Speakers Bios

Celtic Phoenix Theatre
An ensemble of writers and actors committed to intermingling the capacious Irish and Celtic literary, historical, and mythological traditions in self-created “devised” theatre, the Celtic Phoenix Theatre most frequently performs in the McKiernan Library and is the resident acting troupe at St. Paul’s Celtic Junction Arts Center. Previous productions include: Dream Voices from the Irish Famine and Wails from the Cauldron: A Hallowe’en Pilgrimage. The group includes: Sarah Kiani, Patrick O’Donnell, Dan Gleeson, Eddie Owens, Naomi Stemborg, Fred Stemborg, Mariam Kiani, John Concannon, Karen Rene-Peterson, and Jane Steiner.

Anna Cotillon
Anna Colliton is one of America’s leading exponents of the bodhrán, the traditional Irish frame drum. A native of Chicago, a city of Irish musical excellence, Anna plays a highly intricate style of drumming with masterful tonal and rhythmic variation. She has taught and performed at festivals across the country, including Catskills Irish Arts Week, Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, The O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat, The St. Louis Tionol, and Augusta Celtic week, as well as with the Academy of Irish Music in Chicago and the Irish Arts Center in New York. Anna toured with the band Comas for several years and has recently returned from a three year stay at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, where she performed at the International Showcase at Epcot Theme Park. She has also played and performed with Cherish the Ladies, the Paul McKenna Band, Girsa, and others.

Lavinia Finnerty
A transplant from the Gaeltacht region of Connemara, Lavinia Finnerty, is an energetic advocate for the Irish language. She teaches Irish language literature, children’s literature, and listening/speaking/grammar skills at the Irish College of Minnesota in the Celtic Junction’s McKiernan Library, focusing particularly on preparing students for Maynooth University’s internationally accredited TEG (Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge) exams in comprehending and speaking the Irish language.

Carrie Finnigan 
Carrie Finnigan is an extraordinarily vital Minnesota-based artist who reinvents motifs and content from Celtic mythology in new ways for a 21st century Midwest audience. Of particular note was her 2018 60-foot wide mural on the south wall of Celtic Junction (completed in collaboration with Marty Ochs) featuring four panels representing core elements of Celtic culture and art. She also regularly teaches Drawing Celtic Mythology classes at the Irish College of Minnesota at Celtic Junction.

David Gardiner
`Dr. David Gardiner is the recently appointed Director of the Center for Irish Studies and the editor of the New Hibernia Review at the University of St. Thomas. An alum of St. Thomas, he began his graduate work at University College – Galway after receiving the Rhodes Scholarship nomination. He has published four books and over forty articles in Ireland, the U.K. and EU. His forthcoming work of poetry will be published by Salmon Poetry (Ireland) in 2020.

Dave Hogan 
Dave Hogan is a fluent Gaelic speaker. He has worked extensively as an academic ecologist, a naturalist and wildlife biologist, an environmental consultant, and in heritage and tourism consultancy. He has a wide experience in lecturing, from formal academics in Canada and Ireland, to informal interpretive lectures in the Irish landscape (which is now his only classroom). He is an excellent communicator and lecturer, specializing in using non-technical language and images to illuminate important landscape features. He has wide experience of organizing and leading nature and heritage tours to all parts of Ireland, but mainly in the West. Over the years he has worked with geologists, archaeologists and vegetation historians and this teamwork has given him an intimate understanding of the natural and cultural heritage that is the Irish landscape. He has specialized knowledge and experience in flora, vegetation, ornithology, mammalogy, and landscape structure. His interest in landscape has brought him into contact with the rich tapestry of social and cultural influences that have contributed to molding the physical and biological landscape, place names, history, mythology and the Irish language. His early interest in Irish storytelling, music and song fits right into this cross-over and contributes to his passion.

Patsy O’Brien
Patsy O’Brien is a Cork-born musician and music teacher noted for his mastery of Irish guitar techniques whose most recent collaborative project, “The Boy Patrick” investigates the life and youth of Ireland’s national saint: the “boy who became a saint.”

Patrick O’Donnell
Irish-born Patrick O’Donnell wears many hats at the Irish Fair of Minnesota. Primarily, he coordinates its Cultural Area, but is also a board member and the founder and director of the annual ten-day Irish Arts Week (since 2016). Outside the Irish Fair, he is the editor (and contributing writer) for the quarterly online cultural magazine, The Celtic Junction Arts Review, the Director of Education for the Irish College of Minnesota at the Celtic Junction, a teacher who focuses on literary history, literature, and mythology, a fiction writer specializing in Young Adult fantasy and historical fiction, and, an actor/director with the Celtic Phoenix Theatre.

Eddie Owens
Dubliner Eddie Owens is renowned in the Irish community for his expressive skills as an actor going all the way back to his days with Na Fianna Irish Theatre in the 1980s. Currently, he enlivens the company of the Celtic Phoenix Theatre. He is also a remarkable sculptor using found objects to create work with a social and historical conscience. In recent years, his poems and stories have appeared in the anthology, The Harp and the Loon: Literary Bridges between Ireland and Minnesota. 

Lynette Reini-Grandell
An award-winning Minnesota poet with strong connections to her Finnish roots, Lynette Reini-Grandell also acknowledges a wide-reaching appreciation for Celtic visionary lyrics especially the Mystery songs of the ancient bard Amergin. Her previous poetry collections include Approaching the Gate (Holy Cow! Press, 2014) which won the 2015 Northeastern Minnesota Book Award for Poetry, and Wild Verge (Holy Cow! Press, 2018).

Jim Rogers    
Recently retired after over three decades involvement in Irish Studies, Jim Rogers is the former editor of New Hibernia Review, the former 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 work is a book of poetry, The Collector of Shadows. 

Sonoglyph Collective
Sonoglyph Collective superbly intermingle poetic utterance and story with improvised musical meditative riffs and melodies in wholly unique free-floating performances. Featuring the poets Hawona Sullivan Janzen, Lynette Reini-Grandell, IBe Kaba, and Kathryn Kysar, Sonoglyph Collective also includes the musicians Aaron Kerr (cello), Sean Egan (clarinet), and Jonathan Townsend (percussion).

Caroline Tatem
A scholar with deep interests in Irish and Irish-American history and folklore and language, Caroline Tatem is the North American Tour Manager for the internationally celebrated Armagh Rhymers group whose work dovetails and complements her research interests in mumming and masquerade traditions.