Instructors / Teagascóirí

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.
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.


Matt Doyle instructor picture

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 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 “let the light in.”  This engages the imagination of the viewer, providing an opportunity for pause, realization, and a reflection of self.

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 “convicts” who were banished to Australia, and Irish famines in art. Jane’s November course is titled, “Fire in Their Bellies – and Little Else,” about Irish women hunger strikers. She enjoys sharing her research and has given presentations locally, nationally, and in Ireland (via videoconferencing). Jane’s 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 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 “every architectural history course offered by the university” 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.

Bethany Perderson

Bethany Pederson

Growing up in a family passionate about storytelling and pursuing the Creator God in all aspects of life, Bethany is a Christian mystic who works undercover as your local barista in St. Paul, MN. From a young age, she has been sensitive and very aware of the spiritual realm. Her love of the Creator has bred a love of creating. From storytelling to painting to poetry and songwriting to face painting and cooking, Bethany desires to use every aspect of her life to increase and share her love for God and others. This has led her to do short to mid-term missions and community work throughout the world including her first trip to Northern Ireland in 2017. With focuses on community engagement, building unity, and using creative means to bring about spiritual, physical, and emotional healing through the Gospel, Bethany has a heart for deepening knowledge and implementing practical ways to further one's spiritual journey and relationship with God, whether she is local or abroad.

Instructors not offering classes at this time.

Portrait of Brianna Harrington, seated.

Brianna Harrington

Brianna is the founder of Seek United, an organization dedicated to helping people thrive. Through her Live Better wellness workshop series, online courses, and forthcoming book, she’s dedicated to teaching people how to increase stress resiliency and live a happier, healthier lives. A self-proclaimed research enthusiast, Brianna takes complex insights from health, psychology, financial and organizational experts and turns them into practical, actionable steps. A passionate speaker, panelist, and workshop host, Brianna has a Graduate Diploma in International Development from University College Dublin. She’s a certified master recycler and composter, yoga instructor, and meditation coach. In her free time, she loves spending as much time as possible in the great outdoors and sharing tasty, homemade meals with friends and family. Learn more at

Brenda Hudson

Brenda Hudson

Brenda is an award-winning teacher and author whose passion is helping others express
themselves through writing.

In her workshops and book Story by Story: 15 Projects to Write Your Family Legacy, she
helps even reluctant writers quickly and easily capture their stories. She teaches at RootsTech, the world's largest genealogy conference, the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, the Madeline Island School of the Arts, and at schools, libraries, and historical societies.

She holds an MS in journalism from Boston University and a PhD from the University of Minnesota's Department of Writing Studies. She is the founder of

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.

Patsy O'Brien: The truth about Santa Claus

Patsy O'Brien

Patsy is an award-winning NPR-Featured songwriter. He supplied the driving guitar rhythms on Celtic/World Music diva Eileen Ivers' last European tour and frequently collaborates with many giants of the Celtic/World music scene - Paddy Keenan. Cathie Ryan among them. Patsy's songwriting reflects a strong interest in Roots Americana as well as Jazz influences. Paysy has critically-acclaimed solo albums under his belt and also hosts guitar workshops all over the country.

Thomas Redshaw in Ireland.

Thomas Dillon Redshaw

Thomas Dillon Redshaw retired from the St. Thomas faculty in 2012.  Redshaw received his MA in Anglo-Irish literature from University College, Dublin, and a doctorate in English from New York University. Redshaw is a fellow of the Institute of Irish Studies at Queen’s University, Belfast. Before becoming the first editor of New Hibernia Review, Redshaw had a long association with the journal Éire-Ireland . Redshaw’s research and publications have focused on mid-century and contemporary Irish poetry, especially John Montague.  He is currently writing a book on the history of the Liam Miller’s Dolmen Press, an Irish fine press founded in 1951.

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 beyondTheir 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’s Association, and the Celtic Junction Arts Center. Their specialty is exploring the multiethnic origins of Celtic music and how it was “creolized” in wonderful ways as it mingled with the cultures of African, Indigenous, and other peoples in North America.

Lynette Reini-Grandell

Lynette Reini-Grandell

Dr. Reini-Grandell received her PhD in English literature from the University of Minnesota and is the author of Approaching the Gate, winner of the 2015 Northeastern Minnesota Book Award for Poetry, and the forthcoming Wild Verge. She researches world mythology and oral poetry traditions and has studied folksong at the Sommelo Ethno Music Festival in Kuhmo, Finland. An alum of the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference and the Sewanee Writers Conference, she has received grants for her work from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Finlandia Foundation. She is a professor of English at Normandale Community College.