Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Emerald Reflections Online

Table of Contents - January 2003

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

The Shrinking Churck of Ireland

Shamrock Club of Rock County

Shamrock Club of Lafayette County

Milwaukee President's Message

18th Annual Special Mass to Honor St. Patrick

Comments from Concerned Members Regarding Shamrock Club Color Guard Pipes and Drums

Why the Irish National Tartan Kilt

Saint Patrick's Gala

Of Note to Members

Celtic Women International

Admirals Hockey Shamrock Club Outing

3 Solo Champions! 15 Dancers Qualify for Worlds!

Set Dance Classes Start January 15

Nominations for Irish Honorees Needed

St. Patrick's Help Fund

Welcome New Members

Milwaukee Calendar of Events

Wisconsin Calendar of Events

The Shrinking Church in Ireland

Closure of Seminary at
Co Tipperary College
RTE News August 29, 2002

"St Patrick's College in Thurles, which has educated priests and lay people since 1837, has decided to close the seminary side of its operations due to the fall in vocations. Over 1500 students of the college have been ordained to the priesthood since its foundation. Many have gone on to work throughout the world in particular in the United States."

With that announcement, the total number of seminaries on the island of Ireland has fallen to two, Maynooth in County Kildare, and St. Malachy's in Belfast. In addition, there is the Irish seminary in Rome. The Thurles seminary was the seventh to close in the Republic of Ireland since 1993. The rapid demise of the educational life for religious has been precipitous. This country, which has been so identified with Catholicism, is quickly discovering that it is no longer able to feed the world an almost endless supply of clergy. And it is in danger of not being able to provide for its own needs.

The problems facing the Catholic Church in Ireland are the same as those that are facing many other Western countries. Scandals concerning abuse by priests over the past several decades, a decline in church attendance in Ireland, a post secondary school educational system second to none in Europe, and a rise in the middle class have all pulled possible candidates for the clergy away. But, this is all territory that the Catholic Church has been in before in Ireland.

Most people might be unaware that many of the seminaries in Ireland are of the same age as their counterparts in the United States. The oldest Catholic seminary in Ireland is in Maynooth. Many of the current seminaries that are closing were established in the 1830's and 1840's, about the same date as Milwaukee's St. Francis Seminary. The establishment of the Irish colleges didn't occur until after the change in the anti-Catholic Penal Laws in the late 1700s.

The original decline in Catholic clergy education came about after the Protestant Reformation. A series of laws enacted in the British Parliament restricted, and eventually forbade, the education of men who were interested in the priesthood. After the Reformation, by about 1550, almost all existing Catholic Church property had been confiscated. Such Catholic Church property was taken over by the Church of Ireland. The rest were in ruins by the end of the century. Catholics were forced to celebrate Mass in thatched cabins, which they called chapels. The title "Church" was reserved for the Protestant building. The Protestants called the Catholic chapels "mass-houses" The persecution of Catholics under Cromwell seems to have been worse than during the later Penal laws.

The period from 1691 to 1761 was the age of the Penal Laws against Catholics in Ireland, when a determined effort was made to consolidate the Protestant ascendancy. After the Battle of the Boyne and the Treaty of Limerick, a whole new series of laws were passed against the Catholic clergy. The first of these was the Banishment Act in 1697, in which it was decreed that all Roman Catholic clergy should depart from Ireland before May 1, 1698. This law was politically motivated, in part because of overt support given to the Stuart family's claim to the English throne by the Irish clergy. The government thought that the best way to counter this and keep the Church away from political subversion, was to remove the regular clergy who had direct continental links, and indeed had been trained in European seminaries.

After the expulsion of priests, and the closing of Irish seminaries, men who were interested in the priesthood were educated at the many Irish colleges on Continental Europe. Most of these schools were in France or Spain, both traditional enemies of England. Still, the influx of priests continued, even though they were often in danger of arrest and possible execution. The grudging reality of the situation, that Ireland was still a Catholic country, and had a native clergy, was not lost on the British. The Registration Act of 1704 and the Abjuration Act of 1709 required priests to swear loyalty to the British crown.

