Hard Times of Stephen Foster
by Brian Witt
In the 1980's, the Irish band De Danaan recorded the song "Hard
Times". The recording received a lot of airplay on Irish music programs
in the United States, and many people were surprised to find out that this
song, so contemporary in its tone, was not only not new, it was not composed
by an Irishman. Rather, it was written by the Irish American songwriter,
Stephen Collins Foster, like another Irish American songwriter, was
born on the 4th of July, Foster's birth to coincide with the 50th anniversary
of the American Declaration of Independence in 1826. It was on that day,
too, that the second and third Presidents of our nation died - John Adams
and Thomas Jefferson. Stephen Foster's father, at the very moment that
Stephen was born, was celebrating the Independence of the United States,
outside of the house in "Foster's Grove". A cannon announced
the birth of the nation, and the birth of Stephen Foster.
The Fosters had been in the United States, or the colonies, since
the early 1700's, having moved from Fosters Glen in County Derry to Pennsylvania.
His middle name, Collins, reflected his Northern roots.
Stephen was the tenth of eleven children. The family was prominent
in Western Pennsylvania, active in both politics and commerce. The father,
William Barclay Foster, was at one time Mayor of Allegheny, where he had
settled after leaving Lawrenceville. The eldest son, William Barclay, Junior,
was an engineer who laid out the route of many of the Ohio and Pennsylvania
canals, and part of the Pennsylvania Railroad. One sister, Ann Eliza was
sister in-law to James Buchanan, the American President. Henry was for
a number of years in the Land Office at Washington; and the brother that
Stephen was closest to, Morrison, was involved in politics and business.
Stephen was different from the rest of the children. He was a dreamer,
and, above everything else, he loved music. Foster's musical talent was
evident early on. At the age of seven, he came across a flute in a general
store. Although he had never seen one before, he picked it up and had mastered
it before leaving the store. He was soon proficient on both the flute and
the piano. He wrote his first piece of music, "The Tioga Waltz,"
while he was still in school and at 16 published his first composition,
"Open Thy Lattice, Love."
The other members of the family liked music, too, but they did not
think that a man should spend too much time at it. However, music would
prove to be the most important thing in Stephen Foster's life. In spite
of the family's attempts, he kept gravitating back to music. Finally it
was decided to send him to Cincinnati, where his brother Dunning had a
commission business and would teach him to be a bookkeeper. The twenty-year
old Stephen sailed down the Ohio, on the riverboats he would some day immortalize
in song, entranced with the singing of the Negro deckhands.
However, it was in Cincinnati that Foster would discover what was
to be the bane of his life. Foster cultivated the acquaintance of minstrel
performers who might sing his songs in public. Some of these singers were
unscrupulous and took his manuscript copies to publishers who promptly
issued pirated editions. When Stephen himself found a publisher to issue
"Oh! Susanna" and "Old Uncle Ned", several other firms
had already published these songs. He also entered into an arrangement
with Edwin Christy, founder of the minstrel band "The Christy Minstrels",
to write songs. Minstrel shows were stage entertainment by white performers
made up in blackface, popular in the 19th century. Jokes between an interlocutor
and gaudily dressed members of the company caricatured African Americans.
"Oh! Susanna" was probably composed before Stephen went
to Cincinnati, but it was while he was there that he came in touch with
W.C. Peters, a music publisher Stephen's family had known in Pittsburgh.
Stephen gave Peters a number of songs, possibly for payment of $100. Peters
made a fortune from them and Foster had no royalty interest. Instead, he
gained from the songs the fame he needed to establish himself as a songwriter.
"Oh! Susanna" became popular almost overnight. The Forty-niners
were drawn to it and sang it on their way to California, and there was
hardly a minstrel troupe that did not sing it at every performance.
As a result of this success, two publishers, one in New York and
the other in Baltimore, offered Stephen royalty contracts and agreed to
pay him two cents for every copy of his songs they sold. He returned to
his family in Allegheny with proof that he could make a better living by
song writing than by bookkeeping. He married Jane McDowell, the daughter
of a Pittsburgh physician, on July 22, 1850, and after a brief honeymoon
in New York and Baltimore, they went to live with the Foster family in
It was a rocky union, at best. Probably it was as happy as could
be expected with a man of Stephen's temperament. Jane was not overly fond
of his chosen profession, and the fact that Stephen was a dreamer, improvident
and temperamentally difficult would make life with him just as hard. Yet
he was generous, sociable and lovable. He undoubtedly loved his wife and
he adored his little daughter, Marion.
It was during the first five or six years of his married life that
Stephen composed his finest songs: "Old Folks at Home" in 1851;
"Massa's in de Cold Ground" in 1852; "My Old Kentucky Home"
and "Old Dog Tray" in 1853; "Jeanie with the Light Brown
Hair" in 1854; "Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming" in 1855
and "Gentle Annie" in 1856. The contracts he signed with Firth,
Pond and Company of New York and with F. D. Benteen of Baltimore gave him
a fair income. In a little more than six years Firth, Pond had paid him
a total of $9,596.96, and Benteen $461.85. This was a comfortable, but
not extravagant amount of money. Unfortunately the Fosters went through
more than Stephen would ever earn a year.
Although Foster's songs were well known and sung throughout the country,
he was not blessed with good business sense and had not made himself into
a recognizable public figure. An arrangement with Christy early in Foster's
career allowed Christy to premiere and even claim authorship for Foster's
songs. Others would, over the course of his life, make more money than
Foster on his music.
By 1857 financial matters reached a crisis. Stephen drew up a list
of what each of his songs had earned, and then estimated what each of them
should bring him in the future. With this money Stephen settled his affairs
in Allegheny and moved his family to New York, where he would be in closer
touch with publishers and with minstrel performers. Firth, Pond offered
him a salary of $800 for writing 12 songs a year, and a Philadelphia publisher,
Lee and Walker, agreed to pay him $400 for six songs. These arrangements
would assure him of at least $1,200 a year.
On his arrival to New York Stephen handed Firth, Pond a song he had
written just before he left home. "Old Black Joe" proved to be
only a momentary flash of Stephen's former genius. During his last four
years he turned out more than a hundred songs, but the quantity was not
accompanied by quality. He often collaborated with lyric writers who provided
him mediocre words for his music. The salary contracts with Firth, Pond
and other firms ended quickly, so Stephen began selling songs for cash
to other publishers. Most of them were glad to have his name in their catalogues
and were not too particular about the kind of songs they got, as long as
they were by Stephen Foster. Money was quickly spent for liquor.
Stephen started collaborating with George Cooper, who provided him
with the words of many of his Civil War songs. In the summer of 1861 Jane
and Marion went to Lewistown, Pennsylvania, to visit Jane's sister. Stephen
lived alone for several months, and his loneliness made him drink more
heavily. By September Jane was worried and made a trip to New York. The
family tried living in a boarding house, but a lack of cash and Foster's
alcoholism forced Jane back to Lewistown, for the final time, and did not
live again with Stephen. 'She took a job as a telegrapher with a railroad.
Jane realized that New York was not the place for Stephen, and she
did everything she could to get him away and to have him join her in Lewiston,
where the strain and tension would be less. Morrison Foster saw Stephen
often during these years, and tried to help him. He gave him clothing,
which Stephen usually sold for a few dollars as soon as Morrison had left.
When Morrison told Stephen that he'd be afraid of being insulted if he
himself were dressed so shabbily, Stephen replied: "Don't worry, Mitty.
No gentleman will insult me, and no other can."
In January of 1864, he was living in a lodging house at the corner
of Bayard Street and the Bowery, then known as North American Hotel. He
was ill and suffering from a "fever and ague," most likely tuberculosis.
On the morning of January 10th, George Cooper received a message to come
quickly to the hotel. Stephen was lying on the floor of his room. He had
fallen on a piece of crockery, cutting his jugular vein. A doctor came
and sewed the cut with black thread, and then helped Cooper take him to
Cooper wrote Morrison, and asked him to send money for his care.
Stephen, on the third day in the hospital, fainted while his wounds were
being dressed, and never became conscious again. He died on the afternoon
of Wednesday, January 13, 1864. Cooper sent Morrison a telegram, which
arrived ahead of his letter. So Morrison and Jane, joined by brother Henry,
came to New York and took Stephen's body from the morgue, back to Pittsburgh,
where it was laid to rest in the family plot in Allegheny Cemetery.
Stephen Foster was America's first professional musician. He composed
hundreds of songs, and most made others very rich. He helped to spur on
the minstrel shows that were being performed by other Irish Americans,
most notably Christy and Sweeney. His songs in dialect reflected the times,
and not his abolitionist leanings. He actually only made one trip to the
South, and it was a short one at that. However, his ear for the songs and
the speech patterns would be a constant in his life. Like many other Irish
and Irish Americans, the sound of the word was just as potent as the music.
And he composed songs of nostalgia and yearning for better places and times,
themes that rang true for many Irish immigrants of the day.
An ardent wartime supporter of the Union whose only personal acquaintance
with the South was a short riverboat trip to New Orleans, made early in
his career, Foster nevertheless had an instinctive feel for the pace and
atmosphere of life below the Mason-Dixon Line.
Kentucky adopted "My Old Kentucky Home" in 1929, as the
state theme song, ironic in that most likely the closest to Kentucky he
was occurred during his time in Cincinnati. Florida adopted "Old Folks
At Home" in 1935 as the official state song, and Georgia erected a
monument in Fargo, Georgia, at the source of the Suwanne River. For a person
who spent much of his life writing in southern dialect, Foster was a confirmed
Northerner. However, Foster was very much an American writer. So many of
his songs are inextricably intertwined in our culture and life that we
tend to think of them as folk songs. "The Merry Merry Month of May",
"Nelly Bly", and "Camptown Races" are sung with no
knowledge of this creative Irish American's involvement.
At the hospital, the warden handed Morrison an inventory of Stephen's
possessions: "Coat, pants, vest, hat, shoes, overcoat." One item
was not mentioned - a little purse containing thirty-eight cents in coin
and scrip, and a slip of paper with these penciled words: "Dear friends
and gentle hearts." A song title or the description of Stephen Foster's
life? Whatever it was, the hard times of Stephen Foster were over.
