Cardinal Quirks: Ben Hockenberry

June 16, 2019

Ben Hockenberry is a man of many interests. Currently a systems librarian, Hockenberry spends his work days performing many duties in Lavery Library. Outside of those duties, he is the advisor of both the Irish Dance Club and Fisher Dance.

Fisher student Irish dancers

“Club advisorship is a great opportunity to connect with students in a way that’s very different from my role in the library,” says Hockenberry.

The Fisher Irish Dance Club started three years ago with a small group of students who had been involved in Irish dance. The group first performed during a Fisher Dance performance, which was a rousing success. Since then, under Hockenberry’s tutelage, the group holds many performances both on campus and throughout the Rochester community, as well as at teaching workshops.

Ben Hockenberry

Surprisingly, Hockenberry’s heritage is mostly Scottish and German.

His interest in Irish music started when he was a student at SUNY Geneseo, when friends invited him to an Irish music session, and he was hooked. “I thought it was awesome, but I barely played an instrument. I picked up instruments to learn so I could join the fun,” he says.

Currently, he plays tenor banjo and mandolin-type instruments, and has been learning tin whistle, accordion, the bodhrán (the Irish drum), which he plays in Irish set-dancing (like square dancing) and dance bands. He’s also played for Irish step dancers, as well as Scottish and English country dance groups.

Hockenberry’s involvement with Irish culture has him invested in the local Irish diaspora community. This year, he was named Cathaoirleach (chair) of the Irish Musicians Association (Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, Tom Finucane Branch), which regularly collaborates with other local Irish culture and music organizations. “We basically make Irish music unavoidable!”