Originally formed in 1985, what is now known as the Irish Club of Alaska was originally saddled with the unwieldy name of Irish American Claddagh Society of Alaska. The Club did fantastic things on a shoestring budget:
- The Claddagh Ball
- Collaborated with Ancient Order of Hibernians to bring kids over from Northern Ireland
- Drawings for free trip to Ireland
- Great ceilis and hooleys
- Afternoon in Ireland
- Exhibit at the Loussac Library every year for St. Patrick's Day
Kate O'Dell writes: Our beloved friend, Mary Digney, passed away on April 5, 2018. Her niece-in-law said she was at home with Hospice care for the previous two weeks. The funeral mass was held at Holy Family Cathedral on April 14, followed by a reception.
I interviewed Mary in 2010 because we were collecting stories of our Irish-Alaskan heritage. Since she is quite literally the reason why the Irish Club of Alaska exists, Mary’s recollections are an important record. I feel safe in saying many other aspects of the Celtic heritage we enjoy in Anchorage today can be directly attributed to Mary’s dedication: the Alaskan Scottish Club, the Celtic Community of Alaska, the Irish Cultural Collective, the Irish Dance Academy of Alaska, and the Northern Lights Celtic Dancers, to name just a few. As Mary said, “The goal always was to bring Irish heritage to the children—unless they grow up with it, they aren’t as aware of it—our job is to remind them of it and give them experiences—especially the incredible contributions of the Irish to the fabric of American life”
One of the other ways Mary’s influence is felt today is the lively traditional music scene. It all began with the Muldoon Ceílí Band—John Walsh, Kenny Karibelnikov, Doc South, Tom Walker started everything off. Today, we are still dancing to Kenny’s and Tom’s music at the Thursday night seísiúns down at McGinley’s Pub and with John when he travels back for the Gerard McDonnell Memorial Ceílí.