New Book Signing Monday at Cuyahoga County Public Library Fairview Park Branch, 7pm

ANNOUNCING a new book signing, Monday, March 4th at Cuyahoga County Public Library Fairview Park Branch, 7pm.

I will have all three of my books: Festival Legends: Songs & Stories, a biographical look at Irish music legends, including Tommy Makem, Liam Clancy, Danny Doyle, Johnny McEvoy and more; Greater Cleveland Irish Directory; and First Generation, my new book of original poetry.

I hope you can share the news and join us on Monday!

(John has served as Deputy Director of Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival for a quarter century and is Editor / Co-Publisher of Ohio Irish American News. Come on out Monday night! www.songsandstories.net)

What’s going on this weekend:

What’s Going on this weekend: 2Nite: UFC157 @ The Hooley House – Brooklyn AbbeyNormal@ PJ McIntyre’s Irish Pub NewBarleycorn@ Flannery’s Pub DonalOshaugnessy@ Sully’s Irish Pub JrMarchingUnit@ West Side Irish American Club Samantha Fitzpatrick Band BACK at Paddy Rock(West Park area) DonegalDoggs@John Mullarkey’s

Feb 10 Cover

Goin On on Sunday: ChrisAllen STONE MAD PUB, RESTAURANT AND BOCCE BeckyBoyd @TheTreehouse NewBareycorn Irish American Club East Side, Inc @thechieftains@ PlayhouseSquare
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The Yank who orders three beers.

So this fella walks into a little bar in the little village of Brideswell, steps up to the bartender and says “Can I have 3 Guinnesses, please?”

The bartender gets them, and then sees the fella drink them down, one by one, and leave.

A week later, the same fella comes in, orders three Guinnesses, drinks them down one by one and leaves.

Well, the whole village is abuzz. The Yank who orders three beers. “What’s going on,” they ask each other?

The following week, when the fella comes in, the bartender asks, “Excuse me Yank, I can’t help but notice you order three Guinnesses at once, I’d be happy to get them for one at a time, it’s no trouble.”

The fella looks up, and says, “Ahh no, I have two brothers. One is in Australia, one in Barbados and I am here. We made a promise, whenever we stopped for a pint, we’d have one for each, and toast each other.”

Well, the bartender is quite impressed, and tips his hat to the Yank. The story passes around the village quickly, and soon the villagers start coming in, watching for the Yank who drinks 3 beers, proud of their own little village’s story and the sense of family shown by the Yank. The decide they like him, and his brothers.

This goes on for a while.

Then one day, the Yank walks in, orders two beers, drinks them down and walks out. The villagers sigh in sadness – the Yank has lost a brother. The news spreads.

The Yank comes in a week later, and the bartender steps up, “Say Yank, we, the whole town, we are very sorry at the loss of your brother.”

“My brother?” the Yank says.

“Yes, you only ordered two beers, we are sorry your brother has gone home to God.”

“Ahh, no, he is fine, I just gave up beer for Lent”.

“Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know;
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A Letter from Ireland: A story from this month’s issue of the Ohio Irish American News:

March Issue hits the streets in 1 week ~ as usual, a ton of fantastic events coming up for the Green Season. Until then, here’s A Letter from Ireland: A story from this month’s issue of the Ohio Irish American News:

A LETTER FROM IRELAND…Cathal Liam

John Behan’s famine ship, pictured on the cover of last month’s IANOhio, is a powerful reminder of our tortured past. Despite Ireland’s recent financial calamities, we’ve overcome much since the 1840s.

January 2013 Cover, Our 6th Anniversary

Though not present on that July day in 1997, when then-Irish president Mary Robinson dedicated the memorial, I’ve visited it twice. Both times, the haunting detail of Behan’s work stirs my soul.

The tribute is located near the base of Croagh Patrick, close to the wee village and ruined abbey of Murrisk, about ten miles west of Westport [Co. Mayo] on the Louisburgh Road. Hard by the traditional departure point for climbing the Reek, you’ll find the eerie reminder.

