Early History of
Dane County Shamrock Club,
by Margaret Courtney and Barbara Darcy
During The early 1970s, some of the Irish in Madison began hearing
about "fabulous trips" to Ireland, sponsored by the Milwaukee
Chapter of the Shamrock Club of Wisconsin. The fabulous part was the "cheap
fare" - around $200 round trip from Milwaukee to Ireland.
Many residents of the Dane County area took advantage and joined
the Milwaukee Chapter. (You had to be recommended for membership by a current
member, and you were required to be a member for six months before a flight.)
A little "humorous-tragic" episode occurred on a return
flight to Milwaukee. The chartered flights were directed to a nondescript
hangar. The temperature in Milwaukee that evening in July had to be in
the high 90s. The Custom Officers were stationed behind ordinary card tables
trying to process the returnees. As the baggage handlers were bringing
in the carts containing luggage and purchases, something began to happen
- the sub-cold climate of the plane's baggage compartment and the hot,
hot temperature in the hangar started the process of disintegration of
the cardboard cartons and the sounds of "clink-clink" were heard
as the bottles of Irish whiskey crashed on the cement floor - The River
Shannon was flowing in Milwaukee!
By 1974 the climate in Madison was "right" for a Madison
Chapter of the Shamrock Club. On October 15, 1974 at 7:30 p.m. at the Park
Motor Hotel, the Dane County Chapter of the Shamrock Club was born. Over
150 people attended the meeting as a result of an article in the newspaper.
Officers from the Milwaukee Chapter who came to help "get the show
on the road" were: Dr. John Walton, Mary Hippler, Bill O'Boyle, Kathleen
Valente, and Bill Reilly. The meeting adjourned with Tom Green and John
Riley being appointed Co-Chairmen to make plans for the future of the Shamrock
The first organizational meeting of the Dane County Shamrock Club
was held at Holy Redeemer Church Hall at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, December 3,
A General Election meeting was held on Tuesday, January 14, 1975,
at the Park Motor Inn. Officers elected were: President Thomas Green, Vice-President
Eamon O'Brien, Secretary Sue Ruhland, Treasurer Dolly Harman. Committees
were being formed and members were asked to sign up. Accordion and banjo
music was furnished by Tom McDermott and Shirley Armstrong and songs were
led by Virginia O'Brien.
The February 1975 meeting was held at Holy Redeemer Church Hall when
plans were finalized for the "First, Finest, Most Fabulous Dinner-Dance
Ever!" to be held at the Elks Club on March 17. Committees were formed
with the following people in charge: John Gaffney, Membership; Francis
McMahan, Entertainment; Virginia O'Brien, Dance; John Connell, History;
Shirley Armstrong and Mary McCann, Language; Elizabeth Weber, History;
Betty Usher, Music; and Bob McDermott, Chairman of the Dinner-Dance. Members
were also invited to participate in the Milwaukee Parade to be held on
Saturday March 15 on Mitchell Street in Milwaukee.
RAISING OF THE COLORS!
Tom Green and other members of the Shamrock Club raised the flag
of Ireland at 10 a.m. at Evergreen Park on St. Patrick's Day. The brief
ceremony was covered by television and other news media. Traditional Irish
music was played and a few brief comments were made about the contributions
the Irish had made in America. It appeared that this ceremony would become
a tradition with the Dane County Chapter.
The first annual St. Patrick's Day Dinner-Dance was held at the Elks
Club and was a "rousing" success thanks to Chairman Bob McDermott,
who organized it and Mel Stapleton, who was in charge of arrangements.
The evening was spent dancing to the music of the Charlie Mears' Trio.
At 11:15, Ginny O'Brien led everyone in singing, A Soldier's Song. All
those in attendance were left looking forward to the following year's celebration.
At the April 8, 1975 meeting, the following officers were elected:
Judge William Bryne, Parliamentarian; John Gaffney, Membership; Matt Lynaugh,
Sgt.-at-Arms; Marvin O'Brien, 3 year trustee; Joe Lamperiello, 2 year Trustee;
and Mel Stapleton, 1 year Trustee. The program for the evening was slides
of the big St. Patrick's weekend and a full entertainment of music and
dance. It was announced that the May Meeting of the Dane County Chapter
would be held at the Elks Club on Jennifer Street, and that if people wished
to eat at the Club, they would please call ahead for reservations.
