UM Folklife to celebrate Irish heritage

Posted March 11, 2010, at 7:28 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — Many Mainers identify their heritage as Acadian or French-Canadian. Others have Scandinavian roots.

More than 15 percent claim some sort of Irish heritage, according to U.S. Census numbers, and for the first time, the University of Maine Folklife Center will celebrate that heritage with the Downeast Irish Review.

The event, which is being held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Union Street Brick Church in Bangor, will highlight Maine musicians and dancers who perform in the Irish tradition. The review is serving as a benefit for the folklife center, which is based at UMaine.

Tickets, which are $20 for adults and $8 for children, can be purchased at the door.

Folklife center director Pauleena MacDougall said people had approached her about bringing some elements of Maine’s Irish culture to the area.

“There are lots of folks around who have some Irish ancestry and enjoy the music and so on,” MacDougall said. “It seems there’s a little bit of a need for this.”

The musical lineup includes Castlebay, a duo made up of Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee. The group, which is from the Damariscotta area, performs in the style of an old-time variety show with tunes played on Celtic harp, guitar, fiddle and tin whistle.

Van Reid of Edgecomb, the author of The Moosepath League novel series, will tell stories.

Belfast trio Kristin Tescher, Nick Appollonio and Chris Brinn, who are known as Ballykelty, will perform on a double-strung Celtic harp, 12-string guitar, fiddle, cittern, five-string fiddle and accordion.

The Shamrock Dancers, who are affiliated with the Thomas School of Dance in Bangor, will perform the faery reel and other traditional Irish dances.

MacDougall said the Irish Review is one avenue the folklife center is exploring to generate revenue in tough budgetary times at UMaine. She is the only full-time employee of the center, down from five employees about four years ago.

“We have a number of things going on and other fundraising events planned for the future,” she said. “It’s been a tough couple of years. We’re going to build it back up again as things get better.”

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