Mick Molony_banjo

New York University’s Professor of Music and Irish Studies, Mick Moloney is the pre-eminent scholar of Irish-American music from the past two centuries. Born in Ireland, the musician and singer has recorded over forty albums and hosted several American Public Television series. In 1999, he was awarded the National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, the highest official honor a traditional artist can receive in the U.S.

Moloney’s recent brought together an all-star Irish band and brass band to record, “If it wasn’t for the Irish and the Jews.” The project is a nostalgic look at the early days of Tin Pan Alley, when Irish and Jewish immigrants worked together to produce the songs that became the foundation of Broadway musical theater. From 1880 to 1920, Vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley flourished with the musical contributions of Jewish and Irish songwriters.
The Irish/Jewish collaborations of Tin Pan Alley were attended by all sorts of interesting identity ambiguities. There was the famous Norah Bayes who had a huge hit with the Ziegfeld Follies with the song “Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?”. Bayes was actually born Norah Goldberg but changed her name, one assumes, partly to appeal to the huge Irish-American urban audience of the day in variety theater and vaudeville. One of her five husbands was Jack Norworth who wrote “Shine on Harvest Moon” with Norah and also the huge hit “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Norworth himself also wrote and sang scores of Irish songs. The noted “Jewish” star of the New York stage, Eddie Foy, was actually Edwin Fitzgerald!
Though there were doubtless tensions and competitiveness and the usual business break ups and make ups, the Irish/Jewish Tin Pan Alley collaborations represent essentially a charming story of decades of good natured ethnic flux, competition and cooperation which left a lasting imprint on the history of American popular music.

“If it wasn’t for the Irish and the Jews” met acclaim from music critics including Earle Hitchner of the Irish Echo: “No one has succeeded more in taking this once vital part of Irish American culture out of musty archives and moldering dissertations and placing it afresh on CD and concert stage than Mick Moloney.”

The Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society & Beck Archives
Center for Judaic Studies and Penrose Library, University of Denver
invites all interested parties to join the RMJHS Annual Meeting Sunday October 30, 11:00a.m at BMH Synagogue Social Hall, 560 S. Monaco Pkwy, when Dr. Moloney illustrates his presentation of the musical origins of Tin Pan Alley with live musical performances.

Tickets for this entertaining and insightful examination of cultural cross-pollination in a bygone era in U.S. cultural history are $10 and must be reserved by October 20th
For Information please call Professor Jeanne Abrams at 303-871-3016.

Michael Collins 1

Eamonn De Valera. Mary McAleese. And now: Michael Collins.

The Irish Network Colorado (INCO) is bringing His Excellency, Ambassador Michael Collins to Colorado who is following in the footsteps of Ireland’s first President as well as the current one. As an emerging force in the Colorado business scene, INCO resumes its mission to provide beneficial programs and events to the Irish and Irish American community here in the Rocky Mountain region.

The Ambassador’s visit is tentatively taking place November 3rd – 4th, 2011. Although this visit will have its political component, INCO also is incorporating goals of reaching out to the local Irish and Irish-American community, enhancing educational links between Colorado based institutions & Ireland and increasing economic exchange between Ireland & Colorado.

Several events are in planning which include both private and public engagements with local business, higher education, and Irish Community leaders.
INCO encourages the entire Colorado Irish community to come show your support. Although not all events will be open to the public, there will be opportunities for everyone to get involved. Check IrishNetworkCO.com for updates and schedules as they become available. Email us at colleagues@irishnetworkco.com for more information and for volunteer opportunities.

October 11 CC Geals gals_tophyTwo

When the Denver Gaels first competed in the North American championships in 1996, the lone Men’s Football team was just happy to be representing the Mile High City. Just 15 years later, the Gaels were the largest club en force at the Championships. Forty-seven players representing five different teams competed in the Championships at Páirc Na nGael in San Francisco. Unlike the club founders the players from Denver weren’t just happy to compete, they had their sights set on bringing home some silverware.

