The Icelandic Roots Podcast-logo

The Icelandic Roots Podcast

Storytelling Podcasts

Showcasing Icelandic heritage and culture from the past and present through folklore, language, food, literature, and music. Created by volunteers of the non-profit organization, Icelandic Roots.


United States


Showcasing Icelandic heritage and culture from the past and present through folklore, language, food, literature, and music. Created by volunteers of the non-profit organization, Icelandic Roots.




Cancer Risks: Icelandic Gene Mutation Awareness with Curtis Olafson | Community Advocacy & Heritage Stewardship

Join Curtis Olafson as he sheds light on efforts to raise awareness about a prevalent gene mutation in individuals of Icelandic descent. The CDKN2A mutation significantly increases the risk of melanoma, pancreatic, and other cancers, present in 10-25% of families with multiple melanoma cases and approximately 1 in 1250 Icelanders without a melanoma diagnosis. Icelandic descendants face heightened susceptibility to these cancers, with many carrying the inherited CDKN2A mutation. Curtis has made it his personal mission to bring awareness to these health concerns. Raised on his Icelandic immigrant grandparents' homestead, Curtis has dedicated more than two decades to preserving Icelandic heritage serving as President of the Icelandic Communities Association. Additionally, he has been recognized for his community service as a state Senator, twice earning the title of “Legislator of the Year” by the North Dakota Township Officers Association. Among other Icelandic stories, we also talk about the Deuce of August Icelandic Celebration, North Dakota's longest-running ethnic festival, now in its 125th year! Read the article here: The Deuce of August:


Karen Gummo Part 2 | Deacon of Myrká, Stephan G. Stephansson, Poetry, Oral History & Folklore Ghost Tales

Continue our discussion on the essence of art, podcasting, and poetry with Karen Gummo. Karen shares her "storytelling affirmation" and her ties to Calgary's Leif Erikson Icelandic Club and more tales from her Icelandic travels; intertwining history, myth & legendary locales. Special to this Podcast, Karen retells the Icelandic Ghost Story of The Deacon of Myrká (Djákninn á Myrká). The mystical Myrká of Eyjafjörður where the story is set is west of Akureyri (you can find the locations in this story on Icelandic Roots maps). Our Podcast concludes with information on the life and times of Stephan G. Stephansson (1853–1927), the most well-known Icelandic-Canadian Poet. Born in Skagafjörður, he emigrated to North America and eventually settled in Markerville, Alberta, where he self-educated, wrote, fathered & farmed. Rediscover Western Iceland through storytelling & history. We hope you enjoy this Podcast & checkout our Blog for more: Following the tradition of oral storytelling & practicing the art of active listening & improvisation listen to our other episodes of The Icelandic Roots Podcast.


Karen Gummo Part 1 | Paranormal Stories, Nordic Folklore & Icelandic Sagas + Writer Laura Salverson

Karen Gummo's world of storytelling & history Part 1 of our interview. We unravel tales from her recent trip to Iceland, where she performed in the grand opening of the Edda building. Learn the origin story that ignited Karen's fascination with Laura Goodman Salverson (1890–1970), who was a distinguished Icelandic-Canadian author. (Laura's literary works, deeply rooted in Icelandic heritage, earned her two Governor General's awards for literature. In 1923, Salverson introduced her inaugural novel, "The Viking Heart.") Moving past conventional boundaries, we dance delicately between the paranormal & the historical; myth & reality; emotion & truth... "Who am I to tell this story?" Discover valuable insights on overcoming the fear of becoming a storyteller & journey thru Western Icelandic Heritage, touching diverse landscapes from Markerville & Red Deer to British Columbia & the wandering gypsy spirit of Saskatchewan. "There's Truth in Every Story... Where is the Truth for you in that story?" Let this thought resonate as we navigate the Icelandic sagas & folklore, questioning what is fact and what is metaphorically true. Explore the nuanced perspectives of history, from the written word to oral storytelling, intertwined with emotions & memory. Bridging the gap between past and present. Enjoy listening & lookout for Part 2 of our Podcast. Discover YOUR Icelandic Roots: For more about Karen Gummo, visit Learn about Laura Salverson:


Strong is the Bond - Future of Language Learning, Genealogy & Cultural Connections

Part 2 with Atli Geir Halldórsson and Julie Summers, co-project managers of the Snorri Programs. Continuing our exploration of language learning, touching on the influence of technologies like AI language models. We look ahead to the future of genealogy, pondering what the next generation of genealogists might discover within the vast digital archives our society is constructing. Atli and Julie share valuable insights into Iceland, the Snorri Programs, and the promising paths ahead for our North American-Icelandic communities. Strong is the Bond. Cheers to 2024 and the enduring legacies of Snorri and Icelandic Roots! Samband Íslands og Norður-Ameríku: mál, tækni og framtíð ættfræðinnar. We're thankful for your continued support of Icelandic Roots! Follow the Podcast for more conversations like these - and do be sure to checkout


