July 12 CC cover

The 18th Annual Colorado Irish Festival:
Frankie Gavin & DeDannan · The Young Dubliners · The Clancy Legacy · Comas · The Elders · The Fighting Jamesons · The Brazen Heads · Colcannon · The Hounds of Finn · Gob’s O’Phun · Skean Dubh · Lougheed · Delilah’s Revenge · Empty Pockets ·
The Stubby Shillelaghs · Strictly Irish · Pipe Band Competition · Irish Dance Feis · Irish Sports · Cultural Village & Pub · Storytelling · Kids Area · and more

Dates/Times: Friday, July 13th, 5pm – 10pm (5-6pm FREE Admission)
Saturday, July 14th, 10am – 10pm
Sunday, July 15th, 10am – 7pm

Cost: Free for Kids 12 and under all weekend! Free Parking & Shuttle!
Friday, Free for all who arrive at the Festival Main gate 5pm – 6pm.
After 6pm, $10 per person (12 & under Free).
Saturday & Su
nday Advance: $12, $10 Seniors over 65, students with
valid ID and Military personnel with active ID, (12 & under Free).
Saturday & Sunday at Gate: $15, $10 for Seniors over 65, students with
valid ID and Military personnel with active ID, (12 & under Free)
Catholic Mass Sunday 9:00 AM
CLEMENT PARK, 7306 W Bowles Ave, Littleton, Colorado 80123
(Southwest area by Johnson Reservoir)
Advance tickets will be available at King Soopers or online at


Tiffany Antikainen returned to Denver from Ireland last month feeling a bit surreal. After being picked to serve as Denver’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade Queen Colleen months ago, she was asked to represent Denver at the Rose of Tralee Regional Finals. A series of fundraisers later, she was off to Ireland to the Regional Finals which took place from May 30th to June 3rd 2012 at the Portlaoise Heritage Hotel, Co Laois. The Judges at the National Finals liked Tiffany so much that they chose her among other regional Roses to return for the Rose of Tralee International Festival in August in Tralee, County Kerry.
The 22 year old student, human resource and payroll officer for the family business, Industrial Battery Service, Inc., and competition piper with the Michael Collins Pipes and Drums, was ecstatic to say the least! “My mom, Chrissy, and my aunt Lisa from Minnesota came to Ireland with me. We arrived about a week early to take a tour of Ireland since it was our first times there. We figured “well, this could be a once in a life time opportunity to be there, we may as well make the most of it! .. Who would have thought we would be returning again SO soon! Now I’m looking at tickets to go BACK to Ireland for the Rose of Tralee International Festival!”

As much as Tiffany is looking forward to returning to Ireland in August, she joyfully looks back at her trip to Ireland for the Regionals . “I could not believe how quickly I fell in love with Ireland. People told me before I left how amazing it would be, how beautiful the country was, how extremely friendly the Irish people were and what to expect of the weather. This did not prepare me at all. Everything I was told about needed to be magnified by 10, that’s how exceptional it was!”
She learned first hand that the ‘world famous Irish hospitality’ is not an exaggeration. “The second people found out you were not a local – not hard to tell from my so-called “American Twang”- they would go out of their way to make small talk, help with my luggage onto a train, give directions and local tips of places to check out in each town. I was amazed at how self sacrificing of their time they were, simply to make my trip a little easier… and all this was BEFORE they found out I was a Rose. The second people found out I was a Rose out came the Red Carpets! We had taxi drivers who asked if we were there on holiday slam on their brakes when they found out they had a Rose in their car!”
Pre-pageant Tiffany and entourage toured the west and the south of Ireland. “I fell in LOVE with the Cliffs of Moher as well as the small town of Killarney. Every town we went to I fell in love with the country even more. In the small towns I was able to experience ‘true Irish Coffee’, the best tasting Guinness, and talented, local, traditional musicians.”

