Who we are

The Irish Cultural Society of the Pacific Northwest was founded in 2014 as a Washington State nonprofit corporation and took over running the Sean-nós Northwest Festival.  We are a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.  Seán Williams and Kimberly Goetz are currently responsible for the day-to-day operations of ICSPNW.

Sean Headshot

Seán Williams has been studying the Irish language and sean-nós singing since the 1970s. In addition to being the President of ICSPNW, she teaches singing workshops at our festivals.  Sean worked closely with the great sean-nós singer Joe Heaney in the final years of his life, and has recently co-written with Lillis Ó Laoire a critical and award-winning biography of Heaney’s life and works (Bright Star of the West: Joe Heaney, Irish Song-Man from Oxford University Press). A previous book, Focus: Traditional Irish Music (Routledge 2010) is currently in use in a number of universities in Ireland and North America. And her The Ethnomusicologists' Cookbook: Complete Meals from Around the World was named one of the New York Times’ Top 20 Cookbooks of 2006.  Her current book projects include The Performance of Liminality: Sacred, Alluring, and Dangerous (a monograph); Musics of the World (a textbook); When Musicians Speak: Interviews in Ethnomusicology (an edited volume with Julia Byl); and Blood Harmony (a murder mystery).  She is the President if ICSPNW, is a professor of Irish Studies and ethnomusicology at The Evergreen State College, and has a Facebook alter-ego named Captain Grammar Pants.

Kimberly Headshot

Kimberly Goetz has been reciting poems and telling stories since the 1980s.  She founded and taught the Thurston County TeenWorks Shakespeare Program and was a guest instructor for the inaugural session of the Capital Theater’s “Shakespeare Experience.” She was recognized for her public speaking skills at the 1991 National Speech Tournament where she won a Gold Award. Kimberly is a frequent lecturer on topics related to public policy, business, and the environment and is the author of An Introduction to Internet-Based Financial Investigations (Gower 2011).  In addition to performing and leading storytelling sessions at our festivals, she is the Festival Director for the Sean-nós Northwest Festival and honed her event organizational skills as the Golf Production Team Leader for the Richard Karns StarDays Celebrity Golf Tournament.  She is a former member of the Washington State Bar Association Disciplinary Board and currently serves as a Commissioner for the City of Lacey Historical Commission. She is also a fan of Captain Grammar Pants.

Seán and Kimberly get lots of help from some amazing experts, including:

Alicia Guinn currently teaches sean-nós, set, and céilí dancing in the Seattle area. Alicia started dancing as an adult while living in Northern Ireland in 1997. Since then, she has studied set and sean-nós dancing in Galway, Ireland, taught Irish dance workshops for festivals across the United States, and had the honor of dancing on stage with traditional musicians like Johnny B. Connolly, and Liz Carroll and John Doyle. Her sean-nós style incorporates steps learned directly from Galway dancers including Pádraig Ó hOibicín, Róisín Ní Mhainín, Máire Áine Ní Iarnáin, Rónán Regan, and Seosamh Ó Neachtain.  She was the featured dance instructor at the 2014 Féile Portland Irish Weekend and will be teaching at the 2015 Sean-nós Northwest Festival.

Brian Ó hAirt has performed extensively in the United States at the Milwaukee Irish Festival, Chicago Celtic Festival, Sean-nós Milwaukee and the Traditional Singers Club of the Twin Cities and in Ireland at Lá na nAmhrán, Cruinniú na mBád, the Ennis Trad Festival and Cuairt na mBàrd.  He has also had the distinction of being a singer to the President of Ireland, Dr. Mary McAleese.  His recordings have been featured on many radio programs in Ireland including Céilí House on RTÉ and Lán a’ Mhála on RnG as well as on various NPR programs in the States.  He is likewise a noted instrumentalist of accordion, concertina and whistle and plays with Milwaukee-based group Cé, and more recently with Chicago-based Bua, both of which Irish Music Magazine has lauded for their distinct talent and innovation in the vein of traditional music.  He has studied Irish at UW-Milwaukee’s Center for Celtic Studies as well as at the University of Limerick’s Irish World Music Center and the National University of Ireland—Galway. He has also spent three summers immersed in the language of the Connemara Gaeltacht and has taught Irish for the Saint-Louis branch of Cumann na Gaeilge and as well as for prestigious Washington University.  He has subsequently led language workshops and taught at various immersion programs throughout the United States.

Jill Sattler is a talented Northwest artist who has designed the last three posters for ICSPNW events.  She has been constructing and designing Celtic knotwork since 2010. After attending Sean Williams’ Irish Studies program at Evergreen State College in 2009-2010, Jill began working with Cari Buziak of Aon Celtic Art as an apprentice, learning how to weave, create, and design her own ideas. During the Ireland program, she also wrote an Irish children’s story about a magical harp, which she later illustrated and self-published as The Harp That Held Music. Her love of Ireland directs her art form, and has propelled her into graduate school. She is currently studying art and taking her knotwork from a two dimensional aspect to a three dimensional form using rope, string and other string-like materials to form structures, blankets and woven pieces of material. Jill’s passion for Celtic knotwork shines through her and shows up in her teaching style.  Jill recently finished her MFA from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon and is currently leading a Celtic Knotwork class through South Puget Sound Community College.

The festival was originally run by Sean-nós NW, which was organized as a Washington State nonprofit corporation in 2009 by founding Board members Seán Williams, David Ingerson, Maldon Meehan, Alicia Guinn, Kimberly Goetz, and Graham Smith.  Many of these founding members still actively participate in our efforts:

Bob Burke is President of The North American Association for Celtic Language Teachers (NAACLT). He has taken many Irish language courses in Ireland including a teachers' training course. Bob has published articles in Irish in the magazine Comhar and in the online magazine BEO. He has a special interest in second language acquisition by adults and has taught Irish at Marylhurst University in the Portland area for many years.

David Ingerson has been singing traditional Irish songs for over 30 years. He has visited Ireland eleven times attending music and singing festivals, collecting songs and researching their backgrounds, and studying the Irish language. During his visits he has studied traditional singing under dozens of Irish singers, including Paddy Tunney, Róisín White, Séamus MacMathúna, and Lillis Ó Laoire. He has performed on the stages of folk clubs throughout the Northwest, including the Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle, and presented workshops at folk singing camps and festivals.

Maldon Meehan is a performer, teacher, and scholar of Irish sean-nós and set dance. Maldon holds a BA from The Evergreen State College and a MA in Ethnochoreology from the University of Limerick, Ireland. She is a 2008 Regional Arts and Cultures grant recipient. As a sean-nós dancer, Maldon has appeared on the nationally televised 2005 Oireachtas at the Cork Opera House in Cork City (TG4) as well as on Connemara Community Radio and Raidió na Gaeltachta (RTÉ). In 2005, Maldon and Ronan Regan released an instructional DVD of sean-nós dance. Maldon has studied sean-nós dance with Róisín Ní Mhainín, Pádraig Ó hOibicín, Mick Mulkerrins, Mairéad Casey, Pádraig and Gearóid Ó Dubhain. Maldon currently lives in Portland where she teaches weekly classes, performs, and tours nationally.