Ronan Noonan has one of the best jobs in Colorado; he is the Smithwick”s Beer Ambassador. Diageo-Guinness Manager Tom McGuire who is involved with the Ambassador”s visit commented, “This is a grass-roots marketing approach to generate brand awareness for Smithwick”s”.Smithwick”s could not have picked a more enthusiastic Ambassador than the 26-year-old from Cork, Ireland. “I love doing what I”m doing, it”s just the best job I”ve had in my life,” said Ronan, “I”m one of the happiest people in the world to be here at the moment ” I can”t emphasize how much I like Denver and the States.” In a perpetual but sincere state of gratefulness, Ronan continued. “I love the people that I work with and am delighted that I got this opportunity ” The people I”m with in Denver are absolutely top notch ” some of the nicest guys I”ve ever met,” he said, referring to McGuire and Kevin Fitzgerald of Diageo-Guinness. “I would like to thank everybody who has made my life easier to adapt in Denver ” my friends Thomas and Kevin and Christiana at U.S. Consulate marketing,” Any one else that you would like to thank? “My parents for giving me the personality to go off and do this ” I”m just happy to be here and have met so many friends and I hope it continues.” With that kind of attitude one would expect so.Ronan almost missed out on his dream job. His two big passions are soccer (he was an award-winning player in college), and travel. His travels had already taken him to Europe and the U.S., when about a year ago he began to plan an extended tour of South America. Ronan had been going to business school for accounting and was having second thoughts about the career choice; he thought that a long stint in South America could bring some clarity. “Then a friend rang me up and said, “Look, I was just on line and saw a job that I think would suit you down to da ground””. His friend explained the job over the phone which seemed too good to be true. Ronan, “being a Cork man, being a bit wily” he decided to do his own research. “I checked it out and thought “this looks like a dream job”, so I decided to throw my hat in the ring ” so 3 or 4 interviews later…” He left it to fill in the blank, which would be ” he got the job as Ambassador of Smithwick”s, and envy of many young men from Dublin to Denver.Arriving in Denver in early January, Ronan brought with him a casual sense of humor to his Ambassador title. He recalled a woman from Kerry that he met in Colorado who asked him if he was an actual Ambassador. He set the record straight with a smile. “This Ambassador title looks good on paper, but I go into a pub like you or anybody goes into a pub for a pint ” at the end of the day I”m just a regular Joe who enjoys a pint of Smithwick”s and wants other people to enjoy a pint of Smithwick”s with him.”Smithwick”s has been providing pints in Ireland for longer than the United States has been a country. When asked how the Americans have taken to the beer Ronan said it was all thumbs-up. “It”s very easy to get people to try a beer that has stood a 300-year test of time in Ireland. There is a reason that it”s Ireland”s top Ale ” It”s smooth tasting, and it doesn”t give you an aftertaste in your mouth.” He added with a laugh, “”As St. Patrick’s Day approaches I’m reminded of an old Irish saying from back in 1710: “A pint of Smithwick’s, please.”According to Ronan “Once people get to know about Smithwick”s it”s going to get big in Denver!” He gave a couple of suggestions on how to maximize the Smithwick”s experience. First, like Guinness take some care in the pour, secondly use a 20-ounce glass which is the way it is done in Ireland “You shouldn”t be drinking Smithwick”s or Guinness, which are two Irish products from a 16-ounce glass, when at home in Ireland we drink them out of a 20 ” drink it like pure Irish in a 20-ounce glass.” And how about the pronunciation? “Be sure to order a pint of our ale, like we do in Ireland. For example, “I”ll have a pint of SMITH-ICKs please.” Or “How about a round of SMITH-ICKs.” Or even, “SMITH-ICKs for everyone in the pub ON ME!”The Smithwick”s Beer Ambassador project will run through the end of March, with Ronan spreading the word of his favorite Ale. You catch up on Ronan”s activities on his blog at [email protected]
Actress Fionnula Flanagan Declines Honor From US Ireland Alliance In Disagreement Over Views On Undocumented Irish In America
In November, Ms Vargo sparked a firestorm of criticism when she attacked the work of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform and said that the undocumented Irish did not deserve support.Ms Flanagan explained that she had been unaware of Ms Vargo’s comments, which included likening the Irish campaign to “putting lipstick on a pig,” when the Alliance announced its award. “At the time I had no idea of the views,” held by Ms Vargo “and/or the U.S,-Ireland Alliance,” on the issue of illegal Irish immigrants to the United States,” she said.”I had not then seen, nor was I aware of the Op-Ed piece which appeared in the The Irish Times on November 16th. 2007 in which (Ms Vargo), President of the US-Ireland Alliance, made those views abundantly clear.””No disclaimer appears therein, nor subsequently, in the Times, that would locate these views as solely yours and since they were published under your titles as President and Founder of the U.S.-Ireland Alliance it certainly reads that you were representing the views of your organization and its Board of Directors.”Speaking in the US this week, Ms Flanagan, said she would “respectfully decline” to be honoured by the Alliance when “it appears to have taken such a strong position against the most vulnerable of my countrymen.”Ms Flanagan also cited her own experience as an “Irish illegal” in the US. “I was broke, dreadfully homesick for my family and lived in constant fear of deportation. “My time of living with such insecurity was relatively short; I can only imagine the anxiety and suffering of families who live thus for years. The experience made me very empathetic to the plight and suffering of all illegal immigrants.””Over the years, when asked, I have lent my name and whatever support I could to a variety of organizations in Southern California which have championed sanctuary and the rights of immigrants who come largely from Central America. Their struggle is not easy and the bias against them is horrendous.”I applaud the efforts of all the immigrant groups who are actively involved in lobbying the cause of their “undocumented” members. I applaud their respective homeland governments when they help to plead their case.”We are the sum of our experiences and mine being what they are I particularly empathize with Irish illegal families. I have supported and will continue to support, both privately and publicly, the work of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform and have campaigned for their cause. I have no evidence that they, or any of the other Irish organizations who support them, wish to exclude anyone for reasons of ethnicity or otherwise. To the contrary, as with the other lobbying immigrant groups with which I am familiar, they express a keen understanding of the power of solidarity.”Given the specter of a looming economic recession, coupled with rising antipathy towards them as a group and, seemingly, a growing wish nationwide to turn them into scapegoats, many illegals fear violence against themselves and their children. Disillusioned by repeated failures of government to solve the issue, they have resorted to organized, proactive lobbying on their own behalf. “To castigate or shame the Irish immigrants for doing so now is not something to which I can in conscience lend my name. Or even appear to do so.”I must respectfully decline to be honored by your organization which appears to have taken