MACOA presents World-Class Performance by ST. LOUIS IRISH ARTS During Irish Heritage Month
After having to postpone this performance by St. Louis Irish Arts in April 2020, Mineral Area Council on the Arts (MACOA) is finally able to bring this cultural event to the region! While we will be sizing down the number of performers due to the continuing need for the health and safety of both the performers and attendees, the show will be all the more spectacular!
Performing on Saturday, March 6th, at 6:00 p.m. at the Mineral Area College Fine Arts Theater will be three instructors from St. Louis Irish Arts, the premier school of traditional Irish music and dance in St. Louis founded by a first-generation emigrant, Dr. PJ Gannon and his wife Helen, who came to St. Louis, Missouri in 1967 from Dunmore, Co. Galway, Ireland. The couple grew up playing music and dancing, as they were taught the Irish way, from generation to generation or “ó ghlúin go ghlúin” meaning literally knee to knee. With few first-generation emigrants living in the St. Louis area, they quickly realized the need to keep the traditional Irish arts alive and began teaching their own children and others music and dance of Ireland. In 1973, St. Louis Irish Arts, Inc. joined Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, the “Society of the Musicians of Ireland.”
Although there were other dance classes and interest in traditional Irish music, in 1987, Helen Gannon, the owner and president of St. Louis Irish Arts, became the first TCRG certified dance instructor in the area. TCRG is the abbreviation for the Gaelic Teagascóir Choimisiúin le Rinci Gaelacha, which is interpreted “certified Irish dance teacher.” Mrs. Gannon has been named one of the Top 100 Irish Americans by Irish America Magazine. She has received the Lifetime Achievement award by Grand Center St. Louis and the Inspiration Award by Congress, and she is a member of the North American Feis Commission Hall of Fame.
The school boasts of award-winning step dancers and traditional musicians lauded in both the United States and Ireland including the three tutors who will be performing on March 6th in Park Hills.
Eimear Arkins is an award-winning singer and fiddle player from County Clare with eleven solo Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann (World Irish Music Championships) titles to her credit. She has performed throughout the US and Ireland with acclaimed bands like Cherish The Ladies, Téada, and The Paul Brock Band. She has toured extensively with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann in Ireland, Britain, North America and Canada. Eimear’s debut CD, What’s Next? was released in summer 2019 to great acclaim and she was named “Best Newcomer” by LiveIreland 2019. Most recently, Eimear has been awarded an artist fellowship from the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis and will kick up her heels in the energetic step dance to round out the night’s leap into Irish culture.
Eileen Gannon, a St. Louis native, is one of the top Irish harp players in the world. She has won numerous accolades including the highly coveted Senior Harp title at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. She has a bachelor’s degree in Music Performance from St. Louis University and a master’s degree in Ethnomusicology from University of Limerick. Eileen launched her debut solo CD, The Glory Days Are Over, to great acclaim in the summer of 2017.
Robert Ryan is a traditional Irish fiddler from London, who grew up immersed in the thriving Irish musical community of that city. Robert was encouraged to learn the tin whistle from a young age, and took up the fiddle at the age of eight, learning from the great Clare fiddler Brendan Mulkere. Over the years he developed a strong interest in the music of the Sliabh Luachra region of Ireland, and he has a deep love of the dance music associated with that area. He has recently moved to St. Louis, where he performs and teaches Irish music, and is particularly interested in sharing his passion for the music of Sliabh Luachra.
Tickets are $8 adults / $5 students and available by contacting Scottye Adkins at sadkins@MineralArea.edu or (573) 518-2125. Tickets may also be purchased here on Eventbrite.