Culture Tent

Step into the heart of Ireland at the Culture Tent, where history, tradition, and captivating stories come to life. Immerse yourself in a diverse array of experiences that showcase the essence of Irish heritage. The Culture Tent offers a vibrant journey into the heart of Ireland's cultural legacy, inviting you to learn, participate, and celebrate the rich traditions that make Ireland so unique.
Friday, March 8, 2024

  • 5:30PM-6:30PM - Irish Language 101 with John Spyer
  • 6:45PM-7:45PM - History of Irish in Oklahoma - Nathan Wilson
  • 8PM-9PM - Slaine with Q&A by Danny Boy O'Connor
Saturday, March 9, 2024

  • 10AM-11AM - Breakfast with Bill Courtney
  • 11:15AM-12:15PM - James Joyce Collection at TU - Dr. Sean Latham
  • 12:30PM-1:30PM - Tracing Irish Ancestory - Geneology - John Manning
  • 1:45PM-2:45PM - The Good Friday Agreement and The Belfast Peace Wall - Dr. Steve Dilks
  • 3PM-4PM - History of Irish Whiskey (Irish Whiskey Distilling) - Conor Og MacNeasa
  • 4:15PM-5:15PM - The role of the U.S. in Resolving Violent Conflict in Northern Ireland - Declan Bredin
  • 5:30PM-6:30PM - Musical Composition with Shane Hennesey
  • 6:45PM-7:45PM - Irish Mob Trilogy with Q&A - TJ English
  • 8PM-9PM - Irish Whiskey Tasting Experience $ - John Buchanan
Sunday, March 10, 2024

  • 10AM-12:15PM - Protestant Service & Mass
  • 12:30PM - St. Patrick and the Influence of the Catholic Church in Ireland with Deacon Tim Sullivan
  • 1:45PM-2:45PM - Geology of Ireland with Lori Wood

"Play Ball!" next to the Culture Tent from 11-4PM

Cricket Games led by Tom Melville

"PLAY BALL!" The Irish Way: The Irish are a sports loving people and one of the summer teams sports they enjoy is the venerable old game of cricket, which is moderately popular throughout Ireland with people of all ages and backgrounds. Visitors to the 2024 Tulsa Irish Festival will get an opportunity to experience this aspect of Irish culture up close and personal by joining in the short, informal, cricket games that American cricket player and author Tom Melville will be conducting on Saturday, March 9. The activity will be run on a continuous walkup basis throughout the day and is open to everyone. Absolutely no experience required! So come and discover what "play ball" means to the Irish!

Culture Tent Speakers

Bill Courtney

A native New Yorker of Irish descent, Bill is a fourth-generation member of the NYPD, with a rich background spanning over 30 years. Bill attended high school with members of the Irish gang, The Westies. He later investigated former classmates for a murder in mid-town Manhattan. His career was largely focused on organized crime, collaborating closely with the FBI and DEA on several significant, long-term investigations. Bill is particularly renowned for his work probing crimes in the music industry. His expertise and experiences have made him a sought-after guest on numerous true crime documentaries and television shows, where he has discussed a variety of high-profile cases.

Bill was recently featured on the Showtime television program, “The Supreme Team.” Currently residing in Tulsa, he has shifted his focus to media production. Bill hosts a video podcast named "The Proffer," which features intriguing in person interviews with former organized crime members. The podcast is filmed at The Church Studio and is widely accessible on various media platforms.

Conor McNeice (Conchur MacNeasa)

Conor McNeice (Conchur MacNeasa) is a native of County Antrim, situated on the north coast of Ireland. Having resided in Kansas City for the past 12 years, Conor has spent eight remarkable years distilling for Restless Spirits Distilling Co. During this time, he has crafted an impressive range of award-winning spirits, featured in prestigious venues like the Royals and Boston Red Sox stadiums. Recently, Conor had the pleasure of participating as a contestant on Discovery Channel's "Moonshiners: Master Distiller," scheduled to air on March 12th. This episode will highlight Ireland's cherished Poitin, known as the world's original distilled spirit. Passionate about all things whiskey, particularly Irish, Conor eagerly anticipates sharing his expertise with the people of Tulsa at the festival.

