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Makem’s legacy lives on in Milwaukee

Two of the iconic Tommy Makem display items at the Ward Irish Music Archives.


By Irish Echo Staff

The Ward Irish Music Archives of CelticMKE and the Public History Program of Marquette University have launched a new internship program that will give graduate students in the History Department a chance to acquire experience in the field of archiving and preservation – and all thanks to the Tommy Makem Cultural Legacy Fund.

Michael Whittaker, of Germantown, Wisconsin, will work as an intern at the Ward Irish Music Archives for the summer semester.

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Currently pursuing his Master’s Degree at Marquette, Whittaker’s specialization is in Early Modern and Modern Europe, with a concentration on the history of Ireland and Britain, specifically their intellectual, political and economic history.

“Michael has studied abroad in Derry and is proficient with the Irish language. His research on Anglo Irish politics, Irish service in World War I and primitive accumulation in Ireland caught our attention.

“With his passion and interest in Ireland and its history and culture, we are thrilled and eager to work with him in the Archives,” said Barry Stapleton, Director of the WIMA.

Whittaker will work on the Maureen O’Looney collection, which focuses on Irish rebel songs and political tunes.

The new program is funded by CelticMKE’s Tommy Makem Cultural Legacy Fund. Makem was an avid supporter of Milwaukee Irish Fest for thirty years.

The fund was established as a tribute to Makem, and to award, through grants and scholarships, living legacies that work to promote Irish music and culture.

The program is designed to provide Marquette’s History graduate students with the opportunity to prepare for careers as historians by obtaining practical work experience in an archival and research environment. More on the Ward Irish Music Archives at

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