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She came from Ireland to St. Louis — and found community in the city’s Irish music scene

For several years now, St. Louis resident Eimear Arkins, left, has performed in Tomáseen Foley’s “A Celtic Christmas.” This month she and fellow St. Louisan Natalie Wagner, an Irish dancer, will be in the spotlight.
Tomáseen Foley’s “A Celtic Christmas”
“We are really lucky in St. Louis to have a number of organizations that promote the expression of Irish culture," says Eimear Arkins.
Eimear Arkins plays the fiddle during a recording in the St. Louis on the Air studio.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
Between tours, both nationally and internationally, Eimear Arkins teaches at St. Louis Irish Arts, a school dedicated to the instruction of the music and dance of Ireland.

While St. Louis has long boasted a strong Irish population, the city isn’t known for its first-generation Irish immigrants.

“At least not the same amount as in Chicago or Boston or New York,” said Eimear Arkins, a St. Louis transplant from County Clare, Ireland. “I think that makes it all the more special when you meet someone who has Irish ancestry and who wants to feel that connection to Ireland — and you feel like you're sort of the intermediary between their past, or their ancestors, and their life here.”

As a teacher at St. Louis Irish Arts, Arkins aims to do just that. “It's really joyful to bring that to someone and to give them that sense of connection to Ireland,” she said. “And certainly, being able to play music in a city that appreciates Irish music and to stay connected to Irish music, Irish culture and Irish people has really made me feel so at home in St. Louis.”

Arkins joined Friday’s St. Louis on the Air to share her thoughts on local St. Patrick’s customs and how Americans can engage with Irish culture in meaningful ways.

“St. Patrick's Day is a wonderful day to celebrate Irish culture, but celebrating Irish culture does not need to be confined to one day,” she said. “We are really lucky in St. Louis to have a number of organizations that promote the expression of Irish culture.”

Find this episode of St. Louis on the Air on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, Stitcher, or by clicking the play button below.

How to celebrate Irish culture throughout the year

Related Event
What: St. Louis Tionól
When: April 20-23

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to talk@stlpr.org

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
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