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St. Pat's Gala
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Want to Tell Real Ireland from Reel Ireland?
Glenn Yarbrough Christmas Concert -- ICHC
In Concert: Seven Nations
Welcome New Members
New Mailing Address
Irish Drama at the International Arts Festival (Milwaukee)
Irish American Partnership
A Feast of Irish Movies!
An Irish Holiday Recipe
Milwaukee Calendar of Events
by Brian Witt
Christmas in Ireland is probably the most special of all the Christian holidays. This is partly because the season lasts from Christmas Eve until the Epiphany on January 6, and also because of the special feeling that the season brings. Dinners that are planned for weeks, the get-together of family that is separated, all this made the time special.
Christmas Day in Ireland is followed by St. Stephen's Day, on December 26. It is the day when gifts are traditionally given. It also goes under the name Boxing Day. The Christmas celebration is continued on Stephen's Day.
A traditional part of St. Stephen's Day, except in the far north-eastern part of Antrim, is that of the Wren Boys. In times past, the Wren Boys would, prior to the day, capture and kill a number of wrens, in honor of St. Stephen. The wren supposedly betrayed Stephen while he was hiding in a clump of bushes.
The dead wrens were paraded around, often a multitude of them on one stick. Other times, the dead bird was displayed in a small "coffin," a box lined with holly and other leafy matter.
The Wren Boys would go from house to house, begging treats of food or money. There they would recite the song:
The Wren, the wren, the King of all Birds
On St. Stephen's Day it was caught in the furze;
Though his body is small, his family is great;
So rise up, landlady, and give us a treat;
On Christmas Day, I turned a spit;
I burned my finger, and feel it yet;
Up with the kettle, and down with the pan;
So give us some money to bury the wren.
There were regional variations of the song. In some areas, the Wren Boys would ask for money. Other places would find the participants asking for beer or whiskey. Not all of the participants were young children. Some would range in age into their thirties. The food and drink, and money collected, would often be used for a Wren Day party. Many of the participants would not have eaten since Christmas dinner the previous day. Some would say that it was a day of fasting in honor of St. Stephen. The less religious were more inclined to believe that it was because the participants had become overly sated from the day before.
At one point, the mayor of Cork, Richard Dowden, forbade the "Hunting of the little bird on St. Stephen's Day by all the idle fellows of the country." This was in 1845. In part, this was to stop the wholesale execution of the small bird. Also, it was an attempt to keep the drunken carousers in check. Often, when wren boys "invaded" the territory of another group, there would be near riotous results, with the two groups engaging in lively fighting.
In recent years, the wren has been substituted with artificial birds and ribbons placed on the stick. The riotous behavior has also been toned down.
The Wren Boys celebration was often incorporated into the mummers tradition. The mummers wren boys celebrations would include a whole cast of characters. Milwaukee Irish Arts, for many years on Stephen's Day, would bring the Wren Boys around to local houses with a host many of characters. These included Rim Rhyme, Slick Slack, King George, The Doctor, Little Divil, Joe the Butcher, Tom Fool, and of course, the Wren.
These characters would act out the entire performance. The first character introduced was Rim Rhyme, who set the tone for the proceedings. The next to appear was "the Sassanach (Englishman) who raised my gorge," Prince George. George and Rim Rhyme would engage in a sword fight. The injured George would call for medical help. The Doctor would then arrive, and then call his assistant, Slick Slack, a character who had three dolls or stuffed effigies on his back, and dressed in tatters. He entered with the phrase, "Here I come, poor Slick Slack, my wife and family on my back." Slick Slack then introduced his assistant, Little Divil, who was followed by Joe the Butcher, and then the Wren itself. The wren introduced the last character, Tom Fool, dressed as a jester. The ensemble would then dance and sing before making its departure.
So, on December 26, if a group of people show up on your doorstep, looking for food, candy, or (State of Wisconsin law requires ID and at least 21 years of age) alcohol, singing a song about a martyred saint and a dead bird, let them in, have them sing the song, and send them away happy and sated. And remember, have a Merry Christmas, Nollaig Shona Duit.
Good news and bad news. The good news is that this is my last column of 1998. The bad news is that these ramblings will continue monthly through June of 1999.
I need to dedicate this particular message TO, and again, requesting some special assistance FROM the WORLD'S GREATEST VOLUNTEERS. We need to allow for some relief for a number of our most dedicated and tireless workers. There are three very essential areas where some "new blood" is needed:
First: Jean Bills would like to have someone assist her for awhile to learn all of the intricacies involved in operating the Sales Booths at Irish Fest and Folk Fair. She has graciously offered to continue the duties long enough to allow for the new individual(s) to become comfortable in the transition.