Danny Boy O'Connor

Danny Boy O'Connor, an Irish American rapper renowned as the founding member of the Hip-Hop group House of Pain, has celebrated his Irish heritage through his music, achieving widespread fame with the hit single "Jump Around." Beyond his musical career, O'Connor has dedicated himself to cultural preservation, most notably transforming the house featured in Francis Ford Coppola’s iconic film "The Outsiders" based on the S. E. Hinton novel into a museum. After relocating from Los Angeles to Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2016, he has embraced his new home city, becoming its unofficial ambassador and actively promoting its cultural scene.

O'Connor's Irish roots have profoundly influenced his life and artistic pursuits. In his latest endeavor, he has extended an invitation to several of his Irish American friends to join him in Tulsa as featured guest lecturers at the Tulsa Irish Fest in 2024, further cementing his commitment to celebrating and sharing his love of Tulsa and his Irish American heritage. Stay Gold.

Deacon Tim Sullivan

Tim Sullivan was ordained a deacon in the Catholic Diocese of Tulsa in June of 2000. He was Executive Director of Catholic Charities and Pro-Life Director of the Diocese of Tulsa from 2000 to 2007. He also served as Family Life Director of the Catholic Diocese of Tulsa from 1994 to 2006. Deacon Sullivan served as Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Wayne County (Diocese of Rochester, NY) from 2008 to 2013. He was Chaplain at Jackie Cooper Imports in Tulsa from 2013 to 2018. He now serves the Parish of Saint Bernard in Tulsa as Director of RCIA and Evangelization. Deacon Sullivan founded Brother House, an ecumenical ministry for Christian men, in 1989. In 1999, he co-authored Signposts: How To Be a Catholic Man in the World Today (The Word Among Us Press), which has been a popular resource for Catholic men’s groups and has now been translated into Polish, Ukrainian, Russian and Latvian. He has been active in the Cursillo Movement since 1989 and has offered instruction to high school students, RCIA classes, engaged couples, married couples, men’s groups and adult studies groups on virtually every aspect of Christian life. Deacon Tim received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1970 and a Juris Doctor Degree from Notre Dame in 1973. He practiced law in Tulsa from 1976 to 1994, when he began his employment with the Catholic Church. Deacon Tim Sullivan and his wife, Connie, have six children and 20 grandchildren.

Deacon Tim Sullivan's deep Irish roots trace back through generations of proud Irish heritage. His parents, the late Bernard J. Sullivan and Helen K. Sullivan, both cherished their Irish ancestry. Bernard's lineage can be traced to his 100% Irish grandparents, Robert and Anna Sullivan, who immigrated to the United States during the devastating potato famine in Ireland. Helen's family, Raymond McElhone and Katherine Lynch, also had strong Irish ties.

Declan Bredin

An award-winning journalist who worked for many years with The Irish Times where he held a range of positions including Northern (Ireland) Editor, Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Political Correspondent and Irish Language Edito, before taking early retirement from the paper at the end of 2012. Currently a contributor to the Belfast-based Irish News and a regular broadcaster in English and Irish, he also worked in 2013-14 as Local Radio Correspondent at the Oireachtas (Republic of Ireland parliament) and in 2014-15 as Political Editor of The Irish Sun.

He won the Northern Ireland IPR/BT award for Daily News Journalist of the Year and has had two books published in English, one of them on the Good Friday Agreement negotiations and their aftermath and the other on the Sinn Féin party, as well as three books in the Irish language. A native of County Wexford, he has lived most of his life in Dublin where he attended Synge Street Christian Brothers School, University College Dublin and Trinity College.

He was a member of the Press Council of Ireland from 2013 to 2019, nominated by the National Union of Journalists and serving the maximum period of two three-year terms. He is the membership secretary of the Dublin Freelance Branch of the NUJ and also serves on the advisory board of the union's magazine, The Journalist.

George "Slaine" Carroll

One of hip-hop's most unforgiving and raw voices, Slaine has grown into a multi-talented artist through his music and acting roles in some of our generation's most renowned crime dramas. He appeared in The Town, Gone Baby Gone, and Killing Them Soft alongside legends like Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini, Brad Pitt, and a dozen other films since 2007.

