Nollaig Shona Duit!
by Brian Witt
It is time once again to share Christmas cheer. Here's a look at
holiday recipes and Irish Christmas traditions.
Christmas in Ireland is always a special event. The time of Christ's
birth is celebrated by all denominations, and the Irish nature of the festivities
crosses all religious barriers. Some traditions have a basis in the Roman
Catholic rites and teachings. Others are somewhat universal.
The Candle in the window was a sign to Mary and Joseph indicating
they had a place to come to, that lodging would be provided. It also signaled
to Catholic priests that they were welcome in a safe house, during the
time when the Catholic religion was being suppressed, and priests could
The idea of lodging strangers dates back to ancient Celtic times,
back to the mainland of Europe. They were codified in Ireland in the "Laws
of Brehon", which required a certain amount of food and spirits be
kept on hand, just in case a stranger did come calling. This tradition
carried on in Ireland even into the 19th century, past the time of the
Great Famine, An Gorta Mor, of the 1840s. By that time, the staple of life
in western portions of the island was the potato. And potatoes are still
a staple of life in Ireland, be they fried at the chippers, or prepared
in a myriad of styles.
Here is a recipe for IRISH POTATO OAT CAKES, combining both aspects
of the rural Irish diet:
• 1 Ib (450g) of cooked Potatoes
• 2 oz (60g) of Margarine/Butter
• Half lb (225g) of fine Oatmeal
• Salt and freshly ground Pepper
• 2 Tablespoon of Milk
1) Mash the potatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper, adding
some milk to make it soft and fluffy
2) Add the oatmeal and mix, cover to keep the potatoes warm
3) Add the Margarine to a saucepan and heat until melted. Add the
melted margarine to the mixture and mix to make a stiff dough
4) Lightly sprinkle some oatmeal on a board and roll out dough to
approx. a quarter inch thick. Cut into triangles
5) Fry in hot fat until both sides are golden brown
The salmon was considered the fish of wisdom. Eating the salmon of
knowledge would endow a person with insight into everything. Lugh, the
Celtic god, had a bit of the salmon drop onto his tongue as a child, and
thus took away from his Druid teacher the chance to know everything, since
only one person who ate from the fish, the first one, would capture its
For a Christmas appetizer, or an entree, these fish may not bestow
the knowledge of all the world. But, they will provide a delightful treat
for the taste buds: POACHED SALMON WITH IRISH BUTTER SAUCE
• 2 lbs center cut salmon
• salt (use 1 tablespoon of salt for every 2 pints of water)
Irish Butter Sauce
• 2 egg yolks
• 2 teaspoons cold water
• 1 stick of butter, diced
• 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• Parsley, fennel leaves and lemon segments for garnish
1) Select a sauce pan that will barely fit the fish. An oval cast
iron pan would be best. (If a small piece of fish is cooked in a large
pan of water, much of the flavor escapes into the water).
2) Half fill the pan with salted water and bring to a boil. Put in
the fish, bring back to boil, cover and simmer very gently for 20 minutes.
3) Turn off the heat and allow fish to sit in the water while you
make the sauce, but don't allow it to sit any longer than 20 minutes.
4) Put egg yolks in a heavy stainless steel pan on low heat, or in
a bowl over hot water. Add the 2 teaspoons of cold water and whisk thoroughly.
5) Add the diced butter, bit by bit, whisking continuously. As soon
as one piece melts, add the next bit. The mixture will gradually thicken.
6) As soon as the sauce has thickened to a coating consistency, add
the lemon juice to taste.
7) Just before serving, skin the salmon and lay it on a heated serving
dish. Garnish with the parsley, fennel leaves and lemon segments and serve
with the Irish butter sauce. Serves 8.
Wren Day is St. Stephen's Day, December 26. The wren is associated
with the betrayal of Stephen when he was hiding. The rhyme associated with
the Wren Boys, "The wren, the wren , the king of the birds, St Stephen
was hiding in the furze", indicts this bird for its betrayal of the
The wren was called the king of birds, because it won a contest.
The contest was to see which bird could fly the highest. As the eagle worked
its way upwards, it felt the tiny wren fly out from beneath its tail feathers
and soar higher than the tired raptor.
