Celtic Junction Arts Review
Issue 15, Beltane 2021
Archiving and Articulating Celtic Heritage
A quarterly publication of the Irish College of MN
“All of the musicians from TAP were delighted to be reunited.” Eamonn O’Sullivan celebrates the remarkable Kindred Spirits/Anam Chairde international program earlier in March 2021 in the context of his music group’s reassembling from pandemic isolation. The program gathered together more than just one music group. It wove together the Traditional Arts Partnership (TAP) and Aonach Mhacha (both in Armagh, Northern Ireland) with Ojibway and Choctaw speakers (from Manitoba, Canada and Wisconsin, and California) with us in the Celtic Junction in Saint Paul, Minnesota to articulate the friendship between Indigenous and Irish peoples and cultures. One of the clear benefits of this Zoom-linked pandemic world has been the growth into vibrant life of these transatlantic international partnerships. They employ music, song, scholarly reflection, and minority language revitalization to fuse the spiritual and the political in vital ongoing conversations.
The Kindred Spirits program was the brainchild of our friend and regular Celtic Junction Arts Review contributor, Réamonn O’Ciaráin. He is the director of Armagh’s new cultural centre, Aonach Mhacha, author of three books on Cúchulainn, and Director of Education for Gael Linn. He offers us a vital response to Ojibway leader, Jerry Fontaine’s visionary book, Our Hearts Are As One Fire: An Ojibway-Anishinabe Vision for the Future. Jerry Fontaine, professor of Indigenous Studies at the University of Winnipeg and citizen of the Sagkeeng First Nation, Manitoba, was the central voice on the panel in the Kindred Spirits program along with his colleague, Darren Courchene. Both expressed the importance of the spiritual to the cultural roots of traditional culture and language revival. As Fontaine articulates in his book, speaking his Ojibway language is – as O’Ciaráin notes in his review – a “way of knowing the universe.”
Continuing the transatlantic and international linkages in this edition, we offer Bill Rolston’s and Robbie McVeigh’s manifesto-like account of the main arguments contained in their new book, Anois ar Theacht an tSamhraidh: Ireland, Colonialism and the Unfinished Revolution. They argue that the choice always for Ireland is between “empire or republic” and that its decolonization process has been incomplete and remains so since the partition of the island a century ago in 1921.
Mary McCormick, a regular Arts Review writer and a teacher of contemporary Irish fiction in the Irish College of Minnesota, joins me in a co-authored article examining Colum McCann’s magnificent novel, TransAtlantic (2013). We argue that it demonstrates an exhilarating relish in the craft of writing itself inspired by integrating the “fuel” of the stylistic models of three great Irish writers: Seamus Heaney, James Joyce, and Edna O’Brien. It involves the reader in scenes based on three historical transatlantic connections: the successful first transatlantic flight in 1919 that landed in Clifden, county Galway; the visit of African-American abolitionist, Frederick Douglass to Ireland in 1845; and George Mitchell’s 1998 facilitating of the Good Friday Agreement around which are woven the fictional accounts of four generations of women.
This edition celebrates the international and transatlantic connections that continue to reassure us that our best years are ahead as we again take flight with future partnerships, collaborations, and conversations.
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.