pigeon Hill Brewing Co (The Friel Sisters)
Van’s Car Wash (Seamus Kennedy)
Shoreline Insurance (Dave Curley)
Mary Price (Doolin”)

We’ll see ya on the couch!

Keeping Irish In My Heart: Video Recap

A recap of the Michigan Irish Music Festival’s “Irish In My Heart” Virtual 2020 Festival.

We asked fans to share with us how they kept Irish in your heart over festival weekend (September 17-20) with photos and short videos.

Our wonderful music artist (who were scheduled originally to perform in person) provided hours of musical and cultural entertainment via the MIMF Facebook, IGTV and YouTube channel

Five Farms

It seems like every year there is something new and exciting at the Michigan Irish Music Festival, and 2019 was no exception.

A new sponsor was introduced in a major way; Five Farms Irish Cream debuted at the 2019 MIMF and was an instant hit with patrons, musicians, and volunteers alike. A sample tasting tent along the water nestled between the Cork and Kerry stages was the perfect spot to feature this delicious treat.

Patrons were able to learn a little about Five Farms, the history of how it came to be, and be some of the first people in Michigan to experience it’s creamy, delicious flavor. All of the bars sold the Irish Cream over the weekend and sponsors and festival organizers were thrilled with the reception by the masses.

In addition to tasting it on ice, in coffee, in tea (hot and cold), you can also enjoy it in a variety of recipes. We suggest the Irish Truffle Martini, but make sure to check out their website for more deliciousness!

Visit their Website:

Shop the Irish Market and Store Online

Music floats on the air as the last beams of the setting sun strike the jewelry in the Irish Store and set it twinkling. There is magic at the Michigan Irish Music Festival. A wonderful way to bring that magic home with you is by visiting the Irish Market and the Irish Store.

Every year a dedicated group of people come together to help us build our amazing festival. You may not know their names, but they know you. They know how you MUST get your yearly treats, or that it is time for a new hat or kilt. They enjoy seeing you laugh at the T-shirts and plaques with witty Irish sayings, meeting your new sweetheart as you pick out a ring, and dreaming with you of future trips as you admire the beautiful photographs of Ireland.

Our Market Vendors are there every year, just waiting to help you find that perfect memento that will help make the rest of your year that much brighter. Because they are unable to be here in 2020, we are bringing them to you. Below is the list of our valued vendors and links to their online stores.


Celtic Seasons
Earthen Craft
Highland Trading Company
Ireland in America
Mystic Ireland Gift Shop
Real Irish
St. Kilda
Sylvan Spirits
UK Market/ Welsh Cookie Company

Village Baker


Celtic Bag Company
Faith and Begorra
Kevin’s Irish Art
Murray’s Irish Outfitters
Shamrock Chic
Sullivan’s Irish Alley
Scotty Dotty Shortbread

Celtic Canines

When a friend you have known since kindergarten asks you for a favor, you do your best to oblige. When my friend Chris Zahrt, who was my schoolmate, teammate and even roommate in college, asked me to help with a new addition to the Michigan Irish Music Festival, I jumped in head-first. After all, the favor involved dogs, my favorite subject.

Chris asked if I could help out with a new event, adding a program with Irish dog breeds as part of MIMF. My response: Woof! I had hoped for years MIMF would add an Irish dog breeds component, and it finally had, in 2016. While I was confident in my abilities to pull it off – Chris had sent me tons of information on how other Irish festivals conducted their dog event – I wasn’t sure I could get all eight Irish breeds to that first Celtic Canines. I was certain the Glen of Imaal terrier would elude me, since it is a pretty rare breed in the United States. As luck would have it, I found TWO Glens in the Muskegon area, and both dog owners were ecstatic about participating.

Through Facebook posts and word of mouth, we soon had all eight breeds lined up for year 1: Irish Wolfhound, Irish terrier, Kerry Blue terrier, Glen of Imaal terrier, Irish setter, Red & White setter, Irish water spaniel and Soft-Coated Wheaten terrier. Working out logistics also was a challenge … we wanted to make sure each dog and owner had enough space to feel comfortable, yet leave enough room for MIMF patrons to meet and pet the breeds and talk to the breed owners. Using the same area as the Highland Games from the previous day was the solution. It allowed for plenty of space under the tent (in case of rain) or out in the open grassy area.

The next challenge/worry: Would people come to see the dogs? We posted signage and did local radio and morning TV news programs, bringing along an Irish Wolfhound and Irish Water Spaniel (of course they were a hit with the TV audience). We spread the word any way we could.