Throughout a music career that spans two decades, Slaine has released a collection of albums, both solo and with supergroup La Coka Nostra, that are widely regarded as indie hip-hop staples. A descendant of the House of Pain and Cypress Hill lineage, his early career was defined as much by nihilism and vivid imagery from the center of an exploding drug culture as it was from his affiliations.

While his ascent from the streets of Boston to rap royalty and the silver screen has been well documented, what he's most proud of is his recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction. That life transformation birthed an evolution in his music, and what has followed is a lyrically charged journey that addresses love, heartbreak, trauma, betrayal, addiction, forgiveness, and recovery while still maintaining his signature grit and authenticity.

Today, Slaine spends countless hours working in the community in his hometown, Boston. In 2022, he co-founded a 111-bed detox and clinical stabilization program called Charles River Recovery. "This is the coolest thing I get to do," he says. "I know my passion is music and film, but my purpose is to help another alcoholic or addict, and that's a beautiful thing."

Jim McSorley, aka Knocko Nolan

Born and bred in New York City in the 1970s, Jim decided early on in his life that he wanted to make an impact on the blight and urban decay that he was witnessing spreading across his city and country, so he decided that joining the ranks of law enforcement would be the quickest and most efficient way of doing so. Setting out to accomplish this goal, Jim has had the rare and privileged opportunity to have been a member of two of the Nation's finest police forces in the country: NYPD and LAPD.

Striving to be a well-rounded and active officer in the thick of it, Jim has worked street patrol duties in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and Midtown Manhattan, as well as in Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles.

Due to his blue-collar hard work ethic and can-do attitude, Jim was selected to serve in a wide array of plain clothes-specialized assignments; some of which included: the Career Criminal Unit, where he tracked and investigated dangerous and violent repeat offenders; the Violent Crime Investigation Section where he responded to and investigated shootings, assaults, and robberies; the now infamous anti-gang unit CRASH where he collected intelligence on street and prison gangs and participated in undercover, reverse-sting operations targeting gang members; and the Vice Unit where he operated undercover arresting prostitutes and pimps.

As a detective, Jim has worked in a traditional detective squad, as well as a Special Victims squad that investigated assaults and sex crimes perpetrated against children.

One of Jim's favorite and most intriguing assignments was being assigned to the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, in which he held a Top Secret government clearance and was tasked to investigate international terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda.

Nowadays, Jim is a Detective Supervisor, where he is charged with supervising, mentoring, and leading a squad of police officers and detectives who are tasked with executing felony arrest warrants throughout the City and county. In his spare time, he is an avid Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and a lover of living a healthy, active, straight-edge lifestyle.

John Buchanan

John Buchanan, a true son of Tulsa, was born and bred in the heart of West Tulsa and grew up amid the rolling hills of Mounds. As he navigated his way through the complexities of the insurance world and dived into various entrepreneurial ventures, John found himself in search of a diversion—a pursuit not just to evade the occasional business blues but to enrich his soul. It wasn't until a serendipitous moment, when he spotted his name adorning a bottle of whisky, that his passion for the noble spirit ignited. Over the last two decades, John has dedicated himself to the artful study and appreciation of whisky, immersing in its rich history, refining his tasting techniques, and curating unparalleled whisky experiences. As he guides you through the emerald isles, the cradle of whisky's legacy, prepare your senses for an exquisite journey. With John Buchanan at the helm, your palate is set to explore the very best that whisky has to offer. Welcome to a celebration of heritage and the fine art of whisky, presented by a man whose spirit is intertwined with the essence of the drink itself.

John Manning

John Manning, the principal researcher of the Country School Genealogist LLC, has more than three decades of research experience. Retired after forty years as a US Army officer and Federal employee, John brings a wealth of knowledge to enrich the experience of genealogy research and family history storytelling. John writes, lectures, and consults on various genealogy topics, including Irish research, military records, and our ancestors' settling in the Great Plains states

Lori Wood

Lori Wood is a professional geologist that lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Lori obtained her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Geoscience from the University of Tulsa. During her undergraduate career, Lori was lucky enough to attend Geological Field Camp in Galway, Ireland. She spent 2 months in Ireland learning about the geology, culture, landscape, music and how to appreciate Irish Whiskey!

Lori has 10 years’ experience in geosciences and currently works for a private oil and gas company in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Lori is the social chair for the Tulsa Geological Society, board member on the University of Tulsa Geological Advisory Board and the Culture Chair for the Tulsa Irish Festival!

