image: grid of the Celtic flags
NYC Irish in Brittany: Invitation to France

New Yorkers Hilary Beirne and Niall O’Leary have been invited by the Inter-Celtic Festival of Lorient (Brittany, France) to participate in a number of conferences and cultural activities associated with the largest gathering of the eight Celtic nations in the world. The festival was founded in 1971. The theme of this year’s festival is “In the year of Ireland”. In addition to the many local and national French government officials will be The President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins.

The Inter-Celtic Festival of Lorient

Every year, 4,500 artists and bands from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Cornwall, Asturias, Galicia and Brittany, go to Lorient to take part in this exciting Inter-Celtic festival. Lorient will host an expected 700,000 Celtics from all across the globe transforming the city into a celebration of Celtic music, dance and song. The festival will be held from August 1st to Aug 10th, 2014.

Conference: The Irish of New York

The chamber of commerce in Lorient will host a conference titled “The Irish of New York” which will be part of the many discussions concerning Ireland and its diaspora at the festival. Leading the conference will be Hilary Beirne (founder of the St. Patrick’s Day Foundation, NYC and Executive Secretary of the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade). Other speakers include: Niall O’Leary (Founder of the Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance; former World Champion Dance Irish; past President of The Irish Business Organization of New York, Inc.), Dr. Art Hughes (Professor at University of Ulster; Visiting Professor and Senior Fulbright Scholar at Ireland House in New York University; presenter and host of the show Art agus Tomaí san Eoraip on BBC Northern Ireland) and Charles Kergaravat (Founder and Director of Breizh Amerika; co-founder of BZH New York).

Discussion: St. Patrick’s Day in the United States

On August 4th, Mr. Beirne will lead an hour long discussion on the history of the tradition of St. Patrick’s Day in the United States and how it has become a $4.8 billion holiday with over 187 million U.S. Americans annually celebrating St Patrick’s Day. He will also discuss the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade, its impact on NYC and the past, present and future of the Parade.

Discussion: The role of Irish-Americans

On August 6th, Mr. Beirne will be joined by Niall O’Leary, Dr. Art Hughes and Charles Kergaravat for a group discussion on: the role of Irish-Americans in the promotion and development of economic interests in the United States; the fusion of dance and music of Irish-Americans in the creation of bluegrass, blues, country, Broadway, etc.; and the history of the Irish language in the USA.

The group will be involved in a number of cultural exchanges during their visit in Brittany and are scheduled to attend a number of cultural meetings with local organizations and officials who have ties to the United States.

City of Plougastel, France

On Tuesday, August 5th, Mr. Beirne is invited to visit the city of Plougastel and view the Calvary of Plougastel, a religious ensemble dating back to 1590’s. The work was damaged in WWII and repaired by American Lieutenant John Davis Skilton who worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City before the war. Mr. Beirne will attend a luncheon hosted by the Mayor of Plougastel, Dominique Cap, and members of the cultural organizations Bagad Plougastell and Bleuniou Sivi which participated in the 2012 NYC St. Patrick’s Parade.

City of Gourin, France

In the evening, Mr. Beirne will attend a reception hosted by Bretagne Transamerica at the US museum located at the Chateau de Tronjoly in the City of Gourin where he will meet with the Mayor of Gourin, David Le Solliec for presentations and a reception.

City of Auray, France

On Thursday, the delegation will travel to the City of Auray where it will meet with the Mayor, Jean Dumoulin, at the port of St. Goustan, the site where Benjamin Franklin landed on his way to Paris to get help for the American Revolution in December, 1776. This event is organised by Breizh Ma Bro and Kevrenn Alre who participated in the 2007 NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

“Delighted and honored…”

In a statement by Mr. Beirne, “I am delighted and honored to lead the delegation and am particularly honored to be part of such a distinguished group traveling to Brittany. It is so important that exchanges occur between people of different cultures, especially cultures that have been so intertwined over the centuries. The eight Celtic nations have so much in common, and this is very evident when one attends the festival in Lorient. There are so many different forms of Celtic dance and music, yet they are all similar. One can hear and see the common Celtic thread/theme in all of them. The festival is absolutely an amazing event and everyone should try to attend it at least once in their life time! This trip would not be possible without the assistance of Charles Kergaravat, Founder and Director of Breizh Amerika, and co-founder of BZH here in New York City. We are grateful to him for organizing it. We are all looking forward to a great trip and exchanges of cultural ideology and ideas.”


(Featured image: The Flags of the Celtic Nation. Images licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.)

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