What led you to choose specific heritages? Well, first of all, many thanks for your kindness about the book. I suppose I chose specific heritages or national groupings to include in the story, partly by looking at which groups were present in large or growing numbers in America at the time. While the narrative moves backwards and forwards a bit, it”s largely set towards the end of the Civil War and in the Reconstruction era; and by those years you see the Irish being present in truly astounding numbers in America. The historian Roy Foster has calculated that, by the 1870s, 39% of all those alive who had been born in Ireland were living in America. So you could really speak in earnest about “an Ireland abroad”. And you see other immigrant groups arriving in larger numbers: Germans, later Italians, many English and many others. And of course for decades there had been a truly massive population of slaves. It seemed important to shape the book in a way that would at least attempt to be true to all these realities, reflecting the fact that, for example, some people with Irish blood had black skin, some spoke many languages, some were very proud of their Irishness, others wanted to forget it, and all found themselves struggling in a society they did not yet understand ” because pretty much nobody did. As for what you say about “100 proof” Celts, I would very respectfully wonder how many of those there truly were. By the middle of the 19th Century, Ireland had long since known assimilations of various kinds. We still see this is Norman and Huegenot placenames in Ireland, for example. Certainly, my central character James O”Keeffe, although he is an Irish nationalist, feels all sorts of allegiances to other cultures. He is half-Italian (married to a woman is half-American, half-Nicaraguan), was educated in England, has traveled widely in Europe, speaks and writes French. He sees himself as a world citizen and his true desire for Ireland is not that the country becomes a narrowly Gaelic island but that it takes its equal place among the free republics of the world. The Confederate Duggan and the Union General O”Keeffe (both Irish patriots) present a powerful example of rifts that are never reconciled, and they also underpin the fact that the Irish in America were never a geographical, political or social monolithic block. I think this feature in Irish-American literature is often underemphasized. Do you agree? Yes, I do, very much. There has been a good deal of writing about the kind of Irish immigrant who always regretted being in America, for example, and not enough about those who were content enough to go. In that context, it”s always struck me as odd that in the literally thousands of traditional ballads of Irish emigration, there isn”t one where the narrator is delighted to be in the new land, far away from the poverty and misery of Ireland. You do see this aspect in immigrants” letters, fairly often, but not in more public forms of literary endeavor. I think the history of literary writing about Irish-Americans has often been beset by clich”, the reductive idea that every Irish immigrant voted Democrat, was Catholic, was poor, missed home, lived in a ghetto, drank too much, etc. For me, the most interesting Irish American stories are often about those who had a profound desire to assimilate, who changed their names and histories, wanting to disappear into America. The picture is always far more complex and interesting than most of us realize. You could say the ground upon which almost every Irish-American stands is constantly shifting. So many characters, so many backgrounds, so many tongues! How did you prepare for the assortment of voices and their testimonies? I guess by a lot of planning and careful thought before I sat down to write. What was happening to America”s language in the 1860s was really fascinating and it became clear to me early on that a way would have to be found of the book”s text reflecting, indeed sometimes embodying, the extraordinary process by which a language as beautiful and expressive and endlessly various as American English forms itself. But really, all the voices are included in order to give the book texture and music and hopefully to make it a richer reading experience. That”s the main concern I have always, what the reader wants here. As I work on a book I”m pretty much always thinking about the reader and what he or she wants, which is vital to know. If you can discern that, you can play with readers” expectations ” you don”t always have to supply what they want at the time they want it, but you do have to know what it is they want. So, sometimes we want the music loud, and sometimes soft, and sometimes the whole orchestra, and sometimes just one voice. You clash the cymbals or you lilt a lullaby ” it all depends on what the reader wants. And on what you can do! The book places the Mooneys in Louisiana and follows them, along with other southerners into the American West. So much Irish and Irish-American writing concerns itself with folks on the east coast. How did you decide to take the story into the West? Well, I was aware of the silence you mention and that seemed to suggest the story of the Western Irish really needed to be told. We sometimes think the story of Irish-America is exclusively a narrative set in the Atlantic cities and Chicago, but of course it isn”t. Billy the Kid himself was the child of Irish immigrants and was born in the Lower East Side of New York, only heading west in his teens. I”m intrigued by the idea of the Irish cowboy, and also by the huge numbers of Irish western stories yet untold, for example about miners, prospectors, and other settlers in the west, especially the enormous numbers of Irish who headed west in the years after the Civil War. Those are as much a part of the Irish-American story as are the New Yorkers and Chicagoans. Tell us a bit about your research in America ” which states? I went to Montana for a few days in December of 2005, a truly fascinating place for those interested in the history of the Western American Irish. One early Governor of the