Speaker's Stage Profiles

// back to Cultural Area


     Once you’ve filled your stomach in the Pub Tent, come feed your mind in the Speakers' Tent. Named in honor of Eoin McKiernan, the founder of the Irish American Cultural Institute, the Speakers' Tent caters to curious visitors who wish to learn more about Irish culture and heritage. Throughout the fair, 45-minute sessions are presented on Irish history, culture, arts and sports.

     Presentations elaborate on how these subjects have impacted Ireland and its history. Speakers range from historians and scholars to passionate individuals who have dedicated their time to building expertise on certain topics.

     For those interested in creative aspects of Irish culture, the tent hosts Irish poetry readings and theater performances. Shanachie storytellers, skilled tellers of traditional Gaelic tales and legends, are also regular performers in the Speakers' Tent.

     If you leave the Speakers' Tent craving even more intellectual discussion, join in on interactive, engaging and spirited conversations at the Celtic Chat tables near the Pavilion. Three to five Irish experts host a table each hour. Past "chat" topics have ranged from Irish sports and film to James Joyce and writing an Irish novel.





11:00-Mary Sue Brooks-The Women of the Easter Rising
12:00-Jim Rogers-America and the Easter Rising
1:00-Wes Koster-Learning the Irish Language
2:00-Patrick O' Donnell-The Easter Rising in Irish Literary History
3:00-Tom Dahill-Danny Who? 40 Years of Playing Irish Music
4:00-Danielle Enblom-Traditional Arts: The Secret Weapon in Irish Independence 
5:00-6:30-The Celtic Collaborative-Performance: The Ghosts of 1916



11:00-Beth Vought-Irish Genealogy
12:00-Patrick O' Donnell-They Led the Way:Pearse, Connolly and Clarke
1:00-Jim and Mary Sue Brooks-50 Years of the St. Pat's Day Parade
2:00-2:00-3:30-The Celtic Collaborative-Performance:The Ghosts of 1916
4:00-Jim Rogers-America and the Easter Rising

Mary Sue McFarland Brooks

11:00 am Saturday 

"The Women of The Easter Rising" 


Mary Sue McFarland Brooks and her husband Jim have been publishing the Irish Gazette in the Twin Cities for over 25 years.  Mary Sue organized part of the St. Paul Irish Arts Week in April, focusing the women who participated in the Easter Rising 1916.  She will share her reflections.

Jim Rogers

12:00 pm Saturday

"America and the Easter Rising"


Few names are as familiar to the Twin Cities’ Irish community as that of Jim Rogers. Jim is the Chair of Irish studies at the University of St. Thomas, and has served as a speaker and advisor both at our Fair and at Irish events throughout the Midwest.  Jim is also editor of the New Hibernian Review, which is published quarterly.  Jim was the 2011 recipient of Irish Fair’s Curtin-Conway award, presented annually for lifetime contributions to our Irish community and currently coordinates the Celtic Chat Table at Irish Fair.  

Wes Koster

1:00 pm Saturday

"Learning the Irish Language"


Wes Koster is an instructor for Gaeltacht Minnesota, an organization that has taught the Irish language in Minnesota for more than 30 years.  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. Today, he’ll share some of the pleasures and pains of learning and teaching the Irish Gaelic language.  If you are interested in learning the language with Gaeltacht Minnesota, Wes will have all the details.  

Patrick O'Donnell

2:00 pm Saturday & 12:00 pm Sunday

"The Easter Rising in Irish Literary History & They Led the Way: Pearse, Connolly and Clarke"


Dr. Patrick O’ Donnell, who teaches English at Normandale Community College, wears many hats at the Irish Fair.   Patrick, who sits on the Irish Fair board, was the creator and coordinator of Irish Fair’s Summer School.  He leads Irish Fair’s Cultural Committee, founded the Celtic Collaborative Irish theater and literary company and spearheaded the planning for the 2016 St. Paul Irish Arts Week.  When he isn’t juggling all these plates, Patrick sometimes contributes as a lecturer.  Today, Patrick will speak about three of the most important leaders of the Easter Rising – James Connolly, Padraig Pearse and Tom Clarke.

Tom Dahill

3:00 pm Saturday

"Danny Who? 40 Years of Playing Irish Music" 


Tom Dahill has been making music in pubs and kitchens for more than 40 years, as a soloist, as a member of the Dahills, and with various musical partners.  A multi-instrumentalist, Tom plays fiddle, button accordion, guitar and uilleann pipes as well as being a fine singer.  Over the years, Tom has picked up hundreds of Irish songs and tunes and stories on his many travels throughout America and Ireland.


Danielle Enblom

4:00 pm Saturday

"Traditional Arts: The Secret Weapon in Irish Independence"


The history of the Easter Rising has been approached from many perspectives over the years.  Danielle Enblom, accomplished Irish dancer and musician, has studied Irish dance and music both in North America and in Ireland.  Danielle’s academic work has prepared her to approach this subject from an artistic perspective. 

The Celtic Collaborative

5:00 - 6:30 pm Saturday & 2:00 - 3:30 pm Sunday

"The Ghosts of 1916"


The Celtic Collaborative was founded in 2011 to bring to life the theater, poetry, and stories of the Celtic nations. They have performed previously at Irish Fair, as well as the Landmark Center, Brit’s pub, The Rochester Irish Fest, the Black Dog café, and the Celtic Junction.  Last year, the Celtic Collaborative entered the realm of publishing, with the Harp and the Loon, an anthology of Irish writers in Minnesota.  This year, they have sponsored three writing classes.  Today, the Collaborative will encore their production from the St. Paul Irish Arts Week in April “The Ghosts of 1916.”

Beth Vought

11:00 am Sunday

"Irish Genealogy"


Beth jumped into researching her Irish genealogy the day she discovered she was Irish. She is active in IGSI (Irish Genealogical Society International) teaching, helping people research, and doing her own research. Beth successfully located her ancestor's county/townland and discovered cousins still living there. Professionally Beth is a technical communicator/trainer.

Jim and Mary Sue Brooks

4:00 pm Sunday

"50 Years the St. Patrick's Day Parade" 


St. Paul has enjoyed celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a parade for 50 years.  Jim and Mary Sue Brooks, publishers of the Irish Gazette, have been documenting the parade for at least half that time.  Today they will be talking about its history with help from several of the people who made it happen.