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Emerald Reflections Online

Table of Contents - December 2000

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

Irish Christmas Traditions

Share Your Irish/Family Recipes

Milwaukee President's Message

Rock County Shamrock Club

Northeast Wisconsin Shamrock Club

Dane County Shamrock Club

Shamrock Club of Greater LaCrosse Area

Fox Cities Shamrock Club

Entertainment Books: Holiday Gift Ideas

"And They Called It Ireland" -- Fireside Theater

Celtic Christmas Concert -- The Poor Clares

Shamrock Club Annual Christmas Party and Potluck Dinner

Minutes of Statewide Meeting - September 30

Milwaukee Set Dance Club

Welcome New Members / Milwaukee Membership Report

Early History of Dane County Shamrock Club, Part IV

Milwaukee Calendar of Events

Wisconsin Calendar of Events

Irish Christmas Traditions

The Irish have a rich history of traditions concerning Christmas and meals. Come along and join us as we partake in many of the rituals and meals of an Irish Christmas. So, look in on some of the traditions of Nollaig, the Irish Christmas.


Because it is still quite a religious country - Catholicism being the most prevalent - Irish traditions reflect the religiosity of the country more than the increasingly secular customs of North America. The popular Christmas carol, Twelve Days of Christmas, is a remnant from the time when Catholicism was suppressed. The gifts listed in the song are hidden references to Catholic dogma and ritual.


The lighting of candles in Ireland also has a religious significance. Candles in the windows of homes would signify symbolic hospitality for Mary and Joseph. The candle was a way of saying there was room for Jesus' parents in these homes even if there was none in Bethlehem. Some people even set extra places at their tables in preparation for unexpected visitors.


Christmas dinners in Ireland usually consist of the standard fare; turkey, goose, ham, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc. Among the more traditional Irish elements are spiced beef (spiced over several days, cooked, and then pressed) which can be served either hot or cold. The traditional dessert is usually composed of mince pies, Christmas pudding, and brandy or rum sauce.


Gift giving in Ireland, as well as the rest of the British Isles, centers on December 26, St. Stephen's Day. Small gifts were traditionally given prior to Christmas, usually of the cash variety, to the milkman and mailman. Long ago, this was done on St. Stephen's day, also known as Boxing Day (the day after Christmas).


Christmas in Ireland cannot be discussed without reference to the Wren Boys on St. Stephen's Day. This practice of antiquity predates St. Patrick. In ancient times, a wren was beaten out of the bushes and its body hung on a holly bush, or displayed in a lined box similar to a coffin. The killing of a bird is no longer tolerated, as the wren was brought close to extinction in some areas of Cork and Kerry, but the door to door visits continue. Participants dress up in homemade costumes reminiscent of North American Halloween. The song they yell from house to house is called: The wren, the wren, the king of all birds

People treat the Wren Boys to beer, whiskey and foodstuffs. Young people in the visited homes are asked to join the assembly.

The official end of the Christmas season in Ireland occurs on January 6th, the Feast of Epiphany (also known as "Little Christmas"). As the name suggests, there is a feast on that day and it's also that day that the Christmas decorations are taken down.

As you may have noticed, food is an important part of the season. To celebrate Christmas, Irish style, try a few of these recipes to enhance the Christmas spirit:


Citron 1 lb.
Candied orange and lemon peel, combined, 1/2 lb.
Dates, 1/2 lb.
Glace cherries, 1/2 lb.
Raisins, 3 3/4 Cup.
Currants, 2 3/4 Cup.
Almonds and pecans, combined, coarsely chopped, 1 lb.
Brandy, 3/4 Cup
Brown sugar, 1 lb.
Butter, softened, 1 lb.
Egg yolks, beaten until thick, 15
All-purpose flour, sifted, 4 Cups
Cinnamon, 1 Tbsp.
Cloves, 1 Tbsp.
Allspice, 1 Tbsp.
Nutmeg, 1 Tbsp.
Mace, 1 1/2 tsp.
Egg whites, beaten until stiff, 15