Territory, before it was incorporated as a state, was the Irish-born revolutionary Thomas Francis Meagher, and shades of that interesting and complex man appear in General James O”Keeffe, a central character in Redemption Falls. And with my wife and our two young sons I lived in New York for a year, researching the history of Irish involvement in the American Civil War at the New York Public Library, where I had a writer-in-residence fellowship. As well as that, over the years I”ve traveled pretty widely in the United States and anywhere I”ve gone I”ve usually done a little rummaging around for the Irish history of the place, if there is one, which there usually is. Since the novel is set during the Civil War, I read a great many first-person testimonies of the conflict. Perhaps 150,000 Irish-born immigrants fought for the northern side and perhaps eighty thousand for the south. There are stories of immense courage in the face of almost certain death, but I think, at least I hope, that Redemption Falls is animated by an insight into what made many of them fight. There was a fear among many of the Irish Americans of the era, who had endured a great deal of abuse in the United States, that the new country would never truly accept them as equals. My own sense is that this is what lay behind the decision of the Irish to sign up in such vast numbers. I think they wanted to demonstrate a loyalty to the adoptive land, which is what makes what they did so poignant. And of course, I learned that there was a whole range of other reasons why people fought, too. For the money, or out of boredom, or out of a sense of adventure, or out of loyalty to the state as opposed to the whole country. The letters written by the soldiers are often very moving indeed. In that pre-media age, they had so little idea of the realities of warfare, and many were so young, really little more than children. And the stories of the women in the soldiers” lives ” wives, sweethearts, mothers ” are often absolutely riveting and powerful. I don”t think enough has been written about Irish and other immigrant women in the war, and the often staggering sacrifices they made. It was really important to me that the three central women in Redemption Falls are as important to the story as the men are. Most Americans feel that the country has strong regional, cultural differences. Do you find this to be true? Please share some observations. Oh yes, that”s manifestly true. To me, America is like a series of adjoining countries rather than one unchanging entity. That it functions at all is one of the most fascinating things about it. You see this very pointedly, I think, in how English is spoken in America, just the vast variety of influences on the spoken word. Think of the French-Cajun history of Louisiana, the Spanish of contemporary Los Angelenos, the drawl of Texan English, the slang of urban hip-hop, the beautiful economy and precision of the Chicago blues, which is itself a sort of translation of the folksong of the Mississippi delta, and an encountering of that music with the realities of northern life, as well as with the technologies of recording and electronic music. All this hit me powerfully one day when I was visiting the Sun recording studio in Memphis, where Elvis and Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins had worked. The way the studio is organized, as you walk around they play recordings of the musicians laughing and joking and clowning and tuning up. One woman on the tour, a very nice Bostonian, joked to me that she could hardly understand a word that Elvis and the others were saying, because they were southerners! And yet she could understand me, a non-American. So I”m not sure “E Pluribus Unum” is really an accurate motto. Out of many, America is many, which seems a wonderful thing to me. Who are your favorite authors and why? What daily reading do you do? This is an almost impossible question, since its answer would change very often. But among the authors who mean most to me are Charles Dickens, for his exceptional gift at creating unforgettable characters, Richard Ford, for his skill in writing a sentence at once simple and beautiful, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who can make those little ink-stains we call words seem as explosively exciting as a firework display. But there are lots of other authors whose work I love: J.D. Salinger”s “The Catcher in the Rye” is a book I absolutely treasure, since it”s the novel that made me want to be a writer myself. And a couple of years ago, I read all of George Orwell”s work in sequence, and found it a fantastically enriching experience. I don”t read fiction every day, especially when I”m trying to write it, but I do try to read a little poetry most evenings. I love Heaney, Elizabeth Bishop, Paul Durcan, Emily Dickenson, Paul Muldoon, John Donne, Derek Mahon, Simon Armitage. When I was a teenager, a novel I loved was John Fowles”s The French Lieutenant”s Woman. Fowles wrote that he had begun working on the novel because of a persistent visual image he couldn”t explain or make sense of. In Lyme Regis, in the south of England (where Fowles lived at the time) there is a Victorian-era pier and the image came into his head of a young woman standing on the pier looking out at the sea. She was dressed in a black hooded cape and was always facing away from him. Fowles said that his reason for writing the novel was “to make her turn her head and look at me” and in a way that”s what I felt about Eliza Mooney in Redemption Falls. I wrote the story to make her turn and look at me. Favorite music? I cannot imagine a day without music and I love all sorts of genres of musical expression, from grand opera to punk rock, from American blues to Irish ballads. For me, America”s greatest achievement in the arts has been in the field of popular music. No other country on the face of the earth could possibly have produced geniuses as diverse as Stephen Foster, Robert Johnson, Bob Dylan, Bessie Smith, Muddy Waters, Woody Guthrie, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Elvis, Bruce Springsteen, Jimi