Celtic Junction Arts Review
Issue 12, Lughnasa 2020
Archiving and Articulating Celtic Heritage
“We are more than transformed groceries,” famously asserted north Kerry mystical philosopher and author, John Moriarty (1938-2007). He saw a contemporary and vitally living holy wisdom in the ancient qualities of Irish mythology, landscape, and language which he connected at a deep level ecumenically to the “divine ground” expressed in the world’s varied wisdom traditions – whether Hindu or Buddhist or Native or Christian. Moriarty, in the view of Réamonn O’ Ciaráin, director of Armagh’s new cultural centre, Aonach Mhacha, offers us an otherworldly Silver Branch perception transcending our consumerist, transactional, and materialist conditioning with a profound sense of unity with nature and spirit. For Moriarty, the Otherworld is this world if we can only cleanse our vision. “The Otherworld is another way of seeing the ordinary world – a Silver Branch perception,” O’Ciaráin deduces.
Celebrating the Celtic Junction Arts Review’s third anniversary of providing both an archive and an articulation of Celtic traditions in Minnesota, O’ Ciaráin’s article is a milestone for us as not only does he successfully articulate the core tenets of Moriarty’s writings, but he connects them with the value of deepening an understanding of ancient Irish source texts and mythic narratives in order to deepen our sense of being and consciousness in this world. This process of articulation mirrors our own at the Arts Review.
Adrienne O’Shea gives a succinct and heartfelt account of how those traditions live on in the form of Irish dance, specifically as the storied and incredibly successful O’Shea Irish Dance school marks its fifteenth anniversary. Beginning with only seven students in August 2005, it has now had at least a thousand dancers pass under the encouraging eye of its founder, former Riverdance performer and lead instructor Cormac O’Shea, and has achieved the most awards of any Minnesota-based dance school.
Tom Dunn gives an account of how he started his Irish in Minnesota photographic archive in 2015 to record the living memory of our community and how he is coping with the pandemic by becoming a wandering flaneur observing the street life of ordinary Minnesotans.
In her article, “Virtual Forums for Virtual Times,” Natalie O’Shea provides a snapshot of a virtual event hosted as part of ‘The Big Irish Echo Campfire’ on Saturday, August 28th to see the many ways nationally and internationally that Ireland and Irish America can be reinvented and reformulated in response to these times. This event will feature a welcome from Ireland’s President, Michael D. Higgins.
I offer a brief and compressed literary history of how the Anglo-Irish sensibility evolved in Ireland, from 1155 when the Laudabiliter Papal Bull of Pope Adrian IV granted Ireland (in his eyes) to the English king, Henry II, up to 1800 just before the Act of Union, suppressing Dublin’s fledging parliament, was enacted. It was a time of wit, unease, frustration, and double vision, as a colonizing English garrison and a colonized Irish nation melded and mingled to form an Anglo-Irish identity that contributed ironically to the world stature of Irish literature and drama. This article is part of a series connecting manifestations of Irish culture – here in Minneapolis the Guthrie Theater founded by the Anglo-Irish Sir Tyrone Guthrie in 1963 – to deep roots in Ireland’s cultural history.
Another installment in a series of articles by Réamonn O’ Ciaráin offers us translations of Homer’s great epic poem, The Odyssey, into the Irish language to deepen the engagement of our Irish College’s community of speakers and students.
Mary McCormick, a regular writer for the Arts Review, shows us the tenacity in Irish-American familial memory in a transcription of her aunt, Sister Mary A McCormick’s accounts of her family’s memories of early settlement days in Minnesota. In one anecdote, the still ever-present danger of traversing ice-clad lakes was clearly evident many decades ago.
Our Connemara transplant and Irish College language instructor, Lavinia Finnerty, provides an instructive juxtaposition of ‘Irish Blessings and Curses’ for all occasions – plucked from the deep well of Irish lore – which are particularly relevant in these current difficult pandemic days.
We hope you feel more blessed than cursed by this variety of spirited articles on topics ranging from the local, national, international, and mystically cosmic!
Patrick O’Donnell – Editor, contributing writer, and founder of the Celtic Junction Arts Review; Director and founder of the annual Irish Arts Week; and, Director of Education and founder of CJAC’s Irish College of Minnesota.