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Emerald Reflections Online

Table of Contents - June 2000

You are viewing the electronic version of Emerald Reflections,
the monthly publication of the Shamrock Club of Wisconsin

The Harp and Ireland

Fox Cities Shamrock Club

Rock County Shamrock Club

Shamrock Club of Northeast Wisconsin

Milwaukee President's Message

All Chapters: Irish Fest Alert

Celtic American Night at County Stadium

Donn's Poetry Corner

Irish Archeology in Indiana

Milwaukee Annual Installation Dinner

Join us for Bloomsday!

Halfway to Halfway

Milwaukee Parade Change??

Bluemound Parade Proposal -- Milwaukee Vote June1

Dancers Take Home Awards

Irish Set Dance Workshop with Mick Mulkerrin

Weekly Set Dancing Classes Continue This Summer

Welcome New Members

Milwaukee Calendar of Events

Wisconsin Calendar of Events

The Harp and Ireland

by Erika Weinsteiger

The harp is the symbol of Ireland. It is on coins, beer bottles, flags, and statues. Where and why did this instrument manage to come into prominence?

As a harpist, I have always been intrigued with the history of this instrument and I have always wondered why the Irish were so taken with my chosen musical medium.

To find out where Ireland's fascination comes from, you must look back in history. The Irish were a hunting and warlike people, and the fact that they had bows influenced the development of the harp. The first harps were single stalked bows with the strings attached. However, this design was very weak. Later harp development incorporated a frame and a central pillar, thus stabilizing and strengthening the strings. Early examples of frame harps can be found in cave drawings from the Greek islands from about 5,000 years ago.

According to Sylvia Woods, harper and author, "In Ireland, the earliest mention of the harp is about 541 B.C., where the harp was made of willow, and the harper's name was Craftine." The earliest known depiction of a frame harp is found in the Scottish Highlands on an 8th century stone cross. Here, as well as in other Celtic countries, harpers were very important and well respected. The ransom to be paid of a harper was the same as that of a king. They were often poets as well as musicians, and were credited with magical powers. Harpers were required to be able to evoke three different emotions in their audience by their music: Geantraighe, or laughter; Goltraighe, or tears; and Suantraighe, or sleep.

Irish mythology also mentioned the importance of the harp and harper. The Dagda, the chief of Ireland's gods, suffered the theft of both his harp and his harper to the Fomorians. The Dagda, along with Lugh and Ogna, two other Irish deities, went to the encampment of the Fomorians to request the return of the harp and harper. The Fomorians refused, and The Dagda called across the room to the harp, whereupon it killed all in its path.

The Ancient Celtic harps used in Ireland and Scotland were strung with combinations of brass and steel wire, and possibly silver. The soundboxes were carved from a single piece of wood. In early Wales, they apparently strung theirs with horsehair, producing a buzzing sound. Later, they too used brass-strung harps.

Gradually, with the coming of Christianity, the invasions of the Vikings, and social disruption and feuding in the British Isles, the harpers lost much of their influence and power, becoming court minstrels and street musicians.

The revival of the Irish harping tradition, which had died out during the Viking invasions, was attributed to the man whose name is most associated with the harp. In the latter part of the 10th century, Brian Boru founded the Bardic Order, which created a musical heritage and tradition which survived 500 years. About the time of Brian, Irish harpers were travelling to the highlands of Scotland to study in the harping schools there. By the middle ages, however, the trend had reversed and Scots harpers were commonly travelling to Ireland to learn their craft.

One of the three oldest harps from the British Isles is commonly associated with Brian Boru, although its true history is not known. It is a low-headed lap harp with 30 strings, and is now housed at Trinity College, Dublin.

The harp was originally the national instrument of Scotland, where each clan had its own harper. Over centuries the harp was gradually replaced by the bagpipes. The harp was in full decline in Scotland by the fall of the Jacobites in the 17th century. (The plight of harpers was ubiquitous in the British Isles. One story about a harper encountering a piper was from Wexford. A Welsh harper played in a tavern for hours, and was sorely disappointed when the patrons went wild for the piper. "These creatures are ill suited for the music, fit only to live with swine," he whined.)

One harper who was well known both in historic and contemporary times, was Turlough O'Carolan, the blind harper from Roscommon. O'Carolan was a favorite of Irish society. He was also influenced by the Italian composers who were residing in Dublin at the time. O'Carolan's contemporaries complained that his music was too "Italian" in sound. However, O'Carolan's music, which is largely extant today, still resounds with a purely Irish voice.