Hendrix, Patti Smith, Mahalia Jackson, Paul Robeson, Little Richard, Otis Redding, Gene Vincent, Brian Wilson ” the list is endless. I love the bel canto operas of Puccini and have sometimes been moved to tears by them, but there”s no aria in the world to compare to Roy Orbison singing “Crying”, and no lament to compare to Billie Holiday”s “Strange Fruit”. And it all comes from the most beautiful and valuable aspect of the American democratic tradition: the notion that ordinary lives are worthy of celebration, that a story need not be about a duchess or a king to have merit. Any poet in the world would have given his right hand to have written a line as beautiful and haunting and absolutely truthful as “there”s no love-song finer/but how strange, the change from minor to minor.” So if I absolutely have to choose (which I”m glad I”m don”t have to) give me an American song any day of the week. If it”s sung by Frank Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald or Aretha Franklin or Billie Holiday, I feel I”m in the presence of something truly miraculous. Please tell us about your early education and how you came to be a writer. Well, my first teacher (when I was aged four) was a very tough old nun, who had old-fashioned views about education. She drummed the ABC into us and we were all a little scared of her ” but actually she was a wonderful teacher and not nearly as strict as she seemed. Later, I attended Blackrock College in Dublin, and then University College Dublin, and then Oxford University. But I think my early interest in literature comes from my parents, especially my father. My parents were Dubliners and they were always interested in books. When books are in a house, children grow up thinking literature is nothing strange. So we would have grown up with paperbacks of the works of people like John McGahern and Benedict Kiely around us, and collections of Yeats”s poetry, and Patrick Kavanagh”s books. My father was a great lover of Victorian English poetry, and would read to us at night from the works of Tennyson and Robert Browning. Those, really, were our bedtime stories. So I grew up thinking the English language was a beautiful and magical thing, and that fiction could bring you to all sorts of extraordinary places. And I guess I still think that now. Certainly I believe in the power of fiction to shed light and bring news, since fiction, at its heart, is a kind of invitation to empathy. It”s the strange paradox of fiction that somehow in imagining briefly what it is to be someone else we can come to know more deeply what it is to be ourselves. That”s true of any kind of good storytelling, from the nursery rhyme to the literary novel, to the movies, or even a good joke. It”s why a really good novel can never be about style alone. It always has to be about people. Favorite travel destination? France, Italy, the United States, London. Ireland is so different today from when I first visited in the 1980s. Your feelings about the Celtic Tiger? I think anyone who grew up in the Ireland of the 1970s and early 1980s remembers a fairly depressed country, lacking in any kind of self-confidence. These days that has changed utterly, I think largely for the better. Ireland has almost full employment, a very successful economy, and in fact has become a destination for a considerable number of immigrants. Younger Irish people have grown up in a vibrant and outward-looking culture, knowing they will never have to emigrate ” although cheap air travel has meant that almost all of them visit other countries regularly, so there isn”t that awful sense of insularity that benighted the Ireland of my childhood. That said, many of us have reservations about some aspects of Irish life now. There is no doubt that Ireland has become a far more materialistic society than it used to be. There is an obsession with consumerism, and with having the right car, and the right designer label and other such nonsense. But I think this is what happens when people have been poor for a long time and
hey suddenly get a few bucks ” there”s a bit of a party, and everyone rushes the candy-store, and only the very joyless would worry too much about it. But my own feeling is that the party has now lasted for ten years and it”s time to move on to the next stage: we need to ask ourselves what kind of society we would like to have. A lot of Ireland”s recent wealth has been wasted, I feel. We could have done so much to make the country a fairer and more equal place, and we didn”t. But it”s not too late, and I always hold to the hope that the best is yet to come! Favorite place in Ireland (besides home)? Cashel Bay in Connemara, County Galway. What of Mary Duane from Star of the Sea? I presumed she was the mother of Eliza and Jeremiah, and kept hoping for word of her throughout the book. Ah, but that might be a future story. You are quite right! The story of what happened to Mary Duane will be revealed in my next novel. I always conceived of Star of the Sea as the first part of a trilogy of Irish-American life. Redemption Falls is the second part. The third and final part is in my mind at the moment and I hope to write it next year. I would very much like to call it “The Dawn”s Early Light” but I can”t help thinking there must already be a novel called that! THANK YOU!”

Normally Pumpkin is a love them or leave them vegetable. But in the capable hands of the Breton’s this variety of Squash becomes a miraculously tasting soup that will keep your guest guessing as to the nature of the flavors involved. Serves 4-6 2 lbs Cooked Fresh Pumpkin or 3 Cups canned Pumpkin 3 Cups of Chicken Broth 3/4 Cup of Cream 1/2 Cup of Julienned cut Ham 1 Tbs butter 1 1/2 Tbs flour 2 Tbs Molasses 1/4 tsp cinnamon pinch of ginger pinch of nutmeg salt pepper Step 1. In a stock pot place the Pumpkin and the chicken stock and kneed together over a medium heat. Step 2. In a separate pan create a rue with the melted butter and flour and then add to the stock pot. Step 3. Add remaining ingredients, continue to stir at a medium high heat for 20 minutes but do not allow to boil Serve immediately.

