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the monthly publication of the Shamrock Club of Wisconsin
Greater LaCrosse Area
Lafayette County Shamrock Club
Milwaukee President's Message
Irish Musical Star Tony Kenny's tour to include Madison
Holiday Folk Fair Tickets for Sale
The First Ceili
Cathie Ryan Trio In Concert
Six Mile Bridge -- ICHC November 20
Fist Friday Lecture Series -- Celtic Women International
Donn's Poetry Corner
Welcome New Members
1998 Milwaukee St. Patrick's Day Parade Video Tape for Sale
Milwaukee Calendar of Events
by Brian Witt
There have been many portrayals of the Irish in American literature over the years, some by Irish and Irish American writers, and by others. Some of the more famous Irish characterizations are Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone With the Wind," from Georgia writer Margaret Mitchell; Jimmy Molloy, the protagonist in John O'Hara's "The Doctor's Son" and "Butterfield 8;" Fancie Nolan, the heroine of Betty Smith's novel "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn;" and the characters of Edwin O'Connor's fictionalized life of the extremely colorful Boston mayor, James Michael Curley, in "The Last Hurrah." (The movie version could have been retitled "Three Irishmen From Milwaukee," as the leads were played by Spencer Tracy, Pat O'Brien, and Jeffrey Hunter, three Irishmen from Milwaukee.)
The literary life of America has been enriched by the contributions of such writers as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mary McCarthy, Fitz James O'Brien, John Boyle O'Reilly, and Flannery O'Conner. The 1950s, 60s and 70s saw the rise of a number of new writers, such as Jimmy Breslin, John Gregory Dunne, William Kennedy, Pete Hamill, J P Donleavy, James Carroll, Tom Clancy, Mary Higgins Clark, and her brother, Jack Higgins, as well as others.
There were two people that helped to define the Irish American experience unlike others. They were both Chicago based writers, and their most famous characters were located in the Windy City. These were the writers Finley Peter Dunne and James T. Farrell. Though they were of different generations, and of completely different writing styles, both men were far ahead of others in their approach.
Finley Peter Dunne was a Chicago newspaperman during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His most famous creation was the owner of a Chicago saloon, Martin Dooley. Martin Dooley was an Irish immigrant who lived in Bridgeport, Chicago's south side Irish enclave. (Bridgeport was home to a number of Chicago politicians, including both mayors Richard Daley.) Dooley's perspective on the foibles and successes of the residents of the area entertained millions of Americans in Dunne's syndicated columns. Martin Dooley spoke with an Irish accent, and his speech was filled with a great deal of Irish colloquialisms. Although the use of Irish dialect was not new in American fiction, the lack of a "stage Irish" stance by Dunne in his main character made Dooley a sympathetic, invigorating presence.
Dooley provided political and social commentary on contemporary Chicago, often to the chagrin of local officials. What was local news to the people of the neighborhoods and the wards would find its way into the mouths of Martin Dooley and the denizens of his tavern, and then into the nation's life. Peter Finley Dunne wrote about Bridgeport and Martin Dooley from 1893 until 1919, when Dunne took a job with an eastern newspaper. By that time, the modern Irish American character had become a part of American life.
Whereas the characterizations of Finley Peter Dunne's characters were sympathetic, although occasionally roughhewn, the lives of the writer James T. Farrell were downright raw in their presentation. Farrell's most famous character was the Chicago hoodlum William "Studs" Lonigan. Farrell's Lonigan was based on childhood friends from his Chicago Irish neighborhood. "Studs Lonigan" was the story of a group of friends who drank and smoked too early, lived life in a hard manner, and, in many cases, died too young, or became alcoholics or drug users. They experimented early and often with sex, a new development in American fiction of the time, and didn't feel that life had any opportunities for them. The character that was based on Farrell himself was considered the lucky one of the group, as he was in college, and was looked upon as having a chance to break away from old patterns. However, even Farrell's alter-ego was bound by the ropes of the past. His character, Farley, observed, "I am a second generation Irish American. The effects and scars of immigration are upon my life."
Farrell never felt that the character of Studs Lonigan was inherently evil. Although he was the leader of a gang that robbed without thought, beat up people that got in their way, and treated women terribly, Lonigan was portrayed with an even-handed approach by Farrell, who didn't pass judgment on his creation. Rather, Lonigan was a character of his times, not finding sustenance in the Catholic Church or the hard, dreary jobs of his parents. He was forced to be the focal point of his friends, and felt he had to carry their burdens and fears as their leader. Any dreams were buried, and any feelings of kindness were interred with his dreams.
Farrell was a lifelong socialist. He left the Catholic Church early on, and left Chicago for New York in the late 1930s. His harsh assessment of the lives of so many of his friends was met initially with disbelief, and then literary acceptance. After his departure from Chicago, Farrell rarely ventured back to the lives of these south side Chicago Irish.
Finley Peter Dunne's kindly and comic Martin Dooley may not seem to be related to James Farrell's angry, brutal Studs Lonigan, at least superficially. Martin Dooley was of the generation of Lonigan's parents, or even grandparents. However, both of them provided America with a new, and vividly different view of Irish Americans. Both were commentators on the life of a Chicago neighborhood that previously had never been seen. Both would help to change the perceptions of Irish Americans. And both would forever be imprinted on the imaginations of Americans, and Irish Americans.
NOVEMBER 10 – Regular membership Meeting, 7:30 p.m. at the Senior Center. Jack Holzueter from the State Historical Society will speak.
DECEMBER 8 – at Jingles, 232 E. Olin Ave., 2nd Floor, details given below.
All members were mailed a post card the 5th of October giving information for October, November and December meetings. At this time we wish to add the final details of the Christmas Dinner-Program which were finalized at the October Board meeting.
