This year’s Cultural Village will showcase the journey of the Irish from Ireland to Colorado. There will be demos and displays from each of these areas:
The Journey to North America: It is estimated that 1 million people died in Ireland during the Great Hunger (1845 – 1851) and another 2 million fled the country. The ocean journey took between 40 to 90 days. Many passengers were in poor health due to malnutrition which made them susceptible to other illnesses including typhus, dysentery, cholera, small pox and influenza. These ships were overcrowded, had poor sanitation, lack of light, poor air quality and lack of adequate food and water. It is estimated that 20 – 30% of the passengers died during the trip and their bodies were thrown overboard often without the benefit of religious rite. As a result, these vessels were known at “coffin ships”.
Life as a New Immigrant: Irish immigrants were poor, uneducated, illiterate and unskilled laborers. Most of the work available to them was dangerous, physically grueling and offered low pay. They were often willing to work for less than the going pay rate causing anti-Irish and anti-Catholic sentiment. It is said that “No Irish Need Apply” signs were found in classified ads and posted in windows of shops and factories.
Emigration to Colorado: The Pike’s Peak gold rush in 1858, the discovery of silver in Leadville in 1879 and the railroad industry brought many immigrants to Colorado. These miners and railroad workers came from upstate New York, Pennsylvania, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Montana, Canada and Beara Peninsula, County Cork, Ireland. They developed their own Irish societies including: The Ancient Order of Hibernians, The Daughters of Erin, Knights of Robert Emmet and helped to support and build several Catholic churches.
2017 Cultural Village presentations will include a variety of presenters and demonstrations showcasing the Irish journey to Colorado. In addition, various groups/people from Ireland/Irish descent who made a significant contribution in Colorado will be highlighted such as Margaret “Molly” Tobin Brown, John Kernan Mullen, Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, Michael Mooney and The Sisters of Loretto. Other attractions also included the Rocky Mountain Wolfhound Association, Irish genealogy support from WISE (Wales, Irish, Scotland, England Family Search Society), and the Irish county flag display.
Cultural Village Presentation Schedules
Saturday, July 15th
|Saturday, July 15th|
|10:30 AM||Tracing My Irish Heritage with DNA||Greg Liverman|
|11:15 AM||Traditional Nova Scotian Songs||Maggie MacDonald|
|11:15 AM||The History of Margaret “Molly” Brown||Annie Oppliger|
|12:15 PM||Searching For Your Irish Roots||Mary Lee Hagen|
|1:00 PM||Basic Irish Phrases||Dermot Healy|
|1:30 PM – 4:30 PM||Pipe Band Competition|
|4:30 PM||History of the Irish in Colorado||James Walsh|
|5:15 PM||Cape Breton Step Dancing & Square Dancing Lessons||Cassie MacDonald|
Sunday, July 16th
|Sunday, July 16th|
|10:30 AM||Tracing My Irish Heritage with DNA||Greg Liverman|
|11:00 AM||Traditional Nova Scotian Songs||Maggie MacDonald|
|12:00 PM||Searching For Your Irish Roots||Marylee Hagen|
|12:45 PM||Basic Irish Phrases||Dermot Healy|
|2:00 PM||Cape Breton Step Dancing & Square Dancing Lessons||Cassie MacDonald|
|3:15 PM||Irish in Denver Politics||Dennis Gallagher|
|4:15 PM||Re-Enactment of The Irish Battle in Leadville||Romero Theater Troupe|
|4:30 PM||How The Irish Immigrants Fought for Workers’ Rights||James Walsh|
2017 Cultural Village Presenters
Denver native Dennis Gallagher, is son of Ellen Flaherty Gallagher and William Gallagher, a Denver firefighter. Dennis served 24 years in the Colorado Legislature and eight years on city council. He co-authored Images of America – Irish Denver which showcases the very first Irish in Denver who came as miners, railroad workers, soldiers and domestic servants.
Marylee Hagen has a B.A. & M.A. in Education from the University of Northern Colorado. She has been doing genealogy research for 20 years and is a member of the Colorado Council of Genealogical Societies Speaker’s Bureau. She is the Past Ireland Representative for W.I.S.E (Wales, Ireland, Scotland, England) Family History Society. Marylee has traveled and researched in IRELAND and found her mother’s living relatives in Tralee Kerry Ireland.
