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Dublin City Ramblers swing by Strand

St. Patrick’s Day in North Myrtle Beach has come more than six months early, at least for Sunday afternoon.

The Dublin City Ramblers from Ireland, on their 40th anniversary tour, will perform at 4 p.m. at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in North Myrtle Beach, as guests of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Horry County Division 1.

On a phone call last week from his hometown Dublin – Ireland’s capital, not the suburb of Columbus, Ohio – Sean McGuinness, the Ramblers’ founding member and a voice on more than 30 albums, said the folk group spends about six to seven months a year touring the United States, appreciating such “great American audiences.”

Summertime entails entertaining at various outdoor festivals in metropolises such as Chicago, Milwaukee and Cleveland, he said, realizing many fans are second or third-generation descendants of Irish immigrants and that they uphold their families’ “heritage and culture” through such celebrations.

McGuinness, a singer who also plays banjo and mandolin, said his motherland has not averted the global recession, either, but that the people, who have “lifted their heads ... always want the music.”

“They brush if off and get up again,” he said.

St. Patrick’s Day on the isle commands a big shindig lasting one full day, but in the United States, “seems to last month,” McGuinness said.

With more U.S. touring continuing into September, “We call it the ‘Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day tour,’ ” McGuiness said, remembering his first time uttering that phrase, in 1984 in Florida, where he has a house, as well.

He has found the crowds on this side of the Atlantic “very, very proud of their heritage.”

“I always call America my home,” McGuinness said, “not just my second home, because we go there so much. ... The second we step off the plane, we feel like we’re home.”

All requests, always

In concert, the Ramblers rely on requests from the folks in attendance, rather than bring a set list, which McGuinness finds “too formal and too rigid.”

“People like to be involved,” he said, “and we like that.”

For the gig Sunday inside the Our Lady Star of the Sea parish hall, McGuinness said it will resemble the usual show, but with the crowd sitting, instead of on their feet at a festival with passers-by joining the party, and the Ramblers expect to do such standards as “Danny Boy,” “The Wild Rover” and “Dublin in the Rare Auld Times.”

“We might get a request for ‘The Irish Rover,’ ” he said, realizing the group, based on the age of those in attendance, has “two ways to treat a song.”

Still, for people “sitting back,” the atmosphere allows for a more casual way to throw in some history about the songs played, McGuinness said.

Reprising the music, McGuinness also hopes everyone with Irish in their blood will “remember your heritage” and that the Irish Republic’s peace process with Britain in the past decade has worked and how the isle of Eire Irish spelling boasts such splendid scenery.

“American fans come over,” he said, “and they’ll say, ‘I haven’t seen this.’”

McGuinness welcomes the whole world will come to recognize Ireland as “a great little country.”

Never-ending holiday

With 300 concerts a year by the Ramblers, McGuinness treats every day as a vacation, and that includes this trip, “a working holiday,” which will roll on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 to headline at “Ohio’s Celtic & International Festival,” outside Cleveland.

Working primarily Wednesdays through Sundays, “we’re permanently on holiday,” McGuinness said.

Marty Flynn, who just got back last week from a visit to his native Ireland, has owned Flynn’s Irish Tavern in North Myrtle Beach for 12 years. He said the Ramblers will return Sept. 29 for the ninth annual North Myrtle Beach Irish Italian International Festival, their third time for that occasion, right outside the eatery on Main Street.

“They’re one of the premier Irish bands,” Flynn said. “We have a great deal of Irish and Irish-Americans who come here from New York and New Jersey. ... They’re used to hearing the kind of music the way the Ramblers do it.”

The Ramblers also like assisting community causes, McGuinness said, and that extra meaning in the music stirs Flynn’s gratitude.

The engagement this weekend will help raise funds for the local Hibernians, Flynn said, because “everything we make, we give away to all kinds of charitable organizations ... all through the year.”