The Eoin McKiernan Library
The Celtic Junction Arts Center’s Eoin McKiernan Library (EML) celebrates the legacy of Irish Studies pioneer and prolific promoter of Irish culture Eoin McKiernan. Founded on the McKiernan family’s gift of 3000 items from Dr. McKiernan's personal library, our collection reflects his deep passion for Irish history and politics, the Irish language, folklore, literature and Irish arts.
The McKiernan Library works to serve and enrich the Irish cultural community of Minnesota with resources on the shelves of our beautiful reading room (see Library Collection) and online via our website and digital collection (see Online Archives).
In addition to being a beautiful space for quiet study and home to our Library Collection, our reading room also hosts the classes, colloquia, and seminars offered by the Irish College of Minnesota / Coláiste na nGaedheal. (Currently, all Irish College classes are offered online)
Our collections, both physical and digital, cover a broad range of topics relating to Ireland and the other Celtic Nations but our special focus areas are Irish arts (music, dance, theater, poetry, visual art) and the Irish language.
Our reading room holds a collection of 4000+ books and 1000+ commercial audio recordings available for reading and listening on site.
Books include rare treasures such as our first edition copies of Douglas Hyde's Mo Thurus go hAmerice and P. W. Joyce's Old Irish Folk Music. Our Irish Language Collection at the north end of the reading room includes over 400 books that are either in Irish, translated from Irish or about the Irish language. We have 325 books on Irish music including tunebooks, song collections, biographies and histories.
Our collection of 1000+ commercial audio recordings is primarily Irish traditional music including many hard-to-find recordings published in Ireland. Thanks to CJAC's partnership with Aonach Mhacha in Armagh City, we have extensive holdings of CDs (and records) from the Gael Linn label.
Our website is home to our Digital Archive of photos, audio recordings, posters, videos and other digital materials documenting the history of the Irish cultural community of Minnesota.
The EML collects digital materials documenting the history of Minnesota’s Irish community with a focus on Irish arts (music, dance, theater, etc.). Our Online Archives include hundreds of items documenting the past 100 years of Irish cultural activity in Minnesota.
You can hear fiddler Tony Doherty play the tune ("Devil's Dream") with which he won a 1928 fiddle contest in Jordan, Minnesota. You can hear musician Martin McHugh talk about the warm welcome he received from a tight-knit group of Irish immigrants when he arrived in St. Paul in the 1950s. You can see a photo of Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band marching in a parade in the 1960s. You can also see our digitized version of the poster for the second Minnesota Irish Festival in 1981 or watch video of the Mooncoin Ceili Dancers being interviewed for Irish television during their 1986 visit to the Fleadh Nua in Ennis, County Clare.
In addition to all our library and archival holdings, the McKiernan Library also produces multi-media exhibitions celebrating aspects of local Irish cultural community history. These have included Irish Music and Musicians in the Twin Cities Community (2018), Forty Years of Irish Fair Posters (2019) and Leaders in the Twin Cities Irish Dance Community (2019). Exhibitions are displayed in our "exhibition hall" just outside the EML reading room as well as at local events including the Irish Fair of Minnesota.
We also create digital exhibitions, including our popular web-based offering Twin Cities Irish Music Community: 20th-Century Tradition Bearers and the Revival of the 1970s and ’80s. This all-online audio-visual production includes photos and audio excerpts
Events and Outreach
Finally, the EML works with our parent organization, Celtic Junction Arts Center, as well as other community groups including the Irish Music and Dance Association and the Traditional Singers Club to present special events. In 2018, we celebrated the completion of our first oral history project with a launch party including on stage interviews and musical performances. In 2018 and 2019 we worked with the Traditional Singers Club to bring Irish traditional singers Máirín Uí Chéide and Dan Milner to town to perform and to contribute to our archive of unaccompanied traditional song recordings.
The McKiernan Library is also part of CJAC's Irish Outreach Coalition. As part of the group's school programs, EML director Brian Miller talks about the history of Irish music in Minnesota with musical illustrations (one of the benefits of a singing librarian!)
The McKiernan Library relies on generous donors and volunteers to keep these enriching activities happening. Click here to learn more about joining our team!