Ireland is Calling You … to Cleveland. The 34th Annual Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival takes place at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds in Berea, Ohio July 22, 23 & 24.
The U.S. has been so generous in welcoming the Irish to this blessed country, and we love paying it forward, in thanks. Festival proceeds benefit The Make-A-Wish Foundation, Holy Family Home and ten other local and national charities. Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival has donated more than $770,000 dollars to charities since its inception in 1983.
Live More Life; Be More Irish ~ Thirty-one bands, dancers and performers on three indoor and five outdoors stages will fill 117 acres, with entertainers from Ireland, Canada and across the U.S. highlighting the rich and varied Irish heritage.
The festival offers a wide range of music from traditional to Celtic Rock. Rock-n-Reel Headliners include Ronan Tynan, of the Irish Tenors; Scythian; Ennis Sisters, The Fitzgerald’s, like Riverdance, only faster! One Shot Paddy; Hedgeband; Derek Warfield & the Young Wolfe Tones; and Socks in the Frying Pan.
In a Festival first – Celtic Rockers Seven Nations with “KIR”, featuring a full Pipe Band; Returning favorites include Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul, Ashley Davis, Marys Lane, Irish Descendants, Patrick O’Sullivan, Dermot Henry and Marys Lane.
Bring your dancing shoes, your energy, and your friends. Live More Life; Be More Irish, and dance like no one is watching.
The New Barleycorn, Brigid’s Cross, James Kilbane, Dennis Doyle, and The Kilroys will also be performing. Irish dance Schools Brady Campbell School, Tesse Burke School and Leneghan Academy join the 87th Cleveland Pipe Band, Firefighter’s Memorial Pipe Band, and West Side Irish American Club Pipe Band. “Things will happen!” as Barleycorn’s Alec DeGabriel always says!
Presenting the very best of Ireland doesn’t stop with the music. The festival showcases championship dancing and pipe bands, and award-winning drama. Authentic Irish food vendors include Claddagh Irish Pubs, Sully’s Irish Pub, the Irish Coffee House and Winston’s Import Catering, and plentiful American fare for kids and adults alike is also available.
Things New to the festival this year include Online Admission tickets and weekend passes, Friday and Saturday Whiskey and Beer Tastings; craft beers; Online Merchandise sales; and so much more.
Expanded at the Festival this year is Temple Bar & Museum – Modeled after the world famous entertainment district in Dublin city centre, our Temple Bar & Museum has loads of singing, dancing, sessions, carrying on, lessons, workshops and exhibits. Walk thru our beautiful hand painted Irish village storefronts to Temple Bar, have a pint of our new craft beers, a traditional Guinness, Harp or Smithwicks, or a pop, have a listen or share a song, a story, or a set dance lesson; you’ll find all the tradition of an Irish pub in our Temple Bar & Museum. There are over 50 Irish vendors with everything from Aran knits to delicious Irish chocolate, T-Shirts, Jewelry, music and that special gift, calling you home.
LAST CALL! Flanagan’s Wake to end this month!
The Hilarious Interactive Irish Wake is Every Friday & Saturday at 8pm and Kennedy’s Theatre at Playhouse Square, Downtown Cleveland. 216-241-6000 or 866-546-1353 www.playhousesquare.org
Cincinnati – Irish Heritage Center
4th – Reds Parade Day w Ohio Rose of Tralee Kathleen Rose O’Donnell, 7th – Irish Pub Night 7:00, 9th – The John Byrne Band Concert, 21st – Irish Pub Night w Mick & Friends, 24th – 100th Anniversary Easter Rising 1:00 Laying Memorial wreath @”An Gorta Mor” at Sawyer Point, 1:15 Soup & Soda Bread @ Irish Heritage Center, 2:30 Easter Rising 1916. Irish Teas/Library /Genealogy Detective/ all three by appointment. Irish Heritage Center 3905 Eastern Avenue 513.533.0100. www.irishcenterofcincinnati.com.
