The Irish Stew podcast continues to explore the global Irish theme and in the final episode the conversation delves into the Irish community in the Midwest.
Irish Stew Podcast hosts John Lee and Martin Nutty sit down with Natalie Nugent O’Shea, founder of the Celtic Junction Arts Center in Minnesota to discuss the importance of Irish cultural centers to the diaspora and the community in general.
Natalie founded the Celtic Junction Arts Center in St Paul, Minnesota in 2016 alongside her husband, Cormac O’Sé.
The name of the center was inspired by the force of Minestota’s rivers and railways and Natalie and her husband wanted the center to reflect that. “We wanted to make sure it was a crossroads where everyone can contribute and meet.”
Today, the vibrant shared space has grown into one of America’s premier Irish hubs and features Irish dance, music and drama, Irish literature and language, an Irish heritage library and intercultural shows.
In 2018 it celebrated the huge success of being named Best Cultural Center by Irish Central.
The center logo is the Cross of Saint Brigid, and Natalie explains how the ancient Celtic symbol reflects the values of the Celtic Junction Arts Center.
“Each of these strands of reeds or straw [from the cross] assemble to hold the center inside, then the pieces that project out … it’s an ordinary item and when wrapped together it can turn into something bigger and become a symbol of community, ”she said.
According to Natalie, Irish cultural centers are not only important to the communities in which they are based, but are fundamental to increasing Ireland’s global footprint.
“As beautiful as the Irish arts and traditions are, they are not meant to be put in a display case. They are not made to stand still, they are energy. [and] they evolve. We let them cross and sometimes they lead to something else. “
“Cultural centers connect with other cultures, traditions and races – this is the very essence of America’s energy”