Speaker Bios


11:00-Wes Koster- Learning the Irish Language: Gaeltacht MN
12:00-Brian Cunningham- Sean-nos Dancing
1:00-Ragnar Almqvist- The Global Island: Ireland and Brexit
2:00-Celtic Collaborative- Voices from the Famine ship
3:00-Patrick O'Donnell- Lord Dunsany: Grandfather of modern fantasy
4:00-Jim Rogers- Looking for Irishness in The Honeymooners
5:00-Tom Jeffers- Sport in Ireland Today
6:00-Alan S. Milligan- Bronze Age Sculpture/ Irish Fire



11:00-Audrey Leonard and Mary Wickersham- Facts/myths of family research- Irish Genealogical Society
12:00-Danielle Enblom- Irish Dancing Masters: Innovators of the Beloved Irish Step Dancing
1:00-Jim Rogers- Looking for Irishness in The Honeymooners
2:00-Celtic Collaborative - "Voices from the Famine Ship."
3:00-Mairtin de Cogain- All Ireland Irish Storyteller
4:00-Brooks Doherty- James Joyce, Ulysses, and a day in Dublin

Alan S. Milligan

6:00 pm Sunday

Belfast-born sculptor Alan S. Milligan is a member of the Umha Aois Symposium group, which runs annual community residences around Ireland and Northern Europe, casting and making artifacts and art works using Bronze Age methods. (www.umha-aois.com/)

He's received grants, fellowships and commissions from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, The Artist Fellowship (NYC), the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, and the Seaside Sculpture Project on Amelia Island, Fl.  Hot Metal Artist-in-Residence at Franconia Sculpture Park (2016) , he recently took part in the International Artist Exchange at Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris, France. He currently lives in St. Paul with his American wife novelist N.M.Kelby. (http://www.asmilligan.com)

Audrey Leonard and Mary Wickersham

11:00 am Sunday

Audrey started her family genealogy more than 20 years ago after discovering she had grown up only 9 blocks from her Great-Grandfather's homestead in South St. Paul. Since joining the IGSI, she has been active as a researcher, librarian, genealogy instructor and is currently in her third term as President of the Irish Genealogical Society International. 

Mary Wickersham, past President and current Treasurer of IGSI, started her research when planning a trip to Ireland. In addition to her IGSI volunteer work, Mary is a member, past officer and volunteer for the Minnesota Genealogical Society, and is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists. 

brian cunningham

12:00 pm Saturday

The "Michael Flatley of Sean-Nós Dancing" (RTE TV), Brian Cunningham hails from Connemara, Ireland and is the most exciting sean-nós or 'old-style' dancer to have emerged from Ireland. At 29 years of age, he has won all the major dance competitions in Ireland, and was honored with an invitation by the President of Ireland to perform during an Official State visit to Japan and South Korea in 2005. In addition to dancing, Brian choreographs and produces for shows such as "Fuaim Chonamara" and "Atlantic Steps,"and teaches workshops internationally for aspiring dancers of all ages. 

Brooks doherty

4:00 pm sunday

Brooks Doherty is the Academic Dean at Rasmussen College in Eden Prairie, MN. He received his MA in literature from University College London after graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Minnesota with majors in political science and English. Before becoming dean at Rasmussen College’s Eden Prairie campus, Brooks was it’s General Education Faculty Coordinator, teaching writing and communication courses to students of varying disciplines. Prior to his career in higher education, Brooks was a Minnesota news reporter for nearly a decade, working for the Minnesota Public Radio Group, Hubbard Broadcasting, and Waitt Radio. Today, Brooks will talk on James Joyce, Ulysses, and a day in Dublin.


celtic collaborative

2:00 pm saturday

Celtic Collaborative is an innovative nonprofit literary arts group that produces 'living anthology' shows created collaboratively by groups of actors/artists with a passion for (mostly) Irish culture, literature, language and heritage. It also is an independent publisher that created the eighteen author anthology, The Harp and the Loon: Literary Bridges between Ireland and Minnesota. It is one of the resident companies in the Celtic Junction Arts Center. 

