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Emerald Reflections Online

Table of Contents -- October 1998

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

The Unstoppable Margaret Tobin

Milwaukee President's Message

Greater LaCrosse Area

Dane County Shamrock Club

Bradley Center Needs You

The Tannahill Weavers in Concert

Welcome New Members

Holiday Folk Fair Update
Volunteers Needed: Holiday Folk Fair
Order Advance Folk FairTickets

Set Dances Monthly at ICHC

Rowe by Rowe Concerts

Donn's Poetry Corner

Gaelic League Samhain (Halloween) Celebration

Win a Trip to Ireland

Event: A Dialogue on African and Celtic Spirituality

Milwaukee Calendar of Events

The Unstoppable Margaret Tobin

by Patrick O'Hara

The success of the blockbuster movie The Titanic somewhat underscored the impact that the Irish had on the boat, and on the shipping industry at the time. The Titanic was built in Belfast. It was staffed by a number of Irish men and women, from the sailing crew to the maids. And, as was depicted in the movie, there were a number of Irishmen and women in the steerage area of the boat as it made its way over to the United States on its fated voyage. (Of course, in Belfast, the reaction to the movie was less than excited, especially since the city's connection to the ship was not played up in a very prominent fashion.)

Another point about the Irish connection. As it passed the lower coast of Ireland, conditions occurred that almost caused the liner to stop, and turn back. However, the captain of the vessel decided to keep going, so as not to embarrass his employers at the White Star Lines. The captain was also on his last voyage for White Star, so he had extra motivation to continue.

More on the Irish, and Wisconsin, connection. In the movie itself, the male protagonist is an Irish American from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. (Most people in the area haven't seen Leonardo Di Caprio in the neighborhood, however.)

In real life, the sinking was just as spectacular, if not as star studded. There were acts of heroism, and of cowardice. Survivors were from all classes, but a good number of the people in steerage, including many of the Irish passengers, died. There was one survivor who played upon the fame that was generated by sinking. She was an Irish American with an unstoppable will.

Margaret Tobin was the daughter of an Irish immigrant who worked as a ditch digger for the gasworks in Hannibal, Missouri. When she was a young woman, Margaret Tobin moved with her sister and brother-in-law to Leadville, Colorado. There, she met and married James Brown, a miner who had the grand fortune to strike it rich when he discovered gold in the Colorado mountains.

The Browns moved to Denver, and tried to push their way into high society. The leading families of Denver were less than receptive to these upstarts, and especially cold to Margaret. James Brown's manner turned the haute courtiers off by his continuous pushy demeanor. Margaret Brown, or Molly, as she was better known was rejected for her shanty Irish background.

Margaret Tobin Brown did find acceptance in Europe. Her over the top style, and brash attitude, were considered quaint by European society friends. That she was so unrestrained, especially in comparison to European standards, confirmed the worst of what Americans were about. Molly Brown played on her rough background, and "Shanty Irish" origins. She was the delight of Paris.

On one trip home from Europe, Molly Brown missed her first ship. She then booked passage on the ill-fated Titanic. This trip would make Molly Brown a national figure.

The night the ship sank, the forceful, spunky personality of Molly Brown came to the fore. She took over the lifeboat that she was in. She cajoled, pushed, and goaded her fellow passengers to carry on. She was quoted as saying, "The Titanic is going down, but I, Molly Brown, am unsinkable."

When the survivors landed, her fellow passengers spread the word of her unstinting heroics. They told the world about this wildly forceful woman who refused to let them give up. Molly Brown was hailed as a hero. She was christened in the national press "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." This was a label that she would wear for years, with a great deal of panache.

Molly Brown died in 1932, nearly impoverished by her years of extravagant spending. She lived for years on her celebrity. She had never lost her desire to live life to the fullest, and sometimes even to the broadest extremes. She painted her life with the broadest strokes possible, and with the liveliest colors available. Her penchant for storytelling led to all sorts of legends about her. Her obituary said that this daughter of a ditch digger, was in actuality, "the daughter of an Irish Peer."

Still for one night in 1912, the brashness, indomitable spirit, and forceful, dynamic vitality she developed as a child served her and her fellow passengers well. The unstoppable Margaret Tobin became the Unsinkable Molly Brown.

Milwaukee President’s Message

Through the extensive efforts of Board Member (Past President) Brian Witt, and Gail Williamson of Williamson Press, we now have our very own Internet web site. Please make note of this address: This web site includes two to three of the most recent issues of this, our magazine, the Emerald Reflections, preview of 1999 St. Patrick's Day Celebrations, listing of Membership Chairpersons for each of the eight State Chapters, front pages from past Emerald Reflections, “Irish Links of Interest”, (includes music, Irish publications, and Milwaukee Irish Groups at the web site which I had previously detailed in this column on several prior occasions – the one created by John Monahan at: through his “Internet Complete” business ), and many other interesting items too numerous to mention here.

