Maura De Freitas – Publisher
Maura De Freitas [McCay] is the managing editor and publisher of The Celtic Connection newspaper which she founded along with her mother Catholine Butler in 1991.
Published in Vancouver, British Columbia, the newspaper has become the go-to-source for news connecting over 35,000 Celts across western Canada and the Northwestern United States every month.
Maura’s interest in Celtic history and culture springs from an Irish-Canadian childhood immersed in dance, literature, music and theatre. She began Irish dance classes at the age of five and her family’s deep commitment to Irish tradition helped make her aware of her rich cultural heritage.
Her father Tom McCay, who was born in Strabane, Co. Tyrone, was a founding member of the Irish Society of Ottawa and established Ottawa’s first Irish pub, The Molly McGuire’s.
He shared a love for the history and legacy of the oral tradition of Ireland along with an appreciation for the wealth of literature and art which emanated from the Celtic people who once populated most of Western Europe.
Maura’s childhood was spent in the Gatineau Valley of Quebec, north of Ottawa, Ontario, where her mother’s family found refuge in the years of the Great Hunger in Ireland.
She was raised with a deep awareness of the hardships endured by her forefathers along with their strength and endurance in overcoming these difficulties. It was through their sacrifices that a large Irish settlement with close-knit communities was established in the area. Maura’s early years were part of this fabric blending the old world with the new world.
Her studies and work at the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology re-awakened her to the parallels between the sacred art and traditions of the Northwest Coast native people and the Celts. She was drawn once again to her own culture, leading her to launch The Celtic Connection newspaper.
The first issue published in September 1991 and was immediately embraced by a diverse group of people ranging from traditionalists to New Age who identified with the Celtic culture.
The publication has now become firmly entrenched as a vital cultural link between a diverse range of Irish/Celtic communities and now offers a magnificent historical archive of these communities for over 20 years.
In 1993 Maura was honoured by Irish America Magazine in New York City as one of the Top 100 Irish Americans of the year. In 2000 she was presented with the Irish Woman of the Year award by the Irish Women’s Network of British Columbia.
In 2009, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper presented The Celtic Connection with an award on behalf of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada for ‘Best Editorial and Visual Interpretation’.
The award was presented in appreciation for “Outstanding achievements and distinguished contributions to cultural communities and community service and in recognition of promoting understanding, the traditions and interests of the Irish-Canadian communities, leadership, courage and dedication to the promotion of social justice, human rights, and the respect for cultural values and equality among all Canadians.”
Now, with over 20 years publishing, Maura said, “It gives me great joy to see this newspaper flourish given the passionate struggle for survival we fought in the early years. There is a continuous need for dialogue and communication and The Celtic Connection has truly become a voice for the community.”