I still remember the minutes before we opened the gates to let patrons into the Celtic Canines area. I checked in with the security guard posted at the gate. To my astonishment, he pointed out a long line of people. He said that was the crowd WAITING to get in to see the dogs. Once that gate opened, the crowd came pouring in, some of them running over to the area where the dogs were! Because of our beautifulkerry bl signage for each breed (thank you, Longer Days), fans were able to locate their favorite breed right away. We had several Irish Wolfhounds, which were, and continue to be, the stars of Celtic Canines.

The many volunteers who have helped with the Celtic Canines team the past five years have been incredible. They are a big part of the reason we have been able to get more and more dogs in each of the years we’ve held the event. That first year, we had 16 dogs.  In 2019, we had 26! Each year, the dog owners would remark to me that our volunteers were the best and they will keep coming back. Our volunteers not only ready the Celtic Canines area, they escort the owners and dogs from their cars to their reserved spots under the tents, help set up crates and tables and even “dog sit” if the owner needs to take a break or wants to wander the festival grounds. Once the event ends, they help the dog owners pack up and escort the dogs back to their vehicles.

We’re proud that we have delighted thousands of patrons who have attended the Celtic Canines event each year. The dogs love the attention and the dog owners love the fact that their pooches are worn out by the end of the day!

I was saddened to have to inform our dog owners that the MIMF was canceled this year because of COVID-19. The owners all expressed their disappointment, but all understood that safety comes first. Each has vowed to return in 2021.

We look forward to seeing you on the final day of the 2021 MIMF for Celtic Canines. The dogs will be ready! 

– Mary Ullmer-Celtic Canines Coordinator

Top 25 Photos!

The disappointment of 2020 has hit everything we hold dear.

The devastation we all felt with the cancellation of our beloved Michigan Irish Music Festival has left us heartbroken. There is a huge void for all who love MIMF as September 2020 has arrived.

My sincere hope is that I can fill that void with some wonderful memories of festivals past!

Irish music has been a part of me all my life. My roots are from County Galway (grandmother) and County Meath (grandfather). When Chris asked me to do this, I started to think about how Irish culture – especially Irish music – has impacted my life. I thought about how, in my young life, my Grandpa would play all the rebel tunes on his squeezebox. My aunts would dance to the jigs and reels. It runs deep in my soul.

I have been a part of Irish music festivals in Muskegon since the very first one. In 2013, I was asked to photograph MIMF. For me, it was a no brainer. Some see me as a historian for the festival. I suppose they are correct, and I humbly accept that role!

When Chris asked me to do this, I immediately realized it was going to be a very difficult task. Where do I start? How do I pick a list of top 10 photos? I have literally thousands of photos from all those years. How do I pick a hundred photos… How do I pick 10? What about all the festivals I did not photograph (pre 2013). Can I do this without representing those years?

I realize I am overthinking this…

MIMF has been a staple in our community, a crown jewel in the heart of our festival lives. Our community has embraced this festival and our volunteers show up proudly every year to make it the best it can be. Our venue is arguably the most beautiful of all festival venues. Every year, we gather the finest musicians in all the land. Thousands of fans fill the tents and leave with their bellies and hearts full. I can do this…

I clear my mind. I start at my beginning, sorting through all the photos. My list totals 25 photos. I based my choices on a variety of things. Some are personal, and some are simply because they belong on such a list. In my heart, every photo was chosen with all the volunteers and fans in mind.

This festival is a HUGE success every year because of you!

I sincerely hope you enjoy my look back at festivals past. I look forward to the party it will be in 2021.


Sounds Like Ireland – West Michigan Celtic Radio Program





🕔 5 – 7 pm EST Thursdays
📻 Listen on Muskegon 100.9FM
🎧 Stream live from your computer or mobile device and listen ANYWHERE!
☘️ Sponsored by Michigan Irish Music Festival

Tune in on Thursday’s from 5 – 7 pm to Muskegon 100.9FM for West Michigan’s first Celtic Radio program! Sounds Like Ireland is sponsored by the Michigan Irish Music Festival and hosted by “The Voice of the Michigan Irish Music Festival” Bill Marshall. In addition to terrific tunes, Bill will bring in special guests for each show and talk about all things Irish in West Michigan. Put it in your calendar or set an alarm on your phone! We are pretty excited that the airwaves will be extra special on these Thursdays! Can’t get to a radio? Download the app and listen from ANYWHERE!

Cancellation of St. Pat’s Party

After careful consideration and under the recommendation of local and state officials, including the office of Governor Witmer, the St. Patrick’s Party event of the Michigan Irish Music Festival will be canceled. This event was scheduled for Friday & Saturday, March 13 & 14 at Bella Maria’s Event Center at 513 Pontaluna Rd. Muskegon. Our first and foremost priority is the safety of our guests, performers, and volunteers. The planning and hard work of our volunteer crew is to be commended and this decision was hard, but in the end, we know this is for the best of all involved. Click here for updates on Facebook.