Instructors / Teagascóirí


Erick Boustead

Erick (any pronouns) is a video artist and Irish Studies scholar whose great grandparents hail from County Mayo. He recently completed a Masters in Irish Studies: Literature & History through the National University of Ireland-Galway, where he focused his thesis on nineteenth century Chicago Irish male assimilation. Erick was also a participant in the Irish Museum of Modern Art‚Äôs ‚Äė2021 Art and Politics Summer School‚Äô, which led to collaborating with several artists focusing on issues related to collective grief and relationships to (de)colonization.
Instructor Noreen Bowden

Noreen Bowden

A native New Yorker who spent fifteen years living in Ireland, Noreen has a lifelong interest in Irish history. She is a web editor and policy entrepreneur, and loves the power of the internet to share Ireland with the world.  She has worked at in NY and Irish Emigrant Publications in Galway, and was the Director of the Emigrant Advice Network in Dublin; she is currently employed as the Content Manager at CIE Tours, Ireland's leading tour operator. She is active in several Irish diaspora organizations and is currently the Communications Officer for the Irish Business Organization in NY. For many years she ran and is a co-founder of, which advocates for voting rights for non-resident Irish citizens. Noreen holds a BA from Notre Dame, an MA in Irish literature and culture from Boston College, and an MPA from Harvard University.
Instructor Matt Doyle

Matt Doyle

After more than fifty years in communications in both religious and secular venues, he is turning to his avocation. As a collector of literature by Catholic writers (largely Irish), he has a deep appreciation for the connection between the word and The Word. He holds an MA in Pastoral Theology, is a lifelong Catholic, and the grandson of four Irish immigrants.
Instructor Dean Farrell

Dean Farrell

Dean Farrell is from Dublin, Ireland, and holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from University College
Dublin. He has taught Irish in Dublin, at St Thomas University in Fredericton, Canada, and at various
workshops across Canada. He has presented his research at conferences in Ireland, Europe, and North
America. Dean has recently published an article in the Antigonish Review and has some more scholarly
articles forthcoming. He is currently a Ph.D. student in his second year at Concordia University, in
Montreal Canada, where he has received Concordia’s International Award of Excellence and an Irish
Studies Graduate Award. His research focus is Irish language literature.
Instructor Steven Griffith

Steven Griffith

Steven Griffith taught in the theatre and dance department at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter,
Minnesota for 27 years. For many of those years, Steve was chair of the department. While at Gustavus,
he taught courses in Irish theatre and history, theatre design, stagecraft, and arts management. Steve
has designed for over 150 theatre productions. He lived in Dublin in the early 1990s while doing
research on the Abbey Theatre. Steve has led 10 college study abroad tours to Ireland and visited the
island many more times. He has a BA and MFA in theatre, and a Ph.D. in higher education policy. From
2006 to 2016 Steve served as Senior Vice President and Academic Dean at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa.
Instructor Jane Kennedy

Jane Kennedy

Jane¬†Kennedy¬†is an Irish historian who hails from St. Paul. She has taught a variety of history courses at Celtic Junction on topics that include Irish emigration during the famine of 1879, Irish ‚Äúconvicts‚ÄĚ who were banished to Australia, and Irish famines in art.¬†Jane‚Äôs November course is titled, ‚ÄúFire in Their Bellies ‚Äď and Little Else,‚ÄĚ about Irish women hunger strikers. She enjoys sharing her research and has given presentations locally, nationally, and in Ireland (via videoconferencing). Jane‚Äôs Irish family resided in Co. Mayo and fled the famine in the late nineteenth century. Jane¬†relishes meeting other descendants who left the country in search of a home in the U.S.
Instructor Jeanine Malec

Jeanine Malec

Jeanine has been an active participant in the Twin Cities art community for over 20 years. She works under the moniker Nest and Tessellate to create magical folk art informed by her Celtic, Scandi and Slavic roots. She attended the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul and holds an MFA in Ecological Architecture from Vesper College. Her practice explores magical symbols, pattern language and seasonal crafts derived from historic folkways. She seeks to connect with ancestral art forms, reimagine traditional folk charms and build relationships within the community around these interests. Symbols charged with intention have been used for millennia as agents of healing and protection on textiles, buildings and household tools. Gathering precedents from around the Midwest and beyond; she hopes to draw parallels between diverse sources, identify shared meanings and with help from collaborators, develop new visual lexicons reflective of current needs. The goal of this work is to create a magical folk art for our time.

