Celtic Junction Arts Review
Issue 14, Imbolc 2021
Archiving and Articulating Celtic Heritage
A quarterly publication of the Irish College of MN
Illustrating how the spiritual and political roots of Irish culture intertwine across local and international ecosystems, this Imbolc edition of our quarterly cultural magazine features a richly sprouting variety of articles.
Our Library Director, Brian Miller provides a lengthy and informative overview of the Doherty Family archive centered on the Irish-American fiddler, Tony Doherty (1896-1972), who moved to Selby Avenue in St. Paul from Cedar Lake township southwest of the Twin Cities in 1942 and became involved with the Irish American Club after WWII. Richly supplemented by a family memoir of over 400 pages written by his wife Margaret Doherty (1894-1981), this archive is one of the intriguing local connections between Minnesota musical culture and Irish heritage housed in our McKiernan Library.
One of our regular international contributors, Réamonn Ó’Ciaráin, director, writer, and scholar at our sister center, Aonach Mhacha in Armagh City in Northern Ireland provides a meditative and heartfelt account of the Kindred Spirits friendship between Irish and indigenous peoples which is memorialized in the magnificent sculpture of that name consisting of a protective circle of metal eagle feathers in Co. Cork by Alex Pentek that was unveiled in 2017. It commemorates the Choctaw Nation’s act of humanity when $170 dollars was gathered to help the Irish thousands of miles away suffering during the Great Famine of 1847. The Irish people have never forgotten that act of generosity. The Choctaw had suffered themselves from the U.S. government’s ‘Trail of Tears’ forced marches in the 1830s that removed them from their ancient homes in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana to Oklahoma. In the spirit of the Choctaw gift, in 2020 the Irish people raised $5.5 million to support the Navaho and Hopi nations who were suffering severely from the pandemic. Réamonn has organized an international event with the theme of Kindred Spirits: Let the Circle Be Wide: Celebrating and Rekindling the Friendship between Indigenous and Irish Cultures that will be broadcast on Facebook co-hosted by Aonach Mhacha and Celtic Junction on March 12.
Steve Griffith, a popular faculty member in our Irish College of Minnesota, offers a very welcome biographical and historical study of the Waterford-born deaf female playwright, Teresa Deevy (1894-1963). She had a bittersweet relationship with the Abbey Theatre as a type of Irish Chekhov portraying the struggle of her women characters to find autonomy in a constrained Catholic Ireland. Steve Griffith’s next Irish College class will be The First 25 Years of the Abbey Theatre.
Shawn McBurnie, a researcher and practitioner of the storied art of the sea shanty, offers a layered and substantive exploration of this song genre with a focus on the enormously popular evocation of Australian whaling, “The Wellerman.” His comprehensive article also manages to squeeze in a cameo appearance by that most famous pursuer of whales, novelist Herman Melville.
Our final article is a report by Natalie Nugent O’Shea on the recent meeting of the Network of Irish Cultural Centers of North America (NICCoNA) in which the full array of the Irish diplomatic service was in attendance. It featured a presentation by the Irish Ambassador, Daniel Mulhall, extolling the central role of cultural diplomacy and connection to the diaspora in America who have a deep-seated attachment to Ireland and its imaginative and artistic traditions.
In this time of isolation, the over-arching ecosystem of imaginative energies is still actively extending branches and roots to deepen our connection to the spiritual and political.
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.
Carillon RoseMeadows – Digital Curator, occasional contributing writer, and architect of the Celtic Junction Arts Center’s web presence.