swinburne 3k

When Denver resident Kerri Tiernan picked up a copy of the Celtic Connection June, 2008, and read a story about the Niall Mellon Township Trust (NMTT), she had no idea how it would change so many lives, including hers.

The NMTT story began in 2002, when Irish Developer Niall Mellon began replacing the unhealthy substandard shacks lived in by impoverished families in the townships of South Africa with clean modern homes. Since then, Mellon’s charity has taught hundreds of township youth construction skills, and has recruited hundreds more volunteers to travel to South Africa for an annual “Building Blitz.” They have celebrated over 20,000 homes being built, which equates to 100,000 people now in new homes, and just finished building a school in Kenya in November.
Before volunteers are clear to join NMTT, they must raise between five and six thousand dollars. About $2,000 goes to logistical costs including flights, hotels, ground transportation, medical insurance, meals, construction kit, etc. and remaining goes to the building project.
Upon arrival to South Africa, the volunteers meet up with their assigned teams made up of a veteran construction forman and trades, project leader, and other volunteers. Volunteers are trained in construction skills to help them build a house over the next 7 days. During the course of the week teams eat breakfast at 6AM, board a bus at 7AM, and are onsite working from 8AM to 5PM.

Kerri was moved by the NMTT story that she read in 2008 and began making enquires to Ireland for details. By July of 2010, Kerri had inspired 3 more friends (Kathy McGee, Trish Nathan, Heidi Weidemueller) to commit to also volunteer and raise the needed funds for the project. In November of that same year the Colorado quartet became the first volunteer group from the States to go to South Africa for the Building Blitz.
“We hopped on the plane in Denver headed toward Cape Town, South Africa not knowing a sole,” recalled Tiernan. “We were met half way there in Heathrow Airport by several of the Irish Volunteers heading to South Africa as well….the amount of volunteers traveling overseas was very impressive to see as we landed at the airport in Cape Town to a large and warm welcome from the locals. Since that trip, our group has been back two more times and we are slated for our fourth trip this March!”

While “Team USA” was South Africa bound, Ann Walsh from Dublin was going through a similar rookie experience. “From the time I was a teenager I always tried to do some form of charitable work, but kids and work had taken over in recent years, and I needed a challenge. So, rather nervously I boarded a plane in November 2010 for Capetown, knowing no one, and hoping some poor Irish soul would take pity on me, and look after me for the few days! What I got, I never ever expected! By the time our plane landed in Capetown I had made friends like no others. I had heard of many stories and fables and tales of what the next seven days would entail – but as one chap said to me – ‘you really need to experience this week! Absolutely hard work, grueling heat, and times of complete exhaustion…. but do you mind? Absolutely not one fig!’ For in true Irish spirit, 700 Irish (and not so Irish) folks all working for the one aim, housing people and clearing the townships – can only lead to a sense of wonderment and fun.”
Walsh became Teirnan’s roommate and a member of Team USA. Now a 3 year veteran herself, Walsh recalled some of the wonderment and fun that has come to fruition. “Playing with the tots and kids that were running around barefoot on the building site, seeing the expression on people’s faces when they saw brand new houses rise where only townships once sat, and finally the day of the hand over ceremony, where we were honored to pass a set of house keys to the new owners and show them around their new home.”

Kathy McGee, also a 3 year veteran from Colorado shares Walsh’s appreciation for her fellow workers and their goal of bettering lives, and how her NMTT experience has shaped her perspective on life. “It is such an inspiration to meet people who have volunteered for the charity for 10 plus years. They are committed to improving the lives of others and they come back year after year to continue to help build.” She is also uplifted by the people living in the townships. “The people that live in shacks are so resilient. We do tours of the shacks and talk to the people who live there. Most have lived their entire lives in a shack and can only hope to move into a house with a lock on the front door and a working bathroom inside. In most townships the toilet is outside the house. It is an experience when the people you surround yourself with during the week make you realize what is really important in life.”

Coloradoan Trish Nathan, 2 year vet, said that she struggles for the right words to describe how her NMTT experiences have changed her life. “We all joke when we are in South Africa that ‘you just really can’t explain the experience.’ Honestly, that really sums it up! I have never considered myself a philanthropist, but when you are in a room with 600 volunteers who are AMAZING people, you really start to re-think what life is all about…This experience made me realize that you don’t need material things to make you happy, you just need to surround yourself with people you love and people who bring out the best qualities that you have inside you.”
Nathan also echoed the sentiments of McGee in regards to the residents of the townships, who give back to the volunteers in their own precious ways. “It really resonates when you see the smiles, laughter and love of these families who live in a shack; they clearly don’t have the luxuries that we have, but still manage to keep their chin up and enjoy life. They enjoy singing, dancing, and praying with each other – which makes you realize they may have the secret of a happy life figured out.”

