abcabcabc Unsung Heroes | Center For Irish Music | Education

Unsung Heroes

CIM’s talented teaching artists take to the stage every year at Éigse, a Gaela celebration, fundraising for high priority needs at our community music school.

From the 2015-16 Annual Report

Don’t miss CIM’s volunteer appreciation party this Sunday, October 8 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Dubliner!

Now the chair of the Minnesota Irish Music Weekend, CIM all-star volunteer Jeanne Morales once wore many other hats: chairing the board, serving as CIM’s volunteer bookkeeper, and writing grants that helped secure sustainable funding from the Minnesota State Arts Board and other entities.

This year, CIM founders Kate and Jode Dowling and instructors Danielle Enblom, Cory Froehlich and Dáithí Sproule have rejuvenated the Kieran’s session with students in mind, sending new tunes back and forth from classroom to session.


A tireless advocate for the CIM, assistant director Emily Flagstad served in this voluntary position for eight years, handling everything from registration to coordinating booths at Irish events, the monthly e-mail newsletter, to social media.



Parents like Marty and Casey Ochs have been some of the CIM’s best ambassadors, talking up the Center for Irish Music at information booths at the St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at Landmark Center and other venues.

A community of like-minded music lovers keeps the CIM humming along

The Center for Irish Music moved into its new classroom space at the Celtic Junction just as the recession got rolling—a stroke of bad timing that made early supporters of the community music school brace for the worst. “We had 60 students at the time, and we really worried about what the future would look like, or if we’d even survive,” says Emily Flagstad, the CIM’s assistant director. “But the magic of the building is that it brought us all together for the first time, and students started mingling before and after class, and meeting other like-minded people who really wanted to see traditional Irish music thrive.”

While music lessons can seem like an extravagance when families are faced with tough budget choices, she says, “to our amazement, people didn’t give up on the CIM. In fact, we had students who lost their jobs but decided to take up fiddle lessons for the first time. When people are going through hard times, I think they look for community, and the CIM has been lucky to be the beneficiary of a community of really incredible volunteers.”

Since 2010, the number of year-round students at the CIM has more than tripled, and the school’s finances are sound, thanks in large part to a committed corps of volunteers who pitched in on nearly every job that needed doing. From the anonymous donor who guaranteed all of the CIM’s expenses for two years during the recession, to song student Mary Lane, who donated her time cleaning music classrooms once a week, “nearly everything that has helped make the CIM what it is today got started thanks to a volunteer,” says executive director Norah Rendell. “It says a lot about this community that nearly everyone who has been a student, instructor, parent, or a participant has also given their time to make sure we succeed at our mission.”

Here’s a look the many hands who have helped make the work a little lighter at the Center for Irish Music.


Former board president Mike Lynch helped to stabilize CIM’s finances in the early years, and now manages the licenses that allow CIM to earn important revenue from beer and wine sales at CIM’s many community events. A long-time leader in the Irish community, Lynch was honored by the Irish Fair of Minnesota in 2016 with the Curtin Conway Award.



Board president Mike O’Connor and his wife Bev, have managed the all-volunteer dining staff at Éigse, serving up more than 200 family-style suppers since 2011 from a “kitchen” the size of a closet.

Ready to step up? Several of CIM’s long-time volunteer leaders are getting ready to step down from their duties in the coming year. If you’re interested in sharing your time and talent to support Éigse, the Minnesota Irish Music Weekend, or any of the CIM’s other community events and fundraising efforts, e-mail Norah at