Bi-campus Irish Culture Week 2023

Participants at the 2023 UW-Milwaukee Tionól Gaeilge

The 2023 Tionól Gaeilge (Irish Language Gathering) was a great success! People came from all across the state of Wisconsin and the broader Midwest to participate in this annual language and culture immersion experience, hosted by UW-Milwaukee’s Center for Celtic Studies on March 3-5, 2023.

This year we also organized an exciting series of events in the week leading up to the Tionól, spread out over both the UW-Milwaukee and UW-Madison campuses. Here are a few highlights from the first ever Seachtain Chultúir Ghaelaigh (ar an dá champas), aka Bi-campus Irish Culture Week!


Our first event was a public lecture by Professor Thomas Dubois, head of the Folklore Program at UW-Madison. Tom shared the history of the creation of the Schools Collection, a project of the Irish Folklore Commission in the 1930s, in which thousands of rural schoolchildren interviewed local adults about customs, legends, foodways, and other aspects of regional folklife. We also learned about the amazing Meitheal Dúchas crowd-sourced digitization project, which has made this phenomenal collection of folklore notations accessible to anyone in the world.

Watch the recording

"Exploring Irish Folklore of the 1930s using the Meitheal Dúchas Folklore Collection" - a talk by Professor Thomas Dubois
"Oideas Gael: a social enterprise model for language revitalization" - a talk by Rónán Ó Dochartaigh

UW-Madison was thrilled to host Rónán Ó Dochartaigh, language director at Oideas Gael, Irish language and culture immersion school in southwest Donegal. During his visit to Madison, Rónán gave a talk as part of the Linguistics Fridays Colloquia series. His talk addressed the status of the Irish language, and the innovative “social enterprise” approach of Oideas Gael, an organization which teaches Irish, but also creates employment opportunities, fosters sustainable tourism, and strengthens the local economy in Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) areas.

Watch the recording

Rónán also led free Irish language classes during the week at two different levels. The classes were open to all and were attended by community members as well as UW-Madison students and staff.

We are very grateful to the following units, who generously co-sponsored Rónán’s visit! Language Sciences, the Language Institute, the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic+, the Folklore Program, and the Center for European Studies.

Beginner Irish language workshop


"The Status of the Irish Language in the North of Ireland" - a talk by Cailín Nic an tSionnaigh and Clíodhna Ní Chorráin

UWM’s annual Douglas Hyde Lecture was held on Thursday March 2 this year. In this joint colloquium, Cailín Nic an tSionnaigh (Irish language FLTA, UW-Milwaukee) and Clíodhna Ní Chorráin (Irish language FLTA, Notre Dame) took us on a decades-long historical tour of the political landscape and the struggle for Irish language rights in the North of Ireland, including viewpoints from various sides of the political spectrum.

Watch the Recording

Watching a livestream of the talk at UW-Madison

Tionól Gaeilge

The Milwaukee immersion weekend itself took place at the Celtic Milwaukee Center, and included two days of language classes at four levels. Outside of the classroom there were a variety of cultural activities to take part in: a céilí, traditional music, song, and poetry sessions, and an incredible bilingual bodhrán / Ojibwe hand-drum making workshop, led by Professor Margaret O’Donnell Noodin with assistance from Rónán Ó Dochartaigh.

The Tionól Gaeilge was generously sponsored by the Fulbright Commission in Ireland and The Irish Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

Tessa Culleton, Program Director at the Celtic Studies Center, welcoming participants to the Tionól
Examining the buffalo hides to figure out which side goes up in the bodhrán / Ojibwe hand-drum workshop

Professor Brian Ó Conchubhair (Notre Dame) reading a poem from his book Bone and Marrow / Cnámh agus Smior: An Anthology of Irish Poetry from Medieval to Modern at the County Clare Inn.

Tonnta Thoraí (The Waves of Tory) céilí dance
Karen Reshkin, Mike O’Regan, and Clíodhna Ní Chorráin sharing their musical talents with everyone during an evening session
Beautiful bilingual Ojibwe/Irish poem by Margaret Noodin and Cailín Nic an tSionnaigh

Go raibh míle míle maith agaibh / many thanks to everyone who contributed their talent, time, and energy to this wonderful infusion of Irish culture. Ní neart go cur le chéile!