There are roughly six times as many Irish-Americans as there are people living in Ireland, and a whole bunch of them reside in our fair city. According to Census figures, 20.4% of Boston's population -- the highest concentration in the country -- claim Irish ancestry. The first-ever iFest, a celebration of Ireland and all things Irish scheduled for September 26 to 28 at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, is therefore a natural.

You couldn't have an Irish festival without showcasing food and drink. Samples from the country's food purveyors and beverage makers will be available. If you have never tasted the creamy, intoxicating goodness of Kerrygold butter, that alone could be worth the price of admission. Speaking of intoxicating, pints of Guinness will be available and Jameson Irish Whiskey will offer tastings. Boston- and Ireland-based chefs, including Lydia Shire and Barbara Lynch, will also be conducting cooking demonstrations.

A Riverdance troupe and Paddy Moloney of the Chieftains will be among the featured performers at the event. There will also be participatory dance classes, an exhibit about notable Irish writers, and sports stars form the Gaelic Athletic Association. Attendees will be able to give the world's oldest field game a whirl at the hurling simulator (which has nothing to do with drinking too much Guinness). Lectures, workshops, and an exhibit from the Irish National Archives will allow Irish-Americans to explore their roots.

If all of the Irish activity gets iFest guests pining for the old country, hoteliers, historical sites, golf courses, and others representing Ireland's tourism and hospitality industry will be on hand to help book trips.

Photo: iFest