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
(subject to service and handling fees).
Info: Celtic Events 303-777-0505

swinburne 3k

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 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

Solas Shamrock city CD

When Seamus Egan found himself in Butte, Montana for the “An Rí Rá” Festival eight years ago, his father had a request—see if Seamus can find anything about Michael Conway, a great-uncle of his father who had emigrated from Ireland and ended up in Butte, where he had been murdered. Not much was known of his story—only that he had been a bare-knuckle fighter. A picture of his grave, an entry in a ledger—anything that would shed light on Michael’s story was the initial goal of Egan on that first trip. The story that Egan would uncover—of how Michael Conway was murdered by the sheriff of Butte because he wouldn’t throw a fight—became a much bigger story about the town of Butte itself.

It was said in the 1800’s that there were more Irish per capita in Butte, Montana than any city in the U.S., including Boston and New York. The Irish were there to work in the copper mines, as there were few places in the U.S. that would employ Irish workers. The Historical Society in Butte opened up their archives to Seamus to do his research and on subsequent visits, Egan continued to research Michael Conway’s story. However, it ended up opening up his eyes to the remarkable story of Butte, Montana itself, and the part that the Irish played in its history.

“One of the largest mines, the Anaconda mine was owned by Max Daly who was from County Cavan, and it became known around Ireland that if you made it to America and could get to Butte, that he would make sure you had a job”, said Seamus. “It got to where people wouldn’t spend much time on the east coast, but would make their way as quickly as possible to Butte. At one time, it was so popular a destination for the Irish that Butte became synonymous with America. Even if you weren’t going to Butte, you were in Butte, as far as they were concerned.”

The further Seamus got into the story of Butte, Montana the more he wanted to tell the story—in part through the eyes of Michael Conway, but also to expand to the larger picture. Immigration, labor, poverty, mining—all were interwoven in the history of this town. Therefore, Seamus and Solas utilized the fundraising website Kickstarter to provide the working capital to produce “Shamrock City”. “In all the years Solas has been together, we’ve never done anything without a record label”, said Seamus. “We were really floored by the outpouring of support and generosity for the project. That gave us the start to get the ball rolling financially as well as the moral support that there was interest in this idea.”

“One of the hardest parts of this project was to decide what stories NOT to tell”, Seamus related. We wanted to tell Michael Conway’s story but put it in a place and time. We didn’t want to just do a linear history of the town. We are using archival images as well as video we shot to add a visual sub-context to the story in our live performances. It is sort of a silent picture running behind us to give that extra dimension”.

“We are just now starting to work on the DVD, and as part of that, we have started a new function on our website. ( The idea is that the US is made up of many stories just like this. We thought it would be a nice thing to include those stories in this project. Therefore, we are starting a video project this week called “Tell Your Story”. People can go on the website and tell their story and we’ll also be filming at stops on our tour where people will have a chance to tell their story as well. Even though Michael Conway’s story is over 100 years old, many of the issues are still relevant today. Having people tell and record their stories will be very interesting!”

“Shamrock City” is a musical journey that starts out with the leaving of Ireland and the beginning of the recording is a masterful inclusion of an archival recording of Rita and Sarah Keane singing “A Stór Mo Croí”. It is stark and bare and sets the tone for the typical “American Wake” that would take place for those going off to find their fortune in “Amerikay”. “That song had been in my head when we finished the album”, said Seamus, and we thought, “what would be the most effective way to get that feeling across?” “We certainly couldn’t do it better than Rita and Sarah”, said Seamus, laughing. “So I told Sean Keane what we were doing and he gave us permission to use the recording and we were thrilled. Once that was there, it allowed us to begin the journey”.

