Tomáseen Foley's A CELTIC CHRISTMAS Will Play Santa Cruz Next Month

A Celtic Christmas will perform Sunday, December 17 at 3:00 PM

By: Dec. 02, 2023
Tomáseen Foley's A CELTIC CHRISTMAS Will Play Santa Cruz Next Month
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Every year for the past twenty-eight years, Tomáseen Foley's A Celtic Christmas has crisscrossed the country, bringing to packed venues his authentic remembrance of a way of life that is, alas, no longer with us. A warm, welcoming, rousing and truly family-friendly event, A Celtic Christmas will perform Sunday, December 17 at 3:00 PM at Santa Cruz's Rio Theatre. For tickets ($34—49) visit EventBrite at the link below; for more information, visit

“When I was a child, it was around the fireplaces of my neighbors' thatched cottages that I experienced the last remnants of the old communal way of life,” says Tomáseen. “The family was the center of the community then, and the community was the center of life itself, the shining axle around which the great wheel of the universe revolved. Stories, music, song and dance were the spokes of that slowly turning wheel.”

Now in its 28th season of touring nationally, Tomáseen Foley's A Celtic Christmas recreates the joy and innocence of a night before Christmas in a remote farmhouse in his native parish of Teampall an Ghleanntáin in the west of Ireland in the 1950s — when the neighboring families would gather around the fire to grace the wintry night with traditional Irish Christmas carols, to raise the rafters with the joy of their music; to knock sparks off the flagstone floor with their traditional dances. And, of course, there were stories — they filled the night with the laughter of their stories.

Foley himself was raised in a home that had a thatch roof, stone walls, tiny windows and a flagstone floor … like all his neighbors' homes, it had no ‘contraptions or installations' — i.e., no plumbing, no running water, no electricity; and the sole source of heat, a treasured open turf fire. Battery-driven radios were a novelty and viewed by many with suspicion; no one in the parish owned a motor car, and traveled instead by pony-and-trap. Later, having travelled much of the world, Foley found himself returning to those comforting roots: those remembered evenings of song and story, that vanished sense of communal life, and sharing it with audiences through his stories and songs. As he puts it, “A Celtic Christmas seeks to be a window to that old world by attempting to recreate the joy and innocence of just such a night, and, when we succeed, its memory may linger — and even shimmer — long, long after the curtain comes down.”

This year's show features some of the finest, most authentic exponents of the Celtic arts performing anywhere today, on either side of the Atlantic. U.S. Champion Irish dancer Morgan Martin joins the show this year, adding to a stellar cast of seasoned professionals who enchant with their song, dance, and stories.

Storyteller/Director Tomáseen Foley grew up cradled in a culture unique to the old communal way of life, and continues to share the joy of that upbringing. In conjunction with the Omaha Symphony and other orchestras, he performs in Celtic Journey as well as occasional performances with Apollo's Fire, the Cleveland Baroque Orchestra. He has released two CDs: Parcel From America, and a live recording, The Priest and the Acrobat. Rego Irish Records said of Foley, “He is a master of the Irish narrative and a keeper of the flame for a priceless piece of Irish culture.” For further information, visit:

Santa Cruz resident and Grammy Award winner William Coulter is the show's longtime Music Director. An internationally recognized master of the steel-string guitar, he has been performing and recording traditional Celtic and American folk music for more than 30 years. Coulter studied classical guitar and earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of California Santa Cruz, a master's degree in music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, an a second master's degree from the University of California Santa Cruz in Ethnomusicology. He now teaches guitar at UC Santa Cruz as well as the National Guitar Summer Workshop, Alasdair Fraser's Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School, and the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop. For further information, visit

Singer, dancer, and multi-instrumentalist Eimear Arkins hails from Ruan in County Clare, Ireland. She holds eleven solo All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil titles and has competed in all Ireland, European and World Dancing Championships. Arkins has toured and performed with numerous groups including Cherish The Ladies, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, The Paul Brock Band, Trinity Irish Dance Ensemble and Téada. She is a regular teacher at St. Louis Irish Arts and has given workshops at various festivals throughout the world including New York, St. Louis, Canada, Estonia, and France. She released her debut album, What's Next? in June 2018 to great acclaim, and was awarded Newcomer of the Year 2019 by liveIRELAND. To learn more, visit

Brian Bigley has studied the uilleann pipes for over thirty years, and has toured North America and Europe extensively as both a musician and a dancer, appearing in shows such as the Omaha Symphony's Celtic Journey and Grammy-winning Apollo's Fire production Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain (the recording of which made it to number three on the Billboard Charts). He competed with great distinction at the World Irish Dance Championships and has placed second in the senior uilleann piping competition at the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil. He produces and tours his show called An Irish Rambling House and has several recordings available on CD. Bigley lives near Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and children. For further information, visit


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