Instructor Mary McCormick

Mary McCormick

Mary McCormick teaches the Irish Novel at Celtic Junction, including past classes on novels by Colum McCann, Edna O’Brien, Maria Edgeworth, and Sally Rooney. She writes articles on these novels for the CJAC Arts Review.  She has lived in England and toured Ireland three times, and has taken writing classes for the past ten years.  Mary spent her career in international business law, including as Asia Pacific Counsel for Honeywell, Inc. and as International Counsel for Cray Research, Inc.  She was an international arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association.  She taught International Contracts at the University of Minnesota Law School, and Legal Aspects of International Business at Metropolitan State University. 

Sheila Mullen holding a camera

Shelagh Mullen

Shelagh Geraghty Mullen is passionate about Ireland, everything about it. She has traveled to that glorious country numerous times, her last trip being for a culinary program at the Dublin Cookery School. Upon her return, she now fancies herself the Irish Chef of Minnesota. Shelagh holds cooking classes in her home kitchen and teaches private/corporate events and cooking demonstrations at Irish Fair Minnesota. Shelagh’s goal is to debunk the myths about Irish food. It is not all fish n’ chips or boiled meals (although still a common occurrence). The surrounding sea, the lush, green land, and a long growing season provide products in abundance. There has been a real Renaissance in Irish food and cooking, and Shelagh wants to share it all with you.

Patrick O'Donnell, Director of Education

Dr. Patrick O'Donnell

Dr. Patrick O’Donnell, editor/contributing writer, is a full-time English faculty member at Normandale Community College. The founder of the Saint Paul Irish Arts Week (since 2016), a comprehensive ten-day program in April/May, he is primarily Director of Education at Celtic Junction Arts Center where he coordinates classes and also teaches American, British, and Irish Gothic tales, Irish-American short stories, Irish literature, literary history, and mythology. He co-edited the eighteen-author anthology, The Harp and the Loon: Literary Bridges between Ireland and Minnesota.

Instructor Otto Paier

Otto Anthony Paier Jr.

A native of Massachusetts, Otto has a life-long interest in architecture. His childhood hero was Frank Lloyd Wright and his favorite childhood toy was his large collection of American Bricks building blocks. After obtaining a degree in Architectural Engineering from Wentworth College in Boston, he then attended the University of Miami where he enrolled in ‚Äúevery architectural history course offered by the university‚ÄĚ and received his professional degree in architecture (BArch). Otto then went on to earn an MA in Educational Leadership from Barry University.

In addition to researching architectural history, traveling, gardening, and painting, Otto's other passion is genealogy. Otto is pleased to be able to share his passion for Architectural History with others at the Irish College of Minnesota.

Black and white image of Ryan Quinn, a CJAC instructor

Ryan Quinn

Ryan Quinn is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, holding a Bachelor's degree in English Literature and Cultural Studies. While currently working in the field of logistics, Ryan enjoys his studies as an independent scholar into realms of literature such as fantasy, folklore, and myth, paying particular attention to how these stories remain relevant today. Coming from an Irish family background he is interested in the influence Irish and other Celtic stories have had on modern literature. This will be his first teaching opportunity, and he hopes to continue on this path by attending graduate school in the near future.

