The cultural areas of the Festival allow guests to discover their roots, step back into ancient times or learn a new skill. With a variety of exhibitors and four dedicated cultural stages, there is something for all interests and abilities. Speakers and schedules will be posted in the spring.

Cultural Workshop Tent

At the cultural workshop tent, guests can learn a new hands-on skill, from making chainmail, to basics of knitting and tatting.

Music Workshop

Whether you bring your instrument or just want to hear the music, the music workshop tent will have non-stop instruction throughout the weekend.

Spoken Word

Hear fascinating tales from Irish lore and mythology. Storytellers, authors and poets rule this stage.

Irish Traditions

Returning this year, the Irish Traditions stage focuses on the rich culture and history or Ireland. Learn a little more about the songs from Dublin (Ireland) or about the role the Irish played in the US Civil War.

Irish Authors’ CornerAuthors

The Irish Authors’ Corner is returning this year even bigger in its fourth year. Become acquainted with the beauty of the Written Word in Irish culture. Visiting authors, both Irish and Irish-American will be at this tent all weekend. They will chat with you about their work and you can buy the books from the Book Loft and have your new purchases signed by the author. This year, many of the authors will be speaking in the Spoken Word and Irish Traditions Tent.

Cultural Exhibitors

Brian Boru’s Ireland

Brian Boru’s Ireland gives Dublin Irish Festival visitors an authentic experience of life as it was in Ireland 1,000 years ago. A hidden gem among the Festival’s music, dance, food and drink, this reenactment of a 10th century Irish settlement is fascinating, educational and important to a full understanding of Irish culture.

The area endeavors to recreate the daily life of early Medieval Ireland 1000 years ago. Metalworking, wood turning, combat and weaponry are just a few of the ongoing demonstrations. You can have your photo taken in costume; enjoy the sweet fragrance of herbs and perhaps a story with our herbalist. Visit our “caiseal” and listen to harp music while watching textile production in the form of drop spindle spinning and weaving on a warp weighted loom. Help our cooks churn butter while they prepare our meals over an open fire and bake in a clay oven. Come to the abbey and see our embroidered tapestry in progress learn to make a St. Brigid’s cross and in the scriptorium see the tools and techniques used in illuminated manuscripts. Admire the treasures of the Lost Viking Hoard. Join in a game of Brandubh or learn to make mead “the drink of kings” when you step back in time to Brian Boru’s Ireland. Two groups participate in this reenactment: The Irish Living History Society and the Lost Viking Hoard .

The Ward Irish Music Archives

The 2016 travelling exhibit will be focused on commemorating the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland.

2016 marks the centenary of the 1916 Irish Rebellion in Ireland, also known as the Easter Rising. The rebellion was held to gain independence from Britain in a period when Britain was heavily engaged in WWI. The conflict caused great damage to the City of Dublin and more than 300 rebels and civilians died. More than 100 British soldiers also died.

While the rebellion was considered a failure at the time, in the aftermath of the rebellion most of the leaders were executed at Kilmainham Jail. Sympathy towards these leaders and the reaction from the British government turned the tide of national opinion. The events of 1916 led to the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War leading, in the end, to the establishment of the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland in 1922.

The exhibit presented by the Ward Irish Music Archives, Milwaukee Irish Fest is taken from more than 140 postcards that are in the Bob Burke Postcard Collection at the Archives. The collection has more than 5,000 postcards. Postcards were very popular during the early twentieth century with the Golden Age of Postcards being 1907-1915.

The postcards in this exhibit are photographs showing the great amount of destruction in Dublin during and after the rebellion. Other photographs are of the leaders and participants in the rebellion. Some show the soldiers on both sides marching and getting ready for battle.

Content for this exhibit was developed through a grant by the Graduate Student/Faculty Collaborative Research Program at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. The graduate student is Catherine Lewis who has a MA in English and the faculty is Marguerite Helmers, Professor of English at UW-Oshkosh. Caitlin Helmers also assisted with the exhibit.


Irish Linen & Wool Worker Demonstrations

Tim and Katheleen Nealeigh will use authentic 19th century tools to produce world-famous Irish linen and wool in a demonstration that appeals to all ages. Linen begins as the humble flax plant which is pulled up, retted, dried, scutched, hackled, and spun into linen thread. The linen fabric is then woven using a loom from the 1700s. Wool is shorn, picked, carded or flicked, and spun into yarn. A delightful, informative running commentary during the continuous demonstration will provide the human touch to these nearly forgotten skills.

HarpLegacy of the Irish Harp

Robert Mouland offers a unique presentation in traditional Irish music: “The Legacy Of The Irish Harp“. In this cultural offering he tells the history of Ireland’s national symbol, the cláirseach na h’Eireann or wirestrung Irish harp. The music he performs spans the history of Irish music, from the early harp tradition right up to more current traditional dance tunes using the fiddle, union pipes, flute and whistle. He also brings to life a four hundred year old  tradition of jig puppets, which dance by his knee as he plays.

Irish Wake Tent

The Irish Wake Tent is celebrating its 10th year anniversary at the Dublin Irish Festival! The Festival has long celebrated and preserved Irish customs and culture. Music, dance, food and drink are among those customs, but other customs are equally important to those seeking to understand Irish culture, including funeral practices. So, in the midst of all the celebration, music and dance, festival-goers will find a Wake Tent, complete with a facsimile of a corpse and mourners.Wake

The Wake Tent at the Festival is an authentic representation of a wake as it might have been in a family home in 1898, a timeframe that was chosen because it represents the broadest range of customs. The body is laid out, usually on a door, in his best clothes. His coffin is standing by, his tombstone has been prepared and food, drink and tobacco are set out for the neighbors.

The traditional Irish wake lasted three days, during which time the body was never to be left alone or left in the dark. The deceased in the Festival’s Wake Tent is represented as an old man who lived a full life; therefore there is much for his family and friends to celebrate.