Happy New Year, and Happy Anniversary too!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year. I’d also like to add, Happy Anniversary – to all our Ohio Irish American News writers, advertisers, distributors and supporters – we are 9 years old; we are very blessed to know you, and to have your active support. We continue to learn, to grow and to get better, thanks to your feedback.

 

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As always, there is much going on in and around Ohio. Every month ads and the Out & About Ohio section are filled with what’s to come; so save the date, share the wealth and plan accordingly to not miss the best the Irish have to offer each other, and our friends.

 

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It gives us great joy to share the wealth of our heritage, past present and to come. Seeding others bears so much fruit; just as it has for generations of ground breakers, immigrants, sponsors and saviors, who then sent those proceeds back and forward, to ease the road for the next one on it. We aim to have the same impact. In 2015, our budget for helping those in need was $10,000; we blew by that in June, and will end up being nearly double it for the year. To whom much is given …

 

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Irish Network Cleveland, the Irish Chamber of Commerce in Cleveland, has launched; Music Box Cleveland Sundays are back, The Cleveland International Film Festival; Northern Ohio Rose of Tralee, and RISE Foundation events are fast approaching; Primary elections are March 15th, with many Judicial races impacting our communities; The 100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising is fast approaching; Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival and many more events are this month, next, or deep into planning. I know they would welcome your support, and your help; they are asking, if you are looking for that chance to make a difference, and have fun.

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

#LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish
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 2 Days Until Christmas …

It is 2 Days until Christmas …

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

Living in the moment isn’t hard to do ~ perhaps because it is so easy, and we are so busy, 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 and a broken back 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 as spokesman 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 recover some 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 my having been here, exists every day. Sometimes I win; sometimes I learn how to win.

The same is true for my new book, The Lyrics of Irish Freedom, which comes out January 1st (www.songsandstories.net). Sharing the bardic stories and songs of the Irish passion for freedom was a fun undertaking, but only time will tell if it resonates with others as much as it does with me.

Another echo of striving to make the world a better place is editing and publishing the Ohio Irish American News ~ we are celebrating our 9th 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. Saying thanks while they are still here, to hear it, is way more important than after they are gone, tho their families only seem to sense their impact later in the wake line shares and tears.

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”

Tennyson Come my friends

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

#LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish
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 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.

This year will be our 34th 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 34 years of practice. To Date, we have Scythian, Ronan Tynan, The Fitzgerald’s, Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul, Socks in the Frying Pan, Garry Gormley, Irish Descendants, Young Wolfe Tones, New Barleycorn, Brigid’s Cross, Marys Lane, Dermot Henry, Ashley Davis, Dennis Doyle and The Kilroys, with a throw out the the young wans, The Spazmatics. With that lineup, I hope you can see why I am excited; there is still much to come and slots to fill.

Temple Bar & Museum was a big hit last year, and will be expanded again 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. Social Media, planning, entertainment and hospitality is in need of your help, just call out my name (john@clevelandirish.org).

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”. #truth #LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish

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.

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

#LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish
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 4 Days Until Christmas …

It is 4 Days Until Christmas ~ Four Green Fields … 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. I grew up with them, I fell in love with them; They are the stories of our people.

Tommy Makem

Our stories define us; the Irish culture is such a story-driven one, with 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 – it is our connection to our past, AND our present.

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In these writings of Christmas, all my writings, 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.  It was 1967.  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.

The Four Green Fields symbolically refer to the 4 Provinces of Ireland: Leinster, Munster, Ulster & Connaught, which hold the 32 counties, closest to our States, here in the U.S.  The “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.

In this time of birth, and rebirth, the beginning of new eras and new days, that dream of one country is not over.  One Ireland is closer now than it has been in more than 800 years.

“Do not worry if you have built castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them”.
– Henry David Thoreau

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

#LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish
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 5 Days Until Christmas …

It is 5 Days Until Christmas ~ In the 12 Days of Christmas Song* 5 is the 5 Golden Rings, which symbolically refers to the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the “Pentateuch”, which gives the history of man’s fall from grace.
Grace is a many splendored thing; falls can be too, whether we are talking about weather, or wipeouts. Walmart fist fights, for deals the day after a national holiday to say thanks for all we have, seemed sharp in its particularly social commentary. And the legend grows, each year.

