A Real Pulse in Connecting People Within the Celtic Community
By RUTH CARSON
VANCOUVER - For the past 12 years, The Celtic Connection has been informing the Celtic Community in Western Canada. Last month's edition distributed over 13,000 papers and the distribution span covered as far east as Winnipeg and Butte, Montana and as far south as Seattle, Washington.
The wide readership also extends to subscribers who are from as far afield as Australia, Ireland and Great Britain. Recently, a journalist for the Vancouver Sun, Malcolm Parry, commended The Celtic Connection by writing that it "continues to be a special interest newspaper for others - even academic types to emulate. It's always packed with relevant local and international news and opinion."
CATHOLINE BUTLER and Maura McCay have worked as a team for the past 12 years in serving the Celtic community.
Quite remarkably the majority of the work undertaken to publish this specialized newspaper is carried out by three people. Twelve years ago, Maura McCay had realized there was a need for a newspaper which allowed the Celtic Community to have a voice in Western Canada.
As publisher, she has numerous responsibilities including editing and layout and design and Catholine Butler manages advertising and contributes articles. Five years ago Colleen Carpenter, who is described by Catholine as "a general handyman,' joined the staff. She works on "so many aspects - distribution, proofing, secretarial, and the production end with Maura."
"People who don't know about the paper never realize that we're a small team. The media use us as a news source for the Celtic Community, it's great to see we have that kind of profile and that we've reached that level of respect within the community and within the media," said Catholine.
Catholine attributes the unique qualities of the newspaper to the fact that "when people call us, they get an answer. We're very grassroots and very connected to the community. The community can call on us with their sadness and their joys. People appreciate that and the fact that we're interested in what happens to them on a daily basis."
"We get calls about newsworthy items and it's nice to know they have us in the forefront. We cover aspects which daily newspapers don't cover as it might not be newsworthy on a broad scale but are relevant to the Celtic Community."
"We get numerous enquiries and it's mostly the Irish queries we answer. The Irish community here doesn't have a cultural centre, unlike the Scots and Welsh. Ninety-nine percent of the time we're able to give an answer or put them in touch with someone who can."
Catholine told me about a recent enquiry from a woman living in Vancouver who was having a reunion with relatives from England and Ireland in New York. She wanted to know if The Celtic Connection knew about events occurring in New York on St. Patrick's Day.
Coincidentally Catholine had just interviewed the organizer of the New York St. Patrick's Day Parade, John Dunleavy. Catholine rang John Dunleavy who in due turn organized tickets in the parade stand and put the woman in touch with some of the Irish clubs in New York.
The Celtic Connection had their own celebration to organize for St. Patrick's Day. They participated in a fundraising event in conjunction with the Celtic Heritage Society and the Vancouver Irish Sporting and Social Club. "It was the first time we were involved with running a two-day event."
"We participated in every aspect of it, from looking after advertising, collecting items for door prizes and the silent auction, sending out press releases to the media, distributing tickets and answering telephone calls regarding bookings," said Catholine. The event was a huge success with over 1,200 people attending during the two days of celebrations.
Numerous enquiries are received by The Celtic Connection from fellow Celts who are visiting on work visas. The newspaper has succeeded in putting them in contact with different companies and securing employment. The paper's mission statement which is printed in each edition states, "This paper is dedicated to truth, the dignity of every person under God and the call to help another to live out that dignity".
Catholine feels that's really important, because "sometimes the media will take a story and blow it out of proportion, looking not so much at the truth but at selling papers." The Celtic Connection's name and mission statement are precisely apt for a newspaper which is a real pulse within the Celtic Community and truly connects Celts.
*Ruth Carson is a freelance Irish journalist who recently visited Vancouver. She has now returned to Ireland from where she will be contributing occasional freelance articles to The Celtic Connection.