Instructors / Teagascóirí

Instructors teaching during the Fall 2021 quarter.

Black and white portrait of 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.

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.

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.
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

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.

Mary McCormick

Mary McCormick

Mary McCormick spent her career in international business law, beginning at the law firm of
Baker and McKenzie. She was in-house counsel for seventeen years, divided evenly between
stints as Asia Pacific Counsel for Honeywell, Inc. (computer and controls divisions), and
International Counsel for Cray Research, Inc. (supercomputer manufacturer). Thereafter, she
had a private solo practice and served as an international arbitrator for the American Arbitration
Association. She taught International Contracts for five years at the University of Minnesota
Law School and Legal Aspects of International Business for three years at Metropolitan State
University. She has lived in England and toured Ireland three times. She has been taking
writing classes for the past ten years.

Patrick O'Donnell speaking at an event.

Dr. Patrick O'Donnell

Dr. Patrick O’Donnell, editor/contributing writer, is a full-time English faculty member at Normandale Community College. The founder/director of the Saint Paul Irish Arts Week (since 2016), a comprehensive ten-day program in April/May funded by the Irish Fair of Minnesota, 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. Most recently, he is the Phoenix Theatre’s founder/director.

Black and white image of 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).

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.

Dave and Suzanne Rhees holding fiddle and flute.

David and Suzanne Rhees

Bundle & Go is the duo of David and Suzanne Rhees, whose mission is to explore the roots and branches of Celtic traditional music. They play an eclectic mix of Irish dance tunes, slow listening pieces, and unusual songs, with a generous sprinkling of tunes from related traditions -- Cape Breton, Welsh, Scottish, French-Canadian, Métis, Appalachian and more. Their instruments are equally diverse: Suzanne plays Irish flute, whistles and button accordion, while Dave plays fiddle, banjo, guitar, harmonica, ukulele and feet. Suzanne has played with accordion master Paddy O'Brien's group, O'Rourke's Feast, and Dave is a veteran of the band Roisin Dubh. They both were members of Contradictions, a contradance band, the Québécois band La Traversée. They are the founders of the longest-running session in the Twin Cities, at Keegan's Irish Pub.

Instructors not offering classes at this time.

Natalie Fowler

Natalie Fowler

Once a practicing attorney, Natalie is now an author, freelance editor, a paranormal investigator and…a psychic medium. Natalie is a staff editor and a regular contributor to FATE Magazine, the longest-running print paranormal magazine featuring stories of the strange and unknown. Her literary works are represented by Red Sofa Literary. Natalie is a member of Ghost Stories Ink, a paranormal investigative group that teaches classes and workshops about how to find inspiration from notoriously haunted surroundings. The group has investigated properties from New York to Los Angeles and several places in-between. Natalie, a self-proclaimed research geek, serves as the group’s historian.

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

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.

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.

Fred Stenborg

Frederic Stenborg

Fred is a lifelong scholar and mystical thinker. He has been a choir singer for 25 years and a performer for 13. He yearns to learn of Druids, banshees, and ancient Celtic migrations. His grandmother, Rose, gave him a love of the thin places...

Julia Van Etten, portrait.

Julia Van Etten

Julia has been teaching marketing for more than a decade, most recently, at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. She is a skilled and versatile educator with more than 20 years of expertise in marketing, brand strategy, and customer insights.

Prior to teaching at the University of Minnesota, she was a marketing and brand consultant for agencies, large and mid-sized companies, and not-for-profit organizations, including: 3M, General Mills, Wells Fargo, Greater Twin Cities United Way, Lund Food Holdings, Normandale Community College, and William Mitchell College of Law.

Her first visit to Ireland in 2017 sparked the development of a new marketing course at the U of M called Brands and Storytelling in Ireland, which she led last Spring.

Kathryn Wehr

Kathryn Wehr

Kathryn Wehr has a PhD in Divinity from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, where she studied at the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts. Katy has a particular interest in the early and medieval Christian history of the British Isles and has enjoyed pilgrimages to Iona and Lindisfarne, monastic communities founded by Celtic missionary monks. She is a 2019 recipient of a Clyde S. Kilby Research Grant from the Marion E. Wade Center for her ongoing academic research on the religious drama of Dorothy L. Sayers. Katy is also a Catholic folk musician and regularly does
concert/talks for church and community groups based on her recent album about women in the Gospels – And All the Marys, which can be found on, iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, etc.