While there are numerous songs and tunes on this superb album, the song “Michael Conway” seemed to me to be the one that was the most powerful. Like a small film, it paints a vivid portrait of Michael Conway’s life—and death. The writing is so timeless, that it could have been a ballad written on the day of Michael’s death over 100 years ago.
“ I think we were really able to lay out Michael’s story in this song as well as the references to Butte”, said Seamus. “He was only 25 years old when he died, but I imagine the three years he spent in Butte he experienced things there that he would not have done anywhere else. In the purest sense of a story song, it was going to tell his story. Mick (McAuley) did a great job with the lyrics. It was a song that was written early on, but really needed to work. Seamus continued, “It is one of the songs that after the show people come up and talk about that song—they have a profound reaction to it.”

Miners worked hard but also played hard. Egan was able to get Rhiannon Giddens from the Carolina Chocolate Drops to record “Lay Your Money Down” for the project. “I was really thrilled with that song”, said Seamus. “Rhiannon’s voice was the voice that was in my head right from the beginning, so we were thrilled to have her do it. That song needed a really strong personality. We didn’t want it to be too oppressive, because Butte was also a wild place! People never knew when they went to work whether they would be coming back alive at the end of the day—it wasn’t an easy life. So when they let loose, they were mental! So there was this liveliness about the town that we definitely wanted to harness”, Seamus continued.

Another contributor was iconic Scottish singer, Dick Gaughan. “The way we looked at this”, continued Egan, “was that the songs themselves were characters and as much as we could, the person singing that song played that character. The “Labor Song” was great for Gaughan and we had always wanted to do something together. So I found myself in Glasgow and called him up and he was home in Edinburgh. We got together and knocked it out in an afternoon!”

The final song is another stunner, called “No Forgotten Man”. Again, I thought that it was probably an old-timey ballad from the 1800’s that he had arranged for this project. Yet, again, however, it was a very thoughtful and seamlessly written original song that will linger in the mind long after the CD stops revolving. “That was actually the last song we wrote”, said Seamus. “We came across the story of this guy called William Parks, who really was the guy who started what would become Butte. He was a guy who had a notion that there was something in the ground in Butte and started digging a hole. Everyone thought he was cracked and had lost his mind. The gold rush had passed Butte by but he dug for a long time and eventually found the vein of copper that led to Butte becoming the richest hill on earth. Then he was more or less swindled out of his find, so the song is about perseverance and that even if it doesn’t work out so well, you’re not going to be forgotten. The chapter in the historical record about him was called, “The Forgotten Man”. And it’s also the story about Michael Conway, because he had been for all intents and purposes, a forgotten man for the last 100 years until we found him for this project”.

A stunning tour de force, “Shamrock City” will take the listener on a vivid and emotional journey that tells the story of Michael Conway, but also opens up the larger picture of the emigrant experience in Montana in the 1800’s. For those looking for a genuine experience this St. Patrick’s Day—ditch the green beer and take a listen to “Shamrock City”. Prepare to be amazed.

Editors note: Cindy wrote this article for the Celtic Connection in the spring 2013 having interviewed Seamus prior to Solas’s sold out show at eTown Live Radio Show taping, in Boulder)

Halloween Ireland

It’s a truism, I know, but there really is never a bad time to go to Ireland. From now until the end of spring 2014 is what is sometimes, slightly misleadingly, called the ‘offseason.’ Think about that for a second. The off season in most destinations means most things are closed or closed for most of the time. Not so in Ireland. If there is an ‘on-season,’ it is the summer months. June, July and August are peak months because families can visit without having to take their kids out of school. It is also the time when families typically plan their annual holiday. In Ireland however, especially in the cities, all the attractions and reasons to visit are open all year round, vibrant and fulfilling as ever. The craic is the same in October, November or February as it is in July.

As an off-season holiday maker, your interaction with the people of Ireland and with Ireland itself will be largely the same as if you were going during the summer. If you are able to visit Ireland during the ‘off season’ you are in luck. For one thing there are a lot less crowds at the places you might visit. It is much
easier to play a round of golf at one of the top courses, for example. If you go to a museum, gallery or show, there will be shorter lines and the whole experience becomes more comfortable for that. In
the restaurants and bars, the staff and other customers have a lot more time to spend with visitors.