Chop the citron, orange and lemon peels, dates and cherries. (Reserve a few cherry halves for decoration.) Add the raisins, currants, almonds, and pecans. (Reserve a few nut halves for decoration.) Pour on the brandy and let the fruits marinate while preparing the rest of the ingredients. Cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the beaten egg yolks gradually, beating constantly. reserve 1 cup of the flour and sift the remaining 3 cups with the spices. Add the sifted ingredients gradually to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Fold in the egg whites carefully. Sprinkle the fruits with the reserved 1 cup of flour and mix well. Fold the fruits into the batter. Oil and line a 12-inch springform pan with waxed paper. Place batter in pan and bake in 300 degree F. oven with pans of hot water in bottom of the oven, for 2 1/2 hours. Cool the cake and wrap in cheesecloth that has been soaked in brandy. Place in airtight container and store until ready to use. Every 3 weeks, re-dip the cheesecloth wrapper in brandy. Before decorating, glaze the top and sides of the cake with either apricot jam, thinned with a little water or red currant jelly. This will help the marzipan to adhere to the cake sides.


3 (9 oz.) cans almond paste

Form 2 cans of the almond paste into a ball. Place on lightly sugared or floured board and roll into a rectangle 1/8 inch thick. (The width of the rectangle should match the height of the sides of the cake. The length should match the circumference.) Circle the cake with the almond paste and trim the edges to fit perfectly. Roll the remaining paste into a circle the size of the top of the cake. Place the circle on the cake and trim. Let the almond paste dry overnight. Ice with Royal Icing


Egg whites, 2
Lemon juice, 1 Tbsp.
Confectioners' sugar, 1 lb.

Beat the egg whites with the lemon juice until they are the consistency of cream. Beat in the sugar a little at a time. Continue beating, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally, until the icing is smooth and shiny. It will be very stiff. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth if the icing is not to be used immediately. Cover the almond paste with a thin layer of icing. Dip the knife in hot water if the icing is difficult to spread. To decorate the cake, form peaks on the sides and edges of the top of the cake with the remaining icing using the tip of a knife.


Despite its name, plum cake contains no plums.

8 oz. butter
8 oz. sugar
3 eggs
3/4 tsp. almond extract
3 Tbsp. corn syrup
3 oz. finely ground almonds
4 cups unbleached white flour
1 tsp. baking soda
pinch salt
12 oz. milk
2 cups sultanas (golden raisins)
2 1/2 cups currants
Grated rind of 3 oranges
Grated rind of 2 lemons

Cream butter with sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Beat in the syrup, almond extract and ground almonds. Reserving 1/2 cup of the flour, sieve the remainder with baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with the milk, beating well after each addition. Coat sultanas and currants with reserved flour and fold into batter along with grated peels. Mix well and pour into a well-buttered tube pan, distributing batter evenly. Bake at 300 deg. F. 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. Let pan cool for 45 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to further cool.


1 Traditional Slab Bacon (1 1/4 - 2lb)
1/2 green cabbage and 1/2 white cabbage
8 potatoes (peeled)
Salt and pepper

Remove slab bacon from plastic bag. Cover with cold water. Bring to boil and drain. Cover with fresh cold water. Bring to boil and then simmer for 25 minutes per 1lb plus 25 minutes over. Remove outer leaves of cabbage. Cut in half, add to the saucepan and simmer for the last 20 minutes. Remove bacon to chopping board and carve into thin slices. Drain cabbage, season with salt & pepper, chop and add a knob of butter. Serve the bacon with the cabbage and boiled potatoes and parsley sauce.


1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup cabbage stock
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

Melt butter in saucepan and stir in flour to make roux. Cook without browning over medium heat for 1 or 2 minutes. Gradually add cabbage stock, then milk. Bring to boil and stir for a few minutes. Add parsley and season to taste with pepper. Makes about two and a half cups. Serves 4

Just a reminder: If any of these recipes inspire you, perhaps you have a recipe of your own you would like to share. The Shamrock Club is compiling a cookbook of members' Irish or family recipes. Use the form below or type on a separate sheet of paper and mail to Jean Cardwell.

And again Nollaig Shona Duit - Happy Christmas!

- Brian Witt


Family Secrets . . . Irish Specialties . . .

(And if you have a tale to go along with it, all the better!)




Jot down, and Send to:
Jean Cardwell; 21445 W. Oakcrest Dr.; New Berlin, WI 53146

Milwaukee President's Message

Folk Fair was successful. There will be more complete reports next month, as all the counting is not yet complete. Thanks to Noreen Barclay, Mary McAndrews, Fran and Pete Dundon and all the leprechauns that helped them. Muriel Crowley came through as usual with her ticket selling. These jobs were well done by a very few people when you think of all the members that we have in this club.

Mike Payne is selling Entertainment Books for $35 and the smaller Golden Book for $10. He will have them at the meeting or you can order one by calling him at (414) 541-8427. Proceeds go to the Shamrock Club. They make nice last minute Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers.

We have a reservation for forty people at the Fireside on January 21. The cost will be about $55 per person and includes bus transportation to and from, a sumptuous dinner and a spectacular show. We will leave the ICHC at 1 p.m. For reservations please call me at (414) 321-5153. A paid reservation would also make a wonderful Christmas gift. Reservations must be in by Dec. 15.

The minutes of the State Board Meeting are in this Emerald Reflections. There will be a meeting of the presidents or representatives of each chapter on December 9 at Jingles in Madison. The purpose of this meeting is to set up guide lines and elect officers for an advisory state board. Any questions or suggestions please let your representative know and we will try to discuss them.

Many new and exciting things are happening with the St. Pat's Parade. As these plans develop we will tell you about them. Mark your calendar for March 10 and get your marching shoes ready.

The Bradley Center fund raiser needs your help. Last season we brought in about $9,000. It would certainly be difficult to run any other fund raiser with less prep time and no cash outlay to take in that amount of money. We have at this time several people who work every event and I think that this is very unfair. There are a lot of members who could work on a substitute basis. We really need more people or we may just have to give up this really enjoyable, though yes, busy work but still a nice time with nice people. Give it a try, you just might really like it. We supply parking passes and a sandwich and drink for your enjoyment on your 15 minute break. Call Katy Voss who works very hard at trying to get enough (18) people for every event. Call her and talk about it. Her phone number is (414) 352-6479.

December is Pot Luck Time so bring your favorite dish to pass.

Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary and Merry Christmas.

- Cate Harris

Rock County


December 19 - Annual Christmas Party at the Alliant Energy Building, 3730 Kennedy Rd.

The dinner at our Christmas Party will be catered and will begin at 6:30 p.m. After dinner we will be entertained with Irish and Christmas music by the group Inisheare. If you have not yet made your reservations, you may do so by calling Fred and Kaye McCann at 752-3061 or Tom and Mary Kennedy at 752-3667. We are looking forward to seeing all of you at our Christmas Party. Friends and guests are always welcome, so bring them along but be sure to call and make your reservation for yourselves and your guests.

Wishing all of you a blessed Christmas and a Healthy and Happy New Year!

- Tom Kennedy

Northeast Wisconsin

The first meeting of the 2000-1 Shamrock Club of Northeast Wisconsin season was the Annual Vacation Auction on September 16. Club members brought treasures for around $10, or more if they chose, to be auctioned off by auctioneer Mary Jo Blaney Kolb. Gifts arrived from Santa Fe, Counties Door and Brown, Ireland, Mexico, and many other locations. Among the priceless mementos snapped up by eager participants were numerous examples of Irish Belleek, a Shamrock wreath, a clock, a flower pot, a video of the Emerald Isle, a Claddagh wall hanging, a teapot stand, a sausage knife from France, and an Irish angel door ornament, fashioned by the club's own Carol Maloney.

At the October 16 club meeting, Dr. Michael J. O'Malley, presented an excellent program on The Great Irish Famine of County Mayo (in particular, the Local Relief from 1845-1850). Dr. O'Malley hails from Ballinrobe, County Mayo, and received his Ph.D. in Irish history from Loyola University in Chicago. Dr. O'Malley, on staff at St. Norbert College, De Pere, said that one of his purposes in writing his dissertation on the Great Irish Famine was that he believed that the Irish of that era deserved to be heard.

At the November 20 club meeting, the entertainment / education portion was a program by poet, folk singer, songwriter Dan Curtin, who lives in Neenah, Wisconsin. Dan is a member of the International Society of Poets and the Green Apple Folk Music Society. He has recently been accepted as a member of the Academy of American Poets, which is by invitation.

The club's annual Christmas party will be held December 11 at Holiday Inn--City Centre, Green Bay. Plan to attend this festive and entertaining event at which the Irish person of the year will be named.

- Joan Kreuser

Dane County

At our October meeting, Mr. John Nevins, Principal of Van Buren School in Janesville, gave an interesting and informative presentation on the profile and personality of Ireland.

During our December 12 meeting, the Shamrock Club will hold its annual Christmas Party. Social hour will begin at 5:30 with dinner being served at 6:30. The possibility of having a sing-along and the traditional candle-lighting ceremony are being reviewed. Members will be receiving a reservation form in the mail.

All members will be receiving a questionnaire concerning the future of the Shamrock Club. It is imperative that each member fill out the form and return it.

Due to Wisconsin's inclement winters, there will be no general membership meeting in January. However the board will meet on January 9 at 6:15 at Jingle's as usual.

On Saturday, March 17, St. Patrick's Day, the annual flag raising ceremony will be held at the state capitol at noon, followed by a luncheon at Jingle's. Like last year, Mike O'Brien has agreed to run his bus to the capitol and back to Jingle's after the ceremony.

- Barbara Gallenberg, President

Greater LaCrosse Area

We survived October up here and everybody is fine. Our float in the Maple Leaf Parade on September 30 was grand as usual and we sold all of our home-made Irish Stew at Heritage Night on October 4. This is one of our major fund raisers.

We will also be participating in the annual Rotary Lights show in Riverside Park again this Christmas season.

We look forward now to our Christmas Party on December 4th at the Freight House in LaCrosse. This is a special occasion because in addition to the Yuletide fun we will elect our Irishman and Irish Rose for 2001! Dennis O'Brien and Pam Love have represented our Club this year in wonderful fashion and it is hard to believe that they will soon pass on the torch. Thanks so much, Dennis and Pam. Have yourself a great Holiday Season!

- Fred Smith

Fox Cities


Dec. 11 - Dinner at Mark's East Side Note: No Board or Business Meeting in December
Jan. 10 - Business Meeting, 7 p.m. at Conkey's in Appleton. Dan Curtin speaker
Jan. 24 - Board Meeting, 7 p.m. at Conkey's in Appleton.

Call Pat A. at (920) 766--5258 for reservations to our December 11 dinner at Mark's East Side. Be sure to tell your friends about coming to our dinner. Everyone is welcome.

Celtic Knot will be performing New Year's Eve in downtown Appleton at one of the churches with Katie (step dancer) and John Ceszynski an Irish piper.

We have rescheduled Dan Curtin to read his new book of poetry at our January 10 meeting.

Be sure to check your mailing label for the month your dues need to be renewed. We welcome new member Jane Cops.

Druid's Table will be performing 7:30-11 p.m. at Trilogy in Greenville on Saturday, December 16.

Looking forward to seeing a lot of our members and friends at our December 11 dinner.

- Elaine Hoes (920) 733-5254

Entertainment Books:
Holiday Gift Ideas

Now's the time to buy your Gold C and Entertainment Books on behalf of the Shamrock Club. Gold C can be purchased for $10 and the Entertainment Books for $35. See Michael Payne at the November, December or January Membership Meetings or you can contact him at (414) 541-8427, if you have any questions. They make great gifts!

"And They Called it Ireland"

We have 40 reservations at the Fireside Theater on January 21, 2001. The cost will be $55. Included are: bus transportation to and from Fort Atkinson, a delicious dinner and entertainment. Please send reservations and check to Cate Harris; 8835 W. Verona Ct., Milwaukee, WI 53227. Telephone: (414) 321-5153. Reservations must be in by Dec. 15.

Celtic Christmas

performed by
Saturday, December 9
8 PM - ICHC - (414) 345-8800
Tickets: $10 Reserved/Advanced
$12 At the Door
$2 discount for seniors
and students with ID at the door

Why do people celebrate New Years Eve with noise makers? Why does the donkey have a black cross on his back? The answers to these questions and many others are based on authentic Celtic traditions of the Celtic Nations. The Poor Clares have spent 11 years studying and performing songs, telling stories from the folklore of all the Celtic countries.

From Connemara comes the humorous tale of the tradition of "toasting". A young boy wonders about this practice and when no one is looking, takes a taste of the whiskey. He does not like the strong taste, and pours it out into the cornmeal. A goose nearby consumes the cornmeal and... The Scots have a tradition of "masking" from which the custom of "trick or treating" comes. The mummers have "masking" as an important part of their background. This is but a tiny bit of the enlightening and entertaining material you'll experience on December 9.

The Poor Clares are no strangers to the Milwaukee area, they wowed audiences at Irish Fest and at the Hallamor. Betsy and Beth have delighted the attendees at Celtic Women's conferences for several years. The foursome is from New Orleans. Betsy McGovern is fond of ballads and enjoys storytelling. Her voice has been described as "achingly beautiful" and "angelic." Patrick O'Flaherty sings songs in his native Gaelic, and he plays rousing reels and jigs with Justin Murphy and Beth Peterson (Justin plays flute, tin whistle and bodhran while Beth's nimble fingers deftly ply the bouzouki and bass.)

The Poor Clares have been called "one of America's best Irish groups." by Dirty Linen magazine. There is no doubt that will be evident during their Celtic Christmas performance here.

- Gwen Sisk

December Potluck Dinner
Milwaukee Shamrock Club

Thursday, December 7, 2000
Featuring Barry Dodd and The Dubliner House Band
Pot Luck Dinner
Bring your favorite dish or dessert
Club will provide meat, beer, wine and soda
Cash Bar also available
6 p.m. Set Up -- 6:30 p.m. Dinner -- 8 p.m. Entertainment
For information call (414) 321-0958

Shamrock Club of Wisconsin
State Advisory Meeting

Madison, Wisconsin: Saturday, September 30, 2000

Present: Dane County, Bernard and Barbara Gallenberg, Nell Murphy, Eamon O'Brien, and Virginia Carpenter; LaCrosse, Jim and Donna Finn; Milwaukee, Cate Harris and Sue Dundon; Northeast Wisconsin, Jerry and Mary Meyer; Rock County, Tom and Mary Kennedy and Cathie Updike. (14)

The meeting was called to order by temporary chair, Cate Harris of Milwaukee at 1:10 p.m. at the Jingles Coliseum Bar in Madison, Wisconsin. Minutes of the February 26, 2000 meeting read; main discussions were the Constitution, the ByLaws and the Emerald Reflections.

Cate reports she is unable to find a copy of the original Constitution, does have the ByLaws. The Articles of Incorporation papers are in poor condition. The Secretary of State may have a copy of the Incorporation papers and this matter will be looked into. A reminder that the Consitition may not be changed; however, ByLaws may be changed.

Emerald Reflections: LaCrosse and Northeast Wisconsin letters read by their members in attendance. Advisory motion per Jerry Meyers that a minimal $3 fee per membership be sent to the Milwaukee chapter annually. The Emerald Reflections would be a voluntary subscription per membership. Seconded. Local chapter dues would also be paid. Majority vote - Passed. President's Message each month could continue in the Emerald Reflections. Cate Harris stated that Reflections cost approximately $14.06 per year, which includes the 28¢ bulk rate postage. Returned Reflections to Milwaukee cost 50¢ each and there are many, Cate further reported, and the ad revenue is not paid promptly. Advisory motion per Bernard Gallenberg that Milwaukee Chapter send request to eight other chapters for current officer list and this to be maintain in Milwaukee. Passed by majority.

Insurance: Cate Harris stated that the eight chapters are not covered by the Milwaukee insurance.

Programs: Costs and availability of programs are a problem to the chapters. Discussion of possible types of programs to be held.

