Bagpipes, Thistles, and a Wee Dram, Part Two

After our adventures in Stirling and Inverness, we headed to the Isle of Skye for a few days. The drive south took us through Loch Ness. Driving Road A82 south along the Loch reminded me of the Pacific North West with the many moss covered trees, stones, thick woods, and rocky shoreline.

The Isle of Skye is among the largest of the main islands in the Inner Hebrides. To access the island, travelers must drive to Kyle of Lochalsh and cross Skye Bridge (or use a car ferry). The winding roads through Skye offer beautiful views, scenic pull offs, and frequent locations to stop and “wet your whistle.” I was surprised to see so many campers and campgrounds. Skye offers the ideal locale for camping and hiking.

Speaking of hiking, we had the opportunity to visit The Fairy Pools, a picturesque series of falls in Glen Brittle. Hikers must traverse rocks across streams and climb a rocky, moderate incline to reach the top. The views are worth the effort!! Hikers will also find many areas to stop, take photos, and wander the water carved rocks.

We also visited the city of Portree, the capital of Skye and its largest town. We enjoyed browsing the many shops and wandering the quaint streets, including lovely paths along the waterfront.

Just a few miles out of town, we stayed in an 1800s Crofter’s House. This cozy cottage provided an ideal place for the two of us to relax, cook some seafood, and explore the island.

Sheep traffic jam on the road in front of our house…

Exploring the beach near the cottage…

Finally, I had the opportunity to perform at a local pub! The folks at Seuma’s Bar in Sligachan were a pleasure to work with, special thanks to Afreka. The crowd was attentive and lively, and we were delighted to visit with a few of the locals afterward and enjoyed a bowl of Cullen Skink (a tasty cream based fish chowder, served with crusty bread).

I prepared an hour of American folk music mixed with bits of history: Sharing stories from my home state of Michigan and singing a tune about “The Mighty Mac,” telling of the lively times in Colorado and Kentucky mining towns (and the story of Great-Grandpa Stewart in Leadville, CO), and including a few Scottish tunes in honor of our hosts.

Come back next month to hear about our final leg of the journey in Oban and Edinburgh! Thanks for reading!

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Bagpipes, Thistles, and a Wee Dram, Part One

Chad and I recently returned from a grand Scottish adventure! The Scottish countryside was some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. We also met interesting people and enjoyed delicious meals.

Our first stop was Stirling. After being up most of the night, we rested during the afternoon at our B&B but enjoyed a walk in the evening and explored the city. The Old Tram House was a short drive from The Wallace Monument. Unfortunately, the Monument was closed for renovation, but we were able to hike up to the immense building and explore the grounds.

We also found a unique bit of Scotland, The Devil’s Pulpit. The name refers to a particular stone that usually remains uncovered as the stream runs through Finnich Gorge. The name may also refer to the eerily red tinted water (the effects of the red sandstone).

To explore the gorge, travelers must descend steep, slippery steps (with no hand rail). Chad braved the mossy, overgrown descent and was rewarded by spectacular views. I, on the other hand, have enough trouble balancing on flat, dry land and opted to take pictures from above.

We also stopped in Stirling’s oldest pub, the Settle Inn, founded in 1733. We cozied up by the fire for a pint of Guinness and were surprised when the bartender sent us to the back room, which was a cave carved into the hill!

Later, we headed north to Inverness, the Capital of The Highlands. Ever since we started saving for this trip seven years ago, one of my top destinations was Culloden Battlefield (located a few miles from Inverness). Growing up in a family of history majors (and being of Scottish descent), I heard many stories of the Jacobite uprising and their defeat (and end of the Scottish Clan System) in 1746 on Culloden Moor.

This history major also learned a thing our two when touring Culloden! Many assume the battle was only Scottish Highlanders vs. the British. However, the Battle at Culloden was actually a Civil War with soldiers from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France, and even English, fighting for freedom from England.

The day we visited was the one time the Scottish rain got the better of us. We spent most of our time touring the extensive visitor’s center and took a brief excursion on the battlefield.

We found the line of stones honoring the individual clans, headstones marking mass graves of Jacobite soldiers.

The Memorial Cairn (1881)

Leanach Cottage where injured Jacobite soldiers took refuge after the battle (and were later executed)

After warming up, drying off, and enjoying a wee dram at Leanach Farms, a working sheep farm and B&B, I gave a welcome home concert for the father of our host (He had just come home after a lengthy stay in the hospital).

Finally, we explored Clava Cairn, a short distance from the B&B. Clava Cairn is a series of Bronze Age stone circles with entrances pointing toward the south west. I was amazed how peaceful the stones were! We spent quite some time slowly wandering the grounds. The location would be ideal to meditate, write, or spend time in deep thought.

Next month, please come back and read about our time on the Isle of Skye.

Thanks for reading!

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!”

A Badger and a Cheesehead Walk into a Supper Club…

Chad and I recently enjoyed a vacation in Wisconsin. We boarded the S.S. Badger in Ludington, MI and traveled across Lake Michigan to Manitowoc, WI. The four hour voyage includes activities for the whole family: Games, food, movies, children’s activities, cocktails for the adults, etc. Passengers can sit below deck, walk laps around the ship, or enjoy a lounge chair on the front deck. The cost (including a vehicle) is comparable to fuel prices for travelers driving around the lake. The trip provides a memorable adventure, though Chad thinks this counts as a cruise (I disagree).

Our first stop was Milwaukee, specifically the Harley Davidson Museum. Visitors can experience riding a new Harley (even without a license).

The museum offered insight into the humble beginnings of this company, the strategic planning to survive the Great Depression, their role in WWII, motorcycles in the movies, something for everyone!

We enjoyed a wine tasting and purchased some smoked whitefish at the Milwaukee Public Market.

Later, we had time to visit the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) Museum in Oshkosh. Founded by Paul Poberezny in the 1950s, the museum is a tribute to the air craft “gear heads,” passionate home builders and restorers. This site also hosts a spectacular air show each July.

The Curtiss “Jenny,” America’s first mass produced aircraft, this one was found in an old barn.

The EAA Museum also has quite the collection of WWII airplane art.

My favorite location was Port Washington! This quiet port city offers local wine, an amazing smoked fish house, lovely shops, and miles of beautiful lakeside trails.

A fun bike shop for fans of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Near the end of our trip, I had the opportunity to sing at the local Supper Club.

For those in the Midwest, Wisconsin has many lovely destinations, worthy of a long, weekend road trip.

Thanks for reading!

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!

Introducing Kilkenny Corkers

Recently, I performed at a new venue, the house concert!

According to Wikipedia, “A house concert or home concert is a musical concert or performance art that is presented in someone’s home or apartment, or a nearby small private space such as a barn…or back yard.”

Such performances provide a more meaningful experience, as the music fills the room, the artist has the opportunity to share more stories and later visit with the audience (Where else could I share how Great-Grandpa and his graduating class were kicked out of medical school?). Ideal for acoustic music, the atmosphere is casual with each guest usually bringing something to share.

Colleen, Paula, and I are proud to present, Kilkenny Corkers. We are a Celtic music group, performing Irish and Scottish folk music. Our music includes a mix of slow ballads, history, a few family stories, and those fun, rowdy pub tunes. An evening with Kilkenny Corkers goes well with a few pints and a few friends.

While we are “moms with day jobs,” we do still have limited availability for the St. Patrick’s Day season. Need Celtic music for your venue? Please share your request on the Contact Information tab.

Thanks for reading!