Ireland is a country that in some ways still runs very much in accordance with the rhythm of the seasons. Summer is a busy time. Farmers and city folk alike work hard through the summer months. Even the
national sports of hurling and Gaelic football see their seasons rise to a crescendo in July and August with both Championship games taking place in September. The autumn is a time when the pressure abates a wee bit for many Irish people and as a result they have more opportunity for relaxation
and leisure, and lots of time for themselves and their visitors. You’ll notice the change of pace, I promise, and it’s a ‘good thing.’ Something else you’ll notice, and benefit from, is the fact that the price of everything goes down this time of year.

A return flight from Denver International Airport, if you can book a couple of weeks or more in advance, can generally be had for somewhere around $825 – $900. It pays to do a bit of research before you buy, but this is far less than a return trip taken during the summer months. (Note to reader: If you are thinking of going at Christmas you can still get a really good deal but you probably should start looking around as soon as you know your dates). The same goes for accommodation. Hotels (and hotels in Ireland were rated by as being the cheapest in Europe) are always better value in the fall and spring. It’s simple economics, less demand more supply. Similarly Bed and Breakfast accommodation. You can figure all this out for yourself of course, a good place to start is Alternatively there are a host of high quality tour operators that take advantage of these lower prices and combine
them with the preferential rates they already get to come up with some spectacularly good value holiday itineraries. And don’t be scared about the weather. Ireland is the beneficiary of the warm Gulf Stream that laps it’s southern and western shorelines and creates one of the most equable climates in the world. Temperatures stay warm well past the summer months. In fact, in many years October can be as nice as July. Either way, it never gets too hot or too cold.

There are plenty of reasons to visit Ireland during the ‘off-season.’ For example, what better place to be for Halloween than in Ireland, the place where it all started? Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, the biggest and most significant holiday of the Celtic year. The Celts believed that during Samhain the ghosts of the dead were able to mingle with the living. Samhain came at the end of the Celtic circle of life and as such marked the end of the old year and the beginning of the new one. In a country that was almost entirely pastoral it was a time when crops were stored and livestock
secured for the winter. This ancient rhythm of life still manifests itself in Ireland, not entirely buried beneath the bustle of modernity, and is one of the country’s great charms. There are Halloween
festivals and events in many Irish villages, towns and cities.

Then there is Christmas, Nollaig. Christmas is definitely not just a 24 hour event in Ireland. Most people get at least a couple of weeks off and the feast is celebrated right through the New Year, just as it should be. Some Christmas traditions literally go back centuries and they make Christmas in Ireland a unique
and unforgettable experience.
And it is not too early to think about St Patrick’s Day 2014. The last few years have seen parades and festivals in all the major cities and towns get bigger, brighter and better.
Ireland is a fantastic destination for a holiday any time of year. The fall and spring bring their own pleasures and advantages, and can offer a very different perspective to the visitor. Combine this with
the exceptional value to be had during these times of year and easier access to most of the
things you might want to see and do and you can see why ‘off-season’ might be the best
season of all.
If you are thinking of going to Ireland, any time of year, a great place to start planning
your vacation is

Leadville Cemetery

by Rodger Hara

‘Tis the season to be looking for gold in the mountains – aspen gold, that is. If you’re headed for the Leadville area, you might consider spending a few quiet moments in the Evergreen and St. Joseph Cemeteries, the final resting places of many who came from Ireland to Leadville in search of silver – and a better life.