Back in the early 1990s, as the 150th anniversary of Black ’47 [1847] drew neigh, the symbolic advent of Ireland’s horrific famine; the Irish government selected this site and awarded the commission. Amazingly, the artist completed the project in just a few short months. His portrayal of a doomed famine ship [26’ long & 20’ tall] is the largest bronze sculpture ever executed in Ireland. Cloaked in symbolism, Behan’s work is truly mystical.

On first inspection, the viewer sees its three masts silhouetted against the sky, a reminder of Calvary’s three crosses. On closer inspection, the famine ship’s rigging, with its flattened skeletons of dead voyagers, pays silent tribute to the tragic death of so many ill-fated Irish… men, women and children who departed their homeland only to die at sea.

The positioning of the vessel is also significant. Landlocked as it is, but in full view of Clew Bay and the open sea, the ghostly coffin-ship passengers are trapped, unable to escape the ravages of hunger and disease that have beset them.
Tragically and incapable of realising the hopeful promise of a brighter tomorrow lying just over the horizon, the unfortunate are unwittingly damned, stripped of all humanity, their memory and plight frozen in time for all to remember.

Furthermore, if you happen to be in Mayo during May and are interested in pursuing other famine tributes, do visit the little village of Louisburgh just up the road along the coast. The last time I was there, the community was organising a Famine museum in an abandoned school building, or was it a vacant church?

Additionally, in past springs, the residents have often staged a Sunday memorial Famine walk honouring the events surrounding the tragic Doolough [Black Lake] incident of March, 1849. In the past, Afri, an Irish peace, justice and human rights organisation, sponsored the tribute. Check the internet for details.

As you might have read, back in ’49, with area residents reeling from the effects of disease and starvation, but buoyed by the prospects of receiving food, some 600 citizens of Louisburgh tramped the twelve miles from their village along the dirt track over Doolough Pass into the Delph Valley to Delph House. When finally arriving at the estate’s door, the landlord turned them away.

But the worst was yet to come. On the return journey, the throng encountered an enormous storm. High winds swept the huddled masses into the lake with many drowning. Others, too weak to carry on, died by the roadside. Later, the bodies were buried in a mass grave overlooking the water. Today, an unusual stone-cross marker pays tribute to the memorialised dead.

With recollections of Ireland’s famine on my mind, you might recall the comments I made about Tim Pat Coogan’s new book, The Famine Plot, in last month’s letter. Happily, TPC has received many favourable reviews and comments from readers worldwide. Maybe you’ve read them too. The internet is full of thoughtful words.

In discussing TPC’s visa debacle with an Irish friend, another fine Irish historian in his own right, Seán O Mahony, commented that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would surely sort things out on her upcoming visit to Ireland in early December. [Note: It was just about that time that Senator Chuck Schumer interceded and the matter of the visa was resolved.]

A few weeks later, I read with interest that US Ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney, announced his diplomatic resignation. Who knows if there was any connection, but it should be noted that Mr. Rooney was a faithful and loyal civil servant to his president, his secretary and the American people. Sure, with all the political upheaval in Washington after the November election, isn’t it customary for government appointees to resign?

With the visa issue settled, alas too late to reschedule his US book tour prior to Christmas, Tim Pat decided to forgo coming over to the States this winter. I can only hope Seán and himself might book flights over this spring or early summer. It would be great to see them again. Seán could work in some golfing now that his new hip has passed its first test and both men could regale America with some of their great stories.

Speaking of Tim Pat, I can vividly remember our first meeting. I called him from the States prior to going over in the spring of 2006. We scheduled a meeting for a Sunday afternoon in May at his house he’d named ‘Eventually.’ I wanted to query him about Tom Cullen, the subject of my latest research project.

On the appointed day, I drove up from Wicklow. I left early for fear of losing my way, but thanks be to God, I found his address with no trouble. Yes, he must be at home…there was a car in the driveway. So with time to kill, I drove around the block and had a cuppa in a nearby village pub.

