Siaryn Duggan grew up in County Antrim, Ireland. In 1978 she met John Duggan at a wedding in Europe. After a long-distance relationship, they were married and she found herself following the Airman to Rapid City. “Holy Buckets! I could not have imagined being in Rapid City,” she recalls. “I never thought I’d live anywhere but Ireland.” She was the youngest of her family, and the only child to have moved away. As such, the idea of family has always been in the center of her life.
Like most military families, Siaryn and John moved often. This made it difficult to place roots so Siaryn made it a point to visit her homeland annually. “We had a pickle jar that we kept any extra money in to ensure we saved to go back to Ireland once a year. This kept me and my family grounded,” said Siaryn. “I had to teach my kids cause and effect; when my son wanted McDonalds because his friends were talking about it, I told him to take it out of the pickle jar. After he ate McDonalds, he realized that we were now $20 short of our goal and the food didn’t match the hype!”
Siaryn was able to continue to add to the pickle jar/cabin fund by selling crafts at each stop in their military travels. She even began taking their oldest child, Heather, to craft shows as young as six months old, all working toward the goal to raise funds to see family back home in Ireland. In addition to craft shows, she also worked as a substitute teacher throughout most stops with the military. This allowed her to continue to craft and learn American dialect.
Knowing English was one thing, but the vernacular was often where Siaryn discovered there was a bit of a learning curve. To this day, one of the first things most people notice about Siaryn is her Irish accent. And throughout her time in England, New Hampshire, Washington and South Dakota, it may have created a memorable story or two. “One time I was typing up a paper while working at the School of Mines and I asked someone for a rubber. I didn’t think anything of it, I made a mistake on the typewriter and needed an eraser. In Ireland we called it a rubber, I didn’t know it had a different meaning here in the States!” laughed Duggan.
When the time came to retire from the Air Force, the family decided to establish roots in Rapid City. Siaryn was teaching at Douglas High School, but it was time to take her career in a different direction. “I knew it was time for a change when I found myself hitting my head on the steering wheel,” she recalls. “It wasn’t the kids, but I knew I was done.” It was at this point in 2007 that Siaryn decided to take her passion for crafting to the next level and opened the Celtic Connection. But there was still one obstacle to overcome: finding the right location. “I wanted to be where the traffic was. I looked at the Hotel (Alex Johnson) and the (Elks) Theater and I knew I wanted to be here,” she described. “I heard Forget Me Not Floral was moving and I jumped at the opportunity to move in, it just felt right.”
With her roots now planted in that former floral shop, the family bonds that started in Ireland continued to resonate in Downtown Rapid City. In fact, many of the surrounding businesses and downtown Police Officers lovingly refer to her as the “Godmother of Sixth Street.”
“It all started during Summer Nights,” Siaryn explains. “I saw an officer trying to eat a hot dog [while] quickly running down the street and wanted to help him out. My husband John was that officer many years ago, I know how hard it is.” She adds, “It’s all about being neighborly, a community thing. All businesses down here are in the same boat as I am, we are a family, you can’t pay cash for that."
Celtic Connection of the Black Hills 517-6th St. Rapid City, SD 57701 US
10:00 am – 06:00 pm
Tuesday through Saturday - 10 am until 6 pm.
CLOSED on Sunday and Monday!
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