O'Carolan's final piece of music was "O'Carolan's Farewell to Music." It is a percussive, hard driven piece, equally angry and melancholy. O'Carolan was supposed to have taken to his death bed after the composition of this piece, whereupon he asked for a glass of whiskey. He placed the glass to his lips, and handed it to his host, saying, "Two old friends should not part without a farewell kiss." O'Carolan's son was also a harper. He brought scandal upon himself when he stole the wife, horse and harp of another harper. History doesn't record what the other harper missed most.

After the rise of Protestantism in Ireland, the harp again went into decline. Harpers, most of whom were Catholic, fell into disfavor with the government because they supposedly incited rebellion with their songs and music. Once again, the harpers lost status, and many of them fled to Scotland or the continent.

It was an event that took place at the end of the 18th century that caused the harp to become both a symbol of Ireland and a renewed musical instrument. The Belfast Harp Convention of 1792 was organized by the United Irishmen, the democratic society that attempted to cross all religious boundaries. They chose the harp as the symbol of a united Ireland, an instrument that crossed all sects. The Harp Convention was their attempt to draw attention to the decline of the harp in Ireland under English rule. When the few surviving harpists arrived, only one, Denis Hempson, a blind harper in his late 90's, was able to play the metal strung Ancient Celtic harp. Hempson played in the earlier style with fingernails upon metal strings. The so-called Neo-Celtic harp, which had gut strings, had become more prevalent. The entire affair was witnessed by Edward Bunting, a young man who transcribed the music of the week, and saved it for posterity and the revival of the Irish harp.

In the 20th century, the Celtic revivals in Ireland and Scotland have brought new strength to folk harping there, and Neo-Celtic harps are being made in increasing numbers. According to Woods, in the last 20 years, harping has become even more popular in the British Isles and America, and harp building has continued to increase steadily to meet the demand. Within the past five years, Ancient Celtic style harps have also been revitalized. Interestingly enough, the majority of harp making is currently done in the U.S., and the center of folk harp development is the west coast. With more instruments available, use of the folk harp has grown greatly in every field of music.

As a person affected by this revival of the harp, and its music, I am happy that O'Carolan and Brian Boru helped to make this tradition available and that Bunting helped record what might have been the end of this wonderful, and needed tradition. The harp may be thousands of years old, but as long as one person plays in the old tradition, its survival is assured.

Fox Cities Shamrock Club

Fox Cities Irishman/irish Rose 2000

Shamrock Club of Fox Cities Left to Right: President Bill Grogan, Irish Rose 2000 Elaine Hoes and Irishman of the Year John McGuiness

Irishman 2000 John McGuinness came to Wisconsin from Ireland in 1994 because his employer bought a dairy business in Wisconsin. John was born in County Louth (North of Dublin); lived in Counties Donegal, Mayo and Waterford.

Friends and themselves couldn't find "real" Irish items nearby to purchase so John and Anna opened Mystic Ireland in Appleton.

They have three grown children: Sean works in Oxford, England, Grainne is a flight attendant with US Air and Clodagh graduates this June from the University of Ulster. She would like to work in an environmental based job.

This past December John and Anna were happily married for 26 years. John says, "You normally get 20 years for murder and I've already put in 26 years." Irish humor and hospitality are plentiful as soon as you enter Mystic Ireland and hear their brogues. You'll feel like you're in the "old sod."

They are both active in our Fox Cities chapter: John leads us in Gaelic and Anna is our membership chairperson.

Irish Rose Elaine Hoes says she's 90% Irish: maternal grandmother was 100% Irish and her grandfather was Irish and French Canadian, however, she was born March 18. Her father was English, Scot and German. Elaine finally got to visit Ireland 21/2 years ago and would love to return someday and tour Northern Ireland. She's secretary of our chapter, writes Emerald Reflections articles and recruits new members at every opportunity.

Note: location change for our membership meetings the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. We will be meeting at Conkey's on June 14, July 12 and Aug. 9.

Celtic entertainment scene: at Trilogy (Greenville) Druids Table on June 16 and July 2; Steve Hazel June 23. At Kaukauna Coffee and Tea harpist Jeff Pockat will perform on June 9.

Welcome new members Ann Frisch; Vivian and Steve Hazell; and Ann Lukas.

- Elaine Hoes, Secretary, (920) 733-5254

Rock County

There will not be any meetings in June, July and August. The next general membership meeting will be on September 19. Due to the remodeling of the Janesville Senior Center, as of now, we are not sure of the location for the September meeting. We will have more information for you next month.

The names of the new officers will be listed in the July Emerald Reflections. Let us show the new officers that they have our support and cooperation. Also, the date and location of our club picnic will be announced in the July Emerald Reflections.

May all of you and all of the friends of the Shamrock Club have a safe and pleasant summer.

- Tom Kennedy

Northeast Wisconsin

In that the club parliamentarian Bob Warpinski was not flooded with a raft of nominations for officers in the Shamrock Club; in that there is only one candidate nominated for each office on the slate: now, therefore, be it resolved that the nominations as presented by Bob Warpinski at the April meeting are elected by unanimous consent. The new officers are:

  • President: Ron McKenzie
  • Vice President: Jean Barrett-Terry
  • Secretary: Ann McKenzie
  • Treasurer: Sue Whitney
  • Parliamentarian: Bob Warpinski
  • Membership Chair: Judy Brehm
  • Trustee: Jerry Meyer

Our own newsletter is on hiatus until September when our meetings resume. During the summer there will be several activities going on.

The club is tentatively planning to man two food booth sites the weekend of July 8-9. Jerry Meyer is looking for volunteers and if he gets enough, the club will operate booths at both Cub West and Festival Foods. This is a good way to socialize with club members while you work and earn money for the club.

The Shamrock Club picnic will be held July 17 at Bay Beach Park. More details about this fun-filled event will be coming.

International Fest will be held August 26-27 on the west side of downtown Green Bay. More details will be coming.

Visit the replica bark, The Jeanie Johnston, when she visits Milwaukee from Sept. 8-11. The ship will land near the original port where many Irish immigrants first touched shore in Milwaukee.

It is not too soon to start thinking about what Irish gift (or otherwise) treasure you will bring to the annual club auction on Monday, Sept. 18.

Milwaukee President's Message

Special thanks to Rosemary and Richard Quinlan for another great job running the annual St. Patrick's Raffle. Congratulations to the seven lucky winners:

  • 1st Prize $1000: Mary Oliver
  • 2nd: John Maher
  • 3rd: Jim Levenhagen
  • 4th: Jayne Beauchain
  • 5th: Paul Blaha
  • 6th: Brian O'Keefe
  • 7th: Patti Garrity

Due to the change in the date of our notices to Emerald Reflections, we were unable to publish biographies of the candidates. There was a list available in the voting area. The winners of the election are:

  • President: Cate Harris
  • Vice President: Sue Dundon
  • Secretary: Mary McAndrews
  • Treasurer: Sharon Murphy
  • Trustee: Mike Payne
  • Sgt at Arms: Beth Brzycki
  • Parliamentarian: Tom Blaha
  • Membership: Tom Smith

Congratulations to the winners. It really was an interesting race with so many people having accepted the nominations.

Although it's only June the chairpeople for Irish Fest are working furiously to get their areas in working condition. Please see Noreen Barclay to volunteer in the sales booth and Mary McAndrews to help in Culture and Membership.

The Bradley Center season is over for this year. Through the month of March the Shamrock Club has earned $5579.31 We still have to be paid for two events in April.

Golf Outing - Richard Stover's plans are rolling along. He has already gotten 20 prizes. The vote at the meeting was Lakeside. Make your reservations early!

At the June meeting we will have Derry Hegarty and another representative from the Bluemound Business Association to talk about the possible change of the parade route. Mark your calendars and come to this very important meeting.

Dale Brenon reported that the anniversary party was a success. He thanked Beth Brzycki and Barry Stapleton for all their help. They did a very fine job on the book and the whole evening was delightful. Thanks to the whole committee for a job well done. Anniversary books and shirts are still available for sale at the meetings.

- Cate Harris

All Chapters: Irish Fest Alert

Volunteers Needed: It's not too early to volunteer to work at the membership table in the Culture Tent at Irish Fest. Remember, this is the only place where you can sit down on the job!

Exhibits Needed: Photos, newsletters, posters - anything and everything to illustrate the activities of all the state chapters.

Contact Mary McAndrews (414) 276-8779.

Celtic American Night

The Milwaukee Brewers and the Colorado Rockies will mix it up on Celtic American Night at County Stadium, Friday, June 2, 2000. Sponsor is the Ancient Order of Hibernians with proceeds benefiting the I.C.H.C. Tickets are only $22. Tickets may be purchased by calling the ICHC at (414) 345-8800. Master Charge and Visa are acceptable.