The summer of 1975 was a busy one for the new Club. The first annual
picnic was held at Warner Park on July 15. One of the big events of the
year was the arrival of the St. James Choir and Orchestra. They would perform
at Edgewood High School Auditorium on August 9. The arrival of the participants
from Dublin to stay with members of our Club was indeed a very much-anticipated
The St. James Choir and Orchestra (90 some people) of Dublin, under
the direction of Father John O'Brien, arrived in Madison at Edgewood High
School. The members were greeted by their hosts (after a fun time of matching
numbers and names) and were taken to their "temporary homes"
to get acquainted and to have a quick look-see tour of Madison before their
It was a "not to be forgotten" evening! A sell-out crowd
numbered over 500 at Edgewood Auditorium which had a capacity of 372 permanent
seats! The SRO crowd was most appreciative of the performance of the Choir
and Orchestra and let their feelings be known. The Dane County members
were already looking forward to their NEXT VISIT! It was a lot of hard
work and special thanks were given to Eamon O'Brien who organized it all
and many other people who helped in making it a tremendous success.
As we entered the fall season of 1975 the Club was up and running
well! We had our own instrumental group under the direction of Francis
McMahan, our dance group under the direction of Virginia O'Brien, and our
vocal group under the direction of Genevieve Gersbach and later Francis
McMahan. They were all "practicing" to be able to perform at
our Club's functions and also to perform in public, especially nursing
homes for the entertainment of those less fortunate.
As we closed out the year of 1975 we were alive and well and going
places! Our membership was over 350 and we were activating one of our Goals
- Charity. A donation of $100 was given to the local "Vietnamese Refugee"
effort, subscriptions to Ireland of the Welcomes to each convalescent and
rest home in the area, and finally $100 to the Madison Public Library for
purchase of books, records and films to better inform the public of things
Irish. An added note to the December meeting - $139 was contributed to
the Empty Stocking Club by the members who attended the Christmas Party.
THE YEAR OF 1976
The early months of meetings were mostly concerned with plans to
participate in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Milwaukee on the 13th of
March, and our own Flag Raising on March 14th at Monroe and Grant Streets
at 2:00 p.m.
Much credit was given to John Connell for his ideas and planning
of the Bicentennial theme for the Dane County Chapter's part of the parade
in Milwaukee. Tom Green was quoted as saying, "I was proud to be one
of the 'Spirit of 76' trio, but as the fife player, I got a little weary
of hearing 'Yankee Doodle' coming from my tape recorder about 200 times!"
On Sunday, March 14th the Annual Flag Raising on Monroe Street was
held. Thanks were given to Jack Cummings from the St. Andrews Society for
being present in full Scotsman's regalia and rendering, so well on his
pipes, some traditional Irish tunes. Our own instrumental group provided
its usual stirring renditions of Irish patriotic songs.
Also, that evening, some of the members put on an hour program of
music and song for the Golden Agers of Blessed Sacrament Parish. It became
our intention to bring this type of activity to the community and to make
the Shamrock Club known as a vital force for good in our community.
The second annual St. Patrick's Day Dinner-Dance was held at the
East Side Businessmen's Club on March 17th. Dr William J. O'Rouke was chosen
to be our first Irish Person of the Year. There were over 400 reservations
for the evening and a wonderful time was had by all.
It is only fair to mention the many wonderful slides and movies that
were presented to the membership as our "travelers" returned
from Ireland - Joe Lampariello, Tom Green, Martin Kennedy, Gordy Reese
are only a few of the names that come to mind.
The summer brought our second annual Shamrock Picnic at Warner Park
on Sunday, July 18th. A Band Concert at Vilas Park on Sunday, August 1st
was an all Irish program under the direction of Elmer Ziegler with the
Madison City Band. Our own Shamrock Chorus sang several numbers.
