Have yourself a Celtic little holiday: ‘An Irish Christmas’ is coming to Balboa Theatre

The Kerry Dance Troupe performs in Kerry Irish Production's "An Irish Christmas."
(Kerry Irish Productions)

From L.A.-based Kerry Irish Productions, the show is full of music, dance and singing celebrating Ireland’s past and present


The vision for “An Irish Christmas” began with a keen observation from Margaret O’Carroll.

“I looked around one Christmas and I thought, ‘Well, there’s nothing Irish being represented here,” said O’Carroll, a Los Angeles resident who moved to the United States by way of Tralee, a town in Ireland’s County Kerry.

So O’Carroll decided to take matters into her own hands. Without much experience, the Irish go-getter contacted a Southern California theater to create a show celebrating her home country’s rich culture.

One year (and a lot of work) later, “An Irish Christmas” — a jam-packed production powered by a large cast of dancers, vocalists and musicians — was born, followed by O’Carroll’s company Kerry Irish Productions.

Kerry Irish Production’s “An Irish Christmas” is a boisterous presentation of traditional and modern Irish music, dance and song. And lucky for San Diegans, the touring production will make its way to Balboa Theatre on Sunday afternoon.

“It’s just a bit of a joy ride — if you like — of excellence, and fun, and representing our folk traditions ... We dip in and out of the old ways and into very modern ways,” O’Carroll continued.

From left: Koral Aakre, MaryAnn DiPietro and Rosa Evangelina of the Kerry Voice Squad
From left: Koral Aakre, MaryAnn DiPietro and Rosa Evangelina of the Kerry Voice Squad perform in Kerry Irish Production’s “An Irish Christmas.”
(Kerry Irish Productions)

Led by principal dancers Tyler Schwartz and Emily MacConnell, “An Irish Christmas” also spotlights the Kerry Dance Troupe, Kerry Voice Squad and Kerry Traditional Orchestra, as well as some homegrown talent.

“The COVID experience has opened the doors, interestingly enough, to some young, new performers who needed an opportunity ... I brought on board two local dancers from San Diego, and they are fantastic,” O’Carroll said, referencing Sarah Dillon and Elizabeth Gerhardt of Clan Rince School of Irish Dance in Kensington. “I’m very excited about (the) new blood.”

At Sunday’s show, audience members will enjoy an hour-and-a-half of tunes like “Carol of the Bells,” “An Gréasaí” and “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” These numbers honor cultural and artistic traditions such as Dancing on the Half Door and Straw Boy performances, along with activities critical to Ireland’s economy like shoemaking and butter churning.

“We make it fun — and especially this year, that’s what it’s all about,” O’Carroll said. “We need to rise up again as a people in terms of moving forward (post COVID).”

Per Balboa Theatre health and safety guidelines, all attendees must provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of the event. Unvaccinated guests are required to wear masks.

‘An Irish Christmas’

When: 2:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: Balboa Theatre, 868 Fourth Ave., downtown

Tickets: $30-$75, plus fees