Promoting Irish-American Culture and Preserving Local Histories Through Year-Round Programs

Who We Are

Irish-American Crossroads is directed and produced by Hillary Flynn and Margaret McPeake and a team of remarkable and dedicated volunteers.

Hillary Flynn, MSW has 23 years of experience in the public and nonprofit sector. She has held positions in development, strategic planning, community outreach, and program management. A graduate of Boston College, Hillary also has a Masters in Social Work (focus: Administration) from San Francisco State University. A native of New England, Hillary has lived in the Bay Area for more than twenty years. She writes poetry and memoir and has been producing the Crossroads Irish-American Festival since 2004. She lives in Mill Valley with her husband and 2 young children.

Margaret McPeake is a career educator. She is an English Instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College and past Co-Director of Irish Studies at New College of California. Margaret’s Irish Studies research focuses on Irish-American literature, as well as on the culture and history of the Irish in the San Francisco Bay Area. Born in San Francisco to Irish immigrant parents, she has been producing the Crossroads Irish-American Festival since 2004. She has a B.A. from UC Berkeley, an M.A. from San Francisco State University and a PhD from the University of Miami. She lives in Healdsburg with her husband and two young children.

Volunteers. The Festival has drawn the support of approximately 15-20 volunteers annually who assist with poster / post card distribution, welcoming committees at events, set-up and break-down support at events, and (most recently) with conducting interviews as part of the Archive Project. This group is very reliable and supportive of the organization.

Charles_Fanning_1Charles Fanning — An historian, author and editor of a dozen books in Irish immigration and ethnic studies, Charlie is a winner of the American Book Award (1989) for his book, “The Exiles of Erin: Nineteenth-Century Irish-American Fiction.” He also recently published his memoir, “Mapping Norwod.” Charlie is a retired professor from Southern Illinois University Carbondale where he won the outstanding scholar award in 2004.

Katherine_Hastings_1Katherine Hastings — Author of “Updraft” (Finishing Line Press, 2010), “Fog and Light” (forthcoming from Ahadada Press, 2010), and “Sidhe” (dPress 2006), Katherine’s poems have been published in many journals and anthologies, including The Comstock Review; Rattle; Parthenon West Review; CALYX; Beatitude and others. She is the host of WordTemple on KRCB 91 FM, Santa Rosa’s NPR affiliate, and founder/curator of the WordTemple Poetry Series in Sonoma County. Hastings, who grew up in San Francisco, lives in Sonoma County.

Sean Heaney — Originally from Northern Ireland, Sean is the proprietor of The Plough & Stars Irish Pub in San Francisco, an important institution that has played a critical role in the Irish music scene of Northern California for nearly 40 years.

Caledonia_Kearns_1Caledonia Kearns — is the editor of two anthologies of writing by Irish-American women, “Cabbage and Bones: An Anthology of Irish-American Women’s Fiction” and “Motherland: Writings by Irish-American Women about Mothers and Daughters.” She has an MFA in poetry from Hunter College and her poems have appeared in The New Haven Review, The MOM Egg, and an upcoming issue of the Painted Bride Quarterly. She lives in Brooklyn with her daughter.

Daniele Maraviglia — Born and raised in San Francisco, Dan is an attorney contributing pro bono legal services to the organization as well as sound advice and enduring moral support.

Norton-LindaLinda Norton — is senior editor at the Regional Oral History Office at the Bancroft Library at University of California, Berkeley. She has conducted interviews for NPR’s Storycorps Griot series (archived in the Smithsonian Museum’s African American History collection) and has worked as a historical consultant for the Peralta Hacienda, a community museum in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland. She is also a published poet and artist.

Nyhan_Miriam_1Miriam Nyhan, PhD. — a native of County Wicklow, received her BA and MPhil degrees from University College Cork (N.U.I.) and her PhD from the European University Institute, Florence, Italy. She has been teaching Irish history at NYU since 2009. With a special interest in twentieth-century emigration from Ireland, oral history and comparative approaches, Professor Nyhan has focused her research on the 1950s Irish immigrants who settled in New York and London. Her book, “Are You Still Below?” The Ford Marina Plant, Cork, 1917-1984, (The Collins Press, Cork, 2007) provides an illuminating social history of Ireland’s only Ford factory and demonstrates how oral histories can be used to complement written sources.

