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Obit: Brian Heron - Grandson of James Connoly

11 Mar 11 - 01:49 PM (#3111839)
Subject: Obit: Brian Herrin - Grandson of James Connoly
From: InOBU

Today, just a little while ago, in California, Brian Herrin passed away. He was the founder of the Irish Arts Center, at the time, closely associated with Oficial Irish Republicanism, it was a prime shaker of the moderen cultural sense of self among Irish Americans.

He was a force of nature, often hard to get along with, but a loving fellow who did not hold grudges, and was always calling his friends for a new great adventure, from building currachs, to starting new Irish language schools.

His grandfather was James Connoly, the founder of the Irish People's Amry and in that the founder of the modern IRA. Brian lived his grandfather's promice, "We shall rise again."

His uprising was a cultural awakening through theater, music, and hands on transfer of traditional arts and culture.

His son tells me he died the way he lived, very ill, and with no one promicing him long term servival, he began to organise to run for president of Ireland.

I, and many others, some who don't admit to it, owe him alot for leading into living our cultural heritage, and more, taking out of the home and into the mainstream of the world arts community.

His is survived by his sons, Uri, Morgan and Che, and his wife Belinda and former wife Ania.

The world will be a little more peaceful and orderly without Brian, and certainly poorer for that.

Slan agus go raith maith agut, Brian

Is mise, le meas

11 Mar 11 - 02:19 PM (#3111852)
Subject: RE: Obit: Brian Herrin - Grandson of James Connoly
From: Ruth Archer

Oh my god.

I often think of Brian. I lived with him and Belinda for a bit in Los Angeles when I was involved with the Celtic Arts Centre in the late 80s.

I would wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of his personality. A force of nature, and someone to be reckoned with, and infuriating, and dynamic, and eccentric. If I hadn't met Belinda and Brian when I did, I almost certainly would not be doing what I do now. Their music and their generosity and their passion was my Damascene moment. I remember sitting there in my first evening at ACS on Hollywood Boulevard, either in the ceili workshop or the music seisun, with this big grin on my face, and Belinda said, "You look like you've just come home."

There are a few people in your life who are the big, influential figures. Brian was definitely one of those for me. He was often infuriating and we certainly disagreed (heatedly) at times, but he was a complete one-off. The world is, indeed, a poorer place without him in it.

If you're in touch with Che and Belinda, tell them Joan Mullin sends her regards and sympathy. It will be a name they've not heard in more than 20 years but hopefully they'll remember.

11 Mar 11 - 02:26 PM (#3111857)
Subject: RE: Obit: Brian Herrin - Grandson of James Connoly
From: Ruth Archer


Could a Mudelf put this back up in the top section, please? Brian was very definitely involved in Irish music, song and dance in America, and many people probably never would have discovered either without him. He also played the uillean pipes...I remember in about 1988 being woken on Easter morning by him sittiing and playing the pipes in the living room at some ungodly hour!

    Got it. -Joe-

11 Mar 11 - 02:29 PM (#3111861)
Subject: RE: Obit: Brian Herrin - Grandson of James Connoly
From: Richie Black (misused acct, bad email)

His lifelong friend Sean Cronin has also just passed away.

11 Mar 11 - 03:10 PM (#3111891)
Subject: RE: Obit: Brian Herrin - Grandson of James Connoly
From: MartinRyan

I suspect that's "Heron" rather than "Herrin"? Just for clarity. Haven't seen any death notice yet.


12 Mar 11 - 10:32 AM (#3112341)
Subject: RE: Obit: Brian Heron - Grandson of James Connoly

I imagine it will be listed under O H-Eachtuigheirn. Otherwise, Heron.

13 Mar 11 - 05:39 PM (#3113090)
Subject: RE: Obit: Brian Heron - Grandson of James Connoly
From: InOBU

It is "o" not "i" . Dear Ruth, Che is on Facebook, and I will direct Che to this post.
Dearest sympathy, Lorcan

14 Mar 11 - 08:47 AM (#3113418)
Subject: RE: Obit: Brian Heron - Grandson of James Connoly
From: InOBU

Actually, Che is on facebook under another name, the Che Herron on Facebook seems not to be the same person... But, Yuri now is... and I sent him a link.
All the best

14 Mar 11 - 11:50 PM (#3113910)
Subject: RE: Obit: Brian Heron - Grandson of James Connoly
From: GUEST,C.Sample

I was wondering if someone on here has a copy of Brians Obit that could be e-mailed to me, I would be so thankful.
I was very saddined when I found out that he had passed, I have known Brian and Belinda practically all my life and me and my family will miss him dearly.
I am also wishing to contact Belinda, if you know how I can get in touch with her could you e-mail me or give her my e-mail address.

