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Emerald Reflections Online

Table of Contents - December 2001

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

Nollaig Shona Duit! Happy Christmas!

Milwaukee President's Message

Dane County Shamrock Club

Shamrock Club of Rock County

South Central Shamrock Club

Fox Cities Shamrock Club

Milwaukee Seeks Honorees

First Friday Lecture Series Continues

Milwaukee's Annual Christmas Party and Potluck Dinner

Help Needed with Reflections Mailing

Set Dancing and Live Music at the ICHC

Share Your Snippets from Ireland

ICHC Celtic Christmas Concert: Re Mor

Shamrock Club at the Milwaukee Museum

News Items from RTE

Share Your Favorite Recipes!

Welcome New Members

Milwaukee Calendar of Events

Wisconsin Calendar of Events


Nollaig Shona Duit!
Happy Christmas!

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 be arrested.

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:

INGREDIENTS

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

INSTRUCTIONS

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 powers.

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

INGREDIENTS
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

INSTRUCTIONS

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 saint.

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 with.

INGREDIENTS
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)

INSTRUCTIONS

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 smells.

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

INSTRUCTIONS

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 New Year!"

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 you.

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.

- Susan Dundon


Dane County

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


Rock County

UPCOMING EVENTS

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.

- Tom Kennedy


South Central

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 presented.

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.

- Mary E. Stieve


Fox Cities

UPCOMING EVENTS

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 in Wisconsin.

- 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 of Milwaukee.

- Jean K. Bills, President, Celtic Women International


Milwaukee's Annual
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.


Help Needed

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 jim@c7r.com 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, WI 53204.


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 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 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; Paul Terry.

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.

- Tom Smith

Membership Report Milwaukee Chapter:

September: 48 memberships up for renewal, 13 dropped for nonpayment of dues.

October: 43 memberships up for renewal, 28 paid to date, 15 due.

November: 41 memberships up for renewal, 4 paid, 37 due.


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