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Enrollment Now Open for Milwaukee Irish Fest Summer School

Taught by World-Renowned Instructors, Workshops for all ages Celebrate Irish Traditions

Returning for the program’s 31st year, the Milwaukee Irish Fest Summer School will again welcome students and teachers for a week of hands-on learning, August 13 – 17, 2018. A one-of-a-kind experience, the summer school showcases Irish and Celtic traditions, and features some of the top artists and scholars in Irish and Celtic music, history and culture.

“For adults, children and families alike, there is nothing quite like the Milwaukee Irish Fest Summer School,” said Jane Walrath, director of the Milwaukee Irish Fest Summer School. “From expertly tailored classes, to world-renowned instructors, this unique, hands-on educational experience is one that you won’t want to miss.”

With more than 40 class offerings and special events, 2018 highlights include:

Exciting new classes

  • Celtic Calligraphy with Linda Lubner – The Celtic Calligraphy class will cover how to use a broad tipped pen, a line sheet and foundational strokes to make Celtic calligraphy. The class will also cover a short history of calligraphy, the Book of Kells,” and show the many ways to lay out the calligraphy on paper.
  • The Bogside Artists – The Bogside Artists, Tom Kelly and Kevin Hasson, first began working together in 1993 to document the events surrounding the Northern Ireland Troubles. With supplies donated from local residents, they painted several murals on the walls of Rossville Street buildings commemorating the Battle of Bogside and Bloody Sunday. Kelly and Hasson will discuss their murals’ history and social impact.
  • Improving Your Vocal Skills with Hank Cramer – Accomplished folk singer and educator Hank Cramer leads a workshop in vocal techniques specifically for folksingers. Students will gain insight into how to sing louder, enunciate clearly, hit notes cleanly and warm up effectively – all without going hoarse in the process.

New and notable instructors

  • Robbie Harris – A bodhrán player and percussionist, Harris has toured extensively with Riverdance, and has performed and recorded with a long list of world artists over the years. He will be teaching both an intermediate and advanced bodhrán class at the summer school, as well as a bodhrán workshop for students interested in taking their skills to the next level.  
  • Mary Bergin - Hailed as “just about the best tin whistle player this century” by the Irish Times, Bergin is known for her legendary albums of Celtic music and as a premier tin whistle instructor. She will be teaching intermediate and advanced whistle classes, as well as a Friday morning workshop for experienced whistle players looking for an intensive class to improve their skills.

End of summer classes and camp for kids

  • Celtic Kids Camp – Back by popular demand, the Celtic Kids Camp offers children the chance to experience a week filled with Irish and Celtic culture and fun. Kids ages 7-12 will enjoy classes including an in-depth exploration into the singing, rhythm and language behind Irish and Celtic music with the band, Seo Linn. Participants will have the opportunity to explore singing in the Irish language, vocal exercises, drumming and using studio technology to record a song.
  • Irish Music Ensemble - Teenagers with a passion for music are invited to join the Irish Music Ensemble for Teens class, which will be taught by students from the University of Limerick.

Special events and evening programming:

These special events all take place in the Great Hall of the CelticMKE Center starting at 8 p.m.

  • Eugene Byrne Memorial Lecture – Monday evening join Irish historian and founding member of The Wolfe Tones, Derek Warfield, as he shares insights and history dedicated to the memory of folk singer, festival organizer, travel guide and wonderful friend to many at Milwaukee Irish Fest, Eugene Bryne. Milwaukee Irish Fest founder Ed Ward will moderate.
  • Instructors Concert – On Tuesday night, the world-renowned Summer School instructors come together to showcase their talents in concert. Performing in short sets, the School’s musical instructors showcase their abilities in the intimate Great Hall of the CelticMKE Center. Expect spontaneous collaborations between musicians and dancers in this sneak peek of the talent audiences will see at the Milwaukee Irish Fest.
  • Irish Beer 101: Guinness History – Guinness ambassador Jimmy Callahan presents the Summer School’s most serious subject: the history (and tastes) of Guinness brews. From the history of the famous Irish brand to brewing processes, Callahan will guide attendees on an interactive journey including tastings of three of Guinness’ renowned beers. Free to registered Summer School students, $10 for the general public. Open to adults 21 and older.

Classes will be held at the CelticMKE Center in Wauwatosa, Wis., as well as surrounding locations. For a complete schedule, instructor bios, class descriptions, updates and registration, visit Students who register before June 1 will receive a 10 percent early bird discount. All registered students will receive one complimentary admission to Milwaukee Irish Fest.

About Milwaukee Irish Fest

Milwaukee Irish Fest is the world’s largest celebration of Irish and Celtic music and culture. The four-day festival showcases more than 100 entertainment acts on 17 stages at Henry W. Maier Festival Park on Milwaukee’s lakefront. The annual festival occurs every third weekend in August. The 38th annual Milwaukee Irish Fest takes place August 16 to 19, 2018.

Milwaukee Irish Fest is proudly presented by CelticMKE, a non-profit organization dedicated to igniting a love of Celtic culture in all people. With the help of more than 4,000 volunteers, CelticMKE and Milwaukee Irish Fest promote Celtic music, dance, drama, sports, culture, children’s activities and genealogy through the annual festival, as well as year-round programming.

For more information, visit

Permalink - Posted: May 17, 2018 at 3:16 pm