Second: In the interest of revamping the Emerald Reflections advertising, we are looking for a very motivated and extremely detail-oriented person(s) to handle the placement and billing. We believe that we could realize a significant increase in revenue in this area via stricter rules, a more formal invoicing and tracking system, and, actively pursuing additional advertisers. Bill O'Boyle has also been so very gracious in offering his time and assistance to the new volunteer(s).
Third: Monthly preparation for the mailing of the Emerald Reflections is another area where we are requesting some replacement volunteers. This involves some labeling, sorting, and delivering of the monthly issue to the Post Office. Romy and Evelyn Ament have kindly offered to train and assist the new person(s) during the changeover.
You can contact myself, any Board Member, and/or one of the above-named individuals to relay your wish to help the club maintain our outstanding efficiency in service to our members.
Our business address change becomes effective on January 1, 1999. We are changing from the P.O. Box # to the address of our home at the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center of Wisconsin, Inc. Therefore, our new address is:
My sincere best wishes for a very happy holiday season and a healthy and prosperous 1999.
The time grows near: nominations for Milwaukee's Irishman, Irish Rose, and Parade Marshal 1999 must be made by January 28. Send to the Shamrock Club, 2133 West Wisconsin Avenue., Milwaukee WI 53233.
Milwaukee will have its annual food drive at the Christmas Party. Please bring non perishable food items to the dinner. Receptacles will be available for the food.
The Board of Directors and Officers met at Longley's Restaurant in Reedsburg to set up the year's calendar on Sept. 16.
On Sunday, October 11, we met for our first general meeting of the year at River's Edge in Lake Delton. It was an off day for the Packers, but the weather was great so our group was small. The calendar for the year was presented to those in attendance. As always we are looking for new members.
After the meeting we enjoyed listening to our own Mary Ann Durand and husband Lawrence on tape, singing many wonderful Irish songs, including "Danny Boy." Several of those present enjoyed a lovely meal.
Our November meeting was held on Veterans Day, the 11th, in Reedsburg at Longley's Restaurant.
The Christmas Party will again be held at the Reedsburg Country Club, on December 13, at 5 p.m.
John Langer, our Membership Chairperson, gave us information on the "Cherish the Ladies" concert which will be held at the famous Al Ringling Theatre in Baraboo on February 19, 1999 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18.
Mary Stieve, Secretary
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
We are looking forward to seeing you at our Annual Christmas Dinner Party at Jingles on Tuesday, December 8th Cocktails at 6 p.m. and dinner at 6:30 p.m. (Prepaid reservations were to have been made by November 16, with Mary Hearn). Dinner will be followed by our traditional candle-lighting ceremony.
Our program at our January 12th meeting will be an interesting one. Rick March, a member of our Ceili Band, will tell us about his involvement with the State of Wisconsin's Folklife Festival in Madison as part of the Sesquicentennial Celebration.
We were all shocked and saddened by the death of John Kennedy. John was one of our longtime members, president of the Shamrock Club, member of the Choral Group, and was named Irish Person of the Year in 1985. Our deepest sympathy is extended to Millie Kennedy and son, Daniel. We would also like to extend our sympathy to Mat Schleck on the death of his wife, Winifred.
Our Christmas Party is arranged at the Freight House in LaCrosse for Wed., Dec. 9 at 6 p.m. Gift exchanging is optional ($5 minimum). You may also bring non-perishables for the food pantry. This is the meeting at which we nominate and elect our Irishman and Irish Rose for 1999. The nominating committee is Art Gale, Sharon Candahl, Jim Finn and Linda Pfaff. Please make your choices of candidates known to them. A Board Meeting will be held at Marcy Winchels residence on Jan. 14, 1999, 7 p.m. All members are welcome.
Once you became a member of our club you should begin receiving a copy of Emerald Reflections from Milwaukee within a month or so. If you are not receiving same, or are receiving multiple copies, please notify our Membership Chair, Mary Kay Smith at once.
After a lazy, relaxed summer for the club in general, activities got into full swing with our September, October and November meetings.
