August 15 CC Belfast_1

Mile High Belfast Bash
(Editors Note/Photo:
Although she claims to be much better at GAA football,l Rosa Carragher of the Belfast Youth Circus (BYC), took time to show some moves with the hurly while in Denver last month.
Rosa and other members of BYC were in Colorado performing and training together with the Salida Youth Circus. On their final full day they performed in Denver and afterwards went to relax at the home of Susan Morrice, a native of Belfast. At the Morrice residence they were treated to a pool party and barbec

Rosa from Belfast Circus gave a few "hurling" pointers to Denver audience

Rosa from Belfast Circus gave a few "hurling" pointers to Denver audience

ue co-hosted by Mary Ryan, Tess Julian, and Maura Clare.)
Mile High Belfast Bash
by Rodger Hara (from August 2015 Celtic Connection newspaper)

Jennifer Dempsey is a remarkably talented lady who once performed with the Belfast Circus and returned to Colorado where she founded the Salida Circus (http://www.thesalidacircus.com/index.html) in 2007. Since then, with the help of the Salida Circus Outreach Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, and donations from many people and organizations across the world, the Salida Circus has performed in Colorado, New Mexico, California and elsewhere in the west. The adult performers work with members of the Salida Boys and Girls Club and teach them the “Twelve Circus Skills” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Circus_skills ) along with life skills. One of the highlights of the year for each class of youth performers is a visit from young adult/teen (ages14-19) members of the Belfast Circus who spend two weeks performing with and training the kids in the Salida Circus. The Belfast group stays with host families in Salida and is able to get away into the cool fresh air of the mountains.

A highlight of their visit to Colorado is a performance for the residents of the Hope Communities and Mercy Housing projects in east Denver on the border with Aurora. On what was once a vacant lot decorated with weeds, broken glass and discarded needles next to Mercy Housing’s Grace Apartments where boys once played soccer barefooted, members of the staff of Mercy Housing spearheaded an effort to create a park. Now called New Freedom Park it is maintained by the City and County of Denver and is next to a community garden space. There, the Astroturf-covered park with its concrete-walled border provides a safe open space for the residents of Mercy’s Grace Apartments and Hope Communities’ Hidden Brook Apartments and other children in the neighborhood to gather and play.

On July 13th, the day before the kids from Belfast returned home, the park provided the venue for a one-ring circus sponsored by Hope and Mercy, with a ring-master, clown, magician, juggling, floor acrobatics, fabric performance, low trapeze, balloon animals and much, much more. The multi-cultural cast from Northern Ireland and Western Colorado wowed the even more diverse audience of adults and children from Southeast Asia and East Africa with their acts and then after the show, worked with the children in the audience to teach them a few tricks and routines.

That evening, all were treated to a barbecue and party coordinated by Mary Ryan at the lovely home of Susan Morice where all the performers got to be kids and swam in the pool, paddled around the pond and sang for each other. The Belfast kids received bright green souvenir tee shirts courtesy of the Colorado Irish Festival and the Colorado kids were presented with Boulder author/photographer Tom Quinn Kumpf’s brilliant book of pictures and stories “Ireland – Standing Stones to Stormont” courtesy of Mary, and Susan gave everyone a copy of “The Magic in You” by Emma Maree.

The differences in language and geography and culture were rendered moot by the universality of the fun and the remarkable bridge across cultures provided by the circus. A wonderfully fun time was had by all. (Please go to the Celtic Connection Facebook page to see an album of photos from the visit: www.facebook.com/celtic.rockies )

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