Niall Mellon’s philosophy and the exceptional operational structure of NMTT fosters an environment that makes the workers feel safe and secure, and have some fun along the way. This has a lot to do with the success of the Charity and why volunteers want to return to help. “Everything we need to do our job is provided for.” Said Tiernan, “We work hard all day, but after work there are organized events to relax and get to know your team better.” Nathan adds her accolade to the founder and chief, “ Niall Mellon is an incredible man who has a vision of helping others that we should all admire. You may hear people say, it is hard to make a difference as one person, but Niall Mellon did.”

Certainly the adage ‘One person can make a difference’ can be applied to all the volunteers at NMTT. When Tiernan ‘picked up the ball’ and ran with it in Denver 5 years ago she definitely made a positive difference in many lives. But she deflects the individual praise and will tell you about the larger group effort. “The biggest item that I take away each year is a sense of pride that we are, in fact, changing families lives by providing them with housing and some of the most basic needs. On the final day of the Blitz, we meet the families that are moving into these homes and out of the horrible living conditions that we have seen in their shacks. That final day is one none of us will ever forget. That day is possible because of all of our family, friends, and coworkers supporting the cause. We are all very lucky that we work for companies that support volunteering and making the world a better place. My employer, Enterprise Holdings, LLC has supported the cause financially since I started many years ago and has let me host fundraisers with my employees along the way as well! I am always very grateful to receive their support and find they all want a full report of the trip upon my return which is pretty cool!”
“Besides all of that, I would have to say the biggest benefit to me as I continue to go back to Africa with this charity is that actual ‘Celtic Connection’ that it has given to me. I have made many friendships with my fellow Irish volunteers and the NMTT staff in Dublin that I know I will have for a lifetime. I wanted to thank the paper for that! Because of the article that was written in your paper over 5 years ago, I can truly say…In me, you have made a solid “Celtic Connection”.

(Kerri would love to see more volunteers from the States. If you would like to be a member of “Team America” or help with a donation, please go to: www.nmtownshiptrust.com)

December 13 CC Ambassador Anne Anderson w-Tom Burke and Muara Clare

(photo: L-R Thomas Burke, Ireland’s Ambassador to the U.S., Anne Anderson, Maura Clare)

Irish Network USA board members Thomas Burke and Maura Clare recently represented the IN Colorado chapter at a national board meeting in Washington, DC. The IN USA is a newly incorporated umbrella organization for the Irish Networks that exist around the country. The national entity aims to advance relationships between Irish Network state and regional chapters to foster success in business, economic and social ventures.
The weekend conference began on the evening of Friday, November 8 with a reception at the Irish Embassy hosted by Ireland’s recently appointed ambassador to the United States, Anne Anderson. The next two days of meetings included presentations and workshops on chapter and national organizational issues, membership recruitment, event planning and fundraising. Guest speakers presented on topics such as social networking, philanthropy, immigration and journalism. One of the most rewarding aspects of the gathering were the informal conversations, sharing of information and brainstorming between the Irish Network volunteers who came from all over the country at their own expense. In addition to Colorado, there are currently IN chapters in DC, Boston, Chicago, the Bay area, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Phoenix, New Orleans, San Diego, Minnesota and Seattle, with more locations to be added in the coming year. http://irishnetworkco.com/

Denver Gaels Logo badge-large

(Denver Gaels introduce new logos)

by Sam Westmoreland — It’s been a busy month for the Denver Gaels, and things aren’t looking to slow down in December. November was headlined by the club’s Annual General Meeting, which featured plenty of changes for the club. First among them, the Gaels welcomed a brand new board.

Club chairman Tom Walsh will return for a second term, while Brian McCarthy takes over for Eamonn Ryan as vice chairman. Dermot Lynch replaces Nick Glassman as secretary, while Brian Arnold returns as treasurer. Here’s the full list of board members for the coming year:

Chair: Tom Walsh
Vice Chair: Brian McCarthy
Secretary: Dermot Lynch
Treasurer: Brian Arnold
PRO: Sam Westmoreland
Registrar: Nick Glasmann

General Committee Members:
Kyle Shane
Eamonn Ryan
Greg Phelan
Sarah Rhett
Dave Caughey
Kieran McCarthy
Katie Buckler

However, board members weren’t the only news from the meeting; the club is also pleased to unveil a new logo, which will be featured across the club’s website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, and all major club releases. The slick new design comes courtesy of member Adam Kiefert.

Finally, the club is prepping for a busy December. Indoor league rolls on through the month, and the club is prepping to celebrate Christmas. The annual Christmas party is scheduled for December 14th at the Celtic Tavern downtown. The party will provide good craic for the Irish community, and a chance to come together and celebrate the holiday season together. www.DenverGaels.com

Consulate General logo

Caption: Left to right: new Consul General of Ireland for the Western US, Philip Grant; Irish Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar; Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland. This picture was taken at the United Irish Cultural Center in San Francisco at an event celebrating the re-opening of the direct Aer Lingus route between San Francisco and Dublin in April, 2014.

Consul General Philip Grant assumed duty as Consul General of Ireland to the Western United States, in San Francisco, on 30 September 2013. From Dublin, Philip has been a diplomat with the Irish Foreign Ministry since 1992. Prior to his appointment as Consul General, he was Spokesperson and Director for Press and Media Relations in the Foreign Ministry for four years. He worked on the visits of Queen Elizabeth and President Obama to Ireland, the Global Irish Economic Forum and Ireland’s EU Presidency. He was previously posted to the United States in 1994-1997, when he served as Vice-Consul at the Consulate in Chicago covering the mid-west and southern United States. From 2006-2009 he was Deputy Head of Mission at Ireland’s Embassy to Turkey in Ankara; and from 2002-2006 he was based in Israel, as Deputy Head of Mission at the Irish Embassy in Tel Aviv. Consul General Grant has also served in the Middle East and Anglo-Irish Sections of the Irish Foreign Ministry in Dublin, and at Ireland’s Mission to the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. He is a Science graduate of Trinity College in Dublin. Philip will be aided in his work at the Consulate by new Vice Consul, Kevin Byrne. Kevin, a native of Dundalk in County Louth, is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and the London School of Economics. A Naughton scholar, he has worked internationally for national government, the European Union and in the think tank sector. He joined the Department of Foreign Affairs in 2010. Most recently he was seconded to the Department of the Taoiseach to plan Ireland’s successful 7th Presidency of the EU.

aldrich_mansion__large

By Jim Remington – -

I lived for over a decade just outside of the small southern New England town of Narragansett. The town was named after the Algonquian Native American tribe that had inhabited that area when the colonists first settled there. The town is at the mouth of Narragansett Bay with a beautiful setting on the ocean and smooth white sand beaches. A great place to surf and generally frolic in the ocean. Across the bay is the more famous Newport, Rhode Island. But in the 1920s and 30s, Narragansett rivaled Newport as the mansion capital and home to the rich and famous. Many spectacular mansions dotted the shoreline north and south of Narragansett. It was the heyday of the “Gatsby” era and life was lived large and rich. Sadly, most of those mansions have disappeared. Hurricanes, fires, age and demolition have taken their toll. But the legacy exists up to the present and the few great mansions that are left keep those distant memories alive. And those memories are also kept alive in the minds of those who lived that life and the connections that continue to the present. And this is where my story really begins.
I was traveling in the west of Ireland in the Connemara Gaeltacht area of County Galway. I had settled into a B&B set just back from the ocean on a small country road with stone walls bordering each side and blooming fuchsia hanging profusely over the tops. It was a beautiful area and reminded me a bit of my home in southern New England. After dinner, I decided to take a walk down the lane and do a little exploring. Maybe find a pub with some music or just wander and soak it all up. There was still plenty of daylight so time wasn’t a factor. As I poked along I passed several dairy farms and was greeted warmly by the few locals I passed. Mostly farmers finishing up with chores. As I passed the gate leading to one farm a Border collie came out to give me an obligatory bark. I own Border collies so I recognized the “hello” nature of the bark. Just then a soft, tiny voice said “Don’t worry, he won’t bite”. There stood, just behind the low fence, a women well into her 90s with the sweetest smile and flood of totally white hair a bit out of kilter. The dog was immediately by her side and calm. I liked this woman at once and knew I wanted to talk with her. I greeted her with a “hello” and mentioned that I had a couple of Border collies back home. We formed the “Border collie bond” and talked the pros (too smart) and cons (too smart) of the wonderful breed. The conversation opened up from there and she asked me where I was from. I told her the states, with no more particulars. I noticed a somewhat sad, distant look come over her face. She then explained that she had lived in the states for several years but had to return to Ireland because of a sudden death in the family. She said that her time in the states was the most enjoyable time of her life and she wished she could have returned but it never happened. Continuing the conversation I asked where she had lived in America and what she had done. “Narragansett, Rhode Island” was her immediate reply. Yes, you could have knocked me over with a feather. “I live in Narragansett!” I replied. Tears welled in her eyes. It was like she was seeing a ghost and I suppose in her mind I was. I didn’t have to wait for her story. She had left Ireland in her late teens with a great excitement of living in America and escaping the poverty of rural Ireland in the 1920s. An aunt living in America had arranged a job as a maid in one of the Narragansett mansions. She loved the job and the people she worked with. The ocean reminded her of the best part of the Ireland she had left behind. She had met a young man (also from Ireland) and they had hoped to get married. Meanwhile, I felt like I was talking to the woman in the “Titanic movie” who created and communicated a vision of the past from her memory. She escorted me into a time and life I knew a little bit about but not the personal details. And what a wonderful “movie” she narrated. She told me about the splendid mansions and the incredibly extravagant parties, the amazing food and spirits, the music and the flapper dancing of the 20s. She told me of walks on the beach at Narragansett Pier with her beau and their dreams of a life in America. Tears trickled from her eyes as she talked. I believe the tears were part pleasure to remember the past and part sadness at the loss of her dreams. I was there to listen. I now would know and think of Narragansett in a very different way.
Eventually her story slowly came to an end and I knew it was time for me to head back to my B&B. Over an hour had passed and I had been transported to another time and another life. How wonderful was that. She opened the gate to hug and say goodbye and of course I gave the Border collie some well – deserved attention. What a wonderful and tender evening it had been. And another magical serendipitous moment in Ireland.

