Welcome (Céad Míle Fáilte!) to Small-leaved Shamrock

Monday, November 24, 2008

Beloved Ireland: 10th edition Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture

Welcome to the 10th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture - our 1st anniversary edition! If you've been a contributor to the carnival over the past year, thank you for sharing your appreciation for Ireland and the Irish with all of us. If you are a reader, thank you for visiting and being part of the fun.

Without any further ado, let's get on with this 10th edition of the carnival. This time we have a special focus on the aspects of Irish culture and tradition that are beloved to each of us.

Irish Literature

We'll start our focus on Irish culture with a look at Irish literature. According to William Morgan, Ireland "has produced so many great writers over so many generations whose works both transcend time and push the boundaries of the written word as an artform." Visit William's post For the love of Ireland posted at The sock in the dryer for a list of the Irish literary "geniuses" whose work he admires.

Bill West of West in New England shares with us his "first love of Irish culture": the mythology of Ireland. In his Irish Myths Bill introduces us to a few of his favorites. According to this self-proclaimed lover of the mythology of many cultures, "The Irish epic myths are beautifully lyrical works and reflect, I think, that love of language that runs through all of Irish literature and song."

Irish Music

Speaking of Irish song, visit Tipper's Blind Pig & The Acorn for a little history lesson on the Irish favorite O Danny Boy. She says, "When I think of the longevity of the song, it seems fitting that O Danny Boy started in Ireland hundreds of years ago, came to America, went to England and then on to the world." Visit her blog to see why she feels this Irish song appeals to so many people worldwide.

With ancestry from counties Kilkenny, Longford, Meath and Tyrone, Kathy Brady-Blake has plenty of Irish heritage in her genes. It's no wonder that she discovered a love for Celtic music. Visit her article For the Love of Ireland at Kathy's Genealogy Blog to read about the wide variety of Irish music that she enjoys and a specific annual opportunity for other Irish music fans in Milwaukee.

Speaking of Irish musicians, Kate of Kate's Family Tree shares one of her favorite songs with us via music video performed by two modern Irish rock musicians. Visit Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, 10th Edition for her submission to our carnival.

Irish Dance

Those of us that love Celtic music can't help but tap our toes to the sound of it. Take that a few steps further, and you find yourself trying your hand an Irish jig. My family has taken Irish dance seriously - we truly love the dance of Ireland as it has evolved into its modern day form. Visit my article Irish dance: "The merry love the fiddle..." here at Small-leaved Shamrock for a look at one of my favorite aspects of Irish culture and a peek at a book I've created for young dancers.

Irish Linen

For this edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture, Apple gives us an introduction to beautiful Irish linen. She has presented a thorough guide to this beloved type of traditional Irish craft that has been handed down through the centuries. Read the article about Irish Linen posted at Apple's Tree for more about this beautiful treasure of Ireland, including some links, images and Apple's favorite Irish proverb (her first project done on Irish linen).

More Beloved Irish Culture

Two well-known Irish symbols are the focus of Elizabeth O'Neal's For the Love of Crosses and Claddaghs. She says, “Call me corny, but my two favorite Irish symbols are the Claddagh and the Celtic cross.” Many of us would have to agree with you, Elizabeth. Visit Little Bytes of Life for a personal look at these beloved symbols and some background on the history and meaning of each.

Kathryn of The Kahumoku Ohana made a list of the top fourteen things she loves about Irish culture for her first submission to the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. Visit her post For The Love Of Ireland for her favorites, which include traditional items such as Irish soda bread and Yeats' poetry, but also Irish peat and banshees!

Dorene Paul of the Sandusky, Ohio Library shares with us the stories of several individuals with Irish heritage. In The Irish in Erie County posted at Sandusky History she tells us the story of some of her local area's more famous Irish residents and the impact they each had on Sandusky. Dorene says, "While this entry is about the Irish who resided in Erie County, I recall the stories of folks telling stories and getting a bit intoxicated at the wake, following the death of a loved one."

In pondering the aspects of Irish culture that she loves, Colleen Johnson, a descendant of fairly recent Irish immigrants and one who has traveled to visit her cousins who remain there, asked herself, "What don't I love about the Irish culture?" Read For the Love of Ireland posted at Colleen's blog for more about her appreciation of the friendliness of the Irish people, their love for storytelling (even when asked to give directions), and the way that "heritage and religion mesh and become one". As Colleen writes, "With a wave and a smile, travel through Ireland and you will never be far from one."

I know that our contributors have only touched on a few of the many aspects of Irish culture that are loved by people the world over. Thanks for reading this 10th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. For information about the upcoming 11th edition, please visit the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture blog for details about the upcoming topic: My key to Ireland.

Images of Ireland courtesy of Jordan McClements.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Irish dance: "... the merry love the fiddle..."

"...And the merry love the fiddle, and the merry love to dance..."
~ W.B. Yeats
One of the aspects of Irish culture that has become a large part of the life of my family is Irish dance. Several dancers in my family practice the ancient Celtic art as it has evolved into its modern day form. Others in the family are regular attendees at practices, performances and competitions.