Before Tiffany took off to Ireland she daydreamed about the possibilities of meeting new friends from around the world in her circle of contestants. “I thought to myself, ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be cool to really connect with one of the girls in a lifelong friend kind of way? I would love to just really hit it off with one or two of the girls.’” Little did Tiffany know that she was in for a pleasant surprise. “I must admit I was shocked when immediately after I arrive at the hotel in Portlaoise I was greeted by 54 new, incredible family members. The Roses talk about the “Rose family” with the saying “Once a Rose, always a Rose”. This proved to be so much more than a saying; it is extremely accurate to describe the bond that all of us girls now share. In fact many of the girls are already traveling together, visiting each other’s homes etc. It is amazing the bond all of us created in such a short amount of time.”

Even the pageant process was fun and relaxed, Tiffany described. “The entire process was extremely laid back, there was never a time when I felt “judged” or uncomfortable. Every person who was there, judges included, were there to have a good time, to become part of a larger global Irish community and to celebrate all the amazing women there.”
The actual time Tiffany and contestants spent on stage was a very miniscule part of the decision process by the judges. The judges spent time observing the contestants interact with each other and the locals throughout the day, and occasionally would give personal and group interviews. No matter how ‘laid back’ the judges were, Tiffany did not envy their job. “I can’t imagine how difficult their decision was because there was not one girl there who did not deserve to be there and who didn’t light up a room by simply walking into it.”

Because of the relaxed atmosphere created by judges, staff, locals, and fellow contestants, Tiffany was not nervous for her interviews, personal, group or on stage…except for one hyperventilated moment. “The only time I truly was nervous was a few days before my ‘on-stage’. I pulled out my pipes to practice a little and make sure they were adjusting to the climate and altitude, and they sounded horrible! That joke, about bagpipes sounding like someone squeezing a cat… that was me! I panicked! In tears I immediately called Jay Leasure (Pipe Major of MCPD) long distance. I told him I refuse to play, that people would be ashamed if I got on stage and sounded like that. Luckily for me, Jay knows me too well- probably because he has taken me under his wing since I was 12 – and he quickly calmed my nerves and helped me fix my bagpipes from thousands of miles away. Crisis adverted!”

On the big night the pipes worked, as did Tiffany’s smile and charm. Beth Wiseman of the Denver parade committee was on hand to giving support commented, “She did an amazing job on stage speaking of her Irish and Finnish heritage, and how it came to be that a little Denver girl became the first Rose ever to play the bagpipes at the Rose of Tralee.”
When Tiffany was selected to continue on to the Rose of Tralee finale, she momentarily functioned in a stunned fashion but eventually was overcome with emotion at her accomplishment. “When I found out that I was selected, all the girls in the chairs around me were cheering and patting me on the back. I got on stage, looked for my family and Beth and her family, gave them a big thumbs up and hugged the other spectacular ladies who were standing next to me. I don’t think that it actually hit any of us that we had made it to the next round until we got off the stage and went to the “Roses Only” room… That’s when everyone’s water works began; we couldn’t believe that we would have another two weeks together in Aug. It was amazing to feel all the excitement everyone had for each other.”

Back home in Denver, it’s back to work, fundraising, and Queen Colleen and MCPD commitments before she heads back to Ireland.
“I am planning on going back around the 9th of Aug. I report for “Rose Duty” on the 12th of August so I would love to have a few days before to adjust and maybe experience a few things before all the fun and crazy shenanigans begin. But before I leave I have so much to do here! I am competing with Michael Collins Pipes and Drums a couple weekends as well as performing in the Cheyenne Frontier Days Parade. I have loads of fundraising, sponsorship and awareness to work on, because as much as this entire experience is a dream it takes a lot of funds to make it a reality. I am very excited to be holding the “BBQ Benefit for the Denver Rose of Tralee” at local pub Scruffy Murphy’s on July 7th from 3-7pm. There will be food, drinks, raffles and music. It should be a lot of fun and almost like a send off party before I head back to Ireland – I am very excited for it.
Tiffany said that she wanted to thank so many people for all of their support but want to thank to Denver Irish groups in particular. “I want to give a shout out to two Irish organizations that have truly helped all my dreams of Rose of Tralee become a reality so far. First, I want to thank the Michael Collins Pipes and Drums, who not only sponsored me to be Queen Colleen but have helped me in every way imaginable to get to where I am now. They have been more than a group of people who share a hobby with me, but a family and have had a huge hand in molding me to be the young lady I am today. Also, the Denver St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, without their support and help I would never have been involved in such a life changing event. I have never seen a group of people so excited for someone else as this group is for me. I can honestly say their excitement for this event fuels my excitement. They have been so encouraging and have put so much faith in me. Thank you all!”

