The Samhain Celtic New Year Festival features a variety of demonstrations and classes highlighting cultural aspects of the seven Celtic nations.

Aislinn Adams

Irish illustrator, designer and horticulturist Aislinn Adams has lived in Salem, Oregon for seventeen years. In Oregon she has found the perfect environment to combine her love of the natural world with her art and design. Nowadays her work is mainly focused on botanical art- in particular the native plants of the Pacific Northwest.

When not working on her botanical art Aislinn loves to connect with her Irish cultural heritage; hosting traditional Irish music concerts at her home and supporting the Ceili of the Valley. For the past few years she has been researching her family history, in particular her grandmother Annie Malone’s story.  Annie Malone was involved in the 1916 Rising and the Irish War of Independence. Through this research Aislinn has studied this period in Irish history and will share what she has learned in two workshops at the Samhain Festival. 

To find out more about her work visit her website or Facebook page.

The 1916 Rising
Women’s role in the 1916 Rising

Bruce Kenny

Bruce’s interest was first piqued when a native Irish priest wrote down a prayer in the Irish language in the late 60s for him. Subsequently when working in Cork city in 1980 he obtain his first instructional book of Irish. He studied it intermittently during the 1980s and then while commuting from McMinnville to Portland in the 1990s he listened to the Berlitz Irish language course. Study in earnest began around around2002 when he began taking courses from Bob Burke, a native New Yorker who became a certified Irish instructor, first at Clark County Community College and then at Marylhurst University. While taking several beginning and intermediate courses from Mr. Burke and Ger Killeen, a native of Limerick, he also participated in nearly every Lá na Gaeiige (Irish Language Day) at Marylhurst from 2008 through 2012. In the summer of 2011, he took a week long immersion course with Tralach O’Riordain in Butte, Montana. Two years later, he traveled with his son to the Dingle Peninsula to participate in a two week immersion course in Baile an Fheirtaigh (Ballyferriter). In recent years he has joined in Irish conversational groups in Portland, including several immersion weekend sponsored by Language Hunters and Sean-Nós Northwest.

Irish Language

Channing Dodson

Channing began learning the Highland bagpipes as a teenager from Jay Salter in Santa Cruz, California. He later honed his skills by studying pìobaireachd with two highly respected master players, Pipe Major Jim McColl and Allan MacDonald of Glenuig, arguably Scotland’s most expressive living exponent of pìobaireachd. While still in high school, he began studying Scottish Gaelic with Peter Webber, a Glasgow native who had been brought up with Gaelic as a child while living with his maternal grandparents near Oban. During university, Channing continued studying Gaelic while abroad at the University of Glasgow and at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic-medium college on the Isle of Skye. He returned to Sabhal Mòr to take advanced classes in Gaelic in the summer of 2009, and he has taught Scottish Gaelic classes in Portland through Portland Community College’s Community Education program.

In addition to his Scottish interests, Channing is a stalwart of Portland’s Irish music scene, playing the wooden flute and the uilleann pipes. He has performed with Kevin Burke, Paddy Keenan, and a host of other talented Irish musicians over the years. 

Opening Ceremonies: Bagpipe Performance
Bagpipes of Scotland
Scottish Singing & Melody Instrument

Gordon Munro

Gordon Munro has been a Storyteller more than 27 years. The stories, including myths, folk tales, fairy tales and historical stories, originate from all parts of the world including: Europe, Asia, Africa, the Orient, the Middle East and America. The myths, historical information and folk/fairy tales have a way of touching our minds, hearts and sometimes our funny bones. The historical stories of Oregon are from books and people who gave historical information of their past to Gordon personally.

Firelight Stories

Helen Burros

My Mother taught me to knit when I was five years old and I have expanded my knitting skills by challenging myself to try different ethnic styles and techniques. I have entered many of my handknit items in the Marion County and Oregon State Fair and received multiple blue ribbons on them. Now I focus on teaching Fair Isle and Aran knitting, also creating fun designs to challenge knitters to create their own well-fitting sweaters to enjoy wearing. Welcome to the fun and excitement of learning Fair Isle and Aran knitting styles and making them your own.

History of Aran Knitting
Create a Simple Rope Cable (bring your own supplies) 

Eric Chandler

Eric has been interested all things Scottish for many years and will be sharing his Sword Dance skills during the Opening Ceremony. He will demonstrate the art of kilt folding in the gym throughout the day when he’s not busy helping out with the Kid’s Highland Game activities being held outside.

Opening Ceremonies: Sword Dance performance
Great Kilt Demonstration
Assisting with Children’s Highland Games

The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (RSCDS)

The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (RSCDS) was founded in the 1920s when two women, Mrs. Ysobel Stewart and Miss Jean Milligan, joined forces to collect and publish the dances of Scotland to ensure they would not be lost. More people became interested in their mission and now there are branches of the RSCDS all over the world, including Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. If you learn Scottish Country Dancing, you too can take your dance shoes just about anywhere and find a group to dance with. Dancing is a great way to keep in shape, both mentally and physically, and to make new friends.