ALL under Cleveland;
1st – Traditional Irish Session, 2nd – The Porter Sharks, 6th – Lonesome Stars, 8th – Crawley, Custy & Taylor, 9th – Webster, Carr & Custy, 13th – Chris & Tom, 15th – Fior Gael, 16th – Chris Allen, 18th – Support our music variance @ Board of Zoning 9:30am Cleveland City Hall Room 514. 20th – Lonesome Stars, 22nd – Bill Fox, 23rd – Brent Kirby, 27th -Chris & Tom, 29th – The Kilroy’s. 4408 Detroit Road, 44113 www.the-harp.com
Traditional Irish Session 1st Sunday of ea/month, Happy Hour Monday-Friday 4 to 7. 1306 West 65th Street Cleveland 44102 216-281-6500
Flat Iron Café
1114 Center St. Cleveland 44113-2406 216. 696.6968. www.flatironcafe.com
3rd- Michael Crawley, 10th- Chris Allen, 17th- Becky Boyd, 24th- Tom Evanchuck. 820 College Avenue, Cleveland, 44113 www.treehousecleveland.com
1st – Cats On Holiday, 2nd – Iced Cherry, 5th – Monthly Pub Quiz- w Mike D. 7pm. 8th – Craic Brothers, 9th – Disco Inferno, 15th – Marys Lane, 16th – Stone Pony, 22nd – Big Ship, 23rd – Bluestone Union, 29th – Michael Crawley & Brent Hopper Happy Hour Duo 5-8, then Juice After, 30th – The Westies. Don’t forget T-Shirt Tues: wear any PJs T-Shirt get 15% off bill! Whiskey Wed: ½ off every whiskey in the house. Thurs – Craft Beer $2.50. PJ McIntyre’s is a Local 10 Union establishment. Home of the Celtic Supporter’s Club and the GAA. Book Parties & Events in our Bridgie Ned’s Irish Parlor Party Room. 17119 Lorain Road, 44111. www.pjmcintyres.com 216-941-9311.
Music Box Supper Club
3rd – Ballinloch, 17th – Portersharks, 22nd – Alan Doyle, 24th Brittany Reilly & Achill Sound. 1148 Main Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44113. http://www.musicboxcle.com
323 East Prospect, Cleveland 44115 216.781.7782 www.flannerys.com
Ahern Banquet Center
Ahern Banquet Center is booking weddings and special events. Call Tony Ahern / Lucy Balser @ 440-933-9500. 726 Avon Belden Rd, Avon Lake 44012. www.aherncatering.com
Irish American Club East Side
1 – Bog Trotters, 15 – Mad Macs, 17 – Padraic Pearse Ladies Reverse Raffle, 22 – 1916 Easter Rising Commemoration. PUB: 7:30 – 10:30. IACES 22770 Lake Shore Blvd. Euclid, 44123. 216.731.4003 www.eastsideirish.org
Logan’s Irish Pub
Trad Sessiún 3rd Wednesday. 414 South Main Street, Findlay 45840 419.420.3602 www.logansirishpubfindlay.com
Plank Road Tavern
Open Sessiún Every Thursday 7 – 10. $3 Guinness and Jamieson. 16719 Detroit Avenue, 44107
Medina / Montrose
1st – Marys Lane, 2nd – New Barleycorn, 8th – One – A U2 Tribute Band, 9th – Donal O’Shaughnessy, 15th – Craic Brothers, 16th – Dulahan, 22 – – Island Doctor, 23rd – Music Men, 29 – – Brittany Reilly & Achill Crossing, 30th – Big Mike & Company. Come celebrate our 8th Anniversary on April 2nd with the New Barleycorn! 117 West Liberty Medina, 44256 www.sullysmedina.com.
Hooley House Montrose
1 – Festivus, 15 – Almost famous, 22 – Sunset Strip, 29 – Michelle Romary Band, Wed: Pub Trivia. 145 Montrose West Avenue Copley, Oh 44321 (234) 466-0060 www.1funpub.com
1 –Collage, 8 – London Flatts, 15 – Faction, 23 – Abbey Rodeo, 29 – Almost Famous. Wed: Trivia Night. 7861 Reynolds Rd Mentor www.1funpub.com (440) 942-6611.