Jim Remington is a teacher and director at the Lakewood School of Music in Lakewood, CO. and lives with his wife, 2 horses and 2 dogs in the Wet Mountain Valley near Westcliffe, CO. Jim can be reached at: remingtonlj@gmail.com.

Nov 112013
Peyton at the Abbey

Andrew Cudden & Glen Eastwood open the Abbey Tavern

(photo: Peyton Manning and Joe Montana in the Abbey parking lot)

Is it every Irishman’s secret dream to own a Pub? If the Irish pub scene in the Denver Boulder metro is an indicator you might think yes, as the majority of pubs are Irish owned and run.
This month you can add ex-Pats Glen Eastwood and Andrew Cudden to the list of Irish Pub owners when they open the Abbey Tavern at 5151 E. Colfax Avenue (303-321-5151).

Eastwood is no stranger to the bar business. Over the past decade in Denver, he has been a well-respected barman managing Casey’s Bistro & Pub and Fado Irish Pub. His transitions from pub manager to pub owner took a logical course. “I got into this business 11 years ago and found that it was something I really enjoyed, then I got to a point were I wanted my own place. Said Eastwood who added, “I drank in Irish pubs all my life and I have tried to build a pub that reflects all that is fun and inviting in an Irish pub.” Cudden, on the other hand owns a painting business in Denver, but made it clear that owning a pub was one of his goals. “I set up Emerald Isle Irish Painting company back in ‘98 and I have worked very hard to get it to this point, the next step for me was to hopefully own an Irish pub in Denver that I could be proud of.”

It took a while for Eastwood and Cudden to find the right space in the right location a space and after a few false starts they came across a building that was to become the Abbey. “We are in the Parkhill neighborhood and we really felt like Parkhill would be a great location for the type of bar that we had planned to build.” The Abbey is also located off a bus route and will share a parking lot with Nuggs Gourmet Ice Cream Shop (opening in January). Most urban business owners would be happy enough to have free parking onsite, however, Eastwood is already planning alternative use for the parking lot over that special time in March. “The building had such character and it also had a parking lot that we could use for the likes of St Patrick’s day!”

The Abbey Tavern is named after a bar in the fishing village of Howth, Ireland. The inspiration to name it so, came by way of the 5 archways that are visible from Colfax Avenue. “From very early in the plans we decided these would make great tables to put in garage doors and create 6 top tables with 3 people sitting inside the pub and 3 people out on the patio,” said Eastwood.

The Abbey will open for happy hour at 4pm Monday to Friday and at 10am Saturday and Sunday serving Brunch until 3pm. They will have a full kitchen serving food until 10pm Sunday through Thursday and open midnight Friday and Saturday. The menu will offer the Irish staples including Irish breakfast, beef stew, fish & chips, etc., and also a wide variety of appetizers and sandwiches. The social lubricants and food enhancers from the bar will include the usual Irish favorites on tap – Guinness, Smithwicks and Mangers as well as a wide variety of local brews on tap and in a bottle. According to Eastman they will open the Abbey with deals to attract new customers. “We will be offering a very aggressive happy hour Monday to Friday 4-7pm with all well, wine and draft at $3 and all apps $5.95. We will also be offering an all-day everyday special of $4 liquor feature and $3 pint feature.”

In the New Year the sounds of live Irish acoustic music will be heard on Monday nights and Geeks Who Drink bar trivia will bring in some fun folks on Thursday nights. Of course there will be dart boards inside and corhole and giant jingo to play on the patio. According to Eastman you also can bring your own electronics to play or communicate. “All tables inside and on the patio have been fitted with power so you will have no problem powering up those tablets and smart phones,…The modern world!” And don’t worry about missing any Bronco games as the lads have you covered with the NFL package!

Both Eastman and Cudden are beaming with pride with their dream pub that has come to fruition and look forward to sharing it with friends and neighbors. “We have put a lot of time and effort creating what we hope is a warm and welcoming Irish pub. We looked around locally and at home and took all the things we have liked in other places and incorporated those things with our own ideas to make best use of such a unique space.” Enthused Eastman and Cudden added, “We also hired a local artist to build our back bar out of stone and really nice aged wood, we are so happy with the results and we think you will be too.”

Stained Glass at Samhain

By Rodger Hara –

For over 200 years, societies around the world (including the United States) operated institutions called “Magdalene Asylums” in which prostitutes, mentally ill and/or handicapped women, orphan girls, women running from abusive relationships and girls thought to be too pretty and flirtatious were often placed for “rehabilitation” or to seek penance for their sins, real and imagined. In many of those facilities, women were free to leave and often did so after they were determined to be “rescued”.