Kerry Wymetalek

I was a foster child with my twin soon after birth and was adopted with my twin at seven. I didn’t know the heritage of my birth family until after 1980. Traveled the world in the US Navy. Began researching records to find my family and begin building a tree in 1980.

Genealogy basics with a focus on Ireland

Elizabeth Nicholson

Elizabeth Nicholson is a Portland, Oregon-based Celtic harpist and vocalist. Known for her dynamic, passionate approach to harp performance, she is counted among America’s foremost interpreters of traditional Celtic dance music  — a genre that features lightning-paced tempos and complex ornamentation that more typically reserve it for melody instruments such as the fiddle or flute.  Her harp studies have also included classical, baroque, renaissance, medieval, and Latin music, and she has stretched the traditional boundaries of the instrument into rock music and country blues.  Also recognized as a vocalist who “sings beautifully…her singing is delicate and pure without being over-precious,”(David Kidman,, October 2006), Elizabeth’s possesses an elegant command of traditional song — from the filigreed ornamentation of Irish ballads to the strident tones of Americana.

Basic Vocal Techniques for Irish Singing
Playing Back-up for Irish Music

Carlee Wright

St. Brigid’s Cross

Laura DeVoe

Four-Step Highland Fling


Mary Lowes

Mary Lowes has been an enthusiastic dancer and caller in the Portland Irish scene for too many years to count. She started Irish dancing at the Portland Ceili Society’s monthly dances. After attending weekly ceili classes, she took over the role of teaching. Her calling experience happened by accident at a ceili when the musicians “forgot” to get a caller. She found this to be her “calling” and has been active in the community since then. She served on the volunteer board of the Portland Ceili Society for 10+ years. She is one of the callers for the Ceili of the Valley monthly dances.

Irish Set Dancing

Eliot Grasso

Performer-scholar, Dr. Eliot Grasso, has taught, performed, and recorded throughout
North America and Europe for over two decades and is a founding member of the
Celtic Ensemble Dréos. He has performed for President Clinton at the NEA
Awards, appeared as a featured artist on “Prairie Home Companion,” performed and
taught for the William Kennedy Piping Festival, and appeared as a soloist in the
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall for Scotland’s National Piping Festival, Piping
Live. Grasso has over a dozen recordings to his name, including an album of
unaccompanied uilleann piping, which is volume 1 of Na Píobairí Uilleann’s series of
master pipers, The Ace and Deuce of Piping.Grasso holds a Ph.D. in musicology from
the University of Oregon, and a M.A. in ethnomusicology from the Irish World Academy
of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick. Grasso’s artistic and academic work
as a performer, recording artist, composer, and researcher has earned awards from the
traditional music community, the recording industry, and the academic establishment.
A fuller picture of his endeavors is available at

Intermediate Irish Flute

Int​roduction to Tin  Whistle
Composition in a Traditional Style

Brandon Vance

At the age of 14, Brandon Vance made history as the youngest fiddler to win the U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Championship.  Vance has taught and performed throughout North America, leading a Scottish fiddle seminar for the University of Oregon (2014), and premiering his own composition, Gael Storm for Fiddle and Orchestra, with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra at Severance Hall.  In 2006, his composition, Twin Towers Lament, from Beyond the Borders received a nomination for “Best Celtic Instrumental Song” from Just Plain Folks Music Awards in Los Angeles. In addition to having co-produced two duo albums and a debut album with his band, Alchymeia, Vance is much in demand as a recording artist.  His track with Steve Rice's klezmer band The Simchatonics, was featured on the 7th season of the TV-series Sons of Anarchy.

Scottish Fiddle Introduction
Scottish Gaelic Sean Nos Singing

Glen Waddell

The son of Scottish immigrants, with an Irish grandmother thrown in for good measure, Canadian multi-instrumentalist, Glen Waddell, came of age in a brass-banding tradition, participating in youth bands and symphonies in Toronto and the surrounding areas throughout his teenage years. His style is a blend of singer songwriter and instrumental traditions co-mingled with influences from the Canadian folk scene. In Dreos, Waddell plays guitar, bouzouki, bodhran, and accordion.

Bodhran Irish Drum
Guitar DADGAD tuning

Cassady Rose Kirchner

Cassady Rose Kirchner enjoys crafting. She studies at Howard Street School. From
dancing with Ceili of the Valley in days past, her passion is now dancing with the
American Ballet Academy. Crafting has been her lifelong hobby for as long as she
can remember. Cassady will be leading activities in the kid’s area. Projects today aim to please elementary level kids, but all are welcome to join the fun.

Children’s Activity Area