St. Patrick's Day on Achill Island, 2000
by Jean Bills
I had the distinct pleasure of spending the "high holy day"
in County Mayo, Ireland this year. For years I have heard from my cousin
about what a great "Patrick's Day" they have on Achill Island.
I decided to see for myself and enjoy it while I could.
Achill is part of County Mayo on the western coast of Ireland, extending
out into the Atlantic Ocean about 15 miles and connected to the mainland
by a bridge. The weather was mild, a bit overcast and cool.
This is an overview of the day's schedule: There are a number of
villages on the island within a couple of miles of each other. Four of
these villages have bagpipe bands; each assembles in their own area and
marches to the first church in Pollagh. After Mass they all march to a
second church in Dookinella. Concerts by all of the bands occur before
and after the church services.
The villages involved were Dooagh, Pollagh, Dookinella and Keel.
The band members are men and a few women who get together only twice a
year, to celebrate St. Patrick's Day and Easter. Other times they are living
and working far away in places such as America or England. Although once
natives here, only a few still reside on Achill and they all gather a few
days early to practice for this time that they obviously love.
(Above: Village of Pollagh)
I was staying in the village of Pollagh. At 6 a.m. the drummers of
the Pollagh band went marching down the village road beating on the drums
to waken their pipers. We all assembled at 9 a.m. at the schoolyard, where
the band led all the Pollagh families, babies in prams, walkers, bicyclers
and some in cars, in procession to the church in Pollagh. The Pollagh band
played until the other three bands arrived leading their respective town
I must say that virtually all of the island residents turn out for
this celebration. (Population of 3,200). Except for the publicans of course,
who gird themselves for a big day of business. All of the people wore a
bunch (more than a sprig) of fresh shamrocks on their coats, caps, uniforms
or where-ever, picked from their own grassy yards; even babies in their
prams and visitors from the US, I'm happy to say.
In addition to the four adult bands, there were two children's bands
which played mostly tin whistles and drums. One had children of ten or
so in age, and the other the mid-teens. All of the children were very serious
in their performance trying to duplicate the professionalism of the big
The bands played several tunes before Mass, while everyone was assembling.
During performances, each band formed a large circle perhaps 50-60 feet
across. Inside the circle was a bass drum and a drum major who was totally
in charge. He marched around the inner circle dressed in fine regalia with
a long baton, going through prescribed maneuvers and leading the pipers.
To say that the pipers were proud, serious, and professional is not to
do them justice. They were exulting in the experience.
Each of the four village bands had their own distinct kilt uniforms,
with a wide pleated shawl that almost reached the ground. All wore high
white spats and black socks. Except for the bass drums, the bands were
entirely bagpipers and a few snare drums, about 30-40 strong.
After Mass, the playing continued outside of the church for about
an hour, each band taking turns and always in their circles. The village
roads filled with humanity, cars and people. They all stayed there for
a couple of hours until things moved to Dookinella Church about two miles
away. This was not a day to be traveling anywhere else on Achill Island
because you would not get far!
At Dookinella the process was repeated. The Mass in each church was
entirely in Gaelic; pipers assisted with the readings as did several from
the children's groups. After the second Mass the concerts were a bit longer
and finally three of the bands performed en masse in a huge circle. It
was nice to see many of the children take up positions behind the adult
players and finger their little tin whistles, no doubt imagining themselves
Finally, the population et al repaired to the Crossroads Pub for
a bit of libation. At this point, the traffic could move. This was probably
2 or 3 o'clock. One band or another continued the entertainment outside
the pub, and some returned to their own village.
I took my friends on a tour of Achill Island and when we returned
at dusk, there were still bands playing and marching in their own village
areas. No school brass bands, politicians, or floats or police and fire
officers here; just simply the bagpipe bands and the local population.
It was so pure, so real, so wonderful. I could not imagine anything more
fitting for Saint Patrick. This Mayo celebration is unique, probably like
nowhere else in the world. No television cameras, no tourists (don't count
us) and quite unpublicized. So please do not go to Achill Island to see
for yourselves; they are happy to stay unknown to outsiders. This custom
is about 50 years old on the island. Prior to that there were tin whistle
bands doing much the same routine for the day.