The name of the wren in Gaelic, dreoilín, is thought to came
from two old Irish words, draoi ean, or Druid bird. In older times, the
Wren Boys would kill the wren and attach it to a pole, make a coffin, or
have it displayed in some manner. Some speculate that the violent displays
against the little creature went back to the early periods of Christianity
in Ireland, as a reaction to the Druids. However it came about, the Wren
Boys are still around every Stephen's Day, begging food and drink from
the households they visit. Should the Wren Boys pay a visit, you could
have a nice meal ready for them. A filling meal would be the DUBLIN CODDLE,
a cholesterol enhancing dish full of all forms of pork. Even if you aren't
in Dublin, or from Dublin, this is a dish you can satisfy an army of Mummers
• 1 lb (450g) Bacon bits (Rashers)
• 1 lb (450g) Pork Sausages
• 3 Large Onions
• 2 lb (900g) Potatoes
• Pepper & Salt
• Handful of Freshly Chopped Parsley (4 tbs 4 x 15ml approx)
1) Peel the potatoes cut them in half if they are large
2) Peel and slice onions. Place the onions in an ovenproof dish,
add a pinch of pepper, and parsley
3) Remove any excess fat from the bacon. Place the bacon on top of
the layer of onions, add a small touch of pepper and parsley
4) Place the potatoes on top of the bacon, add a small touch of salt,
pepper and parsley. Place the sausages on top of the potatoes
5) Add just enough water to cover the ingredients. Cover the dish,
cook in a low oven, (120°C), (250°F), Gas Mark 1 for two hours.
Serving Suggestion: Serve with Brown bread or Soda Bread
In some parts of Ireland, Christmas Day meant that there were long,
arduous, and almost continuous sporting events. They weren't on television;
rather, they were played by the men of the towns from the time the church
service let out until dinner was served. Road bowling contests that went
on for miles; free form hurling that had no goals, just a running game
from one side of the parish to the other; and football or soccer games
that were played more from the point of the last man standing than any
real sense of tallying scores. Whatever the sport, the contestants worked
up huge appetites. Dinners late in the day would tempt with their tantalizing
If you have to feed Christmas Day athletes, be they active participants
or just armchair quarterbacks, you might consider a dish of SPICED BEEF
AND CABBAGE. Spiced or corned beef can be used, it is usually bought from
the butcher already salted and with spice rubbed in.
INGREDIENTS (Serves: 4)
• 2 lb (900g) spiced beef
• 1 large onion
• 1 large carrot
• 2 sticks of celery
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 tsp ground allspice or bouquet garni
• half a teaspoon of dry mustard
• 1 large cabbage
• Salt & Pepper
1) Let meat soak in water overnight
2) Peel and slice onion, carrot and celery. Place into a large pot
and add meat, and all ingredients except cabbage.
3) Cover with cold water, bring to the boil, remove any traces of
scum forming on the surface. Reduce heat and simmer for 60 minutes
4) Prepare cabbage by removing outer leaves, wash under cold running
water. Cut cabbage into 4 and add to pot, simmer for another 30 minutes
Serving Suggestion: Serve with cabbage around meat
So, have a great Christmas. And, come December 31, there is always
the wonderful toast of Athbhliain faoi mhaise duit! "A prosperous
Merry Christmas all.
Milwaukee President's Message
I would like to thank the membership for its support of the Board
in the difficult time of the negotiation of the Parade Contract. The Board
was confident until the end that we could come to an equitable agreement
with the Bluemound Business Association, but it was not to be. Your continued
support of the Board during this time of transition for the Parade will
be much appreciated. We will assist in making our first visit in many years
to the downtown area a successful one. As a reminder to those who may still
have input, questions or suggestions, please feel free to call me, or better
yet, email me at ShamrockClubInfo@aol.com. I look forward to hearing from
On Thursday, December 6th at 6:30 p.m. we will have our Christmas
Pot Luck Dinner at the ICHC. The meat will be provided and as usual we
all look forward to the "dishes to pass." Entertainment will
be provided by Steel Bonnets.
A couple of reminders: Please call Jean Cardwell with your recipes
for the Shamrock Club Recipe Book - (262) 544-9391. Michael Payne has a
few more Entertainment Books for you. They make great gifts! Michael is
also interested in hearing from people who may be interested in joining
us on a trip to the Cleveland Irish Fest in July 2002. And please let Cate
Harris or Bob and Katy Voss know when you will be available to work a shift
or two at the Bradley Center.
Finally, it's time to send in your nominations for the 2002 Irish
Rose, Irishman of the Year and Parade Marshal.
Nollaig Shona Duit.
As you have heard by now our Dane County Shamrock Club fun/fund raiser
was a smashing success. Where else could you have food, fun, and "Pipers"
all for $10, and a raffle ticket and bingo card included? We also gained
some new members and friends of the Club at this event which was an added
plus! We even passed the State Advisory Board's by-laws as this was a general
meeting for members.