We had the pleasure of having Paul Ryan, candidate for the 1st Congressional District, attend our October meeting on the spur of the moment when our scheduled entertainment canceled due to illness. Paul shared his memories of when he went to Ireland at the age of 18, shortly after the death of his father. He told how amazed he was at the hospitality of the people (no surprise to any of us who have also been there!) and how he traced his roots to the Tipperary area. It turned out to be a very enjoyable evening, and we wished him well in his bid for Congress.
Our last highway cleanup for the year was held on October 26. Members participating were Jim Mackey, Ken Flanigan, and Tom and Mary Kennedy. It took just one and a half hours to complete the cleanup on Hwy. 81. Tom Kennedy, committee chairperson would like to thank Jim, Ken, and Mary, as well as Dave and Mary Bickle, and Fred McCann who helped in the two previous cleanups earlier this summer. The club would like to thank Tom Kennedy for taking charge of the cleanup committee. Unfortunately, we usually have typical Irish weather on the days chosen for cleanup!
In November we held our annual "Share a Memory" night when we shared our humorous, sad, and embarrassing moments of Ireland. It has proven to be one of our favorite programs.
Christmas will be celebrated on December 16 with a catered Irish dinner at our usual meeting place at the Senior Center, 69 S. Water St., Janesville. The meal, catered by Betty Dyke from Rockford, Ill., will feature Irish ham, canconan potatoes, salad and a special Irish torte for dessert. The cost will be $15 per person. Mike Hughes music group will be the entertainment. Reservations and payment should be sent to Gene Sheppard by December 1st.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS:
We would like to invite all members to attend our monthly meetings. The executive board goes through much preparation to bring good programs for our pleasure. Let's show our appreciation and make this year the best ever with strong support from the membership.
Ken Flanigan, President
Now you can explore Ireland on computer at the ICHC. We are establishing a library of Irish interactive CD-ROMs for the use of members and visitors to the center. Various Irish institutions are donating to the project.
Recent acquisitions include Facts about Ireland, supplied by the Department of Foreign Affairs, courtesy of Vice-consul Fiona Flood, and Fellowship of Freedom, donated by the National Museum of Ireland.
Facts about Ireland is a multimedia introduction to Ireland, presented as a parade, with sections on culture, services, economy, the Irish state, land and people, Northern Ireland, and Ireland in the world.
Fellowship of Freedom is an interactive exploration produced by the National Library of Ireland in collaboration with National Museum of Ireland and with the assistance of the government's 17th Commemoration Committee. It uses documents, objects and images from these various national collections to explore the Rebellion of the United Irishmen in 1798.
For further information call 345-8800.
by Martain O'Flaherty
THE MISTY NIGHT
I walked along the bog
Christmas was near,
I saw the ducks take off from the water,
I think of you as I start for home.
ANOTHER PLACE, ANOTHER LIFE
In America, I wait for you,
You are at home, with your family.
So, I sit, with friends, new found, some
Christmas soon will be over
SOON IT WILL BE CHRISTMAS
Christmas bells are ringing.
The children are expectant
Cool are the evenings
Nollaig Shona Duit.
Dancing at Lughnasa stars: (l to r) Catherine McCormack as Christina; Sophie Thompson as Rose; Meryl Streep as Kate; Kathy Burke as Maggie; and Brid Brennan as Agnes.
© 1998 Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc
A trio of Irish movies are making their way into the Milwaukee area. They are Waking Ned Devine, The General, and Dancing at Lughnasa. They will be playing at the Landmark Theatres on the East Side.
Waking Ned Devine takes place in a small Irish village. When two members of the village discover that someone has not claimed a winning lottery ticket, they develop a scheme to help their lucky "friends" in the village of Tully More find their good luck, in order to separate some of the winners' from their money . Starring Ian Bannen, David Kelly and Fionnula Flanagan, this quiet film follows the exploits of the two while trying to outwit the National Lottery and their neighbors.
Dancing at Lughnasa is an adaptation of the Brian Friel play. It follows the lives of the five Mundy sisters in Donegal in the mid 1930s. The sisters are played by Meryl Streep, Catherine McCormack, Kathy Burke, Brid Brennan, and Sophie Thompson. The sisters all take care of the son of Christina, (McCormack), who has sullied the reputation of the family with the birth of Michael out of wedlock.
The sisters are also preparing for the return of their brother, a missionary priest from Africa. His return turns the womens world upside down. The priest is physically debilitated from his service, and tending towards the paganistic in his beliefs. Michaels father then returns to upset the family further and sends life into another spin.