In 1795, Grattan's Parliament passed an Act, one which created an academy "for the better education of persons professing the popish or Roman Catholic religion". The new College, under the influence of the Duke of Leinster was to be founded in Maynooth and in time it became not only Ireland's national seminary, but also the largest seminary in the world. The foundation of other seminaries would soon follow.

The appeal of the priesthood in the 1800s was often twofold. It gave young men a chance at education they might never have been offered, and it provided a religious life to those who had the calling. The best-educated men in a village were usually the parish priests, a place of status that many men sought as a way out of the cities and off the farms of Ireland. The classical education in Latin and Greek, as well as the liberal arts, schooling that was definitely beyond the means of most, was a path often to Rome, or at least to the cities of the United States. Until the 1960s, ambitious families sent their sons into seminaries in hopes of escaping an Ireland that produced few high-status jobs and many emigres.

Irish seminaries would provide priests to the world, especially to the U.S. At one point, over seventy percent of the Catholic clergy in the United States were Irish. This, in turn, led to the establishment of the Irish hierarchy in the American Church. The flow of Irish priests to the States still continues to this day.

So, is the future of Catholicism doomed in Ireland, and possibly the rest of the world? The decline in the number of Irishmen who entered the seminary has been a problem for at least a decade. In fact, the popular television show, Ballykissangel, touched on the fact that Ireland had to import priests from England.

The loss of men for the priesthood has developed discussions similar to those in the United States. The idea of ordaining married men, and possibly even women, heretical thoughts just a few decades back, are gaining more credence. Still, these are just in the argument stage, and have had no real and credible hearing in the Church. But, with an aging clergy, and a declining Mass attendance, large problems loom in the near future.

One approach has been developed by the Archdiocese of Tuam, which covers the whole of the west of Ireland. The Archbishop, Michael Neary, calls the vocation of the priesthood a "risky affair" and an "adventure," comparing priests to sailors and mountaineers. They set up a website for young men who might have an inkling about joining the religious.

Neary compares the priesthood to a soccer match. "This is a site for risk-takers, impossible-goal-scorers, gamblers, if you like. We are Catholic Priests, followers of Jesus Christ. ... If you're already an active Catholic and you don't feel you're making enough trouble yet, maybe you should be leading operations, directing the break-out? We need leaders. That's what a priest does, in various ways: he leads. Out. 'Towards The Goal.'"

- Brian Witt

Rock County


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

FEBRUARY 18 - Chili Mix (6 p.m.) followed by General Membership Meeting; 7 p.m.; Janesville Senior Center

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

In February we will have our annual Chili Mix so plan to bring some of your favorite chili and we will put it all together for a very tasty meal.

Last month, I wrote in the Emerald Reflections, that after 11 years we were going to discontinue our Adopt-A-Highway program. I have to retract that statement because Marge Reed has stepped forward and said she will be the chairperson and she has several grandchildren who will help us clean up the highway. Our club is one of the few organizations that have been in this program since it was begun.

Keep in mind, we have election of officers coming up soon. If you would be interested in running for an office or know of someone that would be a good candidate, let one of the present officers know.

This year our Shamrock Club is not responsible for setting up the St. Patrick's Day parade in Beloit but we would like to have a good showing of our members in the parade so get out all of your Green and join the rest of our club in the parade.

- Tom Kennedy

Lafayette County

The Shamrock Club of Lafayette County membership went Christmas caroling at the Lafayette Manor and Sienna Crest Nursing homes. After their 3 p.m. December meeting, they enjoyed a Christmas buffet dinner at Rodham Hall, crowned Jim Curran the new Irishman and Donna Douglas Irish Rose for 2003, and then danced and sang to the music of "The Stump Fiddle Band". The club's "Irish Dancers"performed for all the members. The club also participated in the Holiday Parade in December with their "Irish" float entries.