You may have been introduced to modern Irish dance through the likes of Riverdance, Lord of the Dance, and Michael Flatley and friends. You may have had a brief introduction to ghillies, hard shoes, the reel, treble jig, hornpipe, etc. Perhaps you know a little more about Irish dance and have attended regular performances every St. Patrick's Day or even heard of a feis (a local Irish dance competition, pronounced "fesh"). If Irish dance is a part of your life, too, you may be aware that this is the season for the exciting regional competitions in many areas, otherwise known as the Oireachtas (pronounced "oh-rock-tis").
If you're like some of us, you know that once you've been bitten by the Irish dance bug it is hard to turn back. It is a beautiful art and a challenging sport at the same time. It is an activity for all ages, both boys and girls and men and women. It involves intricately decorated dresses, lively music and both solo and group performances.

Want to see some Irish dance performances live in your local area? Here in North America, check out the website for IDTANA (Irish Dance Teachers Association of North America). Through their site you can find links to member schools and also links to Irish dance organizations throughout the world. Chances are, there are regular performances put on by various dance schools in your local area or in a city near you. Particularly during the month of March (St. Patrick's month, as we sometimes refer to it because it is so busy for Irish dancers), you almost can't help but run into Irish dancers dressed in their finery and dancing figures (group dances).

With my own young dancers busy with their Irish dance activities, I couldn't help but notice the need for a combination journal, competition record book, and performance log for student dancers. I couldn't find one, so I designed and now sell my own. The book, Feiseanna, Figures & Friends, includes pages for dancers to record their competition results, St. Patrick's Day performances, other special shows, fun memories of Irish dancing, autographs from their friends, and more. Here's a little promo for the book. If you are interested in purchasing a copy, visit my online store.

"Feiseanna, Figures & Friends: My Irish Dance Record Book" by Smallest Leaf Press
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.
Musical accompaniment is Natalie MacMaster's Catharsis from her album No Boundaries.

All images © 2008 Smallest Leaf Press.

Do you know your Irish geography?

If you regularly visit another of my other blogs (100 Years in America), you may know that I've been focusing this week on bringing readers' attention to the geography of our great big world this Geography Awareness Week (November 16-22, 2008). I have started there with the places that were important to the Hungarian and Croatian branches of my family.

Thus far, I have posted geography quizzes on:

Hungary prior to 1918 along with historic Austria-Hungary
New York City (where many of my immigrant ancestors settled)

My blog focusing on my Boston Irish ancestors (A light that shines again) couldn't be left out this week, so it has jumped in with some quizzes for you to test your knowledge of the city of Boston.

I know I can't cover the entire world in one week (although it is a worthy long-term goal), but I couldn't pass up the chance to quiz my readers on their knowledge of the geography of Ireland. What better place to do so than right here at Small-leaved Shamrock?

If you have a love for Ireland, have visited the Emerald Isle, or have any type of interest in Ireland, try your hand at these quizzes to "test your luck" and show what you know about Irish geography. If you're like me, you'll find yourself humbled.

Cities of Ireland quiz

Counties of Ireland quiz

National Parks of Ireland quiz

Map of Ireland and Northern Ireland courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What do you love about Ireland? Tell us this week

The next edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture offers an invitation for you to share what you love about Ireland and Irish culture. The theme for the 10th (and one-year anniversary) edition is For the love of Ireland. Here are the details:

Irish culture is loved worldwide. It is no secret that the love of Ireland is not exclusive to those with Irish blood running through their veins. For this edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture, Small-leaved Shamrock invites you (whether you have Irish heritage or not) to share what you most love about Ireland and the Irish people. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • The wit and wisdom of a particular Irish proverb that you've memorized

  • The traditional Celtic song that you first heard in your youth (or that lives currently on your playlist)

  • Irish soda bread from the neighborhood bakery

  • The village in Ireland that you visited years ago (or on your last vacation)

  • The beautiful Aran knit sweater that warms you on chilly days

  • The writings of the Irish poets, modern and well-known or ancient and anonymous

  • Anything of Ireland or the Irish that you enjoy
Share with us what you love about Ireland within the upcoming 10th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture.

Deadline for submissions to the For the love of Ireland edition is this Saturday, November 22nd, the one-year anniversary of the carnival. This edition will be published here at Small-leaved Shamrock on Monday, November 24. See you there!

You can now find most of the "back issues" of the carnival in one convenient place at the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture blog. Happy reading!

Image of St. Patrick's Cathedral at Downpatrick courtesy of Jordan McClements.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Got a minute? Get acquainted with Irish Gaelige

Radio Lingua has produced ten short One Minute Irish lesson podcasts for those interesting in getting a taste of the language of the Emerald Isle. Check out One Minute Languages for a few short lessons with native speaker Eoin as your instructor. Beginning with basic conversational phrases and continuing with the numbers one through ten and various holiday greetings, One Minute Irish is just the thing to get you started early so that by St. Patrick's Day you'll sound like a native.

