I Went to a Party Mom

I Went to a Party Mom

I went to a party
and remembered what you said.
You told me not to drink, Mom
so I had a Sprite instead.
I felt proud of myself,
the way you said I would.
That I didn’t drink and drive,
though some friends said that I should.
I made a healthy choice,
and your advice to me was right.
The party finally ended,
and the kids drove out of sight.
I got into my car,
sure to get home in one piece,
I never knew what was coming, Mom,
something I expected least.
Now I’m lying on the pavement,
and I hear the policeman say,
the kid that caused this wreck was drunk, Mom,
his voice seems far away.
My own blood’s all around me,
as I try hard not to cry.
I can hear the paramedic say,
this girl is going to die.
I’m sure the guy had no idea,
while he was flying high,
because he chose to drink and drive,
now I would have to die.
So why do people do it Mom,
knowing that it ruins lives?
And now the pain is cutting me,
like a hundred stabbing knives.
Tell sister not to be afraid, Mom.
Tell Daddy to be brave,
and when I go to heaven,
put ‘Daddy’s Girl” on my grave.
Someone should have taught him,
that it’s wrong to drink and drive.
maybe if his parents had,
I’d be still alive.
My breath is getting shorter, Mom,
I’m getting really scared.
These are my final moments.
and I’m so unprepared.
I wish that you could hold me Mom,
as I lie here and I die.
I wish I could say I love you, Mom.
So know I love you as I say goodbye.

author unknown

Be safe tonight

Tis a Workin Man I am … but man, the play!

I get better and better every year at capturing the small moments. I am a (very much) a novice photographer, but learning to capture and work light, to make the essence of people and places come through. I have a very long way to go, but I see flashes, so to speak. Friends show great forbearance and patience; allowing me to do photo shoots with them, to practice technique, develop skill in multiple applications, and I learn as I go. But the capturing I am talking about is mental.

The extra day off at Christmas really made it richer. 9 of my nieces and nephews were in town, 8 more are coming tomorrow. I got to chat with my engaged niece and her Fiancée; I never had any relatives in the US growing up, so see the 17 interact, love each other’s company, makes me very happy.

I recently completed a new book, all about the music and backstory to the Irish fight for freedom. I am completing now the book proposal and agent search. 2016 is the 100th Anniversary of what is simply called, The Rising; the most seminal event in modern Irish history.

I was raised on songs and stories. The Heroes of Renown, of my childhood and like so many of the 70 million Irish Diaspora now in every corner of the world, were illuminated and immortalized by the songs that we were raised on. I sang them, long before I ever knew what they meant. But the stories behind the songs are oft buried in the sands of time.

Up until near the Easter Rising of 1916, there was no TV, no widespread radio in Ireland. There was only the oral tradition of song and story to preserve and present the history of our people. The Bards carried the headlines, in their heads. Our only flicker of roots, of resistance to euthanasia, was to sing from the Hedge School and hone in to the songs and stories of the Bard.

Easter Rising, Soloheadbeg, Upton, Robert Emmitt, Bobby Sands, The Fools, the heroes of 16, The National Anthem, The Plunketts, Patriot Games, Hunger Strike, Kilmainham Jail, Brendan and Dominic Behan, W.B. Yeats, Kevin Barry, The Proclamation, There Were Roses, Canon O’Neill, the Dublin Lockout, Paul McCartney, A Soldier’s Song, Michael Collins, Joe MacDonnell, Tommy Makem; we know the pivotal names in song and places, but what birthed the song?. The Troubles did run on the airwaves, and the power of the people found and forged its own bards out of pure necessity and the Bard in their blood. Their only choice for a voice, was to sing.

Those who write, sing, and star in the songs and stories of Ireland’s freedom are ordinary people doing extraordinary things; people like you and me. Yet, they gave up liberty, health, or the ultimate sacrifice, life, for a dream spanning generations; at times quietly nurtured and at times briefly burning bright, once per generation, for more than 800 years. 99 Years from Freedom paints them and the canvas green, and red. It illuminates those heroes stark, with courage and sacrifice, errors, weaknesses and resolution. Freedom was found in the small battles, little victories and ultimately, world wide reaction to over reaction. This book tells who, what, when and where, as well as the oft forgotten, the why.