Shamrock Club of
Once again the Shamrock Club of Northeast Wisconsin participated
in Green Bay's Holiday Parade on November 17 in downtown Green Bay. A light
snowfall and temperature hovering around 25 (wind chill of 7) greeted the
participants and those watching the parade.
Working with this year's parade theme, "The Sights and Sounds
of Christmas," effervescent parade-meister Margaret Quam (who also
designed last year's prize-winning float) designed a three tableau float,
one scene featuring two cross county skiers (Scott and Pam Desotell) at
the Brown County Reforestation Camp, the second scene a traditional Irish
family (Mary Jo Blaney Kolb and her niece Erin Blaney, and John Ahern and
his daughter Elizabeth) trimming the Christmas tree, and the third scene
featuring children and their Mom (Debbie Persson and her twin daughters,
Bailey and Rachel) sledding on a beautiful snowy morning.
Present at the November 20 Shamrock Club meeting to speak about their
travels to Ireland (it seems like half the membership has been gallivanting
around Ireland this last year) were Jerry and Mary Meyer, Kay Danen (Ralph
could not make the meeting), and Jon and Mary Jo Blaney Kolb. Jerry and
Mary, who took an organized tour, thanked the many club members who shared
travel information and advise with them prior to their trip. The other
two couples winged it on their own in rental cars. Jon and Mary Jo, who
covered 1600 miles during their two week trip, said driving was a challenge
on the narrow roads (14 feet wide in Ireland with no shoulders), having
to drive on the "wrong" side of the road with right hand drive
and manual transmission. Kay, who covered 800 miles (and commented wryly
that the reason Ralph could not make the meeting was that doctors were
still trying to extract the steering wheel from his hands), found the roads
Fall, a damp and rainy season in Ireland, had its pluses for the
travelers, one of them being the lack of the many, many thousands of tourists
who crowd into Ireland during the summer months. However, good traditional
Irish music, so abundant during the tourist season, is somewhat absent
in fall. Some of the travelers found good music, but more oft than naught
what they heard was good old U. S. of A. music in the pubs!
A few observations: Roadside signs were confusing. Distances to locations
were not always logical. Waterford crystal is less expensive in Galway
- which also has its own fine quality crystal. Housing is very expensive
in Ireland. Unemployment is at 1.7 percent. Ireland has the fastest growing
economy in Europe. Of the 123 passengers who boarded the Titanic in Cobh,
only one family traveled first class and that was the Minahan family from
Jon and Mary Jo were amazed at the length of Mass. The longest Mass
they attended, and one with a sermon, was 18 minutes! A trip highlight
for Kay was meeting second cousins in Cross on the Loop Head Peninsula.
Kay's maternal grandfather, Martin O'Donnell, was born in Ireland and when
he came to America, his sister Nora stayed behind. Kay was fortunate to
find Nora's descendants, the Mahoney's, and to have a nice visit with them.
All of the couples kept journals, an excellent way to remember and
relive your vacation.
• JAN. 10 - Business Meeting, 7 p.m. at Conkey's in Appleton. Dan
Curtin reading from his new book of poetry
• JAN. 24 - Board Meeting, 7 p.m. at Conkey's in Appleton.
All meetings are held at Conkey's in Appleton at 7 p.m.
Music!! At Trilogy in Greenville: Fri. Jan. 12 Druid's Table. Sat.
Jan. 27 Atlantic Crossing. Fri. Feb. 16 Druid's Table. Sat., Mar. 3 Atlantic
Crossing. Fri. Mar. 16 Druid's Table. Sat. Mar. 31 Celtic Knot.
Mark your calendar!! March 12, 2001 St. Patrick's Dinner at Mark's
East Side in Appleton.
At our November 29th Board Meeting we elected our Irish Rose and
Irishman for 2001: Pat and John Ashenbrucker.
Welcome new members Tom and Kathy Hannah. Remember to renew your
membership. Check your address label.
- Elaine Hoes (920) 733-5254
• JAN. 9 - NO General Membership Meeting;
6:15 Board Meeting at Jingle's
• FEB. 13 - 7:30 General Membership Meeting;
6:15 Board Meeting; both at Jingle's
• MAR. 17 - Noon Flag Raising Ceremony at Capitol;
Luncheon at Jingle's 2 p.m.
At our November meeting, club members were treated to a bagpipe performance
by Hugh and Jim Curley. The Curley's shared their knowledge and love of
bagpiping with us.
Thanks to all of you who returned your surveys. Your suggestions
are being considered at our board meetings.
Starting January 1, 2001 membership dues for our chapter will increase
from $15 for a single membership to $20, and from $20 for a family membership
to $30. This membership increase is our only fund raiser. We are not going
to have a raffle as in years past.
Nominations for Irish Person of the Year must be submitted in writing
by the start of the January 9 board meeting. Nominations can be mailed
to Barbara Gallenberg at 2002 Cameron Dr., Madison, WI 53711. When nominating
someone, service to our club and community should be considered.
At our February meeting, we are delighted to have the "Dybdahl
Girls" and our own Francis McMahan. Erin plays the fiddle, and Angela
the piano. Francis will accompany them with his fiddle.