Originally from a small town in County Galway (West of Ireland), Dermot Healy has been in the US for over 20 years – 15 in Upstate New York and since 2010 in the Denver-area. He has been active in the Irish-American community and has provided Irish language and cultural instruction over his years in the US. He is board member of the Irish Network Colorado and is an engineer by education. He travels back to Ireland frequently to see family and friends. He is married to Kristy and has two sons, Patrick and Conor.
Cassie & Maggie MacDonald
Fun, exciting, charming and talented Cassie & Maggie MacDonald are a dynamic Celtic sister duo who have emerged onto the music scene as the ones to watch. Born in Halifax, with strong roots in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, the girls have been wowing audiences across Canada with their unique blend of original and traditional Celtic music. Cassie’s fiddle playing has been described as sweet and elegant with just the right amount of raw power while Maggie’s piano playing has an irresistible drive that will leave your foot incapable of staying still and compliments Cassie’s playing perfectly. Together these delightful sisters bring more than your average fiddle and piano duo; Cassie is an award winning highland and step dancer and also sings harmony for Maggie. In addition to her virtuosic piano playing, Maggie sings lead, plays guitar and is also an accomplished step dancer. Their music fits together seamlessly, encompassing various styles from Cape Breton reels to Antigonish Polkas, Quebecois fiddling and foot work to down east standards. Their vocal harmonies are sweet yet powerful and their step dancing exact and exciting, showing off their youthful charm and energy. They are certainly rising stars in the Celtic music scene; their act is exciting, captivating and not to be missed! Cassie & Maggie will be performing on the Clontarf Stage all three days of the festival!
Annie Oppliger has been telling the rich history of Margaret “Molly” Brown for 10 years as a docent at the Molly Brown House Museum. Annie loves telling the story of Margaret who was not only a strong, determined women, like Annie, but also very proud of her Irish history. As an early lover of history, Annie studied American History in college and can trace her Irish roots back to her Great Grandparents, Bernard and Margaret Coleman O’Reilly, from County Mayo, Ireland.
Romero Theater Troupe
Romero Theater Troupe is a partnership between University of Colorado Denver faculty, students and the broader community, who come together in an organic, consensual method to write, produce and perform plays about matters of local, national and international importance. Community based organizations, civic activists and students come together to produce the plays and perform them in community settings, in accordance with what Troupe organizers describe as “our vision of organic theater as a kind of people’s theater where the audience participates in the production.” From theater in public parks, to performances in front of national conventions, Romero Troupe students and faculty have built an artistic social space where a pedagogy of “teaching from below” is nurtured.
James Walsh Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Political Science Dept. at the University of Colorado Denver, where he has taught for the past 19 years. He specializes in Irish-American, Labor, and Immigration history and politics. Walsh is the co-author of Irish Denver and several articles about Irish miners in 19th century Leadville. He is also the founder of the Romero Theater Troupe, an all-volunteer community organic theater troupe that preserves unknown stories of human rights struggles in Colorado.
2017 Cultural Village Organizations & Their Displays
Ancient Order of Hibernians – Michael Collins Division:
The Ancient Order of Hibernians is a Catholic, Irish American Fraternal Organization founded in New York City in 1836 at New York’s St. James Church. The Order can trace its roots back to the early 1600’s in Ireland. The Order evolved from a need in the early sixteen hundreds to protect the lives of priests who risked immediate death to keep the Catholic faith alive in occupied Ireland after the reign of England’s King Henry VIII. When England implemented its dreaded Penal Laws in Ireland, various secret social societies were formed across the country. These groups worked to aid and comfort the people by whatever means available. Similarly, the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America was founded to protect the clergy, and church Property from the “Know Nothings” and their followers. The first waves of Irish immigrants arrived in Colorado with the discovery of gold near Central City in the late 1850’s. By the early 1860’s, the Irish comprised Denver’s largest, and most visible, immigrant group. Desiring to band together as Irishmen and to protect the Catholic Church, a group of Irish miners in Central City formed the first AOH division in Colorado in 1878. AOH membership in Colorado soared throughout the 1880’s and 1890’s. By 1901 there were nine AOH division in Colorado. These divisions sponsored social and political activities and protected Catholic churches from the rising tide of reactionary anti-Catholicism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The AOH also participated in labor organizing in the mining region of Leadville. The Michael Collins AOH division will display information about where in Ireland those that immigrated actually came from – whether it was small, unincorporated crossroad villages, or larger cities or counties. In addition, they will display information about the history and locations of AOH divisions in Colorado.