such a strong position against the most vulnerable of my countrymen. I thank you and your Board for wishing to honor me; however I wish to withdraw my name from the list of honorees and will not be attending the upcoming Oscar Wilde Event.”The US-Ireland Alliance third annual “Oscar Wilde: Honoring the Irish in Film” pre-Academy Awards party, is scheduled for Thursday, February 21, 2008 at the Wilshire Ebell in Los Angeles. Ms. Flanagan was to join Academy Award winner James L. Brooks and actress Fiona Shaw as an honoree at the event that was created to bring together people in the film industry in the US and Ireland.Ms. Flanagan”s vast body of work includes starring roles in feature films, television and theatre, as well as experience behind the scenes as a producer. She is currently appearing in the Showtime series Brotherhood, in which she plays the matriarch of an Irish family in Providence, Rhode Island.Her feature film credits include the box-office hit The Others, for which she won a Saturn Award, The Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood, James Joyce’s Women, Youngblood, Sinful Davey, Ulysses, Mr. Patman, A State Of Emergency, Reflections, Final Verdict, the Oscar”- winning In The Region Of Ice, Death Dreams, Mad At The Moon and Money For Nothing. Her Irish roots shine in such distinctive Irish films as Waking Ned Devine and Some Mother’s Son. She also won rave reviews playing Felicity Huffman”s mother in Transamerica. In 2007, she appeared in Anthony Hopkins” indie film, Slipstream.Contributed by Seamus Ryan
Through the high tech boom, this Home Rule municipality of about 19,000 residents has managed to keep its charm of yesteryear. Outside of City Hall, a Miners memorial statue acknowledges the coal miners that populated the area beginning with the Welch mine in 1877. Though the town went through some tumultuous times with mining strikes, union disagreements, and general mining town hooliganism in its early development, the streets of downtown Louisville today reflects the nostalgia of a quieter time with family restaurants, shops, and businesses.This quaint town with a blend of modern and historical relevance has gained national attention in recent years as one of the best places to live in the U.S. In May of 2006, Bert Sperling & Peter Sander, in their book Best Places to Raise Your Family: The Top 100 Affordable Communities in the U.S., ranked Louisville first on their list of best places in the U.S. to raise a family. In August, 2007, Money magazine listed Louisville as third over all and “Best in the West” on its annual “Best Places to Live”. They “focused on smaller places that offered the best combination of economic opportunity, good schools, safe streets, things to do and a real sense of community.” The Money article highlighted Louisville”s “old wooden buildings downtown still give the place the feel of a small frontier town,” and described the “Outdoor life is spectacular.” Add another measure of quality of life – a blossoming arts community.With an impressive staff which has credentials from Broadway to Carnegie Hall, The Art Underground opened its doors in historic downtown Louisville last September in a makeshift studio on Main Street. This month marks the opening of their custom studio, just a block over at 901 Front Street ” complete with dance flooring, mirrors, acoustic balance, and a separate visual arts “create” space. The non-profit organization offers theatre and visual arts for all ages, and music and dance from Celtic to Hip-Hop. In addition to providing high quality arts classes, The Art Underground hosts workshops, art galleries/exhibits and other events, and promotes opportunities for patrons and artists to connect and support a growing arts community.”I love downtown Louisville,” said Lori Jones, Arts Underground Executive Director, “I think it has the potential to be an arts hub, and that”s my ultimate goal, to promote all of the arts in the Louisville area ” that will give a core for downtown and help it strive.” Jones and her family have called Louisville home for 14 years. With a background in teaching and volunteer work she has witnessed good things that happen when people combine with passion and purpose. “I”ve seen it happen before,”, “A great synergy happens when you bring people together to be a part of a community,” said Jones who was delighted with the staff, board of directors, and volunteers who have banded together to make The Art Underground a reality. “It”s incredible how it all came together ” the timing has been just perfect ” it”s something that can”t be planned, it just happened.”Jones helped start the synergy for The Art Underground with discussions with friends and like-minded community members including current Arts Underground Board of Directors Lisa Larisch Phillips, a professional artist with art gallery experience in NYC; Lori Scheiffler, a successful business owner, CPA, with a background in the arts; Terese Carroll, recipient of a Ford Foundation scholarship to the School of American Ballet and the official training academy”of the New York City Ballet while in High School (She ended up going to the University of Virginia Law School and became a corporate lawyer); and Jones who most recently was on the Board of Directors of youth theatre group CenterStage Theatre Company. “Our Board of Directors is small, but each member has brought a great deal of expertise to the endeavor,” said Jones, adding that her co-Board members, “have incredible backgrounds and have been instrumental in pulling this (T.A.U.) together.””A lot of good-hearted and really talented people have come on board with us” said Jones. Among those people is soon-to-be landlord for the new Art Underground space, Arlin Lehman. According to Jones, Lehman is a supporter for an arts theme in downtown Louisville and has been going above and beyond to try to make the Front Street facility special for The Arts Underground patrons. “It”s a beautiful space with high ceilings and natural light ” and there is room to expand,” said Jones, “Parents can sit on our wonderful patio and watch their children practice.””Several more individuals have offered their services for free to help make The Art Underground function well…Ileane Olson has jumped in to lend her business expertise to the organization whenever needed,” said Jones, “Many other people have stepped forward to help with a variety of services…office painting, moving from the temp space to the new space, manning the office, marketing and design services ” and even cleaning.”In addition to much help received by local individuals, The Art Underground has partnered with Louisville businesses for mutually beneficial relationships. “We have partnered with the Old Louisville Inn to use their performance space for our Celtic programs,” said Jones, and added that Dana Vachharajani Music and Casablanca Dance Studio in Louisville have agreed to share space for classes.The Arts Underground received a few scholarship donations according to Jones. “I called some local schools to identify possible recipients. The very first recipient was enthusiastically recommended by personnel at one of the schools.” The 8 year-old girl and her two siblings ages 4 and 5 are being raised by a single father who brought them to Louisville to escape the crime in Detroit. When moms of some of the other kids in this little girls’ class heard about the dire circumstances in her family, they sprung into action to help the family with food, gifts and other support. “This has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my job so far.” It’s been very heartwarming to see a sense of community develop in new and different ways from what I had originally anticipated.”Information about The Arts Underground.303-229-1127 or www.theartunderground.org.
