Congratulations go out this month to Irish dancer Kieran Jordan, who was awarded a 2018 “Fellows in the Traditional Arts” grant by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Last year, Kieran opened her own dance studio on Hyde Park Ave. near Cleary Square, and the Council award includes a $12,000 grant to support her work.
“We are delighted to announce the 2018 Artist Fellows and Finalists in the Traditional Arts awarded by Mass Cultural Council,” the Council said. “At the age of five, Kieran Jordan watched Irish step dancing for the first time in a St. Patrick’s Day parade. Soon after, she was taking lessons in her parish hall on Saturday mornings. Thus began her life-long journey to becoming not only a renowned Irish step dancer, but also a cultural activist and an invaluable resource within the Irish-American community.
“Jordan is a gifted dancer, choreographer, and teacher of old style Irish step dances, a tradition that is intricately tied to Irish history, local culture, and traditional music. She displays the aesthetic assurance that naturally evolves from the dedication of a gifted artist who has danced competitively within the Irish traditional step-dancing sphere.”
A native of Pennsylvania, Kieran came to Boston to take her degree at Boston College, and after her 1996 graduation she joined the staff of the Boston Irish Reporter as arts editor. She is married to fellow artist Vincent Crotty, and they make their home in Dorchester Lower Mills.
One of the joys of belonging to Boston’s Eire Society are the emails sent to members by longtime association secretary Barbara Fitzgerald. She creates a series of timely and interesting items connecting Irish traditions to contemporary events. Here’s a recent sample, celebrating the imminent arrival of spring:
“Brigit, Bride, Brighid, Brigid is said to walk on earth on Imboloc Eve, Feb 1st. Before going to bed, each member of the household may leave a piece of clothing outside for Brigit to bless. These clothes are brought inside and believed to now have the process of healing.
“On the following day the girls carry a Bride ‘og’ doll made from straw and carry a St. Brigid’s Cross from house to house. The old cross is thrown in the hearth and a new cross is then placed in the entrance to their homes and outbuildings to protect their homes and animals from want and evil.
“Tradition shows that many Irish folks bake Oatcakes and eat jam because the convent (where) Saint Brigid lived made jam in the 5th century. She was the Abbess there.
“The cross made from rushes protects the houses from fire and evil. It is hung in many Irish American kitchens for this purpose.”
As Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, approached, she told us: “Irish Folklore: Cailleach the Hag, witch or old woman, gathers her firewood for the rest of the winter. Legend has it that she intends to make the weather last a good while longer. She will make sure the weather in February is bright and sunny so she can gather plenty of firewood to keep herself warm in the coming months. As a result people are relieved if the day has foul weather. It means she will run out of firewood there for winter is over.
“American Folklore: The Groundhog Day” has its origins in an ancient celebration of a point midway between winter solstice and spring equinox. Superstition has it that fair weather was seen as a forbearance of a stormy and cold second half of winter. Punxsutawney Phil is now the official weather forecaster. See shadow, more winter; No shadow, end of winter.”
Barbara signs off each little pearl of wisdom with: