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Emerald Reflections Online

Table of Contents - December 2002

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

Traditional Christmas With a Twist

Shamrock Club of Rock County

Dane County Shamrock Club

Milwaukee President's Message

Milwaukee Annual Christmas Party and Potluck Dinner - December 5

South Central Shamrock Club

Hallamor Concert #5: Prodigals

Color Guard Year in Review

Spring Courses in Celtic Studies

Benefit Concert Featuring Dennis Janzer

Celtic Women International

Tom Sweeney for St. Patrick's Night

Share Your Favorite Recipes!

Other Irish Christmas Traditions

The History of "The Twelve Days of Christmas"

Give a Gift

Nominations for Irish Honorees Needed

Shamrock Club at Milwaukee Museum December 8

Note to Milwaukee Members

Volunteer Lists Needed

Milwaukee Irish Arts to Perform in Ireland

The Think and Drink Book Club

Bradley Center Call for Volunteers

RTE Irish News Items

St. Patrick's Help Fund

Welcome New Members

Milwaukee Calendar of Events

Wisconsin Calendar of Events

Traditional Christmas With a Twist

by Denise Hogan

Although is has been 10 years since I spent Christmas in Ireland, I can't help but wish every year that I was that child again. No matter how old I got, I couldn't wait for the season to roll around. Since living in the US, I have always wondered if the Christmas traditions we had in our house in Dublin were just like any home around Ireland.

Christmas for us started during the midterm break from school in October (Halloween Week). This was when my mother would make the two Christmas puddings and put them away. Yes, she always made two of them, and you will know why very soon. I would watch attentively every year, waiting for when she would tell us it was time to stir the mix three times and make a wish. Once this was done she would leave the pudding mix to sit over night. The following day, the stove would be on all day boiling the puddings. I will share our pudding recipe at the end of this article.

After the midterm break, we would return to school and begin the seven-week countdown to Christmas. At the end of November, my mother would start the feverish house cleaning that was the second sign that the holiday was approaching. When I say feverish, I mean that every piece of furniture was moved, cleaned, cleaned behind and put back. Every bit of woodwork in the house was scrubbed and polished. Every curtain came off the window, was washed, ironed and put away until it was time to put the tree up. The windows were scrubbed and polished until you could almost see your conscience in them. And, if all this cleaning didn't do the trick, then, the wallpaper came down, and the paintbrushes came out... And every November, I wondered if everyone's mother went to this same trouble before Christmas.

While we were busy with our own "Christmas Traditions" at home, Dublin was also making her own preparations for yuletide. Growing up, I couldn't wait until it was time to go into town during the Christmas Season. Each year, my mam and dad would take us into town to visit Santa Claus and then to do some shopping... We would always start off in Grafton Street. There was nothing like the windows in Brown Thomas's and Switzers' at Christmas time. We would line up around the block at Switzers', while waiting to visit Santa. Once, we were done, we would walk back through town, up O'Connell St. and into Henry St. where every trader in Dublin City had set up a stall selling every kind of Christmas decorations and every color tinsel you could imagine. Not to mention, the endless chants of "Get your wrappin' paper, 5 for 50 the wrappin' paper". Ah, how I miss hearing that. Long gone are the days I could get all my Christmas shopping done for about 20 pounds. When we were done with the shopping, we would always stop in to the Royal Dublin Hotel or the Gresham Hotel for a big glass of coke and a bag of crisps. We always felt very posh and grown-up sitting in the hotel. This was the best part of the day.

We always put our tree up twelve days before Christmas and took it down twelve days after Christmas, another tradition I often wondered if anyone else was as exact about. With the crisp new clean curtains up on the sparkling windows, it was time to center the tree in the window. It would take all night to put the lights on the tree and then cover the rest of the tall woody plant in the best tinsel Dublin had to offer for a fiver. After the tree was up and the star was on top, my mother would always put the Christmas candle in the window, and hope to God, it didn't burn the curtains.

With all the presents wrapped and under the tree, the final countdown would start. In the week leading up to the day, we would have the milkman, the paper man, the vegetable man, the insurance man and the coal man all stop up to the house on Saturday for their weekly money. Every year, my parents would invite them in for a Christmas drink and a piece of Christmas Pudding just to say thank you; even the bin men got a Christmas bonus, another tradition that I'm sure wasn't part of any other household in all of Ireland.

When I got older, I joined the Church Folk group. This meant I could now go to Midnight Mass. I always looked forward to Midnight Mass because this was the only Mass during the year when both the junior and senior folk groups and the Choir got to sing the Mass together.

On Christmas morning, we would be up at the crack of dawn. My mother was never far behind us to put the turkey in the oven. The seven-week countdown was finally over. We would race down the stairs to the sitting room, open every present in sight and then run back up the stairs to my parents bedroom to make them open their presents from us immediately, eyes open or not...

My mam would then put the big breakfast on, sausages, rashers, black and white pudding, fried eggs, batch loaf and a pot of tea. After breakfast, it was time for Mass again. Yes, I got to go twice. So we would all get dressed up in the new threads and head off to Church. And every year my father would ask my mother, upon putting her pound note in the collection basket, if she had remembered to take her change out... Needless to say, there were always the few strange looks and a few giggles heard after that...

After Mass, it was home again. My mother would set the Christmas pudding on the table and put the kettle on and on and on. Not long after, the neighbors and the relatives would file in one after the other. It was a known fact over the years that everyone loved to come to our house on Christmas morning. And there is the reason my mother made two Christmas puddings.

So, here we are ten years later. My mother, as always, has finished her Christmas Puddings. And it would seem that the tradition of feverish cleaning lives on, since just one week ago, my six-year-old nephew, upon smelling bleach and any other cleaning materials being used, turned to my mother and asked if the Christmas tree was up. I will be going home this Christmas for the first time in a decade. I wonder how much has changed.


4 oz Flour
1 tbsp Mixed Spice
1 tbsp Cinnamon
1 tbsp Nutmeg
Pinch of Salt
8 oz White Bread Crumbs
8 oz Brown Sugar
8 oz Currants
8 oz Raisins
8 oz Sultanas
4 oz jarred Cherries
4 oz Almonds (Optional)
1/4 lb Margarine
2 Eggs
1/2 Pint Guinness
Small Bottle of Whiskey like an airline miniature bottle)

Mix flour, salt and spices together. Add breadcrumbs, sugar and all the fruit. Stir until well combined.

Melt margarine in a sauce pan. Cool slightly, add eggs, then whiskey and Guinness. Make a well in the center of the fruit mix, pour in egg mixture. Stir the whole thing together with a very big wooden spoon until your arm hurts. Get up on a chair if you must for more leverage.

Here's where I stray from an exact recipe. After I have mixed everything completely, I smell the mix to see what I think is missing or if is seems dry. I usually end up adding more of each spice (one at a time). I add a little more whiskey and the rest of the pint of Guinness (until the mix is good and moist).

Cover the mix and leave it overnight to set. Then check it again to make sure it smells good. Add more spices if you think it needs it. I usually add more currants to achieve a dark color in the mix.

Now the hardest part: bring to a boil a very large pot of water with a small plate placed within. Sit a bowl (top-down) onto greaseproof paper and draw a circle. Cut out the circle and rub margarine on one side of it.

While the water's coming to a boil, grease bowl and fill with the mixture to within 2-inches of the top. Flatten mixture in bowl. Place greaseproof paper on top of the bowl. Then fold a pleat into the center of the paper (about 1-inch pleat) and press the paper down onto the mix. Rub the edges flat into the inside of the bowl.

Once this is completed, wrap the bowl twice with greaseproof paper. Then tie some twine (very tightly around the top of rim of the bowl. Tie the twine again from top to bottom of bowl (like you wrap ribbon on a gift). Then wrap the bowl (very tightly) in two layers of tinfoil. Follow the same technique with the twine again. The main aim is to make sure everything is wrapped and tied tight enough, that no water will get inside the bowl as the bowl needs to be completely covered by the water. (Don't forget to make a long twine handle for taking the cake out of the pot of water.)

Once the water has boiled, sit the bowl into the pot, turn the heat down to a simmer and let it cook for 8hrs.

Rock County


DECEMBER 17 - Christmas Party; 6 p.m.; at Janesville Senior Center.

JANUARY 21 - General Membership Meeting; 7 p.m.; Janesville Senior Center

Our Christmas Party will begin with a Christmas Potluck Dinner so plan to bring one of your tasty Christmas dishes for everyone to enjoy. Also bring one dozen of your favorite Christmas cookies. During the evening we will be entertained by the "Salty Strings." After dinner we will have a White Elephant gift exchange. You may have some article, in your home, that you have enjoyed for years and now, to make more space in your home, you feel it is time for someone else to enjoy it. Bring it to the White Elephant gift exchange. We look forward to everyone coming to the Christmas Party.

At our January meeting Fred McCann will present a program on Ireland.

The Shamrock Club of Rock County has been cleaning up Hwy 81 west of Beloit since 1991 when the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation first initiated the Adopt-A-Highway program. Dave Bickle, Mary Kennedy and Tom Kennedy cleaned that highway for the last time in September. I want to thank the members who have participated in this program over all of these years. We have done a fine job.

May you all have a Happy and Blessed Christmas.