I missed the doings on March 18th, but on that day the bands congregated
again, along with many other local musicians with their various instruments
for a huge session of true Irish music, outdoors at a big parking lot.
I can only dream of this for another day.
Dues: Second Notice
If you are two months behind in dues your name will be taken off
the membership list. Please check your mailing label for the month your
yearly dues are payable. Questions please call Tom Smith at (414) 384-4119.
New Dublin News
- May 1 - Board Meeting, 6:30 p.m., Sommer's
- May 1 - General Membership Meeting, 7:00 p.m., Sommer's
- No general membership meetings during the summer months of June
July, or August. Next gathering will be at our Halfway Day Celebration
on Sunday, September 17, 2000.
WASN'T THAT A PARTY!
Once again New Dublin lived up to its reputation of producing the
largest St. Patrick's Day Parade in Wisconsin.
Not even blustery winds and a light snowfall could deter 129 entries,
consisting of 1600 participants, from marching through the record crowds
lining the streets of New Dublin.
The Irishfest tent, which is almost as big as a football field, was
rockin' to the music of Leahy's Luck. Feet were tappin' and hands were
clappin' when the Irish dancers took the stage. Food and beverage was plentiful
All of the week's Irish activities (there was something for everyone
Irish or not, including the St. Patrick's Family Talent Program, Carolling,
the ceili on St. Patrick's Day) drew record numbers.
This success didn't happen by chance. The Shamrock Club of New Dublin
thanks all the members and volunteers behind the scenes. They've put in
a years worth of time, effort and talent to make it all possible.
The Shamrock Club of New Dublin also wishes to thank all their sponsors,
big and small, for any and all contributions they have made. Without their
generosity we wouldn't be able to offer such a rich variety of events for
everyone to enjoy.
The Club has already begun plans for next years festivities. Everyone
is invited to be in New Dublin on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 2001, for
the best party yet!
New Dublin Loses
Irishman of the Year
Hello Irish Friends:
This is Judi Barrington from the Shamrock Club of New Dublin letting
you all know Moochie's brother, Dave (Fluf) Barrington, passed away at
home April 4, 2000, losing a brave battle to cancer.
As everyone knows Fluf was a very active Jaycee on the local and
state level and had received a Statesman, Ambassador and Senatorship. He
was also active in the Shamrock Club and was this years Irishman of the
Year. Please read about him on our web site http://msnhome pages. talkcity.com/NonProfitBlvd/newdublin/irishman.htm
He was loved by many and will truly be missed. Please keep him in your
prayers as we all grieve together.
- Judi & Mooch Barrington
Shamrock Club of New Dublin
Rock County Shamrock Club
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
- May 16 General Membership Meeting, 7:30 p.m. Janesville Senior Center,
69 S. Water St. Program; Dr. I.M. O'Cookie
Our St. Patrick's Parade was just great. The weatherman cooperated
and the people lined the sidewalks watching the many units go by. The Hackett
Family was out in full force in their green attire and the Finnegan Family
were all decked out in their shamrock decorated white sweatshirts. Among
the regular participants from other years were the JROTC from Beloit Memorial
High School, the Marine Corps League and the Young Marines. Thanks to all
of our members and others who make our parade a big success.
Installation of officers will be held at our May meeting. We hope
you will all come to the meeting to show your support for our new officers.
For our program we will have a man with a medical background, Dr.
I.M. O'Cookie. If any of you are feeling blue, down hearted or sad, I am
sure Dr. I.M. O'Cookie can help you with his Irish music and stories. Come
for a healing experience.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
- May 10 - Membership Meeting, 7 p.m. at 1216 E. Wisconsin Ave., Appleton.
- May 24 - Board Meeting, 7 p.m. at Conkey's, Appleton
It was nice to see Dale Brenon, past president of the Milwaukee chapter
in New Dublin. He braved the wet, snowy weather during their parade. I
enjoyed helping in the entertainment tent. These are ways to support other
Watch the June newsletter for pictures and data on our 2000 Irishman
and Irish Rose.
