What’s Going on this weekend?

Fri: ChrisAllen@TheHarp RobDuskey@FlatIron CrazyChester @pjmcintyres LochErie@IACES BiginJapan @HooleyHouse EmeraldHearts @WestSideIA LochEriceCDReleaseParty @IACES
Sat: POUT @pjmcintyres PompousAss@Sullys BrendanBurt John Mullarkey’s
Sun: ChrisAllen STONE MAD PUB, RESTAURANT AND BOCCE
Mon: New Year’s Eve Parties: EVERYWHERE

Ohio Irish American News

Happy Anniversary! Our 6th Anniversary arrives tomorrow

HERE IT IS! The 6th Anniversary issue hits the streets tomorrow. Happy anniversary to all our writers, advertisers and distributors; it has been a mighty ride, thanks to you! Here’s to 600 more.


(with Mark Owens, Cliff Carlson Linda Fulton Burke Terry Kenneally, Terry Boyle, Sue Mangan, Cathal Liam, Rachel Gaffney Niamh O’Sullivan, Mike Finn) — with Mark Owens, Rachel Gaffney and Linda Fulton Burke.

It is Christmas Day …

It is Christmas …
by John O’Brien, Jr.

It is Christmas Day … One of my sisters birthday is today. She is my Irish twin, born less than a year apart. We don’t talk as often as I’d like, but I love her with all my heart. We always celebrate her birthday Christmas Eve and her husband makes this amazing Chicken Cordon Blue. I could eat just that, leave all the other stuff behind, and be one very happy man. Family comes in, from where ever they can. We eat, have a great cuppa or three and exchange gifts. Seeing the kids open their gifts, their joy and excitement, is a highlight for me. I am a fan of tradition, knowing where we come from matters.

Cherish the Mystery
by John O’Brien, Jr.

Ghosts of Christmas past, go floating through my brain
I remember cold and snow, yet remember not much pain
Joyful childhood, waking up Christmas morn’
Delivering the paper, before the wrapping could be shorn
The house all dark but the tree lights still lit.
Not a sound in the sharp air, as I pull on my mitts
Bag over my shoulder, paper in my hands
Had to be in the door, not today’s “wherever it lands”
Quiet, so quiet, but this one morn I’m not afraid
I think not of dark driveways or who hasn’t paid
The stillness so peaceful, I try not to make a sound
I’m all alone in the world, as six a.m. comes around.

Up the long driveways and then back down them again,
Can’t jump the snow high on the grass, stuck like a pig in a pen
Broom hockey shoes keep me from falling, on my ass, in the snow
No matter how I hurried, I went much too slow
Frozen and often wet, I’d turn the corner for home
My mind is on presents, and Christmas past poems
The last paper’s delivered, each door tightly closed
My Irish cheeks look like Santa, the weather has rosed
I trudge up the hill and see my dad at the door
My mind sees those less blessed, many reasons for the poor
The houses in the neighborhood with no presents or a tree
My world’s not so cold, I’m starting to see.

Into the house I go, my bag hung on the stairs
One sister wakes up the others, who come down as a pair
Warm clothes, thick socks, and hot chocolate whipped to a foam
Rush through breakfast quickly, eyes to wonder and to roam.
My stocking off the fireplace, filled with fun little gifts
Then under the trees too sharp needles, the attention snaps and shifts
Clothes and cool games, wall holders for my collection
We each had our spot, our haul’s own little section
And when it’s all over, put the wrapping in the bag
Mom always says: “for thank you’s keep the tag”

Tho’ my sister is all tired, as my mother did warn her
I lean back against the wall, in my section in the corner
I think of the morning, from high chaos to early still
Of the food and the company, that this day will fill
The smell of the turkey, reaches me as I stretch out
Such wonderful memories are without a doubt
The reason I still cherish Christmas, and the still of the morn
Jesus works in mysterious ways, since the very night he was born.

