By Luke Henderson – - -
The lows of 2013 have quickly been replaced by highs in 2014 for fighter Maureen ‘Baby Face’ Riordon. After injuries kept her on the shelf and fights fell through, prospects for her career reaching the heights she hoped for were dimming.
“Literally the same week I had surgery, they announced there were tryouts for women in my weight-class for The Ultimate Fighter and I locked myself in my room and cried,” Riordon said, talking about the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) reality program that ends with fighters receiving contracts.
But setbacks like that are in the past and Riordon made her own headlines in March with the announcement that she had not only signed a contract with national MMA organization Resurrection Fighting Alliance (RFA) but had also signed one to make her professional fighting debut in a kickboxing match for the internationally known ‘Glory’ promotion, which is set to make its Denver debut at the 1st Bank Center on May 3 with GLORY 16.
Riordon sees the opportunities before her and intends to grasp them tightly.
“It’s a great chance not just for me, but for the community. Women’s MMA is a growing sport and the last year has been incredible. Things like this, things like fighting for RFA and for GLORY, all of that is an opportunity for me to show what I can do, but also for all of us to bring attention to Denver and Colorado and bring in organizations like this,” Riordon said.
While RFA is well known in the state, fans may be unclear just how large the news is regarding GLORY coming to town. The ‘16’ show will be broadcast on SPIKE TV and will be their immediate follow-up to a show in Istanbul. Billed as the world’s premier kickboxing league, the organization’s decision to come to Denver brings in a great deal of attention, revenue and pride to the state.
All of this Riordon is well aware and eager to justify through her performance, but she gets downright giddy when talking about the venue.
“Of course fighting at the 1st Bank Center is a dream come true. I can’t even put into words what fighting there, in my pro debut, means. There are no words to be able to be there with my family, friends and fans, to see me on that stage. No words. I would have to draw a picture,” Riordon said with a laugh.
But as she prepares for this next step in her career, Riordon is not losing sight of where she has come from. m“Adopted at birth, I take pride in the Irish heritage gifted to me by my family. That last name became my entire identity, my heritage. I hope the Irish community will embrace me, as I have so profoundly embraced them. Faugh A Ballagh!” Riordon shouted. ‘Clear the way!’
Riordon intends to make 2014 the best year of her fighting career and with the opportunities laid before her the sky seems to be the limit.
To purchase tickets for GLORY 16, May 3 at The 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, go to www.altitudetickets.com.
By Luke Henderson – - -
John Gillis A visiting Irish manuscript conservator who conserved the Faddan More Psalter–the 8th-century manuscript that was found in a bog in Co. Tipperary in 2006. A lecture about this Treasure from the Bog will be in Colorado Springs: lecture–7 pm, Wednesday, April 30, Gaylord Hall, Worner Center (NW corner of Cascade and Cache L Poudre), Colorado College; and a reception at Heller Center, UCCS, Friday, May 2, 4 – 6 pm. Both events are free and open to the public. For more information, see (for Colorado College lecture): http://www.coloradocollege.edu/events/2014-04-30-treasure-from-the-bog-the-faddan-more-psalter#.U1BdO1yIzFI or (for reception at UCCS): http://www.uccs.edu/heller/events.html or contact: email@example.com
This lecture tells the story of the discovery of the Faddan More Psalter, an early medieval
manuscript unearthed from a peat bog in Co. Tipperary in the summer of 2006. The manuscript was probably written in about 800 in one of a number of monasteries in the area. A unique feature is that the inside of the leather cover is lined with papyrus, probably as a stiffening, an indication of the links between the Irish and Coptic churches at the time
Gillis will discuss the many new and exciting discoveries were made during the lengthy and difficult task of conserving this important archeological find, which had survived in an extreme environment for over a millennium and examine how that same environment was somewhat responsible for its survival. In
conservation terms much of the technique employed was developed as work progressed due to
the unique nature of the project, with little in the way of comparative work existing.
The contents of manuscript will be examined, which contains the fragmented remains of the one hundred and fifty Psalms from the Old Testament and includes areas of illumination and decorated
lettering. We will see the cover in remarkable original condition; possibly the only one of its kind in
Western Europe and one of only a handful of extant original early medieval Western book covers.
Gillis will draw comparisons with structures that hail from lands as far away as Egypt. We will also
look in detail at some of the surprise features from the cover that have raised more questions than
answers but without doubt will play an important role in adding to the history of book making and
monastic life in early medieval Ireland.
By Luke Henderson –
Word came down the final week of March that fan favorite MMA fighter, Boston’s own Jason ‘The Dragon’ Lee (6-4), would be returning to the cage in Colorado once more. This time he’ll be facing Jeremy Hart (8-3) at Sparta Combat League’s ARMY VS MARINES V event on April 26. Lee, coming off a win in late 2013, is ready to put on a show at the Budweiser Event Center in Loveland. “I’m very excited to tap into a new promotion and possible a couple of new fans in Northern Colorado,” Lee said. He’s up against a very seasoned and talented fighter in Hart. “From what I’ve seen of Jeremy’s fights, he’s got a lot of heart. We all know I’m born of that fabric,” Lee said.