While the girls reside in Middleton, they are members of the Nashville
based fiddle group called Fiddle Frenzy. Erin and Angela had the opportunity
to play on the "Grand Ole Opry" stage several times. In addition,
they have played at the international fiddling conference and festival,
"Fiddles of the World", in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
For our meeting, the threesome will be performing waltzes, jigs,
reels, and straisbays, closing with the "Orange Blossom Special,"
the girls' signature song.
We are looking forward to seeing all of you at our February meeting,
at which the Irish Person of the Year will be announced. Guests are always
- Barbara Gallenberg, President
Shamrock Club of Rock County
• JAN. 16 - 6:30 Chili Super, 7:30 General Membership Meeting
• FEB. 20 - 7:30 General Membership Meeting
• MAR. 11 - Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade
This month is our annual Chili Supper. We ask everyone to bring a small batch of their favorite chile.
We will be discussing the plans for our St. Patrick's Day Parade at this meeting so if you have any ideas or suggestions, please bring those up at this meeting.
The Irish Person of the Year is to be announced at our Christmas Party but I cannot violate the code of secrecy by naming names at this time as this is being written in late November. If you were not at the Christmas Party you will just have to wait for the February Emerald Reflections to find out who it is.
May the New Year be filled with good health and much happiness for all.
Milwaukee President's Message
The annual Christmas Pot Luck was great as usual, thanks to the hard
work of Beth Brzycki, Jean Cardwell and Sue Dundon. Thank you!
The Christmas holidays are over and it's time to prepare for the
"St. Patrick's Holidays". The parade will be bigger and better
(I didn't think that was possible) this year. The new location and many
more sponsors all contribute to this. Plan on marching.
The Post Parade Party will be hosted by Joe Hughes and he has very
experienced chairpeople so we can plan on good food, fine entertainment
and just a plain good time visiting with old friends. All chairpeople are
looking for volunteers.
Final reports for Holiday Folk Fair are in. Food booth had a manager
for each day, with Pete and Fran Dundon in command and it really worked
well. Noreen Barclay reported that sales were up and Mary McAndrews had
a very interesting display featuring the "Jeanie Johnston." There
were many spectators and lots of questions. Congrats to all of them and
especially to Muriel Crowley who sold 200 advance sales tickets. We are
required to sell 125 so she really went above and beyond. Thanks again.
It is time for Irish Rose, Irishman and Parade Marshal nominations.
They will be chosen at the Jan. 25th board meeting. Send your nominations
to any board member c/o the ICHC, 2133 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee 53233.
The Color Guard is still out there parading. Soon their season will
be over only to start again on March 10, 2001. Come out and watch them.
Please read the Bradley Center report in this issue. It is really
Happy Birthday and Anniversary to all January celebrants.
MILWAUKEE - Donald M. Bean (referred by Patrick Mullins); Mark and
Laura Birdsall (referred by Joe Hughes); Ann and Gordon Griffith; Mary
M. Baldwin Grimes and Denis Grimes (referred by Patricia Grimes); Sharon
and Tom Harrington; Peggy O'Neill Mossie, Kathleen Owens (referred by Patrick
and Amy Schiek).
ROCK COUNTY - Helen Close; Barbara Finnegan.
MEMBERSHIP REPORT MILWAUKEE CHAPTER
• October: 35 memberships up for renewal, 30 paid to date, 5 dropped
for non-payment of dues.
• November: 37 memberships up for renewal, 22 paid to date, 15 due.
• December: 29 memberships up for renewal, 2 paid, 27 due.
They Called it Ireland
At this time there are some tickets available for this event. The
bus will pick us up at the ICHC at 1 p.m. and we will return at 8 p.m.
There is a sit down dinner at 3 p.m. and the show will start at 5 p.m.
The show lasts two hours and we will leave immediately after the show.
The cost is $55. Please call Cate Harris at (414) 321-5153 and send a check
to me at 8835 W. Verona Ct., Milwaukee 53227
Milw. Club Offices
Nominations for all offices of the Shamrock Club's Milwaukee Chapter
will be taken at the March and April meetings. Nominees must be members
in good standing, with dues paid and current. Nominees must be present
at the time of their nomination.
Nominations for Milwaukee's Irish Rose, Irishman of the Year and
Parade Marshal(s) must be sent to the Shamrock Club prior to the 6 p.m.
start of the board meeting on January 25, 2001. Nominations must be written.
Nominees must be members in good standing. Nominations can be mailed to
2133 West Wisconsin, Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53233, dropped off at the ICHC,
or faxed to (414) 345-8805.
76th Street and Bluemound to Mitchell Blvd. (52nd)
Shamrock Club of Wisconsin
Bluemound Business Assoc.
12 Noon Step Off March 10, 2001
POST PARADE PARTY
Irish Cultural and Heritage Center
2133 W. Wisconsin Avenue
~ Volunteers Needed ~
IN DIRE NEED OF HELP!
The Bradley Center, which has earned between $6,000 - $9,000 is about
to die from lack of help.
The Bradley Center is not only a very lucrative undertaking, it is
the surest kind of fund raiser available. I say this because the Shamrock
Club has no money invested in this event, nor is there any chance of money
loss to the club.
There are a few individuals, about 45 of us, who give up football
games and other fun things like the Tartan Ball to work for the good of
the Club. Yes, it is our choice but so is our dedication to the good of
our (and your) club.
If this tragedy should occur, what will happen to our big donations
to our favorite charities? We would have to have other fund raisers, but
who would run them? The over-worked Bradley Center people? I don't think
so!! Most of them have done more than their share to support our club.
It would be up to someone else and who and where are they? After
someone comes forward to do new fund raisers what kind would they have?
Everyone has concerts. Would the Shamrock Club members support one? Then
there is the up front money and the possibility of failing to cover expenses
-- the Shamrock Club could lose big bucks. Nothing sure about that. Irish
Breakfasts need investments, at least to the tune of $6,000 and they're
no sure thing. Rummage sales show all profit, unless you have to pay for
a location at which to hold it. It could rain. Who is going to work it?
This is a very disburbing situation. None of the above possible fund
raisers are a sure thing and require many people and much chance.
Now to get back to the sure thing.
We need three (3) teams of 18 people. We need many subs because people
on teams get sick, have lives beyond the Shamrock Club or have work hours
which can be extended. At the present time we do not have even one full
team. Katy Voss calls people for days in advance of an event. I send them
reminder letters and parking passes. This is a bit ridiculous. We should
have teams and volunteers in abundance with a club our size. Some of our
workers are on three teams, again this is ridiculous. Where are the rest
of our people? If everyone would volunteer to work just one event we'd
have it made.
It's up to ALL of us. Without your help January 3 could be our last
event. We have 13 events left. We can possibly get more and a good chance
to surpass our earnings of last year.
It is all up to each and everyone one of us.
- Cate Harris (414) 321-5153
Katy Voss (414) 352-6479
Irish Ceili and Set Dance For Peace
Saturday, January 13, 2001
ICHC - Milwaukee
The Irish Cultural and Heritage Center is sponsoring the 10th annual
Ceili Dance for Peace! A ceili is a traditional Celtic gathering of friends
and family joining together in a celebration of music and dance. The program
begins at 7 p.m. with a short concert of traditional Celtic music by Milwaukee's
largest ceili band, Ceol Cairde (which translates from Irish Gaelic to
"The Music of Friends"). Ceili dancing will be taught by Julie
Clark from 7:30-9 p.m. Irish set dances will be taught from 9-10:30 p.m.
by Joanna Dupuis.
Beginners are very welcome! There are many volunteers on hand to
teach young and old alike, this lively and very fun Irish dancing! Beverages,
snacks and homemade bakery will be available at the hall. The entire event
is presented by donated time and talents of the dance instructors and musicians.
The food donations will be given to Casa Maria Catholic Worker House of
Hospitality. The Ceili and Set Dance for Peace is an affordable event for
all ages and has become a favorite event in Milwaukee. Please join us!
This event is sponsored by the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center
whose mission is to provide a facility which nurtures and perpetuates Irish
culture and heritage in Wisconsin. Admission is $7 or $6 and two non-perishable
food items. Children 6-16 years $3 and Children under 6 free admission.
Free and secure parking available in lots south of ICHC: take 23rd Street
one half block to alley to enter.
For further information, please call Kristina Paris at (414) 372-3060.
16th Annual Special Mass to Honor
Will be held prior to the St. Patrick's Day Parade
Saturday, March 10, 2001 at 8:30 a.m.
At St. Patrick's Church
723 South 7th at Washington Street, Milwaukee
Sign reader for hearing impaired
Shuttle Bus: from St. Vincent Pallotti Church parking lot
(5522 W. Bluemound Rd - west of building) to St. Patrick's Church,
After Mass and Breakfast, return to Parade Route
or parking lot for just $3 per person
Bus To Leave Sharply at 7:45 a.m. for the Church
Tickets for bus can be purchased by mail or at Shamrock Club February and
March General Meetings.
PANCAKE BREAKFAST ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT WILL FOLLOW MASS
AT UNITED COMMUNITY CENTER (1028 S. 9th St.)
DONATIONS: $5; CHILDREN UNDER 12 YRS. $3
Tickets can be purchased at the
Shamrock Club February and March General Meetings
or at the door only.
NO MAIL ORDERS FOR BREAKFAST!
Checks to be made out to St. Patrick's Church for the breakfast
- all proceeds go to St. Patrick's
For BUS reservations or information contact:
Chuck and Bonnie McLaughlin
12007 W. Walker St., West Allis, WI 53214; Phone 414-771-0458
(Send self-addressed, stamped envelope.
Make checks payable to Shamrock Club)
Mail reservation for BUS ONLY
Number of Reservations_________________
Bus Reservations will not be taken after March 2
St. Patrick's Mass Flowers
Donations for flowers for the St. Patrick's Mass to be held on March
10 will gladly be accepted at the January or February Milwaukee General
Deadline for the "Memorials" or "In Honor of"
to be printed in the Mass booklet will be February 23. Checks to be payable
to the Shamrock Club. Contact Chuck or Bonnie McLaughlin (414) 771-0458.
Spring 2001 Courses
• 359-250 Se 304: (Ethnic)
The Green Screen:
Images of Ireland in Film
This class will explore the history of film in Ireland and the story
of Ireland on film. Let the camera lens be our window on an Ireland of
change and challenge. From Gaelic revival to Celtic globalization, from
folk life community to video nation, from rural backwardness to trendy
urbanism, from nationalism to internationalism, from conflict to compromise
- let's see how the dream scapes of cinema relate to the nightmares of
So let's enjoy the moving images while discussing their impact and
context. Films to be viewed and discussed include: The Butcher Boy, The
Bishop's Story, Branwen, Cal, The Commitments, Eat the Peach, The Field,
Guiltrip, High Boot Benny, Man of Aran, Michael Collins, Mise Eire, Odd
Man Out, The Quiet man, September Bride, Reefer and the Model, plus a variety
of short and feature excerpts.
• 359-250 Se 301 (Ethnic)
The Irish Experience
This course will examine the Irish people at home and abroad as well
as their place in the Celtic continuum, from the tranquil mists of antiquity
to the restlessness of modern times. We will explore the unique culture,
including folklore, storytelling, music, literature, history and politics
of Ireland as well as her relationships with Celtic neighbors.
Some topics to be discussed: European or independent nation? Cradle
of culture or holiday theme park? Traditional community or economic basket
case? Schizophrenic society or artists' playground? Pub paradise or history's
nightmare? We will look at the island where versions of the past continually
compete for loyalty, and visions of the future are an ongoing source of
This class offers an optional trip to Ireland during Spring Break,
March 18-25, 2001. For more information on this class see accompanying
• 550-132 Se 301 (Linguis)
Second Semester of an Uncommonly
Taught Language: Irish (Gaelic)
Céad míle faílte arís - a hundred thousand
welcomes back as we continue our encounter with the glorious Gaelic tongue.
Irish has the oldest literary and poetic tradition in the western vernacular
- a treasure trove of folklore, song and wordcraft. So join us as we delve
deeper into the riches of the celtic imagination while indulging the joys
of convivial conversation.
OTHER IRISH STUDIES COURSES OFFERED
156-305: The Celtic World
260-444: Myths, Legends and Poems of the Celts
250-275: The forms of Folk Literature: Irish Myth and Folklore
350-622: Seminar in Irish Literature: Seamus Heaney and the Literature
of Northern Ireland
448-200: Historical roots of contemporary issues. The civil strife
in Northern Ireland
For more information or to register call (414) 229-6209.
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
College of Letters & Science
presents a unique study opportunity for Spring 2001!
Ethnic Studies 359-250 Lc301
THE IRISH EXPERIENCE
WITH OPTIONAL SPRING BREAK
TOUR OF THE EMERALD ISLE
AN IRISH ADVENTURE
March 18-25, 2001
John Gleeson (Dept. of Ethnic Studies, Linguistics)
will offer this unique full semester course with the option of
the 8-day tour of Ireland during Spring Break.
Students Enrolled in the 3-Credit Course
Will Be Given Priority to Participate in the Tour
Enroll early! Limited Capacity to 35 Students! Don't Delay!
Cost of Tour: $1189, Includes
• Round trip airfare Chicago/Shannon/Shannon/Chicago
• Hotel accommodation, double occupancy;
luxury motor coach travel
• Full Irish breakfast and evening dinner daily
• Museums, archeological sits, musical events, local entertainment
A deposit of $100 per person will be required at the time
For information and registration,
contact L&S Community Programs
At MidAmerica Championships
The Cashel-Dennehy School of Irish Dance scaled unprecedented heights
at the MidAmerica Championships of Irish Dance in Saint Louis, Missouri
over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Cashel-Dennehy sent 13 ceili teams to compete in 11 of the 12 possible
ceili competitions at the Midwest's regional championships. All 13 teams
received awards in their competitions, and six of the teams came home to
Milwaukee as first place champion teams. The school's teachers, Kathy Dennehy
of Chicago and Kate Walrath of Milwaukee, were very pleased with the results.
The Senior Ladies Ceili team (Hillary Boeing, Brigid Broihier, Andrea
Byrnes, Aileen Cronin, Casey Gutkowski Aine McMenamin, Brigid O'Sullivan,
and Erin Prendergast), which had placed second at the World Championships
in Belfast, Northern Ireland last April, won their third consecutive Regional
Championship, as did the Under 16 Mixed Ceili team (Jack Bartelt, Alex
Doney John Gibson, Megan Hull, Conor McKee, Annie Osmon, Carrie Stotmeister,
and Jill Winke), which had placed fourth at the World Competition in Belfast.
Both of those teams had also won the Overseas Award in their respective
competitions last April.
The Over 16 Mixed Ceili (Caitlin Alba, Ryan Alba, Nicole Berg, Bobbie
Boeing, Colin Malnory-Silbernagel, Janon Norton, Tim O'Sullivan, and Ben
Rizzo), who had won their third consecutive National Championship in San
Francisco this past July, won their second consecutive Regional Championship,
as did the Mixed Ceili Under 12 (Sean Alba, Alexandra Bryant, Caley Conway,
Yolanda Doney, Brendan Kim, Mickey Mahar, Alec Martinez, and Kelly O'Connell).