- Tom Kennedy

Dane County

Dane County Shamrock Club's Christmas Banquet will be held Dec. 17 at the Coliseum Bar. Live Irish music, Cashel-Denehy Dancers, and a Christmas carol sing-a-long are planned for the evening. There will be no Dec. 10th board meeting. Our December meeting will be a general meeting - the Christmas party.

- Colleen Schams

Milwaukee President's Message

Ladies and Gentlemen, Irish All;

Nollaig Shona duit.

The Holidays are just around the corner. Of course I refer not only to Christmas and New Year, but to St. Patrick's Day as well.

A parade preview you say ... come see your Shamrock Club Color Guard Pipes and Drums at the Menomonee Falls Christmas Parade Sunday, December 1 at 4:30 p.m. It is a great parade that starts just as dusk approaches.

Milwaukee Irish Arts finishes up its run of "DA" at the Sunset on December 1, and will have a fundraiser following the show down the street at O'Donoghues. The fundraiser is because MIA has been invited to perform its production of "Last Epitaph of a Wise Man," a one-act play written by local boy Denis Regan, at the Drama League of Ireland's Festival in County Cavan. The Shamrock Club is proud to be one of the sponsors of this trip.

With everything seeming to turn white there are still plenty of "Green" things all around our city and state. The Prodigals are returning to the ICHC; the Celtic Tenors will perform at the Riverside; Three Irish Tenors in Green Bay and at Platteville, and probably even more tenors at our very own Shamrock Club Christmas Party December 5 at the ICHC with entertainment by Three Pints Gone. Remember to bring a treat to pass along... desserts are always special for me, and I know there are some Irish taco recipes out there somewhere.

And save those recipes for the Irish Cook Book, pass them on to Tim O'Brien or Jean Cardwell.

Also join the Shamrock Club at the Milwaukee Museum on December 8, in the European Village, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. We will have the Cashel Dennehy Dancers joining us for our annual Irish Christmas celebration.

From my family to yours, have a blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

- Joe Hughes


South Central Shamrock Club

On Sunday, October 27, we gathered at Sacred Heart Church in Reedsburg for 10:30 Mass, to honor all deceased and living members, for peace in the world and unity in the Church. We had a wonderful turnout for our first time doing such. Following our Mass all enjoyed a delicious brunch at the Reedsburg Country Club.

On November 17, we held our meeting at the Farm Kitchen. Our 2002 Irishman of the Year spoke about the work of St. Vincent de Paul in the Baraboo and Reedsburg area for the past fifty and thirty years respectfully. Food items were collected for St. Vincent's food pantry.

Our annual Christmas Party will be once again held at the Reedsburg Country Club on Sunday, December 15. All members will receive info by mail.

- Mary Steive, reporter

Hallamor Concert #5: Prodigals

The Saturday, December 7 performance of the Prodigals will be a return for them to one of their favorite audiences. A recent survey by the Irish Echo ranks the Prodigals as the #1 Irish music act surpassing the likes of U2, Saw Doctors, Black 47, etc. This is indicative of their meteoric rise in the past three years. "The Prodigals assert a distinct personality of their own, one that reflects a passion for combining the elements of traditional Irish music with a rhythmic wallop that borrows from a variety of ancient and contemporary sources." (The Washington Post). It's an explosive brand of Irish music.

Saturday, December 7, 2002 - 8 P.M.
Individual Tickets:
$17 Advance, $19 At Door
Irish Cultural and Heritage
Center of Wisconsin
2133 W. Wisconsin Ave.
(414) 345-8800
Opening Act: Reilly at 7 P.M.

Color Guard Year in Review

Our 2002 Season started on February 16 with a small performance for the wedding of Joe Hughes and Bridget O'Brien. St. Patrick's Day came with a cold and windy parade in Downtown Milwaukee on March 9 along with playing at the Mass in the morning and at the Post-Parade Party. On March 16 we were at New London or as it's called "New Dublin" for their St. Patrick's Day Parade. March 17 took us to the South Side Irish Parade in Chicago. On April 19 we did a performance at the wedding of Kristine and Daryl Pluskota. On a cold and rainy April 27 the Color Guard, Pipes & Drums headed for Pewaukee to march in the Loyalty Day Parade, in which we took 2nd place Musical Unit.

May 19 we participated in the Burlington Chocolate Days Parade. On May 26 Union Grove Cemetery for the Memorial Day Service followed by the Menomonee Falls and Downtown Milwaukee Memorial Day parades on the 27. June 1 was a nice spring day for the Milwaukee Highland games. June 9 saw the group bring home the 1st place Marching Unit trophy at the Waubeka Flag Day parade. June 30 we moved into the "meat & potatoes" of our season with our first 4th of July parade in Reedsville, followed by Menomonee Falls on the evening of the 3rd, Greenfield and New Berlin on the 4th and East Troy on the 7th. On July 13 the group came home with two awards, Best Appearing Unit and Best Drum & Bugle Corp at the South Shore Frolics.