The game show contestant was only 200 points behind the leader and was about to answer the final question ” worth 500 points! “To be today’s champion,” the show’s smiling host intoned, “name two of Santa’s reindeer.” The contestant, a man in his early thirties, gave a sigh of relief, gratified that he had drawn such an easy question.” “Rudolph!” he said confidently, “and … Olive!” The studio audience started to applaud (which the little sign above their heads said to do), but the clapping quickly faded into mumbling. The confused host replied, “Yes, we’ll accept Rudolph, but could you please explain ‘Olive’?” “You know,” the man circled his hand forward impatiently and began to sing, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer had a very shiny nose. And if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows. *Olive,* the other reindeer…”

Three men died on Christmas Eve and were met by Saint Peter at the pearly gates. “In honor of this holy season,” Saint Peter said, “you must each possess something that symbolizes Christmas to get into heaven.” The first man fumbled through his pockets and pulled out a lighter. He flicked it on. “It represents a candle,” he said. “You may pass through the pearly gates” Saint Peter said. The second man reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys. He shook them and said, “They’re bells.” Saint Peter said “you may pass through the pearly gates.” The third man started searching desperately through his pockets and finally pulled out a pair of women’s panties. St. Peter looked at the man with a raised eyebrow and asked, “And just what do those symbolize?” The man replied, “These are Carols.”

by Pat McCullough Since 2000, Rocky Mountain Revels have highlighted different cultures and time periods with their annual production of “The Christmas Revels, In Celebration of the Winter Solstice” ” This year the honor belongs to the Irish as the story takes place on the docks of Cobh (pronounced Cove) in County Cork, on the southwestern shore of Ireland where tens of thousands of Irish men, women, and children boarded ships to make the perilous 4 to 8 week journey to the New World in the 19th century. Rocky Mountain Revels are a Colorado non-profit organization who license “The Christmas Revels” name from Revels Inc. Revels Inc. was founded in 1971 in Cambridge, Mass. by award-winning author and musician John Langstaff to promote the understanding and appreciation of traditional folk music, dance and rituals from around the world. Although a separate entity that needs its own funding, Rocky Mountain Revels Artistic Director Karen Romeo explained the committed relationship with the Cambridge originators. “Artistically we are completely dedicated to doing as high a quality production as we can -and that absolutely means staying connected with Cambridge.” Earlier this year Karen went to the mother association in Cambridge to look over the estimated 25 different scripts for the 2007 production in Boulder. “We knew that we wanted to do an Irish Revels last Spring and we started looking at the various scripts and there really wasn”t one that suited our company and our area – so by early summer I realized that if we wanted a good Irish Revels that suited are company than I needed to actually write it – so then I got permission from Cambridge.” Karen spent the entire summer in the library researching Irish immigration and culture around 1890 and wrote the original script for this year’s Christmas Revels. “I had a great time researching and doing the script,” she said as she recalled time spent on-line and at the University of Colorado Library and Boulder Public Library. Pleased with the results of her efforts she added, “I think it (script) works and holds together as a show and theater event, and I think it is also very true to the time and very accurate about it.” How concerned for accuracy was Karen? She researched shipping lines for names of ships used during the time period. Deciding on the S.S. Ethiopia, she found the ships manifest with actual names and occupations and allowed the cast members to choose these identities ” even though much of the details don”t come out in the production. Karen explained, “Even though it doesn”t come out in the show, the cast members are very aware of the history of it all – It won”t be a direct read to the audience, but I think the audience will have a sense that there is a lot of history in this and a lot of authenticity.” The two-hour show has a complete set and period costumes circa 1890 Ireland with live Irish music, drama, and dance. “We are very excited about bringing in the Irish Dancer from Boston,” referring to 2006 North American Step-dancing Champion Alexandra Siega. Alexandra is well recognized in dance circles around the country and no different in Colorado. “When our really good young high school stepdancers from this area found out that Alexandra was going to be participating we got some terrific response and we have some of the best young stepdancers in Colorado who will be dancing with her (including Blaine Donovan, Natasha Trellinger, Robbie and Richie Ross, and Elizabeth Marie Barton) – So we”re really excited about featuring the whole thing because we”ve got her and these hot-shot Colorado kids ” I think it will be pretty darn spectacular!” Live Irish music will be provided by Jeff Bain (Uillean pipe/ penny whistle/recorder), assistant music director who transcribed some of the pieces; teenage siblings Jonathan (fiddle) & Hanna Seaman (harp); and also Karen Romeo herself who is also a fiddler. Some of the music will come from a Brass Quintet, a Revels tradition. “We”ve always used the Flagstaff Brass Quintet (Denver/Boulder) ” that”s our resident Revels Quintet.” Karen continued enthusiastically “We have fabulous singers which I”m so proud!” which includes 3 soloists, 24 piece adult choir, and a 16 piece children”s choir singing authentic children”s songs from the 1890s all in costume.” True to tradition and spirit of the Revels aspire to the best possible use of amateur and professional talent in their productions. “I think ours has a tremendous amount of charm ” I think it has a nice combination of amateur and professional … with locals from up and down the Front Range.” According to Karen it is not unusual for cast member to walk in and can carry a tune but have never been on stage. “We get some interesting cast member I tell you – Its amazing who comes out of the woodwork.” She told the Story of Nobel Prize Winner Eric Cornell who teaches Physics at CU. He grew up in Boston and saw revels every year as a child. About two years ago he brought his daughter Eliza to audition. “She had a pretty little soprano voice so we put her in the choir,” then Karen asked “is dad going to audition too?” I had no idea that he was a noble laureate.” He told Karen that he hadn”t thought about it, but that he might, “and stood up and sang in a very pretty tenor voice a Christmas carol – Well, we have a noble prize winner in our cast this year, not having sung on a stage before ” he”s having the time of his life! Since audience participation is a Revels trademark, you don”t have to audition to participate. Song leader teaches audience a couple of songs and folks are invited to dance. “We”ve had half the audience get up and dance through the lobby of the Boulder Theater!” Boulder Theater, Boulder on 14th off the Pearl Street Mall; December 16th at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm and December 22nd at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm; Doors open 30 minutes before show time. General Admission Balcony : $17 General Admission Children 12 and under: $15; Main Floor Reserved: $24 Main Floor Reserved Children 12 and under: $22; All Gold Circle: $35 Ticket prices (including all surcharges and taxes): Available at Boulder Theater box office:” 303 786-7030 or www.bouldertheater.com; Group Sales (groups of 20 or more): Contact Artistic Director Karen Romeo at 303 440-9056. All group rates $14 per person.

CFPNI was the brainchild of Peggy Barrett, a Pennsylvania woman (born in Co. Cork) who was stirred into action after watching scenes of violence from Northern Ireland on her television. In 1987 she and her husband, Jack, decided to set up the now famous charity with a band of volunteers from her local area to bring pairs of young people”one Protestant, the other Catholic”to live together in their homes across the US. That initial program has grown in scope over the years with the help of hundreds of volunteers and families from across Northern Ireland and all over the US. To date, CFPNI has helped more than 2,000 NI teens caught up in the “troubles” through cross-cultural programs aimed at promoting understanding through interaction. The New Mexico Chapter of the CFPNI was formed as a committee of the IAS in 1989. In 2005, I became the Southwest Coordinator, and began the onerous (but so fulfilling!) task of recruiting host families who would be willing to take two teenagers into their homes for the entire month of July. Last year my committee and I recruited five families; this year we recruited three. On June 21st of this year I traveled to Northern Ireland (by way of Continental to Houston, then diverted to Gatwick, then delayed in Dublin, then reunited with my luggage, then on to Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, by bus, whew!) to attend the “pre-departure meeting” with the 72 teens who would be participating in the project this year (including the six slated to come to New Mexico). “Try to be good visitors,” I told them in my speech. “Yes, the food is going to be weird (we don’t put gravy on Chinese food here in America for one thing, can you believe it?), but if you can be open-minded and tolerant, you will have a wonderful experience.” They whooped and hollered. I was exhausted already, just thinking about chaperoning all 72 of them to the US in a few days. On June 27th, the 72 teens and I (and another NI Coordinator) made the loooonnnggg journey to the US. Six teens and I raced through the Newark airport and by some miracle made our connection to Houston and then on to Albuquerque, where we were greeted by the host families, CFPNI committee members, and a piper! The teens were totally embarrassed by it all (but in a good way). And then the real fun began: Off went Rhian and Emma to the Bryers (Vikki and Bob); Aine and Emma to Martina Mesmer; Rachel and Siobhan to myself and Don Baker. And what a summer they all had: trips to Santa Fe, Taos, Acoma, Chaco Canyon, the Grand Canyon, the Tram, Cliff’s, the Zoo, the Botanical Gardens, museums, etc. etc. etc. If there was something cool to see in New Mexico, they saw it. (Of course, being teenagers, the place they loved the best was THE MALL. And because the pound sterling was”still is”doing so well against the American dollar, they had plenty of money to spend.) When they left on July 25th, there was much smiling through tears”we all knew we had had a summer we would never forget. On October 18th, Don and I arrived in Belfast Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, to attend the “Re-Union”"an annual event where the teens and their families in NI (and some of their American families as well) reconvene to assess the lessons learned from their summer in America. At the Reunion, to highlight the lessons they learned from their summer in America, some of the teens put on skits: some hilariously spoofing the stereotypes found on both sides of the Atlantic (“I hope to have great craic in America!” “WHAT!?!?! You think you”re going to get CRACK here? Are you a drug addict!?”); and others zeroing in on our all-too-human tendencies to judge others by how they look, not how they act. (“You may be stupid as a rock, but I”m going to hire you because I think you”re cute!”) The celebration was marred only by the realization that this would be the last Re-Union, as the US and NI Board of Directors had voted the day before to disband CFPNI after its twenty-year run. The reasons for this decision are many, but the primary reason is that the “troubles” in NI do not seem so troubling now. Many of the CFPNI teens, for example, already knew each other before the program; the segregation of Protestants from Catholics is not so rigid as in the past. This is not true in all parts of the North, of course: In Derry (if you’re Catholic; “Londonderry” if you’re Protestant), the neighborhoods are clearly delineated by either the Tricolor and pubs with pictures of the Pope, or the Union Jack and pubs with pictures of the Queen. And the father of one of my teens told me that he would never consider going into either of the two pubs in his little village as they were both “Protestant pubs” and he would not be welcomed there. But our CFPNI teens (some now in their mid-30s) will not necessarily have the same segregated adulthood as their parents. For one thing, they have more money now than their grandparents and are thus less inclined to want to spend time brooding over historical differences. For another, they have been to the other side of the Atlantic and have seen for themselves what life is like in a country where (for the most part) no one cares what your religious preferences are. Twenty years ago, Peggy Barrett envisioned a Northern Ireland that had achieved peace through understanding and interaction. Thanks to CFPNI (and other similar programs, such as the Ulster Project and Friends Forever), the people of NI are well on their way. The Irish-American Society of New Mexico is proud to have been a significant part of that achievement. For more information about CFPNI (www.cfpni.org) or the IAS of NM (http://www.irishamericansociety-nm.com/), contact Ellen Dowling at 505-307-1700 (edowling@standuptrainer.com).

Reviewed by Mary McWay Seaman, Celtic Connection, July, 2007 Short story collections make irresistible traveling companions, and Thomas McGuane”s distinguished new volume, GALLATIN CANYON, delivers ten edgy displacement dramas perfectly fitted for interludes on the plane, by the pool or on the back porch. It”s a book to open at random; journey first with the traveler trekking across the page presented by chance – a lonely pilgrim out on the road, searching for sanctuary somewhere up ahead. McGuane probes relationships run aground by plopping characters down on distant soil and thrusting them into clumsy accommodations to troublesome surroundings. Leery of the locals and suspicious of their routines, folks struggle to settle in and shed some personal baggage. These outsiders maintain perches on new landscapes, reconnoiter, connect a bit, and then retreat. Their pasts, destinations unto themselves, keep some secrets in these tales, secrets that urge the players (not all of whom have been dealt poor hands) to alternate strategy and always, always to hold back some cards. A good number of the alienated are mired in uncommitted relationships while casting about for comfort in their new habitats. Humor, satire and exquisite allusions illuminate lives largely free from the ties that bind. Expert at bundling the oddball with the ordinary, McGuane begets sojourners stalked by their own backgrounds as they stagger about in tales entitled “Aliens,” “Old Friends,” “The Zombie,” and “The Refugee.” One gem in the collection is “Miracle Boy,” wherein a teenager surveys the lives of his Irish immigrant grandparents and his American-born parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. With a canny eye, Johnny examines the array of vocations chosen by these people amid the social forces churning through their Massachusetts mill town during the 1950s. The withering compromises necessary for urban assimilation bear frightening similarities to those that confound relatives at a distance. Parents on the move steadily strew old traditions behind them (lightening the load?) and appear bewildered by their shriveling identities. An uncle, returning from a trip to Mother Ireland, “announced that the place was highly disorganized and insufficiently hygienic . . .” Immigrant forebears, those wary keepers of old ways that served up stability and custom, may not have been clean freaks, but they kept order and were steadied by procedure ” foundations of civility and safety. Speaking of his Irish-born grandmother, the boy states, “I even thought of our life in the Midwest, when I”d longed for her intervention in a family slow to invent rules for their new lives.” Struggling with conflicting advice from his elders, Johnny charges into “study of the Old West, a place where do-gooders and mad dogs alike lived free of ambiguity and insidious family tensions.” McGuane”s western stories will disabuse readers of such wishful thinking; however, this story”s wry humor may resonate particularly with those not completely at home in their present circumstances. Western stories set up new arrivals looking for opportunities after business failures, divorce and prison; others dream of peaceful retirement homes near children and grandchildren. Remarks from the chronically adrift chortle with irony as failures to launch new lives are stealthily linked to losses of ordinary conventions and old-fashioned ethics. Common social graces that usually serve people well during difficulties in faraway places are suspended, if not blotted out entirely in some instances. One Big Sky Country character reprogrammed himself to be just “a big believer in what he saw with his own eyes.” Hounded by persistent disruption, a few strivers in the West embrace a self-preservation sustained by earthy arrogance. Other odysseys find sullen, eco-touring, drug-using hippies, the bankrupt, a down-and-out cowboy, and an alcoholic sailboat enthusiast seeking fresh starts on terrain where, according to those in the Massachusetts Irish ghetto, “people made themselves up and were vaguely weightless.” Fraught with ambivalence about total immersion into their new settlements, the wayfarers often sulk within a self-imposed apartheid. In a couple of the stories, McGuane takes some swings at so-called “win-win” solutions for his seekers, suggesting that the very nature of negotiation creates losses all around. The author”s use of the past as a destination is steadily revisited and sometimes employs a symbol harking back to roots ” a tumble-down homestead, a pioneer cemetery, old buffalo wallows, a totem pole, John McCormack records (78s), even food. Displaced persons, dripping with disappointment and dismissive of their former abodes, fall back from time to time on steering mechanisms sparked by old times. Survivors they may be, yet most remain uneasy refugees in outlying limbos. Exhibiting the inhibitions and suspicions common to immigrants throughout the ages, the discontented sufferers in these road-trip sagas are unable to put things completely right. Endurance, rather than success, is their true essence. Thomas McGuane”s superb stories in GALLATIN CANYON pursue diasporas of the restless who, while shucking the husks of ancestral habits, forge onward, skittish about bearing personal history into new territory, and unaware that much of it is already mislaid, if not gone for good. Alfred A Knopf, A division of Random House, 2006, 220 pages, hardcover $24.00 Mary McWay Seaman is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and is a contributing writer to “Gateway” magazine of St. Louis, Missouri, and to the “New Oxford Review” of Berkeley, California.

