Local church charmed with luck from the Irish

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An afternoon of dancing and camaraderie

by Lisa L. Lopez

A group of 50 or more were on hand Sunday, March 31, from 4-6 p.m. at Christ the King Community Church to enjoy participating in an Irish event known as a Ceili dance (pronounced kay-lee). This ancient Irish tradition is a popular form of folk dancing in Ireland and other Celtic nations. Its origins date back to the early 15th century. The dances were a way to bring communities together and celebrate with food, dance, socializing, and storytelling, and were generally accompanied by live Celtic music. Large social gatherings of men, women, and children formed pairs and listened to the Ceili caller speak out the movements of the dances. This occasion is the equivalent of a barn dance or shindig in the US.

Sunday’s gathering was no different. A mouth-watering Irish themed feast of corned beef, cabbage, scalloped potatoes, and numerous other fix’ns were served thanks to the efforts of many church members. One generous church member donated their talent, time, and effort to organize the event, and pull together all those prepared to learn something new.  Folks were eager and more than willing to try their hand (or foot!) at a variety of Irish dances. A quick, straight forward lesson of each dance was given, along with a brief history of the dance, and the roles ladies and gents were to play. Then the live music began, with two flutists, Patty Unruh and Lise Friisbaastad, Randi Ebers on the oboe, Bob Unruh playing bass guitar, drummer Randy Beaudette, and Heather Newman on keyboard. The foot stomping music was not to be drowned out by the laughter, hooting, and hollering of the crowd! Most present joined in the fun with a few exceptions that were content to play spectator rather than dancer.

During a brief time out in the dancing, storyteller and Gilpin resident Jonas Schrock stepped up to the podium. Dressed in period clothing including a black vest and top hat, he entertained the crowd with a history of the Teller House in Central City, the time that President Grant paid a visit there, and when rooms went for a whopping two dollars per night!

Dancing commenced and closed out the early evening with many having built up some confidence in performing these dances from the middle ages. Few cared if the wrong foot was put forward or the opposite arm was presented to the wrong partner, as fun and frolic were had by all. Participant Jeff Oliver stated, “We had a blast and I normally don’t get to dance with my wife, so this was a great opportunity.” Jaclyn Schrock said, “I loved it! I’ve never been to a barn dance at a church before!”

Patty Unruh of CTK shared the following:

“In keeping with the Ceili dance event, which was a new event to our county, Christ the King Community Church has plans to invite the Gilpin community to other happenings and to expand the church’s facility to accommodate more people. CTK’s two associate pastors are taking the lead in planning some of these new events including a mission trip to Texas for our youth in June. At the Gilpin County Fair, we will have an expanded cowboy church with live band for music. The church’s parking lot will once again be available for overflow parking during the Fair.

Free Vacation Bible School for all elementary aged children in the community will take place July 19-21.

Everyone is invited to the church’s Independence Day picnic on Saturday, June 6. The Crosley Hot Shot Band will return for an outdoor concert, with the church’s worship band performing a warm-up set. Children will enjoy the large playground, and activities will be offered for teens.

The church board is planning several work days to expand the parking lot to accommodate more vehicles. Members are also considering how to expand the sanctuary area for more seating, and adding youth activity areas.”

Thanks to all organizers of this fun event and we look forward to similar ones to come!

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