About

Welcome

A vibrant, full-color magazine format in print and online digitally, The Desert Shamrock features travel, food, artisans, language, history, book and music reviews, profiles, news, business, events, a photo gallery each issue, contests, and MORE.

Where would civilization be without Belfast-born C.S. Lewis and his Narnia Trilogy; Oscar Wilde’s comedy, The Importance of being Earnest; the poetry of Robert Burns; the grace of Scottish Highlands’ dancing; or the worldwide phenomenon of Riverdance? Doesn’t that get your toes tapping?

Celebrating 28 years, the publication has earned a well-deserved reputation for being the most comprehensive and reliable source of information for topics of interest to those of Irish, Scottish, and Welsh heritage in the state of Arizona, and to EVERYONE worldwide who enjoys Celtic culture and events!

Team

Ann Niemann

I’ve worked in a variety of ways with my husband’s company, HercuTech Inc., manufacturing for residential and commercial new construction worldwide. Formerly, as Executive Director of a nonprofit international adoption agency working primarily with Russia and China, I love to travel. I enjoy music, live theatre, and have volunteered in many organizations including saving arts and foreign language in public education. I’ve served on several Boards of Directors including seven years for the Phoenix St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Faire, and chaired a major committee. “Mom” in a blended family with ten children, my husband, Michael, and I are blessed with a brilliant lot who have interests in everything!
Read More about her professional career…

Heidi Barry Will

With ancestors from County Cork, Heidi began exploring her Irish roots by taking fiddle lessons at the Irish Cultural Center. Her involvement in the Irish community grew and she became the 2005 Arizona Colleen. She served as Vice Chair of the Colleen Committee for several years and taught Irish dance at the ICC for four years. Heidi expressed her love for Irish dance by writing and illustrating The Ghillie Girls: Irish Dance Pals. After earning a B.S. in Graphic Information from Technology from Arizona State University, Heidi served as the Communications Director at Tri-City Baptist Church for eight years before stepping down to stay at home with her two little boys. She keeps busy with freelance graphic design projects, helping her husband, Andrew, organize a young professionals class at Tri-City, and reading as much as possible.

About The Desert Shamrock

Ann Niemann is the owner of Niemann Publishing, Inc. (Arizona C-Corporation) and all rights to The Desert Shamrock, the voice of the Celtic Community since December 2013. As Editor-in-Chief, she has been publishing since January 2014. Previously, she wrote regular feature articles and profiles for seven years; during an illness in Julie O’Mahar Chiesa’s family, Ann served as Interim Editor for five issues (Nov-Dec 2011 through July-Aug 2012).

History

The Desert Shamrock was founded in 1989 by Robert E. Graham, who passed away of cancer in 1996. Knowing that he wished newspaper to continue, several of his friends formed The Irish Group Ltd., as publishers of the paper, with Maureen O’Mahar Rainhart named Managing Editor and President.

Under Maureen’s leadership, The Desert Shamrock was expanded to include news from Ireland as well as news and events in the Irish communities of Arizona. Until her passing in November of 2002, she was extremely active in the Irish community of Phoenix and was a member of The St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Faire Committee, E.R.I.N. (now known as Irish Network Phoenix), The Irish Foundation of Arizona, The Irish American Social Club, The Irish Coalition, The Shamrock Club, The Phoenix-Ennis Sister Cities Committee, and the Irish American Cultural Institute. She was also supportive of all of the activities of the four Feis Committees of the Irish Dance Schools and actively supported The Irish Cultural Center. Under her leadership, one of the tag lines for the paper provided another insight about its content: A non-political Irish newspaper focusing on the positive side of life in the Irish world, including the entire Celtic Community.

Since Maureen’s passing, the paper was owned and published by her sister, Julie O’Mahar Chiesa, for 11 years. She owned the corporation, having bought out any previous partners. Julie served as Treasurer on the Board of Directors of the Phoenix St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Faire for many years; is a former member of E.R.I.N., and volunteers with a number of groups including the Irish Cultural Center. A key contributor, Kathy Wood served as Editor for several years providing proofreading, writing articles, and enthusiasm in promoting the paper.

Features found in The Desert Shamrock include news and local events of the Celtic Communities of Arizona; book and music reviews; Irish sports; profiles of Celtic in America; updates about The Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix; news from Ireland; and Celtic Directories, a listing of organizations around the State of Arizona.

The Desert Shamrock as a print communication medium, was originally designed for the Irish-born and the Irish Americans in Arizona, but was expanded to include all Celtic groups.

Jim Burke, of Irish descent and owner of Industrial Arts, provided the graphic layout for the paper for 16 years. His skills as a designer, enthusiasm and dedication to the Celtic Community, and ability to wield “magic” in getting the jigsaw of text and photos to fit, earned many, many accolades and much appreciation. His contribution has been indispensable in creating and maintaining The Desert Shamrock’s rich legacy year after year.