We can only know our full selves in the seminal songs and stories of our past. Many are found in 99 Years from Freedom.

An amazing friend of mine, Mary Jo Graves, is a Police Dispatcher. The unrest in Cleveland made her uneasy, as it has all of us. We sometimes shoot the messenger. All of Irish Irish know about stereotypes – they are never correct – no matter the race, religion or reason.  So many of us are cops too. Mary Jo decided to do more than just voice her support of those who risk their lives every day. She organized Sea of Blue, a rally for safety forces in Cleveland, where I live and love. Sea of Blue was just that; a sea of blue, of support for the blue.

Photo courtesy of M Connolly
Photo courtesy of M Connolly

It was a gorgeous 55 degrees Saturday, and Public Square, where the founder of Cleveland, Moses Cleaveland’s statue resides, was full of those who want the men and women in Law Enforcement to know they are so loved, supported. The risky job they undertake every day rarely gets a thanks. With her on stage were Radio Show host Bob Frantz, who gave a moving welcome; two of the many who helped out, Megan Connolly and Bridget Ann; and Piper Michael Crawley. Many of my SO brothers and sisters were there too. Words can incite, Mary Jo’s actions blessed us all.

***
I write about things that matter to me, I’ve learned, or simply wish to pass on. Thank You for all the blessings I am humbled by. Please share your story with me; thank you for allowing me to share mine with you.
You can read all my blogs at: http://songsandstories.net/myblog/feed/

“Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know:
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Ohio Irish American News
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Songs & Stories, my author web and SM sites

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Christmas +1 …

It is One Day After Christmas …

Does your heart hurt? Your belly? Or like me right now, are you filled with appreciation, for all the work of my family to make Christmas such a joy for everyone that comes together; for the upbringing now being paid forward to the next generation; but most of all, I am grateful for the Christ in Christmas, that the mass of Christ – the rock of my life and source of my strength in these trying times, shows how He loves me, unconditionally. My parents taught it, my education reaffirmed it, then, when I stood on my own, tho my joints be cringing, God embraced me. He has never let go.

Unconditional love is what we all long for, what we nurture when we are building our marriages and families. We first see it when we screw up as a kid, and our folks, teach unwavering love; and in that support, we get a bonus lesson in the value of an unwavering thirst to do the right thing. Don’t let the creep of anti-climax give glee to the anti-Christ. It is Christmas all year long; way beyond clichés. Say thank you when great moments occur, in case you forget to do so next Thanks Giving Christmas. I have found that days of thanks eases the joints, separates a bad hour from becoming a bad day; the perspective plugs the damn, and lets simple joys flow. We mighta missed them if we had been listening to the cries of wolf.

People don’t want to be saved, they want to be loved, that is how you save them,” Regina Brett

Today, the day after Christmas, is St. Stephen’s Day in the Catholic Church. St. Stephen was the first of Jesus’ followers to be martyred. Legend has it that he was hiding from persecutors and a small bird, called a wren, made a ruckus above him, revealing his location.

A Penny for the Wren

The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem
The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem

In Ireland, a Christmas tradition involved celebrating St. Stephen’s Day (the day after Christmas) in a unique and different way. In the days leading up to Christmas, young boys would find a big stick and then kill a small bird, called the Wren (pron. Wran). They would place the bird’s body in a Holly Bush and then decorate the bush. On the day after Christmas, they would place the corpse into a box, get themselves all mussed up in the dirt and put on crazy bits of clothing. Going door to door, they would sing a song called The Wren Song, hoping to get a penny from the landlord, “for the funeral” of the wren. Multiple groups of boys would be doing this at the same time, often yielding a mad flurry of noise and shouting voices. The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem (certain “ethnic folk types”) tell this story with a bit of an ironic twist at the end, in their 1963 concert, In Person at Carnegie Hall, recorded live.