Now it's on to the Holiday Season. First, we hosted the State Advisory
Board in Madison in November giving us the chance to exchange each other's
Christmas plans. Groups of our members will attend the Phil Coulter concert
in Madison on Dec. 8. Our Club Christmas Party is on Dec. 11. We have already
sent out information with our third newsletter. We have found that the
newsletter keeps our members up to date on the happenings in the Club.
Without seeming to brag, we have had an overwhelming positive response
to our newsletter.
Another plus for us is the change in the renewal date for membership
dues. After much consultation with the Board and members, we decided to
have all dues due in December at our annual Christmas Party. An adjustment
by our treasurer, Al Schams, is available to all members. We find this
procedure will benefit us by giving us an accurate, up-to-date membership
list. Now the Club's financial accounts will provide us with funds for
planning future events.
May your blessings be many,
The sunshine above you,
Your life bring you gladness -
and always . . . God love you!
Christmas Blessings to all of you.
- Paul Buckalew and Colleen Schams
• DEC. 18 - 6:00 p.m. Christmas Party at Janesville Senior Center,
69 S. Water St.
• JAN. 15 - 6:00 p.m. Chili Mix; 7:00 p.m. Membership Meeting
• FEB. 19 - 7:00 p.m. Membership Meeting
Our Christmas Party will be a Christmas Potluck so plan to bring
one of your favorite Christmas dishes and a dozen of your favorite Christmas
cookies for everyone to enjoy. After dinner we will have a "White
Elephant" gift exchange. If you have something which you have enjoyed
but no longer need, bring it along for someone else to enjoy.
Also at this party we will be entertained by the "Salty Strings".
We hope you can all join us, at the Christmas Party for an evening of good
food, fun and entertainment.
At our January meeting we will be talking about the St. Patrick's
Day Parade, which in 2002 will be held in Beloit on March 17 instead of
the Sunday before St. Patrick's Day.
Keep in mind that we will have election of officers coming up soon.
Why not become more active in this club and consider running for an office.
Talk to any of the present or past officers and you will find holding an
office is not such a chore after all.
We wish all a happy and blessed Christmas and a New Year of peace
and good health.
South Central Shamrock Club held their opening meeting for the year
2001-02, on Wednesday October 24, at the Hiway House in West Baraboo.
After all present enjoyed dinner, our meeting was called to order
by our president, Jack Gavin.
Upcoming dates to remember are:
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 16, Christmas Party at the Reedsburg Country Club,
social hour at 5 p.m., dinner at 6 p.m. Seasonal entertainment will be
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 17, a meeting is tentatively scheduled for the Lake
Delton, Wisconsin Dells area.
All present were asked to bring a prospective member to the meetings.
It was noted that our November meeting would see further discussion
about having a raffle once again this year. Our vice president would be
attending the State Advisory Committee Meeting in Madison, also in November.
After a few good Irish jokes our meeting was adjourned.
• Dec. - NO Board Meeting
• Dec. 10 - Christmas Dinner at Mark's East Side. Tickets at Mystic
Ireland or by calling Pat Warmbrunn at (920) 734-7703.
Welcome new member Donna Lohry.
The Celtic Women's Convention in October at the ICHC was enjoyable
as usual. The organizers did a great job in finding replacement presenters
and entertainers due to the Sept. 11 tragedy. Next October it will be held
in New Orleans. Men are welcome to attend.
Check your mailing label and send your check and mailing label to
me at N3406 Hample Rd., Black Creek, WI 54106 to renew your membership.
Maybe you can even get some of your friends or relatives to join! Emerald
Reflections has a lot of interesting information regarding th Irish community
- Elaine Hoes (920) 733-5254
Milwaukee Seeks Honorees
Nominations are needed for the 2002 Irish Rose, Irish Man of the
Year, and Parade Marshal. Nominations must be received, in writing, before
the start of the January, 2002, Milwaukee Shamrock Club board meeting.
First Friday Lecture Series Continues
The delightful lectures sponsored by Celtic Women International will
continue on December 7th at 5:30 p.m. in Parlor A of the ICHC. This month
will again feature a Celtic Christmas celebration with Sreangan Binn, the
local women's psaltery group entertaining.
On January 4th, Ian Day will present a talk about Robert Burns. Mr.
Day is past president of the Robert Burns Club and also past president
of the St. Andrews Society.
All CWI lectures run from 5:30 to 7 p.m., with a cup 'o tea and biscuits
for all. Admission is $5 per person. Everyone is welcome, members, non-members,
men and women. Enjoy a great gentle early evening with the Celtic Women
- Jean K. Bills, President, Celtic Women International
Christmas Party and Potluck Dinner
The Milwaukee Shamrock Club's Annual Christmas Party and Potluck
Dinner will be held on December 6, 2001 at the ICHC. Entertainment will
be provided by Steel Bonnets. Set up time will begin at 6 p.m. followed
by dinner at 6:30 p.m. The club will provide beer, wine and a meat entree.