Thanks to Thomas MacEntee of Thomas 2.0 for the tip about Radio Lingua's podcasts.

For more on the Irish language, you might enjoy reading the 5th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture, entitled A little Irish language, a bit of Blarney, found at both A light that shines again and the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture blog.

Speaking of the carnival, plan to join us for the upcoming 10th edition, For the love of Ireland: deadline November 22nd. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"...a thousand years compressed in battle's pains and prayers..."

In honor of all veterans on this Veterans' and Remembrance Day, Small-leaved Shamrock pays tribute to their service in the form of poetry. Written by Herman Melville, well-known author of Moby Dick, The College Colonel is a look at a young veteran of the Civil War. As stated in The Columbia Book of Civil War Poetry:
"The young colonel has been to war where he has been in the final terrible battles of northern Virginia, and he has prematurely aged."
As Melville writes:
"He has lived a thousand years
Compressed in battle's pains and prayers..."

The College Colonel
by Herman Melville

He rides at their head;
A crutch by his saddle just slants in view,
One slung arm in splints, you see,
Yet he guides his strong steed - how coldly too.

He brings his regiment home -
Not as they filed two years before,
But a remnant half-tattered, and battered, and worn,
Like castaway sailors, who - stunned
By the surf's loud roar,
Their mates dragged back and seen no more -
Again and again breast the surge,
And at last crawl, spent, to shore.

A still rigidity and pale -
An Indian aloofness lines his brow;
He has lived a thousand years
Compressed in battle's pains and prayers,
Marches and watches slow.

There are welcoming shots, and flags;
Old men off hat to the Boy,
Wreaths from gay balconies fall at his feet,
But to him - there comes alloy.

It is not that a leg is lost,
It is not that an arm is maimed,
It is not that the fever has racked -
Self he has long since disclaimed.

But all through the Seven Days' Fight,
And deep in the Wilderness grim,
And in the field-hospital tent,
And Petersburg crater, and dim
Lean brooding in Libby, there came -
Ah heaven! - what truth to him.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Little light of the Cowhey household, 1915

"A newborn babe brings
light to the house,
warmth to the hearth,
and joy to the soul,
for wealth is family,
family is wealth."
~ Irish Proverb

It must have been with great joy that Charles and Agnes Cowhey welcomed Anna, their first child, in 1914. Known during her young childhood as Annie and during her adulthood as Anne, she is pictured above in her infant glory - a beautiful baby girl.

Anne went on to welcome her own children and grandchildren into babyhood. Unfortunately she passed away before the arrival of her great-grandchildren. It is my hope that the light of her memory will continue to burn brightly within the hearts of those that knew and loved her, and those that came after her.

This picture is part of an "online album" of baby photos which is the 7th edition of the Smile for the Camera Carnival entitled Oh, Baby! For more beautiful baby faces, see footnoteMaven's Shades of the Departed.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Here's hoping: The quest for access to the 1926 Irish census

Doing genealogy in Ireland? Join the campaign to request access to the 1926 census of Ireland. Originally scheduled to be released one-hundred years after its creation, there is hope that it might be made available to researchers in the near future.

The Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations (CIGO) is calling for signatures on a petition to request access to these records immediately, instead of after the currently required one-hundred year waiting period. According to their website:

"CIGO is not alone in regretting that the State’s [Ireland's] access policy to census records does not follow the U.S. model, which releases records after seventy years rather than one hundred. This approach appears to work well and is generally accepted by U.S. citizens."
The census is of interest to many researching the genealogy of their Irish families, and both Irish and non-Irish citizens are requested to sign the petition. As CIGO states on their webpage explaining the value of the census data, "a very large percentage of the people enumerated would have been born before civil registration began in Ireland in 1864." The 1926 census was the first one taken in the Irish Free State.

Sadly, Irish researchers will find that Ireland's census records available for research are few and far between. The 1910 and 1911 census returns are currently in the process of being digitized by the National Archives of Ireland. However, Ireland's censuses for the years 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851 were destroyed by fire in 1922 during the Irish civil war. Censuses for the years 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891 were destroyed because of a bureaucratic oversight.

For more details about the 1926 Irish census visit CIGO's webpage Current Campaigns - The 1926 Census or go directly to sign the petition to open access to the 1926 census of Ireland.

Thanks to Margaret Jordan's Cork Genealogist for sharing the news about the petition.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A little bit of Heaven on the hill

This All Souls' Day Catholics remember their departed loved ones and often visit the places where they have been laid to rest. Calvary Cemetery in Mount Carbon, Pennsylvania is the final resting place of many of relatives.

One of four cemeteries used by St. Patrick's Catholic Church for burials, Calvary Cemetery (begun in 1929) sits on the hill above the town of Mount Carbon. It's the perfect spot for the departed: on the way up to Heaven but with a view of the homes of the loved ones they left behind.

Making a visit to Calvary Cemetery? Take care with the type of shoes you choose to wear. Many a visitor has been tempted to race down the hill after a respectful stop by a family member's grave.

Then again, you might want to just go barefoot...


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