Donn's Poetry Corner

Trip to Howth - A Second Time

Blaze red sun,
Breaking over the Irish Sea
Blinding, shocking light,
Illuminating you for me

We held each other,
Brisk wind cold on us
And watched our footprints
Disappear in the waves

Dublin so close, so far,
Just a few miles, another bay
This, a timeless spot here
Holding you, hope time away

      - Martain O'Flaherty

St. Brigid's Shrine

We came to Dundalk
To see Brigid's Shrine
Following signs, twisting roads
On the outskirts of town

Passed a train overpass
"Brits out of Ireland", faded light
Close to the north's border
Wondering if life has changed

The shrine, all glass
Stainless steel cross
A Brigid's cross, no less
With a statue of Brigid enclosed

Remainders of people teemed
Left on the lines of the fence
Crutches, kerchiefs, even tissues
Intercessions, "Please Blessed Brigid"

We walked around a while more
Quietly taking in the power
Of a woman whom the centuries bore
To be regarded with such power

      - Martain O'Flaherty

Irish Archeology in Indiana

Wayne Bischoff, an archeologist, has been conducting archaeology in central Indiana at an early 19th century Irish canal construction camp near Delphi, Indiana for the last four years. The site was occupied by several hundred Irish workers and their families in 1837, and is the only known work camp yet discovered in North America. So far, they have excavated less than one percent of the site, and have discovered a number of camp features and thousands of artifacts that once belonged to the Irish workers. They are currently constructing a museum and interpretive center which will focus in part on the research they have done at the Irish camp. He is writing to find out if you know of any agency or group involved with Irish history that would be interested in helping to fund part of the museum, or who would be interested in the history of the site and the background of Delphi’s canal park. They are also interested in developing interpretive tours of the site, conducting further archaeology, and generally becoming known to the American Irish community. If you have any ideas, questions, or comments, please contact Wayne at (517) 347-1657 or, or at the address of: Wayne Bischoff, Ph.D.; 4562 Ottaway Rd.; Okemos, MI 48864

Annual Installation Dinner

July 13, 2000 - ICHC

Dinner 6 p.m. Installation 7:30 p.m.
This year's dinner will be a casual picnic supper
Make Your Own Sundae Dessert
Cash Bar Available
Join in a fun evening to say thank you to the Milwaukee officers who served during 1999
and to welcome the new Board for 2000
$9 per person, age 12 and under: $4

Call: Jean Cardwell (262) 544-9391
Reservation Deadline: June 30, 2000

Installation Dinner Reservation


Day Phone:___________________________

Evening Phone:_______________________

No. of Reservations $9 @______
No. of Reservations $4 @______ Total $______

Please make checks payable to the
Shamrock Club of Wisconsin
Mail to: Jean Cardwell, 21445 W. Oakcrest Dr.,
New Berlin, WI 53146
by June 30, 2000

Join us for Bloomsday!

A Celebration of Dublin, Joyce and Bloomsday.

Friday, June 16, 2000
8 p.m. $3 Donation
Irish Cultural and Heritage Center
2133 West Wisconsin Avenue
Enjoy an evening of
Poetry, Music and Film
Cash Bar / Snacks provided
Sponsored by the Shamrock Club of Wisconsin

Halfway to Halfway

So you think the March celebrating is over? Well, prepare yourself. It's almost halfway to the Halfway to St. Patrick's Day Celebration. On Sept.17 the ICHC will again be alive with music, song, and dance as we all celebrate only six more months to St. Patrick's Day. This year's celebration will be on a Sunday afternoon. The whole family will want to be there to celebrate our Celtic culture! Mark you calendar for Sept. 17 and don't pack away your "green wear" or "plaids" just yet. It's almost halfway to Halfway! If there are any questions please call me at 961-0224.

- Karen Prendergast
(Publicity Chair for Halfway to St. Pat's Party)

Parade Change??

The St. Pats Parade has been held on North Avenue since 1987 and always has been very well attended. Fun has been had by all.

The Bluemound Business Association has made an offer to the Shamrock Club that will be discussed at great length at the June meeting. Derry Hegarty and other members of the BBA will be there to answer any questions and concerns you may have.

After this discussion we will hold a vote and the members who are present will vote on the location of the 2001 parade. At the April Board Meeting, the board voted to recommend the change but at this time the parade is still being held on North Avenue.

Come to this meeting and be part of this important decision. It is up to you.

- Cate Harris

Bluemond Parade Proposal
Notice of June 1st Vote
To Move Milwaukee
St. Patrick's Parade

About a year ago the Bluemound Business Association incorporated. The main goal of the "BBA" is street beautification and better lighting. The main core of businesses included in the association are from 51st to 68th Streets. They will probably be expanding westward on Bluemound in the future.

A proposal to move the parade to Bluemound Rd. has been approved by the general membership of the BBA and the Shamrock Club Board of Directors. In mid May the board of directors for the BBA will meet and approve the contract.