Colorado Emerald Society
It is sung “It’s a long way to Tipperary”, but is a much longer way to Colorado from Ireland, especially if you are leaving Ireland during An Gorta Mor (great famine). Rather dwelling on the horrific circumstances that caused a million Irish ancestors to leave Ireland during the years of hunger, blessings should be counted that these ancestors provided the opportunity to be born in the United States of America, and for many of in the state of Colorado. The luck of the Irish, also known as the guiding hand of God, was with the Irish during a frightening and unpredictable voyage across the ocean. The courage, perseverance and adaptability our forefathers showed as they migrated from the east to west. They worked as maids and terriers (railroad workers) and farm laborers and miners so that their families could prosper. They educated their children who became police officers and fire fighters, and their children integrated into the world of business and politics. Today the Irish spirit touches every aspect of American life. Their courage became a part of Irish American heritage and it provided opportunities beyond their dreams. The Colorado Emerald Society pays respect to An Gorta Mor immigrants: Thank you for your courage. You endured the worst of life so that we could enjoy the best of life.
Hurling was said to be played in ancient times by teams representing neighbouring villages. Villages would play games involving hundreds of players, which would last several hours or even days. Injuries were rife in the early form of the game, but this changed dramatically in the mid 1800s with the introduction of the ball, which was due in no small measure to the tireless lobbying of Sir William Arthur Clement, and led soon after to the flattening of the hurley stick, and removal of the notorious ‘Claddagh’ spikes. The eighteenth century is frequently referred to as “The Golden Age of Hurling”. This was when members of the Anglo-Irish landed gentry kept teams of players on their estates and challenged each other’s teams to matches for the amusement of their tenants. Learn more about Irish Hurling and also boxing, baseball and Gaelic football and how they have evolved through the years.
Irish Network Colorado
Irish Network Colorado (IN-Colorado) is a business network that connects Irish expatriates, Irish-Americans and friends of Ireland. Our mission is to provide a forum for social, business, and professional networking for our members and to strengthen economic, social, and cultural ties between Irish and American businesses in Colorado and more broadly between the U.S. and Ireland.
Kennedy Society of North America
The Kennedy Society of North America will play on J.R.R. Tolkien’s quote “Not all those who wander are lost.” They will loosely follow a “true to life” Irish immigrant family who survived the Great Famine and was part of the immigrant wave from Ireland that passed through Ellis Island. They will then ‘follow’ them to the coal mines in Ohio, and finally to Leadville, Colorado in pursuit of a better life. While their journey is a sad and tragic story, the Kennedy Society will focus on the indomitable Irish spirit and grit that kept this family moving forward and honor them for paving the way for all those of Irish descent to enjoy the life we have today. The Colorado Irish Festival is a celebration of who we are, where we have been, and where we are going!
Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians:
Come explore artifacts depicting the beginning of the LAOH from the national organization. This organization was developed to welcome and support Irish women immigrants and their families as they came to America. Stop by their booth to enjoy traditional Irish recipes, bookmarks from the woman’s role in the 1916 Easter Rising and view their scrap book of faith, unity and Christian charity.
Rocky Mountain Wolfhound Association
The Irish Wolfhound is an ancient breed, known in Ireland since before the Romans invaded. Many tales of these imposing dogs exist from 200 BC onwards. Used for battle, hunting, and guarding duties, the wolfhound gradually came to specialize in hunting wolves. After the wolf population was eliminated from the British Isles, wolfhound numbers decreased substantially. The Great Famine in the 1840s was also hard on this giant breed because people were unable to feed these huge dogs. In the late 1800s, Captain George A. Graham dedicated himself to restoring the breed to its ancient type. Generally a companion dog today, the Irish Wolfhound is also capable at lure coursing. Visit their booth and learn about their history, their immigration to the U.S. and how they have come to be a modern day family pet.
W.I.S.E. – Irish Genealogy
Volunteer Irish genealogists from WISE (Wales, Irish, Scotland, England Family Search Society) will be on-site to answer your questions about your Irish roots. They will have family location maps and surname displays available.