E. Perkins Father Murphy walks into a pub in Donegal, and says to the first man he meets, “Do you want to go to heaven?” The man said, “I do, Father.” The priest said, “Then stand over there against the wall.” Then the priest asked the second man, “Do you want to go to heaven?” “Certainly, Father,” was the man’s reply. “Then stand over there against the wall,” said the priest. Then Father Murphy walked up to O’Toole and said, “Do you want to go to heaven?” O’Toole said, “No, I don’t Father.” The priest said, “I don’t believe this. You mean to tell me that when you die you don’t want to go to heaven?” O’Toole said, “Oh, when I die, yes. I thought you were getting a group together to go right now.”

E. Perkins An American golfer playing in Ireland hooked his drive into the woods. Looking for his ball, he found a little Leprechaun flat on his back, a big bump on his head and the golfer’s ball beside him. Horrified, the golfer got his water bottle from the cart and poured it over the little guy, reviving him. “Arrgh! What happened?” the Leprechaun asked. “I’m afraid I hit you with my golf ball,” the golfer says. “Oh, I see. Well, ye got me fair and square. Ye get three wishes, so whaddya want?” “Thank God, you’re all right!” the golfer answers in relief. “I don’t want anything, I’m just glad you’re OK, and I apologize.” And the golfer walks off. “What a nice guy,” the Leprechaun says to himself. “I have to do something for him. I’ll give him the three things I would want… a great golf game, all the money he ever needs, and a fantastic sex life.” A year goes by (as it does in stories like this) and the American golfer is back. On the same hole, he again hits a bad drive into the woods; and the Leprechaun is there waiting for him. “Twas me that made ye hit the ball here,” the little guy says. “I just want to ask ye, how’s yer golf game?” “My game is fantastic!” the golfer answers. I’m an internationally famous golfer now.” He adds, “By the way, it’s good to see you’re all right.” “Oh, I’m fine now, thank ye. I did that fer yer golf game, you know. And tell me, how’s yer money situation?” “Why, it’s just wonderful!” the golfer states. “When I need cash, I just reach in my pocket and pull out $100.00 bills I didn’t even know were there!” “I did that fer ye also. And tell me, how’s yer sex life?” The golfer blushes, turns his head away in embarrassment, and says shyly, “It’s OK.” “C’mon, c’mon now,” urged the Leprechaun, “I’m wanting to know if I did a good job. How many times a week?” Blushing even more, the golfer looks around then whispers, “Once, sometimes twice a week.” “What??” responds the Leprechaun in shock. “That’s all? Only once or twice a week?” “Well,” says the golfer, “I figure that’s not bad for a priest in a small parish.”

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Reviewed by Cindy Reich, Celtic Connection, July, 2007 The worst thing you could ever say about a dance band is that they stuck the feet of the dancers to the floor. There is no chance of that happening listening to Dave Munnelly”s new album, “By Heck”. In fact it makes one look around for a hard floor and a dancing partner from the first notes of the 20″s ceilidh style beginnings of the first cut, “Cuckoo”s Nest/Silver Spire” And, in fact, he took this arrangement from John J Kimmell”s 1915 recording of the “Cuckoo”s Nest”. It has great bounce, lift and energy. There are jigs, reels and barndances galore on this recording. It has such a lovely early 20th century feel to the instrumentals ” intentionally so, as Munnelly draws not only on Kimmell, but also the Flanagan Brothers. In fact, Joe Flanagan had a very similar fast, staccato style of melodeon playing. “Kimmell’s Jigs” (The Lark in the Mountain/Devlin”s Favorite/The Cordial Jig) retain that 30″s style. However, things get a bit jazzy and swingy with the title track, “By Heck”. I especially like the soprano sax by one of the masters of the instrument in Ireland, the incredible Richie Buckley. A Quebecois set, “Cormiers” (Galope a Eddie/Reel du Chat Graffigne/Joe Cormiers” is a really tasty set and highlights the great flute playing of Kieran Munnelly in the first tune. It marches right along with great percussive guitar from Gavin Ralston, and bass lines provided by Joe Csibi. It gets an added boost again from Buckley on soprano and tenor sax. It is full bodied and firmly packed, as we say. A meaty set. A simple, lovely set, “Mc Reels” (Anthony McDonnells/Josie McDermott”s/Johnny Henry”s) is needed to catch one”s breath after the previous set! it is lovely in its simplicity with Munnelly accompanied by Ralson on guitar, brother Kieran on flute and Daire Bracken on fiddle. The standout track of the CD for me was the slow air, “Ar Bhoithrin na Smaointe”. Munnelly, accompanied only Ryan Molly on piano and accents by Buckley is superb. Let one think that this is an instrumental only CD, oh, no, not at all. Andrew Murray, one of the loveliest singers I”ve heard in a long while (see review, June 2007 Celtic Connection) does proud on “P Stands for Paddy”, as well as a grand rendition of Richard Thompson”s “Dimming of the Day”. Helen Flaherty gives us Dougie MacLean”s “The Garden Valley Song”. As a famous late night television host in Ireland used to say each Friday night, there is a “little something for everyone in the house” here, and it is a stunner of a CD. Great tunes done by stellar musicians ” did I mention Paul Kelly (banjo, mandolin, fiddle) along with Csibi, Buckley, Ralston, Molloy, Bracken, Munnelly, Munnelly and LLoyd Byrne on drums?. There are more jigs, reels, polkas and barndances I didn”t get to in the space of this review, but do yourself a favor and get it to listen for yourself. A fabulous CD of 14 cuts ” great tunes, great songs performed by great musicians and singers. Its just great, by heck! Check out Dave”s website at www.davidmunnelly.com. Cindy Reich is a contributing writer to “The Living Tradition”, Ayrshire, Scotland, “Irish Music Magazine”, Dublin, Ireland, and presents the radio music show, “The Long Acre” on Mondays, 1pm-3pm on 88.9 FM, KRFC ” Ft. Collins.