17 Mar 11 - 08:22 AM (#3115622)
Subject: RE: Obit: Brian Heron - Grandson of James Connoly
From: GUEST,Edmund Vitale

While not being Irish at all, being involved with Brian and his "wild-eyed" vision for a Traditional Irish Arts Center and the cultural Rennaissance that he felt would ensue, intrigued this 18 year-old young man. For 8 years I can say I was a proud member of An Claidheamh Soluis. Brian led us all on many wild adventures, some which even saw success!! The Monday night Seisiuns, The many plays we did first in America, the bringing of the Chieftains over in 1974, and later, Clannad and the Bothy Band. Those were good and heady days - all of them. The world may now be a quieter place, but if anyone's life is as enriched as mine was (and still is) by the crazy Irishman, then Brian Heron will live on!

17 Mar 11 - 08:45 AM (#3115636)
Subject: RE: Obit: Brian Heron - Grandson of James Connoly
From: Mary Katherine

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.

18 Mar 11 - 10:55 PM (#3116788)
Subject: RE: Obit: Brian Heron - Grandson of James Connoly
From: GUEST,Steve Gaghagen

You can find Che on Facebook under "Che Connolly Heron".

18 Mar 11 - 11:15 PM (#3116796)
Subject: RE: Obit: Brian Heron - Grandson of James Connoly
From: katlaughing

Oh, my, what a wondrous person. Thank you for posting the obit.

My condolences to his family and all who knew him.


18 Mar 11 - 11:58 PM (#3116806)
Subject: RE: Obit: Brian Heron - Grandson of James Connoly
From: Ruth Archer

Goodness me - Steve Gaghagen. It's been a long time. :)

"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." - that's a nice thought, even after all this time.

Thinking about Brian's union organising activity reminds me of the story Che used to tell about how his parents met: his father went into the factory where his mother, an immigrant from Honduras, was working. Brian made an inspirational speech encouraging the women to demand fair working conditions, and Belinda, despite not understanding English, was so inspired by the passion in his speech that she walked over, turned off the power in the factory, and led the other women on a walk-out.

Brian said, "I'm going to marry that woman."

19 Mar 11 - 10:09 PM (#3117336)
Subject: RE: Obit: Brian Heron - Grandson of James Connoly
From: GUEST,Michael L. Becker

Brian was my friend. So sorry to hear of his passing.

23 Mar 11 - 12:26 PM (#3119852)
Subject: RE: Obit: Brian Heron - Grandson of James Connoly
From: GUEST,Jerome Basque

Brian was a friend a Legend & A Inspiration to many of us he was a " Book of stories" One Story I will never forget of Brian that many will never Believe 1990 I Believe it was a Tail End of Hurricane Bertha I Believe ,Hit Cape Breton Island So it was early in the Morn Brian his wife Belinda & I set out to Drive to Eskasoni to set Sail on A 37 " Sailboat Howard Jeddore had loan to Brian , The Plan was to Pick Up Brian & Belinda,s Son Che @ the Wharf in Big Pond & continue to the Big Pond Festival, as we Sailed by the Wharf 2-3 times thier was no sign of Che @ the Wharf and we continued our way to the Festival when we got there I had to swim ashore to Borrow a little Dory fr: a kind CBER to Row back to the Sailboat to bring Belinda to Shore,Belinda & I went to the Festival and thier was no signs of Che to found anywhere.                                                                               So Belinda & I went back to the shore & the Kind man CBER told us the winds where picking up & that we should find a Birth or a safe Harbour for the Sailboat before the weather turned Bad, I Rowed the Dory back to Shore & I swam back a few hundred feet back to the Sailboat with a Struggle as I getting on the Boat Brian told me to hurry up & pull the Anchor in as we were been dragged by the wind & waves close to the Rocks on the Shorline,as I was pulling the Anchor in Brian hollowered get that "Foggin Anchor in & the 2-3 waves hit us & I almost got the Anchor in then I went up in the Air did a few Summer Saults & Bang I had got thrown smashed into the Boat, I few seconds later! I woke up in the bottom sitting on the Anchor, I was fast to Go up & jump on the Boat Brian saying Hurry.... what the Hell are you doin, I got the Anchor in time we where a few feet fr Grounding into the Rocks, Then " Bang" we where Sailing off to Glory , I realized that my head was cut & Brian told me to lay down in the Bunk Below as I had a Head Ache,"Bleeding" I got in a short time smelling Diesel fuel & the Planks were starting to float the Battery was under water ,we had no means of Power.                                                    We sailed back fr 1 End of the Bras'dor lakes to the other & @ 1 point we saw a fishing Boat out there as it Passed under the sailboat we had all the Sails up , I tell you it was 1 If not the Scariest time ever in my Life! We had no Chart for the Inlet back to Eskasoni, Belinda was Terrified in Horror , you had to be there to Believe it, as we passed the Inlet @ about 10:00 PM back & fort Dozens of times , with me on the Bow of the Sailboat with careful observation & Instructions By Brian to look out for anything in the Moonlight as Sky,s cleared ,I Imagine we were out thier for Hours, we Safely sailed in missing the Wharf by a 100 feet I jumped in to Drag the Boat into the Wharf. Bras'Dor Lakes might be smal with sweet short waves, but it seemed Mighty that Day & Night with Great Man behind the Helm to Challenge Hurricane Bertha & Its Tropical Cyclone,Brain was a Man with no fear of Sailing the Sea,with great Respect and Faith I hope his wish & Dreams will live on forever and his this will Happen to Sail the Currach To Ireland oneday soon for the Language he loved & the Cultures he dearly loved and Respected around the Earth. :) Ni'mool'tes Nee'dup.

25 Mar 11 - 06:10 PM (#3121581)
Subject: RE: Obit: Brian Heron - Grandson of James Connoly
From: GUEST,Sarah Bennett

I feel very fortunate that I got to re- connect with Brian before he passed.He was a very dear friend of my father, Mike Bennett, who also worked alongside Brian at An Claidheamh Soluis in the 80's. They had known each other something like 40 years and had originally met organizing and generally raising Hell.
Since my dad also passed away in December, I hope that he and Brian are reunited now, at complete peace. I hope that they are eternally sailing upon deep blue seas,laughing, and debating politics. Brian's love of celtic culture deeply inspired my father and therefore myself and my siblings to connect with and study our heritage.He will be sorely missed but always remembered and honored for his commitment to social justice .My deepest sympathy to his beautiful family and all of his loved ones and comrades.

25 Mar 11 - 10:41 PM (#3121713)
Subject: RE: Obit: Brian Heron - Grandson of James Connoly
From: GUEST,Steve Gaghagen

Ahh Ruth ... yes it certainly has been a long long time. Hope you are well. :-).

Sarah ... sorry to hear of Michael's passing. He was a true gent, and a great pillar of An Claidheamh Soluis. I was a "starring role hog" at that time, but it was folks like your dad that made the place run.

30 May 11 - 03:52 PM (#3162778)
Subject: RE: Obit: Brian Heron - Grandson of James Connoly

I first met Brian and Aine in London. I was a friend of   Aine and worked with her in Fitzroy Square in about 1963.   We met up again in 1966 when they lived in Fell St. Morgan was about 3 years old at the time. I have never forgotten them but lost touch. I accompanied them to Delano when they were organising the strikes with Cesar Chavez.

I was unbelieveably ignorant in those days and it took me a long to learn about the world! I always knew they were very special people and wish I could travel back in time to 1966. My deepest sympathy to all his family

Uri and Morgan were beautiful children and would dearly love to get in touch with them. If anyone knows Aine's email address, I'd be so grateful if you could let me know.

01 Jun 11 - 12:59 PM (#3163788)
Subject: RE: Obit: Brian Heron - Grandson of James Connoly
From: GUEST,Philippa

Dreadful news

I knew Brian, Belinda and Ché (a young child then) in An Claidheamh Soluis days circa 1971-72. I had hoped to look him up again -- the person who told me Brian had moved to Galway appears to have been wrong.

07 Jun 11 - 02:49 PM (#3166636)
Subject: RE: Obit: Brian Heron - Grandson of James Connoly
From: GUEST,Philippa

I heard from Yuri that there will be a NYC commemoration of Brian's life at the Irish Arts Center - An Claidheamh Soluis July 30th. more later

08 Aug 11 - 06:06 PM (#3204182)
Subject: RE: Obit: Brian Heron - Grandson of James Connoly
From: GUEST,Lindsey Dean

I just came across this thread. I believe this is the same Brian Heron with whom I attended law school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. My condolences to all his friends and family. He was one of the most unique persons I have ever met. A man with so many talents and so much motivation, that I can't really compare him with anyone.

We talked soccer (Football), other sports, music. He knew just about every popular musician and their works. Obviously, he knew traditional and historical music. He had a zest for life that will always be remembered. A man who never let "can't" get in the way of ambition.

God Bless his memory and his family.

Lindsey Dean