Posted by: mdmusingsie | October 27, 2010

Celtic Portland (and Vancouver, too)

You don’t have to go all the way to Ireland to have a Celtic experience. Right here in the greater Portland/Vancouver area there are Irish language courses both formal and informal, several forms of Irish dancing, plenty of Irish music, Irish pubs, and of course, lots of typical Irish weather, especially in the winter. We even welcomed Ireland’s President Mary McAleese on a snowy day in December, 2008, to dedicate a memorial to the victims of the Great Famine (one of those memorable moments I won’t soon forget).

We’ve created our own little Gaeltacht Cascadia were we welcome novice as well as fluent speakers to join us nearly every Saturday to practice our cúpla focal. There are other groups hosting language practice sessions around town, as well. In addition, you can even take a formal course in the language at Marylhurst University.

There is a fair bit of traditional Irish music to be had in the area – my personal favorite. Not only are there many talented musicians, locally bred as well as imported, but there are frequent visitors from Ireland, bringing that little slice of magic right into the heart of the Pacific Northwest. In the last year I’ve seen Taeda, Noel Hill, and Fingal, and that’s only a fraction of the talent that has been brought to town in that period of time.

If just tapping your foot to the music isn’t enough, there are Céilí’s several times a month, including impromptu dances organized by our own Sam Keator. Mo chairde from the Tir Eoighain dance group entertain at events around town and welcome new members all the time.

I have to give a shout out to Sam who not only works tirelessly to take plenty of two-left-footed novices and turn them into céilí dancers; but along with his wife Anne Dougherty (up Donegal!) bring some of the best traditional music here from around the country and the Emerald Isle itself.

Although this posting sounds a bit like a commercial, it’s merely meant to be a reminder that if, like me, you’re missing Ireland, which I do every single day, there are places around town that you can go and experience a wee bit of the Celtic Magic. So, until I can return, for a few moments at one of these gatherings, I can close my eyes and pretend I’m back in the land of my heart’s desire.

Resources in the greater Portland/Vancouver area:

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