Reviewed by Cindy Reich, Celtic Connection, August, 2007 Kevin Burke needs no introduction to Irish music lovers. His fiddle playing is unparalleled. Although born in London, Kevin was influenced by the fiddle playing of Michael Coleman and James Morrison among others, through his parents who came from Sligo. As a member of the Bothy Band, Kevin was part of one of the great seminal bands of the folk/trad revival, and as such, influenced scores of future musicians. He has also been a part of the group Patrick Street and the Celtic Fiddle Festival, but he has always shone the brightest, to me, when he played with Micheal O Domhnaill or Jackie Daly. The late Micheal O Domhnaill was a master of the guitar and Daly is the same on the button accordion. I truly think that only musicians of that caliber were able to understand and allow Burke”s nuances to do justice to the tunes they played. This is not to take away Kevin”s band work, however, many times less is more. In Kevin”s latest release, he has returned to the spare feel of those early recordings. “Across the Black River” with Cal Scott is a must have for anyone interested in hearing a master at work. A great example is a cut that just jumped out at me, “Minnie Foster/The Forgotten Chateau”. The first title piece was learned from Andy McGann on Kevin”s first trip to the U.S. and is playful, clean, crisp and superb. “The Forgotten Chateau” has a wonderful eastern European feel to it, despite being written by Londoner Chris Twigg. Another standout track is “Evening Prayer Blues” which is haunting and full of the high lonesome sound. It has a real turn of the century feel”I swear you could be sitting on the front porch of a cabin in the middle of any holler in the Blue Ridge Mountains! “For Johnny” is a tune written for the late Johnny Cunningham by his brother Phil. I”ve heard Phil play it on his accordion and its lovely, but Burke”s playing takes the heart right out of you. Johnny was a touring and playing companion of Burke”s on the Celtic Fiddle Festival circuit and this is a heartfelt tribute. Vincent Broderick was a great flute player from Loughrea, County Galway, and Kevin has paired up Broderick”s “Last Train from Loughrea” with his own composition, the title track “Across the Black Water”. Mike McGoldrick accompanies Burke and Scott on flute for this beautiful set. The first time I listened to this CD, when the third tune rolled off the speaker, I felt like I was sitting at a sidewalk caf” along the Seine in Paris. I never read liner notes until after I”ve listened to a CD, so I was delighted to read that when Kevin first heard the tune (a waltz) he immediately thought of a summer”s evening in a French sidewalk caf”. I could say that great minds think alike, however it is simply that this tune is so evocative of France, you couldn”t come up with any other conclusion! Kudos to Cal Scott for composing a great little waltz! Cal must be partial to waltzes, for he has another beauty on this release ” “The Lighthouse Keeper”s Waltz”. In addition to being a great composer, Cal is a lovely musician who is a perfect complement to Kevin”s playing and also produced this album. Mention must be made of the “Long Set” which lives up to its name at a meaty nine and a half minutes. The six reels that make up this set are: The Boys of the Lough/Master Crowley”s Reel/Sean sa Cheo/Reel of Rio/Ryan”s Dream/The Wind that Shakes the Barley. This is just hard-core straight ahead playing that is like a shot of heroin to a drug addict for serious listeners to Irish music. No glitter, no rocketing at the speed of light. Serious playing by serious musicians. Kevin and Cal are joined on this set by Johnny (box) Connolly on accordion and Phil Baker on double bass. Mighty stuff! For all true lovers of the music who want to hear a master at work, get your feet wet, cross the black river, the blue river, any and all rivers and get yourself a copy of Kevin Burke”s “Across the Black River”. This is destined to be one of the best of the crop of releases for 2007. You can check out more of Kevin”s music at: KevinBurke.com. Cindy Reich is a contributing writer to “The Living Tradition”, Ayrshire, Scotland, “Irish Music Magazine”, Dublin, Ireland, and presents the radio music show, “The Long Acre” on Mondays, 1pm-3pm on 88.9 FM, KRFC ” Ft. Collins.