Connected by Genealogy & Language w/ Atli and Julie of the Snorri Programs

Meet Atli Geir Halldórsson and Julie Summers, co-project managers of the Snorri Programs, who both joined in 2023, bringing diverse experiences to the table. Atli, with a background in managing Nordjobb and volunteering at the Nordic Youth Democracy, splits his time between Iceland and Vancouver, Canada, where he has ancestral emigration ties. Julie, previously a writer and editor for the Lögberg-Heimskringla and a longstanding member of the Icelandic Roots team, currently resides in Germany. In our conversation, we dive deep into the connections between North America and Iceland. We explore Icelandic language learning, discussing its future and sharing insights from both a native speaker (Atli) and a language enthusiast (Julie). The discussion expands to the Icelandic Roots database, drawing comparisons with what Icelandic citizens access through the Íslendingabok. Join us for a fascinating exploration of heritage, language, and the intricate ties between two lands. For those keen on Icelandic culture, history, and meaningful connections, the Snorri Program offers a unique immersion opportunity. If you're interested, check out for program details, deadlines, and application requirements. It's one of the best ways explore Iceland & connect with your heritage. & you can always learn more of your heritage on the Icelandic Roots database. Our public newsletter: Find upcoming events on our calendar:


Grindavík Volcano Eruption | 2024 Predictions, Earthquake Science, Tourism Impact, & History

Part 2 of our conversation with Julian Lozos, Associate Professor of Geophysics at California State University, Northridge. We pick right back up discussing earthquake processes and the role of computer modeling in both volcano and earthquake science. We explore the impact of these technologies on the lives of people and their safety in regions prone to seismic events. Continuing our exploration, we delve into the recent history of Icelandic eruptions, speculating on what 2024 might bring for volcanic activity in Iceland. Another fascination we explore is the intriguing relationship between volcanic eruptions and Icelandic tourism. We reflect on the impact Eyjafjallajökull had on tourism and consider the potential allure of the current Fagradalsfjall volcanic system on the Reykjanes Peninsula and the town of Grindavík. In this episode, we also touch on the recent development of the theory of plate tectonics and its connection to the historic Map of Iceland by Abraham Ortelius - full of sea monsters and other curiosities… To wrap up the podcast, we read an excerpt from the book "Living Planet" by British Naturalist David Attenborough of BBC fame on the topics of Icelandic Geology and volcanoes as the "Furnaces of the Earth." Subscribe now for the latest insights into all things Iceland - from geology to genealogy, we've got you covered! Listen to Part 1 of our interview with Julian Lozos. And checkout our Blog for more:


Volcanic Turbulence: Grindavík State of Emergency, Tremors, Blue Lagoon Spa, and Lava Strikes in Iceland

Julian Lozos is an Associate Professor of Geophysics at California State University, Northridge. His work uses computer modeling techniques to understand earthquake processes, most notably within the San Andreas Fault system. Deeply passionate about geology, Julian is captivated by Iceland. He has explored recent eruptions on the island and immersed himself in Grindavík and the geological wonders of that region. In Part 1, we delve into the captivating history of Fagradalsfjall's eruptions. Situated on the Reykjanes Peninsula, this active volcano, a relic of the Last Glacial Period, triggered a temporary state of emergency in Grindavík and disrupted operations at the Blue Lagoon Spa. What could 2024 have in store for volcanic activity in this mesmerizing region? Find out in Part 2. Subscribe for the latest on all things Iceland. Explore Icelandic Volcanic History on our Blog:


Nelson Gerrard Part 2 - Myth, Story, Community | Western Iceland Genealogy | Farming

Part 2 of our interview with Nelson Gerrard; we delve deeper into his literary journey and the intricate process of bringing his books to publication as way to give back to the community that had supported him. We venture into the concept of illuminating the invisible landscape through understanding history, unraveling the profound connections that history opens up in our surroundings. Our conversation extended to the magic of travel and the unique experiences of farming, as Nelson recounts his adventures in caring for ~150 animals on his farm. Exploring myth, story, and the parallel realms of history, a captivating conclusion to our conversation with Icelandic historian Nelson Gerrard.