“On St. Stephen’s Day, you’d hear all the different groups of Wren Boys, some of them singing as fast as they could to get from one door to another, to get more money. But then there was always the ethnic folk types, who sang it slowly and deliberately. They never made any money, of course. [ … after a long pause] But they ended up in Carnegie Hall.”

The audience roared their approval.

See that I mean: http://bit.ly/1c8FKhV or

***

Please share your story with me; thank you for allowing me to share mine with you. For 25 days, I have writen about things that matter to me, I’ve learned, or simply wish to pass on, as we approach Christmas. I got the idea four years ago from Maggie Keenan, a co-worker, who wrote about things she appreciated or was grateful for. The response was significant, and moving to me, so I resolved to do it every year as a Thank You for all the blessings I am humbled by. I hope you have enjoyed them, or at least found something useful.

You can read all the 25 Days of Christmas at: http://songsandstories.net/myblog/feed/

“Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know:

O’Bent Enterprises includes:
Ohio Irish American News
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Songs & Stories, my author web and SM sites

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www.ianohio.com
www.clevelandirish.org
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It is Christmas …

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. For Christmas she gave me a picture, of pictures of the both of us as little kids.  I had seen a few of them before, but not all.  A GREAT gift; I loved it.

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.

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

Parentes Christmas 12 24 14_1


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.

***

From my family to yours, a very Merry Christmas.

Please share your story with me; thank you for allowing me to share mine with you. For 25 days, I am writing about things that matter to me, I’ve learned, or simply wish to pass on, as we approach Christmas. I got the idea four years ago from Maggie Keenan, a co-worker, who wrote about things she appreciated or was grateful for. The response was significant, and moving to me, so I resolved to do it every year as a Thank You for all the blessings I am humbled by.  You can read all the 25 Days of Christmas at: http://songsandstories.net/myblog/feed/

“Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know:

O’Bent Enterprises includes:

Ohio Irish American News
Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival

Songs & Stories, my author web and SM sites 

www.songsandstories.net
www.ianohio.com
www.clevelandirish.org
www.twitter.com/jobjr
www.twitter.com/365Irish
www.twitter.com/cleveland_irish
www.facebook.com/OhioIrishAmericanNews
www.facebook.com/Cleveland-Irish
www.linkedin.com/in/jobjr/
http://songsandstories.net/myblog/feed

It is 1 Day until Christmas …

It is 1 Day until Christmas ~ There can be only One. One day, one Best friend, one Highlander, 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, both for safety, and for satisfaction, of a life well lived. 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 or less, and move … to the next experience, satisfy the next urge, NOW.

I come from a deep and ingrained tradition of storytelling. Today, the oral tradition is more readily available than ever. Only now, it is electric! Its gone from the word, to the web. 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 now 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 about the similarities of different people. I do a monologue 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.

At Each End of the Rifle – Christmas in the Trenches (I chose to click Skip the Ad]

With the advent of the internet and sharing, we can now hear more than one side of the story; we can see snap or 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, in Belfast or in 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. For 25 days, I am writing about things that matter to me, I’ve learned, or simply wish to pass on, as we approach Christmas. I got the idea four years ago from Maggie Keenan, a co-worker, who wrote about things she appreciated or was grateful for. The response was significant, and moving to me, so I resolved to do it every year as a Thank You for all the blessings I am humbled by. You can read all the 25 Days of Christmas at: http://songsandstories.net/myblog/feed/
“Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know:
O’Bent Enterprises includes:
Ohio Irish American News
Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival
Songs & Stories, my author web and SM sites

www.songsandstories.net
www.ianohio.com
www.clevelandirish.org
www.twitter.com/jobjr
www.twitter.com/365Irish
www.twitter.com/cleveland_irish
www.facebook.com/OhioIrishAmericanNews
www.facebook.com/Cleveland-Irish
www.linkedin.com/in/jobjr/
http://songsandstories.net/myblog/feed

Forever Seven: The Men Who Signed The Proclamation: A Story from this month’s issue of the Ohio Irish American News

The Forever Seven: the Seven Men Who Signed The Proclamation
Forever Seven: Patrick Henry Pearse
by Anne Waters

There are few who can name all seven signatories to the Irish Proclamation, but the one name easily recalled is Patrick Pearse. He was the figurehead whose oratory so inspired; it proved a catalyst for the Rising. It was Pearse who read the Proclamation, the document that first asserted Ireland’s independence, from outside the General Post Office on the 24th April 1916.

It was not the first time that Pearse spoke prophetic words. It was his oration that rang at the graveside of the old rebel O’Donovan Rossa and his immortal words resonated through the centuries of Ireland’s troubled history.

‘They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools! — they have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace’ (Ref 1)

Patrick Pearse grew up in a comfortable middle class home. He studied law and was called to the bar but his preference was education. He opened a school for boys which eventually moving to St Enda’s Park in Dublin. In this school many volunteers were both nurtured and trained. His vision of Ireland was bound up in Irish language, music and culture and this was advocated through his editorship of the newspaper An Claidheamh Soluis or The Sword of Light. He was critical of the British education system, viewing the system implemented in Ireland as a repressive tool of the British.
‘The English thing that is called education is founded on a denial of the nation. It has succeeded in making slaves of us” (ref 2)

He attempted to foster within St Endas’ an education that nurtured the soul and creativity of the child claiming that, “Education has not to do with the manufacture of things but the growth of things.” (ref 2)

It would seem that initially Pearse had a more mystical view of Gaelic Ireland, whereas James Connolly (another signatory) understood the struggle and grind of poverty. Pearse position may have been shifting in line with Connolly as the following words would seem to imply: “There have been States in which the rich did not grind the poor”(ref 2).

Patrick Pearse was a complex character, inspirational yet somewhat solitary and aloof. Yet this mystical, thought- provoking and spiritual man was also a soldier He has evoked much controversy, not least because of his call for a “Blood Sacrifice”. It was this call to shed blood for Ireland, at a time when Home Rule was a strong possibility, which draws the criticism of his detractors. However, the call for a blood sacrifice was not unique. Europe was engaged in a war to free small nations and “Blood Sacrifice” was very much the mantra and part of the jingoism of the time.
Criticism of Pearse pertains today as the comments of former Taoiseach (Irish Premier) John Bruton clearly testifies: “if the 1916 leaders had more patience a lot of destruction could have been avoided” (Ref 3).

John Bruton believes that Home Rule would eventually have been achieved without bloodshed. This conveniently ignores the exhortations at the time, for Irishmen to join the British army to secure Home Rule, and the thousands of Irishmen who perished as a result. John Redmond, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party in 1916 and a major advocate for Home Rule, urged young Irish men to join the British army in his speech in Woodenbridge in Co. Wicklow when he proclaimed: “a denial of the lessons of her history if young Ireland confined their efforts to remaining at home to defend the shores of Ireland from an unlikely invasion, and to shrinking from the duty of proving on the field of battle that gallantry and courage which has distinguished our race all through its history.” ( Ref 4)

The supporters of the Rising maintain that Ireland would have remained part of the United Kingdom in a position not unlike that of Scotland, and not have become a fully independent Republic. This position was reiterated by another former and highly esteemed Taoiseach, Dr Garrett Fitzgerald, from the same political party as John Bruton, in an interview in his eightieth year with the Echo: “Without 1916, you wouldn’t have had independence in 1922,” (Ref 5).

Pearse was Commander-in-Chief of the Rising and stationed in the Headquarters at the General Post Office. After consultation with the other signatories and due to the extent of the bloodshed amongst his men and civilians, he called for a surrender. He knew as did the other signatories that they would be executed. It is doubtless he anticipated his brother Willie and another eight men would also face execution.

Major General Blackadder, who chaired a number of the Court-martials is reported as saying: “I have just done one of the hardest tasks I have ever had to do. I have had to condemn to death one of the finest characters I have ever come across. There must be something very wrong in the state of things that makes a man like that a rebel. I don’t wonder that his pupils adored him.” (Ref 6).

An enduring legacy of Patrick Pearse is the pride he attempted to instill in the Irish nation and the value he placed on its language and culture. Pearse believed self -determination was a requisite for Irish-ness to prosper. He hoped his oratory would be inspirational and resurrect a nation that had suffered centuries of oppression.