July 20 saw the Color Guard Pipes and Drums return to the Port Washington Fish Day Parade along with a small performance after. Then it was on to South Milwaukee for the Heritage Days parade on the 27th and Random Lake the 28th.

August 3 brought us to the Sheboygan Brat Day Parade and the Shamrock Club Picnic on the 4th. Then came the Big Weekend at Irish Fest, August 16-18 with three parades, two performances and the Mass. The weekend also included highlights like meeting Arch Bishop Timothy Dolan, playing at the Tipperary Stage and the Currach Club award ceremony and at the Shamrock Club Sales Booth. August 25 was Richfield Days and then another big weekend for Labor Day. Friday the 30th at the opening ceremonies for the Wisconsin Highland Games in Waukesha. St Francis on the 31st and back to the Highland Games on September 1. We headed for Janesville on the 2nd for their parade.

We had a small break, time to rest up until October 4 when we did Homestead High School's Homecoming Parade. We had the AOH Mass and Spaghetti Dinner on the 5th. It was time once again to head up to Door County for the Sister Bay Fall Festival Parade on the 19th. November 2 was time for the Tartan Ball at the Tripoli Shrine Temple where we did a performance.

Believe it or not November 9 was the start of our Christmas Parades where we began in New Berlin to kick off the season. November 19 took us to West Allis, 24 to Waukesha and 30 to Grafton. Menomonee Falls on December 1 was the end of the Christmas season as well as our season. All this work by the Color Guard, Pipes and Drums resulted in over $12,000 dollars for the Shamrock Club for our 2002 parade season.

The Color Guard, Pipes and Drums are looking forward to 2003 with anticipation. 2003 will see some new additions to the membership of the unit and a new look, with the Color Guard retaining the Traditional Green kilt and the Pipes and Drums in the Irish National Kilt.

- Jim Dickmann

Spring Courses in Celtic Studies

UWM's program in Celtic Studies offers a nice selection of courses this coming spring. For example, a new course in Beginning Tin Whistle is being offered on Wednesday evenings. The program also includes courses in film, language, and literature. All are open to auditors, and free to participants over 60.

Next summer, there are a number of study abroad options available, for example, a three-week music and history program at the University of Limerick, and our regular three-week language and culture course in Donegal. Next summer's community tour provides participants with the opportunity to explore the Irish and Scottish connections with visits to the Sligo of William Butler Yeats, the Seven Wonders of Fore, Glens of Antrim, Iona of St. Columba, Lough Ness, Culloden Battlefield, and the historic cities of Dublin and Edinburgh.

For further information, contact the Center for Celtic Studies at (414) 229-6520, or

Benefit Concert

February 14, 2003
With Guest Artist
Bagpiper Rob McWilliam
Irish Cultural and Heritage Center
2133 W Wisconsin Avenue
Telephone: (414) 345-8800

Concert begins at 7 pm. Reception to follow in Parlor B. Tickets: Reserved seats in advance $10. At the door $12. Doors open at 6 pm.

Dennis Janzer is well known to Milwaukee music lovers. He was the organist for the Grand Avenue Congregational Church for many years. Dennis established the Arts on the Avenue Concert Series which included presentations for St. Patrick's Day, Fourth of July, Halloween and the Messiah Sing-Along.

Elaborate stage decorations complemented the rousing 4000-pipe Kimball organ, and frequent guest musicians added to the musical wonders.

In 2000 Dennis Janzer relocated to Florida and the void he left has not been filled. For St. Valentine's Day in 2003 we will be thrilled to once again enjoy his music on the Kimball organ with guest musicians Rob McWilliam and others.

Tickets will be available at the ICHC, beginning December 1st at the Messiah Sing-Along.

Celtic Women International


December 6, 2002
Celtic Christmas Celebration

In addition to our usual Celtic Christmas celebration, we have a very generous offer from one of our CWI members living in Savannah Georgia. Maggie Keenan has a business there called "Maggie's Irish Breads" Maggie will send us a package of Christmas cookies for the December meeting. It is our custom for everyone to bring a Christmas treat to that meeting, so please plan on your contribution to go along with Maggie's donation.

Also, anyone with a little craft business is invited to bring a few items for purchase as Christmas gifts. Please let me know who will do this so we have adequate table space prepared for you and your wares.

As always, the public is invited to CWI lectures, men and women, members and non-members alike. Admission is $5 per person. You may also enjoy a cup of tea and biscuits while soaking up Celtic culture. We hope to see you the ICHC, 2133 W. Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee. 5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.

