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According to Joanie Madden, “Irish music is a music of emotional highs and lows…it’s breaking your heart one moment, then ripping your head off the next!”

For more than 25 years, the Grammy winning flutist, bandleader and tin whistle virtuoso has teamed with guitarist Mary Coogan to bring a willing worldwide audience on that marvelous rollercoaster ride — as the core of Cherish the Ladies, the all-female, international Celtic music supergroup that rewrote the ground rules in what was once a resolutely male-dominated genre.

Throughout so many of those seasons, the Ladies have connected with a devoted following here on the Jersey Shore, via regular visits to the West Long Branch campus of Monmouth University — a family-friendly tradition that spans generations and seasons of the calendar year.

On the evening of Friday, February 10, Madden, Coogan and the current Ladies lineup (Scottish pianist Kathleen Boyle, Irish accordionist Mirella Murray and the newest member, Boston-based fiddler Grainne Murphy) return to the Pollak Theatre for an event that brings the warmth, spirit and intimacy of Irish music “home” to their cherished local audience. Maura O’Connell joins the all female Celtic ensemble along with other guest musicians and an all-star dance ensemble featuring champion dancers and former dance ensemble members of Riverdance and The Chieftains.

Subtitled Irish Homecoming, the 8p.m. concert — the band’s first visit to the chilly Northeast following their twentieth annual Caribbean Cruise of Irish Stars — stands as a welcome reunion for the Ladies (who brought a touch of Celtic Christmas to the Monmouth stage in 2010) and their area fans. It’s a show that promises a mix of music, from centuries-old folkloric treasures to songs from the group’s latest release Country Crossroads — a set in which the Ladies are teamed with top Nashville session aces, as well as guest vocalists Vince Gill, Nanci Griffith and Maura O’Connell.

“Irish music is the basis of so many American musical traditions — old timey pop, folk, bluegrass,” observes Madden, who traveled to China with her bandmates for the first time in 2010. “It touches something in all of us.”

For additional information, or to purchase tickets, please contact the Monmouth University Performing Arts Box Office at 732-263-6889, or online at

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Media contact: Petra Ludwig at 732-263-5507