Cashel-Dennehy also took firsts in the Girls Ceili Under 12 (Brigid Brennan,
Maggie Dunn, Sarah Ganas, Maddie Gibson, Margaret James, Emma Mihlbauer,
Caitlin O'Connell, and Riva Winke), who are also the current national Champions,
and in the Mixed Ceili Under 8 (Liam Alba, Fiona Baus, Bree Burazin, Alex
Gibson, Celeste Kulla, Kirsti Martinez, Katie O'Neil, and Maggie O'Neil,).
Cashel-Dennehy plans to send a number of their qualifying Regional
Champion teams to the upcoming World Championships, which will be held
in Limerick, Ireland in April 2001.
In addition, Cashel-Dennehy is very proud of their other prize-winning
Ceili teams: Girls Ceili Under 8 (fifth place), Girls Ceili under 10 (ninth
place), Mixed Ceili Under 10 (fifth place), a second Girls Ceili Under
12 (fifth place), a second Mixed Ceili Under 12 (second place), Girls Ceili
under 14 (fifth place), and the Junior Girls Ceili Under 16 (sixth place).
The Cashel-Dennehy dancers also experienced tremendous success on
an individual basis, with ten soloists qualifying for the upcoming World
Championships of Irish Dance: Aileen Cronin (Ladies Over 18), Hillary Boeing
(Ladies Under 18), Brigid O'Sullivan (Girls Under 17), Conor McKee (Boys
Under 16), Bobbie Boeing (Girls Under 15), Annie Osmon (Girls Under 14),
John Gibson (Boys Under 14), Maggie Dunn (Girls Under 12), Maddie Gibson
(Girls Under 11), and Brendan Kim (Boys Under 10).
Twenty-six other Cashel-Dennehy solo dancers took prizes in their
respective competitions: Ryan Alba, Ben Rizzo, and Colin Malnory-Silbernagel
(Men Under 18); Erin Prendergast, Kamala Murphy, Andrea Byrnes, and Casey
Gutkowski (Girls Under 17); Kari Sindberg and Janon Norton (Girls Under
16); Jill Winke and Maureen Ragalie (Girls Under 15); Lindsey Wenzen, Megan
Hull, Kathleen Heusdens, Katherine Pater, Chloe Gray, Annie Dwyer, and
Julia Toepfer (Girls Under 14); Elyse Transon (Girls under 12); Emma Mihlbauer,
Caitlin O'Connell, Yolanda Doney, and Sarah Ganas (Girls Under 11); Kelly
O'Connell (Girls Under 10); Sean Alba (Boys Under 10); and Kirsti Martinez
(Girls Under 8).
Congratulations to all the Cashel-Dennehy dancers!
There is still time to buy Gold C and Entertainment Books on behalf
of the Shamrock Club. Gold C can be purchased for $10 and Entertainment
Books for $35. See Michael Payne at the January Membership Meeting or contact
him at (414) 541-8427. They make great gifts!
Celtic Spirituality Weekend
February 2-4, 2001
This weekend will explore the central themes of Celtic wisdom and
its relevance in today's world. There will be a special seasonal celebration
of patroness St. Brigid of Ireland's Feast Day (February 1). We will look
at the archetypes of the feminine in the Celtic tradition and the lives
of the early Irish holy women.
The weekend will be both intellectual and experiential, including
prayer, reflection, creative liturgy, weaving St. Brigid's Crosses, lots
of Celtic craic (fun) with Irish music, language, song and dance. Beidh
Céad Míle roimh cách! (There will be a hundred thousand
welcomes given to everyone!)
AREAS OF EXPLORATION
• Saint Brigid: Why is there a return to "her-story"?
• Is Celtic spirituality "soul food" or "junk food"?
• What about the legacy of Celtic prayer, song, folk tradition, and
language for us today?
• What can we re-learn through the study of early Celtic spirituality?
Padraigín Clancy, Lecturer. A native of Dublin, Padraigín
Clancy is a graduate in Irish Folklore and history with a M. Litt in Irish
Folklore. Over the past decade, she has lectured and facilitated retreats
and seminars throughout Ireland on Celtic spirituality and folklore. She
is editor and co-author of Celtic Threads: Exploring the Wisdom of Our
Heritage, (Dublin, Veritas, 1999). An Irish speaker, she is a traditional
Irish tin-whistle player and set-dancer. She resides most of the time on
Inis Mor, the Aran Island, Co. Galway, where she has made an extensive
collection of island folklore.
John Gleeson, Irish Language/Teacher. John is a native of Ireland,
a storyteller, playwright and founder of Milwaukee Irish Arts. He is Irish
Studies Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and lectures
in the Ethnic Studies and Linguistics Departments.
Dennis Doyle, Music Coordinator. Dennis is a Celtic harpist, singer
and storyteller. He has performed in Ireland, Japan, and throughout North
America at most major Irish and Celtic Festivals in the last 18 years.
Concert appearances include opening for Clanad in Los Angeles and performing
on several national television shows, including "Murder, She Wrote."