Originally, the asylums in Ireland were Protestant institutions and in the early years of the 19th century, the Catholic Church appropriated their operation and converted them from short term “recovery” centers to long-term institutions whose existence was known to much of a society that knew little of what happened inside them. They became the infamous “Magdalene Laundries”, named after St. Mary Magdalene and the laundry work done to pay for operations as they received no public support. For many, death was the only way to escape.

In 1993, a former laundry on Leeson Street in Dublin southeast of St. Stephen’s Green was sold for redevelopment. In the process of demolition of the building and clearing of the site, the unmarked graves of 155 women were discovered. This led to intense scrutiny of the records, testimony from women who had been “penitents” in the laundries and came forth after the discovery, closure of the last laundry in Ireland in 1996 and the placing of a monument there called the “State Meant” memorial. The outcry led to an 18-month long official inquiry by the Irish government that resulted in a report that found the state guilty of turning a blind eye to the abuses and a public apology on behalf of an embarrassed state by Taoiseach Enda Kenney on February 19, 2013.

It also led Patricia Burke Brogan, born in County Clare and now living in Galway City to write a play called “Eclipsed” in the late 1980’s that presented a picture of life inside a laundry from the perspective of one of the penitents. A former nun whose experience working as staff in a laundry led her to resign from her position at the laundry and leave her orders, she had the direct knowledge to write the play. It was first produced in 1992 and received a Fringe First at the Edinburgh Theatre Festival that year and the Moss Hart Award in the US in 1994.

Brogan was also inspired to write a play in 2001 that bookends the story of the laundries with the perspective of a nun who worked in one. That play, “Stained Glass at Samhain” will have its American premiere in Denver this month. Directed by Eileen Kearney, an adjunct professor in the Theatre Department at the University of Colorado Denver, the play uses the destruction of a fictional laundry as a metaphor for the destruction of the laundry system and to make some powerful statements about the physical and mental abuses visited upon the women, the effect upon their minders and the spiritual healing and reconciliation of those involved. Kearney, with roots in Mayo, Roscommon and Cork, discovered the works of Brogan during her research into the lives of Irish women playwrights for her Master’s thesis while in Ireland.

The play stars Chip Winn Wells, a local actress with extensive stage and television experience as Sister Luke and features five UCD students filling out the rest of the cast. Performances will be November 14, 15, 16, 20, 21 and 23 at 7:30 PM in the King Center Theatre on the UC Denver campus. Judy Murphy, Arts and Lifestyle writer for the Connacht Tribune will be in Denver for the performance and lead a panel discussion after the performance on the 20th. For information and tickets, call 303.352.3883 or go to www.ahec.edu/kingcenter . In addition, there will be a free staged reading of scenes from” Eclipsed” and “Stained Glass at Samhain” in The Burns Room of the Celtic Tavern Downtown at 6 PM on November 18th . (See also Do Penance or Perish: Magdalene Asylums in Ireland by Frances Finnegan, Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries and the Nation’s Architecture of Containment by James M. Smith and Sex in a Cold Climate, documentary by Steve Humphries for more information.)
………………………………
Side Bar:
“Philomena”

In 1952, an unmarried and very pregnant Philomena Lee was sent by her father to Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, County Tipperary where she gave birth to a boy. She was forced to surrender the baby to the Church who arranged his adoption by an American family when he was three years old. Lee was sent to work in a home for delinquent boys operated by the Church in Liverpool. She later married, had two more children and late in life began searching for her son. At 11:30 AM on November 17th, as part of the starz Denver Film Festival, the UK movie “Philomena”, starring Dame Judi Dench as Philomena Lee will play at the Elaine Wolfe Theatre in east Denver. Based on the book “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee” by Michael Sixsmith, the movie tells the story of Lee’s search for and discovery of her son fifty years after his birth, the barriers thrown up by the Church and features a performance by Dench that is already generating Oscar buzz.