We would like to send Get-Well wishes to Marquerite Rideout and to Bill Murphy both of whom had surgery recently. We would like to extend our sympathy to Ruth Tormey and family on the death of her brother.
We would like to congratulate three members of our Shamrock Club who have been honored recently by articles in the press. Shirley Armstrong in a very interesting article in the Edgewood college Today, Summer '98 issue, telling of Shirley's involvement with St. Marys Hospital Laboratories, as Irish Person of the Year by the Dane County Shamrock Club for 1998, and as a member of the Emerald Isle Ceili Band.
Richard March, also a member of our Ceili Band, was pictured and written about in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel for his work with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. earlier this summer, and also the State of Wisconsin's Folklife Festival in Madison.
Our third member to be "covered" by the State Journal is Nelle Hogan Murphy in a very interesting article telling of Nelle's long involvement with the Republican Party and lending her "knowledge" to GOP candidates since the 1970s.
– Margaret Courtney
Irishman Art Gale and Irish Rose Sharon Candahl are shown enjoying the Shamrock Club float in our Octoberfest Parade on October 3rd. And fine decoration they are!
It did not rain that day until after we had completed the parade route. Was that the "Luck of the Irish?"
A General Club Meeting will be held at Schmidty's in LaCrosse on November 4th at 7 p.m. A "Mystery Night" will follow. Order of business that night will include final preparation for our Christmas Party on December 9th.
– Fred Smith
Editor's Note: The following Lafayette County column was sent some time ago but it didn't reach Emerald Reflections until too late for the October issue. Here it is for November.
The Lafayette County Shamrock Club met August 31 at the Darlington Country Club. The summer was filled with many parades – Canoe Fest, Darlington-Disney Parade, Platteville Twin-a-Rama at Cassville and the 4th of July Parades in Shullsburg and Wiota. The Club now has four floats to use for events.
Eight club members attended Irish Fest in Milwaukee in August. We were entertained with great Irish music, dancers, spirits and food. The Mass Sunday in the Marcus Theater is always a highlight of Irish Fest.
New officers for the coming year are:
In September we were in the Labor Day Parade in Benton; Sept. 18 Cheese Days in Monroe, and Sept. 26 Pumpkin Fest Parade in Warren, IL.
"Go raibh Maith Agat" to our young Irish dancers and a special thanks to club member "Irish Ed" Flanagan who provides the ride to Dubuque for the lessons. We are having a pizza party for all your efforts.
– Donna Douglas
For those of you who were unable to join us at the October 1st General Membership Meeting, I would like to relay details of an important decision the Club made that evening.
Via extensive discussion and several votes, we scaled back our level of participation in Holiday Folk Fair this year. We will be involved in only a sales booth (for-profit) and one cultural activity (non-profit). The cultural activity, this year, will be the Cashel-Dennehy Irish Dancers. Per Holiday Folk Fair's ( International Institute's) policies, that is the minimum required to continue to participate in this event.
[NOTE: A very special Thank You to the Board of Director's of the Cashel-Dennehy School of Irish Dance for their graciously agreeing to accept whatever decision we, The Shamrock Club of Wisconsin, arrived at as to our levels of participation.]
In prior years, The Shamrock Club has been a very complete and active member and participant in the Holiday Folk Fair. We have routinely managed four separate operations: two for-profit, (food and sales), and, two non-profit, (cultural and dance), ventures.
The major reason that the Club decided to reduce our level of involvement is that this year's Holiday Folk Fair is to be held, on the lakefront, under some tenting, at the Maier Festival Grounds, on the weekend of November 20-22.
The Club's decision was not hasty. The Folk Fair Committee and the Board of Director's spent a considerable amount of time and effort in thoroughly researching and debating the options before bringing the matter to the General Membership for their discussion and votes. Ideally, had we been given adequate and timely notice of the location change, we would have published the issue prior to the discussion and votes.
Further, because The International Institute of Wisconsin / Holiday Folk Fair requires us to purchase 125 tickets, we have decided to reduce the price to our members and the parents of the Cashel Dennehy Dancers, to $5.00. That is a discount of $1.00 per ticket and the Club will absorb the excess cost, per admission. So, please, purchase your tickets from The Shamrock Club. You can do so at our November 5th General Membership Meeting, or by contacting the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center at (414)345-8800. Remember, we are required to pay full face value for all unsold tickets.
We will still need many volunteers to assist with our Sales Booth, so please sign-up to help by contacting Jean Bills by phone, [Work: (414) 257-3770 / Residence: (414) 453-2842 --- Answering Machines at both numbers], or, in-person at the November 5th General Membership Meeting.
As Thanksgiving Day approaches, I need to express my most sincere gratitude to all of our extremely hard working and truly dedicated volunteers. Thanks, especially, to all of you for granting me the honor of serving you as your President.
Happy Thanksgiving !
– Dale Brenon
Irish singing sensation Tony Kenny will return to the United States in November, l998 to commence a six week national tour. "An Evening in Ireland" starring Tony Kenny will be presented in Madison, WI for one show only on November 17, 1998 at 8PM at Memorial High School Auditorium. This fast paced musical variety show which also features Noel V. Ginnity, Dermott O'Brien, Deirdre Reilly, Musical Director Seamus Brett and World Champion Irish Dancers will create a magical evening which transports the audience directly to the Emerald Isle. Tickets for this special show are $18 and are available at Patrick's/Look of the Isles, Hilldale Shopping Center, Madison or by calling 608 231 1707.
NOVEMBER 20-21-22, 1998
The Shamrock Club must sell 125 Holiday Folk Fair Tickets
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