Celtic start to Heritage Month

Waipā District Libraries launched its annual Heritage Month last week with a talk on New Zealanders who have Scottish and Irish blood coursing through their veins.

‘Southern Celts’ was hosted at Cambridge Library by Celine Kearney, the locally-based author of a book of the same name.  It was published last year by Mary Egan Publishing and chronicles the stories of New Zealanders’ connections to their Irish or Scottish cultural roots.

Kearney initially wrote the academic work for her PhD, which was subsequently awarded through Victoria University in Melbourne in 2017. It included the stories of 38 people she interviewed through her travels around New Zealand.  After re-contacting them about a decade later, this time with the book Southern Celts in mind, the number of final stories published ended up at 23, among them musicians, writers, a master carver, sculptor, sports people, a church minister, a Treaty of Waitangi educator and a museum archivist.

Kearney’s own story, as the granddaughter of three Irish-born grandparents and one born to an immigrant Irish family in Central Otago, is among them.  She went on to work as a journalist and researcher, and now works in applied linguistics.

She said the book explores the ways Kiwis with Celtic connections bring those cultural aspects to their lives in New Zealand.

Heritage Month offers a series of free events across both Cambridge and Te Awamutu through February and early March.

Kearney’s talk was one of two planned – the other was in Te Awamutu this week, previewing a forthcoming release “A Bricks & Mortar Legacy’ at Te Awamutu Library.

Two heritage walks in Cambridge, hosted by Michael Jeans and Sue Milner, are set from 9am on either February 15 or 24, while a heritage walk in Te Awamutu is scheduled for 5.30pm on February 21, led by Alan Hall and Sandra Metcalfe.  Both walks require advance registration.

An interactive talk at Cambridge Library at 10am on February 17 entitled ‘Small Town, Big Stories – Photographs from the Museum’, will be hosted by Cambridge Museum manager Elizabeth Harvey.

A talk at the Te Awamutu Library on March 13 will centre on the topic “Unveiling History: Te Awamutu Cenotaph’  and will be hosted by the New Zealand Society of Genealogists’ Te Awamutu branch.

‘Southern Celts’ author Celine Kearney spoke last week
about the lives of Kiwis with Scottish or Irish roots

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