The Denver-based Wick School of Irish Dance, founded and directed by Linnane Wick Joseph, is celebrating its twentieth year.”The dancers were joined in Los Angeles by Linnane Wick and Maureen Shea Cerise, a former Wick School championship dancer and current instructor.”I was excited and emotional beyond measure for those kids and there families, for Maureen, and myself ” you know, a lot of hard work had paid off,” said Linnane, whose school has had many champion dancers over the years, but never three at once, “By standards of the Western Regions these days, the Wick”s School is not a huge school so it was pretty phenomenal ” to get three wins.” adding, “I felt like a little kid at my birthday party, not wanting it to end, I kept trying to find somebody else to celebrate or just hang out ” I just didn”t want the night to end ” It was a huge feat, you never know if it is going to happen again so you just bask in the glory of the moment.” All of the solo dancers competeted with 60 or more dancers in their age bracket. It wasn”t just the three first-place Wick dancers who did well. Of the 25 solo competitors 17 placed.” Of those who placed,”seven Wick School dancers qualified to compete in the World Irish Dance Championships over the Easter Holiday in Belfast, Northern Ireland. In addition to the three Oirechtas champions, the other world qualifiers include:” Broccan Ware, Erin Hayes, Annabella Maurera, Claire Morlock, and Emma Anderson.So what did Linnane attribute her schools success? “These kids worked really hard ” at least 3 to 4 practices a week at the studio ” than their practice outside the studio.” And perhaps a little divine inspiration from Fred Wick, Linnanes”s dad and patriarch of the Wick”s School who passed on in September? “Let”s just say that his presence was felt … It would have been great to see his reaction – he would have kept the party going.”
The Hickey”s came across the facility while looking for an investment property to expand their Colorado business interests which include The Celtic Tavern, Delaney”s Bar, and Erin”s Sandwich Shop. “Our first impression when we walked into the building was “Oh my God, this would be perfect for an Irish center or Celtic heritage center.” To get a few more sets of eyes and opinions they called Denver Gaels” Ciaran Dwyer and Martin Concannon and asked them to take a look. They did come and left with the same enthusiastic response as the Hickeys.The facility seemed ideal, with a 3,000 square foot hall and a full commercial kitchen, offices attached and more office space on the second floor, a huge basement, and a half acre garden with a full 1,000 sq. ft. kid”s playground in back. The Hickey”s envisioned the entire ground floor as an Irish center with great meeting space, dancing space, session rooms for musicians. The basement could by used for band practice or performance to smaller crowds. In addition to the main building, there is a 6 bedroom hotel and a cottage.The Hickey”s did have a second sober thought before proceeding with the project. “We started to think of the logistics of trying to get everybody together (Irish/Celtic groups/associations) to try and get the funding and all the rest,” said Noel, “so I just decided, you know what, it would be awful easier if I just bought it myself.” The Hickey”s have begun to lease office space and book events. “There is already a bit of life in there,” said Noel, “The cottage is leased, and we have a general contractor, plumber, architect, Denver Gaels, Erin”s Sandwiches, and AOH (Ancient Order of Hibernians) using office space.” The Hickey”s hope that more folks continue to use the facility for parties” weddings, dances, gigs, anything at all. Noel added, “We have a fully functional kitchen that would be perfect for a catering business.” They are open to most business that would like to be in the building, but Noel stressed, “We would like to create sort of a home for all the Celtic different organizations – without a home you”re always looking for somewhere to hold things, ya know.””Right now we are just calling it The Celtic Center – it”s going to be called The Celtic Center and Offices,” said Noel about the multi-structure facility located at 1533 Glen Ayr Drive, just north of the 8800 block of West Colfax at the entrance of the Glen Creighton neighborhood. Known simply as “The Glens” because of the Scottish named streets ” Glen Dee, Glen Moor, Glen Garry, Glen Dale, Glen Bar, Glen Gyle, and Glen Ayr ” the area was developed by Cyrus J. Creighton in the early 1920″s when it was just farmland west of Denver. Creighton hired Denver”s leading landscape architect Saco R. DeBoer to design the neighborhood with curving tree-lined lanes intersecting at Creighton Park at the center. It was Denver’s and Lakewood’s first landscaped subdivision with the theme “Glen Creighton is the park for quiet restful homes.” Today The Glens are an ambient enclave of 140 homes on irregular sized lots with eclectic architectural styles reflecting the patchwork growth of Lakewood. And 90 years after its inception, the once Scottish subdivision has “The Celtic Center” as a neighbor.To lease office or kitchen space, or book your event call Noel and Wendy at 720-210-3080by Pat McCullough
What led you to choose specific heritages? Well, first of all, many thanks for your kindness about the book. I suppose I chose specific heritages or national groupings to include in the story, partly by looking at which groups were present in large or growing numbers in America at the time. While the narrative moves backwards and forwards a bit, it”s largely set towards the end of the Civil War and in the Reconstruction era; and by those years you see the Irish being present in truly astounding numbers in America. The historian Roy Foster has calculated that, by the 1870s, 39% of all those alive who had been born in Ireland were living in America. So you could really speak in earnest about “an Ireland abroad”. And you see other immigrant groups arriving in larger numbers: Germans, later Italians, many English and many others. And of course for decades there had been a truly massive population of slaves. It seemed important to shape the book in a way that would at least attempt to be true to all these realities, reflecting the fact that, for example, some people with Irish blood had black skin, some spoke many languages, some were very proud of their Irishness, others wanted to forget it, and all found themselves struggling in a society they did not yet understand ” because pretty much nobody did. As for what you say about “100 proof” Celts, I would very respectfully wonder how many of those there truly were. By the middle of the 19th Century, Ireland had long since known assimilations of various kinds. We still see this is Norman and Huegenot placenames in Ireland, for example. Certainly, my central character James O”Keeffe, although he is an Irish nationalist, feels all sorts of allegiances to other cultures. He is half-Italian (married to a woman is half-American, half-Nicaraguan), was educated in England, has traveled widely in Europe, speaks and writes French. He sees himself as a world citizen