Thank you to the dozens of Volunteers who provided valuable time and abilities on behalf of this cherished newspaper, now designed as a newsprint magazine publication.

Contributing Columnists

Respected experts and Celtic Community volunteers contribute their insights as regular columnists and many others as guest writers.


  • Brian Hanrahan

    Brian’s great great grandfather arrived in Canada on a coffin ship out of Limerick in 1852. After a year or two in frigid Montreal, he migrated to balmy Wisconsin where he joined dozens of other Irish immigrants to farm in Erin Township, which even today remains replete with Irish surnames.


  • Kathleen Walters

    Kathleen Walters lives in a log cabin in the woods near Flagstaff. For several years she taught English on the Navajo Reservation and for 30 years owned and operated Aradia, an independent bookstore in Flagstaff. A strong advocate for Adoptee Rights, she wrote Coming Together: An Adoptee’s Story and the fictional Caitlin: Priestess of the Goddess (under the author name Martha Shideler). Kathleen is fascinated by all things Celtic, travels to Ireland and Scotland as often as possible, and edits and publishes the monthly “Independent Celt Newsletter.” In her spare time, she plays the bagpipes.


  • Carmelita Lee

    How does a gal named Carmelita claim to be Irish? Scottish, even? Granny Holland’s family hailed from Ennis, County Clare, and Grandpa Maxwell from the Borderlands, Scotland. Her husband’s mother was a Dowdall, and he had a Grandma O’Higgins…ye can’t be more Irish than that!


  • Maureen and Jack Sullivan

    Maureen and John (“Jack”) are the owners of Sullivan’s Travels, Inc.
    Maureen has been a travel professional for 23 years, moving their business to Phoenix four years ago. They have a cottage in West Cork, Ireland, on the family home place, and specialize in all types of travel to Ireland. www.sullivanstravels.com


  • Dan Magee

    Dan is a licensed swimming pool contractor for 38 years, and owns Arizona Custom Pools in the Phoenix area, specializing in pool remodels. The poems are therapy for him at the end of a work day. His dad, Edward, was born in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland and emigrated to New Jersey in 1923. Dan is a Navy veteran and spent his active duty in Scotland, where he lived in a flat in a castle. He has been to Ireland 45 times. www.thekitchenpoems.blog.com


  • Liz Warren

    Liz Warren is the Director of the SMCC Storytelling Institute (to learn more, check out www.mesacc.edu/academics/sai/). She teaches the Irish Storytelling Tradition every summer in Ireland as part of MCC’s Study Abroad Ireland Program (https://sites.google.com/site/smcstorytellingnow/home).


  • Ellen Harrington

    Ellen Harrington serves as the President of Chandler-Tullamore Sister Cities, as Secretary for Arizona Sister Cities, and is a Board Member of the Irish Cultural and Learning Foundation. Her Irish heritage descends from the Stewarts of County Down, and a recently discovered link to County Cork. Her husband, Pat, is the grandson of Irish immigrants from Castletownbere, County Cork.


  • Lynn Herdman Mascarelli

    Lynn is a former high school teacher of art, history, and political science. She is a potter, illustrator, muralist in public venues and private homes, and wordsmith. Frequently a featured artist at the Irish Cultural Center, Celtic landscapes intrigue her. Her mom, a Williams, is totally Welsh with ancestry as far back as 1700s and the Isle of Anglesley.


  • Gary Woodside

    A musician/songwriter for 20+ years, Gary has a small recording studio and experience in recording, mixing, mastering, etc. With an extensive collection of recorded music, 10,600 of all styles and genres, he has a special fondness for Celtic music with his da’s ancestry from Ayrshire, Scotland and his mom’s from Moylough, County Galway, Ireland.


  • Jacki Carro

    Jackie Carro is the owner of Marketing Ideals Company, a boutique agency offering marketing, public relations and video production services. Celebrating 20 years, the company promotes cultural events in the Valley and has been working with the Caledonian Society of Arizona for nearly 18 of those years.


  • Janice Bryson

    Janice Ryan Bryson descended from Irish pioneers who arrived in the Arizona Territory in the 1880’s, she is co-founder of the Irish Arizona Project and co-author of the book Irish Arizona. Janice is a member of The First Families of Arizona, Daughters of the American Revolution and several women’s agriculture organizations, and serves on several Boards.


  • Katie Caufield Ginder

    Katie Caufield Ginder lives in Gilbert with her husband and son. Her background is in higher education program management, instruction and faculty recruitment. She enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, cooking, yoga, volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters and learning about her Irish heritage. Katie’s great, great paternal grandfather was from Galway and immigrated to Pennsylvania in the 1860’s.