The 2016 Celtic Connections Conference is history. I trust everyone who attended was entertained and invigorated.
I’d intended to take photos and post a short report each day. Instead, I moved from one activity to another like a whirling dervish – and found no time or energy for a report about what was happening in St Louis Park on August 4-6.
- My husband Bill and I led a 3-hour guided bus tour of Minneapolis/St Paul on Thursday afternoon. The weather gods smiled on us with a beautiful sunny day.
- After the bus tour, we began set-up of the raffle quilt and the IGSI bookstore in a DoubleTree meeting room. We were almost ready for business when check-in opened on Friday morning.
- About 250 registrants, coming from 26 states and three Canadian provinces, clearly exemplified the conference theme of “Celtic Roots across America.”
- Bagpiper Helen (pictured at right) called us to the keynote address – the perfect way to start a Celtic conference!
- The presenters were amazing, each an extraordinary genealogist with valuable knowledge and experience to share. Lacking the ability to clone ourselves, every attendee had to make difficult choices about which session to attend, and I heard nothing but positive feedback about the 25 Friday/Saturday presentations.
- Over the last few months I learned first-hand how much work is involved in putting on a conference like this. Co-chairs Ann Eccles and Mary Wickersham, aided by “third-chair” Mike Flynn, deserve praise and thanks for their untiring efforts.
- TIARA and IGSI committee members also toiled long and hard. Local Minnesota volunteers – many of whom with no Irish ancestry at all – stepped up to handle various support tasks. Lots of people are breathing a sigh of relief today.
- The Minnesota Celtic Fiddlers played to a packed room during the Friday lunch hour. What a thoughtfully-arranged program of music! What talent! Pictured (at a distance, unfortunately) from left: Bruce Prigge, Laura Simms, Sarah Martin, Kathy Bergen, Jamie Jachemic, Jacob Gatschet, Sarah Thompson, and Warren Porter. Seated in front with his bodhran: Eric Dam.
- Have you ever heard a recitation of Patrick Pearse’s poem, The Rebel? That’s how Kiernan Folliard began his banquet talk. The audience was mesmerized from his first words to his last. Trudy Harper’s harp music set the mood during the social hour and dinner. A delightful evening!
- Saturday brought yet another day of facts, stories, and techniques. The conference syllabus will come in handy when we want to remind ourselves about what we heard.
- Over lunch Erin Hart wowed us with an explanation of how she weaves bogs, history, forensics and genealogy into her mysteries.
- The “Big Five” international presenters – Brian Donovan, Bruce Durie, John Grenham, Brian Mitchell, and William Roulston – and the eight U.S. experts – Michael Brophy, Alice Eichholz, Nora Galvin, Lois Abromitis Mackin, William Mulligan, Sheila O’Rourke Northrop, Tom Rice, and Paula Stuart-Warren – made up a conference dream team. Conference attendees commented that they found the speakers friendly and open to questions and discussions throughout the day and evening.
This was but a wee recap of the conference. I’ve likely missed highlights because I was whirling in a different room at the time. However, as I wrote this posting, I found myself wanting to end each point with the statement “You should have been there.”
On Saturday afternoon the TIARA folks handed out “Save-the-date” reminders about the 2018 Celtic Connections Conference: August 11-12 in suburban Boston. You’ll want to be there.