Over the past 40 years, Rita Davern (originally Davoren) has traveled the Burren, birthplace of her grandmother’s people in County Clare, Ireland. She will most often be found in the kitchen drinking tea with friends and distant relations. The conversation often turns to those who stayed and those who left, as the devastation of colonization, hunger and emigration took its toll. Rita knows first hand that, for U.S. people with European heritage, reconnecting to our homeland and our cultural history adds huge richness to our lives.
A community engagement artist in her work and in her life, Rita believes the greatest find of genealogy is the living relatives.
Rita worked as a communication and leadership consultant to corporate America for twenty years. When her adopted Korean son became ill, she discovered — and now teaches — Parenting-by-Connection, an approach to parenting that builds deep, strong, healing relationships with children through play. She is an experienced project manager, seminar leader, consultant and coach. Rita and colleague Jane Powers were awarded a Forecast Public Art research and development grant in 2009 to work with Indigenous artists to find ways to "map” the history of Dakota people" onto the present day landscape of Minneapolis and St. Paul.”
The theme of connection through history takes center stage in Rita’s life. Time at home in her beloved Minnesota also matters deeply to Rita. She can be found dogsledding in the north woods or walking the land her great grandfather farmed with her husband, Bob. She currently shares her backyard in the city with two baby goats.
Director of Photography
Kevin Koenig attended film school at the University of Miami, graduating with a degree in Motion Pictures in 2012. He worked at UMTV for three years, where he also served as a member of the board of directors. He produced, directed and edited two full feature documentaries, directed a sports television show for the Northwoods League (summer collegiate baseball) and worked as production assistant at North Metro TV sports department. Kevin currently works as a production assistant for KSTP Channel 5 News. The Burren Girl documentary has inspired Kevin to begin researching his own Irish heritage. He is thrilled to be part of this hometown, St. Paul, Minnesota, film production.
Alicia Hathaway attends film school in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She worked as a camera assistant for the Twin Cities Film Fest in 2016 and was also a part of the editing team. Post-production is her favorite part of the filmmaking process. Along with a passion for filmmaking, she enjoys creating and writing music. Alicia edits and manages media, publications and event planning for Burren Girl. Alicia had the amazing opportunity to grow up as an army brat. This has given her the opportunity to see the world and understand cultures other than her own. She loves being back in Minnesota after years away. She says, “Its like a breath of fresh air.”
Videographer, Ireland 2015
Maria Schoeller, born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, is a fourth generation Irish-American. She studied Sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, lived and worked in the south of France, and has held a lifelong passion for photography, film, culture, and finding our roots. Maria has always been curious about why she holds such a deep pride in being of Irish descent and hopes to investigate her seemingly mysterious connection to Ireland further while helping to make this film with her aunt, Rita Davern.