We are looking for suggestions for the future lectures. Please call or write or let us know at any lecture. Thank you!

- Jean Bills

Tom Sweeney for
St. Patrick's Night

Tom Sweeney, the great Irish balladeer and storyteller, will headline the annual Milwaukee Irish Arts St. Patrick's Night Gala on Monday, March 17, at the Milwaukee Athletic Club. Known for his fine singing voice, brilliant comic storytelling, and his great collection of the better Irish ballads, Tom, grandson of the great Sarah Makem, is familiar to Wisconsinites for his work with Barley Bree. This will be Tom's only appearance in the midwest during the Green Season. Early reservations are advisable! Phone (414) 229-2608 for information.

- John Gleeson

Nollaig Shona Duit agus
Athbhliain faoi mhaise duit!

"Happy Christmas and a
Prosperous New Year!"


We're looking for family secrets, Irish specialties (and if you have a tale to go along with it, all the better!) for our fund raiser: 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.


2 quarts refrigerated eggnog
1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3 tb instant coffee granules
1/2 ts cinnamon
1/2 ts nutmeg
1 cup Irish whiskey
1 quart coffee ice cream
sweetened whipped cream
freshly grated nutmeg

Method: Combine eggnog, brown sugar, instant coffee and spices in a large mixing bowl; beat at low speed with an electric mixer until sugar dissolves. Chill 15 minutes; stir until coffee granules dissolve and stir in whiskey. Cover and chill at least 1 hour. Pour into punch bowl or individual cups, leaving enough room for ice cream. Spoon in ice cream. Garnish each serving as desired with whipped cream and nutmeg.


3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup of buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

Method: Stir together dry ingredients and mix lightly with hands. Make a hollow in the centre and add enough buttermilk to make a soft dough. Turn onto floured board and knead quickly and lightly until the dough is free from cracks. Roll out until 1/2cm thick and cut into rounds. Place on greased oven sheet and bake at 200 degrees celcius for 15 minutes.

(Note: 1 cup = 5 ounces = 140 grams)

1 lb Citron
1/2 lb candied orange and lemon peel, combined
1/2 lb dates
1/2 lb glace cherries
3 3/4 cup raisins
2 3/4 cup currants
1 lb almonds and pecans, combined, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup brandy
1 lb brown sugar
1 lb butter, softened
15 egg yolks, beaten until thick
4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 ttsp cloves
1 tbsp allspice
1 tbsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp mace
15 egg whites, beaten until stiff

Method: Chop citron, orange and lemon peels, dates and cherries. Keep a few cherry halves for decoration. Add raisins, currants, almonds, and pecans. Keep a few nut halves for decoration. Pour on the brandy and let fruits marinate while preparing remaining ingredients.

Cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add beaten egg yolks gradually, beating constantly. Keep 1 cup of flour aside and sift remaining 3 cups of flour with spices. Add sifted ingredients gradually to butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Fold in egg whites carefully. Sprinkle fruits with cup of flour held aside and mix well. Fold fruits into 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 jam. This will help the marzipan (almond paste) to adhere to the cake sides.


eight 2.5 inch pie shells
1.5 cups mincemeat

Mincemeat Filling:

half pound beef suet, chopped fine
4 cups seedless raisins
2 cups dried currants
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds
half cup coarsely chopped candied citron
half cup coarsely chopped dried figs
half cup coarsely chopped candied orange peel
half cup coarsely chopped candied lemon peel
4 cups coarsely chopped, peeled and cored cooking apples
1 and a quarter cups sugar
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
half tsp cloves
2 and a half cups brandy
1 cup dry sherry

Method: Put suet, raisins, currants, almonds, citron, figs, orange peel, lemon peel, apples, sugar, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves in large bowl and mix together. Pour in brandy and sherry and stir until all ingredients are moist. Cover bowl and set aside in cool place (but not in refrigerator) for at least 3 weeks. Check mixture every week and replace absorbed alcohol with more brandy and sherry, about a quarter cup at a time. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Put around 3 tablespoons of mincemeat into each pastry shell and cover with sheet of pastry. Put pies on a baking tray and bake 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F and bake another 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Serve warm with brandy butter.

This recipe yields 8 glasses

1 bottle red wine
half cup sugar
half cup water
15 whole cloves
4 sticks cinnamon
2 medium lemons
1 large orange

Method: Grate orange and lemons. Combine sugar, spices, and water in saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add wine. Slice fruit and add to wine. Cover and place on low heat for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Never let the wine come to the boil. This destroys the flavour as well as burning off the alcohol! Strain and discard spices and peel. Serve warm in wine glasses.


4 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter
half cup of castor sugar
3 tablespoons brandy
Half teaspoon vanilla extract

Method: Put all ingredients into a bowl. Beat with an electric beater until smooth and well integrated. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours until firm. Serve alongside plum pudding!