Please bring either a side dish or dessert to be shared.
Please call Tom Smith at (414) 384-4119 to volunteer a couple of
hours a month to help assemble Emerald Reflections at the ICHC. Thank you!
Set Dancing and
Live Music at the ICHC
The Milwaukee Set Dance Club will be holding its monthly set dances
Saturday, December 22 on the second floor of the Irish Cultural and Heritage
Center at 2133 W. Wisconsin Ave. at 8 p.m. Live music will be provided,
and the dance will be preceded by instruction of the set dance of the month
at 7:30 p.m.
This dance will feature music provided by Wisconsin's own Public
House Ceili Band, which released their first CD "Go Figure" earlier
this autumn. The CD consists of Irish traditional dance music, arranged
for set dancing.
A special holiday dance will also be held Saturday, December 29 from
8 p.m. until 12. As before, live music will be provided, helping the Milwaukee
Set Dance Club celebrate another year of dance.
2002 will be another busy year for set dancing, with another series
of set dance classes for beginners (contact jpuhek23@ earthlink.net for
more details). The first annual Milwaukee Set Dance Weekend, to be held
February 22-24, will be devoted to workshops and dances for more experienced
dancers (contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information).
Snippets of Ireland
If you have any tales of journeys to Ireland, of around 150 words,
and would like to share them, please send them to Emerald Reflections,
c/o Williamson Press, attention Brian Witt. 1909 W. White Street, Milwaukee,
ICHC Celtic Christmas
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. Re Mor (formerly The Poor Clares) has spent twelve years studying
and performing songs, telling stories from the folklore of all the Celtic
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 he 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. You'll hear about the Irish Wren
Boys. All of this is but a tiny bit of some of the enlightening and entertaining
material you'll hear when the trio returns to Milwaukee in December.
The trio 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,
as well as playing rousing reels and jigs on the accordion and mandolin.
They are joined by Justin Murphy who plays flute, tin whistle and bodhran.
As The Poor Clares, they 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.
A CELTIC CHRISTMAS CONCERT
performed by RE MOR
Saturday, December 15, 2001 at 8 P.M.
ICHC • 2133 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53233 (414) 345-8800
Tickets: $15 advance, $17 Door
Shamrock Club At The Museum
On Sunday, December 2, 2001, the Milwaukee Shamrock Club will be
making merry with an Irish Christmas celebration at the Milwaukee Public
Museum, in the European Village. We will be making Irish snowflakes and
doves. The Irish cottage will be open, and decorated for Christmas. The
Glencastle Irish Dancers will be dancing in the auditorium at 1:30 p.m.
So, visit us from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
And, mark your calendars for March 3, 2002 our annual St. Patrick's
Day appearance. There will be lace makers, peat postcard displays, dancers,
and more. For more information, call (262) 782-4323.
RTE News Items
GARDA HEIGHT REQUIREMENT ABOLISHED
The Government has approved the abolition of the height requirement
and physical competence test for Gardaí.
EXPERTS CONFIRM REMBRANDT PAINTING
Dutch experts have confirmed that a painting in the National Gallery
of Ireland is the work of Rembrandt, painted in the 1620s. The painting,
measuring 20x26 cm and known as hot cockles in English, depicts a group
of people playing a game.
SHARE YOUR FAVORITE RECIPES!
We're looking for family secrets, Irish specialties (and if you have
a tale to go along with it, all the better!) for our FUNDRAISER: SHAMROCK
CLUB RECIPE BOOK
To contribute send NAME OF RECIPE, INGREDIENTS, and DIRECTIONS; and
of course, your name and any appropriate stories. Send to:Jean Cardwell;
21445 W. Oakcrest Dr.; New Berlin, WI 53146
Welcome New Members
DANE CO.. - Barbara Haraughty; Margaret Rupert; Cheryl Sullivan;
MILWAUKEE - Matt and Denise Hamilton; Fredrick and Judith Mueller;
John and Kristen Reed (referred by Mary McAndrews).
NOTICE: Please send your dues to your membership chairperson in your
chapter. Several have been coming in to Milwaukee and they have to be remailed
to the proper chapter.
Membership Report Milwaukee Chapter:
• September: 48 memberships up for renewal, 13 dropped for nonpayment
• October: 43 memberships up for renewal, 28 paid to date, 15 due.
• November: 41 memberships up for renewal, 4 paid, 37 due.