The tournament started out very brightly for the Denver Gaels, with the Junior C Men’s Hurling team taking on long heated rivals Seattle. Denver came out of the gates firing, finding dual star Adam Kiefert up front, who quickly turned his man and fired a shot at goal. The Seattle keeper had a nice reaction save, but he couldn’t recover the rebound shot from Adrian Stalbaum giving Denver an early lead that it would never relinquish. Denver’s captains Matt Santambrogio and John O’Neill lead the Gaels backline in a stellar performance that held Seattle to just 3 points. The Gaels continued the scoring thanks to tenacious play of Farris McManus, Mike Prince, and Stephen Pinsonneault. Their pressure earned frees throughout the game, which Adrian coolly put over the bar to extend the lead. In the end the Gaels won comfortably 1-11 to 0-3, a great result for the squad of American hurlers.

The victory earned the Junior C squad a matchup against St. Louis in the quarterfinals just three hours later. St. Louis and Denver also had a hurling history as it was this same St. Louis squad that Denver beat in 2007 to progress it’s top squad to Junior B. The young C Hurlers came out with energy but ultimately could not fight toe to toe with the quality of the St. Louis. The Gaels battled hard, and found some bright performances from Kyle Dunne, Cormac McGann and Jay Bagwell who tallied the lone Gaels goal in the contest against the eventual champions of the C division, St. Louis.

The Junior B Hurlers began their quest for a championship against the same Twin Cities squad that they defeated in last years semifinals. Gaels manager Alan Murphy warned the squad “They’ve spent the entire year thinking about what we did to them in the semi’s last year, and you know they’re chomping at a bit for a chance at another shot at us!” The Gaels took the words to heart and applied the pressure early. Veteran hurlers Ciaran Dwyer and Vinny Commeford combined for some early scores and soon after the All-American half forward line got into the action with scores coming from Pat Ream and Bobby Canaly. The game broke open soon after when the Twin Cities keeper let in a couple soft scores. The Gaels rode the early lead to a comprehensive victory 6-5 to 1-6.

In the semi-finals the Gaels faced Indianapolis. From the throw in defensive pressure dictated the pace of the game. Both teams struggled to maintain possession and get score in the opening minutes with half-chances flying well wide. Again it was Vinny Commeford who settled the nerves of the Denver side, as the Waterford native began to take control of the midfield and nailed three long-range points from the run of play. His charge inspired Bobby Canaly and Pat Ream once again who each got scores from the half-forward line. Indy clawed its way back into the contest earning several frees in Denver’s half. Indy made Denver pay for every free given with a free taker who possessed deadeye aim from anywhere within 65 meters. With Indy gaining momentum, full-forward stalwart, Ciaran Dwyer stepped up in the moment and delivered a huge goal giving Denver a one point lead headed into the second half 1-5 to 0-7.

The second half, started out much like the first with both teams battling for an offensive rhythm. The Denver backs kept Indy at bay for much of the contest, lead by tenacious fight of captain Brian Togher and keeper Bingo Byrne. The sides traded a few scores from frees giving Denver a two point lead with about fifteen minutes left in the contest. Sensing the urgency, Indy began to mount more pressure on the Denver goal area. Using fierce ground hurling; Indy slipped a rebound past Denver keeper Bingo Byrne. Indy rode their momentum, and put away their second goal within 5 minutes. Down four, Denver was rattled but not defeated. Vinny Commeford got one score from play, and another from a free-in to draw the game to within two points with five minutes left to play. In a move of desperation, the Gaels put in manager Alan Murphy into goal, and pushed Bingo into the forward line. The move paid off, with Brian Togher taking a nice cross-field pass from Pat Ream and put the ball over the bar to draw the game within one. With three minutes left, Denver earned a free 45 meters out from the Indy goal. Vinny stepped up and as he had all weekend he put the ball over the bar to tie the match. The Denver sideline erupted urging the team forward for one last push. Unfortunately, Indy had other plans in mind as they placed another ball in front of the Denver net and slotted a late goal past the Gaels defense. With just extra time left in the contest Denver had already expended all the energy it had in the tank. Indy put away one more free-in to cap off the cracking match 3-11 to 1-13. Although bitterly disappointed, the Gaels Hurlers kept their heads high. In the huddle Ciaran Dwyer reflected, “That was a battle between two teams of men. You know sometimes you don’t get the breaks, but we can be proud of how we played out there.”

The Gaels men’s football squad was coming off a promising finish as shield winners of last year’s Junior C Football competition. Captains Brian McCarthy and Adam Kiefert had put extra emphasis on recruiting and development and brought a strong team with four new American players featuring in the starting lineup. The Gaels received a bye to the semifinals where they played last year’s Junior D division champions Baltimore Bohemians. The Gaels back line were challenged early in the contest by a very skilled Baltimore forward line who were moving the ball all around the Denver half for scores and frees. Denver’s nerves settled down once Adam Kiefert received the ball 25 meters out and drove at goal finding an open Ross Doonan for an early goal to level the score. A second goal came just five minutes later for the Gaels when first year player Adam Johnson initiated a great combination with Ross, who played it to Rònàn O’Màitiu for the goal. The Gaels only held onto the lead briefly as a fight for a loose ball in the box lead to a penalty for Baltimore who converted to take the lead. The half ended with Baltimore leading 1-8 to 2-1. Determined to stop leaking points, the Gaels adjusted its defense and brought on some additional firepower to make a push in the second half. But Baltimore kept putting on the pressure, and always seemed to find an open man thanks to the hard running of their halfbacks into the Denver half. Only a great reaction toe save from Bingo saved Denver from going down two goals. Late in the second half Denver seemed to benefit from the altitude and began to mount a comeback with scores from Seamus Blaney, Kieran Lynn, and Rònàn to bring the Gaels within three points. In the last five minutes the Gaels had three good chances at goal to tie the match, but could not convert before the whistle blew as Denver fell to Baltimore 2-6 to 1-12.

The weekend was not over for the men’s Footballers who found themselves in a shield contest against Charlotte. Short a few players battling back from Injury the Gaels looked to the panel to get the job done. It was another cracking contest for the footballers who received stellar performances from the midfield duo of Rory McGarry and Adam Johnson. Rory lead the way in scoring getting several points from the run of play as well as a couple frees to push the Gaels forward. The Gaels also received stellar performances from ageless veterans Martin Concannon in the full forward line, and Shay Dunne in the back line who was relentless in breaking up the Charlotte attack. To their credit Charlotte hung in the whole way and kept it close on a steady diet of points and frees. Late into the second half the two sides exchanged goals and points to take the contest to overtime. With five minutes added onto the contest the Gaels got a great score from Adam Johnson who split the uprights on a 40-meter kick from his right boot. The Gaels held onto the lead for four minutes before conceding a point on a free. Denver determined to go home with a win, kept the pressure up and Adam Kiefert drove at goal, hit the post but then followed through to see the ball into the net for the deciding score. The Denver Footballers again took the shield 3-8 to 2-8.

Although the Men’s squads didn’t take home the silverware they set out to earn, every one of their voices could be heard cheering at the Ladies Camogie Final. There a combined team representing Denver and Twin Cities made history by winning the Junior A Camogie Championship in an epic extra time victory (read their story on page…). At the final whistle all forty-seven players, family members, and friends, flooded the field to congratulate the ladies on their tremendous accomplishment. In her speech captain Kyle Shane proclaimed, “This cup belongs to our entire club; our men’s teams for training with us, our managers for coaching us, and our friends and families for supporting us! We are all a part of this club, and deserve to celebrate this cup!” And in true Denver Gaels fashion, celebrate we did!

The Denver Gaels are always looking for new players and supporters. You can find out more about our club and how to get involved on our website www.DenverGaels.com and on our Facebook page.

photo by Amanda Rieker

October 11 Celtic Connection cover photo by Amanda Rieker

Story & Photos by Amanda Rieker
The stands erupted into barely controlled chaos as the final whistle blew, signaling the success of six years of recruiting, training, and commitment to a dream of winning a Camogie championship. The hard fought battle on the pitch against the girls from Washington DC was the culmination of years of hard work. It ended with a one point win in overtime. But all that mattered to the Rogue Camogs at that moment was the trophy in their hands.

The North American County Board (NACB) is the governing body of Irish sports in the US, including Camogie. They host a playoff tournament over Labor Day at a rotating host city. This year it was in San Francisco, CA. The ladies from the Denver Gaels had previously joined up with Seattle and Twin Cities to field a team in 2010, the inaugural year for the Rogue Camogs. In 2011, Seattle fielded a full team of their own. This left Denver and Twin Cities to join forces for a second year. This ragtag group of girls finally unseated the multi-year champions from Washington DC for the Junior Camogie crown in San Francisco.

Camogie is an exciting, fast-paced sport that incorporates dexterity, finesse, agility, speed, and endurance. It’s baseball and ice hockey combined and turned upside-down. Points and goals are scored by teams made up of 13-15 players per side. The men’s companion sport of hurling is the national sport of Ireland. It’s 3,000 year history and role in modern Irish life are unique. It’s more than a sport, it’s a community.

In Ireland, it’s a way of life, similar to baseball in America. Children are introduced to hurling and camogie in school. The friendships and camaraderie born out of the sport in Ireland become a foundation for adult life. As described by an Irish-born member of the Denver Gaels, “when we were kids, we used to say we bleed blue. We’d do anything for each other.”

In the US, most don’t learn about the sport until adulthood.

“I got involved with hurling in 2000 in Milwaukee. I played for five years in their leagues. My brother had played a few years and got me into it. It was the first sport I really got excited and jazzed about – LOVED it, obviously,” described Jess Haxton-Retrum, one of the founders of Camogie in Colorado. “Jenn Dressler and I built the Camogie team [in Milwaukee] and after a few years of recruiting and training as a team, we went to finals…in 2003. We beat DC, the only other team in the junior category.”

Jess relocated to Denver in 2005 and started training with the Denver Gaels. The club had originally played only Gaelic football, but in 2004/05 it took on hurling as well. The club now hosts a couple of thriving and competitive hurling teams. The Rogue Camogs are continuing their search for new players with a sense of spirit, competitiveness, and camaraderie to join their family.

“Sometimes it’s hard to find women who appreciate the physicality of Camogie. If you recruit from pools of women who already like lacrosse, rugby, hockey, and soccer you may have better luck,” added Jess.

Kyle Shane, a Co-Captain of the Champion Rogue Camogs, believes the friendly, welcoming environment is also a big seller for playing on the team. Kyle discovered the sport at the Colorado Irish Festival in Littleton in 2007. Her rugby background quickly made her popular with the team. “It was great to be a part of such a welcoming team with great leaders and support. It made the first year of fumbling around very enjoyable and inclusive,” she said.

Kyle added “even if you haven’t played sports before, you can pick it up pretty quickly and get such an amazing feeling of accomplishment, exercise, and friendship/connection with your team. The sport really offers something for everyone.”

In the 2010 playoffs, Kyle injured her knee while playing gaelic football. Her subsequent surgery and physical therapy didn’t hold her back from leading the Rogue Camogs on to victory in 2011. She continued to lead practices and fitness sessions despite being unable to run the drills herself. Her leadership and optimism inspired the rest of the team to perform at their highest levels.

Kyle’s goalkeeping skills helped the Rogue Camogs qualify for the 2011 championship match in San Francisco. The ladies were able to defeat teams from Seattle and Indianapolis through their strong defensive maneuvering. However, their final match against Washington DC in the round robin-style contest saw the ladies struggling with strain and exhaustion. They finished the marathon of matches with two wins and one loss, qualifying them for the championship match with Washington DC.

On Sunday, the final day of competition, the girls knew they were going to face down a strong rival. After a day of rest, they were ready. The previous match gave them insight into their competition. They devised a new strategy, reworked the lineups, and set their minds on bringing home the trophy. The full length match featured strong defense on both sides, limiting the scoring opportunities. With one goal and one point each, the teams went into overtime. It was a battle of epic proportions on the pitch. The underdog Rogue Camogs were determined to defeat the repeat champs. Christie Washam of Twin Cities helped the Rogues take an early lead in overtime with a point. Kyle Shane stopped several attempts by Washington DC to equalize. When the final whistle blew, the ladies swarmed their Co-Captains Kyle Shane and Sarah McFarland of Twin Cities.

SPF11 UpTop_BagpipeCowboy

What a great time in Spanish Peaks country Sept 22-25. A beautiful part of Colorado not on the beaten path – great folks too.
Ceili/Sessions in a “Ghost Town” – Workshops, concerts, more
sessions. Here are a few photos. Stay tuned here for info on 2012 Fest & Retreat..

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Traditions stand the test of time, handed down from generation to generation – adding new life, stories, and interpretations to its ever expanding width and depth. During the last weekend of September, Huerfano County will help perpetuate
the traditions of Irish, Scottish, and related Roots music and dance.

Huerfano County is often referred to as “Spanish Peaks Country” for its towering two peaks, West Spanish Peaks and East Spanish Peaks. Indigenous people looked at them with sacred eyes and called them Wahatoya, meaning “Breasts of the Earth.” Part of the Culebra Range of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Spanish Peaks can be seen as far as 100 miles in some directions

Huerfano’s four most populated areas are Cuchara, La Veta, Gardner, and Walsenburg. They are like four siblings with totally different personalities. Walsenburg, the county seat and former coal town, will host the Celtic fest’s Harp retreat as well as the popular Friday and Saturday evening concerts at the historic Fox Theatre. Highlighting the connections between Celtic and Appalachian music, Fridays’ concert, “Scotland meets Appalachia.” will cast the renowned Old Blind Dogs, David Coe and others. On Saturday brace yourself for one exciting Irish hooley when County Clare fiddle sensation Martin Hayes, Dennis Cahill and friends raise the boards. La Veta is a charming artesian town that will house the Celtic fest office and is site of many classes/workshops and activities in the La Veta Park. Take a walk around town where the folks are friendly or jump on the train and go up the pass where bears often scavenge fallen grain that have slid from Coors boxcars. For a rustic mountain experience, travel 10 minutes south along the scenic highway of legends to Cuchara. This mountain village could easily be the set for an old fashion western movie. This is still a secret, but how much fun will happen when the Old Blind Dogs and friends meet at the Dog Bar on Thursday afternoon to start warming up for the Festival? On Thursday evening Gardner will host “A Taste of Things to Come,” a preview party with festival performers playing a few tunes or singing some songs. This “locals” event, is a sell-out each year so don’t your tickets a the last minute. Gardner has a colorful history too. Once the hunting grounds for Utes, Comanche, and Apace, it became home to cattle ranches. In the late 1960’s it became home to hippie communes. Most moved when they discovered the realities of rural living – hard work.

Gardner is also home of the Festival founders, Jack and Barbara Yule. Unafraid of work they moved to the area from Scotland a decade ago from Scotland to homestead on 30 acres. Jack is a harp maker and melodeon player and Barbara a storyteller. The festival grew its roots from informal ceilidhs (Scottish spelling for Ceili) that unfolded when they were visited by friends and family from back home.

The Yules European background is the reason behind the unique offering of a countywide festival. Unlike in America, it is not unusual for festivals in the Celtic regions of Europe (and eastern Canada) to have festivals that are spread out over multiple areas or towns, i.e., Willy Clancy Week, South Sligo Summer School, Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann (Ireland), Celtic Colors (Nova Scotia), and Celtic Connections (Scotland). “It is as much a retreat as it is a festival,” said Barbara Yule. “We encourage people to come down for a day or two – more if possible, and build your own experience with the festival offerings, world class performers, along with the sights of Huerfano County.”

Oh, can’t forget the Ceili in the ghost town of UpTop on La Veta pass Friday at noon. This is a free event that was started last year and was a blast. Bring a tune, song, or dancing shows and enjoy the session in the old saloon and dance hall. Pack a picnic (snacks will be for sale) and bring your camera, as the sights are beautiful. Also plan some time to visit the chapel and old depot from 1888, once the site of the highest narrow gauge railroad in the world. Now the site of the highest ceili in the world! Did we say the Spanish Peaks Celtic fest is unique?

7th Annual Spanish Peaks International Celtic Music Festival, September 22 – 25, with music and workshops by Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill, The Old Blind Dogs, Robbie O’Connell (Clancy Brothers, Green Fields of America), David Coe, Ed Miller, Margaret Bennett, Roger Landes, Aine Minoque, Kim McKee, Jennie McAvoy, Claire Mann, Linda Hickman, Tanya Perkins, Shay Dunne, Cleek Schrey and more. Visit www.celticmusicfest.com or call 719-746-2061, 719-742-3003, 719-742-5410, or 303-777-0502 for information and registration.

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by Alan Groarke

There’s an old Irish proverb that states ‘an ounce of breeding is worth a pound of feeding’. Well that adage can definitely be applied to Darragh O’Neill who has just been announced as the starting punter for the CU Football team. Darragh has never before played in a competitive American Football game in High School or College and only took up punting last winter.
Darragh was born in Ireland with both parents providing a serious Gaelic Football pedigree. His father Colm won All Ireland medals with County Cork while his uncle Maurice Fitzgerald also won All Irelands with County Kerry and is revered for his incredible contribution to the game. Most Irish people would have Maurice in their top 5 Gaelic Football players of all time.

Darragh’s family left Ireland when he was 2 and moved first to Michigan where his father earned an MBA before they settled in Louisville. Colm owns the popular Conor O’ Neills pub in Boulder as well as a sister pub in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Darragh grew up playing Baseball, Soccer and Basketball before concentrating on the latter two sports in High School. However, it looked like a promising sports career would be cut short when Darragh fell ill with a rare blood disease during his sophomore year. The illness baffled doctors and caused his lungs to hemorrhage just before he slipped into a coma for five days. A priest delivered last rites, and the outlook did not look good. Amazingly, he bravely fought the illness and eventually recovered back to full health. Doctors felt it would be quite some time before he would be able to play sports again and probably not competitively because of the damage to his lungs. This would not deter Darragh who worked hard on his fitness and managed to recapture his place on the Fairview High School Soccer and Basketball teams. He was an All-State soccer player and led the basketball team to back-to-back Class 5A State Championship Finals with thrilling displays along the way. He was named Colorado Basketball Player of the Year in 2010 and averaged over 23 points a game as a point guard.

Surprisingly, Darragh did not hear from many Division I colleges – only the University of Denver invited him as a walk on although he had many Division II scholarship offers. Instead, he enrolled at CU but did not play basketball or soccer in his first year. Then last winter, Darragh took up punting, thinking it might be a way to play major-college football. “I played soccer, so I knew I had a decent leg anyway, so I just started working on punting with my dad, trying to figure it out…It was something I always wanted to do in high school. I just never felt I had the time.”

A friend hooked him up with local kicking coach Matt Thompson and a tryout with CU special teams coach J.D. Brookhart in March led to Darragh getting his shot. He immediately caught everyone’s eye after kicking a number of monster kicks. Darragh then had a battle on his hands all through the spring and summer to perfect his technique and ensure he had a consistent kicking game. He was competing against two other seasoned punters but CU Head Coach Jon Embree was convinced by Darragh’s skill, determination and toughness. He named the twenty year old as the starting punter for CU’s first game, which takes place on September 3rd in Hawaii.

It’s unheard of that someone plays their very first competitive game in a sport live on ESPN in front of a national audience. But then ‘Darragh’ in Gaelic means “oak tree” and it is that tenacity which has seen him recover from a life threatening illness and rise to the top of all sports that he has decided to play.

Not nearly satisfied with baseball, soccer, basketball and American football, he is an accomplished rower and has played Gaelic Football. Under the tutelage of his famous uncle Maurice, not only did he learn rowing, but he took home an All Ireland Rowing Medal after just a summer learning the sport. Darragh also has a North American Under 18 Gaelic Football medal, won while playing for our very own Denver Gaels. Indeed, he probably would have been able to contribute more to the club if his summers weren’t spent in Ireland with his family.

Darragh comes from a family of eight where sports plays an integral role and they continue to provide a conveyer belt of talent to sports teams here in Colorado. His brother Shane is also an outstanding soccer and basketball player and played with Fairview in the State Basketball Final last year. He is currently on the development squad for the Colorado Rapids and would love the opportunity to play professional soccer. Darragh has two other brothers – Enda and Mark and two sisters – Kate and Grace. His parents Colm and Christine regularly spend their weekends chauffeuring the kids to different tournaments around Colorado. CU now want to take over that role starting with a trip to Hawaii for Darragh’s debut as an American Football punter.

Mile High Sightings

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Sep 052011
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Uilleann piper Davy Spillane was at Hastings College, Nebraska to receive
a Doctorate in Fine Arts for his works in making Uilleann Pipes.
He swung into Denver for a couple days with Richard Lloyd, Professor of
Irish Literature at the College. He is pictured above at Celtic Tavern in Downtown Denver. L-R Spillane, Noel Hickey, and Lloydrish L

Sep 052011
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Charles “Chuck” McLaughlin, 59, passed away suddenly on Sunday, June 12, 2011 in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the home he shared with Judi, his wife and best friend of 42 years.

A few years ago a band that we have history with asked Celtic Events/ The Celtic Connection to promote and produce a show in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In some ways this was a bad idea since we had never been there before, knew no one, and the town had a reputation as a tough market for shows. On the other hand, the idea was appealing
since it fit into our plans to expose the Celtic Connection newspaper as a niche resource to as many folks, businesses, and organizations as possible who live, work, and play up & down the Rockies. I decided to take the opportunity to reach out further with the CC and took the show.

From Denver I researched Irish/Celtic organizations in Albuquerque – One of the names I came across was Chuck McLaughlin, Irish Freedom Committee. When I contacted Chuck I learned that he had also been a member of the Irish American Society of New Mexico and had publicity experience as media director for the Rio Grande Celtic Festival. When he understood what we were attempting to do in “Albu” he immediately went to work putting together names, numbers, and ideas that might assist us in promoting the show. I was so impressed by the effort he made to help a person that he had never met. He never tried to feel me out to learn who I voted for, what I prayed to or any other hot-button topic of judgment – he was just trying to help another human being who needed a hand. I soon learned that this was not an isolated incidence – Chuck was a man who unconditionally helped people as a way of life.

There was more than a little nail biting when we drove from Denver to Albuquerque for the show. Soon after we arrived at the venue Chuck and his good buddy Don Murphy showed up and asked, “How can we help?” I can’t tell you how comforting those words were, as we were working with a skeleton crew of my wife, me, and our then four year-old boy – who wasn’t much help but a good source of entertainment.

Subsequent trips to New Mexico always came with advice and helpful tips from Chuck. He loved New Mexico, and would always have good travel suggestion -given in his candid delivery, “..Most New Mexicans consider Santa Fe to be a waste of time and money…Taos is a far more friendly and affordable town and is my own favorite NM town.” Heavily involved with the Celtic League and the Irish Freedom Committee, Chuck would forward press releases to me regularly for consideration in the Celtic Connection. He was never pushy, presumptuous, and did not show contempt if his article was not published. But, when something was published about NM or one of his projects, he was over the moon with gratitude, making comments like “Dinner’s on me!”

By coincidence or by one of those serendipitous moments that get you wondering about a bigger picture, I came across one of those grateful emails from Chuck the night before he died. It said, “I owe you Pat and you know that whenever you and your family find your way to New Mexico, you stay here as our guests.” No Chuck, I owe you. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Chuck’s friends and families. He will be remembered and missed. Pat McCullough The Celtic Connection/Celtic Events

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Photo: Keriayn with dad, Bill, and mom Teresa

Keriayn O’Donnell has recently returned from Ireland where she was competing in the regional finals of the 2011 Rose of Tralee Festival.

Keriayn was the first local girl to be chosen to represent the City of Denver as the Denver Rose in this prestigious event. Although she performed well in all aspects of the four day event, she was not among the girls chosen to attend the finals to be held in August. The competition was fierce and, unfortunately, only 23 of the 51 entrants could advance to the finals. Besides the disappointment of not advancing to the finals, Keriayn suffered a stress fracture in her foot the first night of the competition and was not able to perform the slip jig she had been practicing for the judges. She elected instead to perform a piano piece.

All in all, though, the trip was a good one for Keriayn and her family as they were able to do some sight seeing before her competition and visit with cousins in Cahir, County Tipperary. In a show of family support, six O’Donnells from Tipperary attended judged events during the festival.

Keriayn will continue to represent the Denver St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee at State and local functions as Queen Colleen until her successor is chosen this Fall.

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Sep 012011

The Olympians

It’s 2012 and it’s the Olympics in London,
A Scotsman, an Englishman and an Irishman want to get in, but they haven’t got tickets.
The Scotsman picks up a manhole cover, tucks it under his arm and walks to the gate.
“McTavish, Scotland,” he says, “Discus” and in he walks.
The Englishman picks up a length of scaffolding and slings it over his shoulder.
“Waddington-Smythe, England ” he says, “Pole vault” and in he walks.
The Irishman looks around and picks up a roll of barbed wire and tucks it under his arm. “O’Malley, Ireland ” he says, “Fencing.”

from Wendy & Noel Hickey

Mystery Man

Three scotswomen are walking home at night (they are neighbors) and find
a scotsman passed out partially under a wagon. His upper body is
under the wagon and they can’t see who he is; however, they would like to
help him get home.
The first woman looks under his kilt and says, “It’s not
my husband”.
The second woman
looks under his kilt and says, It’s not my husband”.
The third woman looks under his kilt and says, “Why he’s not
even from our village!”

Jack Yule (heard at Spanish Peaks Celtic Fest)

Dub Grub

Sign in a Dublin shop: OReilly’s Kentucky Fried Chicken.
If Colonel Sanders had had our recipe He’d have been a general!

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Nessie’s been sighted and it’s reported she’ll surface at the 48th Annual Colorado Scottish Festival and Rocky Mountain Highland Games on Saturday, August 13 and Sunday, August 14 at Highland Heritage Park, 9651 South Quebec (two miles south of
C-470)., this family-friendly festival is open from 9 a.m. to
10 p.m. on Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
For tickets, event schedule and information, contact the Festival hotline at 303-238-6524 or visit
Colorado Scottish Festival
Hosted by the St. Andrew Society of Colorado, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1963 to provide all persons the opportunity to pursue their interest in Scottish culture, the festival’s heritage can be traced back to Scottish fur trappers who carried on age-old homeland traditions in their Rocky Mountain encampments.

Attendees will experience the power of the massed Pipes and Drums on parade; the grace of Scottish and Irish Highland dancers; historic re-enactors staging mock battles; sheepherding, Birds of Prey and rugby demonstrations; and the comical antics of dogs of the British Isles. They can participate in Scottish country dancing and Tug-of-War; shop for traditional Scottish wares in the Market Square; and trace their ancestry and clan history at the Scots’ Heritage Centre. “Wee bairns” will have plenty of their own fun games and activities so parents can enjoy the day.

Four festival stages will offer non-stop Celtic music, and vendors will be selling such Scottish-Irish fare as haggis, Scotland’s savory “soul food”. Those of an age can enjoy a cold brew or wee drop of Scotland’s finest whiskey in one of several pub tents. Gentlemen wearing kilts are invited to enter the Bonny Knees Contest, judged by fair lassies.

The Rocky Mountain Highland Games will consist of fierce competitions in Highland dancing, piping and drumming, and traditional Scottish athletics, including the trademark caber toss (big, brawny men throwing heavy wooden poles).

During Midday Ceremonies both days, the skirl of the Massed Pipes & Drums will accompany a spectacular Parade of Clans and British dogs. On Saturday, the 5 p.m. Hot Piping Contest will be followed by a musical extravaganza from 7 to 10 p.m. featuring famed Celtic rock band, Seven Nations. On Sunday’s schedule — a British car show featuring MINI Coopers from the Festival’s Title Sponsor, Ralph Schomp MINI, and new and classic cars owned by members of MINI5280, the Motoring Society of the Rocky Mountain Region.

Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door. Admission: Adults, $17; Seniors (60+), Active Military, Children 7-11, $12; Children 6 and under, Free. Free parking available at Highlands Ranch High School, 9375 Cresthill Lane; and Rock Canyon High School, 5810 McArthur Ranch Road. Free shuttle from both locations.

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