West Side Irish American Club
16th – Wine Tasting, 23rd – 1916 Easter Rising Centennial Celebration, 24th – Annual Style Show & Luncheon. Great live music & food in The Pub every Friday. WSIA Club 8559 Jennings Rd. 44138 www.wsia-club.org. 440-235-5868.
9th – Sarena Tamboritza Orchestra, 16th – Marty Scionka. Join us for Brunch EVERY SUNDAY. Great food, atmosphere, staff and fun. 6757 Center Road Valley City, 44280 www.gandalfspub.com.
1 – Michelle Romary Band, 8 – New Barleycorn, 9 – Post Road, 15 – London Flatts, 22 – School Girl crush, 29 – Faction. Wed: Pub Trivia. 24940 Sperry Dr Westlake 44145. www.1FunPub.com (440) 835-2890
Shamrock Club Events
2nd – Central Ohio Folk Festival, 3rd – General Meeting, 9th – Singer/Songwriters Showcase, 16th – Easter Rising Concert, 17th – Athletic Awards Presentation, 17th General Meeting and Officer Elections, 23rd – Ladies of Longford, 30th – New Officer’s Installation Banquet, 30th – Homeland. Happy Hour every Friday from 5-7pm! 60 W. Castle Rd. Columbus 43207 614-491-4449 www.shamrockclubofcolumbus.com
9th – Hosting Men’s Tri-State Invitational w Cincinnati, Indianapolis & Louisville. Columbus GAA will debut their new kits! All are encouraged to come out and enjoy some great games, drinks and fun! Call for female Gaelic Football players! Contact w interest/questions. www.columbusgaa.com.
Traditional Irish music w General Guinness Band & Friends 2nd Friday 8:00 – 11:00pm. No Cover. Tara Hall 274 E. Innis Ave. Columbus, 43207 614.444.5949.
Traditional Irish Social Dancing
Sunday Ceili’s at the Music Box, April 17, May 8, 15, 4-7 pm, FREE
Set dancing lessons, Tuesdays 8-10 pm, St. Clarence Church, North Olmsted
Wednesdays 7-9 pm, Irish American Club – East Side
Ceili dancing lessons, Thursdays, April 7, 14, 28, 7-9 pm, West Side Irish American Club
Coming on May 22–1916 Commemorative Ceili, West Side Irish American Club, 4-8 pm
For more information, contact CeiliClubCleveland@gmail.com or find us on Facebook
Ongoing Traditional Irish Sessiúns – Bring your instruments and play along!
• Akron Hibernian’s Ceili Band Sessions, Wednesdays 7:30 pm. Mark Heffernan Div 2 Hall 2000 Brown St, Akron 330-724-2083. Beginner to intermediate
• Bardic Circle @The Shamrock Club of Columbus Beginner – friendly, intermediate level Irish session meeting every other Thursdays 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
• Briquette’s – 1st Saturday of the month, 4-6 pm. Ashtabula on the Harbor
• The Harp – 1st Friday of every month, 9pm. 4408 Detroit, Cleveland
• Logan’s Irish Pub – 3rd Wednesday of the month, 414 S. Main St., Findlay, 7:30 pm
• Oberlin’s Traditional Irish Session – 2nd Monday of the month 7 – 9 Slow Train Café, 55 East College St., Oberlin. Informal all experience welcome: www.oberlin.net/~irishsession
• Plank Road – Every Thursday 7 – 10. All ages and experience welcome. 16719 Detroit Road, Lakewood, 44107
• Tara Hall -Traditional Irish music w General Guinness Band & Friends 2nd Friday 8:00 – 11:00pm. 274 E. Innis Ave. Columbus, 43207 614.444.5949.