and his true desire for Ireland is not that the country becomes a narrowly Gaelic island but that it takes its equal place among the free republics of the world. The Confederate Duggan and the Union General O”Keeffe (both Irish patriots) present a powerful example of rifts that are never reconciled, and they also underpin the fact that the Irish in America were never a geographical, political or social monolithic block. I think this feature in Irish-American literature is often underemphasized. Do you agree? Yes, I do, very much. There has been a good deal of writing about the kind of Irish immigrant who always regretted being in America, for example, and not enough about those who were content enough to go. In that context, it”s always struck me as odd that in the literally thousands of traditional ballads of Irish emigration, there isn”t one where the narrator is delighted to be in the new land, far away from the poverty and misery of Ireland. You do see this aspect in immigrants” letters, fairly often, but not in more public forms of literary endeavor. I think the history of literary writing about Irish-Americans has often been beset by clich”, the reductive idea that every Irish immigrant voted Democrat, was Catholic, was poor, missed home, lived in a ghetto, drank too much, etc. For me, the most interesting Irish American stories are often about those who had a profound desire to assimilate, who changed their names and histories, wanting to disappear into America. The picture is always far more complex and interesting than most of us realize. You could say the ground upon which almost every Irish-American stands is constantly shifting. So many characters, so many backgrounds, so many tongues! How did you prepare for the assortment of voices and their testimonies? I guess by a lot of planning and careful thought before I sat down to write. What was happening to America”s language in the 1860s was really fascinating and it became clear to me early on that a way would have to be found of the book”s text reflecting, indeed sometimes embodying, the extraordinary process by which a language as beautiful and expressive and endlessly various as American English forms itself. But really, all the voices are included in order to give the book texture and music and hopefully to make it a richer reading experience. That”s the main concern I have always, what the reader wants here. As I work on a book I”m pretty much always thinking about the reader and what he or she wants, which is vital to know. If you can discern that, you can play with readers” expectations ” you don”t always have to supply what they want at the time they want it, but you do have to know what it is they want. So, sometimes we want the music loud, and sometimes soft, and sometimes the whole orchestra, and sometimes just one voice. You clash the cymbals or you lilt a lullaby ” it all depends on what the reader wants. And on what you can do!The book places the Mooneys in Louisiana and follows them, along with other southerners into the American West. So much Irish and Irish-American writing concerns itself with folks on the east coast. How did you decide to take the story into the West?Well, I was aware of the silence you mention and that seemed to suggest the story of the Western Irish really needed to be told. We sometimes think the story of Irish-America is exclusively a narrative set in the Atlantic cities and Chicago, but of course it isn”t. Billy the Kid himself was the child of Irish immigrants and was born in the Lower East Side of New York, only heading west in his teens. I”m intrigued by the idea of the Irish cowboy, and also by the huge numbers of Irish western stories yet untold, for example about miners, prospectors, and other settlers in the west, especially the enormous numbers of Irish who headed west in the years after the Civil War. Those are as much a part of the Irish-American story as are the New Yorkers and Chicagoans.Tell us a bit about your research in America ” which states?I went to Montana for a few days in December of 2005, a truly fascinating place for those interested in the history of the Western American Irish. One early Governor of the Territory, before it was incorporated as a state, was the Irish-born revolutionary Thomas Francis Meagher, and shades of that interesting and complex man appear in General James O”Keeffe, a central character in Redemption Falls. And with my wife and our two young sons I lived in New York for a year, researching the history of Irish involvement in the American Civil War at the New York Public Library, where I had a writer-in-residence fellowship. As well as that, over the years I”ve traveled pretty widely in the United States and anywhere I”ve gone I”ve usually done a little rummaging around for the Irish history of the place, if there is one, which there usually is. Since the novel is set during the Civil War, I read a great many first-person testimonies of the conflict. Perhaps 150,000 Irish-born immigrants fought for the northern side and perhaps eighty thousand for the south. There are stories of immense courage in the face of almost certain death, but I think, at least I hope, that Redemption Falls is animated by an insight into what made many of them fight. There was a fear among many of the Irish Americans of the era, who had endured a great deal of abuse in the United States, that the new country would never truly accept them as equals. My own sense is that this is what lay behind the decision of the Irish to sign up in such vast numbers. I think they wanted to demonstrate a loyalty to the adoptive land, which is what makes what they did so poignant. And of course, I learned that there was a whole range of other reasons why people fought, too. For the money, or out of boredom, or out of a sense of adventure, or out of loyalty to the state as opposed to the whole country. The letters written by the soldiers are often very moving indeed. In that pre-media age, they had so little idea of the realities of warfare, and many were so young, really little more than children. And the stories of the women in the soldiers” lives ” wives, sweethearts, mothers ” are often absolutely riveting and powerful. I don”t think enough has been written about Irish and other immigrant women in the war, and the often staggering sacrifices they made. It was really important to me that the three central women in Redemption Falls are as important to the story as the men are. Most Americans feel that the country has strong regional, cultural differences. Do you find this to be true? Please share some observations. Oh yes, that”s manifestly true. To me, America is like a series of adjoining countries rather than one unchanging entity. That it functions at all is one of the most fascinating things about it. You see this very pointedly, I think, in how English is spoken in America, just the vast variety of influences on the spoken word. Think of the French-Cajun history of Louisiana, the Spanish of contemporary Los Angelenos, the drawl of Texan English, the slang of urban hip-hop, the beautiful economy and precision of the Chicago blues, which is itself a