According to the 1880 census, Lake County Colorado had, at that time, the greatest concentration of native-born Irish and Irish Americans of any place between Chicago and San Francisco. Their names echo like roll call at an AOH meeting – Sullivan, Mulligan, Murphy, Moore, Ryan, Kelly, O’Brien, Burns, Reilly, Kennedy, Shea, Powers, Fitzgerald, Harrington, McCarthy, Kehoe and Feehan are but a few of the names found in the Census. One-third of them came from County Cork – likely from the western part of the County on the Beara Peninsula, where the Allihies copper mines in Castletown-Bearhaven once thrived. Others came from Mayo, Tipperary, Waterford, Kerry, Donegal, Cavan, Galway and Kilkenny. Thomas McCullough came from County Monaghan where he was born in 1831 only to pass away in Leadville in 1888. James Cleary was born in County Clare in 1893 and stabbed to death in Leadville in 1913 in a fight over a candlestick that had been made for him by his father, a blacksmith. William Irwin of Limerick, John Dooley of Rusheen, Knockainy, County Limerick, Bridget Shea of Castletown, County Cork and many, many more are interred there.

Many had left Ireland during the famine and worked their way west as miners, soldiers, railroad workers and drifters, occasionally with a family, more often alone. Some had been involved in strikes for better working conditions in Cork and later in Pennsylvania. Most of the men in Leadville were miners – men who had worked the copper mines in Cork and the Knockmahon mines in Waterford and the Avoca mine in Wicklow; most of the women worked as domestic servants. Everyone had to work in order to survive.

The plots in the St. Joseph Cemetery are large and laid out in traditional Irish fashion to allow families to be together in death as they were in life – except in most cases, in keeping with American fashion at the time, they were bordered with wrought iron fences and not the kerbstones usually found in Ireland. Many of the older plots now share space with decades-old pine trees and aspen groves. And many of the gates around the older plots can’t be opened, blocked by the accumulation of a century’s worth of pine needles.

Others, though, are still neatly tended. The Donovan plot is neatly bordered by kerbstones of red sandstone with a patch of shamrocks growing on the threshold. The plot of the Sullivan brothers is covered by a blanket of ground-hugging evergreens. A newer plot for the Kehoes has a marble monument with a small statue of Mary and Joseph holding the baby Jesus.

Many of the graves are occupied by infants and children; the average age of adults appears to be in the mid-30’s. It is the rare tombstone or monument for anyone over 50.

The impact of the Irish Catholic community was manifested by the establishment of a large church – Annunciation – a school – St. Mary’s, St. Vincent’s hospital and St. Joseph’s cemetery in 1879. That impact also showed up in the naming of many of the mines – with names like the Charles Stuart Parnell, the Wolfe Tone, the Robert Emmett and the Letterkenny mines. The presence of so many Irish also led to visits in the late 1800’s by such luminaries as Oscar Wilde, who read poetry to an audience of miners then descended into a mine and drank as much as the miners; John L. Sullivan, who boxed and got drunk and Michael Davitt, the Mayoman who founded the Land League, who came on a fund-raising visit.

The closing of the mines following collapse of the silver market in the mid-1890s after the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act and also the failed Western Federation of Miners’ strike in 1896-7 changed the community and most of the Irish moved on to other mines, other cities, other opportunities and only the graves remain. Many who left Leadville relocated to Denver and it’s entirely likely that many of Irish descent living in Denver today have relatives buried in Leadville. The Lake County Library has a list of those buried there that can be found at this link:

You’ll note that it’s called the “New Catholic Cemetery” to distinguish it from the “Catholic” and “Catholic Free” sections of the segregated Evergreen Cemetery across the road and up the hill. Evergreen, was the original cemetery and holds many unmarked graves. It really is, or should be, sacred ground for the Colorado Irish – the average age of Irish buried in the pauper section there is 23! Burial records show that as many as 1,000 people with Irish names rest in unmarked graves known but to God… Those records also show many others with Irish names lie in marked graves.

Perhaps, using those lists and the various on-line genealogy resources, readers might find a relative and restore their grave – or at the very least, pay homage to those who came before and consider well the price they paid to be here – and what made them leave the soft green hills of Ireland for the hard brown mountains of Leadville.