Upcoming programs will include: Dan Curtin when his second book of
poetry is published; a representative of the local Genealogy Society; Rhonda
Wofford on her recent trip to Ireland; and Celtic music.
You might find the entertainment scene at Trilogy in Greenville quite
to your liking. Live music from 7:30 to 11 p.m. with no cover charge. Druid's
Table will be playing May 12 and June 16. Steve Hazell will perform June
23. (I'm sure he will do a few Celtic tunes.)
Note: It's very important that you come to our May 10 Membership
Meeting. Additional nominations from the floor will be welcomed and election
of officers will take place. The chapter needs input from all members.
Bring a friend or relative, everyone is welcome.
Welcome to new members: Jim and Anne Donnellan; Pat Flanagan; John
and Fran McCarthy.
- Elaine Hoes, Secretary
Greater LaCrosse Area
Some of our March 17th adventures included (left) our Irishman of
the Year, Dennis O'Brien addressing friends and colleagues at the UW LaCrosse
Cleary Center and (right) our Irish Rose, Pam Love, visiting with a resident
at the Bethany on Cass Senior Home. It was a great day.
A General Meeting will be held at Sullivan's on May 18th. We will
nominate, elect and install our new officers at that time. Club members
will receive details in our Bit O'Blarney Newsletter.
Web Page Update
The Shamrock Club Chapter Page now has links for all chapters, including
meetings and officers and the current month's news. If you have email addresses,
please send them so they can be included in with your links
Sullivan CD Available
During the State Meeting in February Irish baritone, John L. Sullivan
sang for the group after the meeting and before dinner was served. Everyone
enjoyed him immensely. On St. Patrick's Day his latest CD was released.
It costs $15 + $2.55 shipping and handling. If interested, contact Marian
Schnell, 2202 S. 30th St., LaCrosse, WI 54601 or call her at (608) 787-5500.
She will pass messages on to him.
- May 9 - 6:15 p.m. Board Meeting / 7:30 pm. Membership Meeting. At
Jingles. Election of Officers. Raffle Drawing. Barbara Henzelman will speak
on Irish Genealogical Society of Wisconsin
- June 3 - Bus trip to Irish points of interest in Milwaukee with
John Gleeson as guide. Contact Mary Hearn for details at 608/274-4369.
- July 11 - Annual Picnic, Knight's of Columbus Building, Verona Rd.
Potluck: a list will be passed at the May meeting.
- August - Irish Fest, Milwaukee
The Annual Thomas R. Green Memorial Flag Raising Celebration was
once again a big success. Approximately 350 people joined us at the State
Capitol Building to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Thank you to all who performed.
This year marked a change in our celebration of St. Patrick's Day.
We elected to have a luncheon instead of a dinner. Approximately 90 people
joined us for lunch at Jingle's. Mike O'Brien provided a free bus for transportation
to and from the capitol! The luncheon was a success! If you have any comments
or suggestions for future St. Patrick's Day events, please give Barb Gallenberg
a call, or visit the website at www.shamrockclub.org.
You should have received some Raffle Tickets from our club in the
mail. Please, try and sell at least two of your tickets. If you are unable
to sell these tickets, please mail them back to Eamon O'Brien (2667 Coffeytown
Rd., Cottage Grove, WI 53527), or return them at a Membership Meeting.
The Raffle is the only fund raiser for our club. It is important that we
sell as many tickets as possible! What would you do with the $1000 prize?
Or, would you choose the two tickets to Ireland ($1000 value)?
The election of Officers for the Dane County Shamrock Club Board
is fast approaching. If you are interested in being a Board Member, or
know of anyone who is interested, please contact Barb Gallenberg.
Milwaukee President's Message
The Color Guard Pipes and Drums has been to San Antonio and returned
from a successful trip. They participated in a very solemn wreath laying
ceremony at the Alamo which included marching in the downtown area. On
Sunday they rode barges down the river along the city's Riverwalk, dyed
the river green and appeared on stage at the theatre on the Riverwalk.