On Saturday, August 14th, the Club sponsored a trip to Arlington
Race Track under the direction of Shirley Armstrong. We never heard the
"monetary gains" but a good time was had by all.
Our Club sponsored The Bards in a concert at MATC on October 19th.
The group originated in County Derry in 1971 where they performed in local
pubs and folk clubs and won folk music competitions. Shortly thereafter
they began performing extensively in Ireland and then the United States.
The reception to this music was very enthusiastic. A later item reported
that the Bards concert was a huge success. A big thank you went to the
Chairman of the event, Francis McMahan and the many people who assisted
him. A profit of $718 was realized and was earmarked for our scholarship
Our dance group, under the direction of Virginia O'Brien and the
music group, under the direction of Francis McMahan, entertained at the
Portage Shamrock Club on September 19th and were well received.
Watch for further installments of Dane County's early history
(1974-85) in upcoming issues of Emerald Reflections.
• Sept. 19 - General Membership Meeting. Due to the renovation of
the Senior Center, our meetings this year will be at the Alliant Energy
Building, 3730 Kennedy Road, Janesville. Located approx. one quarter mile
north of Hwy. 14 between Hwys. 26 and 51.
Since our May meeting we have been saddened by the death of another
of our members. Gene Tallman died July 21st. His wife, Judy, told us that
Gene always enjoyed the Shamrock Club activities.
A meeting of the new Board members was held on July 14th at the home
of Marge Reed. Much was accomplished.
Our Club picnic was held at Sweet-Allyn Park in Shopiere on July
18th. We had a good turnout but due to a chilly evening, the bingo game
was cancelled until our September meeting. Hope to see all of you there
at the September meeting.
• Sept. 12 - Board Meeting at Jingles (6:15 p.m.) followed by General
Membership Meeting (7:30 p.m.) The Standing Stones, a local six member
band, will perform Celtic music.
Thirty-five members enjoyed the annual July potluck picnic and social
gathering held at the Knights of Columbus building on Verona Road. We are
grateful to the Knights of Columbus for the use of their building, and
to Lee Tvedten and Thomas Wildenborg for hosting this popular event.
During our September 12 meeting at 7:30 p.m. at Jingles, the Standing
Stones, a local six member band, will perform Celtic music. We look forward
to a good turnout for this fantastic evening.
Milwaukee President's Message
Irish Fest is over and it really doesn't seem as though it is 20
years old. The Shamrock Club was selected by the Irish Fest Board of Directors
as one of the organizations to be honored as a member of the "Chieftains
Circle." A special "Irish Fest Lifetime Pass" and certificate
were presented to me as a representative of the Shamrock Club in recognition
of our past support. It was indeed an honor.
Now back to the real world. Norene Barclay did a great job as usual
and she had some last minute recruits to make her schedule as full as it
should be. Mary McAndrews had a good turnout as her job description offered
a job could you sit down to do.
The picnic was very good, a new venue, new faces. A bus was available
to take picnickers down the hill to watch the hurlers which turned out
to be very interesting. The hurlers put on a good show. The Steel Bonnets
were in their usual good form. The Irish dancers were wonderful and every
one really had a good time watching them. Thanks, Joe Hughes, to you and
The next event is Holiday Folk Fair November 17-19. Last year being
the first year at State Fair Park there were some glitches with signage
and floor plans. However, this year these problems are being addressed,
now that the committee knows about them. Sue Dundon, our General Chair,
has attended a meeting with more to come. Folk Fair is planning some new
events. It is not too early to sign up to help in the food booth with Pete
and Fran Dundon, Sales with Norene Barclay and Mary McAndrews, the only
one who offers you a sit down job. A bit of really good news, Muriel Crowley
has agreed to seel advance tickets for Folk Fair.
In September the Post Office held a multicultural event. The Shamrock
Club participated with a sales table manned by Norene Barclay and culture
table by Muriel Crowley.
The State Meeting will be in Madison on September 30. If you have
any concerns or suggestions to discuss at this meeting you can let Cate
Harris, Sue Dundon or Dale Brenon know. We are your representatives, please
talk to us.
The board meetings are all open to members of the Shamrock Club.
You can come and listen any time. After the January meeting, we go into
executive session to elect our honorees. This is the only time members
aren't allowed. Meetings are held the last Thursday of the month. Eddie,
our security person is on duty for most of the ICHC events.
• Business Meetings: None in September; October 11, November 18
• Board Meetings: September 27, October 27, November 29, none in
• All meetings held at 7 p.m. at Conkey's in Appleton
Call (920) 733-5254 for reservations to our Sept. 11 Halfway to St.
Patrick's Day Dinner ASAP is you haven't already done so. The entertainment
will be Celtic Knot Trio. The event will be held at Mark's Eastside in
Appleton. Cocktails at 6 p.m.; Dinner at 6:30 p.m.; followed by entertainment
at 7:30 p.m.
Note the following on the music scene: at Trilogy in Greenville:
Druid's Table on Sept. 15; Steve Hazell on Oct. 6; Druid's Table on Oct.
13; Steve Hazell on Nov. 4 (Sat.). At the Grand Opera House in Oshkosh:
Altan on Sept. 14; LaBottine Souriante on Nov. 17.
Membership forms can be picked up at Mystic Ireland on College Ave.,
Appleton or call me and I'll send you some if you know of some prospective
members. If every current member could sign up just one or two new members
it would really make a difference in the activities we could generate for
our membership. I'll have some forms available at our Sept. 11 dinner.
Bring a friend or two to enjoy good food, good conversation and excellent
- Elaine Hoes, Secretary
Next State Meeting
The Dane County Shamrock Club has offered to host the next Statewide
Meeting. It is to be held at Jingle's Coliseum Bar, located at 232 East
Olin Avenue in Madison on September 30, 2000. (We have our own private
area noon to 4 p.m.)
We're Halfway to
St. Patrick's Day - Celebrate
Bring the whole family to the Irish Culture and Heritage Center at
2133 W. Wisconsin Ave. on Sept. 17 and help celebrate Celtic culture at
the Halfway to St. Patrick's Day Party. The Milwaukee Shamrock Club Color
Guard Pipes and Drums will kick off the festivities at noon and will be
followed by an afternoon of music, song, and dance. Such noted area groups
as Steel Bonnets, Standing Stones, Navan, Green Side Up, Ceol Cairde, and
Leahy's Luck will provide the music and song while the Cashel-Dennehy Irish
Dancers, the Milwaukee School of Highland Dance, and Trinity will provide
the lively step-dancing. There will be ceili and set dancing all day for
beginners and pros. The children will be further entertained by The Story
Lady, or they can take bohdran lessons with Dave Delgado or ceili dance
lessons with Bridget Jaskulski.
Stay all day! There will be plenty of potato soup, corn beef, hot
dogs, chips, cookies, and assorted beverages for purchase. This year will
also feature a tea room where you can enjoy a light mid-afternoon snack
in a quieter surrounding. Packer fans need not miss out on the fun; TVs
will keep you informed of every play. You can also try your luck on some
of the many raffle items.
Come celebrate with us! The Celtic Groups Board is sponsoring this
family event and will have literature available on the many Celtic organizations
that are in Milwaukee. Admission will be $6 adults; $3 children 12 and
under; college students $3 with ID; and children 5 and under are free.
All proceeds will benefit the ICHC. Call (414) 345-8800 for more information.
September 17 at the ICHC, noon till 6 p.m.: come for the fun!
If you have any items to donate to the Halfway to St. Pat's raffle
please contact Tom and Julia Smith 1107 S. 26th Street; Milw., WI 53204;
(414) 384-4119. All proceeds benefit ICHC. We can pickup any item. With
your generous help we made last year's a great success. Thank you.
AOH Annual Fund Raiser
The Ancient Order of Hibernians will have their Annual Spaghetti
Dinner and Mass of Remembrance at St Rose's Parish on Saturday, October
7 at 4 p.m. with a spaghetti dinner to follow.
The Mass and Spaghetti Dinner are the AOH's annual fundraiser. Moneys
raised go to the William Ryan Drew Scholarship Fund. Charities for 2000
are St. Rose Nativity School and Notre Dame School for Girls. For information
call Rod Keenan at (262) 784-7927.