sort of translation of the folksong of the Mississippi delta, and an encountering of that music with the realities of northern life, as well as with the technologies of recording and electronic music. All this hit me powerfully one day when I was visiting the Sun recording studio in Memphis, where Elvis and Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins had worked. The way the studio is organized, as you walk around they play recordings of the musicians laughing and joking and clowning and tuning up. One woman on the tour, a very nice Bostonian, joked to me that she could hardly understand a word that Elvis and the others were saying, because they were southerners! And yet she could understand me, a non-American. So I”m not sure “E Pluribus Unum” is really an accurate motto. Out of many, America is many, which seems a wonderful thing to me.Who are your favorite authors and why? What daily reading do you do? This is an almost impossible question, since its answer would change very often. But among the authors who mean most to me are Charles Dickens, for his exceptional gift at creating unforgettable characters, Richard Ford, for his skill in writing a sentence at once simple and beautiful, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who can make those little ink-stains we call words seem as explosively exciting as a firework display. But there are lots of other authors whose work I love: J.D. Salinger”s “The Catcher in the Rye” is a book I absolutely treasure, since it”s the novel that made me want to be a writer myself. And a couple of years ago, I read all of George Orwell”s work in sequence, and found it a fantastically enriching experience. I don”t read fiction every day, especially when I”m trying to write it, but I do try to read a little poetry most evenings. I love Heaney, Elizabeth Bishop, Paul Durcan, Emily Dickenson, Paul Muldoon, John Donne, Derek Mahon, Simon Armitage. When I was a teenager, a novel I loved was John Fowles”s The French Lieutenant”s Woman. Fowles wrote that he had begun working on the novel because of a persistent visual image he couldn”t explain or make sense of. In Lyme Regis, in the south of England (where Fowles lived at the time) there is a Victorian-era pier and the image came into his head of a young woman standing on the pier looking out at the sea. She was dressed in a black hooded cape and was always facing away from him. Fowles said that his reason for writing the novel was “to make her turn her head and look at me” and in a way that”s what I felt about Eliza Mooney in Redemption Falls. I wrote the story to make her turn and look at me. Favorite music? I cannot imagine a day without music and I love all sorts of genres of musical expression, from grand opera to punk rock, from American blues to Irish ballads. For me, America”s greatest achievement in the arts has been in the field of popular music. No other country on the face of the earth could possibly have produced geniuses as diverse as Stephen Foster, Robert Johnson, Bob Dylan, Bessie Smith, Muddy Waters, Woody Guthrie, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Elvis, Bruce Springsteen, Jimi Hendrix, Patti Smith, Mahalia Jackson, Paul Robeson, Little Richard, Otis Redding, Gene Vincent, Brian Wilson ” the list is endless. I love the bel canto operas of Puccini and have sometimes been moved to tears by them, but there”s no aria in the world to compare to Roy Orbison singing “Crying”, and no lament to compare to Billie Holiday”s “Strange Fruit”. And it all comes from the most beautiful and valuable aspect of the American democratic tradition: the notion that ordinary lives are worthy of celebration, that a story need not be about a duchess or a king to have merit. Any poet in the world would have given his right hand to have written a line as beautiful and haunting and absolutely truthful as “there”s no love-song finer/but how strange, the change from minor to minor.” So if I absolutely have to choose (which I”m glad I”m don”t have to) give me an American song any day of the week. If it”s sung by Frank Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald or Aretha Franklin or Billie Holiday, I feel I”m in the presence of something truly miraculous. Please tell us about your early education and how you came to be a writer. Well, my first teacher (when I was aged four) was a very tough old nun, who had old-fashioned views about education. She drummed the ABC into us and we were all a little scared of her ” but actually she was a wonderful teacher and not nearly as strict as she seemed. Later, I attended Blackrock College in Dublin, and then University College Dublin, and then Oxford University. But I think my early interest in literature comes from my parents, especially my father. My parents were Dubliners and they were always interested in books. When books are in a house, children grow up thinking literature is nothing strange. So we would have grown up with paperbacks of the works of people like John McGahern and Benedict Kiely around us, and collections of Yeats”s poetry, and Patrick Kavanagh”s books. My father was a great lover of Victorian English poetry, and would read to us at night from the works of Tennyson and Robert Browning. Those, really, were our bedtime stories. So I grew up thinking the English language was a beautiful and magical thing, and that fiction could bring you to all sorts of extraordinary places. And I guess I still think that now. Certainly I believe in the power of fiction to shed light and bring news, since fiction, at its heart, is a kind of invitation to empathy. It”s the strange paradox of fiction that somehow in imagining briefly what it is to be someone else we can come to know more deeply what it is to be ourselves. That”s true of any kind of good storytelling, from the nursery rhyme to the literary novel, to the movies, or even a good joke. It”s why a really good novel can never be about style alone. It always has to be about people.Favorite travel destination?France, Italy, the United States, London. Ireland is so different today from when I first visited in the 1980s. Your feelings about the Celtic Tiger?I think anyone who grew up in the Ireland of the 1970s and early 1980s remembers a fairly depressed country, lacking in any kind of self-confidence. These days that has changed utterly, I think largely for the better. Ireland has almost full employment, a very successful economy, and in fact has become a destination for a considerable number of immigrants. Younger Irish people have grown up in a vibrant and outward-looking culture, knowing they will never have to emigrate ” although cheap air travel has meant that almost all of them visit other countries regularly, so there isn”t that awful sense of insularity that benighted the Ireland of my childhood. That said, many of us have reservations about some aspects of Irish life now. There is no doubt that Ireland has become a far more materialistic society than it used to be. There is an obsession with consumerism, and with having the right car, and the right designer label and other such nonsense. But I think this is what happens when people have been poor for a long time and