danielle enblom

12:00 pm sunday

Danielle Enblom holds a Diploma in Traditional Irish Music from University College Cork and in 2013 was honored with a post-graduate fellowship grant to research and teach traditional dance and dance history in County Cork and County Kerry, Ireland.Danielle's research on historical and cultural signifiers of dance traditions in Ireland allowed her to collect history and steps from archives, libraries, and dancers around the country. 

jim rogers

4:00 pm saturday and 1:00 pm sunday

Jim Rogers is the editor of the New Hibernia Review, the director of the Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas, and a past president of the American Conference for Irish Studies. He is the author of numerous articles and reviews on Irish-American history and literature, and has written or edited three books on the topic. His latest book is Irish-American Autobiography (CUA Press 2016). 

mairtin de cogain

3:00 pm sunday

When writing about what Máirtín de Cogan does, it sometimes seems easier to explain what he DOESN’T do. Máirtín is an accomplished singer and bodhrán player, both as a soloist, and as a member of the Fuchsia Band. He has written his own 1-man show, “ Declan the Bogman”, which he has performed around the U.S. and Ireland, and has appeared in the film, “ The Wind that Shakes the Barley”. He is also an accomplished dance instructor, and former 2-time all-Ireland storyteller. Máirtín was instrumental in starting the Rochester Irish Fest, which will be back for Labor Day Weekend. We are glad to have him grace the stages of Irish Fair of Minnesota.

patrick o'donnell

3:00 pm Saturday

Although busy as the Irish Fair's Cultural Area Manager and the founder and Director of its annual St. Paul Irish Arts Week (since 2016), Patrick, as a Professor of English at Normandale Community College and founder of the Celtic Collaborative literary arts nonprofit, sometimes dons a slightly more academic hat on occasion to give a talk related to Ireland's extraordinarily complex, multidemensional and rich literary history. This year he will discuss the amazing story of Lord Dunsany, one of the most popular authors of fantasy in the early decades of the twentieth century and a crucial influoence on figures as varied as H.P. Lovecraft, J.R.R. Tokien and Neil Gaiman. 

ragnar almqvist

1:00 pm Saturday

Ragnar Almqvist is Ireland's Vice Consul to the Midwest United States. The son of a Swedish folklorist and an Irish writer, he was born in Dublin where he was raised and attended school through the Irish language. He holds a Bachelor's degree in English and German from University College Dublin and Master's Degrees in English and Economic Policy, both from Trinity College Dublin, Ragnar joined Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 2008. He was Deputy Head of Ireland's Embassy to Sweden between 2010 and 2013. Prior to his appointment to the Consulate General in Chicago in August 2016, he served in the Department of the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) for three years, where he worked on EU policy, helping to coordinate Ireland's preparations for Brexit. He is married and has one daughter. 

tom jeffers

5:00 pm saturday

Tom Jeffers is a native of Dublin. He came to St. Paul 9 years ago as a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant, teaching Irish Gaelic at the University of St. Thomas. Tom is passionate about sports, as a fan and as a player – he's tried his hand at all of the sports played in his homeland, with varying success. The highlight of the Irish Fair for Tom is Croke Park, where you can see Gaelic Football, Hurling and Rugby on display.

wes koster

11:00 am saturday

Wes Koster is an instructor for Gaeltacht Minnesota, an organization that has taught the Irish language in Minnesota for more than 30 years. Today he'll share some of the pleasures and pains of learning and teaching the Irish Gaelic language. 

Wes has a linguistics background, and has taught Irish at the beginning and mid-level for 9 years, as well as Scottish Gaelic for St. Paul Community Education. If you’re interested in learning the language with Gaeltacht Minnesota, Wes will have all the details forthcoming.