Milwaukee Hurling Club
The Milwaukee Hurling Club standings as of July 31, 2000 are as follows:
Champion's Reivers: 7-2
Axel's Adders: 6-3
Hegarty's Hammers: 4-5
Dubliner Wolfpack: 4-5
McBob's Gaelwinds: 4-5
County Clare Cats:2-7
Set Dance Workshops
Interested in dancing to the traditional music heard at Irish Fest
in an adult, social, setting? The Milwaukee Set Dance Club will be presenting
two series of four workshops to teach Irish set dances this fall to beginning
The first Beginners series will begin on Sunday, September 24, and
continue on Sundays through October 15th. The focus of these classes will
be to teach the basic principles of set dance, as well as two common set
dances, the Caledonian and the Sliabh Luachra polka set.
The Advanced Beginners series will be offered on Sundays beginning
October 29 through November 19. These classes will continue with building
set dancing skills. Participants will also learn two more set dances, the
Clare Plain and the Ballyvourney Jig set.
The workshops will be taught by experienced local set dancers. It
is not necessary to bring a partner, but it is recommended that smooth-soled
shoes and comfortable clothing be worn.
Both series will be held in the second floor dance area of the Irish
Cultural and Heritage Center, 2133 W. Wisconsin Ave. from 4 - 5:30pm. Advance
registration is suggested. The class fee for each series of four classes
is $10, payable in advance or at the door. For more information, call Julie
Puhek at 414-321-3521 or send e-mail to email@example.com.
Celtic Bluegrass Fest
On October 21 the Celtic Bluegrass Fest will be held "Live at
the Hallamor" in the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center, 2133 W. Wisconsin
Ave., Milwaukee. Featured performers will be: Maine's premiere folk country
trio, Turkey Hollow Consort; Madison's impressive bluegrass, country and
honky-tonk band, Nob Hill Boys; and Milwaukee's own award winning Frogwater.
Doors open at 6 p.m., music begins at 7 p.m. Cost is only $12. For information
call the ICHC at (414) 345-8800.
Prank Goes Badly
An impish prank by a Dublin man resulted in a costly legal lesson,
while the unwitting sheep he enlisted required a trip to the local vet.
The Irish Times had this story to pass along, entitled "Sheep in T-Shirt
"A man who dressed up a stray sheep in a T-shirt and shorts
for a prank saw it go badly wrong when he dropped the animal over a wall
into a garden with three dogs. Mr Christopher Hutch (22), Sherrard Street,
Dublin, was fined £250 for cruelty to the sheep which he found near
his home on February 7th last year.
"Garda Alan Toft told the Dublin District Court the sheep was
taken to the flat where Mr Hutch lived and dressed up in a T-shirt and
shorts. It was then brought to a nearby home of one of Mr. Hutch's friends
and dropped over a six-foot wall into the friend's rear garden. There were
three dogs in the garden, which attacked the sheep. It survived and was
brought to a farm in Co. Meath.
"Mr. Hutch told the court he had never meant any harm to come
to the sheep but had done it as a prank to surprise his friend when he
came home to find a sheep in his garden.
"Judge Lucey said he could impose a prison sentence but in view
of the fact that he had pleaded guilty, he would be fined £250. Judge
Lucey ordered that £500 should go to the ISPCA and that Mr. Hutch
also pay £100 towards veterinary fees incurred by the State."
Welcome New Members
MILWAUKEE - Mr. and Mrs. Joseph F. Donahue (referred by Mary Stephens);
Nick, Mary, Aidan, Aislyn Keyes; Mr. and Mrs. Henry Reed (referred by Mary
McAndrews); Timothy and Nancy Stanley Sheehan.
SOUTH CENTRAL - Mr. Joe Ennis.
MEMBERSHIP REPORT MILWAUKEE CHAPTER
• June: 32 notices sent out, 20 paid, 12 dropped for non-payment
• July: 31 notices sent out, 20 paid to date, 11 due.
• August: 69 notices sent out.