How do you celebrate? I start out with my family, and my extended loving family, the West Side Irish American Club, with the annual mass at St. Colman’s, whose gorgeous marble, and design, commissioned to Irish men in Dublin, I appreciate more and more each year; I may be daydreaming, but ghosts seep out of the marble for me. Then it is off to this year’s 149th Annual Cleveland St. Patrick’s Day Parade. I walk with the Sheriff’s Dept. at the front of the parade, then circle around and march with the WSIA family, again.
I absolutely love it. The massive crowds are awesome to see, a culture like no other, one that invites all cultures to join us as we celebrate roots, family, and a passionate heritage that touches every curve and corner of the globe, through our own hard work, perseverance, and passion for freedom, in so many forms.
After walking the parade, we walk to a local hotel, and eat, drink and make merry, as outside our walls, downtown clears out. A few other parties and must go to appearances fill out the day, until we all reassemble at the Folks, for dinner, stories and as many cups of tea as your nerves can handle.
#LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish is my personal social media tag line and has been my credo for as long as I can remember; it is a life urgency instilled by my father, to make a difference as you trade each day of your life, for something; let it be worthwhile. You can find that same credo throughout the Irish community; it translates to any culture. Be aware, be awed and be grateful.
There is much to do this month; of course musical and event lists and labels run rampant in this issue. Deliberate, and then deliberately, pick your passion; pick your company, and Live More Life, as the Irish are wont to do.
We would love to hear and share how you celebrate – send me a note (firstname.lastname@example.org) or post on our FB page. Pics are welcome, as long as you own them. Follow our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages listed below and Opt-in to our Cleveland Irish Fest (clevelandirish.org) and Ohio Irish American News (ianohio.com) occasionally and respectfully sent and guarded email list, and win prizes like fest tickets, an annual OhIAN subscription, books or CD’s. We will run favorites in our April issue; share your memories, share your milestones, share all that being Irish, means to you.
Go dtí an mhí seo chugainn, slán a fhágáil
(Until next month, goodbye)
“Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know;
O’Bent Enterprises includes:
Patrick wasn’t Irish, yet America’s biggest Irish celebration is held in his name; he wasn’t the first bishop sent to Ireland, yet he is responsible for launching the evangelical push that converted the pagan Irish to Christianity. He never drove the snakes out of Ireland – there weren’t any, at least not in the literal sense.
St. Patrick is one of three patron saints of Ireland (the other two are Brigid and Columba). He was born in the late 4th century, most sources say 387, somewhere on the coast of Britain, perhaps in Wales or Scotland. As early as 431, Pope Celestine sent a bishop named Palladius to minister to the Christians in Ireland. Patrick came to Ireland when he was sixteen, but he came against his will, as a slave.
Fortunately, we have his own words left to us in the form of his autobiography, referred to as his Confessio, and his Epistola, an admonition of British mistreatment of Irish Christians.
Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders who were searching for slave labor, a common practice in those days. He worked for six years as a shepherd, and in those lonely times, as he later explained in his Confessio, he began to pray in earnest and trust God. He escaped and made his way back to his homeland.
Later he became a bishop and had a dream or a vision in which he heard the voice of the Irish calling to him to come and walk again among them. He did return, and apparently had several run-ins with pagan kings. Patrick stood up for his beliefs and was instrumental in guiding the Irish people to Christ. His predecessor, who was probably already in the country when Patrick returned, had been sent to minister to people who already believed; Patrick ministered to the unbelievers.
Did Patrick convert all of Ireland? That would have been a near impossible task in one man’s lifetime, especially since it was done without warfare, unlike Europe during the Crusades. Others came after him and carried on his work in Ireland and beyond: Brigid, Columba, Brendan, Aidan, and Columban to name a few. But St. Patrick is the name today that identifies all things Irish. The holiday is no longer just a religious observance; it is a day of cultural pride for all those with Irish blood.
