A Passion for Philanthropy

I recently came across a memorable post on LinkedIn:

Want to be happy for a day, take a nap.

Want to be happy for a year, collect an inheritance.

Want to be happy for a lifetime, find a way to help others.

Do you enjoy giving your time to help others? While volunteering is a fantastic way to begin, have you ever thought of donating your talent? Perhaps you are an avid runner and enjoy donating time to local family fun runs or hosting a chapter of Girls on the Run. Have a talent working with animals? Perhaps you donate time at a local shelter or raise a PAWS with a cause puppy. I challenge you to do more than volunteer, combine philanthropy with your passion!

Many of you know I love my music. For the past year and a half, I have been working with a talented pair of ladies, crafting music, a mixture of Irish, Scottish, and Americana. Each member brings special talents:

Colleen-Our fearless leader, whose talents include lead and back-up vocals, guitar, cajon and percussion

Paula-Sharing her skill with lead and back-up vocals, guitar, cajon, and percussion

Maggie-Sharing lead and back-up vocals, Strumstick, viola, and tin whistle

As a result of the Celtic influence in our music, March remains a busy month. However, we found time to help a local charity dear to my heart, Kyomi’s Gift. This organization was created after the loss of my dear niece, Kyomi, at only 4 months of age. The Murphy Family wanted to give back, so Kyomi’s Gift was formed. For the past 14 years, we have raised money to help parents with sick children, so they can spend more time together.

This year, Kyomi’s Gift is hosting an afternoon of Irish fun in Hastings! There’s something for everyone: Irish trivia, Silent Auction, Irish jig competition, Corned beef and cabbage supper, Cash bar, and…

Kilkenny Corker’s in Concert!

Here are a few tunes from a recent practice:

See you on March 16!

Thanks for reading!

Can’t make it? Interested in donating to Kyomi’s Gift?

Kilkenny Corker’s on Facebook


The Parting Glass for Year’s End

The new year approaches quickly! A few months ago, a co-worker suggested instead of New Year’s Resolutions, we should begin a challenge in November. We started a walking goal to complete by Christmas. Many students and instructors offered encouragement as we walked laps around the parking lot or strolled the halls on our breaks. We were excited to reach our goal on the last day before vacation! After we return from break, a new challenge begins!

What are your goals for 2019? I’m focusing on activities that improve the mind, body, and spirit: Exercise challenges, meditation, reading (starting with Lewis’ Mere Christianity), singing at the Commission on Aging, and performing with Kilkenny Corkers.

Below is a New Year’s Gift for our fans-Slainte!

Happy New Year and thanks for reading!

Follow Kilkenny Corkers on Facebook for videos, concert dates, and other bits of “craic!”

Kilkenny Corkers in Concert

This past weekend, Kilkenny Corkers opened for the Irish band, One for the Foxes. Thank you to the audience members who shared video clips. Below is a montage, something from Paula, Maggie, and Colleen.

Found this YouTube video from One for the Foxes:

Live performances provide a glimpse into the “heart and soul” of music, difficult to capture in studio recording. I hope you have time to relax at an outdoor concert this summer and support this craft.

Best of luck, One for the Foxes, on your summer tour!!!

Thanks for reading!

Dragonflies of Autumn

I’ve seen many dragonflies lately. They keep appearing around the farm, perched on the screen to the backyard, resting on leaves in the garden… Recently, I learned that dragonflies symbolize change, more specifically, growth and maturity. Perhaps this is a nudge back to music.

Last month, I had the opportunity to volunteer locally, singing for a few groups. I enjoyed performing Irish music, plus a few American favorites for a sing along, and later sharing lunch and visiting with the audience. Preparing for these performances, I had the opportunity to organize my music collection and found a few new Irish tunes to add to the repertoire.

Instead of recording on Soundcloud, I decided to create a video, including a bit of creative filming courtesy of my daughter (pardon the construction project and MKs backyard horse jumping course made from bricks, logs, and buckets). Enjoy!


Happy Fall!!!

Thanks for reading!

