Entertained by some “Screaming Orphans”

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Column by Jim Clark

Have you ever heard a bunch of “Screaming Orphans?” No, that’s not a trick question. That’s the name of the group that entertained on Saturday, March 19, on the Downtown Square in Ocala.

The event was the annual “O’Cala St. Patrick’s Day” event, and you notice how the Irish took liberties with the apostrophe in O’Cala. The square and surrounding streets were packed with revelers, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day a couple of days late. The suds were flowing, but drinkers were limited to a certain area, and couldn’t take drinks with them.

There was also green, lots of it. There were people dressed in green, booths decorated in green, etc.

There was also lots of entertainment. There were dancers and singers, both formally performing and just dancing to the music.

And then there were the Screaming Orphans.

This was a group of four sisters from Ireland who tour the U.S. several months out of the year. Their schedule looks like something the National Basketball Association would make up. Last Thursday they were in the Chicago area, Saturday in Ocala, and then they were out of state again. They return to Florida on April 2 in Bonita Springs (down near Fort Myers Beach and Naples).

Yes, they were a little loud, but they were good. Very good. They displayed a vitality that brightened everyone around them. With their thick Irish accents, they spoke and joked, but they also played music designed to get through to the soul.

At one of their sets, getting a little later into the evening, a couple dozen kids spontaneously got out on the floor and danced. There were children about ages 3 to 12, and there were “children” considerably older. There was one girl who appeared to know every step of Irish dancing, similar to what we’ve come to know as Riverdance. The Orphans whipped the crowd into a frenzy as they played faster and faster, and the kids moved faster and faster.

I felt sorry for the Williston School of Dance, which had to follow one of their sets. The Williston kids were very entertaining, and knew their craft very well, but seemed sedate after the excitement caused by the Orphans.

You can find their website by searching for “Screaming Orphans.” You’ll be able to read about their formation, about their family, and about some other issues, including one who has vision problems, which you’d never know by watching them on stage.

You can also listen to some of their music, although I confess they sounded much, much better in person than the songs I was able to find online.

I’m going to be watching their website to see if and when they come back to an area reasonably close, because I’ll go see them. And maybe, just maybe, the “powers that be” will try to bring this group back for next year’s “O’cala” celebration.


Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen. He can be reached at 352-854-3986 or at editor@smcitizen.com.

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