(James Patrick Walsh, PhD wrote his Doctoral dissertation titled “Michael Mooney and the Leadville Irish; Respectability and Resistance at 10,000 Feet; 1875-1900”, 2010, Denver Public Library Western History Collection, C 305.89162 W166ml and much of the information for this article came from that document. To see more pictures from St. Joseph cemetery, please visit the Celtic Connection facebook page.)

Fern in Ballynahinch, 1985.  "This is when I truly fell in love with Ireland regardless of the rain."

Some time ago, I saw a quote that really resonated with me. It went like this:
“You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do? “You should go do them!”
….So, I am. ….I am going to Ireland – for nine months…..and this is how my passion for that lovely dark isle all began.

Well, it all began so long ago that it seems to me like it has always been my passion and my dream to live in Ireland. But, that probably is not so because, think of it? At age 5 – or 7 – or 10, I don’t think I even knew there was a place where the leprechauns lived.
So, when did it really begin? I sit today, pondering, remembering, trying to think when I did not have “My Celtic Connection.” It seems like I have always loved Irish music. Then, when I was older, I really loved two special friends who were 100% Irish. One came to Denver from the copper mining town of Butte, Montana. Her family immigrated to Butte fro Alliheis in the Beara Peninsula, CO Cork where similar copper mines were the main industry.
Then there was a Hogan, native Coloradan from a big Irish family who farmed in Wiggins, Colorado.

These two friends loved all things Irish and especially Irish music. Only a few bars of an Irish jig would bring tears to their eyes. And, I still have the original fold-out map that shows all the Irish surnames and where they came from in Ireland. O’Sullivan and Hogan were circled – in the day. I sometimes dig out that old map when I am a little nostalgic. Now, at that time, I didn’t know I had a great, great grandmother from The Claddagh.

Now, it would be about 1960 and women that I worked with would go to the Dublin House near Colorado Springs for dinner and maybe some dancing on the lighted floor with flashing shamrocks. I remember the Dublin House like it was yesterday and it was actually 53 years ago. I was intrigued with the decor there as it had all been shipped from Ireland. I loved the two women from Dublin who owned the restaurant and the funny fact that they always wore SADDLE SHOES!

Oh yes, another man we worked with was a young Irish lad who came here from Dublin. We questioned him about Eire until he threw his hands in the air and ran away. We loved his Irish brogue and his lively sense of humor. Unfortunately, like so many, he did not live a long life – but we loved him so.

Most importantly, my soul sister and I dreamed of the day we could travel together to Ireland and I actually began dreaming of living there. Later the dream pared down to living there for one year. I read anything and everything I found about Ireland. And I subscribed to “Ireland of the Welcomes” and devoured each issue the minute it arrived. Later on “The Celtic Connection” was born and I was surely hooked on every article.

Now, then, I meet and marry my soul mate – not an Irish man, but rather 100% Swede, so my dream is put on the back burner for a few years. He did love to travel though so a wee small voice expressed a desire to include Connemara Country on our first European holiday. There my passion bloomed again after only three days in pouring rain in the West of Ireland. I took pictures in the rain and collected shells on Ballyconneely Bay – treasured to this day. The photos from that magical time still hang on my office wall, faded but treasured – memories of the lovely thatched cottages and the “Tears of God” everywhere (The fuchsia flowers are still my favorite of all flowers.). Yes, I am in love – with that lovely dark isle.

My soul mate passed after only seven years of marriage and my sister and I began again our dream of traveling together and visiting Ireland. So we did that, along with my stepdaughter and her Irish husband. Yes, I had a plan. Such a plan. Remember, I had been clipping articles and reading travel articles in “The Celtic Connection” and “Ireland of the Welcomes” for a long time. “Highways and By Ways” always told of off the beaten path, places and things and I loved the clever little illustrations. Yep, I knew where I wanted to go and the others pretty much agreed. My sister bought a bright green sweater with shamrocks and I worked out details of the trip. Unfortunately my sister was ill and unable to make the trip in the end, so she gave the the green sweater to me and I wrote to her every day of the trip to share the magic of Ireland as best I could.