A good time was had by all. The plane ride was another story.
The Easter Mass was a lovely grand affair attended by many people.
The 40th Anniversary Party was a huge success. Thanks to Beth Brzycki
and Dale Brenon for a big job well done. The honorees were given their
plaques and everyone was happy. There still are some 40th anniversary shirts
for sale as well as souvenir books. They will be sold at the General Meeting.
Plan on buying some.
Now that the Post Parade Party is over, Joe Hughes and I will be
planning the annual picnic. We are planning some new and exciting things
Richard Stover's plans for the Golf Outing will also be announced
so you can all mark your calendars.
The final nominations are in and are:
President: Cate Harris, Dale Brenon
Vice President: Sue Dundon
Secretary: Jean Cardwell, Mary McAndrews
Treasurer: Sharon Murphy, Marianne Mikush
Trustee: Mike Payne, Richard Stover
Sgt at Arms: Beth Brzycki
Parliamentarian: Tom Blaha
Membership: Tom Smith
Plan on coming to vote at the May 4th meeting.
Celtic American Night
Baseball Game To Benefit ICHC
The Milwaukee Brewers and the high-flyin' Colorado Rockies will mix
it up on Celtic American Night at County Stadium, Friday, June 2, 2000.
The Worlds Greatest Tailgate Party will kick off this summer evening of
fun for a good cause. Sponsor is the Ancient Order of Hibernians with proceeds
benefiting the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center on W. Wisconsin Avenue.
Tickets are only $22 and include a lower grandstand seat, admission
to the pre-game tailgate Ceili, plenty of fine food and beverages, door
prizes, music, and a guaranteed good time! Fun begins at 5 p.m. in the
County Stadium parking lot. Pre-game ceremonies will take place at home
plate prior to the game. Families are especially welcome. There'll be more
than enough food for the kids.
Tickets may be purchased by calling the Irish Cultural and Heritage
Center at (414) 345-8800, Master Charge and Visa accepted. Members of the
Ancient Order of Hibernians will also have tickets. Efforts are underway
to make tickets available to designated restaurants and bars.
AOH President Rod Keenan is extending a special invitation to the
many Celtic groups and individuals throughout the metropolitan area. "The
ICHC is a treasure. The Milwaukee Brewers have been extraordinarily helpful.
Now it's time for all of us to pitch in. We can bat 1,000 if we pull together.
Lord knows, if anything, we know how to throw a party."
The Hibernanians are just beginning to "warm up" and additional
details are expected to be announced in the days and weeks ahead. Mark
your calendar now.
Irish Fest Grant And Scholarship
Milwaukee Irish Fest has grants and scholarships available to qualified
persons. The Edward J. Ward Milwaukee Irish Music Scholarship is given
to persons who meet the qualifications. It is for $1000, and is awarded
at the Festival in August. Irish Fest also has cultural grants that are
given out twice a year. Deadline for the cultural grant is May 19.
For either application, write Milwaukee Irish Fest, 1532 Wauwatosa
Ave., Milwaukee WI 53213; email to ifest@ execpc.com or call (414) 476-3378.
Vote May 4 in Milwaukee Elections
Thursday, May 4 is Milwaukee Shamrock Club election day. The voting
will begin at 6 p.m. and end at 8 p.m.
All members whose dues are paid may vote. Dues will be collected
at the door. Two votes come with a family membership and one vote per single
membership. You must be there to vote. There are no absentee votes.
New Irish Dance School
When Bridget Smith-Jaskulski TCRG began Irish step dancing at the
age of seven under the direction of Dr. Mary Eileen Geary TCRG, she began
representing an art form that has grown leaps and bounds in Milwaukee since
the earliest days of the Shamrock Club Dancers back in the late 1960s.
Bridget began dancing with the Shamrock Club Irish Dancers in 1973. The
school later became the Geary School of Irish Dancing. In 1981, the school
was turned over to Mark Howard TCRG and became the Trinity Academy of Irish
Dance. Bridget was a dancer and instructor with the Trinity Academy for
many years. She has a gold medal from the World Championships from 1987
in team dancing.