Other Irish Christmas Traditions

Ireland, like most countries, has a number of Christmas traditions that are all of its own. Many of these customs have their roots in the time when the Gaelic culture and religion of the country were being supressed and it is perhaps because of that they have survived into modern times.


The placing of a lighted candle in the window of a house on Christmas eve is still practised today. It has a number of purposes but primarily it was a symbol of welcome to Mary and Joseph as they travelled looking for shelter. The candle also indicated a safe place for priests to perform mass as, during Penal Times this was not allowed. A further element of the tradition is that the candle should be lit by the youngest member of the household and only be extinguished by a girl bearing the name "Mary".


After evening meal on Christmas eve the kitchen table was again set and on it were placed a loaf of bread filled with caraway seeds and raisins, a pitcher of milk and a large lit candle. The door to the house was left unlatched so that Mary and Joseph, or any wandering traveller, could avail of the welcome.

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. The killing of a bird is no longer tolerated 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

Most people treat the Wren Boys to porter and pudding. Any young people in the house are cajoled to continue on with the gang until there is a decent assembly of young folk being followed by most of the children in the neighborhood. They will end up in some neighbor's house and if someone produces a fiddle, or a guitar, the party begins.


The placing of a ring of Holly on doors originated in Ireland as Holly was one of the main plants that flourished at Christmas time and which gave the poor ample means with which to decorate their dwellings. All decorations are traditionally taken down on Little Christmas (January 6th), the Feast of Epiphany and it is considered to be bad luck to take them down beforehand.

The History of the Christmas Carol
"The Twelve Days of Christmas"

In Ireland and England during the centuries when the Catholic religion was suppressed and it was dangerous to practice one's faith in public or private, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written as a "catechism song" to help young Catholics learn the beliefs of their faith. It was created as a memory aid when being caught with anything in writing indicating adherence to the Catholic faith could not only get you imprisoned, it could get you hanged. The song's gifts represent hidden meanings to reference the teachings of the faith. The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn't refer to an earthly suitor, it refers to God himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person.

A Partridge in a pear tree = Jesus Christ, the son of God.

Two turtle doves = The Old and New Testaments

Three french hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the theological virtues.

Four calling birds = The four Gospels and/or the four Evangelists.

Five golden rings = The first five books of the Old Testament (The Pentateuch).

Six geese a-laying = Six days of creation.

Seven swans a swimming = The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven Sacraments.

Eight maids a-milking = The eight Beatitudes.

Nine ladies dancing = The nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit (sometimes also listed as the nine classifications of angels).

Ten lords a-leaping = The Ten Commandments.

Eleven pipers pipering = The eleven faithful apostles.

Twelve drummers drumming = The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed.

Give a Gift

Since The Shamrock Club of Wisconsin is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, you can add them to your Christmas list or year end donation list. If you plan to do any year end donations, feel free to include the Shamrock Club. You can earmark your donation for the Club as a whole or a specific activity (i.e. Scholarship fund, St. Patrick's Day Mass or Parade, Easter Rising Mass, Post Parade Party, Colorguard, Honorees annual dinner, Volunteer Party, Picnic, or Golf Outing). Remember, all donations are fully tax-deductible.

Nominations for Irish Honorees Needed

Do you have someone in mind who you would like to see honored by the Shamrock Club? Please submit your written nominations for Irishman, Irish Rose and Parade Marshal(s) for the March, 2003 season. Nominations are due by the start of the January 29, 2003 Shamrock Club board meeting. Send nominations to: Shamrock Club of Wisconsin, 2133 West Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53233.

Shamrock Club at
Milwaukee Museum December 8

The Shamrock Club will be holding another Irish Christmas Celebration at the Milwaukee Museum on Sunday, December 8, 2002. The Cashel-Dennehy Dancers will join craftspeople at the Irish Cottage in the European Village from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Museum admittance required to enter. For more information, call Muriel Crowley at 262-782-4323.

Milwaukee Notice:

At the November 7, 2002 general membership meeting, a motion was made and passed to defer the decision to change the Shamrock Club Color Guard, Pipes and Drums uniforms until the general membership is provided with more information.

Watch for the details in the January Emerald Reflections.

Volunteer List

If you chaired a Shamrock Club event during 2002, please get your list of volunteers to Sharon Murphy as soon as possible. Your list should contain the names and addresses of the volunteer, including each family member that volunteered. Please send the information to or mail to: 8320 W. Bluemound Rd., Suite 213, Milwaukee, WI 53213.

If you have any questions, feel free to call Sharon at (414) 453-8655.

We want to acknowledge every volunteer for all the hard work and the time and talents they have shared.