Thirty minutes later, I was back at his house. Now, the car was gone. Maybe he’d just run out on an errand or worse yet, had forgotten about me altogether.
Oops, I see from my word count I must stop, but I’ll continue next month. Here’s hoping the New Year is being well received and it’s treating you gently. God bless and may the spirit of St. Brigid and the advent of spring [1 Feb] be close at hand. Is Mise, Cathal

*Cathal is a freelance writer and the author of four historical fiction novels. His newest novel, A Fire On The Mountain, is scheduled for release in mid-2013. www.cathalliam.com

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A Rare Cuppa: A story from this month’s issue of the Ohio Irish American News

Blowin’ In: A Rare Cuppa
By Susan Mangan

When I was a girl, my mother enjoyed treasure hunting at local garage sales and antique shops. During a special trip, she allowed me to select one item to bring home. I remember being quite taken with a black ceramic teapot that sported a yellow and white flower on either side of its round middle. This was to be my treasure. With this teapot, I hosted tea parties for my stuffed animals and toasted a day well spent with Grandma Rose. It never occurred to me that I hadn’t actually drank tea from the pot, but rather Coca-Cola or water, until one memorable St. Valentine’s Day eve.

A blizzard threatened our elementary school Valentine’s Day party. My mom and I made a hurried last minute trip to the local Jewel Osco store to buy valentine greetings for the class and a few provisions in case heavy snow buried the streets of Chicago overnight. Like any other child, I enjoyed grocery shopping with my mom because she would often buckle under my tenacious requests for whole coconuts or tinned sardines (yes, I was a precocious child). Our cart would soon be brimming with what I considered delicacies. It was then that I discovered the hot beverage aisle.

Once again, my generous mother allowed me to select one item, a box of tea. Glory days had arrived! There were boxes with lemons and apples, teddy bears and cinnamon sticks. There was even a box named after an earl, Earl Grey. At last, my nose settled on something before my eyes could even take in the colors of the box: “Constant Comment.”

I can still see my small form squatting in front of the bottom shelf holding the orange and copper colored package. The scent was woodsy and reminded me at once of my grandmother’s pumpkin pies and my mother’s Christmas oranges. As an adult, I know this tea is rich with cloves, nutmeg, and citrus peel, but as a child, the scent was something much more simple. It was the scent of comfort, the scent of home. It was the fragrance that lie embedded in the bottom of my 25 cent teapot.

I used to laugh at commercials that depicted adults wrapping their hands around steaming mugs of coffee. It was almost as though these folks enjoyed a blissful romantic relationship with a hot beverage. Now I get it. Nothing quite takes the edge off a day like a cup of freshly brewed tea, or a coffee, strong and hot.

Even the vessel from which you sip your favorite elixir adds to the delight of the experience.

My Uncle Richard was a career United States Navy man. He traveled to exotic ports of call. When Uncle Richard was first married, he and his new bride Roxie lived in Japan for a few years. After I was born and named their Godchild, Uncle Richard felt a special gift was certainly in order. He presented my mother with a Japanese tea set. The teapot is white with delicate blue flowers. Most unusual, however, is the bamboo handle that tops this porcelain pot. The name of the set is ”Susanna.”

When I was married, my mother gave me the set to cherish, but she, like her mother, my grandmother Mim, felt that precious items should be used, not stored away as museum pieces.

When I finally had children of my own, I would host informal tea parties for my children. Ironically, the advent of our parties began when a Teddy Bear Valentine Tea Party at the Lake Erie Nature Center was canceled due to a snowstorm. My daughter’s favorite little cousin was to join us for the day and the girls were quite sad that the party was ruined. Never one to disappoint a child, I brought out the Susanna tea set. Our little cousin delighted in pouring apple juice from the bamboo-handled teapot into the delicate little cups. The children toasted Valentine’s Day while munching cookies and sipping healthy swigs of apple “tea.” The cousin, who has since grown into a lovely and very gracious young lady, often reminisces about days spent at a child’s picnic table in the middle of our small kitchen where we enjoyed a proper cup of tea and the innocence of childhood.

In Ireland, tea is a staple. I smile at my memory of the Uncle and his son Thomas sitting elbow to elbow at the kitchen table after a day spent moving sheep into fresh fields. The two would remark when offered yet another cup of tea, “ Sure, why not? Don’t we drink the tea morning, noon, and night?”

