Curtin Conway Award

About the Curtin Conway Award

The Curtin Conway Award is a prestigious form of recognition, established to honor the extraordinary service and dedication towards the Irish cultural community of Minnesota. This award draws its inspiration and name from Leah Curtin and Roger Conway, the eminent visionaries who contributed profoundly to the foundation and development of the Irish Fair of Minnesota. The legacy they left behind serves as a beacon of commitment and resilience to which others may aspire.

The award criteria emphasize longevity of service, a significant or unique impact to the community, and the ability to inspire others. Recipients have shown exceptional commitment to fostering Irish culture in the Twin Cities and beyond, creating a lasting, positive impact on the community. The selection process is rigorous, with the decision made by the Executive Committee of the Irish Fair of Minnesota, in consultation with knowledgeable community representatives. This ensures that the most deserving individuals are chosen for this honor each year.

The Curtin Conway Award recipient will receive a $1000 check and the winner's name will be immortalized on a plaque at the Celtic Junction Arts Center, providing a reminder of the award’s legacy and the individual’s contributions to the Irish community in Minnesota.

The winner(s) will be notified ahead of time and the award will be presented at the opening ceremony of the festival, Friday August 11 at 6pm on the Dublin Stage, placing them rightfully in the limelight before the audience they have served with dedication. 

The Curtin Conway Award is more than just a recognition; it is a tribute to the spirit of the Irish community, symbolizing gratitude, honor, and enduring legacy.

Award criteria

  • Demonstrated long-term commitment to serving and supporting the Irish cultural community in the Twin Cities and/or state. 
    • For example, active involvement in organizing cultural events, volunteering for Irish heritage organizations, or providing consistent support to Irish community initiatives over a significant period of time.
  • Made a significant and distinctive positive impact on the community. 
    • This can include initiatives such as establishing educational programs to promote Irish culture, leading efforts to preserve Irish traditions, or creating platforms for Irish artists and performers to showcase their talents.
  • Serves as an exemplary role model for others to emulate. 
    • This could be demonstrated through leadership qualities, dedication to community service, fostering inclusivity, or inspiring others to actively engage in promoting and preserving Irish culture in the Twin Cities and/or state.

Selection process

Selection of one recipient per year, based on consensus among the Executive Committee of the Irish Fair of Minnesota and in consultation with well-informed community representatives. The decision-making process takes into account the individual's impact, involvement, and dedication to the Irish cultural community, ensuring that the chosen recipient exemplifies the Mission of Irish Fair and the spirit and values of the community.

This year's recipient

2023: Katie Stephens-Spangler

Past recipients

2003: Martin McHugh

2004: Eoin McKiernan

2005: Molly & Dermot O’Mara

2006: Denis Clarke & Frank Joyce

2007: Ed McCormick 

2008: Anna Mae Hogan

2009: Bill Gleason

2010: Eileen Dahill

2011: James Rogers

2012: Mike Whalen

2013: Mike Wallace

2014: Beth Mullinax

2015: Mike & Jan Casey

2016: Mike Lynch

2017: Karol Baumeister

2018: Kate and Jode Dowling

2019: Sean Clerkin

2021: Jim Brooks

2022: Paul McCluskey