Natalie Nugent O’Shea takes us from St. Paul, Minnesota, around the world with Riverdance, to Dublin to start a family, and then back home to St. Paul where she’d co-found a home for Irish arts and culture in the Midwest, the Celtic Junction Arts Center.
She tells us of her arm’s-length relationship to Ireland until moonlighting as a lighting designer for a touring production of Riverdance, falling in love not only with the music and dance, but also with one of the original Riverdancers, her eventual husband and co-collaborator in the O’Shea School of Irish Dance and Celtic Junction Arts Center, Cormac O’Sé.
Serving as the Celtic Junction’s executive director since its founding in 2010, Natalie oversees a vibrant shared space for Irish dance, music and theatre, Irish literature and language, an Irish heritage library and cross-cultural performances which in 2018 was named the Best Cultural Center by Irish Central.
Natalie also shares a heartfelt look into the hidden history of the Irish in Minnesota, especially the settlement known as the Connemara Patch, and the Irish culture that made the trek with them and how it mixed and mingled with the other cultures they encountered.
“Until we understand what is outside of us, I think we can't understand our own culture,” she says.
Join us for an insightful and passionate conversation on Irish arts and culture, thriving in the Midwest of the U.S.
Natalie Nugent O’Shea
Celtic Junction Arts Center
Natalie Nugent O'Shea is co-owner and founder of The Celtic Junction, a cultural center for traditional arts in Saint Paul and the Executive Director of the Celtic Junction Arts Center (CJAC), a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to the operation of CJAC and its programs as the Irish Cultural Center of Minnesota, including the Eoin McKiernan Library, the Irish College of Minnesota, the Celtic Junction Concert Series, and the Irish Outreach Coalition. She is also the founding Vice President of Theater M, New York, NY, and of The Center for Irish Music, St. Paul, MN. She won a T.O.S.C.A. award for “Lighting the Way for Celtic Culture.” Under her leadership, Celtic Junction Arts Center won the award for Best Irish Cultural Center with Irish Central in 2018. She was honored as one of the Irish Echo’s “Arts & Culture Heroes”, and as a “Rebuilder of Irish America” in 2021.