Brian and Gail have also succeeded in setting-up our Shamrock Club of Wisconsin E-Mail address. For future reference, both the web page address and the E-Mail address will be routinely listed within the “Membership Chairpersons” box of each issue of this magazine. E-mail:

Although Romy and Evelyn Ament have worked extremely hard, doing everything within their power to attempt to ensure more prompt delivery of the monthly issues of this magazine, the U.S. Postal Service's policies and procedures related to Bulk Rate mailings result in somewhat less than the desirable timeliness for receipt by our members. I am told that the best way for you to react to this is to contact your individual Post Office and relate your delivery concerns to management at that level. But, if you want to peruse the issue prior to receiving same in your mail, you can do so via the web site.

More volunteers are needed for our Bradley Center teams. Please call Cate Harris at (414) 321-5153 to sign-up as a regular member of the crew or to serve as an alternate on one of the teams. We also need some more of our great, special, volunteers to help out with Folk Fair. Holiday Folk Fair is rapidly approaching. As usual it will be held on the weekend just prior to the Thanksgiving Day weekend, which, this year, is November 20th through the 22nd. Please call Chairperson Susan Dundon at (414) 258-9067 to let her know that you want to help out in one of the three separate areas of Retail, Food, or Cultural.

– Dale R. Brenon

Greater LaCrosse Area

Oktoberfest in LaCrosse is one of our busiest times of the year, save the month of March. We will decorate our parade float on Oct. 1; ride in the Maple Leaf Parade on Oct. 3; sell Irish stew at the heritage night on Oct. 7; and appear in the Torchlight Parade on Oct. 8.

A General Club meeting will be held at Schmidty’s in LaCrosse on November 4 at 7 p.m. Some of our members are planning a “Mystery Night.”

Our Board has pretty well established a program of activities taking us into May of 1999. Some exciting activities include our Christmas Party and election of Irishman and Irish Rose for 1999; our “Everything Irish” show in February; and our March visits to schools and nursing homes. Time flies when you belong to the Shamrock Club.

– Fred Smith

Dane County Shamrock Club

13 – Regular Membership Meeting 7:30 pm
at Senior Center, 330 W. Mifflin St.

Barbara Gallenberg, our Vice-President and Chairman of providing programs for our meetings has planned the following programs for our club:

OCT. 13 – Senior Center. Diane Robinson, Preschool of the Arts, will present a one-person musical variety show featuring traditional Irish songs and show tunes through the years.

NOV. 10 – Senior Center. Jack Holzhueter of the State Historical Society will give a presentation on “What’s Important About Wisconsin” as it relates to the Sesquicentennial.

DEC. 8 – Jingles-Coliseum. Following our traditional Christmas dinner, Colleen Schams will play keyboard for a musical sing-along. Kate Sweeney will do her Christmas story and candle lighting.

It sounds like a very interesting schedule of programs. Please note that the meetings will be held at the Senior Center in October and November, and at Jingles in December.

We would like to report that Gerry Eyre had successful hip surgery in Aug. and is undergoing therapy at Middleton Village.

Our deepest sympathy is extended to John and Millie Kennedy on the death of their daughter, Karen, in a pedestrian/ car accident in San Francisco. Also, our sympathy is extended to Barbara Darcey and family on the death of her brother in Janesville.

– Margaret Courtney, Scribe

Bradley Center Needs You

For the past 10 years the Milwaukee Shamrock Club has earned more than $65,000 working for the Bradley Center. 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, $20,000 to the ICHC, 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 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 one person is in charge of cash. Cash person comes early and stays until the Bradley Center bank people come to pick it up. Cash person counts the money. 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 21 events and if we can get three or more teams we each would work only seven 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 alternates are a very important part of every team.

The Bradley Center is really not a difficult fund raiser. We have no investment and work at 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.

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 October meeting.

– Cate Harris (321-5153)


Bradley Center Volunteer Sign-Up

Cate Harris • 8835 W. Verona Ct. • Milwaukee, WI 53227

¨ Yes, I will volunteer to work 6-7 events

¨ Yes, I can be an “on call” alternate

¨ Yes ¨ No -- I have worked at the Bradley Center before.

Name_______________________________________ Phone__________________



I would like to work with _________________________________________

The Tannahill Weavers

The Tannahill Weavers are one of Scotland’s premier bands. Their diverse repertoire spans the centuries with fire driven instrumentals, topical songs, original ballads and lullabies. Their music demonstrates to young and old alike the rich and varied musical history of the Celtic people. These versatile musicians have received worldwide accolades consistently over the years for their exuberant performances and outstanding recording efforts that seemingly can’t get better... yet continue to do just that.

The Tannahill Weavers have turned their acoustic excitement loose on audiences with an electrifying effect. They have that unique combination of traditional melodies, driving rhythmic accompaniment, and rich vocals that make their performances unforgettable.

The Tannahill Weavers
Friday, October 16, 8 p.m.
Irish Cultural and Heritage Center
2133 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53233 (414) 345-8800
Tickets: $15 Advanced Reserved / $17 Door

Welcome New Members

Dane County – James Bennet; Jack Sweeney.

Lafayette County – Jane and Tiller McCormack.

Milwaukee – Libbey Brennon; Joyce and Joe Casey; Joseph and Ellen Chicota; Daniel and Mary Costigan; K. Michael Day; Dakin Emerson; Charles, Caitlin and Virginia Haycock; Fred Kehoe; Tom and Ruth McShane; John Mankowski; Joan Mary Mueller; Judie Tinley Mueller; Karen Johnson Panke; Kathryn Patterson; Peggy Peterson; Mari and Jim Schwabenlender; John J. Sheehan; John J. Waldmer.

New Dublin – Bob and Rosemary Eckley.

Rock County – Donald & Patricia Schwaab.

Folk Fair Update

We are looking forward to a new and exciting Folk Fair this year. As most of you have heard, Folk Fair will be moving to the World Festival Grounds (Summerfest Grounds) for 1998. The event will take place beneath huge, heated tents, and the promoters promise that everyone will be very comfortable.

Dates and times for this year’s fair are:

FRIDAY – NOVEMBER 20 – 4 p.m. - 10 p.m.
SATURDAY – NOVEMBER 21 – 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
SUNDAY – NOVEMBER 22 – 9 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Admission: Adults $6 in advance; $8 at the gate. Children ages 6-12 $6; Children under 6 Free. Tickets will be available for sale at the October membership meeting. Please see Muriel Crowley. As a sponsoring group of the Fair we need to sell a number of tickets or make up the cost elsewhere.

-- Sue Dundon

Volunteers Needed: Holiday Folk Fair

We will again be needing volunteers for the 1998 version of the Holiday Folk Fair. If you would like to help out in our three areas please contact us. For retail, call Jean Bills at (414) 257-3770. For food, call Peter and Fran Dundon at (414) 964-4472. In the cultural area, call Mary McAndrews at (414) 276-8779. For questions about the 1998 Holiday Folk Fair, call Chairperson, Susan Dundon, at (414) 258-9067.

– Brian Witt


NOVEMBER 20-21-22, 1998

The Shamrock Club must sell 125 Holiday Folk Fair Tickets

Please send me ________________ advance sale Folk Fair Tickets at $6.00 each, a savings of $2.00 per tickets.




Mail your ticket request to: MURIEL CROWLEY, 1020 Georges Ave., Brookfield, WI 53045

Your tickets will be sent to you by return mail, and are good any of the three days of Folk Fair, November 20, 21, 22.


Set Dances Monthly at ICHC

The Milwaukee Set Dance Club has moved their regular monthly dances to the fourth Saturday of the month. This was once a regular second Friday event. Some exceptions occur because of holidays or scheduling conflicts at the ICHC. October is one such month.

On October 23 all the usual expectations should be met with great music by John Richey and Friends, hot tea, snacks, the best of company and dancing. The set of the month will be taught at 7 p.m. This month it is the Valencia Right and Left. Dancing to live music begins at 8.


Every Tuesday night at Nash’s instruction begins at 7 and runs until 8:15. Following the class, dancing to live music with John Richey lasts until 10.

Beginners are welcome to participate in all activities and may start any week. Instruction includes basic footwork, movements and figures, building to dancing full sets at normal tempos. You need not come with a partner.

Nash’s is located at 1328 W. Lincoln Ave. A freewill offering of $3 is requested and is used to provide live music at our regular dances. For information contact Jim Vint at (414) 258-3370 or via e-mail: Also see

Rowe by Rowe Concerts

Schooner Fare’s Tom Rowe and his son, Dave, will return to Wisconsin as Rowe by Rowe for four concerts during October. They’ll be joined by award-winning Maine guitarist and singer/songwriter Denny Breau.

Rowe by Rowe will appear at the Jamieson House Country Inn, 407 N. Franklin St., in Poynette, at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 16, (608-635-4100) and at the Milwaukee School of Engineering’s Wehr Auditorium, 1047 N. Broadway in Milwaukee, at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17 (414-332-8521). They will perform at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 18, at the First Congregational Church, 100 E. Broadway, in Waukesha (414-547-6629). For information on a Thursday, Oct. 15 concert in Racine, call 414-332-8521.

Tom Rowe, as one-third of the popular Maine folk trio Schooner Fare, has appeared frequently in Milwaukee both at Irish Fest and at an annual fundraising concert to benefit shelters for abused children.

Twenty-five year old Dave Rowe is a respected musician who began his career performing with The Makem Brothers while still in high school. He has toured as a solo act and with Don Campbell.

This will be Denny Breau’s first appearance with Rowe by Rowe although he and Tom played together in bands in the ‘60s and early 70s. he is the brother of legendary jazz guitarist Lenny Breau and is part of the duo Winterwood.


Belfast is Burning

by Geoffrey Lee Swanson ©

Belfast is burning, and it looks just like hell
Under a cloudy, bloody, dark devil’s spell
Belfast is burning, in demon’s bright flames
And, who’s to say which side is to blame
Belfast is burning from the days of the past
Thriving on hatred, turning hearts cold and dead
Belfast is burning to a sad haunting tune
And if this keeps on, not a soul shall survive
Belfast is burning, and the killings go on
And none of the fools will say it is wrong
Belfast is burning that once was a city
And now there's no more time left for mercy or pity
Belfast is burning, while the wars and the battles still linger on
With no time now left for a sweet Irish song
Belfast is burning for the orange and the green
And no one seems troubled by the children’s screams
Belfast is burning for words that have been said
While the best of our people lay fallen and dead
Belfast is burning for three hundred years
With all of her troubles, pain, fears and tears
Belfast is burning hiding her lies
Against a banshee’s red sky
Belfast is burning while the bigots live on
Till all of her people are blooded and gone
Belfast is burning and there can never be peace
Till all of this madness does vanish and cease!

Gaelic League Sponsoring
Samhain Celebration
Saturday, Oct. 31, 1998

The Gaelic League of Milwaukee, Craobh Curtin, Conradh na Gaelige, will be presenting its annual Samhain (sow-in) celebration on Saturday, October 31, 1998, at the Erin Inn, near Highway 83 in the Town of Erin, at 8 p.m. There will be a bonfire, ghost stories, and a best costume contest. Food and drink will be available for sale from the Erin Inn.

Cost of the Samhain celebration will be $7 at the door. There will also be a bus going to Erin. The cost of the bus, and admission, is $14. The bus will leave UWM at 7 p.m., the Watertown Plank Road Park and Ride at 7:30, and will return around midnight. For more information, call Jim Kearney at (414) 475-5166.

Samhain is the ancient Celtic festival of the new year. This was the time of year when the curtain between the spirit and physical world was at the weakest, and often people saw their dead ancestors walking among the living. The Gaelic League isn’t promising any sights of your family members that have left this earthly coil, but we will at least give you the atmosphere. This is the first time in many years that Samhain actually falls on the night of our party, so one cannot tell what will happen. It should be magical.

For more information on the Curtin branch of the Gaelic League, check out their web page at or contact Jim Kearney at the above phone number.

– Brian Witt

St. Catherine Residence Fundraiser
Win a Trip to Ireland

The SantaFish Bash, St. Catherine Residence’s annual fundraising event, will be held Friday, November 6, 1998 at the Italian Community Center, 631 E. Chicago St. Cocktails will be served at 6 p.m., followed by dinner. In addition to silent and voice auctions, this year’s Bash will include a raffle featuring a trip for two to Ireland: round-trip airfare, seven nights at Castledaly Manor in Athlone, and one week’s car rental.

For reservations or raffle tickets, please contact Karen Letlzia, St. Catherine Residence, 1032 E. Knapp St., Milw., WI 53202. Or phone 272-8470, ex 224.


an exploration of similarities and differences of
African and Celtic Spirituality as revealed in History, Art and Culture

NOVEMBER 14-15, 1998 • 8:30 A.M.- 5:00 P.M.

Our Savior’s Lutheran Church and Irish Cultural and Heritage Center, Milw.

Ed Sellner, Ph.D., Professor of pastoral theology and spirituality at the College of St. Catherine, St. Paul, MN
and Rev. Al Starr, Lutheran pastor, poet, musician and dancer from Los Angeles, CA

Artistic Performances and Demonstrations • Lectures • Drumming
Workshops in Dance • Storytelling
Discussions • Children’s Program • Vendors and Book Sales

For more information, or to register, please contact:
The Nehemiah Project
PO Box 293, Milwaukee, WI 53201-0293
(414) 224-7717 -- Fax: (414) 273-7379 --