hey suddenly get a few bucks ” there”s a bit of a party, and everyone rushes the candy-store, and only the very joyless would worry too much about it. But my own feeling is that the party has now lasted for ten years and it”s time to move on to the next stage: we need to ask ourselves what kind of society we would like to have. A lot of Ireland”s recent wealth has been wasted, I feel. We could have done so much to make the country a fairer and more equal place, and we didn”t. But it”s not too late, and I always hold to the hope that the best is yet to come! Favorite place in Ireland (besides home)?Cashel Bay in Connemara, County Galway. What of Mary Duane from Star of the Sea? I presumed she was the mother of Eliza and Jeremiah, and kept hoping for word of her throughout the book. Ah, but that might be a future story. You are quite right! The story of what happened to Mary Duane will be revealed in my next novel. I always conceived of Star of the Sea as the first part of a trilogy of Irish-American life. Redemption Falls is the second part. The third and final part is in my mind at the moment and I hope to write it next year. I would very much like to call it “The Dawn”s Early Light” but I can”t help thinking there must already be a novel called that! THANK YOU!”
Irish-American Society of New Mexico Sponsors Six Teens in Final Year of Children’s Friendship Project for Northern Ireland
CFPNI was the brainchild of Peggy Barrett, a Pennsylvania woman (born in Co. Cork) who was stirred into action after watching scenes of violence from Northern Ireland on her television. In 1987 she and her husband, Jack, decided to set up the now famous charity with a band of volunteers from her local area to bring pairs of young people”one Protestant, the other Catholic”to live together in their homes across the US. That initial program has grown in scope over the years with the help of hundreds of volunteers and families from across Northern Ireland and all over the US. To date, CFPNI has helped more than 2,000 NI teens caught up in the “troubles” through cross-cultural programs aimed at promoting understanding through interaction.The New Mexico Chapter of the CFPNI was formed as a committee of the IAS in 1989. In 2005, I became the Southwest Coordinator, and began the onerous (but so fulfilling!) task of recruiting host families who would be willing to take two teenagers into their homes for the entire month of July. Last year my committee and I recruited five families; this year we recruited three. On June 21st of this year I traveled to Northern Ireland (by way of Continental to Houston, then diverted to Gatwick, then delayed in Dublin, then reunited with my luggage, then on to Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, by bus, whew!) to attend the “pre-departure meeting” with the 72 teens who would be participating in the project this year (including the six slated to come to New Mexico). “Try to be good visitors,” I told them in my speech. “Yes, the food is going to be weird (we don’t put gravy on Chinese food here in America for one thing, can you believe it?), but if you can be open-minded and tolerant, you will have a wonderful experience.” They whooped and hollered. I was exhausted already, just thinking about chaperoning all 72 of them to the US in a few days.On June 27th, the 72 teens and I (and another NI Coordinator) made the loooonnnggg journey to the US. Six teens and I raced through the Newark airport and by some miracle made our connection to Houston and then on to Albuquerque, where we were greeted by the host families, CFPNI committee members, and a piper! The teens were totally embarrassed by it all (but in a good way).And then the real fun began: Off went Rhian and Emma to the Bryers (Vikki and Bob); Aine and Emma to Martina Mesmer; Rachel and Siobhan to myself and Don Baker. And what a summer they all had: trips to Santa Fe, Taos, Acoma, Chaco Canyon, the Grand Canyon, the Tram, Cliff’s, the Zoo, the Botanical Gardens, museums, etc. etc. etc. If there was something cool to see in New Mexico, they saw it. (Of course, being teenagers, the place they loved the best was THE MALL. And because the pound sterling was”still is”doing so well against the American dollar, they had plenty of money to spend.) When they left on July 25th, there was much smiling through tears”we all knew we had had a summer we would never forget.On October 18th, Don and I arrived in Belfast Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, to attend the “Re-Union””an annual event where the teens and their families in NI (and some of their American families as well) reconvene to assess the lessons learned from their summer in America. At the Reunion, to highlight the lessons they learned from their summer in America, some of the teens put on skits: some hilariously spoofing the stereotypes found on both sides of the Atlantic (“I hope to have great craic in America!” “WHAT!?!?! You think you”re going to get CRACK here? Are you a drug addict!?”); and others zeroing in on our all-too-human tendencies to judge others by how they look, not how they act. (“You may be stupid as a rock, but I”m going to hire you because I think you”re cute!”)The celebration was marred only by the realization that this would be the last Re-Union, as the US and NI Board of Directors had voted the day before to disband CFPNI after its twenty-year run. The reasons for this decision are many, but the primary reason is that the “troubles” in NI do not seem so troubling now. Many of the CFPNI teens, for example, already knew each other before the program; the segregation of Protestants from Catholics is not so rigid as in the past. This is not true in all parts of the North, of course: In Derry (if you’re Catholic; “Londonderry” if you’re Protestant), the neighborhoods are clearly delineated by either the Tricolor and pubs with pictures of the Pope, or the Union Jack and pubs with pictures of the Queen. And the father of one of my teens told me that he would never consider going into either of the two pubs in his little village as they were both “Protestant pubs” and he would not be welcomed there.But our CFPNI teens (some now in their mid-30s) will not necessarily have the same segregated adulthood as their parents. For one thing, they have more money now than their grandparents and are thus less inclined to want to spend time brooding over historical differences. For another, they have been to the other side of the Atlantic and have seen for themselves what life is like in a country where (for the most part) no one cares what your religious preferences are. Twenty years ago, Peggy Barrett envisioned a Northern Ireland that had achieved peace through understanding and interaction. Thanks to CFPNI (and other similar programs, such as the Ulster Project and Friends Forever), the people of NI are well on their way. The Irish-American Society of New Mexico is proud to have been a significant part of that achievement.For more information about CFPNI (www.cfpni.org) or the IAS of NM (http://www.irishamericansociety-nm.com/), contact Ellen Dowling at 505-307-1700 ([email protected]).