Conversely, at the time Pearse was extolling the Irish language, it was seen as the language of the poor. Although by 1916 overt English oppression had ceased, the Irish were a poverty stricken people. Many families rejected Gaelic and encouraged their children to learn English.

The English language was believed to be a language of advantage that would enhance job prospects, especially as the route for many people was emigration. In 1916, the Rising and consequently Pearse, did not have popular appeal as the daily grind to survive took precedence over nationhood. It would be interesting to hear Pearse’ views on the prevalence today of Gael Scoils (Irish Schools) and how they are almost the total preserve of the middle classes. The popularity of Gaelic games and music would make him proud but would the unending troubles of a still divided country make him question his sacrifice?

As the centenary of 1916 approaches, there are many loud voices wishing to deny and denigrate the significance of the Rising. Arguably by denigrating those who died for us, we devalue ourselves. Patrick Pearse and the other Signatories gave us the tools to stand proud and become an independent nation.

Ohio_1214_page6 Forever 7 Pearse

December 2014 Cover of the Ohio Irish American News, featuring Roisin O
December 2014 Cover of the Ohio Irish American News, featuring Roisin O

 

Ref 1
http://www.thefuture.ie/reference/oration-at-the-graveside-of-odonovan-rossa-given-by-p-h-pearse/
Ref 2
http://www.cym.ie/documents/themurdermachine.pdf
Ref: 3
Irish Times Sept 18 2014
Ref 4
http://waterfordireland.tripod.com/woodenbridge_speech.htm
Ref 5
//irishecho.com/2011/05/one-familys-rising-interview-with-garret-fitzgerald-in-2006/manent over time
Ref6
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Blackader

It is 2 Days until Christmas …

Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán fein.
There is no fireside like your own fireside.

It is 2 Days until Christmas ~

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

Living in the moment isn’t hard to do ~ perhaps because it is so easy, 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 have become good at living in the moment.  Too much time in my head, trying to mentally conquer RA when the physical implements of war have not worked, especially this year, has allowed me to not only look inward for joy, but outward as well.  I go a little slower, so life is not as blurry for me as for others. Silver linings.

Beside the Ohio Irish American News, Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival and my books, 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. You can recover memories, but not time. 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; there is a load of grief, 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 ~ we are celebrating our 8th Anniversary this month, and have grown tremendously in the past year, our best ever. There is no money in it; we haven’t grown enough yet, tho I have grande dreams. The chance to learn and share our rich heritage with those around me; to say thanks to trail blazers, volunteers and sacrifice, 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 injustice, so many in need of a helping word, a helping hand. A helping hand CAN be verbal you know. They can be given out like sincere candy. 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.

Acts of selfishness often make the news; acts of selflessness rarely do. 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.

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? The time for thinking is over; the time for acting is now.  … Two words have so much meaning: Act Now; Merry Christmas; Happy Anniversary; Thank You…

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

2

***

Please share your story with me; thank you for allowing me to share mine with you. For 25 days, I am writing about things that matter to me, I’ve learned, or simply wish to pass on, as we approach Christmas. I got the idea four years ago from Maggie Keenan, a co-worker, who wrote about things she appreciated or was grateful for. The response was significant, and moving to me, so I resolved to do it every year as a Thank You for all the blessings I am humbled by.  You can read all the 25 Days of Christmas at: http://songsandstories.net/myblog/feed/

“Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know:

O’Bent Enterprises includes:

Ohio Irish American News
Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival

Songs & Stories, my author web and SM sites 

www.songsandstories.net
www.ianohio.com
www.clevelandirish.org
www.twitter.com/jobjr
www.twitter.com/365Irish
www.twitter.com/cleveland_irish
www.facebook.com/OhioIrishAmericanNews
www.facebook.com/Cleveland-Irish
www.linkedin.com/in/jobjr/
http://songsandstories.net/myblog/feed

 

Living with Lardie: Achill, Home of the Blarney; A Story from this Month’s Issue of the Ohio Irish American News

Living with Lardie: Achill, Home of the Blarney
A Story from this Month’s Issue of the Ohio Irish American News
by Richard Lardie

Our first and only trip to Achill Island was in the summer of 1997. We went to Ireland with a large group (28) of interconnected extended families. The weather for the three days we were on Achill was great. Sunny and 65-70 degrees, I was told this was not the norm.