- Sara Lange

Milwaukee President's Message

Ladies and Gentlemen, Irish All;

Athbhlian faoi mhaise duit. Happy New Year to You All! What a wondrous year it has been ... the Celtic tiger seems to have reached across to the United States and all things Celtic are now very much in vogue. The Shamrock Club has expanded our membership and our horizons.

Changes have brought about a larger presence in the community by bringing the Shamrock Club's St. Patrick's Day Parade (one of the largest parades in Wisconsin) to downtown Milwaukee. Our Shamrock Club Color Guard Pipes and Drums continue to represent our organization across the state and during their magnificent performances at Irish Fest and elsewhere. Our annual Golf Outing brings an Irish flavor to an old Scottish game enjoyed by all. The Picnic was a marvelous success, with more entertainment, more food and some great Milwaukee Hurling Club games. Our continuing role at Milwaukee's International Folk Fair introduces our Shamrock Club to thousands of school children and their parents.

The last year was fantastic, all due to the complete unselfishness of our volunteer members and this year will be even better.

A special thanks to Jim Dickmann. Jim resigned in November from his position as Director of the Color Guard Pipes and Drums. This last season, your Color Guard Pipes and Drums have marched in more parades, performed at more concerts, in front of more people, and have made more money for the Shamrock Club than in any other year. Jim continues to be our Sergeant at Arms. Thanks too to Deb Dickmann.

Don't forget the upcoming January highlights - take a look at the calendar's offerings. The Nash's Reunion is not to be missed. Those who knew Kit and Jose will surely lift a parting glass in toast.

- Joe Hughes



Comments From Concerned Members
Regarding Shamrock Club
Color Guard Pipes & Drums

Recently, 16 pipers and drummers sent an open letter to the Shamrock Club board, demanding release of money for purchase of tartan plaid kilts. If the request was not honored, they gave notice they would be unavailable for the remainder of the scheduled parade season.

President Joe Hughes invited them to present their arguments in the Emerald Reflections, and he invited a group of Shamrock Club members to write a response. (The purchase of tartan plaid kilts has been deferred until the Shamrock Club membership receives full information about the Color Guard Pipes & Drums (CGPD) controversy regarding tartan kilts. The issue will be brought to the membership at the January meeting for a decision.) We believe that the following represents a viewpoint held by many Shamrock Club members.


The Shamrock Club Color Guard has consisted of flag bearers, a bass drum and 0-1 bagpipers for many years.

The uniform has been a traditional Irish green kilt, white shirt and socks and black shawl with an orange lining, reflecting the tri-colors of the Irish flag.

The Color Guard represents the Shamrock Club to the public and has won many awards for excellence in parades and other events.

Payment for Color Guard participation in parades has generated money over the years; these funds are put in the Shamrock Club general account.

New kilts, uniforms, equipment, etc. are ordered as needed, also trips to distant cities for parade participation are paid for with money from the general funds.

The Color Guard is not mentioned in the Club Bylaws and has functioned autonomously regarding event scheduling, personnel and regulations.

In recent years, the group decided to add more bagpipes and drums to the unit to make it more desirable for parades and consequently generate a higher parade fee. Due to the lack of Irish members skilled in bagpipes, a number of other pipers and drummers have joined the group without regard to their ethnic heritage. At this time the piper/drummer "band" contingent outnumbers the flag bearer Color Guard by approximately two to one. Not all of them perform at each event, but all have voting privileges in the CGPD. The piper/drummer band members have asked that new kilts be ordered in a tartan plaid, to replace the traditional Irish green. The Shamrock Club board of directors could not reach agreement on this request and decided to let the CGPD vote on the issue themselves. As reported by several members, the vote by the newer members in the pipe/drum band section supported the tartan kilts, outvoting the traditional Color Guard which generally supported the Irish green kilts.

It has been pointed out that most of the pipe/drum band may have a strong Scottish heritage and thus are more comfortable wearing a tartan kilt, an ancient tradition to the Scots.

Some of the pipers did not join the Shamrock Club until the day of the vote on wearing tartan kilts.