No matter how many cups are poured in a day, when a visitor from near or far is at the door, the electric kettle is set to boiling. I have to say that I have yet to tire of this ritual. It is more than comforting to share news, whether happy or sad, with one you love over a cup of tea. I will never forget the evening after we waked my father-in-law. A relative looked at me and said nothing except, “Here, you need this.” Blisteringly hot, the strong Irish tea seared my gullet, blanketing warmth over my chilled spirit.

One winter, our family was invited to a wedding in Ireland. We were already there enjoying the Christmas holidays so the chance to attend a wedding was an unexpected surprise. The day was windy, damp, and cold. The feathers adorning the ladies’ up-does were limp and their hats were crumpled. Our coats smelled of wet wool. In between the mass and the reception, the parents of the groom had hired a lovely spread of soup, sandwiches, and pots of tea in a cozy local pub. The more robust of the guests, those nursing coughs, and those of us chilled to the bone sipped snifters filled with sugared hot whisky, orange peel, and cloves. Amid the creak of wooden floorboards and the rumble of Irish laughter, the familiar smell of tea, oak barrels, and citrus awakened my senses once more. Constant Comment indeed.

Perhaps it is the unspoken philosophy behind a cup of tea. Perhaps it is the comfort of friends and enduring tradition that brings us back to this ritual time and time again. Perhaps it is simply our need for a tasty cup of tea.

*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 contacted at suemangan@yahoo.com.

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Real Ireland Tea Loaf: A story from this month’s issue of the Ohio Irish American News

Real Ireland; TEA!
by Rachel Gaffney

As an Irishwoman living in the United States, I am frequently subjected to the stereotypical jokes about the Irish and their love of alcohol, but rarely do I hear about our love of tea, the other beverage. I think it is fair to say that a cup of tea in Ireland has been the panacea for all that ails you since as far back as I can remember.

When we purchased our first house here in Texas, we had various contractors come through our doors to make the necessary repairs. I would offer them a cup of tea. Some declined politely.
One man could not help but ask the question, “Why are you offering me tea in a cup?”. “What other way should I serve it?,” I asked. “In a glass” was the reply. Of course, I had moved to Dallas, Texas, where the only tea that people drank back then (and even now to be truthful), was iced tea.

I grew up in Cork City. My mum would put on the kettle to make a ‘cuppa’ for anyone who visited our home, whether they be guests or contractors. I sat for countless hours as a teenager with my friends drinking tea, planning our weekends, talking about the boys we liked and who was going out with who!

Tea became popular in 1901 and that was when James J. Barry opened his first store on ‘Bridge Street, Cork’. Today Barry’s tea is still based in Cork and remains in the family. The red box beckons you from the shelf inviting you to enjoy a golden moment.

When I first moved to London, I brought my tea with me. My sister now lives in London and packing the distinctive red box is a must in our home. You just can’t leave Cork without it. Before my cooking classes begin, I have now fine-tuned my ritual. The kettle is boiled, the teapot prepared, milk poured and cups and saucers laid out. Once seated, I invite everyone to enjoy a cup. My preference is to drink tea from a china cup or china mug. It just tastes better to me. The reaction is lovely for it is one of warmth, and immediately puts people at their ease.

Do you take time out to sit, relax, read a book and enjoy a cup of tea? If not, you should try it. It soothes the soul and relaxes the mind.

I also use cold tea when baking my tea loaf. This is a great way of using up any remaining from your teapot. When you bake this loaf, enjoy the aroma in your home, take time to sip on a nice hot cup of tea, slice the loaf and spread with Irish butter. As Barry’s tea says, “Every Day should have it’s golden moments”.

This should be your moment.

TEA LOAF

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup raisins
1 1/4 cup golden raisins
1 cup soft brown sugar
4 tbls melted Kerrygold unsalted butter
1 cup cold black tea (unflavored)
1 large egg
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare a 1lb loaf pan by greasing with a little butter, then line with parchment paper.

If you are a tea drinker , then the best way to do this is to reserve a cup of black tea. Allow this to cool completely.

Dissolve the sugar in the tea and add raisins and golden raisins.
Leave overnight (or at least 4 hours).

In a bowl add butter and egg. Slowly mix, then gradually add flour and baking powder. Pour in fruit mixture. Mix thoroughly.
Pour in to prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 1/2 hours. You can check by inserting a skewer into the cake. It should be dry when withdrawn.
Allow to cool.