On February 23, Bridget opened Milwaukee's newest Irish Dance school,
Glencastle Irish Dancers, Inc. The name comes from a small town in County
Mayo near Belmullet where Bridget's great-grandparents came from. Bridget
is an accredited teacher (TCRG) of Irish Dancing by An Coimisiun le Rince
Gaelacha in Dublin, Ireland.
Being a member of the Shamrock Club of Wisconsin, (her father, Tom
Smith, is the Milwaukee Membership Chairperson), the Emerald Society of
Wisconsin and a long-time coordinator for Milwaukee Irish Fest and the
Milwaukee Feis Society, Bridget takes great pride in her Irish culture
and heritage. She hopes to instill this love and commitment to each of
her dancers by sharing with them what has been taught to her. The philosophy
of Glencastle is to teach Irish dance in a friendly, positive and nurturing
way. Glencastle hopes to encourage self-confidence, discipline, and respect
for the art form as well as maintaining open lines of communication between
the instructor, students and parents. Irish dancing is about fun, family
and friends and Glencastle hopes to build and encourage lasting friendships.
Registration is now being accepted for fall classes. Classes will
be offered for both adults and children. For more information about Glencastle
Irish Dancers, Inc. or for registration forms for classes, please call
Bridget Smith-Jaskulski at (414) 383-0621 or by email at Glencastleid@aol.com.
Set Dance Workshop
Featuring Mick Mulkerrin
The Milwaukee Set Dance Club has announced a Sunday, June 18, 2000
workshop. Mick Mulkerrin, one of Ireland's top set dance instructors, will
return to Milwaukee for an afternoon featuring sets and concluding with
a brief review of sean nos (old style) solo dancing. Mick taught at Irish
Fest Summer School in 1995 and 96.
The workshop will be held in the second floor dance space at the
ICHC, 2133 W. Wisconsin Ave., from 1:30 - 5:30 p.m. Doors will open at
1 p.m. Advance registration is suggested.
The one-day workshop fee is $15. On the day before (Saturday) Mick
will conduct a workshop in Chicago, followed by an evening ceili at the
Irish American Heritage Center.
By Hook or By Crook
Did you know the phrase "by hook or by crook" came from
Oliver Cromwell's assault on the city of Waterford? Cromwell was to attack
the city either "by Hook" meaning via harbor assault, or "by
Crook", via overland assault. The Hook referred to Waterford's harbor,
the Crook, the valley passage into the city.
Welcome New Members
LaCROSSE - Marilyn J. Burkhart (referred by Dorina Lukins); Tom and
Paulette O'Brien (referred by Dennis O'Brien); Fr. Tom O'Neill (referred
by Barb Schroider).
MILWAUKEE - Patricia J. Amrheim; William and Debra, Alex, Hunter,
Mackeinzie, Bryant (referred by Kathy Minacker); Michael and Maripat Collins
and Brendan and Caitlin West; John and Rita, James, John III, Joe, Katherine
Czukas; Michael and Joan, Melissa, Christopher, Dodd (referred by Patti
Garrity); Sue and Jim Duerrwaechter; Olive Gilbert; Mary Lou and Ed and
Tim Heck; Sharon Hill (referred by Brian Witt); Donald and Judith, Nicholas,
Hurley (referred by Beth Brzycki); John Karr; Janet Ann LeClaire (referred
by Jim LeClaire); Bonnie McFarlane (referred by Jenny McClintok); Kevin
and Laurie McGuigan and Dan Telfa (son); Olivia Malamphy; Ronald and Patricia
Moon; RA Mikush; Mary O'Brien; Connie Pestka; Julie Puhek (referred by
Megan O'Driscoll); Patrick Kearns and Darlene Roberts; Mary Kay Ronchke
(referred by Megan O'Driscoll); Robert Shepherd; Diana Hershaw and John
Singleton (referred by Paul Strain); Ann Kenney and Jan Smokowitz and Kate
Smokowitz; Sherry J. Werner.