Renowned Irish fiddle player Seamus Connolly, whose teaching, compositions and music have inspired a generation of Irish musicians, was a recipient of the 2013 Ellis Island Medal of Honor last Saturday (5/11).
The ceremony, organized by the National Ethnic Coalition Organizations, takes place on Ellis Island. The medal is given annually to outstanding American citizens, from all walks of life who have distinguished themselves through their significant contributions to the United States. Connolly is one of 90 people across all ethnic communities to receive this year's award.
The Sullivan Artist in Residence at Boston College and founder of the school's Gaelic Roots program, Connolly grew up in County Clare and is a ten-time All Ireland champion on the fiddle. He has recorded numerous albums and issued several books on Irish music.
Séamus came to the United States in 1972 as a member of the first Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann (CCE) tour, an ensemble of 26 musicians, singers and dancers. He then returned in 1976 and settled in the Boston area. At the request of the Boston branch of CCE, Séamus agreed to teach and pass on to American-born students the various regional styles of Irish fiddling.
Connolly’s success since coming to Boston has been evident. He now holds an endowed Chair at Boston College and is the "Sullivan Artist in Residence". Seamus directed the highly acclaimed Gaelic Roots Summer School and Festival at Boston College from 1993 - 2003. He also coordinates a Gaelic Roots Series of free concerts and lectures by visiting artists throughout the academic year. In 1990, he was awarded a Fellowship in Traditional Arts by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and was also awarded three Master/Apprenticeship Grants for teaching traditional Irish music.
There is currently an exhibit on The Musical Roots of Seamus Connolly at the John J. Burns Library at Boston College, running through May 23, 2013.