Coming to Cleveland ~ What is Gaelic Football: A story from this month’s issue of the Ohio Irish American News

Owens Sports
by Mark Owens

Gaelic Football 101: Over the past few years I have covered Gaelic Football in terms of results, champion’s roll of honor, the history of the game in Ireland and even the history of the game in Cleveland, Ohio. For those of you knowledgeable in the sport of Gaelic Football, these articles have hopefully provided you with some up-to-date information on a sport you are already familiar with.

On the flip side though, with every new form of literature, publication or article comes a new reader with a new level of knowledge on the topics at hand – thus the main topic for this month’s Owens Sports will be Gaelic Football 101.
In addition, over the Labor Day weekend (August 30th thru September 1st) the North American County Board Championships will be held in Cleveland, at the Barton-Bradley Soccer complex in North Olmsted. As we get closer to the Games, I will bring you updates and news. I am the Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee. This is going to a fantastic summer; there will be something for everyone in the family to enjoy.

Gaelic Football can best be described as a mixture of football (soccer) and rugby, although it predates both of those games. Gaelic Football is played on a pitch approximately 137m long and 82m wide. The goalposts are the same shape as on a rugby pitch, with the crossbar lower than a rugby one and slightly higher than a soccer one.
Each team typically consists of fifteen players – although in North America teams of 13 players are not uncommon. Teams line out as follows: One goalkeeper, three full-backs, three half-backs, two midfielders, three half-forwards and three full-forwards, as follows:

The ball used in Gaelic Football is round, slightly smaller than a soccer ball. It can be carried in the hand for a distance of four steps and can be kicked or hand-passed, a striking motion with the hand or fist, kind of like a serving action in volleyball. After every four steps the ball must be either bounced or soloed, an action of dropping the ball onto the foot and kicking it back into the hand. When played by men, the ball may not be picked directly from the ground – it must be scooped up into the hands by the foot. However, in ladies’ Gaelic football, the ball may be picked up directly. You may not bounce the ball twice in a row.

To score, players put the ball over the crossbar by foot or hand fist for one point or under the crossbar and into the net by foot or the hand fist for a goal, worth three points. Physical contact in the form of shoulder charging (shoulder to shoulder) and slapping the ball out of the opponent’s handis allowed.

Following are examples of fouls that can result in penalties and further disciplinary action seemed necessary by match officials; using both hands to tackle, pulling an opponent’s jersey, blocking a shot with the foot and striking an opponent. Games are played anywhere from 60-70 minutes in length, in the form of two halves, depending on the competition or division.

To understand the game more I recommend www.gaa.ie, or if you have Setanta Sports they show games. As we approach the spring and summer months, games can be seen live every Sunday at PJ McIntyre’s Irish Pub, Cleveland.

Rugby: The Six Nations Championships – A Preview
For those of you who are rugby fans, and in Cleveland that is becoming an ever growing number, you will remember that the 2012′s Six Nations tournament was a great one. England surprised many by actually challenging for the title despite a lack of experience and new coach; Italy didn’t finish last for the 1st time since 2007; and Wales were the eventual Grand Slam, Triple Crown and Six Nation champions. This year’s Championship kicks off during the 1st weekend of February.

2013 looks to be yet another superb year for rugby fans, with the RBS sponsored Six Nations containing many mouth-watering fixtures. There will be three home games for England, Scotland and Italy, who will all be looking to capitalize on their extra home advantage with wins. Reigning champion Wales have two difficult home fixtures against England and Ireland. Both fixtures will likely be sell-outs, as both the visitors and the home support will want a win in these huge fixtures. Wales narrowly defeated both Ireland and England away last year, with the England victory securing their 20th Triple Crown.

England will fancy their chances against long-term rivals France and Scotland in their home fixtures, as well as against the consistent tournament underdogs Italy. Last year England went into their matches as underdogs thanks to a relatively inexperienced squad and a new caretaker coach. However despite seven England players gaining their full international debuts, they overcame Scotland to win 13 – 6. England also battled to a 24 – 22 victory over France.