Nathan Wilson

Nathan Wilson holds a Ph.D. in American History and recently served as President of the local Bobby Sands Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. He has taught at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma State University, Central Michigan University, Fort Hays State University, the University of New Mexico, Rogers State University, and currently is an instructor at Northeast Technical College in Claremore. The author of three books, his areas of specialty include Native North America, the American West, American Popular Culture, and American Ethnic History.

Sean Latham

Dr. Sean Latham is the Pauline McFarlin Walter Endowed Professor of English at the University of Tulsa where he directs the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities, edit the James Joyce Quarterly and leads the Institute for Bob Dylan Studies. He has written or edited ten books on modern culture and have organized over 100 public humanities events including exhibitions, performances, conferences, and community-engaged research projects.

Shane Hennessy

Irish virtuoso guitarist Shane Hennessy has established himself as one of the leading guitarists on the world stage, known widely for his fingerstyle, flatpicking, and percussive guitar-playing approaches. His energetic live performances and his cinematically-vivid compositions tie in influences from Bach to Beyoncé – and everything in between! With a unique style of solo guitar playing that encompasses the range of a whole band – covering drums, bass, rhythm and lead lines – Shane builds a complete sonic world entirely on his own. In 2021, Shane launched his teaching channel The Fretboard Atlas in partnership with leading teaching platform He has appeared as a featured artist twice on national television, firstly on Temple Bar TradFest (The Dublin Castle Sessions) and again on Fleadhfest TV. In 2022 Shane appeared as a headline act for the first time at the prestigious Walnut Valley Music Festival, (Winfield, Kansas) home of the world fingerpicking and flatpicking guitar championships. On March 16th 2023, Shane débuted on The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, performing his original composition "Effervescent". Later in 2023, a seven-week tour encompassed much of the United States, including numerous festival headline sets.

Stephen Dilks

Dr. Stephen Dilks is a professor and the Interim Dean for the School of Graduate Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Born in Lincolnshire to a military family, Dilks attended school in Cyprus, worked on farms and in factories, busked for money in the Paris Metro and across Europe, and has traveled to every state in the USA except Hawaii. Dilks has research interests in Irish modernism, discourses of civil rights, and relationships between art, commerce, and politics. He is currently writing a book about coverage of the Irish Independence movement in nineteenth-century Dublin newspapers. Dilks plays indoor soccer and hosts a music trivia night. The first in his family to attend school beyond the age of seventeen, Dilks earned a First Class Honors Degree in English Studies, Psychology, and Philosophy from the University of Stirling, Scotland. He completed his M.A. and Ph.D. in English Language and Literature at Rutgers Graduate School in New Jersey.

T.J. English is the author of the Irish Mob Trilogy. The three non-fiction books that comprise the trilogy are The Westies, Paddy Whacked and Where the Bodies Were Buried. These books explore the full history of Irish American entanglement in organized crime from the time of the Irish Potato Famine to the stories of the Westies in New York City and Whitely Bulger in Boston.

Believed to be an authority on the past and present history of America’s criminal underworld, T.J. has published nine books. Four have been New York Times best-sellers, and four have been nominated for an Edgar Award in the category of Best Fact Crime. His books are known for the thoroughness of the research and intimacy of detail, with many first-hand accounts from the point-of-view of underworld sources interviewed by the author. As a journalist, T.J. has explored criminal underworlds involving many different cultures and ethnicities. In 2010, after investigating and writing about the Narco War in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, English formulated the Irish Mexican Alliance, an initiative designed to raise money for a legal fund in support of Mexican journalists whose work covering the Narco War had caused them to flee Mexico seeking asylum in the U.S. The Irish Mexican Alliance held events in NYC and El Paso, Texas that showcased Irish and Mexican musicians, poets, dancers, and writers in solidarity with the Committee to Protect Journalists. The initiative is ongoing.

Raised in a large Irish Catholic family of ten siblings, English, at the age of 21, moved to NYC, where he drove a taxi at night while working as a freelance journalist during the day. Today, having lived in NYC his entire adult life, English is a fixture in the city, especially his home neighborhood of Greenwich Village, where he curates and hosts a popular Latin Jazz concert series known as Dangerous Rhythms.

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