The pipe/drum band now suggests that the flag bearers continue to wear the traditional Irish green kilts while the band wear tartan kilts. They have demanded that the board release the money for the new tartan kilts and if not they will refuse to march in remaining parades contracted by the Shamrock Club.

The director of the CGPD publicly quit his position as director during the November meeting. At a subsequent scheduled parade, many of the band members failed to appear.


The board erred in not ruling on the request to purchase tartan kilts. We now have a Shamrock Club activity that has been left to its own devices, that now is not an Irish group but is predominantly Scottish and which is demanding its own uniforms under a threat to abandon marching obligations which the CGPD has signed contracts to meet.

This is the second controversy in as many years where the Shamrock Club general membership has been left in the dark regarding important board considerations.

The board of directors are responsible for management of Club funds and affairs, but the ultimate authority in the Shamrock Club rests with the members. When the Color Guard issue of tartan kilts comes before the January meeting, the membership will have the final decision. To restore stability in Shamrock Club management, we ask the membership to consider:

Affirm that the Shamrock Club is an Irish organization, representing the Irish culture to the community;

Establish oversight in Color Guard management;

Anticipated changes in Color Guard uniforms to be reported to the membership.

Regarding board policies, the annual budget to be presented at a membership meeting for questions and discussion.

Many of these suggestions can be handled by revised bylaws articles proposed to the bylaws committee for consideration and ultimately decided by the members.

Respectfully presented for consideration by the members.

- Joe and Catherine Donovan, Ed and Betty Mikush,
Jean Bills, Cate Harris

Why the Irish National Tartan Kilt

The main reason for changing from our traditional green to the Irish National Kilt is a shortage of uniforms for current and new members. If we bought six kilts as was budgeted for in the 2002-03 year we would be short uniforms for six members or more of the Color Guard Pipes & Drums. If we bought six Irish National Kilts, seven people from the Pipes & Drums would be willing to buy their own Irish National Kilts (to be reimbursed at a later date), we would have 13 green kilts to be used for the new and current members of the Color Guard Pipes & Drums that are in need of kilts.

The Irish National was picked because we liked the look of it. We had seen several of them at Irish Fest in August and thought they were very sharp looking. One that we did see was being worn by the Bass Drummer of the Emerald Society of Evansville Indiana. The colors are very vibrant and distinctive. The main color is green with accents of gold and white. This would give the unit a more updated look while still matching well with our traditional green. We would still be different from any of the other Milwaukee or South Eastern Wisconsin Color Guard/Pipe Bands. We want to represent all of Ireland, not a family, county or Province, but all of Ireland.

- Jim Dickmann

Saint Patrick's Gala

In celebration of our 20th St. Patrick's Night Gala, Milwaukee Irish Arts is returning to the historic Third Ward for our March 17th event this year! The venue is the Italian Community Center, and the evening will feature direct from Ireland, the legendary Tom Sweeney, with his one-man show of songs, stories, poetry and tunes.

To mark our 20th year, we're also offering our friends the opportunity to win a Galway Bay Dream Holiday! This week-long package includes the use of a delightful luxury home on the shores of beautiful Galway Bay, a car, a round of golf at the famed Doonbeg Golf Course, your own personal session provided by some of the best traditional musicians in County Clare, and more! All this for the cost of a $10 raffle ticket! Tickets are available now from Milwaukee Irish Arts members and the usual outlets, and the draw will take place at our March 17th event.

The evening begins at 6 p.m. with cocktails and the lively sights and sounds of Irish traditional music and dance. Dinner and entertainment follows at 7 p.m. So, Failte Romhat - you're invited to join our honored guests including Irish Rose, Irishman of the Year, and Parade Marshal, for a great evening when we traditionally and convivially come together to celebrate our heritage!

Reservations for the dinner can be made by sending a check for $40 per person to: Milwaukee Irish Arts; ICHC; 2133 W. Wisconsin Ave.; Milwaukee, WI 53233. Or by calling Pat Sodowski at (414) 527-2934. For information, call John at (414) 229-2608.

