Every March, Seamus Carmichael – a native of Magherafelt in South Derry, Northern Ireland, who now makes music in the Lebanon area – starts baking.

“Soda bread, scones and cakes, the kinds of treats that I grew up with back in the North of Ireland,” Carmichael says. “Then I’d start teaching my kids songs, and a few words of Irish if they were willing to learn. It would all culminate in our family’s big St. Patrick’s Day Ceili, where kids and parents would get together and celebrate their heritage, and encourage friends to learn a song or put on a little performance for the crowd.”

It might have started out as a tradition for family and friends, but the tradition has grown, Carmichael says.

“Once the kids were bigger it became a gift to the community,” he says, “and the Lebanon Art Center became the venue … and in recent years it has morphed into what we in Ireland used to call a ‘Guest Tea’.”

Carmichael works in the library at Penn State Hershey Med Center. He previously taught art history at the Lebanon campus of HACC and is a former board member at the Lebanon Valley Council on the Arts, where he coordinated First Friday events and gallery exhibitions.

He enjoys getting the community involved in his Irish traditions.

“After baking for a week, I assemble some musical friends and we serve up those breads, scones and cake with an accompaniment of Irish tunes and songs,” he explains.

Everyone is welcome to join him from 5 to 8 p.m. this Saturday at the Lebanon Arts Center, 770 Cumberland St.

“Come hungry and ready to sing along,” Carmichael says.

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