Fundraising for Denver Rose of Tralee:
BBQ Benefit for the Denver Rose of Tralee” at local pub Scruffy Murphy’s 2030 Larimer on July 7th from 3-7pm.
The Denver Rose Center will be selling Newbridge jewelry, the official sponsor of the Rose of Tralee, at the Colorado Irish Festival July 13 -15. Tiffany will also be making appearances throughout the weekend at the Colorado Irish Festival.


The Ward Irish Music Archives returns to the Colorado Irish Festival at Clement Park Littleton July 13 -15 with the exhibit The Irish in Film July. This exhibit examines the Irish and Irish American contribution to the art of film. “It is one of our most popular Exhibits.” Said Barry Stapleton, Archive Curator “The exhibit will have over 100 film posters (reproductions) over 50 biographies with pictures, and 64 collages of various Irish films with photos, reviews, lobby cards, advertising, etc.”

In the 19th century, Ireland was known as a prodigious country for playwrights, ripe with a vivid theatrical scene when film was making its debut. Famous Irish playwrights of the time included Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and John Millington Synge to name just a few.

The silent film era lasted from 1894-1929. In 1910 Ireland played host to the Kalem Company, a touring film company from the United States. Under the direction of Sidney Olcott, Kalem made several short Irish melodramas in Co. Kerry and thereby launched a tradition of great filmmakers using Ireland as a backdrop for their work. Of course, today Ireland is known for the classic film The Quiet Man. Many other films were made in Ireland, including Michael Collins and The Secret of Roan Inish.
Later the establishment in 1961 of Telefís Éireann, the national television service, provided work for a growing number of technicians and a training ground for filmmakers. The establishment in 1981 and re-establishment in 1993 of the Irish Film Board facilitated independent film production. Homegrown images of Ireland are now being brought to international screens by Irish born directors such as Neil Jordan and Jim Sheridan.

Many great actors in film were born in Ireland including Richard Harris, Maureen O’Hara, Brenda Fricker, Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Cillian Murphy.
In America at the beginning of the 20th century, the entertainment industry was full of Irish Americans. Vaudeville was in its heyday and the recording industry was also in its infancy. Tin Pan Alley was roaring with Irish themed music. In silent films Irish Americans such as Buster Keaton, Colleen Moore, Thomas Meighan and many more were pioneers in film.
Mack Sennett was the son of Irish immigrants who had settled in Canada. Mack came to America and started the Keystone Studios in California. Sennett’s silent slapstick comedies were noted for their wild car chases and custard pie warfare. Many important actors started their careers with Sennett, including Mabel Normand, Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle, Gloria Swanson, Polly Moran, The Keystone Kops, Bing Crosby, and W. C. Fields.

When the film industry hit its stride in the 1930s & 1940s the proliferation of Irish Americans involved is notable: James Cagney, Pat O’Brien, Spencer Tracy, Gregory Peck & Tyrone Power to name only a few.
Great directors such as John Ford, John Huston, Leo McCarey were Irish Americans. Walt Disney & Alfred Hitchcock also had significant Irish family connections.
While Irish & Irish Americans played an important role in film, so did Irish and Irish American history as the source of many scripts for film. The Irish Civil War, IRA and the Troubles in Ireland were utilized for countless films made in Ireland and America such as Ryan’s Daughter and The Patriot Games. Many Irish plays were made into films such as The Playboy of the Western World; even the film My Fair Lady was based on the original stage play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.
Today Irish roles can be identified by their accents, names, and situations within a film. But the Irish American role has changed dramatically. No longer can all Irish Americans be viewed as all Catholic or Democrats, policeman or priests. In some films it is only through a characters name that you would find an Irish connection. Still the Irish contribution to film is as strong as ever and through this exhibit we hope you’ll enjoy all that the Irish & Irish Americans have contributed to film.

Pandora Celtica BOTB 2012

by Rodger Hara

The Colorado Irish Festival Battle of the Bands that began on April 11th, fittingly enough, at the Sheabeen Pub in Aurora where the very first Irish Festival was held, finished with a grand flourish on June 20th at Stoney’s on Capitol Hill where Pandora Celtica was crowned the winner over a field of nine other talented local Irish Bands.