We are met with little irritations each day; sometimes we are met with big ones. Every person has crosses to bear, and if we knew their story, would probably often weep with surprise and mull the strength of the subject. Grace is a strengthening, a coating, an extra layer of armor to fight those challenges each day. It is given thru prayer, or handing a difficult situation, with … grace!

Christmas season is one of love and appreciation, but it is also notorious for irritations, waning patience and urgency hypocritical to the essential Christmas message of sacrifice, of love for our fellow man, of dying for all men ~ for which one man gave the last full measure of devotion. Life is not perfect, we cannot create a perfect Christmas, but still we try.

How we handle those crosses ourselves, with a smile or a smack, can use up our supply of grace, or add to it. So it becomes easier to be mean, or easier to be kind.

9 years ago this week. we launched the Ohio Irish American News – it premiered January 1st, 2007. 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, rejoiced and shared in too many sorrows, in all seen and done over the last nine years. The list is long, the list is distinguished; in my mind, the list shall live in infamy.

Nine 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.

Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know”:
#LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish
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 6 Days till Christmas …

It is 6 Days till Christmas …
by John O’Brien, Jr.

It is 6 Days until Christmas ~ 6 has many prominent places in society; the most prominent, of course, is that “On the sixth day, God created Man,” It was a good day for man! A few others that came easily to mind are a fit to yesterday’s blog, with the 7 notes of the Diatonic scale http://songsandstories.net/…/it-is-7-days-until-christmas-5/ , paired with the 6 strings of the guitar in today’s blog, and my love for music in a previous one.

We take a chance in playing that game of association: so, we have six sides of a die. We have fun on the rise and fall of the die, and the wish to die as you plunge down a rickety rackety track ~ Cedar Point roller coasters, almost everywhere we look, including the six inhabited continents.

The sixth sense tells you to run, to not get on the coaster, or you might meet Kevin Bacon, and we all know about the 6 degrees of that! You could die, and then what happens? You go 6 feet under ~ Coffins are buried six feet underground.

It has its good points and its bad points, but there is 6 points in scoring a touchdown and in the Star of David. If that doesn’t make you drink … there are 6 packs, and, strangest of all, 6 is the number for carbon, which we humans are emitting/creating at an unprecedented and dangerous level.

I love a green Christmas, and a green earth. Last, but most importantly, 666 has no chance at all, for in 6 days, that Star of David, the Light of the World, shines brightest of all.

You Are Blessed:

If you own just one Bible, you are abundantly blessed,
1/3 of the world does not have access to even one.
If you woke up this morning with more health than illness,
you are more blessed than the million who will not survive the week.
If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment,
the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation,
you are ahead of 500 million people around the world.
If you attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest or torture of death, you are more blessed than almost three billion people in the world.
If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back,
a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the world.
If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace,
you are among the top 8% of the worlds wealthy.
If your parents are still married and alive, you are very rare, even in the United States.
If you can hold someone’s hand, hug them, or even touch them on the shoulder,
you are blessed because you can offer God’s healing touch.
If you prayed yesterday or today, you are in the minority, because you believe in God’s willingness to hear and answer prayers.
If you believe in Jesus as the son of God, you are part of a very small minority in the world.
If you can read this message, you are more blessed
than over two billion people in the world that cannot read anything at all.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful,
you are truly blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

It came without ribbons

Yesterday marked my 9th Anniversary with the Cuyahoga County SheriffSheriff. I am so proud to know and work together with the men and women in black. Sworn officers, civilians; family. My new book, The Lyrics of Irish Freedom will be out January 1st, it would make a great Christmas gift (www.songsandstories.net), and today I sent off the 9th Anniversary issue of the Ohio Irish American News (www.ianohio.com).

Beannachtaí na Nollaig ~ Blessings of Christmas!

Lyrics_Cover_Web
The Lyrics of Irish Freedom
by John O’Brien, Jr.
Get your autographed copy at www.songsandstories.net
The Lyrics of Irish Freedom by John O'Brien, Jr. Get your autographed copy at www.songsandstories.net
The Lyrics of Irish Freedom
by John O’Brien, Jr.
Get your autographed copy at www.songsandstories.net

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:

‪#‎LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish‬
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