Sometimes the world of politics in which Capitol M occupies a small space intersects with another world: that of music.
Regular readers of this space may remember that Capitol M also plays the Celtic harp well enough to get paid for it, and is a regular performer at events in the Celtic community around the state.
Within the last couple of months, those worlds have collided in the most pleasant of ways.
In March, the Irish Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, visited Denver. She took part in Denver’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, which dates back to 1889. During her time in Denver, Mitchell O’Connor met with Gov. Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
She also was feted at a reception by Honorary Consul James Lyons of law firm Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP. During the Clinton administration, Lyons served as Special Advisor to the President and U.S. Secretary of State for Economic Initiatives in Northern Ireland, playing a key role in the peace process there.
Thanks to the efforts of former Denver City Auditor Dennis Gallagher, Capitol M got tapped to provide music during the reception.
As a musician, and particularly as a Celtic musician, that was an honor beyond imagining.
As it turns out, however, the best was yet to come.
On May 13, Daniel Mulhall, the Republic of Ireland’s ambassador to the United States, visited Utah, Colorado and Kansas City, Missouri.
That evening, about 50 people from the Irish Network of Colorado connected with Mulhall at Denver’s Molly Brown House. Capitol M was there with her trusty harp and a program featuring the music of Ireland's most famous harper, Turlough O'Carolan.
Among Mulhall’s stops in his two-day swing through Colorado: Leadville, where he helped drum up support for a memorial in the Leadville cemetery to the Irish who played a role in Leadville’s mining industry 150 years ago. The Irish miners are buried in unmarked graves, and Mulhall said the project will “recover them from the oblivion, in which their lives and memories have been entombed,” and bring their names back into the public domain.
Mulhall became the Irish ambassador to the United States in March 2017, after serving in similar roles in Germany; a role as ambassador to Malaysia with responsibilities for Laos, Vietnam and Thailand; and the United Kingdom. When he was in Malaysia, he oversaw recovery efforts for Irish survivors of the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in Thailand.
As it turns out, Mulhall is no stranger to Colorado, although it’s been 45 years since he last set foot in the Centennial State, he told Capitol M.
Mulhall spent time in Colorado while he was in college (his degree from University College Cork is in modern Irish history). In the summer of 1974, he spent three months in Kansas City, and as part of that visit drove around Colorado for four to five days with a friend.
“It’s good to be back,” he said. “I’d better not wait that long” for the next visit, he said, smiling.
Mulhall was Ireland’s ambassador to the United Kingdom when their voters decided to leave the European Union, a move Ireland does not support and which has caused friction between the two nations. Ireland is staying in the Union, which he said will be beneficial to the United States. That’s because Ireland will be the only English-speaking country in the Union once the UK departs.
Mulhall said 93 percent of the Irish Republic’s population supports staying in the EU, especially with watching what he called the “chaos” that has followed the UK as it tries to figure out an exit.
“We hope the British will leave in an orderly fashion and that they maintain a close relationship” with the EU. But when the British leave the EU, Ireland, as the only English-speaking country in the EU, will become the only bridgehead for U.S. companies that want to connect with the EU.
America will need a country that will be its friend in the EU, and Ireland can play that role, Mulhall explained. “We have an understanding of America that is more rounded that our European partners,” he said, in part because of the language and because of the ties between the U.S. and Ireland that date back more than 150 years.
Then there’s almost 60 years of substantial U.S. investment in Ireland, Mulhall said.
“We understand the American model and way of doing business,” which isn’t always understand by European countries. “We hope to play a modest role to connect the U.S. to the EU in positive ways.”
Mulhall also visited the state Capitol for a sit-down with Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera.