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Emerald Reflections Online

Table of Contents - February 2003

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

James Macpherson's Tales of Ossian

Shamrock Club of Green Bay and Northeastern Wisconsin

Dane County Shamrock Club

Shamrock Club of South Central Wisconsin

Shamrock Club of Rock County

Milwaukee President's Message

Special Note to Members

18th Annual Special Mass to Honor St. Patrick

37th Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade

Shamrock Club Post Parade Party

St. Patrick's Mass Flower Donations and Memorials

Tom Sweeney to Perform at St. Patrick's Gala

St. Patrick's Help Fund

Welcome New Members

Milwaukee Calendar of Events

Wisconsin Calendar of Events

James Macpherson's Tales of Ossian

by Brian Witt

In 1760, Scottish poet James Macpherson published "Fragments of Ancient Poetry Collected in the Highlands of Scotland, and Translated from the Gaelic or Erse Language." They were produced, as he said, with the assistance of several residents of the Highlands, and were supposedly translations of ancient poems by Ossian or Oisin, a third-century Gaelic bard, and the son of Fingal, or Finn MacCool, the Irish hero of ancient myth. These descriptions of this ancient Gaelic life immediately caught the imagination of many across all of Europe. Macpherson was hailed as a brilliant collector and writer who had uncovered a fantastic treasure trove describing ancient life. Over the next 30 years it was translated into many languages, and gave a tremendous impetus to both the developing romantic movement, as well as the study of folklore and Celtic languages

According to writer Donal O' Danachair, among the many to be influenced by "The Poems of Ossian" were writers as diverse as William Blake, Henry Thoreau, George Byron, Walter Scott, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Matthew Arnold. Musicians Mendelssohn, Schubert and Brahms composed pieces inspired by it. Goethe translated parts into German; Napoleon brought a copy to Moscow during his ill-fated attempt to conquer Russia. Scandinavian and German princes were named Oscar after the character in it, as was Oscar Wilde; indeed the popularity of this name is due entirely to Macpherson. The city of Selma, Alabama, was named after the city of where Ossian lived. O' Danachair's article appeared on his web pages Ex Classics at

However, there was one problem. Much of the poetry in the works was composed by Macpherson himself. And although there were challenges to the writings during his lifetime, it wasn't until after his death in 1796 that the poems were determined to be cut from whole cloth of his creation. But by that time, a whole new movement had started, one based on the ancient Gaelic traditions, and one that would have implications even today.

James Macpherson was born in Ruthven, Badenoch in October, 1736, and was educated at both Aberdeen and Edinburgh Universities before returning to his native district as a teacher. By 1758 he had moved to Edinburgh where he worked as a tutor and wrote poetry.

After the battle of Culloden in 1746, and the subsequent expulsion of thousands of Scots from the Highlands, a new and gnawing sense of a romantic way of life was springing up in Britain. A renewed Celtic fervor was then in fashion, after the "discovery" of Welsh bardic poetry. The excitement generated by a Gaelic ballad published in the "Scots" magazine in 1756 may have inspired Macpherson to similar activity. At age 24, he published "Fragments of Ancient Poetry," which told of a rugged, ancient land populated by strong warriors, living in bygone glories.

"Fragments," Macpherson was to find, was an instant success, one that his own, original pieces had not achieved. Macpherson said that these newly found "fragments" were representative of larger works, as there were many more stories still to be mined from his Highland sources. He was then encouraged to collect more. Before long Macpherson published his main works, "Fingal" and "Temora." These works by Ossian heralded a race of warriors who lived in the hills of ancient Scotland.

The success of these writings was phenomenal. Innumerable editions in most European languages bear testimony to the magic of their elemental landscapes and the proud, melancholy men who haunted them. However, there was also controversy, since some critics accused Macpherson of forgery and deception.

Samuel Johnson, the famous diarist, was one of the first to take aim at the veracity of the compositions. The debate took on political overtones and continued throughout Macpherson's lifetime.

The ancient Gaelic epics were initially preserved orally. Macpherson was a clever collector, and he added his own flourishes to the stories that he heard. He understood Gaelic, and it was this ability with the language, along with his natural flair for poetry, that helped contribute to his almost seamless inclusion of his own words among those he collected.

Macpherson was considered a disgraced writer after his death. As for his contributions, many are suspect, as are the commentaries and footnotes that were left. Why did he do it? It was most likely a young man's folly, and one that he was able to perpetrate and, eventually, perpetuate, in a rush to find all things Gaelic. He perhaps saw himself as reconstituting epics from fragmentary remains.

However, Macpherson's influence on European literature and culture is undeniable. And he wasn't a bad poet, in his own right. And through his works, he managed to create a revival of the ancient Gaelic order, albeit one that never really existed. Macpherson was to influence the founders of the Irish Gaelic League, as well as the many people throughout Europe who discovered that the ancient Celtic race was not unwashed savages, but rather a complex and intriguing people.

Macpherson helped start a revolution that continues today. Ultimately, the questions are these: Was James Macpherson a duplicitous fraud who disgraced not only himself, but the real, and ancient, bardic poems of Ireland and Scotland's past. Or were the works of the man who helped start the revolution justification for what he had wrought? It is an issue that scholars today still wrestle with.

Shamrock Club of Green Bay and Northeastern Wisconsin


Bob and Lucille Warpinski, Shamrock Club of Green Bay and Northeastern Wisconsin Irish Couple of the Year 2003.


At the October 21 Shamrock Club meeting, Shamrock Club friend Father David McElroy was present to offer the Eucharist for the living and deceased members of the Shamrock Club.

In the Irish tradition, Father Dave's father on the evening before his ordination (April 6, 2002) came up to his son's room to clean his shoes. This is indicative of what Irish fathers did when their sons were preparing to emigrate to the New World or places elsewhere. Also on the day before his ordination, Father Dave received a package from his Shamrock Club friends containing a Celtic pewter Chalice and Paten, which he used for the first time at the club Mass on October 21.

Shamrock Club members sat in a circle during Mass, with Father Dave seated among the members. Some of those present added their personal petitions at the appropriate time. When club members recited the Our Father, Father Dave said it along with them in Gaelic. Father ended the service with the very beautiful Irish Blessing, which tells us all that, "Until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of His hands."

Present to speak at the November 18 meeting were Mike and Cheryl Murphy. Cheryl told those present about their trip to Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, for the annual Celtic Colours International Festival. Celtic Colours, an island-wide festival, plays host to artists (musicians, singers, dancers, story tellers, and culture bearers) from all over the Celtic world (Scotland, Ireland, Canada, and the United States) during the annual festival, which ran this year from October 11-19. Besides the 44 concerts occurring in 33 communities on various days, there were numerous workshops going on daily that allowed visitors to participate in various aspects of Gaelic culture.

Mike spoke about the Year of the French. There are many monuments to 1798, that most famous year in Irish history, throughout Ireland - it was a great turning point - it was a great rebellion - it was the time the Irish (God bless them all) almost overthrew the British. It was, said Mike Murphy, a unique rebellion in that in theory it was non-sectarian. Yes, non-sectarian: Irish and English lads on the same side for once!

It was a large-scale rebellion in that there were 100,000 people involved (not men: people, as women were also participants) with 30,000 deaths (27,000 of them gallant rebels). Mike spoke about the colorful heroes of the rebellion (among them brave Mary Doyle herself, who scavenged British bodies for ammunition to help her just cause), the events that led up to the rebellion (the years of the Protestant Ascendancy and the years of harsh Penal Laws), and then the sad outcome of the rebellion as England triumphed and Ireland felt a continuation of Britain's harsh and unjust treatment.

Mike ended his presentation by reading the beautiful Seamus Heaney poem, Requiem for the Croppies. Throughout his presentation, Mike read Irish songs, while Cheryl played the melodies on her harp.

Also in November (Nov. 23) the club participated in Green Bay's annual Holiday Parade, once again showcasing the Irish Cottage float designed and built by Bob Warpinski. In 2001's Holiday Parade, the float won the Director's Award for most beautiful float.

At the December 9 Christmas Party, the Irish couple of the year was named with these words: The Shamrock Club of Green Bay and Northeast Wisconsin is proud to present its Irish Persons of the Year Award to Bob and Lucille Warpinski for their enthusiastic support of and wholehearted involvement in countless Shamrock Club activities since the club's inception. They embody the spirit of two great countries.

Since the club's beginnings in Green Bay nine years ago, Bob and Lucille have played an integral role in nearly all of the club's activities. Without their dedication, the club would not be as successful as it is today.

To name some of the many endeavors that Bob and Lucille have contributed to and participated in... well, whew, here goes: Lucille has co-chaired a number of festivities, among them the annual Christmas party, the St. Patrick's Day Mass, and ethnic cultural educational programs. Bob has served as the Club Parliamentarian, has kept the club abreast of proper procedure, updated the club's by-laws, and is the architect and builder of the club's award winning Irish Cottage entered in Green Bay's Holiday Parade these last two years. Both Bob and Lucille have participated in Green Bay's International Fest, the club's summer picnics, the fund raising food booths, and the Holiday Parades in Green Bay and the New "Dublin" Parades in New London.

Lucille (100 percent Irish) and Bob (100 percent Polish) are the proud parents of seven children (Terri, Bob, Jr., Betsy, Patrick, Ted, Brian, and Rick). Two of their sons (Bob, Jr., and Rick) were present to see their parents receive the award.

Entertainment at the Christmas party, planned by Helen Desotell, Jean Barrett-Terry, and Lucille Warpinski, was Quinn Hartl, age 13 (who played the tin whistle, danced and sang) and Zane Statz, age 11 (who played the violin, electric violin and danced) from Door County, Wisconsin. Both boys are the proud and deserving recipients of many awards. Also there to entertain was tenor Bill Clancy, local farmer and Brown County Board Supervisor, to share memories and songs. When Bill Clinton visited Brown County nine years ago, he appeared at Bill Clancy's farm and the two Bills played a saxophone duet together. Following Bill came Mike O'Malley who sang the beautiful Silent Night in Gaelic. The Christmas party, as usual, was a night to remember.

Sláinte, friends!

- Joan (Siobhan) Kreuser

Dane County

As the old year ends and a new year begins, the Dane County Shamrock Club takes stock of how far it has come in the last year and a half. Two moves that advanced our Club are participation in the State Advisory Shamrock Board, where we have shared ideas among the Clubs, and the involvement with the St. Pat's Day Parade Committee under the leadership of Reghan Walsh and Ed Jaeger who have brought new life into our Club.

Members whose contributions throughout the year have given the Club new energy and flair include:

Margaret Rupert, as new membership chair, has increased our membership by 10% and maintains an updated membership list; Elizabeth Reinartz furnished door prizes of "spirits" and sponsored Mike Cotter, a nationally known story teller from Austin, Minn., as well as other treats for the Club; Sue Morrison, our newest leprechaun, with her sister Margaret Rupert provided rides to the Irish Fest and decorated the tables for the Christmas party; Barb Darcy updated and printed new name tags for the entire Club; John Gallagher, one of our newest members, has initiated the book and video exchange for the educational enrichment of our Club; Bob Kerans, the vice president, gave an historical prospective of Ireland during its Potato Famine; Jim Bennett, organized and conducted the raffle at the Christmas party. He also donated the prizes for the raffle.

And a thank you to others who have helped in a variety of ways by organizing and supporting our activities.

A special thanks you to Mike O'Brien, the former owner of Jingles' Coliseum Bar, who has been a special patron of the Dane County Shamrock Club for many years. His assistance and business acumen, have helped the Club to flourish these past two years.

In the name of Old Erin,
Here's wishing you cheer,
Good luck and good fortune,
For many a year.

- Co-presidents: Paul Buckalew
and Colleen Schams

South Central

One of the largest groups ever, gathered at the Reedsburg Country Club for our Christmas Party. After enjoying hors d'oeuvres, and punch, dinner of prime rib or chicken supreme was served, along with all the trimmings.

Bill Gant, Lois Kivlin, and Bob Knight, accompanied by Zachary Ott at the piano, sang many Christmas tunes inviting the audience to sing along.

Early January a board meeting was held in Baraboo. Pat Conaghy, Marguerite Murray and Mary Stieve met to go over the applications for Irish Rose 2003. Past Irishmen also met to choose a 2003 Irishman of the Year.

A general membership meeting will be held in February, everyone will receive a notice of when and where in the mail.

Plans for our St. Patrick's Day party are well under way. This will once again be held at the Wintergreen in Lake Delton, on March 8, 2003. Please, South Central members, mark this on your calendar now.

- Mary E. Stieve, Reporter

Shamrock Club Of Rock County


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

March 16 - St. Patrick's Day Parade in Beloit

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

We have election of officers coming up soon. Keep in mind, what you put into an organization is what you get out of it. Let's get more people involved. If you are interested in running for an office or know someone who would be a good candidate, please let one of the present officers know.

Start getting ready now for the St. Patrick's Day Parade, on March 16, in Beloit.

- Tom Kennedy

Milwaukee President's Message

Ladies and Gentlemen, Irish All;

Welcome to all our new members! Our St. Patrick's Day Celebrations are just a month or so away and our schedules are filling up fast. Good volunteers are hard to find but year in and year out our members have stepped forward and made our annual events hugely successful. Good volunteer positions are still available so call early and call often. Door personnel, bartenders, food servers and others are needed along with a number of co-ordinator slots between the Mass, the Parade and the Post Parade Party.

February seems like a slow month but the Bradley Center still has several events, the Color Guard Pipes and Drums, under new director Richard Pfiffer, are preparing for the new marching season and our St. Patrick's month events will be fine tuned.

This month the Valentines Day "Hearts on the Avenue" organ concert on February 14 will be the place to be. Held at the ICHC, 7 p.m., Denis Janzer returns to Milwaukee for a special performance.

Come to the February meeting and be introduced to our new Irishman of the Year, Irish Rose, and Shamrock Club Parade Marshal. There will also be entertainment by Irish story teller, John Gardner. ... And watch for details about a special Milwaukee Irish Arts performance in the days ahead.

By Laws requests are being considered ... so read your Emerald Reflections!

- Joe Hughes

Special Note To Members:

Letters to Emerald Reflections, like letters to every other publication, should not be subject to factual corrections or any type of editorial censorship.

That being said, I would like to apologize; indeed I will apologize to all members of the Shamrock Club of Wisconsin for some of the written statements published in Emerald Reflections and some of the inflamatory comments made at the January 2, 2003 meeting, that were both demeaning and insulting to other members of our Celtic family, and those who have strived to enlarge our club.

The insinuation that any individual or any family would be unwelcome reflects poorly on our organization, and does not represent the true spirit of the Shamrock Club of Wisconsin.


A. Membership shall be open to all persons aged eighteen years or older who are of Irish descent either in whole or in part, by relationship through marriage, or by a sincere interest in the purposes of this club. The Board of Directors shall have final authority regarding the acceptance of memberships.

- Joe Hughes




St. Patrick's Mass
Flower Donations And Memorials

Memorials and donations will be taken at the Milwaukee February general meeting to help defray the cost of flowers for the St. Patrick's Day Mass, March 15, 2003. Names will be printed in the Mass Booklet. Mail orders can be taken up to February 29, 2003. Make checks payable to the Shamrock Club. Contact Chuck and Bonnie McLaughlin; 12007 W. Walker St., West Allis, WI 53214; (414) 771-0458. Thank you.

- Chuck McLaughlin

Tom Sweeney to Perform
At St. Patrick's Gala


Tom Sweeney performs at the White House for President Bill Clinton and Taoisach (Irish Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern.

For nearly 25 years Tom Sweeney has travelled the highways and byways of Ireland, Europe and North America with his seemingly endless rattlebag of songs, stories, poetry and tunes.

His one-man show is replete with the very essence of Irish culture which comes as no surprise when you consider that he has been immersed in the great tradition of ballad singing since he could speak. Tom's maternal grandmother, Sarah Makem, is generally considered to be one of the greatest sources of songs in the entire history of Irish music and as a boy he learned many of them around his granny's kitchen in County Armagh. From her he also inherited a deep love of and respect for the old stories, poems, and turns of phrase that are such an integral part of any folk culture. This, in turn, led him to the study and examination of the many aspects of Irish folklore, a passion that has lasted all his life and that continues to be a labour of love.

A performance by Tom is very memorable because he runs the gamut of human emotions in the carefully chosen material going from hilarious comical songs to gut-wrenching ballads of emigration, lost love and pieces that chronicle the troubled history of his native land both traditional and contemporary. His spoken introductions to the songs are legendary because they are sometimes funny, often deadly serious, and always highly informative. As one critic put it... "if you can sit through Sweeney's performance and remain unmoved, you are made of stone!"

Having played every state in the USA and every province and territory in Canada for many years, Tom was honoured in 1998 to receive a personal invitation from President Clinton and the First Lady to perform his classic peace song "Anthem for the Children" at the White House on St. Patrick's Night. This was a short time before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in Ireland and all those engaged in the talks were at the performance.

When not on the road or in his home studio, Tom can be found wandering around the more remote parts of Ireland discovering something new about the country every day.

Here is a man whose very soul is at one with traditional culture and who sees it as a living, vibrant and ever-changing thing with its roots deeply implanted in his inherited knowledge.

If few solo performers can hold an audience rivetted for over two hours nightly, then Sweeney is the exception to the rule.

An evening with Tom is simply supberb so give yourself a treat and experience what many people across miles and miles of music have known for a long time - that Tom Sweeney is the real thing and it doesn't get any better than this!

Tom will mark the 5th anniversary of his historic White House performance at our upcoming 20th annual St. Patrick's Night Gala dinner on Monday, March 17th. This will be Tom's only midwestern appearance during the "green season!" The event takes place at the Italian Community Center and will also feature some delightful dancing from our Cashel Dennehy, Trinity, and Glencastle schools. The $40 donation helps keep the Irish performing arts alive in our community, so Failte Romhat! Come one, come all!

For further information, call John at (414) 229-2608, or see our notice elsewhere in this Reflections.

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. However, donations can be brought to the ICHC any time during the week. It is not restricted to just meetings. A big thank you to everybody who has contributed to help the needy people at St. Patrick's. 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 - Katherine and Martin Murray.

Membership Report Milwaukee Chapter:

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

December: 21 memberships up for renewal, 13 paid, 8 due.

January: 36 memberships up for renewal, 5 paid, 31 due.

-Tom Smith