This fight card is special in that it utilizes as many servicemen as possible on it and promoter Jeff Cisneros gives away 3000 tickets to military members to enjoy the show and while Lee appreciates all the men and women of the armed services do, that doesn’t stop him from getting in a good natured verbal shot at Hart.
“I believe Jeremy was in the Army at one point and while I appreciate his service, I was raised in a Marine Corps family and well, since I was born, let’s just say I’ve known the difference. Semper Fi, do or die!” Lee exclaimed.
Lee has been on the shelf since late 2013 due to a fight falling through and now he’s ready to breakout in 2014. “St. Paddy’s has just passed and boy am I ready to shine in spring time. New life, new blood and I’m promising one hell of a banger on April 26, well…as long as Jeremy’s chin will hold up,” Lee said.
To buy tickets, go to www.comcasttix.com.
On Friday, April 25th at Swallow Hill, Folk Ragoût will be performing and collaborating with Lights Along the Shore, the brilliant trio of UW professors Rod Garnett (flutes), Blake McGee (clarinets), and Lisa Rickard (piano).
The evening will include Folk Ragoût playing and singing French and Irish music, and Lights Along the Shore will play a great Moldovan/Romanian set. We’ll also combine for some Irish-French-Romanian-Moldovan madness.
Lights Along the Shore is known for their extraordinary virtuosity, musicality, and creativity and they rarely come to Colorado, so don’t miss them! 303-777-1003.
By Luke Henderson —
(Black and white front cover photo of Tracy Jones by Francisco Estevez Photography. Flower pattern background from Tracy Jones dancewear company “Tulips by Tracy”)
The Irish call those that have emigrated from the country with the affectionate term ‘wild geese’ and bird imagery has often been used within the world of ballet. With Ireland-born Colorado Ballet star Tracy Jones, the two fit perfectly together.
For Jones, who was born in Cork, dancing has been with her seemingly forever. At age five her mother, a dancer growing up herself, enrolled her in ballet classes. A love was born and soon she was ready for the next step. “It wasn’t until I was 11 and I auditioned for a spot at The Royal Ballet School that I realized I wanted to really focus on classical ballet,” Jones said.
That early investment and keen focus has earned her a spot within one of the most prestigious ballet troupes in America and while she’s enjoying her time in Colorado, she admits she wishes for a chance to be reminded of home a bit more by connecting with our Celtic community. “I would very much like to become more involved with the Irish community and meet fellow countrymen. I do always smile though when I see an Irish bumper sticker on cars around town or hear an Irish accent when I am out and about,” Jones said.
But free time for someone so dedicated is limited, especially when attempting to keep up with not only the demands of her craft, but a love for it and desire to see it respected. “I believe that dance and the arts are not only important, but a necessary part of any community. Colorado Ballet has very talented dancers from all over the world and the level of the company in my opinion is world class. In most cosmopolitan cities and especially in Europe, any great metropolis will have a great ballet company. Denver has this by being home to Colorado Ballet, but I think that we have to help our community recognize this,” Jones said.
If the Colorado Ballet keeps up its high level of professionalism, the community will have no choice but to follow. Currently it is closing out its very successful 2013-2014 season. “It has been really fantastic,” Jones said about the season, before detailing her accomplishments within it, which included performing in; a pas de deux (a tango piece choreographed by ballet mistress Lorita Travagli), Giselle, The Nutcracker, Cinderella and finally in the Ballet Director’s Choice where she will be featured in The Last Beat.
Through rigorous performance seasons, surgeries and even continental changes of location, Jones knows just what keeps her dancing. “Being on stage. Although we put in a lot more hours into being in the rehearsal studio and keeping our bodies in shape and healthy, it is all worth it when we get to the theatre. Having the opportunity to share this art form with an audience is such a privilege and for me, there is no other feeling like it,” Jones said.
As for Ireland, her love of it is a feeling unlike any other as well. “I believe that where you come from is always very important and for me, although I haven’t lived there in a long time, Ireland will always have a very special place in my heart,” Jones said.
While that place may be large, Jones makes it clear she could not be happier where she is. When asked if there has ever been a moment she just stops and thinks about her dreams coming true, she replies without hesitation. “Honestly, I tend to feel like this most of the time when I am on stage,” Jones said.
The art of ballet can be both mesmerizing and intimidating to those beholding it. But behind the hours of practice, years of study, decades of dedication and centuries of history, lay the stories of the performers that make up the pageantry of this art. Tracy Jones, born of Ireland, resident of Denver, is one of those stories and the Colorado Celtic community is fortunate to have the chance to be a small part of her story.