Italy has an opportunity to provide their ever faithful supporters plenty of joy with fixtures against the French, Wales and Ireland. A win in any of these would be a welcome boost to Italian rugby and another step in the right direction after defeating Scotland last year to finish 5th, their best finish ever in the Championship.

Scotland will be looking revenge against the Italians in their opening match and will likely fancy their home chances against Ireland. A final match against Wales on March 9th is the chance to put the cherry on the top of what will hopefully be a solid campaign.

Ireland will play two tough fixtures against England on the opening weekend and France in March. After their initial fixture against France was postponed last year due to an unplayable pitch (snow), Ireland drew against France despite playing the better rugby. Perhaps this year they’ll have more luck! France face defending champions Wales in Paris for their first game on February 9th, before then going onto play Scotland on the final weekend at home.

Trivia
First last month’s question: Donegal are the current All-Ireland Football Champion,s having won the prestigious Sam Maguire Trophy this past September. But who did they beat in the final to win it all last year? The answer is Mayo, who the Donegal team beat by a score line of 2-11 to 0-13. It was the 2nd All-Ireland football title for Donegal, and unfortunately for Mayo, it left them searching for their 1st title since 1951.

This month’s question: The 2013 RBS Six Nations Championship kicks off this month with Ireland looking to avenge the last few disappointing seasons by winning it all. When was the last time Ireland won the Six Nations Championship?

*Mark Owens is originally from Derry City, Ireland and has resided in the Cleveland area since 2001. He is employed by State Farm Insurance Companies. Mark is the Chairman of the 2013 North American Gaelic Games Finals to be held in Cleveland. Send questions, comments or suggestions for future articles to Mark at: markfromderry@gmail.com.

A Place Worse Than Hell… A Story from this Month’s Issue: Ohio Irish American News:

A Place Worse Than Hell…
by Niamh O’Sullivan

Such is the esteem in which Thomas F. Meagher’s Irish Brigade is held in the beautiful Virginia town of Fredericksburg, Virginia, that I left with a small sprig of boxwood, given to me by a man from North Carolina. During the Battle of Fredericksburg, Meagher ordered his men to wear pieces of this little green plant in their hats, to identify their Irish origins, their regimental flags destroyed at the previous battle of Antietam.

I travelled from Dublin to Fredericksburg to attend the 150th anniversary of the fierce fighting which had taken place throughout the historic town and the countryside surrounding in mid-December 1862. I am astonished at the level of knowledge displayed there regarding Meagher’s Irish Brigade and at the position of honour this brigade received in the all too real re-enactment of the battle; apart from the Stars and Stripes, the flag of the 28th Massachusetts, newly joined with Meagher’s brigade, was the only other flag carried into “battle” as the Union tried once again to “take” the heights above town…

I first became aware of Thomas F. Meagher when I started work in Kilmainham Prison in Dublin, in 1982. Meagher had been held there as a member of the Young Ireland movement for six weeks in 1848, after a disastrous and poorly attended Uprising in Ballingarry, County Tipperary.

Thomas Francis Meagher

Ireland was then in the throes of the Great Famine, and the Young Irelanders were making some attempt to try to alleviate the suffering of the people. During their ill fated Uprising, which took place in and around a single old farmhouse, two men died and several were wounded. It could far more accurately be described as a melee than any kind of serious Revolt.

After being sentenced to death, reprieved, and banished to Van Diemen’s Land, Meagher escaped to America in 1852, where he established himself in New York. Initially sympathetic to the South, once they fired on Fort Sumter, he questioned how Southerners could in fact fire on the flag that had given shelter to many thousands of his countrymen.

Meagher joined the Union army, recruiting in his Irish Brigade Irishmen who had fled their country during and after the Famine. He and his men crossed into Fredericksburg using the Upper Pontoon Bridge site on December 12, 1862, still grievously suffering the loss of some 540 of their members two months previously in the battle of Antietam.

The overall casualty list for the Battle of Fredericksburg was roughly 18,000 men, including several hundred from the Irish Brigade. Towards the end of the 19th century, in his poem At Fredericksburg-Dec. 13, 1862, yet another Irishman escaped from Australia, John Boyle O’Reilly, would write of them: “Twelve hundred they came, and two hundred go back.”

There are so many Fredericksburg Irish Brigade stories to relate, including the oft repeated one of how Meagher’s men were recognised as they approached the infamous stone wall on Marye’s Heights sheltering the Confederates firing down on them, by members of the 24th Georgia, which numbered some thirty to thirty-five Irishmen of their own among their ranks. Again, John Boyle O’Reilly describes it best in his poem: But, Irish in love, they are enemies still. One narrative I particularly wanted to reflect upon was that of the presence of an old and dear friend of Meagher on the battlefield; but again on the Southern side, John Mitchel. Thomas F. Meagher travelled through Famine-struck Ireland with him, and attended his trial in Dublin in May 1848.

John Mitchel

Mitchel had also been a member of the Young Ireland movement. More aggressive than all of the others, he was vigorously pursued by the British under their hurried Treason Felony Act of 1848. Mitchel was the first man convicted under this legislation. He too was transported to Van Diemen’s Land, where he frequently and illegally met up with Meagher. Mitchel escaped across to America one year after Meagher, and they enjoyed a great reunion in New York. John Mitchel eventually settled in the South.

Mitchel was an enthusiastic supporter of the Confederacy and all of its policies – he gave two of his sons to the Southern Cause during the Civil War. Young Willie Mitchel lost his life during General Pickett’s famous Charge in Gettysburg, in 1863. John Mitchel Jr died in Fort Sumter in 1864.

On the fateful morning of 13 December 1862, just before battle erupted, Mitchel was in Fredericksburg, visiting James (a third son, who survived the Civil War albeit with the loss of an arm) and Willie in their position on Howison Hill. With Meagher at that moment readying his men to try to take the stone wall on Marye’s Heights, the two friends were less than two miles distant. It is likely that John Mitchel was aware of the presence of Meagher on the field; it is not known if Meagher knew Mitchel was nearby.

Highly conscious of Ireland’s impending 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising, I must confess I was also eager to travel to Fredericksburg to see how Virginia would handle this commemoration of the battle – one of the South’s greatest victories. There were a number of serious issues to deal with, including the evils of slavery and the wanton looting of the town of Frederiscksburg by Northern troops just before the battle – the first time Americans had looted an American town.

The National Park Service historians were simply excellent. Nothing was concealed as they discussed and interpreted the many and varied features, causes and effects of that gruesome battle of 150 years ago to huge crowds. They walked us through town pointing out places stained by slavery, churches of all denominations used as hospitals and homes from where many sons left their families to join the Confederate army.

They showed us the houses (including the one in Caroline Street where I was lucky enough stay) used by General Barksdale’s sharpshooters as they tried to delay the Union army crossing the Rappahannock River to enter Fredericksburg. These historians exhibited a high degree of grace, openness and pride in their past that we would do well to emulate as we attempt to interpret our own major centennial in three years’ time.

*Niamh O’Sullivan worked in Kilmainham Prison for 24 years with Kilmainham Jail Restoration Society & in the Archives. She is involved with the Jackie Clarke Collection, Ballina, and the Irish Life and Lore Series, Kerry”. Contact Niamh at niamhva@gmail.com.

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Irish in America

Irish in America
by John O’Brien, Jr.


The snow’s stopped falling, tho I still see a flake
drifting to the lawn, disappearing within a white lake
The Tea is on, the brown bread is steaming
March issues has gone to layout, and I’m sitting here dreaming

Leap the swans, roll the thunder
Green season’ll soon melt, winter’s grip asunder
in the St Patrick’s Day feast, music’s still the beam;
let loose the Parade, wedded to the American Dream

The sun shines brightly, and the occasion lends
Mass and family, enveloped in the warmth of friends
To appreciate the blessing and to pay forward the sift
Being Irish in America, strike’s a many jeweled gift.

Only 32 days Until St. Pats ~ Are Your READY?

It is only 32 Days Until St. Patrick’s Day ~ Are You Ready? We are gearing up for the March issue, our biggest of the year. If you would like to create a special ad for March, please let me know and we will reserve the space. Deadline for March, camera ready ad, is Tuesday February 19th, 5 pm. We look forward to a fantastic issue and a fantastic St. Pat’s!