The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #136306   Message #3115636
Posted By: Mary Katherine
17-Mar-11 - 08:45 AM
Thread Name: Obit: Brian Heron - Grandson of James Connoly
Subject: RE: Obit: Brian Heron - Grandson of James Connoly
Found this online:

Dear An Claidheamh Soluis/The Celtic Arts Center Members,

It's with a heavy heart that we share the news of the passing of our
organization's founder. Please take a moment to read the
family-approved obituary below and reflect on his achievements. He was
truly an inspirational man and his passion for the Celtic culture lives
on in all that he created.

=== FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE === March 14. 2011 ===
-- Brian o h-Eachtuigheirn (AKA Brian Heron) 1941-2011 --

Brian o h-Eachtuigheirn died of cancer in the care of his loving family
in San Francisco, California at 11:30pm on March 10, 2011.

Brian, 70, was the charismatic visionary and founder of An Claidheamh
Soluis/The Celtic Arts Center in Los Angeles; An Claidheamh Soluis the
Irish Arts Center in New York City; the Brave Hearted Woman Theatre
Company in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and An Claidheamh Soluis Gaelic
Adventure, all of which were created to preserve the Irish language,
music and theatre.

Born Brian Samuel Connolly Heron in Dublin, Ireland on January 24,
1941, Brian was the grandson of James Connolly, the General, Commander
in Chief and martyred hero of the historic Easter Rising in Ireland in
1916. Like his famed grandfather, Brian, a true champion of workers'
rights, first came to America with the assistance of Mike Quill of the
Transport Workers Union. He subsequently worked as a union organizer,
risking his life, he organized the exploited Chinese sweat shop workers
of S.F. Along side Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta he was an
instrumental leader of the United Farm Workers. He also worked with the
International Ladies Garment Workers Union, was nominated as Vice
President of the Peace and Freedom party, and helped organize the
anti-war protest in Chicago in 1968 during the infamous Democratic
National Convention. Brian was a founding member of the National
Association for Irish Justice as well as the National Association for
Irish Freedom serving as their keynote speaker and fundraiser. Both of
these organizations were committed to Ireland's complete freedom from
British colonial rule. Brian, who was also a lifetime supporter of
Native American rights, language and cultural preservation, took his
entire family and traveled across the United States, Canada and Central
America visiting Indian reservations and forming alliances with Native
American tribes.

Above all, he was devoted to the preservation of traditional Irish
language, Celtic arts and culture. At the time of his death, Brian was
working on the creation of "An Claidheamh Soluis Gaelic Adventure," a
multi-media/living-theatre piece. Much like his grandfather James
Connolly, Brian never shied away from posing challenging concepts,
striking up unpopular dialogue or asking the difficult questions. The
most common of his controversial questions were regarding the Irish
language: "Can a person of Irish descent really call themselves Irish
when they cannot even speak their own language?"

Locally, the Celtic Arts Center has carried out its founder's vision,
training countless artists, musicians and dancers and continuing to
produce plays, weekly Irish jam sessions of Celtic music, teaching
Celtic dance and the Gaelic language, and operating a daily 24-hour
online radio broadcast.

Brian returned to school in his fifties and receive a P.H.D., in
theatre from U.C.L.A. and then went to Nova University Law School and
passed the Bar on his first test at age fifty- Seven. In spite of his
achievements he said, "I didn't do enough!"

His love of the Uillean pipes was immense. Our image of him playing the
pipes and his twinkling gaze with the shake of his head would pierce

anyone's heart. And furthermore if you had no place to stay and were a
stranger, he'd put you up and you would now become part of Heron's
extended family. No matter how little he had, he didn't have it in him
to turn a person in need away.

From the days of supporting his young family as a fisherman Brian loved
the sea and his last project was to row a curragh that he and others
had hand built across the Atlantic ocean with the assistance of a large
sailboat to relieve the rowers on the expedition. The purpose, to
connect one's Irish identity with those in America through language and
to come full circle to connect with the Native speakers of Ireland. His
dying wish was to return to Ireland and become politically active, but
his cancer prevented this from happening. In one last memorable dying
breath he seemed to grab two oars and set off once again, always
keeping true to his visions even when others didn't believe they were
ever possible.

Brian o h-Eachtuigheirn is survived by Belinda, his wife; three sons,
Che, Morghean, and Yury Heron; his grandchildren Hayim, Larissa, Fionn
and Iona; and his first wife, Aine, as well as nearly 80 million Irish
people around the globe destined to learn their own language. A
memorial celebration of Brian o h-Eachtuigheirn's life will be
announced at a future date on the An Claidheamh Soluis / The Celtic
Arts Center website

As Brian often said, "Tír gan Teangan - Tír gan Anam" - "A land {or
people} without its own language is a land without its soul."

Brian provided his services free of charge, and like most visionaries
and leaders in the not-for-profit arena he relied heavily on his family
for his health care for the last few years. During this difficult time
for the family, donations of any amount will be greatly appreciated;
contributions in his memory can be sent to the Brian Heron Family
Relief Fund, S.F. Police Credit Union, 2550 Irving St., San Francisco,
CA 94122.