Milwaukee Irish Arts
To Perform in Ireland

Milwaukee Irish Arts, our local presenters of Irish theater, have been invited to perform at the All-Ireland One-Act Drama Festival in Virginia, County Cavan.

Each year, a group from outside of Ireland is invited to perform alongside the 12 Irish competing companies, but outside of the competition. This showcase group normally comes from England or Scotland. Milwaukee Irish Arts will be the first American-based group to be given the honor.

The festival takes place December 6-8, and Milwaukee Irish Arts will be performing "Last Epitaph of a Wise Man" by Milwaukee playwright Dennis Regan.

Set against the background of the Civil War-era race riots in New York, the play premiered at Milwaukee Irish Fest 2002. It addresses issues of racism and national identity, which resonate in the Ireland of today, where these issues are currently on the front burner. This, and the excellent production at Irish Fest, were part of the reason for its selection by the festival committee.

Milwaukee Irish Arts are proud to represent our community at this unique event, and very grateful to the Shamrock Club for a very generous contribution towards the cost of taking the production to Ireland.

The Think and Drink Book Club

There's a new Irish book club in town! It meets monthly, usually the 3rd Wednesday, at Paddy's Pub, 2339 N. Murray Ave. The Think and Drink Book Club involves a wine tasting beginning at 7 p.m., followed by a friendly discussion of an Irish book at 8 p.m. So far, the club has discussed "By the Lake," by John McGahern, and "Are You Somebody?," by Nuala O'Faolain. There will be no reading in December, but for the Spring program, call Paddy at (414) 223-3496, or Meg at (414) 258-9349.

Bradley Center Needs You

For the past 14 years the Milwaukee Shamrock Club has earned more than $92,000. This money has enabled the club to be a lot more visible and able to contribute to such events as the Culture Areas at Irish Fest and Holiday Folk Fair, St. Patrick's Church restoration and many other things. The Bradley Center offers us an opportunity to be a part of community service and at the same time let the public know who we are.

The duties at the Bradley Center are varied, sometimes we kind of stand around and visit and other times we work hard and fast, like at the quarter or half time of a Bucks game or other popular event. The job is really not hard or difficult when all the stations are covered by willing happy volunteers. The duties of the volunteers at an event include:

1st SHIFT: come one hour before event and help set up the booth. We must count the beer cups, soda cups, hot dogs, etc. and set up the stations with candy and boxed popcorn. The cash chairman sees that all the drawers have money and keep counter people in change, etc.

2nd SHIFT: Come in at game time and start to work at their readied station. At the end of the event when the first shift leaves, they help count and pack up the left over inventory and clean the booth for the next group.

Each event needs 18 people. Six are at the counter to take care of the customers. Two people in the kitchen keep the brats cooking, wrap them and put them into the warming ovens. Two people are needed for the nacho preparation and to place them in the warm ovens. Three people pour beer and three work on soda. One person works the popcorn machine and the one person is in charge of cash. Cash person comes early and stays until the Bradley Center bank people come to pick it up. The stand manager comes early and stays late and tries to keep everything running smoothly. When you report into the booth you are generally given your choice of job.

Volunteers are assigned to teams and when possible so are car pools. We only get a limited number of parking passes. You will be sent a list of your team members and times and dates of your events. We usually are given about 20 events and if we can get three or more teams, each would work only six or less events. We need "on call alternates" who would be able to come in with a few days notice or maybe even hours notice in an emergency. This doesn't happen very often.

The Bradley Center is really not a difficult fund raiser. We have no investment and work for an event that, when we have a fully staffed crew, we can watch for 15 minutes if we want to.

All interested in becoming managers, please call me. As of this printing, I don't know the dates of the training.

To be successful, we really need you and it's an enjoyable evening with nice people that you might not meet otherwise. Talk to the people who have been doing this for years, you will know them by the smiles on their faces. Please fill out the form below and mail it to me or give it to me at the December Party.

- Cate Harris (414) 321-5153


RTE Irish News Items


More than 90% of people in Ireland believe the Roman Catholic Church has been damaged as a result of revelations of clerical sex abuse of children, according to a Poll published in November. The survey, of over 1,000 mostly Catholic adults, revealed that more than a third of those questioned said allegations of widespread child abuse by priests had affected their religious practices in terms of churchgoing and prayer. The survey which was carried out by researchers at Dublin's Royal College of Surgeons, comes as the Government faces pressure to order a full statutory inquiry into allegations of clerical abuse in cases stretching back over more than 40 years.

Michael Breen, a member of the Irish Bishops' Committee on Child Protection, which commissioned the poll as part of a wider survey, described it as "a very useful piece of work". "I think people are rightly appalled by the way the church has handled the issue and rightly dissatisfied, but before we can begin to redress a wrong, we have to know the extent of what needs to be done and this is part of our effort in that direction," he said.