He sings in English, Latin, and Irish-Gaelic. He resides in Glendale, California
with wife Paula and five children.
Fr. Peter Connolly, C.Ss.R., Prayer and Liturgy. Fr. Peter is a Redemptorist
from Boston, MA. He is the director of the Redemptorist Retreat Center
where he conducts retreats and parish missions. He has been studying Celtic
Spirituality for the last several years, while at the same time lecturing
to anyone interested in learning about "Celtic Soul." During
this retreat, he will lead the group in traditional forms of Celtic prayer
and celebrate Eucharist in Irish.
The weekend's events will take place at the Redemptorist Retreat
Center; 1800 North Timber Trail Lane; Oconomowoc, WI 53066. Telephone:
(262) 567-6900. Email: email@example.com; or visit their web site at: http://www.redemptoristretreat.org
Milwaukee Irish Arts
Milwaukee Irish Arts offers a host of heartwarming cultural events
to drive away those Wisconsin winter woes! We welcome the Irish Actors
Theatre Company from Dublin to the bar of the ICHC for a glorious night
of Irish pub entertainment February 9 (Friday) at 8 p.m. ($5 at the door).
Our annual Film Fest showcasing the best of recent major Irish movies takes
place February 16-18. You won't want to miss this celebration of contemporary
Ireland on the big screen. And of course, mark your calendars now for our
Annual St. Patrick's Night Gala at the Milwaukee Athletic Club. "The
Irish event of the year, the Real thing," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Consult our web page for further information, www.milwaukeeirisharts.org.
Early History of Dane County
Shamrock Club, Part V
Written by Marget Courtney, typed by Barb Darcey
The annual Shamrock Picnic was held at Warner Park on July 15. About
120 people attended. Batt Burns, of Sneem, Co. Kerry, was the highlight
as he recited Irish poetry and told stories, as only he could tell them!
The Shamrock Music Group provided lively entertainment.
One of the outstanding events of the summer of '79 was Batt Burns,
Headmaster at Sneem, teaching an Irish Literature course at Edgewood College.
Batt was introduced to about 8 or 10 members of the Shamrock Club
at a Sunday morning brunch in 1977 by Sharon Scrivner Brown, who taught
at Sneem for three weeks. She invited Batt, who was teaching a course at
St. Norbert's College in DePere, to come to Madison and meet the group.
A suggestion was made, that the following summer, he teach the same
course at Edgewood College in Madison. Via the efforts of Bill Murphy,
who was on the Board of Trustees of Edgewood College, they became interested
and consented to offer the course.
It was an outstanding success in every way. Thirty-eight individuals
took the course for three weeks, July 9-27, for five nights a week. Batt
endeared himself to those taking the course by his deep knowledge and interest
in Irish culture and his unfailing sense of humor.
Batt enjoyed the experience immensely. He liked Madison, Edgewood
College, and the many friends he made. Before he left, he was inspired
to write, in verse, the feelings he experienced during his stay.
Today I found a piece of home,
In a Midwest City as I strolled alone
Along a tree-lined walk with verdant growth.
And there it was, a scene to lure a poet.
Alas! I'm not a poet, my talent's not in verse
But beauty such as this left me impressed.
A peaceful lake with lapping water at my feet, Wood-edged, reeded; I took
a tree-trunked seat
And then I thought, is this sight real,
Or am I home again, that's the way I feel.
The bird-song wafted towards me is nothing new
Perhaps there is a thing called home from home.
In Senses more than wood and tree and foam
For me it's people when all is said and done.
Yes, I've found it here in Madison.
Professor Jim Donnelly, of the U.W. History Department, spoke at
our August meeting on the Irish Revolution of the 1790's. Professor Donnelly
gave an interesting and scholarly account of the influences of the French
Revolution, newspapers, handbills, and ballads and of the people in their
quest for more rights under British rule.
The members of the Shamrock Club were invited to attend the annual
Mid-West Regional Conference of the American Committee for Irish Studies
which was held on October 20 in Lowell Hall on the Campus of the U.W.-Madison.
The Shamrock Club officers voted to contribute $50 to the Elks Club
Scholarship Fund. It was a worthy cause and a way of showing appreciation
to the Elks for the use of their facilities.
A similar amount was given to the Shamrock Club Soccer Team which
was sponsored by our Club. The team of youngsters was coached by Eamon
Lorraine Wilke announced that the Shamrock Club would provide Irish
talent for the "Monroe Street Festival" on Sat., September 29
at the Irish-British Shop.
Guests from Ireland at the October meeting were Martin and Eileen
McEvoy. Martin is Jerry Eyre's brother-in-law. He has been Sergeant-at-arms
for the Irish Parliament. He told the Club of the joy in seeing the Irish
flag standing next to the U.S. flag at our meeting. He recalled the Feinians
and their continuing fight for freedom. He also recited a poem about the
conflict with the British called, "The Three Flowers."
January Set Dance
The Milwaukee Set Dance Club will be hosting its first set dance
of the new year on Saturday, January 27, on the second floor of the Irish
Cultural and Heritage Center at 2133 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milw.
As usual, there will be live music for dancing, following the instruction
of the set dance of the month from 7:30-8 p.m.