December 13 JJ Aldrich

By Luke Henderson –
Three Colorado fighters had MMA bouts across the United States on November 16 and all three tasted bitter defeat. While it’s not the first time any of the three; Nick Laney, Cody Donovan, or JJ Aldrich, have lost, for them it doesn’t make the sting of it any less harsh.
First up was Nick Laney, featured last month for his year spent training fighters in Cork, Ireland He lost his main event return at Sparta Combat League’s Lords of the Legion event by unanimous decision to Jared Deaguero. The always feisty Laney wasn’t pleased with the way the fight turned out for a number of reasons.
“I’m not happy with the way the fight went, not happy with my performance or the performance of my opponent. If I wanted to wrestle, I would have gone to college,” Laney said, referencing what was mostly a ground based fight. “I came to fight and feel like I did more damage and had him in trouble a couple times, definitely feel like I had more opportunity to finish the fight than he did. I learned from it and will come out a better fighter for it, but I feel like Jared robbed the fans off what could have been an awesome fight.”
Laney, out of Infinite MMA, now stands at 6-2 professionally.
Later in the day, Colorado’s favorite son, Cody ‘Donnybrook’ Donovan, kicked off UFC 167 against Gian Villante. The first round found Donovan dominating with crisp striking from both his fists and feet and it was clear right from the start that he was looking to make an aggressive statement. Donovan was clearly going for a highlight level ending when he threw a head kick in the second round, however the timing could not have been worse luck for him. At the same moment his foot caught his opponent’s shoulder, Villante connected with an overhand right that dropped Donovan to the mat and handed him a TKO loss.
Donovan, out of Elevation Fight Team and Easton Training Center, now stands at 8-4 professionally.
The day rounded out with amateur JJ Aldrich defending her Destiny MMA women’s flyweight title against Rachael Ostovich in Hawaii. Aldrich, one of the most decorated female fighters in the history of Colorado MMA and whom is nominated yet again for a number of awards, has heavy ties to the Irish community.
“My dad was born in Ireland and most of my family is full blooded Irish. I would like to one day go to Ireland to visit and learn more about the culture. I think it’s really cool that the Colorado Irish community supports MMA,” Aldrich, who now calls Aurora home, said.
But all of that support couldn’t help her overcome her first loss in over a year. Aldrich dropped her title by unanimous decision.
“Physically, I’m fine because I didn’t get hit. I feel I could have done more and there are some mistakes I made and opportunities I had in the fight that I didn’t capitalize on. I know she didn’t beat me because I beat myself,” Aldrich said.
Aldrich, out of Freedom Fighter and 303 Training Center, now stands at 6-4 as an amateur.
While fans may feel like it was a demoralizing date for Colorado-Irish fighting, it’s important to hold the context. If we judge the Irish by our win/loss ratio as a people, we would be well below anything close to a winning record. But our history is steeped in rich stories of gallant men and women who faced long odds and sometimes won, but often times lost…handily. The point of the battle was to enter it, never mind the odds or the eventual outcome. The best drinking songs seem to all end with the titular hero falling to some infinite glory. So be of stout heart fight fans, all of these fighters will be back and winning soon enough, and no matter what, we’ll still raise them up.
To that end, please take a moment to help us decide on the immortality of our local fighters. Voting is now open for the first ever Colorado Celtic ‘Club’ award, honoring the best Colorado Irish-American fighter for the year by naming them as the ‘Club’. Both Donovan and Aldrich are nominees, as well as a number of other worthy fighters. Take a moment to go here, https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/coIrish, and give your favorite warrior a vote.

Nick Laney Ireland

By Luke Henderson
Nick Laney is a decorated fighter based out of Infinite MMA in Loveland, Colorado. He holds wins over major names, titles, records. But a year ago the fighter decided the thing his career needed most was a bit more green, and relocated to Ireland. “I had heard about an opportunity to take over as the head of an MMA program in Cork and after thinking it over and consulting with my family and mentors, I decided to pursue it. I was there for a little over 11 months,” Laney said.
One of the standout fighters in Colorado, he made the unheard of move of not just changing states, but whole countries. Confusion was immediate from fans who wondered if perhaps he wasn’t going back to reconnect with some Irish roots that none knew about. “Yeah, with a name like Laney right? Well, my dad was adopted by a Laney, so no, not Irish by heritage. But you say I look Irish? Not sure, after being around those guys, that this is as much of a compliment as you think it is,” Laney said, with a good natured jab at his new found family in Ireland.
He speaks highly, nearly poetically, about his time on the Emerald Isle. “The best part was being able to experience a different culture and see another part of the world on someone else’s dime. I had a lot of fun meeting and getting to know my new team and helping them progress as martial artists. The team I ran is called The MMA Clinic, and there are a lot of talented, really hardworking guys there,” he said.
The big question, of course, was what did he do to fit in with the indigenous people of Ireland and did a certain popular drink help him acclimate? “The more I drank, the more Irish I felt. But what, Guinness? No sir. We drink Murphy’s in the real capitol of Ireland!” Laney said with a shout.
Imbibing of the drink is one thing, but food in another. Ireland has been long stereotyped by American consumers as being a land of lush fields and awful food, an ugly rumor Laney wants to put to rest right away. “Oh, the food! The food was great actually. A lot of people bad mouth it, but honestly if you know where to look they have some of the best meat and produce in the world,” he said.
But for fans of the sport, a big question is if MMA looks the same the world over. “They tap like you do, they get knocked out, they win. It’s all the same. A fight is a fight, everywhere you go,” Laney said.
Though he was a world away, Laney made headlines all the way back in the states in April with a Superman-punch, a leaping closed fist, that knocked out his opponent. “That was one thing I had been showing the guys in the gym. I said you could have fun and be effective in the ring. I had a great first round and started feeling really comfortable, so I tried a show-time kick in the second by the timing was a little off. My opponent gave me a high five for attempting it. Then he pressured forward and the range and timing was just too perfect and it hit and it dropped him,” Laney said.
Worldwide acclaim aside, Laney’s time in Ireland was not always perfect. The father of a young daughter, he spent a great deal of the time wondering about the moments he was missing back home.
“It was extremely difficult, definitely the hardest part of the whole experience. I missed thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, my daughter’s birthday, those are things you can’t get back. But I’m doing my best to make up for it now by spending as much time as I can with her,” Laney said.