Civil War Sweethearts and a Character Witness for a Cannibal



Once or twice a year, I like to share an earlier, memorable post.  This one is from my father’s unpublished memoirs regarding a bizarre family connection to America’s first convicted cannibal:

…My dad’s family roots were Irish on his father’s side and Scots-Irish and Welsh on his mother’s side. The Roche’s were Baltimore Catholics from County Cork, following the 19th Century lure to the “land of opportunity.” The next generation, my Great Grandfather Roche came to Denver as a young man, following the lure of the West. My Great Grandmother Roche was quite a character. She had been a former girlfriend of General Lew Wallace, Civil War leader, governor of the New Mexico Territory and author of Ben Hur. From all family reports, Great Grandfather Roche remained jealous of Lew Wallace for his entire married life. The colorful General Wallace was a frequent cause of controversy at the Roche dinner table.

Your colorful Great Grandmother Roche had another claim to fame as well. In the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado during the rush of silver and gold strikes in the 1870s, a party of five miners and their guide, Alferd Packer, were trapped in a crushing blizzard and were not seen again that winter. The next spring, Packer walked out of the mountains, alone.

Subsequent investigation revealed that Packer had survived the winter in a cave, where he had killed and eaten the five prospectors. At the trial, the judge, in his summary to the jury, addressed Packer, “There were only seven Democrats in Huerfano County, and damn you, Alferd Packer, you ate five of them!” That summation to the jury became the basis for an appeal and second trial some years later. Packer was already a confessed murderer and cannibal, so the second trial revolved around questions of Packer’s character.

In the famous second trial, a case watched closely across the country and especially closely in Colorado where the trial occurred, his attorney’s defense was based on finding anyone who had known Packer during his life and had a positive comment to make. Great Grandmother Roche had grown up in the same Pennsylvania town as Packer and had known him as a boy. There was nearly a divorce in the family when Great Grandfather Roche discovered that his wife was to testify as a character witness for America’s only convicted cannibal. My Grandfather Roche would seldom mention these stories and when he did, it was always said with a pronounced sigh.

Today, you can see a plaque at the University of Colorado, Boulder’s cafeteria, fondly named by the student body in the 60s, “The Alferd Packer Memorial Grill.”

Thanks for reading!

For the Love of Music-Summer Edition

In the midst of this busy summer, I have been learning a new instrument, the McNally Strumstick (or as my eldest, an accomplished guitarist calls it, guitars for dummies). The Strumstick is what I would call a travel or campfire guitar. Only sporting three strings, it is similar to the mountain dulcimer.

The sound carries more of a “twang,” making it perfect for folk music, country music, campfire music, and general Americana. I have learned seven or eight basic chords, which gives me the freedom to provide my own accompaniment on many tunes if my guitarist is other wise occupied.

If you are looking for an instrument that can be learned quickly by all, is reasonably priced, and is fun for the whole family, check out the McNally Strumstick!

So here is my rendition of “Learn me Right” from the movie, “Brave.” Enjoy!

A Wee Irish Quiz



In honor of a favorite holiday, St. Patrick’s Day, I wrote a challenge for those who appreciate the “wearin’ of the green.” So fellow readers, test your knowledge of Irish history and culture. Good luck!

  1. What Irish plant represents the Trinity used by Christians?
  2. St. Patrick was born in Ireland. True or False?
  3. Northern Ireland uses which form of currency (Euro or Pound Sterling)
  4. Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional Irish dish. True or False?
  5. According to Irish Law, pubs in the Republic of Ireland are closed on which holiday (St. Patrick’s Day, Ash Wednesday, or Good Friday)
  6. Palm trees grow in Ireland. True or False?
  7. All Guinness is brewed in Dublin. True or False?
  8. What animal did St. Patrick drive from Ireland?
  9. Whiskey made from potatoes is called (Mead, Tater Shots, or Poteen).
  10. The Irish Wolfhound developed a dangerous reputation from which famous Sherlock Holmes Story?


  1. Shamrock
  2. False (St. Patrick was born in Roman Britain, captured as a boy, and brought over to what is now known as Ireland as a slave)
  3. Pound Sterling
  4. False (While some in Ireland enjoy bacon and cabbage, corned beef is not usually on the menu.)
  5. Good Friday (and Christmas, too)
  6. True (Ireland has a temperate climate, suitable for palm trees)
  7. False (Guinness is brewed in over 50 countries but tastes best in Ireland)
  8. Snakes
  9. Poteen
  10. The Hound of the Baskervilles


How Irish are you?

7-10 Correct: Congratulations! You are well versed in all things Irish!

4-6 Correct: Not bad! You are on your way…

Less than 4: Put down the green beer and walk away. Just kidding! Read up on the Emerald Isle and you will be all set for next year!


May you all have a safe and fun St. Patrick’s Day! Slainte!

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