Nelson Gerrard Part 1 - Historian on Western Icelandic Heritage & Restoring the Past

Recorded within the historic walls of Éngimýri, a kaffi-fueled discourse with the great Nelson Gerrard, a Manitoba-based historian, genealogist, and author of Icelandic River Saga and The Icelandic Heritage. Our conversation delves into the Icelandic immigrant experience in North America, weaving together genealogy, language, and the allure of myth in a captivating exploration of our roots. In Part 1, Nelson discusses the restoration of historic houses with the Icelandic River Heritage Sites and shares insights from his time living and working at the Emigration Centre in Hofsós, Iceland. Nelson illuminates his lifelong dedication to genealogy - a fascination that first gripped him at the tender age of 12. Listen in to find out what sparked his interest in Icelandic history and learn the role pride has in understanding one's heritage. We also glean insights into his book-writing process and so much more. Explore further at And for additional learnings check out our blog


The Genealogist’s Bookshelf: Unveiling Family Tales with Heather Lytwyn

Heather Lytwyn is a dedicated genealogy enthusiast who uncovers the fascinating history of her family in what she calls 'Virtual Family Reunion.' Heather, with over 30 years of teaching English, now leads the Icelandic Roots Book Club. The Book Club has featured noteworthy authors like first lady Eliza Reid, Alfreda Jonsdottir, Nancy Marie Brown, and translator Philip Roughton. And has covered works by Halldór Laxness, Hannah Kent, and Bill Holm. Tune in for a captivating discussion on Icelandic literature, community building, and the future of Icelandic Roots. Follow this link for more on our Book Club:


Viking Saga: Zachary Sigurdson on History, Reenactment, and Writing Books

In an engaging rendezvous, Owen Roberts reconnects with his fellow Snorri Alumni, Zach Sigurdson. In their conversation they discuss Viking History and the reaching of North America (Vinland) along with personal tales of family history. Zach is an author & Viking reenactment enthusiast from Winnipeg, Manitoba. His passion for Viking culture and history shines through, making this episode a riveting journey through time and heritage. For more about Zach and to explore his work, visit his website at


Mallory Swanson on Icelandic Emigration, Genealogy | Horses, Hofsós & Heritage

In this episode, Jack welcomes Mallory Swanson from the Emigration Centre, Vesturfararsetrið, to share her personal journey of connecting to her Icelandic Roots, leading her to make Iceland her home. Together, Jack and Mallory explore the origins and historical significance of the Emigration Centre, uncovering its profound ties in the picturesque town of Hofsós. The podcast also takes an enchanting detour into the world of Icelandic horses, celebrating their importance in the Skagafjörður region. Dive into the natural beauty of this stunning fjord, often regarded as the jewel of Iceland's fjords. Discover the magic of helping individuals connect with their Icelandic heritage through genealogy at the museum, as Jack and Mallory share heartwarming stories. Lastly, the episode offers a forward-looking perspective on genealogy, discussing how future generations will continue to embrace their family history and the vital role of genealogy in preserving cultural heritage. Checkout the brand-new website for the Emigration Centre: And follow our Blog for more stories of Icelandic History and Culture:


Saga of a Snorri - Special Icelandic Roots Report by Jack Plumley

In this special bonus episode, Jack shares excerpts from an article he wrote for the Icelandic Roots Blog. The story delves into his captivating journey back to Iceland for the Snorri Internship, unveiling anecdotes of earthquakes, encounters with walruses, and his work with the Emigration Centre at Hofsós. He also narrates fascinating adventures of driving north with Kent Björnsson and chronicles his time under the guidance of Valgeir Þorvaldsson and Mallory Swanson at Vesturfarasetrið. The episode delves into the unique environment of Brimnes, late author Bill Holm's legendary residence, which has ignited Jack's creativity and is inspiring his own writing project in Iceland. Subscribe to our Newsletter to receive compelling stories like these, along with a wealth of historical insights and captivating content from our diverse team of artists, genealogists, and enthusiastic individuals. Visit our Blog to explore the depths of one of the most comprehensive repositories of Icelandic culture available online - follow this link to access our vast collection of stories and articles:


Icelandic Festival Of Manitoba - Islendingadagurinn with Marilyn Valgardson

In this special episode, we delve into the heart of one of North America's oldest and most vibrant ethnic celebrations: the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, held in the picturesque town of Gimli, Canada. Join us on a cultural journey through time, exploring the rich history and traditions that make this festival a cherished annual event. It's a gathering that brings people of all ages, backgrounds, and nationalities together to experience the spirit of Iceland right here in Manitoba, featuring lively music, dancing, traditional Viking-inspired games, and something for everyone to enjoy. Dating back to 1890, the festival is one of North America's oldest ethnic celebrations. It began with Icelandic settlers in Gimli, Manitoba, seeking to preserve their cultural heritage while adapting to Canadian life. The festival was born out of their desire to celebrate their Icelandic roots and has evolved into an annual tradition attracting visitors from far and wide. Owen and Cass chat with Marilyn Valgardson, the President of the Icelandic Festival, to discuss the upcoming festival this weekend. Details of events, history, and what to expect are all on the agenda. Join us and discover one of Manitoba's longest-running festivals and one of the biggest Icelandic celebrations outside of Iceland!


