Category: Archive

The Black & The Green Honoree: Caroline Duggan

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

In 2001 Duggan was the musical director of the Cor Nas Nog Choir and Westlife in the RTE program, “Westlife and Friends.” In 2002, Duggan moved to New York to teach music. She was assigned to P.S. 59, a public school in a low-income section of the Bronx under Principal Christine McHugh who has been a wonderful support. While teaching music full-time in the school, Duggan, inspired by her pupils’ fascination with her Irish heritage, started an after school Irish dance program and named it The Keltic Dreams. The group’s 38 students are of predominantly Latino and African-American heritage. Duggan’s aim was to mix cultures together through the medium of Irish dance, and to give the children a platform of excellence to carry with them throughout their lives, teaching them along the way to follow their dreams and that absolutely nothing is impossible.
The first costumes for the troupe of dancers were nightshirts which Caroline found in Carrolls gift store in Ireland. With the help of parents she cut them up, stuck crystals on and made them into dresses. The poms and hard shoes were donated to the group.
The Keltic Dreams won an award at the 2006 Irish Connections Festival in Boston. Duggan sought donations from people in Ireland and the U.S., and with assistance from the American Ireland Fund, raised $75,000, which she used to fly the children to Ireland in 2007. There, they performed for President Mary McAleese at Aras an Uchtaran, and were featured on Pat Kenny’s “Late Late Show.” Late that year, the group performed in the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade and at City Hall, where Duggan was presented with a proclamation by NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
In May 2008, Duggan raised $85,000 through donations and traveled to Northern Ireland with the Keltic Dreams troupe, where they connected with children from throughout the country. During their visit, the dancers performed at Stormont for Martin McGuinness. Tyrone Productions, the group behind “Riverdance,” produced a documentary on the Keltic Dreams, called “A Bronx Dream,” which aired in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day 2008, in Canada and was released in the USA in March 2009 and is currently playing on Showtime in the USA.

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