We had decided that our trip to Achill could only be complete if we got in a round of golf. My wife Kay, my friend Joe Cahill and I went to the golf course in Keel to rent some clubs and get in a quick nine. The clubhouse was a small shed that was locked up. There was a note on the door telling us to put five punts in an envelope and have a good time. The problem was we did not have clubs. There was no one around to rent clubs from so we thought we would just drive off the island and play elsewhere.

As we were driving east we saw a large establishment on our left. Lavelle’s had a huge parking lot and as we pulled in we saw a fellow on a ladder repairing something under the eaves of the pub. Joe got out and yelled to him: “Do you know where we could play some golf?” He climbed down from the ladder and approached us saying we could go right into Keel and play. “No, we can’t seem to get any clubs there.” Joe replied. To this, the gentleman blustered some colorful words and told us to go back.

“If Christy (I believe that was the name) didn’t rent you some clubs you tell him I will kick his butt (or words similar but way more colorful).” We all had a laugh at that.

He then said if clubs were the only thing preventing us from golfing he could solve that problem. He popped open the trunk of a car and dug out two decent sets of clubs. “Here you go, bring them back when you’re done,” says he.

“You don’t even know our name and you are giving us your clubs?”
“Not to worry,” he says. “People don’t steal things on Achill, off with ya.” We were amazed by him. This was only the beginning of him amazing us.
As it turns out, we were going there for dinner that evening. We went in with our large group and after getting our drinks we located the gentleman who had given us the clubs and returned them. We invited him to share a drink with us and he told us his tale. (Or should I say tales).

If memory serves me, his name was Tom McCaferkey or something along those lines. He informed us that one of the sets of clubs we borrowed had been given to him by Senator John Glenn of Ohio. We were quite impressed.

It seems he had traveled to Cleveland in the early 80s and worked on his campaign. Since he didn’t have a work permit, he couldn’t receive any money, so Senator Glenn had presented him with the clubs as a thank you.

Joe Cahill and I, along with my son’s father in law, Tom McGinty, were fascinated; his stories were captivating. He described in great detail how he had been awarded the golf clubs by Senator Glenn. My son, Joe Lardie, looked over, gave me a wink, and whispered “listen carefully”.
Another round of drinks and the stories continued. He said he had originally immigrated to the States in the late 60s and had gotten drafted. “Really?” we chimed in. “Yes,” says he, when I got to Viet Nam, I was so good at killing the enemy they were afraid I would end the war too fast so they sent me home.”

He said this with as much seriousness as when he told us about the golf clubs. A quizzical look from Tom and Joe, and then another sip at our drinks. I mentioned that there was a group of Achill guys coming to golf in Cleveland that September and was wondering if he was coming with them. “Ah no”, says he. “When I was working with John Glenn I also received some Astronaut training. The Russians have asked me to help with their space program so I have to go to Moscow that week.”
We had been had. He kept telling taller tales till we got on to him. We all had a good laugh at how gullible we were.

Our group split up and went our separate ways for the next few days. When we next caught up with Tom and Mary McGinty, we were at Durty Nellies the night before our flight back. Tom said he had one more encounter with McCaferkey.

Tom, Mary and their family were walking thru Galway City when they heard someone yelling “Vote for George Voinovich, Vote for George Voinovich.” Tom turned and there was our man from Achill on the steps of a building yelling to Tom that he had just been appointed George Voinovich’s campaign manager.

The Blarney Stone may be in County Cork but the keeper of the Blarney resides on Achill Island at Ted Lavelle’s Pub.