Since that time I’ve made three more trips to Ireland – one with my Irish girlfriend, one on my bike, and one on a tandem bike with friends. I’ve written volumes about these trips so I’ll fast forward to last fall. My beloved Westie was killed hiking and I was devastated. But, up popped my dream of living in Ireland for a year as a “native” rather than a “tourist.” That’s when I saw the quote at the beginning of this tale.

So, yes, I am going to live in Galway for nine months. I have bought my plaid Wellies. I’ve asked for help from my Irish friends on the little questions that keep popping up – they are a Fermoy family of six, the Oughterard candlemakers and hostel owners in Glenties, CO Donegal.

I am getting organized – some say that’s getting to be over the top but “I am what I am!” I’m livin, breathin and talkin (yep, I’ve learned a little “Bite Sized Gaelic”) Ireland in 2014. I’ll be ready!

So, “you know all those things I always wanted to do?” I’m doin em!

….more to follow

by fern howe balaun
October 1, 2013 (October 2013 Celtic Connection/Denver Colorado)

Irish tourist boar

By Jim Remington


Traditional music sessions come in all shapes and sizes. From the helter-skelter informal gathering where many musicians don’t even know each other and maybe come from different countries, to the more formalized local sessions where it is the same cast of characters from week to week. Sometimes a session is made up of “star” players who might play with each other from time to time and sometimes a session is limited to a small group of band members playing in an informal session setting. The main characteristic of all these different sessions though is the spontaneity, lightness and lift given to the music. Nobody is quite sure where the whole thing is going. The music is meant as much for the players as it is for the audience and because of this, magic happens. Creativity and energy become their own force and the craic can be mighty!
Such was the case with a session that my friend Tom and I stumbled into in Miltown Malbay on the west coast of Ireland in 1989. We were at the Willy Clancy School of Music where lessons are taught, concerts are performed and sessions are nonstop. It was late in the evening and we were making the rounds to numerous pubs looking for the perfect session. We were actually looking for the great County Clare fiddlers Bobby Casey, Joe Ryan and Junior Creehan who were teaching at the school and playing the evening sessions. We knew they would be involved in a brilliant session. But they were nowhere to be found. Instead, we stumbled into an amazing session at a pub on one of the side streets in Miltown. And what a session it was. As soon as we entered we could feel the energy and lift of the music and the excitement of the audience. This was what we had been looking for. The place was packed but Tom and I managed to be absorbed into the mass although I ended up a few rows back and to the side of my friend Tom. But we both had a good view of the musicians. Five young players; fiddles, flutes and bodhron. No “stars” here but great players who had obviously been playing with each other for some time and probably part of a band. The sets were new and fresh and the playing was brilliant. There were smiles from ear to ear on musicians and audience. I was in heaven. Drinks were passed on trays overhead, hand to hand by the audience, and nary a drop was spilled. This was perfection!
But not long after Tom and I had settled into our cramped surroundings I noticed a hulk of a man enter the pub and proceed to rudely make his way through the packed crowd towards the music. This man was over 6 feet tall with broad shoulders and determination on his face. Not a man to be trifled with. As he neared Tom, I watched Tom step back as best he could and make room for the man to pass. Tom later told me he thought the man was urgently on his way to the rest room. Instead the man stopped right in front of Tom and filled the space that Tom had graciously opened for the man to pass. Tom’s view of the musicians was totally blocked by this “wall” of a man. Tom caught my eye with a mixture of amazement and total irritation. There wasn’t much I could do from my position that wouldn’t have ruined the night for the entire pub. Tom was on his own. Several times I watched Tom try to get the man’s attention but to no avail. He ignored Tom completely. This man knew this was where he wanted to be and he was staying there. The music rolled on, a perfect sound track of wonderful intensity. At one point a large tray of drinks was passed over Tom’s head and for just a second, as Tom was passing the tray, I saw him pause and look over at me. A tray full of drinks down the “wall’s” back would surely get the man’s attention and no doubt give Tom great satisfaction. But ever the gentleman, Tom passed the tray on. He later told me that tipping the tray would have also doused the musicians and denied the drinks to those in need and he couldn’t do that. But Tom had a plan. Shortly I noticed the “wall” moving in a curious way. Not in time to the music but to some seemingly invisible force of discomfort. Then I caught a brief glimpse of Toms needle-like elbow buried in the “wall’s” lower back in the area of the kidneys. That had to be uncomfortable. Several times the man tried to turn around and say something to Tom but the music was loud and the place packed. Tom kept at it. I waited for the man to explode but to my amazement and Tom’s relief (to say nothing of his safety) the man parted the crowd and left in a huff. Tom didn’t look at me but the smile and satisfaction on his face were clearly noticeable. Mission accomplished! The music continued long into the night and all was perfect again.
The next day Tom had planned a trip to the Aran Islands with friends. They would leave from Doolin pier taking one of the small tourist boats out to the islands for the day. As Tom recounted to me later, he found a seat just back from the starboard railing and a bit sheltered from the wind and spray by a friend sitting in front of him. The seas were a bit choppy but the small boat cut a clear path through the waves. The mood was jovial. But at one point, the friend sitting in front of Tom left to get some refreshments. The boat took a sudden and sharp turn to port and Tom was doused head to toe with a large wave. Was this all a coincidence? Wiping away the spray of cold seawater from his eyes Tom looked back at the wheelhouse and there stood the captain, with a large grin on his face. The recognition was immediate. The captain was the “wall” from the night before. He had gotten his revenge and it obviously delighted the man. What a small world Ireland is!
And this goes to show that a dose of revenge is a good pill for a pain in the back.