A nonprofit organization, MCPN has provided medical and health education services to the underserved since 1989. Their current service areas encompass Jefferson, Arapahoe, Adams and Park Counties and the City of Lakewood and Aurora. MCPN has one of the largest population base of any Community Health Center in Colorado and, the largest number of underserved individuals in the State. Within its current established healthcare system MCPN provides primary care to approximately 16,000 individuals in the City of Aurora. According to David Myers, MCPN President and CEO, those numbers will increase, “We estimate that 60,000 individuals in Aurora qualify for MCPN services. Our expansion of a new medical facility will increase our current capacity to serve more patients, bringing the estimate total to 32,000 individuals served in this community.”MCPN has developed services to provide primary health care for people who have no other access to health care. A Family Practice model of health care is supported by case management services, pharmacy services, and other coordination efforts to remove barriers to health care. Well Child Care, immunizations, obstetrics, gynecology, and chronic disease management are among the most often-requested services.MCPN provides case management and health education programs in the following areas:” AmeriCorps service learning Programs for Adults, where health education and outreach services for MCPN patients and clients are provided. ” Health Education Classes comprised of Diabetes, Asthma, Childbirth, Smoking Cessation, Family Planning and Healthy Living. ” Healthy Start Project, providing care coordination for pregnant women and families with infants up to two years of age in Aurora, Englewood, and Sheridan. ” Perinatal Services, creating effective linkages for pregnant women with the MCPN service system and providing Doula Birth Coaches.” Services for Aurora”s Homeless/Indigent Populations, serving the community at MCPN”s Elmira clinic. ” Services for Pregnant and Parenting Teens, working with pregnant and parenting youth in Aurora ages 11 ” 19 years. These services include: resource information, help returning to school or getting a GED, support, advocacy, home visits, case management and the teen clinic.MCPN has accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). This means we have been recognized for complying with rigorous national performance standards that promote quality health care delivery, our top priority.MCPN is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization; this designation allows all revenue to be put towards meeting their mission. All donations are tax exempt.For more information about MCPN or The Green Tie Event please contact Vice President of Development, John Reid @ (303) 761-1977 x124 or [email protected]
“We raised $2K for Children”s Hospital…for the research of “SIDS”, said owner Andrew Toole, “We raised the money by silent auction with items donated by Natures Way, Pepsi Centre and Scruffy”s putting up two round trip tickets to Ireland.” Big Paddy, Kinetics & 66 Days provided entertainment. (photo by Donnie Danesh)
With fiddle in hand, she will drop into the Conor O”Neill”s Sunday night session in Boulder to play and visit with friends. “The folks there have been so supportive and kind,” she said about her fellow session players, “really generous with their excitement for me.” She will also teach fiddle lessons when she is home to her students with flexible schedules. “I really love to teach and get people excited about such a joyous music ” I think there are a lot of people out there that like the variety and spontaneity of the traditional Irish music ” it”s a great outlet for young and old”.Passionate about Irish traditional music, Jessie”s first instruction was in classical violin which she played for ten years as a child in Suffolk, England. For the past 15 years or so Jessie has been focusing on Irish trad but she has also been introduced to some of it”s cousins. “I”ve been influenced by American music like Old Time and Bluegrass as well because I”ve been living out in Colorado and played that a fair bit as well.”So going from trad to the bigger sound of GS, what kind of adjustments did you need to make?
”You have to do an adjustment with how you play ” like in a lot of kinds of music, if you”re the melody player people will follow you ” if you want to pick the pace of the tune up or slow it down you do and the guitarist will follow you. But when you”re in a more contemporary group with a drum kit you have to fit ” you can”t just say “gee, I think I”ll speed it up now” because you would just get out of time with everyone. The group is set by the drum and guitar and you have to fit. Fitting into that rhythm has probably been the hardest challenge for me… it continues to be a really fun challenge. I get to explore rhythm in a way that I”ve never done before ” I”m backing up the songs as well as playing melody”You have a wireless fiddle that allows you to interact freely with band members and audience. How have you adjusted to this physical movement aspect on stage?
”Yes, if I moved around like that in a trad setting I would take everyone out,” she said with a laugh, adding, “Pretty much of the job description is to be really energetic and just really have a great time playing on stage ” and we honestly are- its the highlight of every day to get on stage and play ” we spend all day getting -driving there, arranging it ” then you finally get up there and play. I get really filled with energy when I”m up on stage, and the tunes are so catchy that I just can”t stand still.”So how did you get plucked out of comfortable Colorado to tour the world with GS?