State Board: Quarterly meetings suggested to attempt to form a state board, starting with each of the nine chapters having two representatives and then one member present when officers are elected to the state board. A December 9 steering committee was set and to be held at Jingles in Madison. And on February 10, 2001 another meeting would be held.

Fund Raisers: the small membership numbers in some chapters make fund raising a problem. Suggested; garage sales, lunches, bake sales, auctions, candy sales, raffle tickets, calendar raffles, food boothes.

No further business. Adjourned at 3:45 p.m.

- Cathie Updike

Milwaukee Set Dancing

The Milwaukee Set Dance Club will be busy in December, hosting two dances at the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center at 2133 W. Wisconsin Avenue.

On Saturday, December 23, there will be the monthly set dance with live music. Instruction of the set dance of the month will begin at 7:30 p.m., followed by the dance itself at 8 p.m.

Also, there will be a special End-of-the-Year Dance to be held on the next Saturday, December 30. There will be live music for this event as well, but no instruction before the dancing at 8p.m.

New Members

DANE COUNTY - Helen Close

FOX CITIES - Jerry and Kathy Brien; Jane Cops; Mark and Lori Dougherty; Marian O'Connor; Lucille Pagel; Carol Theobald.

MILWAUKEE - Kathy and Kevin Kuffel; Bruce Murphy and Rose Balistreri; Patrick E. Mullins; Brett Murphy; Anne O'Brien; Dan and Linda Ryan; Rick Schmitz.


September: 72 memberships up for renewal, 47 paid, 25 dropped for nonpayment of dues.

October: 35 memberships up for renewal, 29 paid to date, 6 due.

November: 37 memberships up for renewal, 5 paid to date, 32 due.

Early History of Dane County
Shamrock Club, Part IV

Written by Marget Courtney, typed by Barb Darcey


A change in the plans for the flight to Ireland in June was announced following a meeting at Burkhalter's Travel Agency on January 10. Due to problems in the Middle East concerning oil prices, the price of the flight was raised to $450.

Tom Green was busy planning special events in Ireland for those on the flight. Our Irish friends in Sneem, Dublin and Wexford would provide tours and musical performances.

Tom Green was unanimously voted to be our 1979 Irish Person of the Year. Tom was the founder and Past-President of the Dane County Shamrock Club. He was instrumental in starting most of the Shamrock Club's special events, such as two visits of the St. James Choir of Dublin, nine Irish Flag Raisings, helped originate the St. Patrick's Day Dinner-Dance and the annual summer picnic. He encouraged the starting of our music and vocal groups as well as our Shamrock Dancers. He was especially interested in our scholarship program and in our Irish History and Culture.

A large crowd of Shamrock Club members and friends were in attendance at the annual Flag Raising at the Capitol Concourse. Entertainment included the Shamrock Choir, the Instrumental Group, including Tom McDermott, Joe Lawrence, Shirley Armstrong, Barbara James and Francis McMahan, Irish jigging by Bill Murphy, and Irish dancing by the Shamrock Dancers led by Ginny O'Brien.

There was a large turnout of 550 members and friends at the Heritage House to honor the founder of the Shamrock Club, Tom Green. Don Bonner provided a big green spotlight on top of the Heritage House to guide the Irish to the festivities.

It was voted to thank Bill Murphy for his efforts getting Batt Burns, Headmaster at Sneem, Ireland, to present his Irish Literature course at Edgewood College on weekday evenings from July 9-27.

Officers elected for 1979-80 took office July 1. Gene Finley was elected President.

Jim Adams and Bob Finley, of the Madison Diocesan Choir gave a quality slide show of the churches and castles they visited and gave formal concerts in Glencolumbkille, Sligo, Elphin, and Dublin. Jim used two projectors and a reducing unit to create a fade-in and out effect. The equipment, the natural beauty of Ireland and the excellent quality of Jim's pictures resulted in a beautiful and impressive slide show. Bob Finley assisted Jim in the narration as they related the highlights of the Diocesan Choir's 1978 tour of Ireland.

1979 was a busy year for the Dane County Chapter. Due to space limitations we'll finish 1979's history next month.