Instructor Matt Wright at the Grian√°n of Aileach

Matt Wright

Matthew Wright has a BA in history from St. Olaf College, an MA in Japan Studies from the University of Washington, and studied for a Ph.D. in Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA. He has taught history and politics at the University of Washington, UCLA, St. Andrew's School in Delaware, and Mounds Park Academy. He is currently teaching adult academic enrichment courses at various sites around the Twin Cities. The modern history of Ireland in all of its complexity has been one of his enduring fascinations. He is particularly interested in northern and southern nationalisms, communalism, church-state relations, imperialism and colonialism, the maintenance and invention of traditions, national division and unification, cosmopolitanism and uniqueness, and diasporic and victimhood nationalisms. He is committed to bringing college-level education to the greater community outside of traditional school settings.

Instructors not offering classes at this time.

Kevin Byrne

Kevin Byrne

Kevin Byrne, a Connecticut native, is an emeritus professor of history at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, where he taught for four decades and received the College’s lifetime award for distinguished teaching. Although his graduate training focused on American history, Kevin’s Irish roots led him to develop an interest in the history of Ireland, expanding his teaching areas to include courses on that subject. Subsequently, he also led multiple student tours to Eire, and while directing the College’s Study Abroad Center established a semester program for Gustavus students at University College Cork. More recently he hosted a tour of Ireland for the Gustavus Alumni Association. Personal travels in Ireland have added to his knowledge of and appreciation for the land and its people. Kevin holds an AB degree in Humanities from Providence College and a doctorate in History from Duke University in North Carolina, where he currently resides.


Instructor Lavinia Finnerty

Lavinia Finnerty

A native speaker from the Connemara Gaeltacht, Lavinia graduated from the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG). Lavinia has many years’ experience in teaching Irish in both Ireland and internationally. In Ireland she taught Irish in the Galway Community College to high school students and night classes for adult learners. Lavinia has worked at Coláiste Chamuis, a summer immersion language school for high school students in Connemara and she has taught the preparation classes for the Cáilíochta sa Ghaeilge exam, a requirement for elementary teachers who wished to teach in Ireland but who obtained their education abroad. Lavinia has provided private tutoring in Irish classes to both high school and university students in Ireland and internationally in Australia where she taught adult learners and more recently in the Bay Area, California. Whilst in California she also prepared learners for the Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge, a European Pass for Irish/Certificate in Proficiency, and taught transition Irish classes to a wide range of students who were returning home to the Irish Education system. Now Lavinia has found herself here among us in the Twin Cities and is keen to share her passion for the Irish language.
Instructor Carrie Finnigan

Carrie Finnigan

Carrie Finnigan uses a playful approach in painting, printmaking and drawing of abstracted representations of human figures and nature. Growing up in close proximity to forests and water, she developed an affinity with the outdoors and was fascinated by the human - natural environment conflict. This youthful interest was formally developed in a B.A. in Fine Art and a B.S. in Art Education. She delved into artistic practice, honing her preference for using color and line to express emotion.¬†¬†In each of her works a portion is purposefully left undone to ‚Äúlet the light in.‚Ä̬†¬†This engages the imagination of the viewer, providing an opportunity for pause, realization, and a reflection of self.

Instructor David Rhees

David and Suzanne Rhees

Bundle & Go¬†is the duo of¬†David¬†and Suzanne¬†Rhees, two mainstays of the Twin Cities traditional music scene. They play an eclectic mix of dance tunes, listening pieces, and songs from the isles of the North Atlantic, Canada, the U.S., and beyond.¬†Their instruments are equally diverse and include flute, whistles, button accordion, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, harmonica, ukulele and feet.¬† They have performed with numerous other groups (see below) and have taught seminars and workshops for the Irish Fair of Minnesota, the Irish Music and Dance Association, the Minnesota Old-Time and Bluegrass Association, the Minnesota State Fiddler‚Äôs Association, and the Celtic Junction Arts Center. Their specialty is exploring the multiethnic origins of Celtic music and how it was ‚Äúcreolized‚ÄĚ in wonderful ways as it mingled with the cultures of African, Indigenous, and other peoples in North America.