On the first night, Pandora Celtica’s tight a capella harmonies won a highly contested event, narrowly winning out over the uber-energy Celtic pirate sound of Potcheen and the more traditional and rock-tinged music of Chancer’s Hooley.
The next contest on April 25 at The Exchange Tavern in Westminster saw four bands with the multi-instrumental group then known as Parting Glass and now known as Haypenny Bridge coming out on top over Boulder’s newest Celtic rock band Delilah’s Revenge, the hard-driving Bogside and the more traditional sound of Mulligan Stew.

In the final preliminary round on May 9th at Scruffy Murphy’s Irish Pub in LoDo, El Paso County’s Ceol Ceili was the winner over Star Edwards & Kingbeat’s rock and roll Irish set and the bluegrass-flavored traditional sound of Juice O’the Barley.
Of the groups that didn’t advance, Delilah’s Revenge had the highest score from the judges (who included Doug Pooley, Kasey O’Connor, Tom Quinn, Karen Miller, Shelly O’Hara and me) and was the “wild card” band filling the field for the final four.

The first semi-final event on May 23rd at Scotty’s Side Door Saloon in Wheat Ridge matched Pandora Celtica against Delilah’s Revenge. Pandora Celtica, with their legion of faerie-clad fans, prevailed on that night too, although Delilah’s Revenge was handicapped by the absence of their drummer who had been called out of town on a family emergency.

The second semi-final featured Ceol Ceili against Haypenny Bridge, two bands with similar traditional sounds and multi-instrumental styles with Ceol Ceili’s harmonic energy and crowd engagement taking them over the top, setting up a most interesting final with two bands with completely different sounds and styles.

Pandora Celtica’s only instruments are their voices and a djembe, which they used to great effect; Ceol Ceili’s four members play over a dozen instruments among them including acoustic and electric fiddles, tin whistles, djembe, bhodrán, Irish bouzouki, acoustic guitar and flute. Both groups feature voices with similar colors that blend well and the affection and respect for each other within the groups is readily apparent in their performances – all of which made the choice of a winner exceedingly difficult for the judges.
In the end, Pandora Celtica’s a capella sound, that has set them apart from the rest of the bands at every step, tipped the balance for the judges, earning them the $1,000 first prize and a spot on the Main Stage at the Colorado Irish Festival on Saturday, July 14th at 12:30 PM.

Ceol Ceili gained a spot on the stage in the Jameson’s Pub Tent at 2:00 PM on July 14th and the runner-up prize of $500. Other bands that competed and will also play at the Festival include Haypenny Bridge, Mulligan Stew and Delilah’s Revenge.

Colorado Irish Festival to Honor18 years of dedicated Festival Leaders at “The Gathering”

When the gates open for the Colorado Irish Festival (CIF) July 13-15 at Clement Park in Littleton, it will mark the 18th consecutive year of celebration of Irish culture and entertainment. Over that time, and prior to, there were many people working behind the scene giving of their time and expertise to help make the event happen each year.
On Sunday July 15 the current CIF/Colorado United Irish Societies (CUIS) Board of Directors will honor some of those dedicated people at the Celtic Stage at 10:15AM.
Board member Ciaran Dwyer said that it is time to acknowledge past CIF leaders. “It takes a lot of hard work to plan, organize, and implement all the details that make a successful event. It is time that we show appreciation to those who built the foundation of the festival and made it possible to grow into a destination event.”
Dwyer said that he likes the reunion aspect to “The Gathering,” “I do like the reunion idea behind ‘The Gathering’ that helps build connections and community, and would like to see it developed into an annual component of the festival. Also, we recognized that we would not be able to identify and locate all of those people who should be honored at the first ‘Gathering,’ so we intend to do a better job of it every year”