17 Amazing Things To Do in March to celebrate the month of St. Patrick!
1. #17DaysofMarch – @Croagh Patrick’s, features music, special events, toasts, and fantastic food, with a different theme and special each day. www.facebook.com/Croagh-Patricks-Pub
2. Irish Music Sundays every Sunday @Music Box Cleveland www.musicboxcle.com
3. March 8th – Kathleen Linn – Rebel Doctor (Film) – Never before shown in the US, the film celebrates the rebel Dr., commanding officer, medical pioneer and humanitarian. River’s Edge 3430 Rocky River Drive (next to St. Joe’s Academy). 7pm
4. March 11 – We Banjo 3 @ Logan’s Irish Pub www.LogansIrishPubFindlay.com
5. Pogues Tribute w Boys from the Co Hell @MusicBoxCLE
6. #StMalachiChurchRun www.hermescleveland.com
7. LunaLaunch – #LyricsofIrishFreedom – Luna Team Shop is the new, year-round provider of amazing and fun gear for Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival. To celebrate the launch, Luna and surrounding shops are offering great specials from 11am to 3pm. Author John O’Brien, Jr. will be signing his new book, The Lyrics of Irish Freedom, the story behind the Irish songs of rebellion and freedom, with bagpipers, Irish Wolfhounds and more. Luna is at 113 Front Street, just 4 miles from the festival grounds. www.lunateamshop.com
8. Claddagh Ball @ West Side Irish American Club www.wsia-club.org
9. March 14TH – #LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish If you would like to volunteer to help “Make the Irish Fest Great Again” (Sorry Donald), the magnificent Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival Creative Team, charged with nurturing new ideas and making sure guests and volunteers alike have a blast, meet Monday March 14th, @PJ McIntyre’s (17119 Lorain Road at Kamm’s Corner, in their basement Party room) 6:15pm. Good food, good friends and exciting new things coming for 2016. We need your ideas, but most of all, we need YOU.
10. March 15th – If you want a say in making a better America, you have to have a seat at the table – PLEASE VOTE!
11. March 17th – Sober 17th – non-alcohol alternative Bash with James Kilbane, Mary Agnes Kennedy, Brady-Campbell School of Dance, St. Ignatius Circus Company: great food, fellowship and family fun. Ahern’s Banquet Center 726 Avon-Beldon Road. 5-8pm email@example.com
12. THE High Holy Day! Many start with Mass at one of the local Irish parishes. The 149th Cleveland St. Patrick’s Day Parade kicks off at 1:04 pm: parties, pomp and great craic fill the day at pubs and clubs across the state.
13. Win a trip to the Auld Sod! And support Historic St. Patrick’s Church on Bridge Avenue in Cleveland. Tickets are $5 ea or 3/$10 Kathy Pierce @ 216.49.9064.
14. Welcome Home – Irish artist Kathleen Dorsey show at 78th Street Studios (West 78th Street, Cleveland) – amazing paintings of Ireland. 5pm to 10 pm. She is in Room 105, but all the studios are open that night.
15. March 20th – Emmitt Cahill (Celtic Thunder) @ West Side Irish American Club www.wsia-club.org
16. March 29th – Speak Irish Cleveland new classes begin, every Tuesday, 6:15 to 8, all levels welcome. Jobrien@ianohio.com
17. March 30th – #CIFF – the Cleveland International Film Festival kicks off March 30th. 193 feature films and 213 short films fill Cleveland Tower City and surrounding theatres. Supporting the arts is part of our blood; check out CIFF at www.clevelandfilm.org
See live music events & much more @ www.ianohio.com
“Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know; www.twitter.com/jobjr
The 2016 Lyrics of Irish Freedom: Notes of Turbulent Times Book Tour is about to begin, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day and the 100th Commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising (Ireland’s American Revolution). Don’t Miss it.
Get your signed copy @ one of these to date scheduled book tour stops, or www.songsandstories.net
Get yours at songsandstories.net; I’d be honored to sign it for you.
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.
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.
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 …
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.
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”
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 ….
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 (firstname.lastname@example.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.
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.
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.
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