Update March 13 9:00 – Organizers announced on March 12, 2020 that the event would be cancelled due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. They plan to reschedule the festival for a later date.
A wee bit of Ireland is coming to Greenville this weekend.
It all started with an Irish runner. Marty Flynn, the founder of the event, moved to the Upstate in 1983 on a track scholarship to Clemson University. Originally from Longford, Ireland, Flynn stayed in the Upstate and in 1996 began organizing the now-annual festival.
Flynn says he started Return to the Green “to share our Irish culture with the Upstate community in an authentic, entertaining and most welcoming celebration that honors the powerful bond that Ireland and America share.”
The festival is hosted by the Irish Cara Club of Greenville — “cara” being Irish Gaelic for “friend.”
The event will feature live performances of Irish music and dance, as well as a children’s area and a chance to win $500. The City of Greenville Pipes and Drums band will also perform. Keltic Kudzu, an Irish music band from Georgia, will headline the event.
Flynn held the first Return to the Green at the West End market, and it has moved around a bit since. It first moved to Falls Park, then to the Peace Center Amphitheater and now calls Fluor Field home.
“If you create an event that is culturally authentic like we’ve always done with Irish food, music and dance, I think people get a look at that and appreciate it,” Flynn says.
While there used to be hardly any local Irish dancers or musicians focusing on Irish music, times have changed, allowing Flynn to feature local talent at the festival.
He hopes people who attend the festival enjoy themselves — and what Irish culture has to offer.
“I would like people who come to Return to the Green to walk away feeling like Ireland had paid a visit to Greenville,” Flynn says.