Jim Remington is a teacher and director at Lakewood School of Music in Lakewood, CO, and lives with his wife, 2 horses and 3 dogs in the Wet Mountain Valley near Westcliffe, CO. Jim can be reached at: [email protected]

Celtic Thunder 2013

On Wednesday, October 23, 2013 global powerhouse, Celtic Thunder will play in concert at the Pikes Peak Center and on November 26 at the Budweiser Center in Loveland.
Named Top World Music Artist twice by industry bible Billboard, Celtic Thunder’s six male soloists perform both solo and ensemble numbers. They are known for performing an eclectic mix of songs, ranging from traditional Irish fare to international hits such as “The Boys are Back in Town” and “Still Haven’t Found”, as well as original compositions by the musical directors/composers and individual group member Keith Harkin’s “Lauren & I”. Their live shows are recognized for the use of dramatic effects via lighting and choreography as well as a stage set resembling an ancient stone pathway drawn from Celtic lore.
A highly anticipated television special surrounding the MYTHOLOGY tour began airing nationally on February 28, 2013. Celtic Thunder has become one of public television’s largest draws. In terms of viewers, their shows have aired over 16,000 times on Public Television. The group is among the top five audience-generating acts on the network. Check local listings for airing dates/times of Celtic Thunder’s new MYTHOLOGY special.

“We had a blast making MYTHOLOGY. The music choices were carefully selected to suit each guys’ personalities and give them something they can really dig their teeth into. The musical arrangements, the orchestra, the band are all great also, and really help to create our best show to date. It’s great to be singing songs that are so much a part of who we are. It’s our heritage and it really resonates in MYTHOLOGY ” Neil Byrne, Celtic Thunder
CELTIC THUNDER: October 23, 7:30 PM at PIKES PEAK CENTER 190 S. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs, CO Tickets are available online at, by phone at 719-520-7469 or at the World Arena and Pikes Peak Center box offices or Front Range King Soopers. November 26, at the Budweiser Center, Loveland Colorado, tickets at