More than three in four people believed the Church's response to the sex abuse was inadequate. And 92% of those questioned said a priest who abused children should not return to ministry. On the issue of clerical celibacy, almost three-quarters told researchers they were opposed to the requirement, with 17% in favour. However, faith in God remained high overall, with most people seeing the church and priests as better or the same as in the past. Mass attendance by practising Catholics was recorded in the poll at 63%, a 2% drop from a 1997 survey. Breen said he was "very encouraged" that religious practices had not been overly affected. Faith was about a relationship with God rather than an institution, he added.


The Chief Constable of the North's Police Service, Hugh Orde, has said this year's Loyalist marching season cost police £18m. He told the Policing Board in Belfast that £6.5m was spent putting officers and equipment along the routes of highly charged parades. The remainder of the money went towards policing the sectarian peace lines and general law and order duties. The Police Board earlier received a report from Britain's Inspector of Constabulary which is believed to be highly critical of the Special Branch.


The lecturer, Denis Riordan, was removed from the Supreme Court after telling the three presiding judges that they were liars. The court was hearing an application by the State for costs against Mr Riordan, a lecturer at the Limerick Institute of Technology. On 19 October last, Mr Riordan failed to persuade the Supreme Court to set aside previous decisions it had made against him. Mr Riordan repeatedly called the court corrupt and said it was fraudulent to award costs against him. He said there should be no costs. When Mr Riordan continued to abuse the court the presiding judge, Mr Justice John Murray, asked the Gardaí to remove him. The judge told the lecturer that he was indulging in "unacceptable vulgar abuse of the court". After his removal from the court, costs were awarded against Mr Riordan to the State.


The Minister for Agriculture, Joe Walsh, has called for a serious re-examination of the beef industry to ensure its future. Mr. Walsh welcomed the recent decision to suspend the dispute between beef farmers and meat processors over cattle prices. However, Minister Walsh said any sector which was subject to ongoing disputes needed to seriously examine itself. Speaking in Limerick at the annual conference of co-op umbrella group ICOS, the Minister said trust must be restored between partners in the beef industry. He called on both sides to produce beef to the quality demanded by the market and he said processors should show a greater degree of transparency about beef prices. The Minister also said it would be extremely unwise for Irish exporters not to pull out all the stops and take the opportunity to resume sales to Egypt. He said the authorities in Cairo had demonstrated faith in Irish beef and EU export subsidies to Egypt had increased by 30% last month. Mr Walsh said the industry should work to ensure that no further risks are taken with valuable markets by interrupting supplies, and that markets which had been re-opened to Ireland were not simply left to be supplied by our competitors. The Minister also said that major changes to the Common Agricultural Policy were now unlikely over the next five years. EC Commissioner, Franz Fischler, announced major reform proposals in July, but some of them will not go ahead because of the agreement worked out by European governments last month about funding for new countries, which are about to join the community. Minister Walsh said that while discussions on the reforms would continue, there was unlikely to be sufficient support among member states for any significant reform before 2007.


The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, John O'Donoghue, has announced a major review of the tourism industry in Ireland. The Minister said the industry was operating in a more turbulent environment now, one which had impacted on visitor numbers. He also pointed to growing concerns about the price and quality of the product on offer as one reason behind the decision to carry out the review. Mr O'Donoghue said that the industry needed to sharpen its competitive edge and become more innovative. An external consultancy group will carry out the review, which will be completed in spring of next year. Minister O'Donoghue added that he expected the review to result in both institutional and structural change.

St. Patrick's Help Fund

St. Patrick's Help Fund needs non-perishable foods, coats for adult men and for children, blankets, any games for ages 4-11 for after school programs, warm winter clothing for all ages. Please place in container at each meeting. Turkeys will be accepted on Monday, Dec. 23 from 9-12. Questions? Call Katy Voss (414) 352-6479.

New Members

NOTE: Please send your dues to your Membership Chairperson in your chapter. All names and addresses are listed in Emerald Reflections.

MILWAUKEE - Patrick J. Doherty; Rosemary Krause; J.D. Rizzo and Ann M. Maguire; Kevin Monteith; Mary Lou Stauber; Deborah J. Zinke.


September: 47 memberships up for renewal, 32 paid, 5 dropped for nonpayment.

October: 37 memberships up for renewal, 26 paid, 1 due.

November: 28 memberships up for renewal, 3 paid, 25 due.

Thank you to everyone who attended the Wisconsin-Penn State Game. We had a great time even if Wisconsin did not win. Watch for information for next year: a Wisconsin game and Notre Dame game at South Bend. Have a great Christmas and Happy New Year.

-Tom Smith