December 2014 Cover of the Ohio Irish American News, featuring Roisin O
December 2014 Cover of the Ohio Irish American News, featuring Roisin O

It is 3 Days until Christmas …

It is 3 Days until Christmas …

Being Irish and being Catholic, three has a significant presence on my life.  A symbol of Ireland oft used is a shamrock, which has three leaves.  It is very prevalent in Ireland, but rare here, and considered lucky because of its rarity. 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 ….

Shamrock vs clover

In the song, the 12 Days of Christmas*, 3 is 3 French Hens, which symbolize Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues.

Faith, Hope and Charity; like many immigrant nations who forge a new home, my family had no relatives in the U.S. while I was growing up.  My dad, from Co. Roscommon, 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. But Faith, Hope and Charity blessed us, again.

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 its own, but inseparable from the whole, very much like Christ, celebration, and Christmas.

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This year will be our 33rd Annual Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival.  The planning and booking is well under way, the grunt work has not yet begun.  I am excited about what, and who, is coming, but dread the havoc the physical work will wreak on my joints. I steel myself to it, and bow my head; by the grace of God, I get through that week each year.  I have 33 years of practice. To Date, we have Runa, Ronan Tynan, Rory Makem, The StepCrew, The High Kings, Cherish the Ladies, Ennis, New Barleycorn, Brigid’s Cross, Marys Lane, Dermot Henry, James Kilbane, Guaranteed Irish, Ashley Davis, Patrick O’Sullivan, Dennis Doyle and The Kilroys. With that lineup, I hope you can see why I am excited; there is still much to come.

Temple Bar & Museum was a big hit last year, and will be expanded this year.  We have moved forward from a one year focus, to a longer term one; The Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising is on our minds as well.  If you’d like to get involved, we’d love to have you.

Ireland and America are so heavily intertwined.  Many in Ireland are surprised when they see the fervor of Americans for Ireland. Festivals not only allow our music and culture to reach so many, they employ all the music makers: performers, sound men, vendors of food and merchandise, grounds rental and a myriad of direct and indirect saints and sinners. 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. Each, alone and together, a very, very, very lucky legacy of life, love and liberty.  My country, my heritage is tattooed across my back, and in my heart.

***

For 25 days, I am writing about things that matter to me, I’ve learned, or simply wish to pass on, as we approach Christmas. I got the idea four years ago from Maggie Keenan, a co-worker, who wrote about things she appreciated or was grateful for. The response was significant, and moving to me, so I resolved to do it every year as a Thank You for all the blessings I am humbled by.  You can read all the 25 Days of Christmas at: http://songsandstories.net/myblog/feed/

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In the Beginning … Cleveland Irish History

St. Michael's
St. Michael’s

Cleveland Irish: In the Beginning …
By Francis McGarry

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

One of the first Irish Catholics in what would become Ohio was Daniel Sheehy from County Tipperary.  He was a surveyor of land in the Mahoning River Valley in the 1790s.  That was almost thirty years before the Irish Catholics would have a parish at St. Mary’s of the Flats.  Daniel’s relative, Father Sheehy of Clogheen, would never make it to Ohio.  He was executed by the English authorities in the 1760s for rebellion.  Father Sheehy’s head decomposed for twenty years on a pike above the gates of Clonmel Jail.

Father Sheehy was perhaps an extreme example of the violence against the Irish in Ireland, perhaps not.  He was an example of the experience that Irish immigrants carried with them.  Our brethren were familiar with such displays of “justice” in Ireland.  That “justice” did not restrict itself to the Emerald Island.  The violence against the Irish followed immigrants across the Atlantic and reared its ugly head in America.

In 1844 Philadelphia, the Kensington Riots pitted the anti-Catholic movement in America against Irish Catholic immigrants.  The American Nativist Party was enraged with Bishop Patrick Kenwick’s objection to the forced use of the King James Bible in public schools.  Nativists also campaigned to extend the naturalization period to twenty-one years, to elect only native born to all political offices and to reject foreign interference in all institutions; social, religious, and political.

The tension erupted and Nativists attacked and burned to the ground St. Michael’s Church, St. Augustine’s Church and St. Charles Seminary.  Irish families were attacked and their homes burned down as well.  In the end, over twenty lay dead and 100 were wounded.  Dublin-born Bishop Kenwick had urged peace during the riots and, following the bloodshed, abandoned his arguments for religious tolerance in the public schools.