Denver Gaels Yanks team champs

Aer Lingus International Hurling Festival took place in Galway September 18-21 as part of the Gathering 2013 initiative. Teams from all over the world were invited to compete in Irelands’ National sport in the first ever International Hurling Festival – there was only one catch, you could not be Irish!
The Denver Gaels were one of sixteen international teams that sent some of their non-Irish born players to compete. They combined with members of the Indianapolis team and competed in the Junior B Division as “Denver/Indy.”
As the American born players were preparing to depart for Ireland they received words of encouragement from Shay Dunn, fellow player, coach, and one of the founders of the Denver Gaels.
“Lads , as you head to the tournament in Galway, think about who you represent…..The Denver Gaels introduced the wonderful sports of Gaelic Football, Hurling and Camogie to the Rocky Mountain Region over 17 years ago and have instilled the love of these games in so many. Literally hundreds of people have played for the Denver Gaels and to a man and woman they wore that Jersey with pride! There are about 120 more team mates you leave behind who will be cheering you on, who will be there with you in spirit as you represent not just the Gaels but the USA. They have helped you train, compete and get to where you are today. They will be watching the web and Facebook every day looking for news of your exploits and along with Indianapolis they know you will leave it all on the field and make everyone on the team and your families very, very, proud!”
Shay’s words surely hit the mark, as Denver/Indy beat the Argentina (Buenos Aires) team in the final to win their division Championship! They had beat Argentina earlier in the tournament, as well as teams from Europe and Barleyhouse/Allentown on the road their championship. Congratulations Denver for competing in the purest sense and making us all proud!

Pictured at the Irish Oil and Gas 2013 Summit held at The Radisson Blu Hotel in Dublin, is Fergus O’Dowd TD, Minister of State, Dept of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources and Environment, pictured with Susan Morrice, Chairperson of Belize Natural

(photo: Irish Government Minister Fergus O’Dowd & Susan Morrice pictured at the recent Ireland Oil and Gas 2013 Summit)

The Ireland Oil and Gas 2013 Summit held in Dublin September 10-11 was the first of its’ kind in Ireland, and based on its’ success, plans are moving forward to make it an annual event. The all-encompassing agenda for the two day Summit covered key areas of the oil and gas industry such as the exploratory advancements, investment opportunities, operational challenges and updates on the regulations that affect exploration of onshore and offshore regions.
The event website said, “This Summit comes at an exciting time for the regions’ industry, with the announcement that oil with commercial potential has been found offshore.”

Attendees at the inaugural Summit included Fergus O’Dowd TD, Minister of State, Dept of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources and Environment. Chairing the Summit was Susan Morrice, Chairperson of Belize Natural Energy (BNE). Susan is a native of Belfast, but now living in Colorado, she was asked to speak on the successful business application of the EDUCO Holistic Energy Model.

After the summit, Oil Patch Asia summed up for their readers Susan’s talk on the ‘Holistic Business Model’ application as, “…the remarkable success story of BNE, which many governments and companies around the world are seeking to replicate.”

That “remarkable success story” of BNE was realized in 2005 when the company, backed by Irish investors, found very high grade oil onshore Belize. Prior to that, the world’s biggest oil companies explored the area unsuccessfully and left with the belief that no oil could be found.
Not only did BNE discover oil, but the quality of the oil was so good and light that locals put it directly in generators, and Shell Oil now buys all of their exports.

Since the discovery of oil, over 400 new jobs have been created in Belize by BNE which has become the number one revenue generator in the country. In addition, the company has received industry recognition for Green Company of the Year (2011), Employer of the Year (2012), and GetEnergy Global Education and Training in Exploration Award (2013) -received competing against 40 other countries and companies.

Susan hopes that through the Irish Oil and Gas Summit and the ‘Holistic Energy Model’ that Ireland can have the same success as BNE/Belize. “I believe in a win,win,win for all if Ireland develops the on and off shore oil and gas resources the right way.” She added, “Maybe that “Luck of the Irish” kept all those reserves until Ireland and the Industry was ready to do it right for everyone.”

To learn more about BNE and the EDUCO Holistic Business Model, contact Susan at:
[email protected] or 3036183797.

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