Ken Hannon Larson, a veteran CIF volunteer himself, was asked by Dwyer to help gather names and contact information for The Gathering 2012 Honoree List. He forwards the list to the CIF/CUIS Board for review and follow-up. “I am honored to have been asked to head up ‘The Gathering 2012,’ said Larson, “This is an event long overdue. Honoring those who gave their blood, sweat and tears to the festival over the nearly past two decades is appropriate.” He continued, “But there is much more! We want their stories. We want their memories of the good and bad times. Those are the memories of the Colorado Irish Festival that cannot fade, we will not let them fade into history – but resurrect those stories so all can enjoy. That is what being a Colorado Irish Festival volunteer is all about!”
Larson said that the hard part of his project was knowing that not all people who should be honored would be identified this year, especially some of the great contributors who did not hold an official festival title; but he hopes people appreciates the continued efforts. “In 2013 those who may have been overlooked and additions to the list will be considered by the Board… Overall this will be a positive event, a renewal, and a tribute to those who worked hard over the years.” He added with enthusiasm, “There will a a gift box presented to all of the honorees, and added with a laugh, “but we want to keep the contents a surprise!”

Everyone is invited to the first Gathering- a show of community thanks and support is welcomed and encouraged.”


Tony McAleavey, former owner of Sheabeen’s and one of the Founders of the Colorado Irish Festival and friends gathered together at Sheabeen’s on June 24th to celebrate his contributions to the Denver Irish community. There was a great turn-out, with music, song and great stories.
Shelly O’Hara, President of CIF/CUIS made a formal presentation to Tony, as health concerns might keep him from participating at ‘The Gathering.’
Our collective thoughts and prayers go out to Tony.

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July 12 CC Profile pic 1

by Rodger Hara

Seanchaí is Irish for the bearer of old lore – a story teller. In the times before written language – and those times when written language was forbidden to many (e.g., the days of the hedge schools), the oral tradition was the only means for sharing and preserving the stories, legends, traditions and history of the people. Some were highly respected members of royal households who retained important information for the clan while others traveled from place to place sharing their stories for food and lodging.

Colorado is blessed with its own seanchaí. Denis Michael John McCarthy Gorman Gessing, a Colorado native and third generation Irish-American who calls himself the “American-Irish Seanchaí” and the “Celtic Cowboy”. Tracing his roots to County Donegal on his maternal grandfather’s side, he became a story teller twenty years ago after pursuing careers in film-making, acting, working in human services with the deaf and disability communities and survivors of traumatic brain injuries. Although to hear him tell it, he’s been telling stories “All my life. At least since I told my 2nd grade teacher a big windy about the missing pages of my arithmetic book. But I’ve only been getting paid for it for the dozen years or more.”

His stories cover a wide range of topics that reflect his family heritage and the places he’s lived, including the Old West, World History and Ghosts as well as Celtic, Fairy and Folk tales. His favorites are mostly Irish and include “Timothy and the Lady,” “The Blackthorn Walking Stick,” “Martha and Johnny.” It is the Irish stories that come to him the most naturally and he believes that it’s important to be true to the culture and tradition. He enjoys most audiences and likes those with the young or the old the most. He particularly enjoys more intimate settings – like living rooms, family reunions or around campfires. A major influence on his story-telling style has been Liz Weir, a world renowned professional story-teller, writer and B&B operator from Belfast and he hopes one day to do a “reverse migration” and take his stories of the Old West back home to Ireland.

A graduate of St. Francis de Sales High School in Denver, he also has a degree in film from the School of Visual Arts in New York City and a certificate in American Sign Language interpretation from El Camino College in California.

It was his work with the deaf that led him to meet his second wife and her daughter, who was deaf, that inspired him to begin writing a young adult novel in 1995 featuring a young deaf girl as the protagonist “Midnight and the Magic Prairie Schooner” that begins in Donegal and moves west to Oregon. The young girl survives bullying and taunting because of her handicap with mystical powers she’s inherited.

In addition to the book, he’s produced a CD of stories for children 8 years and older called “Tales From Eiré”. He tells stories at schools, colleges, community and senior centers, senior living facilities, businesses, around campfires and at festivals – especially the Colorado Irish Festival where he will be returning for his second appearance on the Cultural Stage this year. Check the Festival Entertainment Schedule for times. His stories will enchant you – and your children too.

And if you can’t make the Festival, you can hear some of his stories on his podcast or on YouTube, links for which can be found on his website, www.olstoryteller.com.

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