Greg McGrath, a founder of Celtic Heritage Productions, met his untimely death on March 5, 2015, after a long illness.
Greg was born in Long Island, New York, the grandson of Irish immigrants Anna Flynn and Joseph McGrath and Ukrainian immigrants Mary (maiden name unknown) and Stefan Lazorick. He occasionally joked that his "pedigree" was only half Celtic. Like many of us, Greg knew of the "Seven Celtic Nations" ... but later genealogical research revealed that his Ukrainian grandparents had both come from the Eastern European Galicia, so-called for the Celts who moved into the area during the Iron Age. Perhaps this discovery helped to affirm Greg's determination to make Celtic Heritage an all-inclusive pathway for everyone to explore the rich and varied cultures of the Celtic peoples.
Greg loved music, especially "roots music." His teenage love of rock and roll, and desire to know more about its origins, eventually led him to Southern rock (yes, a Long Island boy who listened to the Marshall Tucker Band and Lynyrd Skynrd!). Tracing the music even further led him to discover McKinley Morganfield -- aka "Muddy Waters" -- and he remained a life-long fan of all types of blues: Mississippi Delta blues, Chicago blues, electric blues, the Allman Brothers ... he loved it all!
Greg was not to discover Celtic roots music until he met Celtic musician Marcille Wallis, who was later to become his wife. Together, Greg and Marcille founded Celtic Heritage Productions, initially as a vehicle to distribute her recordings, but later to become a festival and concert production company with the mission of "[educating] individuals and groups about the heritage, history, culture, and traditions of the Celtic lands through the medium of music, providing entertaining productions with broad appeal to a wide range of audiences." Music is, you see, the only truly universal language.
Greg never tired of answering questions about the Celts and the music. His favorite remark from others, one that he often heard, was "I don't understand why this music speaks to me so!" Typically he'd talk about roots music, about its uncomplicated nature being able to touch a person at their very core ... but he'd also encourage others to explore the possibility that they, too had a Celtic connection. Surely drawing upon his own personal experience, he'd often tell them, "You never know!"
It is altogether fitting that Greg's love of music and of Celtic culture has inspired the creation of a scholarship for the purpose of studying Celtic music. The Greg McGrath Memorial Scholarship for the Exploration of Celtic Heritage is a perpetual fund to be administered by the New World Celts, Asheville. Donations are accepted; if you would like to contribute to Greg's legacy, and the furtherance of Celtic heritage for future generations, a link is provided below.
Applications are now available for two $500
scholarship recipients to attend either the Swannanoa Gathering Celtic Week or
the Augusta Heritage Center's Irish Week! To review program guidelines and
download application materials, please follow the link below.
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