The Willis Clan
The Willis Clan

The Irish American Heritage Center presents rising stars of Irish, folk and country music with The Willis Clan in concert this winter. This family of young musicians and dancers continue to wow audiences from the Grand Ole Opry to Milwaukee Irish Fest.

Some families go for quantity, some go for quality. But the Willis Clan asks, “Is it too much to ask for both?” The Willis Clan is a family like you have never seen. Parents Brenda and Toby and their 12 home-schooled children are a family of musicians, dancers, athletes, artists and writers living in Nashville, Tennessee. The Willis Clan was featured this past season on America’s Got Talent on NBC.

Living on the South side of Chicago, Brenda and Toby Willis were surrounded by Irish culture, however, they were not aware of most of it. But then came Riverdance, and Brenda and Toby were awestruck. Brenda recalls, “We had four young kids at the time, three of them girls. We wanted to get them involved in music and some type of sport but didn’t know what to do. When we saw Riverdance, we found our answer.”

The kids began taking Irish music and dance lessons, but events soon happened that rocked the Willis family, and they decided to leave Chicago and move to Nashville. The Willis children continued Irish dancing and soon began winning competitions, including eight National Championships in Swing Dance.

Meanwhile, the music training continued, and like their dance, it branched out into different genres. The Willis children learned pop, country, bluegrass and jazz. But they never stopped playing Irish music. In 2012, the Willis kids won The Fleadh Cheoil, the World’s Championship in Irish Music in Cavan, Ireland.

In addition to music and dance, the boys have won 10 State Wrestling Championships, the girls are accomplished horseback riders, and all are artists, writers and athletes.

According to Toby, “We have chosen to take paths less traveled, and love it. We hope to share a little of this joy and adventure with everybody we meet.”

And once you meet the Willis Clan, you will know this to be true.

The Willis Clan in concert is Friday, January 23, 2015 at 8pm. Tickets are $20 for IAHC members, $25 for general admission and $12 for children 12 and under. To purchase tickets, call 773-282-7035 or click the link below.

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For the better part of the last decade, the Center has been the home of Cash for Kids; Chicago's only Johnny Cash Festival. Two stages, seven bands and one of the coolest venues in Chicago provide the backdrop to an amazing evening of music celebrating the sounds of Johnny, June and the crew.

Cash for Kids is proud to welcome Rockibilly Hall of Fame member Hayden Thompson, America's Got Talent finalist Iron Horse, Million Dollar Quartet performer Lance Lipinsky, Pin Drop Theatre, The Jacque Judy Band, The Tawdry Hepburns, Miss Barbara Clifford & The Shakin' Tailfeathers and The Gin Palace Jesters.

All proceeds from Cash for Kids go to the Gompers Park Athletic Association for boys and girls baseball and softball programs.

Cash for Kids is Saturday, January 24 at 6pm and suggested donation is $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

Click the link below for tickets.

Gompers Park Athletic Association - (Chicago, IL) - powered by

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Want to learn the Irish language?

Nó, má tá Gaeilge agat cheana féin, bí linn le do chuid a fheabhsú!

Na Gaeil’s Irish language classes at the Center return for the fall 2014 season in September and run through January 2015.

Meet others with an interest in Irish culture who want to study the first language of Ireland in an informal and fun setting.

Beginning, intermediate, and advanced students can take classes on Saturdays or Wednesdays. Advanced registration is not necessary.

  • · Saturday morning classes begin on September 13
  • · Wednesday evening classes begin on September 17

The cost is $125 for new students and $100 for returning students.
Spring term: February-May (Beginning class is continued from the fall term.)
Summer term: Decided by individual classes according to interest

For more information, call Kelly at 773-348-2645


Ring in the New Year with Annual Party at the Center.

 Kick off the New Year in high style in the Fifth Province Pub. Doors open at 7pm on Wednesday, December 31, 2014. The party is over at 12:30am on January 1.

Tickets for the party are $25 and include dancing, hors d’oeuvres, and a champagne toast at midnight, party favors and entertainment by Gerry Haughey.

Tickets can be purchased at the door or by phone. To reserve tickets or to reserve a table for you and your friends, call the IAHC office at 773-282-7035, ext. 10.

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The Irish American Heritage Center provides the very best in Irish culture through the arts, history, education, dance and social outlets.

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