The Irish Fair’s site along the pewter-gray, spreading Mississippi beneath downtown Saint Paul on the ample greensward of Harriet Island is majestic and invites celebration. The bustling and music-crammed Irish Fair with its snowy canvas tents, its black-tinted signposts, and plentiful green turf offers an Ireland of the mind to its visitors.
I wanted a class photo, your name on a staff list.
From old city directories I have pieced together
a list of the schools where you taught—
Cleveland, Lafayette, Edison, Ericsson, Drew—
not a one of them standing in the next century.
Old photos at the History Center show their stern facades.
And what of the faces looking at you every morning?
O’Shea Irish Dance is my Irish dance school. It is part of the Celtic Junction building. O’Shea teaches Irish dance for kindergarteners to adults. The dance company moved to the Celtic Junction two years ago. It has three studios. O’Shea participates in the St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the Landmark Center, the Irish Fair at Harriet Island in August, and Minnesota feishes (dance contests). They also go to the championships.
Patrick Coleman writes: "LeSueur was perhaps Minnesota’s most famous proletarian writer, so it is not surprising that she wrote about the humble people of Saint Paul’s Swede Hollow. The following selection was written during Prohibition, ushered in by passage of the Volstead Act in 1919." Extract from Meridel LeSueur, “Beer Town,” Life in the United States: A Collection of Narratives of Contemporary American Life from First-Hand Experience or Observation (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1933); pages 31–33, 40.
It isn’t as far from Saint Paul to Nepal as you might think it is. This was all brought home to me several years ago, in the men’s room of O’Gara’s Bar and Grill on Snelling Avenue in Saint Paul, where I experienced an epiphany while gazing up at its fourteen-foot-high walls, and saw there evidenced a feat of heroic proportions—surely on a par, for ordinary men, that is, with Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in their conquest of Mount Everest.
Grabbing the ballet barre to support myself, I attempted to stretch out my right leg. My thigh felt like a vise was twisting it tighter and tighter. The pain was so intense, I was afraid to breathe. I hobbled out of the dance room and nearly collapsed on the hallway floor. Massaging my cramped leg, I watched those energetic adults and wondered how I, a forty-seven-year-old Black woman with no dance experience, ended up in an Irish dance class.
Saint Paul, Minnesota: Everyone’s heard the tale of how it was built by drunken Irishmen who are responsible for the nonsensical layout of winding streets. Congruently, everyone who lives or has ever lived in Saint Paul knows that the one thing this city will never be without is its abundance of Irish pubs.
In anticipation of St. Patrick's Day, five local Irish-American writers will be reading in a popular monthly event sponsored by The Saint Paul Almanac and curated this month by Saint Paul Poet Laureate, Carol Connolly. Presented Monday, March 1, 2010 at the Blackdog Coffee and Wine Bar in Lowertown, Connolly brings together a quintet of acclaimed Irish Poets to read from new and selected works. Joining Carol for the reading will be Kevin Fitzpatrick, Ethna McKiernan, Tim Nolan, and Mary Kay Rummel.