***

• ˚ •˛•˚ * 。 • ˚ ˚ ˛ ˚ ˛ •
• ˚Merry★* 。 • ˚ ˚ ˛ ˚ ˛ •
•。★Christmas!★ 。* • ˚。
° 。 ° ˛˚˛ * _Π_____*。*˚
˚ ˛ •˛•˚ */______/~\。˚ ˚ ˛
˚ ˛ •˛• ˚ | 田田 |門| ˚

Please share your story with me; thank you for allowing me to share mine with you. Follow me, where I go:
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it is Christmas Eve – Only 1 Day Until Christmas!

It Is Christmas Eve – Only 1 Day Until Christmas!

It is 1 Day Until Christmas ~ There can be only One. One day, one Best friend, one quarterback, one God, in life, and of life. I wrote yesterday about Situational Awareness – living in the moment, not just in our own small worlds, but the greater world too. Being able to not only smell the roses, but be able to also see how it affects you, and others as well.

It is easier than ever to spread ourselves thin – the more technologically advanced we are, the busier we are – and the more easily distracted, unfocused, missing the forest for the trees we are, because we have been conditioned to multi-task: tell everyone, tell everyone in 140 characters, and move on … to the next experience, satisfy the next urge, NOW.

I come from a deep and ingrained tradition of telling stories. Today, the oral tradition is more readily available than ever. Only now, it is electric! Name the poem, story or song, and you can often find it on the internet. This is an amazing this for our culture, for every culture, and brings us full circle, because we can see more than just our viewpoint, our own little world.

There are three sides to every story – your side, my side, and the truth. I have been writing a lot over the last six months about the similarities of different people. I do a presentation called “At Each End of the Rifle”. The presentation is poems, verse and lyrics that illustrates how, from throughout mankind’s history, people with remarkably similar hurts, angers, struggles, joys and goals, have insisted on killing each other. With the advent of the internet and sharing, we can now hear more than one side of the story; we can see a struggle from a perspective not often available to us, and we can make our own decision, based upon a person, and their character, not their religion, or the place they were born, whether born in Boston, Belfast or Bethlehem.

Shake the Bones
By John O’Brien, Jr.

Christmas smells and sounds drift through the house.
The sun is shining brightly. There is no snow
but the cold and wind shake the bones, the panes
shudder and stress; sticks against the racing clouds.
On the beautiful blue canvas of the half clear sky.
cinnamon and pine and the green, red and gold
brightly tantalize the nose and the eyes.
Ave Maria, O Holy Night. Tynan in my ears,
praise and wonder in my mind.
Regret not the confusion, the chaos and the urgency
Of preparation. Of Thanksgiving. Of Christmas.
What gathers people, crafts hugs, kisses, handshakes, peace.
That which draws people together across miles, continents and anger,
is worth celebrating itself, let alone for the miracle that gave birth
to more than a child.
Contact, in cards and letters and pictures sent, seeing old friends
reunions, the healing power of hugs,
the healing power of God.
And they say we don’t see God at work in our world today.

Please share your story with me; thank you for allowing me to share mine with you. Follow me, where I go:
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It Is 2 Days Until Christmas …

It is 2 Days Until Christmas ~
by John O’Brien, Jr.

Come my friends, it is not too late to seek a better world. – Tennyson

Living in the moment isn’t hard to do ~ it is so easy that we often forget to do it. Being aware of our surroundings, our blessings, right now, as well as the ripples outward, is called situational awareness.

I had occasion to gather with friends for two birthdays on the same day, and the reunion of the mighty talented and fun Brace Yourself Bridget Band, last night. It was Randy Wallace and Mindy Carter’s birthday, but the table was filled with so many of my favorite people: Jennifer Watters, Randy Wallace and Samantha, Mark Mindlin, Wes Feathers and Carrie Haas, Mindy Carter, Dave Neige and Darlene Keister Grant, Sally Clem, Laura Toolis, Julie Kaber, Bruce Tackett and Jennifer, Kevin Palm & Diane Palm.

In the heart of the toasts and the songs, I was aware – of how blessed I am to have these friends and to see them often; to share a deep love of the music, and what doors that love opens; of how fluid our gatherings are, in people and in places; how we can and do meet up at a small Irish pub, or a large Irish Fest, from Cleveland, to Kansas City and all points in all directions.

I work a government job, with the Sheriff’s Office. Every day I trade one day of my life for something. It drives me to make that something traded worthwhile. I can’t recover the day, the opportunities may be repeated, but not in the same way. There is not a lot of money in it, but the opportunity to significantly help people, to make this world a better place for our having been here, exists every day.

The same is true for editing and Publishing the Ohio Irish American News ~ There is no money in it, but the chance to learn and share our rich heritage with those around me, and to capture stories of the past and the present, for the future, have their own rewards.

This year more than ever, we are aware of situations of struggle, of heartache, of loss and so many in need of a helping hand. This year, we have seen those blessed with enough have taken to paying off other’s layaways – how incredibly thoughtful, subtle and loving, without any banging on chests or self-congratulations. Those without money try to find ways to make the world better by giving in other ways. We can’t let the lack of money dictate a lack of action. Acts of selfishness often make the news; acts of selflessness rarely do.

Especially in light of Newtown, the smallest gift – of word, assistance, thoughtfulness, can have the biggest impact ~ random acts of kindness can be a part of everyone’s day, not just at Christmas time. The theory is sound, the practice of this situational awareness, how we impact others, is so easy, we often forget to live it. But it is easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting.

It is 2 days until Christmas … If not now, when? If we won’t begin putting other’s first, of thinking beyond ourselves now, at Christmas, whether we have money or not, when will we? It is 2 days until Christmas, Two words have so much meaning: Merry Christmas; Happy Anniversary; Thank You.

“Come my friends, it is not too late to seek a better world”

Please share your story with me; thank you for allowing me to share mine with you. Follow me, where I go:
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A Tale for Christmas … A Story from this Month’s issue of the Ohio Irish American News

Blowin’ In: A Tale for Christmas
By Susan Mangan

One Christmas Eve, many years ago, in the sleepy little town of Rock Strand, the bells of St. Patrick’s Church did not ring and the crèche lay empty awaiting the Christ Child and the faithful of the parish. Gale force winds blew across the West of Ireland, bringing with it a blinding snow. On this rare Christmas Day, young Kate and her brother Michael bore witness to a miracle that appeared like a dream.

The day before Christmas was always a time of much expectation and preparation in the Fallon home. Darned stockings were hung on the post of the bed Kate shared with Michael. The children always looked forward to the sack of currants and stick of candy that Santy left them during the night.
Young Kate took her job as the oldest child in the house quite seriously, following her Mam at every turn.

“When will I be old enough to help pluck the goose?” Kate would ask.
“Sure, why would you want to dress the goose when there are more important jobs for the oldest girl child to do on Christmas Eve?” Mam would say with a wink of her blue eyes.

Kate knew how great her honor was to light the coinneal mor, the lone Christmas candle in the kitchen window, when darkness fell on Christmas Eve. Because of this light, the lonely traveler could find the comfort of kinship and the warmth of a hearth, much like the Star of Bethlehem lit the night sky as the Magi made their way to the Child. Kate loved to think about this ancient truth as she filled the hob kettle with water from the well to make her Da’s tea. Lost in her reverie, Kate almost spilled the bucket of clean water when her younger brother Michael came tripping across the flagstone floor.

“Kate, Kate, your darlin’ pet Sandy is about to lamb. I mean have a lamb. Ah, sure, I don’t know what I mean, but Da says it’s too early for the lamb to come and we must make haste to the field shelter!”

Kate adored her little brother. His eyes were as round as oatcakes and he darted willy-nilly with the speed of a mocking jay in flight.

“Michael, sure it can’t be as bad as that! Mam herself is heavy with child and there’s much for me to do ‘round the house today. Already, the darkness seems to be coming over the brae and me with a candle to light!”

Through the whitewashed cottage’s small windows, Kate and her Mam could see that premature darkness did indeed envelop the countryside, while the wind began to howl like a banshee in the night.

“Right Kate you are, but Da’s in need of us now! The wind has taken a turn and the rain is lashing out something wicked!”

Wringing her hands against her aproned skirt, Mam urged the children to tend to their Da and bring him a covered mug of tea for warmth. Quickly, Mam placed her own woolen shawl over her girl Kate and wished her Godspeed.

Michael hastily reached for his tweed cap and the two set out into the field.
Despite the wildness of the day, Michael began to sing at the top of his lungs, his lilting voice swept up in accord with the wind:

“The wren, the wren
The king of all birds,
St. Stephen’s Day was caught in the furze,
Up with the kettle, and down with the pan,
Give me a penny to bury the wran.”

In defiance of the weather, the children laughed and decided to make the short journey from the house to the field on the well-worn path into a game. Michael would hop over every other rock on the path while Kate would giggle, still holding tight to Da’s tea, and call out, “Watch for the wren!”

Kate could begin to hear the braying of their beloved donkey Anthony, the quack of the ducks, and the pained mewling of her darlin’ pet Sandy.
Soon the children were near the shelter and just in time, as the rain turned to ice. Michael and Kate had never seen such a sight as the wind turned white, lifting Kate’s shawl from her shoulders and whisking Michael’s cap straight off the top of his head. Astonished with the great billows of snow frosting his copper curls, Michael lost his footing and fell onto the icy ground, hitting his head on a flat stone. Dropping her Da’s tea, Kate rushed to her brother’s side as her father hurried out of the field shed.

“Boys o’ boys Kate, that was a mighty fall,” Michael exclaimed as he rubbed the side of his head.

“Kate! Kate! Have ye seen me cap? Saints and angels help me if I arrive home without it! Kate! Kate! Where are ye gone to? This is no time for games. Da’s needin’ us and I need my cap!”

“Quack, hello, quack hello,” whistled an unfamiliar nasal voice.

Startled, Michael found himself in company with a beautiful duck unlike any he had ever seen. Scarlet feathers circled the duck’s eyes and his body was cloaked in a brilliant teal green. A tall red velvet hat tufted with emerald plumes balanced majestically on his sloped head.

“Sure, I must have hit my head right hard to be hearin’ ducks who talk,” Michael thought out loud.

“Now laddie, here y’er wrong. I am as alive as can be. My name is Captain Cornelius Kilbane and you have stumbled, well fallen into our land.”

In disbelief, Michael looked around the fields and bogs where he spent so much time at work and play. He could not see the shelter, his father, or Kate. Everywhere he looked, birds of a different feather were going dutifully about their daily tasks.

A row of white doves lined the riverbed like sentries. A small footbridge that Michael never knew existed passed over the river, spilling onto a snowy meadow covered with blackberry brambles. Suddenly, Michael broke into a run, grabbing blackberries as he spoke.

“Aye, Cornelius, Sir, this must be a Christmas miracle. But our best sheep is lambin’ and I need to find me cap and get back to Da. Could ye help me like?”
“Quack, yes laddie, but we must first find our King, Gabriel.”

Michael nodded his head in agreement, but not before taking another handful of plump berries. As he reached for the fruit, Michael grabbed hold of a pure white feather. The boy found himself eye to eye with a most noble creature. It was Gabriel, a grand white goose, the ruler of this land.

“King Gabriel! Blessings to you this fine Christmas Eve, ” said Cornelius with a deep bow.

“On your webbed feet, loyal Cornelius. Our great King is the Child to arrive upon the morn,” exclaimed Gabriel.

“Quack aye, quack aye, tis’ so,” agreed Cornelius. “With Christmas soon approaching, we must get this wee lad Michael back to his family. What shall we do? What shall we do King Gabriel?” cried Cornelius.

With a vast sweep of his feathered wings, King Gabriel produced Michael’s woolen cap and embraced the boy, dissolving Michael’s fears. Soon Michael felt the gentle touch of his father’s weathered hands wiping the snow from his closed eyes.

“Ah son, ye gave us quite a scare. Sandy had just birthed a healthy lamb, small but fierce. I was on my way to deliver the good news when I saw ye on the ground with Kate at your side. Give me a minute to untether Anthony. Sure if a donkey could deliver our Holy Mother safely to the manger, Anthony can find his way through this snow and bring you back to Mam,” explained Da.

That evening passed slowly for the Fallon family. Holding a poultice of elm leaves and blackberries over the wound on Michael’s head, Mam kept watch throughout the night. Snow continued to fall. Da shook his head knowing how disappointed his wee ones would be with no Santy and no Christmas mass.

By morning, the snow had ceased, leaving the bundles of turf and hay covered like large white specters.

“Michael, are ye awake? Tis’ Christmas!” nudged Kate.

“So it tis’. I reckon Santy couldn’t come with the snow, but look out the window pane!” cried Michael.

From the children’s loft, the farm looked magical. As Michael nestled close to his sister, he rubbed his sore head and recalled a distant dream of birds and an angel, Gabriel, who looked like a grand goose.

“Kate, you would not believe what I dreamt last night!”

As he began to speak, Kate reached for Michael’s lost cap now hanging on the wooden bedpost. In awe, she grabbed Michael’s hand and pulled him toward the window. In the crisp winter sky, Michael and Kate Fallon beheld a great white goose leading a formation of ducks toward St. Patrick’s Church. Nestled in the goose’s wing lay a small baby wreathed in light.

As the vision subsided, the Fallon family heard a most joyful noise. The bells of St. Patrick’s Church began to sound.

Susan holds a Master’s Degree in English from John Carroll University and a Master’s Degree in Education from Baldwin-Wallace College. She may be reached at suemangan@yahoo.com

It is 3 Days Until Christmas …

by John O’Brien, Jr.

It is 3 Days Until Christmas ~ Being Irish and being Catholic, three has a significant presence on my life. The shamrock has three leaves. It is very prevalent in Ireland, but rare here, and considered lucky because of its rarity – kind of like my friends. The shamrock is not to be confused with the clover, which has four leaves (I’m looking over, a four leaf clover, that I’ve over looked before…”) and is everywhere here, like a weed – oh wait ….

Celtic Shamrock

At many festival’s, you will see a t-shirt that says, “If you are lucky enough to be Irish, you are lucky enough”. Being Irish is a shamrock of faith, family and friends – each with their own identity and characteristics, but each an inseparable part of being Irish in America, and each, alone and together, a very, very, very lucky legacy of life, love and liberty. The Tricolor of Ireland, the tricolor of America. My country, my heritage is permanently inked on my back, and in my heart.

Like many immigrant nations who forge a new home, we had no relatives in the U.S. growing up. My dad, from Ireland, and my mom, from Montreal, Canada, faced uncertainty and filled with great dreams, risked much when they came here. Those who became our friends WERE our family – they adopted us, nurtured us, became our family and so much more. In many ways, you can’t choose your family; in many ways we did.

Legend has it that St. Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock to illustrate the three entities of God ~ The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit, when converting pagan Ireland to Catholicism. Each leaf, and each aspect of God, is recognizable on it’s own, but inseparable from the whole, very much like Christ, celebration, and Christmas. You can enjoy Christmas, without being Christian, but the cup runneth over, when you are. Those blessings are all year long, all lifetime long, and beyond that sand of time, eternity. It is three days until Christmas, the mass of Christ, the celebration of Christ. It is three days until Christmas …

Please share your story with me; thank you for allowing me to share mine with you. Follow me, where I go:
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It is 4 Days Until Christmas …

It is 4 Days Until Christmas …
by John O’Brien, Jr.

It is 4 Days Until Christmas ~ Tommy Makem wrote more than 400 songs, the anthem, Four Green Fields, of course, as well as Gentle Annie, Winds of Morning, The Winds Are Singing Freedom and so many other iconic songs, songs that are sung where ever the Irish gather around the world. They are the stories of our people.

The Godfather of Irish Music, Tommy Makem

Our stories define us; our culture is a story-driven one, an oral tradition passed on generation to generation. We pass the stories on so our roots, our history, our very identity stays vibrant and alive – you see it around you here and now – it is our connection to our past, AND our present.

My story is not the only one I am trying to tell. Tommy wrote Four Green Fields one day while driving down to Newry, in the Co. Down. He saw a woman coming down from the fields with the cows, to cross the road. They were both stopped at a British checkpoint. Tommy watched her as he, and she, waited to go thru. He could see the, Hassle, as the woman just wanted to get on across the road, to get on with her life. He wrote the first two verses then, and the final one later, when he got to Newry.

Four Green Fields is a song full of symbols, in its simplicity. The Four Green Fields symbolically refer to the 4 Provinces of Ireland: Leinster, Munster, Ulster & Connaught, which hold the 32 counties. The symbolic “fine, old woman” represents Ireland herself.

What did I have? said the fine old woman
What did I have? this proud old woman did say
I had four green fields, each one was a jewel
But strangers came and tried to take them from me
I had fine strong sons, they fought to save my jewels
They fought and died, and that was my grief, said she

Long time ago, said the fine old woman
Long time ago, this proud old woman did say
There was war and death, plundering and pillage
My children starved by mountain valley and sea
And their wailing cries, they shook the very heavens
My four green fields ran red with their blood, said she

What have I now? said the fine old woman
What have I now? this proud old woman did say
I have four green fields, one of them’s in bondage
In stranger’s hands, that tried to take it from me
But my sons have sons, as brave as were their fathers
And my four green fields, will bloom once again, said she
Yes my four green Field, will bloom once again, said she.

*

Today, the oral tradition is more readily available than ever. Only now, it is electric! Name the poem, story or song, and you can often find it on the internet. This is an amazing this for our culture, and brings us full circle, because we can see more than just our viewpoint. There are three sides to every story – your side, my side, and the truth: now we can hear more than one side of the story. We can see the similar hurts, struggles, anger, joy and goals from a perspective never before available to us, and we can make our own decision, based upon a person, and their character, not their religion, or the place they were born; whether you were born in Boston, in Belfast, or in Bethlehem.

We can never forget, but if we ever want to move on, and we must move on, or be left far behind, we must see the similarities and common ground between people of a different perspective, no less relevant to them.

You and I, we were raised on songs and stories, that will never change. We must always be aware of from where we came, and how we got to where we are today. Don’t look back, we are not going that way is not an all-encompassing statement – it is simply a way to focus on our future.

Please share your story with me; thank you for allowing me to share mine with you. Follow me, where I go:
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It is 5 Days Until Christmas…

It Is 5 Days Until Christmas …
by John O’Brien, Jr.

It is 5 Days Until Christmas ~ 6 years ago this week. we launched the Ohio Irish American News – it premiered January 1st, 2007. I saw the final proof for the January, 6th Anniversary issue last nite ~ The cover is a tribute to How the Irish Took over the world, in coffin ships, in emigration, in survival and a perseverance rarely rivaled, or as successful.

I couldn’t begin to tell you all the stories, the doors opened, the memories and the friendships that have come about because of the OhIAN. I couldn’t begin to tell you all the late nite sessiúns and sing-alongs, the friendships and fun I have been privileged to be a part of. I have met, I have travelled, I have learned, and yes, I have cried, in all seen and done over the last six years. The list is long, the list is distinguished; in my mind, the list shall live in infamy.

Six years is an awful long time to go by in a blink. I am grateful beyond words, grateful to be so blessed. Two words have so much meaning: Merry Christmas; Happy New Year, Happy Anniversary; Thank You.

.

Please share your story with me; thank you for allowing me to share mine with you. Follow me, where I go:
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