Reflections at Brimnes: Bill Holm’s Legacy, The Emigration Center & Adventures with Walruses & Earthquakes

Join Jack & Sierra Jenson on their Snorri Internship in Hofsos as they reflect on their enchanting time at Brimnes, the summer home of esteemed Western Icelander, Bill Holm. Sierra illuminates the rich tapestry of humanity at the Emigration Center Museum (Vesturfararsetrið), while Jack delves into the profound impact of Bill Holm's writings. Together, they embrace the essence of the Icelandic diaspora, sharing Icelandic connections Rooted within a global community. Further yet, they recount their encounter with a rogue Walrus in Sauðárkrókur and first-hand experience of the Reykjavik earthquakes which led to the recent volcanic eruption. To learn more about Bill Holm, click the links below: Information on the Icelandic Emigration Centre: And discover more Icelandic history & culture with our public newsletter:


Iceland Geology with Erik Schoonover: From Hotdogs to Basalt in the Anthropocene Epoch

Interview with PhD Candidate Erik Schoonover discussing all things related to Icelandic geology. Erik was a fellow member of the Snorri program with our cohort in summer 2022. His grandma emigrated to the US from Iceland as part of the Post-WW2 1960’s wave. Listen and learn all about geology (and geological puns), hotdogs in Iceland, more Snorri stories, and an overall enlightening discussion on the natural sciences of Iceland and beyond. From the Holocene Epoch to the Anthropocene, to the Basalt Igneous rocks, this episode is sure to be ground-breaking (there's a geology pun somewhere). Erik’s Geology Podcast Recommendation: Planet Geo Podcast Icelandic history, heritage, & culture: Sign up for the Icelandic Roots newsletter: See all of the fun upcoming events on our calendar here:


We Three Snorri’s - Meet Your Hosts: Owen, Jack & Cass

Get to know your hosts Owen, Jack, and Cass as we dive into the history of Icelandic immigration to North America and discuss what we hope to achieve with this podcast going forward. Join us and discover the life-changing cultural exchange program that brought us together - the Snorri Program - where young people of Icelandic descent from North America and Iceland explore their shared heritage. Whether you're a fellow Snorri alum or simply interested in learning more about Iceland and its people, this episode is a must-listen. Takk fyrir að hlusta, gaman að hitta þig! Sjáumst. Learn More: Icelandic Roots The Snorri Program info


Julianna Gudbjartsson (Roberts) on New Iceland Heritage Museum in Gimli Manitoba

Join us as we dive into the exciting world of Gimli, MB with Julianna Roberts! The director of the New Iceland Heritage museum also happens to be Owen's Mom! Discover the legacy of New Iceland, where Icelandic settlers thrived despite challenges. Today, they celebrate 134 years of cultural heritage through events like the Icelandic festival. Julianna Roberts, with her lifelong involvement in the Icelandic community, now manages the New Iceland Heritage Museum in Gimli, MB.


Sunna Furstenau - Embarking on a New Journey into Icelandic Heritage

Your three new hosts: Owen Roberts, Jack Plumley and Cass Heigaard, are joined by Sunna Furstenau for a quick introduction to Icelandic Roots and our focus for the new Season of this Podcast. Sunna is a prominent figure in promoting cultural exchange between Icelanders and North Americans. She grew up in Eyford in Thingvalla Township, North Dakota, and always had an interest in family history. In 2003, she connected with Icelandic genealogist Hálfdan Helgason and started helping George Freeman with the genealogy center at the Deuce of August celebration. In 2012, she traveled around Iceland as the INLNA guest speaker and started a blog to document the journey, calling it Icelandic Roots. The following year, Sunna and her husband founded the nonprofit Icelandic Roots, centered around the genealogy database that Hálfdan Helgason had started. Sunna remains deeply involved in various projects, with the goal of preserving and promoting our shared Icelandic heritage. Stay tuned for lots of fun and educational podcast episodes dedicated to preserving and sharing the stories of Icelandic heritage. Visit the Icelandic Roots Website for more


Emigration Investigations with Dave Jonasson and David Johnson

Volunteer Icelandic Roots genealogists Dave & David share their journey in helping to build an impressive database of Icelandic emigration records that tell the stories of thousands of families who left the island.