”I put my Myspace page(website) together and started shooting-off “friend requests” (one way musicians cross promote on each others sites) to just all sorts of people including Gaelic Storm.” A day or two later Jessie got and email from their Nashville management office requesting that she give them a call and arrange to fly out to the East coast to audition the next week. “He sent me a bunch of cds-and I tried to learn about six albums in one week-which backfired” she laughed recalling the information overload. “But I did the audition with them and it went well and they were all really nice…Ellery Klein (their fiddle player at the time) with her pregnant tummy was very nice and helpful. They gave me-kind of like a trial period where I went out on tour for about a week apprenticing with her – so we would be both on stage and she showed me the ropes.Once we worked out that I wanted to be there and they wanted me there than Ellery left when she was about 5 months pregnant – so I became their full time fiddle player.”Now that you have been touring for a half a year or so do you feel like a bona fide member of the band?
”Now it feels like I have been doing it forever” she said with a laugh, then resumed on a more serious note, “I think it is so much about how personalities get on ” its no use being an amazing musician if there is a big personality riff of people ” the chemistry of the band is more important. It”s sooo great, we really, really like each other and watch out for each other.”So as the only female in the band are they protective of you?
”Actually they are- they definitely keep an eye on me ” they”ve let me know that if there was ever any trouble, all I had to do was whistle and they would be there with their boxing gloves on.”Is there any downside to being the only female in the band?
”Not really, they have had a girl in the band for the last ten years, so in a way they treat me like one of the guys. Though they do tease me all the time ” lucky I grew up in a big family of 7 brothers and sisters. , I do beeline to other female musicians I meet on the road and immediately start talking about things that I wouldn”t normally talk about with my girlfriends -like hair, make-up and clothes.”What! the lads won”t chat fashion with you?
”No, but you would be surprised how much time they spend on their hair ” much more than me!” She said with a laugh, assuring me that none of the lads were in earshot.GS spends close to 200 days on the road, how are you managing all the time on the road ” the tour bus, hotels?
”It”s a unique work situation where you virtually live with your co-workers and bosses and you depend on each other for company-you create music together, you do business as a team – a lot of our time goes into merchandise “selling and accounting. When were on the tour bus, its is a big vehicle and you can get space on it you know ” you learn quickly how important to have a really could set of headphones-and a good computer-and I-pod so you have the option to be in your own world as you travel. I”m so glad cell phones were invented because I can stay in touch with friends back home, and of course email is really key. We don”t sleep on the bus we stay in hotels all the time ” it would be a lot harder if we had to sleep on the bus.”Is there a shower? ”Yes “but it is occupied by beer crates.”So the all the travel is not draining?”Mostly I”ve woke up every morning excited to see what”s coming next- but every now again you just want to go home-you just want your mommy you know. You just want some good healthy home cooked food and the same bed and a place where you can be by yourself every now and again. But that happens rarely- and I think that you have to be kind of an adventurous kind of person who likes to be in new places and see new things all of the time.”What has been your most memorable gig so far?”I heard about Milwaukee for decades ” about being such an amazing festival ” and to actually get to play there was like a dream come true for sure.Friday night played in front of upwards to 10,000 people…as far back as you could see was a sea of people ” it was a little daunting to be up there with legends of Irish music all over the place ” and thousands and thousands of people. The energy was phenomenal “really incredible!Saturday the rain came. Waking up on Saturday morning and seeing sheets of rain coming down wondering yet again if it would be another festival wash-out which happened a lot this summer. But, the Saturday concert was turned out to be incredible. The band said that it was the best show that they have done in ten years ” since they had been together. It was definitely the most fun that I”ve ever had on stage ” just because everyone kind of teamed together-the audience was out in the wet and cold, and we were up there knowing that we had to cheer them up and give them something to dance about and get warm again ” We ended up stage surfing on the front of the stage on our stomachs in front of all of those people ” this band is all about giving people a really good time – making people feel really glad that they”re at the gig and have them leave with big smiles on their faces.”Jessie will be having a couple of homecoming of sorts – November 1st when she returns to Colorado with Gaelic Storm, and November 9th when she and the band will be in concert in New Mexico where her mom grew up and many relatives live.An Evening with Gaelic Storm, Thursday, November 1st, 7:30 pm Show, 6:30pm Doors. All Ages Show (Under 16 must be accompanied by parent w/ticket)/GA. Gothic Theatre, 3263 South Broadway, Englewood CO. Tickets: $15.00 Advance $20.00 DOS. Advance tickets at Denver Folklore Center, Kereen O”Connors and at: www.gothictheatre.com or call 303-777-0502An Evening with Gaelic Storm, Friday, November 9th, 8:00pm Show, 7:00pm Doors, ALL AGES SHOW/GA, The Historic El Rey Theater, 622 Central Ave SW, Albuquerque, NM. Tickets $10 kids & students w/school I.D., $15 Advance $20 DOS. Advance tickets available at Encore Music, Bookworks, All Zone location, 1.866.I.GetTix or GetTix.net.In Colorado call 303-777-0502.
The event raised $7,000 for the Denver Fire Fighters Burn Foundation. “Another great day of golf for a great cause” according to Steven Annis, tournament director. The 5th annual tournament will take place Monday June 23, 2008. Pictured above is John Nallen presenting the check at the Denver Fire Dept. station #6. John Nallen and family from CO, Mayo Ireland own Nallen”s Irish Pub in downtown Denver and have also recently opened O”Shea”s Tavern & Grill in the Denver Tech Center.
The competition was to see who could pour the perfect pint of Murphy’s stout, at stake was a trip to Ireland to visit the Murphy’s Brewery in Cork. Contestants were judged in 10 different categories and the top three contestants were: First Place Winner, Pat Balai from The”Celtic Tavern; First Runner Up, Julia Farkas The Irish Snug; Second Runner Up, Brendan”Dorney from the Irish Rover.