Some of that time though, is now dedicated to preparing for his first fight since returning to the US. No sooner had the man known as ‘The Natural’ returned, than promoters were knocking on his door to get him back in the cage. He’ll be fighting for Sparta Combat League on November 16 at their ‘Lords of the Legion’ show at the Grizzly Rose. “I’m excited to be fighting for Sparta again. I look forward to any time I can punch someone in the face and not go to jail,” Laney said with a laugh.
Laney is 5-1 as a professional and 13-2 lifetime. Out of all of those fights, stretching back to 2008, only one has gone to a decision. So he has reason to be confident. “My opponent is supposed to be a pretty good wrestler but I’m confident in my skills wherever the fight goes. If I don’t KO him before we hit the ground then you’ll get to see him tap out instead,” Laney promised.
Laney returns to Colorado from Cork to an adoring family, an improved level of competition, and a renewed interest in the sport locally. While new fans may not know him, those that remember are ready to embrace his winning style once more and welcome him back from the land of the fairy folk, to the Rocky Mountains.

Photo Credits:
Fight Poster: Photo Provided by Sparta Combat League
Picture0002-Nick Laney prepares to engage an opponent. Photo provided by Nick Laney
Picture0003-Nick Laney enjoys the Irish countryside. Photo provided by Nick Laney

Denver Gaels Yanks team champs

As we move into the holiday season, the Denver Gaels have a very full calendar of events and fun planned for their members and friends of the club.
Twelve American-born members of the Denver Gaels’ Men’s Hurling team were joined by thirteen members of the Indianapolis Hurling Club to compete in the first ever Aer Lingus International Hurling tournament held throughout County Galway, Ireland, September 18 through 23.
The tournament was the first of its kind, organized by the Irish government as part of The Gathering, a national event meant to bring the Irish diaspora around the world back to their native lands.
The joint Denver/Indy team won each of its three group-stage games to qualify for the final Saturday at Pearse Stadium in Galway City. The team followed up their strong group showing with another impressive victory in the Championship game, making them Junior B Hurling world champions.
Their undefeated run was a particularly great accomplishment because the squad had never played together before arriving in Ireland, and only had one training session as a team before their first match. Additionally, the Denver and Indy teams had competed against each other in the Junior B Premier Division Finals at the North American Championships over Labor Day weekend.
Denver /Indy played Buenos Aires in the finale game, when the whistle blew Denver/Indy were champions! Co-Captains Mike Monahan of Indianapolis and Patrick Folan of Denver led the teams up to receive their well-earned trophy. With that, the celebrations commenced and continued well into Sunday around Galway town.
The victory made the Gaels and Indianapolis GAA the first non-Irish club side to win a trophy in Ireland, and adds to what is an already impressive resume of achievements for both clubs.
The Club would like to thank bainisteoir (manager) Brian Shoemaker of Indy Hurling Club, and Maor Foirne (supporting staff): Brian Mathes of Indy, and Eamonn Ryan and Brian McCarthy of Denver, for their work in blending the two squads into a championship-panel. The club also sends its thanks and appreciation to Jeffrey Lynskey of Liam Mellows GAA for taking the time to mentor the team during the tournament. We also wish to thank Aer Lingus, Etihad Airlines, the GAA, the NACB, and the Liam Mellows GAA Club, for organizing and hosting us with such gracious hospitality. Lastly and most especially our club members, friends and family who traveled to Galway to support the team. You were definitely the loudest group of supporters and very much appreciated by the players.
Please join us in welcoming the team back to the States and celebrating their title win on Friday, October 4th, at Dougherty’s Pub.
With the club’s celebration of their World Championship a rousing success, November sees the club’s indoor league get underway. The club are hosting the matches at the South Suburban Sports Dome in Centennial, every Wednesday night. The league will feature both hurling and Gaelic football, and we’re looking forward to having the chance to shake off some of the post-Ireland trip rust, and showing off the sports we love to a whole new audience in Centennial.

But, it’s not just pub league getting underway in November; the club’s Annual General meeting is taking place on Sunday, November 3rd, at the Celtic Tavern. There, the club will be determining their plan for the next year and electing new board and committee members.

On top of that, the club is looking forward to the annual Christmas party on December 14th, hosted by the Celtic tavern. It’ll be another great opportunity to celebrate the holidays together in traditional Irish fashion, and there’s sure to be plenty of craic to enjoy.

With everything going on in the coming months, the Gaels are making sure the winter months are anything but slow. www.DenverGaels.com

………………………………………………………………………

Gaels/Fenians Photo captions
The Denver Gaels B team outmatched the fledgling Colorado Fenians Hurling team on October 20 at Veterans Park, Denver. Both teams worked hard and provided good entertainment to the fans watching. Afterward everyone shook hands in good sportsmanship.
With the addition of the Fenians, there are 2 GAA teams based in Denver Colorado!