Hibernia Hose Co
Hibernia Hose Co

As the Irish Catholic Churches in Philadelphia burned, the Nativists threatened Irish immigrants in New York City.  Tyrone-born Bishop John Hughes warned the Nativist Mayor of New York, if one Catholic Church was burned, “New York would be another Moscow,” a reference to the Battle of Borodino and the Napoleonic invasion of Russia.  Bishop Hughes sent Irish volunteers to defend the Church.  At St. Patrick’s Cathedral, he armed the Ancient Order of Hibernians and positioned them around the walls.  The Ancient Order of Hibernians had been founded in 1836 in Schuykill County, Pennsylvania and in New York City at St. James Church, just up the Bowery from St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  The Catholic Churches of New York City were not harmed.

One of the results of this violence and exclusion was that Bishops like Patrick Kenwick turned to education in the parishes and not the public schools.  The First Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1852 formalized that approach in instructing each new parish to construct a schoolhouse first, even before the construction of the Church.  Hence, the Catholic Church in America began building the Catholic School System.

In 1847 the Diocese of Cleveland was formed, containing not a single parochial school.  Then, the first Bishop of Cleveland, Bishop Louis Rappe, established sixteen parishes, each with a school.  From the beginning of the Diocese, the importance of the parish school was critical in the growth and celebration of the Catholic faith in the area.

Bishop Rappe had assisted at the First Plenary Council of Baltimore and his commitment to Catholic education was made clear as parish and parish school were built in tandem throughout the Diocese.  Rappe brought to Cleveland the Ursulines, the Sisters of St. Joseph, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters, the Humility of Mary Sisters, and the Sisters of Notre Dame.  All were here to teach in the parishes.

And teach they did.  My Ma was a product of the parochial school system in Cleveland.  She attended St. Margaret Mary, Regina and Notre Dame College, then the University of Notre Dame.  She is the smartest person I know.  Thank you, Sisters of Notre Dame!

As the public school system maintained a hostile approach to the Catholic faith, parochial schools continued to gain in attendance.  In 1857, ten years following the formation of the Diocese of Cleveland, the Ohio Teacher’s Association urged the daily use of the King James Bible.  That further increased the demand for parochial schools.

In 1872, Bishop Richard Gilmour assumed the leadership of the Cleveland Diocese.  He championed the movement to maintain the tax-exempt status of the Catholic school and he established the first Diocesan School Board.  During his tenure, 1872-1891, St. Ignatius College, which was to become John Carroll University and St. Ignatius High School, were established.

Bishop Ignatius Horstmann succeeded Gilmour in 1892 and served as Bishop until his death in 1908.  That period recorded the largest expansion of schools in the history of the diocese.

In 1870 Cleveland had fourteen parishes.  By 1908 it had sixty-five parishes.  That expansion corresponds to the largest migration of Irish born immigrants to the Diocese since the Famine.  In the years between 1901 and 1907, over 12,300 Irish immigrants settled in Cleveland.  They joined their brethren and filled the pews in historical Irish parishes and also established new parishes like St. Philomena in East Cleveland in 1902 and St. Ann’s in Cleveland Heights in 1914, now combined as Communion of Saints.

The Irish in Cleveland, like their immigrant brethren, fought for their right to practice their religion and raise their families in the tradition of their parents and their parent’s parents.  As a result, the Cleveland landscape is full of quality Catholic schools, colleges and universities.  Our community, our today, is better due to the sacrifices of those who came before us and laid the first cornerstones at their new parish and its schoolhouse.  It is fitting that the members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians across the country venerate that history and award scholarships to Catholic school students.  We still are positioned around the walls.
*Francis McGarry is President of the Irish American Club East Side and the Bluestone Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians w.francis.mcgarry@gmail.com

December 2014 Cover of the Ohio Irish American News, featuring Roisin O
December 2014 Cover of the Ohio Irish American News, featuring Roisin O