- John Gleeson

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. Questions? Call Katy Voss (414) 352-6479.

Of Note:

Kamala Murphy Amann recently placed 11th at the Midamerica Regional Championships of Irish Dance held Thanksgiving weekend in Chicago. She is from Milwaukee but is currently competing for the Clarkson School of Irish Dance while she is attending Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Celtic Women International


January 3, 2003 Happy New Year! A presentation by Jeannine Schaefer and Linda Daly titled "Celtic Music and Robert Burns' Contribution to Song Collection".

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.

- Jean Bills

Admirals Hockey

The Shamrock Club is hosting an exciting and fun-filled Admirals Game outing. We have a block of tickets for the Friday, February 28, 2003 game, 7:12 p.m. Ticket price is $10 per seat. To purchase tickets, send $10 per seat to: Sharon Murphy, 8320 W. Bluemound Rd., Wauwatosa, WI 53213. Make checks payable to: Shamrock Club of Wisconsin. This is first come, first serve.

Any questions, call (414) 453-8655 or email

3 Solo Champions!
15 Dancers Qualify For Worlds!

The Cashel Dennehy School of Irish Dance had three Solo Champions this past Thanksgiving weekend in Chicago at The Midwest Regional Championships (Oireachtas)! The Solo Champions are the following: Bobbie Ann Boeing, Girls Under 17; Dan Medora, Boys Under 13; and Sara Blasier, Girls Under 8.

Fifteen solo dancers qualified for The World Championships of Irish Dance (which takes place in Ireland in April 2003). Those dancers were: Aileen Cronin, Bobbie Ann Boeing, Jillian Winke, Lindsey Wenzen, Maggie Dunn, Riley Seiler, Kirsti Martinez, Ryan Alba, Brigid O'Sullivan, Ben Rizzo Conor McKee, John Gibson, Dan Medora, Alec Martinez, and Brendan Keyes.

In addition, seven Ceili teams (eight dancers on each team) were 1st place winners. All 14 teams entered placed!

"This is the best year ever for Cashel Dennehy," said Jane Walrath, Executive Director for Cashel Dennehy.

- Susan O'Sullivan

Set Dance Classes Start January 15

Set dance classes were a great success this past fall, owing in part to the wonderful dance floor at our new venue, the back room at O'Donoghue's Irish Pub. Given the turnout and the enthusiasm of the class participants, the Milwaukee Set Dance Club is planning another eight-week series of classes for beginners or anyone looking for more experience. The classes will be held on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. from January 15 to March 5.

If you have no idea what set dancing is, you are most welcome to drop in during any of the classes or during the dancing which follows. To help you start: set dancing is an Irish tradition that has swept across the globe because it is good fun and lively entertainment. From the aerobic nature of the dancing to its inherent sociability, set dancing offers a great way to meet people and enjoy a pleasant night out. Your grandparents or great-grandparents are likely to have danced a set or played tunes for it in their day.

A flyer describing these classes and a registration form are available on the Milwaukee Set Dance web site. Visit www. or call Jim at 414 258-3370 (e-mail:

O'Donoghue's Irish Pub is at 13225 Watertown Plank Rd. Take I-45 to the Watertown Plank Rd. exit (west), or I-94 to the Moorland Road exit then north to Watertown Plank Rd. (just past Bluemound). Take Plank Road for about two miles into the heart of Elm Grove. The pub is on the south side of the road, next to the Elm Grove Inn.

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 30, 2003 Shamrock Club board meeting. Send nominations to: Shamrock Club of Wisconsin, 2133 West Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53233.

New Members

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

MILWAUKEE - James W. Drake; Gregory Konkol.


October: 37 memberships up for renewal, 30 paid, 7 dropped for nonpayment.

November: 28 memberships up for renewal, 18 paid, 10 due.

December: 22 memberships up for renewal, 0 paid, 22 due.

Our apologies for the late mailing of the December issue of Emerald Reflections and any inconveniences caused.

-Tom Smith