Eduardo W. de Oliveira — Founder and CIO of Lifelong Education Institute, Eduardo contributes pro bono web design and maintenance services to the organization as well as sound advice and moral support.

Quinn_Nancy_1Nancy Quinn — Principal and CEO of Quinn Associates, Nancy is a highly respected consultant to arts organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area and has provided advice and guidance to this organization since its inception. Nancy has also agreed to be on the Executive Board of the organization in the future.

PeterQuinn_1Peter Quinn — Novelist, political historian and foremost chronicler of New York City, Peter received the American Book Award for his 1994 novel, “Banished Children of Eve.” His other works of fiction include “Hour of the Cat” (2005) and “The Man Who Never Returned” (2010). “Looking for Jimmy: In Search of Irish America,” a collection of nonfiction pieces, was published in 2007. Peter has written for television as well as participated as a guest commentator in several PBS documentaries including, “The Irish in America”. He is president and co-founder of Irish American Writers & Artists.

James_Silas_RogersJames Silas Rogers — Editor of New Hibernia Review, a journal of Irish Studies published by the University of St Thomas in Minnesota and a past president of the American Conference for Irish Studies. He has published widely on Irish-American writing, in such journals as US Catholic Historian, Études Irlandaises, Studies: An Irish Quarterly and the Canadian Journal of Irish Studies. With Mathew O’Brien, he co-edited “After the Flood: Irish America 1945-1960” (2009). He has most recently edited “Extended Family: Essays on Being Irish American from New Hibernia Review,” to be published by Dufour Editions in 2013.

Tim_Sullivan_1Tim Sullivan — A tech savvy businessman with a love for set dancing, Tim has provided guidance on nearly all aspects of the organization’s development since its inception. Tim has also agreed to be on the Executive Board in the future.

Patricia Monaghan – Visionary poet and impassioned teacher and performer, Patricia won awards for creative nonfiction as well as poetry. Her highly crafted work remains accessible to ordinary readers interested in spirituality, peace, and environmental issues. Patricia was a Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at DePaul University and also a Senior Fellow of The Black Earth Institute, a think-tank for artists seeking to connect social justice, environment and spirituality. She was a poetry reviewer for Booklist, the journal of the American Library Association.

Danny Cassidy – Daniel Patrick Cassidy, author of “How the Irish Invented Slang: the Secret Language of the Crossroads” founded the Irish studies Program at New College of California and co-founded the Crossroads Irish-American Festival.

Cassidy grew up in Brooklyn, and was shaped by the world that he encountered there.  His career was rich and varied.  He started his education at Columbia University, and went on to get a Masters in History at Cornell. He also became recognized for his work as a poet at this time.  He worked for the New York Times as a news assistant in the United Nations Bureau.

He then became a musician, recorded an album, and performed on stages from Carnegie Hall to the Los Angeles Civic Auditorium, with luminaries including George Carlin, Kenny Rankin and Lily Tomlin. In addition to being a musician, Cassidy wrote film scripts and created a documentary, “Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs,” nominated for an Emmy, which was focused on civil rights abuses in Northern Ireland.  Cassidy also worked as a Union Organizer for over 20 years. He was also a fervent supporter of the Irish Republican movement.

In the 1990s, Cassidy started a new chapter of his life working at New College of California.  He founded the Irish Studies Program there in 1995 and went on to create a Media Studies Program.  His vision of Irish Studies was built on his understanding of the central role of the Irish in American history and of Ireland for Post-colonial Studies.

In the spirit of the mission of New College, he embraced the value of serving community outside the classroom as well as students in the classroom.  As a result, Irish Studies at New College offered classes populated by credit and audit students, and produced many programs throughout the year for the community.  The heart of that work, done in March, evolved into the Crossroads Irish-American Festival.  Cassidy, a founder of the Festival, provided guidance for that evolution.

Cassidy’s book, “How the Irish Invented Slang,” grew out of an epiphany he had about the Irish language, as the result of encountering an Irish dictionary willed to him by a good friend.   As Danny discovered: “we had never stopped speaking Irish in my family.”  That insight would drive him to write “How the Irish Invented Slang,” which won the American Book Award in 2007.

We honor Danny Cassidy as the force behind the creation of the Irish-American Crossroads Festival, and whose spirit, wisdom and energy we continue to draw on.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.