The third movie is The General. It follows the real life exploits of Dublin gangster Martin Cahill. Cahill grew up in the Holyfield district of Dublin, and was well known to police for his well executed robberies. Holyfield was a no-go place for the police, and Cahill was well protected in his enclave, where neighborhood loyalties rivaled clan loyalties. However, when Cahill bought a house in a middle class area, he then became the focus of the tax officials and police. After Cahill's gang stole a number of paintings, a special task force was set to bring him down. The General stars Brendan Gleeson as Martin Cahill, and Jon Voight as Ned Kenny, a police officer.
Waking Ned Devine opens in early December at the Oriental. Dancing at Lughnasa opens in early January, and The General in early February. The Landmark Theatres are the Oriental at Farwell and North, and the Downer Theatre, on Downer and Bellview.
It's not too early to mark your calendars for our annual St. Patrick's Night Gala event at the Wisconsin Club.
Call Pat at 527-2934 and get your name on the list for one of the year's highlight occasions featuring music, dance, cabaret, our honorees, and great Celtic conviviality!
Irish writing was never livelier. More Irish writers are being published today than at any time in history. If you enjoy reading a good book and discussing it in nice, informal, convivial company, you'll love the new Irish Readers Club at the ICHC.
Join us the third Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. for tea 'n' biscuits and book discussion. Members nominate a book at least one month in advance, and then lead the discussion of their selection. The Club will run from January through May and September through November. The spring program includes:
Books will be available at the meetings or from Mary Beth Dugan's Rainbow Bookstore on W. Vliet St. A Children's Book Club is planned for the new year.
Call 258-9349, or the ICHC at 345-8800 for more information.
UW-Milw As the millenium approaches, it's time to take a backward glance at Ireland in the century of cinema. So, join us as we explore the history of film in Ireland and the story of Ireland on film. Let the camera lens be our window on an Ireland of change and challenge. From Gaelic revival to Celtic globalization, from folk life community to video nation, from rural backwardness to trendy urbanism, from nationalism to internationalism, from conflict to compromise let's see how the dreamscapes of cinema relate to the nightmares of history!
The Green Screen Images of Ireland in Cinema and T.V. Ethnic Studies 359-250 Se303, 3 credits. Wednesdays 6:15-8:55 in MIT 191. Instructor: John Gleeson, BOL 752; x4923. For information call UWM: 229-6209. Auditors welcome.
Folk singer Glenn Yarbrough will be making his Irish Cultural and Heritage Center debut with a Christmas Concert, on Thursday, December 3, at 7:30 p.m. The concert is the same evening as the Milwaukee Christmas Party. Shamrock Club members are offered a special ticket discount price: $5 per person.
The Glenn Yarbrough Christmas Concert marks the return to Milwaukee of the Milwaukee born entertainer. He comes out of retirement for the holidays to narrate and sing a new Christmas classic. The Forgotten Carols is the tale of an eccentric gentleman who believes he is 2000 years old and witnessed the birth of Christ. His most prized possessions are six handmade ornaments, each one telling, in song and story, of a "forgotten" character of the Christmas story. Glenn Yarbrough will personally greet the audience after the performance. This show promises to be a special night of Christmas music for the entire family.
For more information on the concert, call 414-345-8800.
"Seven Nations is a four piece acoustic based rock band... based in Celtic music," says band member Neil Anderson. "What makes us different (from most other Celtic rock bands) is that we take traditional Celtic instruments and play lead (parts) on them." While most rock bands have a lead guitar player, Anderson plays the lead bagpipe. And instead of adding Celtic sounds to their music, the band incorporates Celtic influences into the base of their songs. They also write their own music. The name Seven Nations refers to the seven nations of the Celtic world.
Seven Nations can be seen in concert Sat., December 12, 8 p.m. Tickets to the ICHC concert are: $15 reserved, advance and $17 at the door. Call 345-8800.
MILWAUKEE Colleen McGuire; Jacquiline Schertz; Patrick and Amy Shiek; and Katherine Lynch Styberg.
ROCK COUNTY David and Prudence Sullivan.
Get your scores ready! The 14th annual Messiah Sing-Along will take place on Sunday, December 6, 1998, at 2 p.m. at the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center, 2133 W. Wisconsin Ave. Conductor Michael Kamenski, the Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra and organist Dennis Janzer will lead the soloists and you, the singers, in Handel's famed oratorio. Tickets are free. Further information can be obtained by calling the ICHC at 354-8800. A free will offering is taken at the performance.
The Shamrock Club mailing address is changing to the ICHC as of January 1, 1999. Our Post Office Box will be phased out as of that date. The new address is:
Shamrock Club of Wisconsin
Milw. International Arts Festival program will provide an open door to the delightfully diverse world of Irish Drama.
THE COUNTRY BOY
Recognized as the best play produced by the Abbey Theatre during their prolonged exile in Dublin Queen's Theatre during the 1950s (the original Abbey burned down in 1952 and the "new" Abbey opened in 1961), The Country Boy examines, with realism, sensitivity and humor, the complex relationship between Ireland and Irish America.
Set on a small farm in County Mayo during the return visit of the exiled eldest son and his American wife, John Murphy's drama received critical acclaim for its honesty, depth of feeling and insight into the Irish emigrant psyche.
Milwaukee Irish Arts is bringing from Dublin the veteran Irish actor/director, Jimmy McClatchie, to direct the production which will feature a strong cast of local native Irish and Irish American actors.
The Country Boy will run at the ICHC February 26-28, and March 5-7.
Young Irish playwrights are taking the world by storm these days. Very often their works appear off Broadway or in the London West End before being staged in their native land. Acclaimed internationally, these plays reflect a non-territorial Irishness which engages the contemporary condition and confronts head-on themes and topics once taboo on the Irish stage. During the run of the Festival, Milwaukee Irish Arts will present a series of readings of new plays by young Irish playwrights, including Martin McDonagh, Colm McPherson, Gina Moxley and Jimmy Nolan.
Venue ICHC: Saturdays, 5 p.m., February 6, 13, 20.
IRISH PUB PERFORMANCES
Irish pubs have traditionally been unofficial cultural centers poets' place, poor folks' university, storyteller arena or richly aromatic cozy talking pit.
At Cecilia's Irish Pub, Milwaukee Irish Arts will host a series of Irish Pub Theatre, featuring performance, storytelling, Irish cabaret and poetic promenade.
Venue: Cecilia's Pub, South 2nd Street.
For information, call: 352-3617.
General P.X. Kelley, retired commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, is heading a fund drive for the Irish American Partnership, based in Boston.
The partnership's aim is to aid Ireland by supporting "programs critical to education, job training and economic development throughout Ireland." This applies to both southern and northern Ireland, according to Kelley. They can be contacted at: (617) 273-2707.
As part of the city's International Arts Festival in February the Milwaukee Irish Film Fleadh (fleadh is Irish for "festival") will bring to Milwaukee exciting new features and short films by Irish filmmakers, as well as an animation program, a children's program, and panel discussions with filmmakers and Irish film experts from Ireland.
The Film Festival will run February 18-21, 1999 at UWM Union Theater (2200 Kenwood Blvd.) and The Times Cinema (5906 W. Vliet St.). Presenting organizations include: Milwaukee Film Festival, Milwaukee Irish Arts, and UWM School of the Arts, Dept. of Film.
Some of the films from Ireland which will be presented include, but are not limited to: Bogwoman (Dir. Tom Collins, 1997); Guiltrip (Dir. Gerry Stembridge, 1995); Separation Anxiety (Dir. Mark Staunton, 1997); Kickhams (Dir. Brendan Byrne, 1997); Sweety Barrett (Dir. Stephen Bradley, 1997); The Last of the High Kings (Dir. David Keating, 1995).
Watch for more information in January's Emerald Reflections or call (414) 229-6016.
Looking for something special to grace the holiday table? Look no further!
GUINNESS PUDDING WITH WHISKEY SAUCE
1 cup white flour
125g (5 oz) butter
Place sultanas, raisins, currants, orange rind and juice, Guinness and whiskey in bowl, cover and leave overnight. Grease a medium size pudding steamer (approx. 6 cup plastic bowl) with melted butter. Fold bread crumbs through fruit mixture and leave to stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the eggs, and sift in flour, cinnamon and baking powder. Spoon into prepared pudding steamer, lower into boiling water and steam for two hours. Leave to stand for 15 minutes before turning out of steamer.
TIP: Steam again, before serving for a deeper, richer flavor. Pudding can be eaten hot or cold, but tastes delicious piping hot and topped with whipped cream. The pudding freezes extremely well!
SAUCE: Place butter, sugar and golden syrup in a heavy pan, stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add whiskey and stir in cream. Pour sauce over hot pudding and serve with whipped or ice cream.
Nollaig Shona Duit Merry Christmas 1999
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