We have met and/or talked to City of Wauwatosa Mayor and Aldermen, City of Milwaukee Alderman Michael Murphy, Milwaukee County Executive F. Thomas Ament and County Supervisors Lynne DeBruin and Luigi Schmidt. We have also received notice from Dick Fiefer of the Department of Transportation that since the City of Milwaukee and Wauwatosa take care of the roads involved it is up to them to grant the permits. A study is now being done by the Dept. of Public Works, Division of Special Events as to the cost of the permit.

We feel that all the necessary items are in place to make this move a success. The following six items are part of a contract already agreed upon by the BBA.

[1.] The Bluemound Business Association agrees to sponsor the Shamrock Club St. Patrick's Parade for five years.

[2.] The BBA agrees to sponsor the parade at a minimum budget of $10,000 per year.

[3.] The Shamrock Club of Wisconsin and the BBA agree to donate a minimum of $500 each to a charity of their choice. This will be an annual donation concurrent with the sponsorship.

[4.] The Shamrock Club of Wisconsin and the BBA agree to contribute $1,500 each, for a total of $3,000 for public relations and marketing for the first parade on Bluemound Rd. This is a one time expense.

[5.] The Shamrock Club of Wisconsin and the BBA agree to formulate a parade committee with members from both organizations. This committee will be in charge of community relations with homeowners and businesses on Bluemound Rd. Any grievances and or complaints will be addressed by this committee.

[6.] The Shamrock Club agrees to move their parade to Bluemound Rd. upon completion of each above element, including but not limited to obtaining any appropriate permits and licenses and a majority vote to move the parade to Bluemound Rd. by the general membership of the Shamrock Club of Wisconsin.

Basically the only costs to the Shamrock Club would be a one time fee of $1,500 for marketing the moving of the parade, and $500 to charity for five years.

Current Parade Facts

• The Shamrock Club St. Pats Parade runs an annual debt of over $5,000 on North Avenue.

• North Avenue businesses' sponsorship is less than $1,000.

• The North Ave. business association, which lobbied to bring the parade to North Ave. is no longer in existence.

These facts are only presented to inform the Shamrock Club of the present financial situation with regard to the St. Patrick's Parade. A discussion regarding the vote to move the parade will be held prior to the vote. Members of the BBA will be available to answer questions.

The Parade route would begin on 76th Street, two blocks south of Bluemound. Pius School will allow us to use their facilities for the parade. It would go north two blocks to Bluemound, then east on Bluemound to Mitchell Park Blvd. Mitchell Park would be the area for disengaging.

Dancers Take Home Awards

Spread the good news about the World Championships of Irish Dance in Belfast. Cashel-Dennehy's Senior Mixed Ceili team placed 6th; the Junior Mixed Ceili team placed 4th and won the Overseas Award; and the Senior Ladies Ceili team placed second and won the Overseas Award!

Irish Set Dance Workshop
With Mick Mulkerrin

Mick Mulkerrin, one of Ireland's top set dance instructors, will return to Milwaukee on Sunday, June 18, 2000 for an afternoon workshop featuring Irish set dances and concluding with a review of sean nos (old style) solo dancing. Mick last taught here at the Irish Fest Summer School in 1995 and 1996. The Milwaukee Set Dance Club, in conjunction with set dancers from the Chicago area, is pleased to be able to sponsor his visit.

Irish set dancing is adult social dancing in squares for couples to Irish traditional music. You need not come with a partner. Most participants will have some prior experience with set dancing. Shoes with soles that slide easily on a wood floor are recommended.

The workshop will be held in the second floor dance space at the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center, 2133 W. Wisconsin Ave., from 1:30-5:30 p.m. (Doors will open at 1 p.m.) Advance registration is suggested. Tickets are $15 in advance. Registration at the door is $20. For more information contact Kathie Vint at 414 258-3370 or send e-mail to

Weekly Set Dancing Classes Continue This Summer

Newcomers to set dancing, and those wishing to brush up on their sets, are invited to visit Nash's Irish Castle on any Thursday evening. Lessons are offered from 7:00 until 8:15 p.m. followed by dancing until about 10:00. Nash's is at 1328 W. Lincoln Ave. Parking is permitted in nearby lots.

Welcome New Members

Dane County - Robert Byrne; Francis Gorst; Joseph LaBella.

Fox Cities - Jim and Anne Donnellan; Pat Flanagan; John and Fran McCarthy; Micki McCoy; Robert and Dixie McLaughlin; John and Maggie Wilson.

LaCrosse - Pat Novsel.

Milwaukee - Mary Baszynski; Edward V. Bolger and Linda Ann Bolger; Donna Kay Comp; Julie A. Boyle-Hall; Lance Jochims Sr. and Debra S. Jochims; Timothy P. O'Brien; Wilfrieda E. O'Donoghue.