If you wish to follow and support Tracy Jones, she stresses her desire that everyone come and see the Colorado Ballet perform. However to follow her directly you can find her on Twitter @tracyannejones, on her website www.tracyjones.weebly.com, or follow her business of ballet skirt creation at www.tulipsbytracy.com.
As the weather warms and the ground thaws, the Gaels have plenty of events going on.
The Hurling Pub League ramps up to high gear as players shake off the last of the rust and start chasing the Cup in a big way. They’ll also ramp up our gaelic football training in preparation for the start of Football Pub League in May.
Social event s are also a big part of the Gaels, so if you are interested as a player or supporter stop by www.DenverGaels.com
By Luke Henderson —
(photos: Canaan Grigsby above; Jason Clayton below)
Two of Colorado’s fighting Irish community, Jason Clayton (7-4) and Canaan Grigsby (2-1), are set to face off in separate matches this month on the Fight to Win MMA, ‘Animals’ card. Both men are veterans of the local fighting scene and were nominees for the 2013 Celtic ‘Club’ award.
Grand Junction’s Jason Clayton will be facing Cody Mumma (5-1) in the co-main event of the evening. It might be an uphill battle for the Celtic Clayton, who will be looking to rebound from two straight losses. His fight is against a very tough Mumma who has won five straight since losing in 2012.
Clayton knows the fight is a tough one, but that’s the only kind he likes.
“I want to fight the best fighters every time I step in the cage. It is about testing myself and my discipline. I truly love the competition part of this sport,” Clayton said.
He hopes The Celtic Connection readers will turn out to support him in Denver.
“I’m mainly Irish and Indian. Both very proud heritages. I just seem to identify more with the Irish side. I genuinely love fighting and it just seems to be a natural part of that heritage. People should come out and watch this fight to show support for all fighters involved. Most importantly to see two great, talented fighters test their skills,” Clayton said.
While fight fans are excited about the Clayton/Mumma match, tongues are wagging for the grudge match of the year when Canaan ‘The Super Beast’ Grigsby collides with Jeremiah Talley (1-1). A considerable amount of bad blood exists between the two men and a war of words has gone on stretching back to 2013. Grigsby, a fan favorite firebrand of a fighter, credits his toughness to his heritage.
“I’m from hardworking people. My grandparents worked their asses off to make it and give life to our family and that means something to me. My grandmother actually ‘homesteaded’ her property so yeah we are a people of this earth and whether we were born in Ireland like my great grandparents and great-great grandparents, or born right here on this Native-American land, I am honored to carry my last name,” Grigsby said.
Two more of Colorado’s Irish-American community are set to display their skills on April 18 at the National Western Complex in Denver. To support these fighters you can purchase tickets through www.fighttowinmma.com. Scheduled 12 Fight card to begin at 7PM.
Irish Network-Colorado (INCO) welcomes all the Irish-American community and everyone who loves Irish story and music to once again join them for a special afternoon. “ Last year’s event was such HUGE FUN, we just have to do it again!” enthused the INCO press release when announcing the return of “Sure the Craic was 90: An afternoon of Irish Story and Song.” The event will be anchored by Storyteller Liz Weir with special guest musicians/singers Celtic Friends and take place at The Celtic Tavern, The Celtic Tavern, 1801 Blake Street, Denver, Saturday, April 12 at 2:30p.m. Folks are invited to arrive early to have lunch and socialize. Tickets are $10 in advance via www.irishnetworkco.com
Liz Weir is a storyteller and writer from Cushendall , Northern Ireland, who has told her stories to children and adults on five continents. The first winner of the International Storybridge Award from the National Storytelling Network, which cited her “exemplary work promoting the art of storytelling within Ireland and between other countries,” Weir has once again been nominated for this year’s Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. She is in Colorado to participate in the Conference on World Affairs held April 7-11 at the CU campus in Boulder (www.colorado.edu/cwa).
INCO hosted Film, Food, and Fun last month at Katie Mullen’s in Denver. (photo) Seamus Blaney, Eleanor Burns, and other members and friends of INCO shared many laughs as they watched the hilarious documentary “The Irish Pub” and then listened to local Irish born publicans sharing stories about doing business in Denver vs. the ‘Old Sod.’
The 2014 Conference on World Affairs (CWA) will take place April 7th through 11th at University of Colorado campus, Boulder. Originally founded in 1948 as a forum on international affairs, the conference expanded rapidly in its early years to encompass the arts, media, science, diplomacy, technology, environment, spirituality, politics, business, medicine, human rights, and so on. Roger Ebert, who participated in the CWA for four decades, always referred to the CWA as “the Conference on Everything Conceivable.”
Included among the participants from around the world are performer, storyteller, writer, Clare Muireann Murphy originally from Ireland, now based in London. Storyteller Liz Weir from Northern Ireland will be making her 14th appearance to the event! More information and schedules are at www.colorado.edu/cwa.