Gaelic Storm 2013-Promo-photo-with-Kiana

Celebrate the “Celtic New Year” with the world-music scene’s preeminent Celtic party band, Gaelic Storm, Friday November 1st at the Gothic Theatre!
Gaelic Storm came to worldwide attention when they were seen as the energetic band playing during the steerage party in the block buster movie, Titanic.
Since then, the irrepressible band continues to perform their signature acoustic, indie-folk -rock and world grooves with Celtic tradition, in concert to enthusiastic fans over 200 days a year!

Their ten recordings have been on the top side of Billboard’s World Music Charts including “The Boathouse” which was just released in September. The always witty band were quick to comment,
“We can’t believe it. Without iTunes, Amazon, or retail stores of any kind, we managed to hit #1 on the Billboard World Albums chart for the FOURTH TIME! We didn’t even have to twerk on live TV. We can’t thank you guys enough. GS fans are the best there is!”

The Boathouse is described by the band as “Classic songs of the sea – Recorded in one whiskey fueled week in a boathouse on The Chesapeake Bay.” The songs contain tales “From New York to Cork City, Liverpool to Mobile Bay, from Greenland to Hawaii: Pirates, Slave Traders and Johnny Jack Tarrs aboard Three Skysail Yarders and Fully Rigged Clippers face the dangers of the mighty whale, the roaring wind, the crashing ocean, the flying cannon balls and the ladies of ill repute.”
The Boathouse has inspired the band as a new way of making music. They refer the idea of traveling to a remote location in order to record for one week as the “Small Batch Sessions.” Pressing a limited amount and offering it only on their website and at live concerts, they make their CD exclusive.

Gaelic Storm is: Patrick Murphy (Cork City, Ireland) Vocals, Accordion, Harmonica; Steve Twigger (Coventry, England), Vocals, Guitar, Bouzouki; Ryan Lacey on drums and world percussion; Kiana Weber on fiddle (USA) and Pete Purvis ( Merrickville, Ontario) Uillean pipes, tin whistle, daeger pipes and highland pipes (a Grade 1 piper who toured with award winning pipe bands).
Friday, November 1st, 2013, Showtime: 7:30 PM Doors Open: 6:30 PM
Gothic Theatre, 3263 South Broadway, Englewood, CO 80113-2425
All Ages (under 16 w/parent or guardian) – General Admission
Advance Tickets: $22.00 Day of Show Tickets: $27.00
Tickets available online www.gothictheatre.com
(subject to service and handling fees).
Info: Celtic Events 303-777-0505

swinburne 3k

FRIDAY OCTOBER 25, 8:00PM Show
7:00PM Doors (Wear circa 1800’s/Rocky Mountain costume – prizes for best costume)
Historic Rialto Theater, 228 E. 4th Street, Loveland , CO
$22 Group (10), $25 Advance, $29 Door All Ages Show / All Seats Reserved
Tickets available online rialtoloveland.ticketforce.com or call 970-962-2120 or reserve in person at the Rialto Theater Box office, or Medeiros Music, 129 E. 5th St., Loveland.

One of the all-time best Irish bands in the world will perform their high octane tunes and songs at the Historic Rialto Theater in Loveland October 25th – with a Rocky Mountain twist!
SOLAS, “Irish America’s most influential band” (NPR’s The Thistle and Shamrock), present Shamrock City: a multi-media show of original music, and featuring remarkable photos and stories from turn-of-the-century copper boomtown Butte, MT. Inspired by a family story of immigration, mining and murder, SOLAS and bandleader Seamus Egan will take you on the unforgettable journey of his great-great uncle Michael Conway’s life in Ireland and mysterious death in America.
The band’s recent album, Shamrock City, is in the same vein of high level of musicianship associated with SOLAS, but their newfound connection to the Rocky Mountain west has struck a mother lode of new passion in the band’s music.
Wear your circa 1800’s Rocky Mountain themed costume to the newly renovated Historical Loveland Theater on October 25th (the Friday before Halloween!) and be a part of the party – you just know it’s going to be a great night of entertainment!

What the Press is saying about Shamrock City:
“SOLAS populates their newly-minted, wily western landscape with gamblers, drinkers and women…a richly-textured musical backdrop that could be a first- cousin-once-removed of Springsteen’s The Seeger Sessions.” – Siobhan Long, The Irish Times
“[Shamrock City is] a deeply thoughtful, imaginative collection of songs which grapple with the wealth of ideas and emotions inherent in the immigrant journey…” – Kim Ruehl, Folk Alley
“Shamrock City mixes rough-hewn Celtic melodies with voices sweet enough to savor the pain.” – Jim Farber, New York Daily News
“Wonderful” – Gwen Orel, Speakeasy (Wall Street Journal culture blog)
“…this could be a landmark recording, and in some aspects it might very well be the best one they have ever done, which is saying something given the “supernova” status of their early years…” Paul Keating, Irish Central

© 2015 Celtic Connection Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha