“Got Irish History? Feed the Need”

Need a read? Feed the Need …

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.

Book Tour

‪#‎LyricsofIrishFreedom‬ ‪#‎LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish‬
Get your signed copy @ one of these to date scheduled book tour stops, or www.songsandstories.net

JOB_biosheet2 copy

Get yours at songsandstories.net; I’d be honored to sign it for you.
John

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

#LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish
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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.

makem proc

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
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It is 15 Days Until Christmas …

It is 15 Days until Christmas …

Two weeks from tomorrow!  Can you believe it has come so fast?  I was just being thankful for our service men and women, for the men and women in blue too, at the Greater Cleveland Peace Officer’s Memorial, it seems, right before Memorial Day. A glorious sun filled summer, too short as always but more glorious for the warmth it gave, flashed by.  Dunno WHAT happened to September and October.  Then it slowed down for a second, as Thanksgiving reminders of just how blessed we are got their usual filters knocked off and said “LOOK” to those willing to breathe the free air.

Now I am bundled up and ready for battle in small businesses and craft shows; I prefer a peaceful Friday over a Black one. I spent my currency well; completing 4th book.  “The Lyrics of Irish Freedom”, is centered on the music of Irelands rebellions and Troubles, all the songs I grew up singing, who wrote them, why they wrote them, what was going on at the time, as we near the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising.  Remember, Ireland’s rich oral tradition was prolonged and oral history propagated because their was no radio, no TV.  The book comes out Friday, January 1st.

LyricFreedom hires The Cover!

LyricFreedom backcov Back Cover

The Bards were the teachers; historians chronicling the misery and the mission, for a free Ireland.  The 100th Commemoration of the most seminal time and events in Irish history reverberates across the world to the millions of Irish descent, who crossed oceans, built canals and signed a new lease on life, where ever the waters took them. Those in Ireland are figuring out their celebration too, tho it seems a little slower and with a little more rebellion. The book is timed for summer, to kindle learning what we all have seen in small sparks.  Let there be bonfires.

I’m Heavy When Wet
by John O’Brien, Jr.

I love a White Christmas, families gathering and warm smells
How carolers voices, could charm the hinges of cold hearts loose from the gates of hell
Evergreen garland and the lighthouse of the white lights
children’s laughter peeling, and a moratorium on fights (HAha)
Empty trees will turn from scary, frightening on Hallow’s Eve
to breathtaking beauty, covered by a snowstorm’s canvas weave
Won’t be long now; I’ve prepped the hot tub and put away the hoses
winterized the grass and covered up the roses
Lawn furniture put away, taking the shelf space of tree, bells and candles
warm winter boots, when my gnarled feet prefer sandals.
Yet there’s new excitement in little eyes, as Santa’s checking his lists
the love they freely show me, make me gasp and eyes mist
They warm my whole winter, so unexpected, so affirming;
so to wallow in pains embrace, leaves my subconscious squirming.
A Season of gratefulness, another gathering of Thanksgiving
– without it dear friends, life just isn’t worth living.
I too am sustained by faith, urgency in making the world a better place
days with hands of leather, days with hands of lace
For so much I am unworthy, yet God makes no mistakes
I am heavy when wet.

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

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

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www.ianohio.com
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www.twitter.com/365Irish
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Living with Lardie: A Story from this month’s issue of your Ohio Irish American News

Living with Lardie: THE AUDITION

“What are you a comedian?” The director of music said as 100 sets of eyes turned to look at me. I can’t remember a time when I felt more self-conscious. All 100 people in that room had just gotten up to sing and now they were waiting for me to do the same. Oh crap, another fine mess I had gotten myself into.
A little background here to see how our hero had put himself in this position:

In late 1974 my brother-in-law Tom Joyce had convinced me to be an entertainer at his corporate Christmas party. I put together a set of jokes and did the deed. It went OK but I thought I would have felt better had I written original material rather than tell jokes. I didn’t like it if I saw someone nodding, because they knew the joke I was telling. Tom thought that was a great idea, but I better get busy because I had a gig at a place called The Silver Garter in February. “You’ll do fine.” He said. Then he laughed as only Tom Joyce could laugh.

I got busy and wrote 40 minutes of what I thought was funny. On the way to the Silver Garter I did the whole act for my best audience, Kay Joyce Lardie. She didn’t even crack a smile. Oh crap, another fine mess I had gotten myself into.

It went well. I actually killed it. (That’s good). When I was done I was exhausted, but felt good. “Well that’s that” I said. Tom looked at me and said,” probably not.” He handed me a cassette tape of the whole 40 minutes. “You should pursue this comedy stuff.”

Now, in 1975 there were zero comedians working in Cleveland. There were no comedy clubs here at the time. I thought that would be the end of it.

Three weeks later I was at my office and I saw the cassette tape in the drawer and thought what the heck. I opened the Yellow Pages. (For you younger people that was a book that had phone numbers for various businesses. There was no Google.).

I looked up talent agents, and saw one that was near my office on Chagrin Blvd. I called, talking my way past the receptionist, and was put thru to an agent. I told him I thought I was a comedian. “Don’t we all,” he said, almost as if he couldn’t be bothered. “What makes you think that?”

“Well, I did this routine and people laughed a lot.” I stammered. “Yeah I’ll bet they did.” Now he was almost sarcastic.

“I have a tape of it,” says I.

His attitude changed immediately. “You have a tape of your routine at a club? Can you bring it in so I can hear it?”

“Sure, when?”

“This afternoon?” says he. He was only four blocks away so I told him I would be there in an hour. I hung up and had that feeling again. What am I getting myself into?

I stepped into his office with trepidation. He was sitting behind a desk three times the size of my own. Pictures of well-known entertainers and famous people adorned his walls and credenza. I was invited to sit and he asked for the tape.

No how are you? How do you do? Just give me the tape. I handed it over. He put it in a tape player and hit the start button. I heard my voice shouting out at me, with sporadic laughter, from the crowd, that was on the tape.
He sat back in his big chair and stared at me. He didn’t crack a smile, he didn’t laugh. He didn’t talk. He just listened to my funniest stuff for ten minutes while he stared at me.

He then turned off the tape. I was going to tell him there was 25 minutes more hilarity to follow. He just stared at me. I thought that was the shortest comedy career anyone ever had. He stared some more. Then he said something amazing.

“Can you start work on Friday?” He asked.

“Doing what?” I asked.

“How about we go with standup comedy,” says he?

“Sure I can start on Friday”.

He turned around, picked up the phone (For you young people, the phone had a cord attaching it to the wall. That’s why he had to turn around), called someone and said I have your guy for the downstairs room.

“ Can you work the next 6 weeks, Friday and Saturday nights?”

“Sure “

Well I worked the next ten weeks and mentioned to my agent how sometimes I was funnier than other times. He said I didn’t understand audiences. He suggested I get in a play and see how the material stays the same but it is received differently by different audiences.”I’ll arrange an audition.”

I showed up and there were 100 people waiting to audition for Sweet Charity. My agent made me join the union so I could show my card. I was sure I was auditioning for some comedic part in the play.

We all had to do a reading of the same part. One after another, thirty-five men and sixty-five women, all doing the same thing over and over. I was about number thirty and I did manage to give a twist to the reading that got everybody laughing. I felt better about that.

The readings were done and the choreographer got four people up at a time and showed them a series of dance steps. They practiced it two or three times and then were asked to do it to the music. The choreographer then asked if everyone danced. I looked around to see if anyone else was going to audition for a dancing part.

Living w Lardie Our hero with three of the cast members from Sweet Charity waiting to go on
This pretty curly blond sitting next to me raised her hand and when called upon told him, “This guy didn’t dance”, pointing at me. “Come on up and dance”.

“I don’t dance”.

“We all dance”

So I got up and danced.

Then everyone got up and sang. Most had brought their own music. I watched until they were all done. They asked if everyone sang. You guessed it. Curly blond points at me and says “ He didn’t”

“I don’t sing.” I stuttered.

“What are you a comedian?”

I sang. I got the part.

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New Day LXIV: Live Music

New Day LXIV: Live Music

In my neighborhood, PJ McIntyre’s and other Live music pubs like Sully’s, The Harp, Flannery’s, the Irish American Clubs, Treehouse, Beachland Ballroom, Hooley House and many more, go all out in living the credo and risk of supporting live music; Pj’s alone brought Dervish, Lunasa and the Saw Doctor’s Leo & Anto. BIG kudos to Pat Campbell, Karen O’Malley, Sean O’Donnell, Cindy Barber, John Reece, Paul Jones, John Sullivan and the other ambassador business owners for going out on that limb, to bring world class talent to Cleveland.

Live bands provide entertainment, gathering places, reasons to ruminate, of course. But in their success, they also provide a living, for businesses and their owners, their staff’s and their families – and what many forget, when they support live performers, they are providing those performers with a living too. This allows great talent to keep performing, instead of having to change to another sustainable bread earning, with the resulting loss of talent, creativity, and for many, soul.

It is oxygen for our culture. Remember – if we don’t attend shows when magnificent talent comes to town; magnificent talent will not come to town. The same is true for locally based talent. No regrets, No more words; get up, show up. Verbal support and spreading of posts and the news is great and necessary; but showing up is vital.

I don’t make much money, and I spend what ever is left over on others. I don’t want or need a fancy car or home. It is not economically feasible to attend every show in a hotbed of great talent, local based or visiting. I try to attend what ever I can, when ever I can. In a community of 176,000 Irish in Greater Cleveland, if even a small percent can rally to make live music a valued part of our expendable dollars, Cleveland will remain, or even expand, to be on the tour schedule of the all the great ones.

The Irish immigrant mode of action of our parents’ generation paid this forward, and they brought their kids bodies and minds, too. Next up for me for bands visiting Cleveland is Ireland’s Lunasa, coming to Pj’s on the 19th. I am so looking forward to that, and before and after seeing The Roundabouts and Portersharks tomorrow at The Music Box Supper Club, and soon Barleycorn, Marys Lane, PorterSharks, Brigid’s Cross, Mossy Moran, Lisa Spicer, Craic Brothers … the list, like our blessings, is endless.

The Fr. Cregan Chapel at EnnisCourt fundraiser was the Friday. The halls are crisscrossed with Irish, present and past. Fr. Cregan went way beyond his duties as a caring priest, to care, concern and gentle, heartfelt support, whether it was an officer down, or a friend in need. He encircled and embraced our whole community, no matter if faith based, uniform based or those simply in need.

Barleycorn sang, Brady Campbell School of Dance danced. Cregan’s Crew served fantastic food and craic and the conversation was Art. I imagine Fr. Cregan loved the laughter, the hugs and the families who gather to build a chapel in the former Chaplain’s name. Everyone is a ripple; Fr. Cregan’s ripples reached far, and will for generations.

While watching the dancers, I saw Mike Mitchell. Our families grew up together. Mike’s mom Bridget, is my Godmother, and my folks are Mike’s. It has been decades since I saw Bridget last, her eyes went wide with wonder when Mike whispered my name to her. Her hand went a few feet off the ground, to indicate her memories of me as a little boy. We chatted and I remember growing up, playing on the red brick road in front of their house, holidays and parties at their house and ours. Time ticks, hugs stop it.

Last night I went to Celtic Women at the State Theatre. This is their 10th Anniversary as a group. Their very first gig in the US was here in Cleveland.

The voice has always been my favorite instrument. Celtic Women are world class in voice and world class in instrumentation too. I am not a demonstrative person, so the walking about in weird circles has never clicked for me; I find it distracting rather than enhancing. The cast members are all so talented, I would rather let that be the focus. It is enough, and more.

They sang many of their favorites, with almost no breaks between songs; it was so vibrant. Caledoania is one of their crowd favorites, but I tell ya, no one sings that song better than our own Cleveland treasure, Peggy Goonin Baker (of Brigid’s Cross). My favorite Celtic Women song is I am the Voice. I always find it so moving, both in lyric and in accompaniment. If I ever host a weekly radio show, to showcase our rich Irish music and history, this song will be the opening:

The Voice

I hear your voice on the wind
And I hear you call out my name

“Listen, my child,” you say to me
“I am the voice of your history
Be not afraid, come follow me
Answer my call, and I’ll set you free”

I am the voice in the wind and the pouring rain
I am the voice of your hunger and pain
I am the voice that always is calling you
I am the voice, I will remain

I am the voice in the fields when the summer’s gone
The dance of the leaves when the autumn winds blow
Ne’er do I sleep throughout all the cold winter long
I am the force that in springtime will grow

I am the voice of the past that will always be
Filled with my sorrow and blood in my fields
I am the voice of the future, bring me your peace
Bring me your peace, and my wounds, they will heal

I am the voice in the wind and the pouring rain
I am the voice of your hunger and pain
I am the voice that always is calling you
I am the voice

***
Comments on the blog itself, Likes and especially comments on Facebook, retweets and Favs on Twitter, all help share my writing and bring me to rippling audiences awareness. Reaching audience is the lifeblood of any writer. I greatly appreciate any help in that. Please share if you think I have earned it.

I write about things that matter to me, I’ve learned, or simply wish to pass on; Be Happy, it is one way of being wise. 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:

O’Bent Enterprises includes:
Ohio Irish American News
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Songs & Stories, my author web and SM sites
www.songsandstories.net
www.ianohio.com
www.clevelandirish.org
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www.twitter.com/365Irish
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New Day XL: Clear water

My own business bores me to death; I prefer other people’s – Oscar Wilde.

Sunday night/Monday morning, I returned from nine days in Clearwater, visiting my life long and best friend, Chris, and his family. Chris is a Fireman, an amazing construction handyman, completely self-taught and innately curious. He himself built a two-floor addition to his house and helps neighbor near and far with most anything.

Pipers sounded on arrival:
Pipers sounded on arrival:

The weather was glorious: we swam with manatees,

bowed at the 9-11 Remembrance event,

occupied our own island for a day,

hung out on Indian River Springs and Clearwater Beach,

Indian River Springs, and my feet
Indian River Springs, and my feet

6 Indian Springs

told stories and sunk into the sand; trained with the Oldsmar Fire Dept, where Chris is a Fireman

and interviewed Irish author Ann O’Farrell on her new book, Roisin’s Song,  Ann lives in Clearwater;

Got to interview Irish author Ann O'Farrell, who has a new book out, Roisin's Song. Ann lives in Clearwater. Review will be in the March issue of the Ohio Irish American News, but don't wait, get it,
Got to interview Irish author Ann O’Farrell, who has a new book out, Roisin’s Song. Ann lives in Clearwater. Review will be in the March issue of the Ohio Irish American News, but don’t wait, get it,

laughter is the best medicine. Dr. Dr., he gave me the views.

For 18 years we lived across the street from each other; saw everything together. Winter, and Summer, Broomball, paper routes, Saturdays at Westgate, sneaking from movie theatre to movie theatre, all day long. I was blasted back  to the past when Chris and I went to see American Sniper – heartbreaking autobiography by Chris Pyle, who served 4 tours, because he didn’t know what else to do. Like A Beautiful Mind, depression wreaks havoc on a person, and those ripples upset the family boat in ways unimaginable to an outsider.

That memory with Chris pushed me into others, of climbing in the woods, over the bent tree, and apple fights with any invader, the more brown, rotten and mushy the apple, the better. I remember the brief, ringing thunk as we defended our realm and our noggins with metal garbage can lids; our shield of armor against rotten apples of all kinds. I remember hot summers sailing off the roof of Chris’s house into the pool, so far, we always make it.

I remember always being so restless when young. I’d get up long after others were in bed, look out the front door across the pitch-black street at Chris’s 2nd story window, and see the glow of the numerous fish tanks through the tree branches.

When someone began talking to me; Chris always knew whether I could hear them or not. He was my own amplifier, without pause or prompt. Half a breath after they started, he started, quietly, just loud enough for me to hear, he repeated what they were saying.

I remember serving mass for the first time; nerves flipped my stomach. Though we are not of the same religion, Chris came. When troubles hit our family, he sat there quietly, a word wasn’t needed; he was.

I went off to the U of Dayton, Chris and his family moved to Florida. Chris often comes up and volunteers for our festival; I volunteer Chris (and thank God with the blessing of Melissa too) to host me during the harsh Cleveland winters. They seem to like me.

 

Best man in each others wedding, best cohort in jaw hurting laughter. Best friend.

Last Day, tho beautiful day, on Clearwater Beach
Last Day, tho beautiful day, on Clearwater Beach

When he met Melissa, and when he said he was getting married, I remember. The wedding on the water, the water spouts lifting off the bay, the reception glimmer.

THE Wedding
THE Wedding

I had lost him, he had gone south for good, but how else would he have found Melissa? It was for good. They have two like weed growing and funny sons. I am grateful he met her, for she is a wonderful woman.

Melissa, given me the stink eye!
Melissa, given me the stink eye!

When I left Clearwater Sunday night, after hugs all around, blinking madly, Chris and I drove to the airport. After check in, and the anti climatic, semi depressive let down in a quiet airport reflecting runway lights, far from the snow and cold, yet, creeping ever closer, their oldest son, now 12, texted me. He said simply: “Bye”. Knife. I said, “Bye, I love you.” And he answered, “I love you too”.

***

Comments on the blog itself, Likes and especially comments on Facebook, retweets and Favs on Twitter, all help share my writing and bring me to rippling audiences awareness. I greatly appreciate any help in that. Please share if you think I have earned it.
I write about things that matter to me, I’ve learned, or simply wish to pass on; Be Happy, it is one way of being wise. Please share your story with me; thank you for allowing me to share mine with you.

Your Poet
Your Poet

You can read all my blogs 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

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www.ianohio.com
www.clevelandirish.org
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www.twitter.com/365Irish
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New Day VII – Bridges

New Day VII – Bridges

I always feel as if I am working towards something – something more, something better – not in possessions, but in work, writing career, relationships, financial future; if you are only minding the gate – what’s the point?

Struggling over the climb, head down, chin up, can breathtakingly lead to unexpected flat roads and gorgeous peaks. Even so many valleys have great beauty. You can take a breath, it can take your breath away.

The successes are bricks in the road, and legacies. Occasional walls, detours or even mind bending occurrences whose derivative is a whole new road, belief or best of all, awareness, might be spontaneous at the time, but occur so consistently, that I see the hand of God. For the O’Brien Coat of Arms Motto is Laimh Laidir an Uachtar ~ The Strong Hand From Above.

No man asks for pain, but due to man’s desire to kick back, he is better for it. No man asks for waste, but through his own and others, he learns not to waste. I get a daily email from St. Ignatius High School religious team. It is a few paragraphs, a 2-3 minute mediation; setting me up to be right with God, at least for that day, hour, whatev … Today’s said “rather than make haste to enjoy free time, we are encouraged to make specific and sustained efforts to deserve it.” Between the lines and in the message, I don’t think they are only talking about on earth. What we do before we get to the plate – that’s just the batting cage.

The bridge between dreams and accomplishment is action. I am big on To Do lists and such, to stay organized within my worlds; Sheriff’s Office, Ohio Irish American News, Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival, new book coming out this year, volunteering and serving on a few non-profit boards – desire for a difference forces meetings over TV. Attention to detail, and even scheduling in a break here or there, are the lessons broken dreams leave in their wake. When I don’t schedule it, or give it up for something new, I pay an inordinate price.

Even God rested, on the 7th day. Methinks He had earned it. With a body rusting through at the core, not breaking may be a short-term gain but over and over again, time has proven it to be a long term loss. I can run with the bulls, but know there will be forced repercussions – it’s a choice. If it is important, I choose. Hell’s Bells for 10 days with the festival will be Hell’s spells for x days after. That’s the tradeoff I, fully aware of, and agree to year after year.

The most glorious part, is finding elves along the way. I don’t know whether it’s Catholic guilt, parental expectations or just my own stupidity, but I am keenly aware of the passing of time, of not wasting the opportunity to make this world a better place, for our being here. Time shrinks; each day, we exchange one day of our life, for something. A day wasted is not necessarily a wasted day; lack of awareness of that day would be though.

I have loads of role models of living a purpose driven life. WWJD? Or Dad, or others I respect and learn from? I’d love to know; tell me, what would you do?

***

I write about things that matter to me, I’ve learned, or simply wish to pass on; Be Happy, it is one way of being wise. 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:

O’Bent Enterprises includes:

Ohio Irish American News
Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival
Songs & Stories, my author web and SM sites

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www.ianohio.com
www.clevelandirish.org
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www.twitter.com/365Irish
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97 Jan 15 Cover

CICF.ad_Web_ThankYou Fest Logo High Res

Greater Cleveland Irish Directory
Greater Cleveland Irish Directory
First Generation, by John O'Brien Jr.
First Generation, by John O’Brien Jr.
Festival Legends: Songs & Stories, by John O'Brien, Jr.
Festival Legends: Songs & Stories, by John O’Brien, Jr.
Fine Irish Pubs of Greater Cleveland poster
Fine Irish Pubs of Greater Cleveland poster
The Ohio Irish American News
The Ohio Irish American News

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.

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.

Tommy Makem recieves a Proclamation of Recognition and Appreciation at Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival
Tommy Makem recieves a Proclamation of Recognition and Appreciation at Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival

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

***
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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Out & About Ohio this weekend, from your Ohio Irish American News

Out & About Ohio October 2014, from your Ohio Irish American News

Brooklyn – The Hooley House – Brooklyn!
24th – Faction, 31st – Hooleyween party w Top Dog. 10310 Cascade Crossing, Brooklyn 216-362-7700. 1FunPub.com

Cincinnati – Irish Heritage Center of Greater Cincinnati
11/1 – Green Tie Affair: Dinner, Music, Dance, Song, Whiskey, Wine tasting and more. Tues: Irish Language Classes / Irish Music Classes, Center Tours, Library open. Thurs: Irish Dance Classes w McGing School of Dance, beginners welcome. Genealogy by appointment. Irish Heritage Center 3905 Eastern Avenue 513.533.0100, www.irishcenterofcincinnati.com.

ALL under Cleveland;
Music Box Supper Club
24th – Carbon Leaf 1148 Main Avenue, Cleveland

The Harp
24th – brent kirby, 25th – chris allen, 29th -lonesome stars. 4408 Detroit Road, 44113 www.the-harp.com

STONE MAD PUB, RESTAURANT AND BOCCE
26th – Chris Allen. Live music entertainment every Sunday. 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 Cafe
24th – Cats On Holiday, 31st – Chad Hoffman. 1114 Center St. Cleveland 44113-2406 216.696.6968. www.flatironcafe.com

Treehouse Bar
820 College Avenue, Cleveland, 44113 www.treehousecleveland.com

PJ McIntyre’s
24th – Disco Inferno, 25th – Halloween Party w STONE PONY (Springsteen Cover Band) – Cash Prizes for best Costume!!
Check out our Amazing Cavs, Browns Specials as well as our NEW MENU!!!
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. NEW CRAFT BEER REFRIGERATOR. PJ McIntyre’s is a Local 10 Union establishment. Home of the Celtic Supporter’s Club and the GAA. Book all your parties & Events in our Bridgie Ned’s Irish Parlor Party Room. 17119 Lorain Road, 44111. www.pjmcintyres.com 216-941-9311.

West Park Station
‘Merican Mondays & Trivia Night 7pm. Tues: Roll Call-discounted drinks for all Fire, Police, Military & Med Professionals 9pm. Wed: Karaoke 10pm. Thur: Girl’s Night 10pm. Sun: SIN Night 9pm. 17015 Lorain Avenue Cleveland 44111 www.westparkstation.com. (216) 476-2000.

Flannery’s Pub
24th – Bar Flies, 25th – Walking Cane, 31st – Halloween Party. 323 East Prospect, Cleveland 44115 216.781.7782 www.flannerys.com
***

Avon Lake
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

Euclid
Irish American Club East Side, Inc
24th- Celtic Fright Night w Sumrade $15 w Cash Prizes best costume. 22770 Lake Shore Blvd. Euclid, 44123. 216.731.4003 www.irishamericanclubeastside.org

Findlay
Logan’s Irish Pub
414 South Main Street, Findlay 45840 419.420.3602 www.logansirishpubfindlay.com

Lakewood
Beck Center for the Arts
24- 26, 31st – [title of show]. 17801 Detroit Avenue Lakewood 44107 (216) 521-2540 www.beckcenter.org.
Plank Road Tavern
Open Sessiún Every Thursday 7 – 10. $3 Guinness and Jamieson. 16719 Detroit Avenue, 44107

Medina
Sully’s Irish Pub

26th - Sully's 3rd Annual Irish Wake w New Barleycorn, plus Haloween events all weekend
26th – Sully’s 3rd Annual Irish Wake w New Barleycorn, plus Haloween events all weekend

24th – High Strung Irish, 25th – Sully’s Octoberfest w The Polka Pirates, 26th – Sully’s 3rd Annual Irish Wake w New Barleycorn, 31st – Sully’s Halloween Costume Party w The Music Men. 117 West Liberty Medina, 44256 www.sullysmedina.com

Mentor
Hooley House – Mentor
24th – Cocktail Johnny, 31st – Hooleyween party w the band Collage. All starts @9:30. Tues: – Open Mic w Nick Zuber, Wed: – Trivia Night. 7861 Reynolds Rd Mentor www.1funpub.com (440) 942-6611.

Olmsted Twp
West Side Irish American Club
Great food & live music every Friday in The Pub. 24th – Children’s Halloween Party, WSIA Club 8559 Jennings Rd. 44138 www.wsia-club.org. 440-235-5868.

Westlake
The Hooley House – Westlake
24th – School Girl Crush, 31st – Hooleyween Party w Breakfast Club. 24940 Sperry Dr Westlake 44145. 1FunPub.com(440) 835-2890

Willoughby
John Mullarkey’s
24th – 107.9 Band, 25th – West Side Steve, 31st – DJ. Wed: Karaoke, Thurs: Ladies Night w/ D.J. 4110 Erie Street www.mullarkeys.com

Columbus
Shamrock Club Events
Happy Hour every Friday from 5-7pm! 60 W. Castle Rd. Columbus 43207 614-491-4449 www.shamrockclubofcolumbus.com
Tara Hall
Tara Hall 274 E. Innis Ave. Columbus, 43207 614.444.5949.

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
• Croagh Patrick’s – 2nd Tuesday of every month 8 – 10pm
• Bardic Circle @The Shamrock Club of Columbus Beginner – friendly, intermediate level Irish session meeting every other Thursdays 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
• Irish Eyes Heavenly Pub, 1st Wednesday of month. 3324 Secor Rd, Toledo
Stone Mad – 1st Sunday of the month Holleran Traditional Irish Session, 7pm
• Plank Road – Every Thursday 7 – 10. All ages and experience welcome. 16719 Detroit Road, Lakewood, 44107
• The Harp – 1st Friday of every month, 9pm
• 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
• Claddagh Irish Pub – Sundays 6:00pm-9:00pm. All experience levels welcome
o 585 S. Front St. Columbus, Ohio 43215
• 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.

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Owens Sports; A story from this month’s issue of the Ohio Irish American News: Hurling

Owens Sports
by Mark Owens
Hurling

I recently had the opportunity to watch the game of Hurling with a group of visitors to Cleveland who had only heard of Gaelic Games but had become intrigued by ‘that game you play with a stick’. I spent a good bit of time explaining to them the rules and clarifying that it was in fact a legal game, not the violent sport they thought it might be.

As I spoke, others joined in and were too interested in this ancient game – someone joked I should write about in my column!! So hear you have it, at the request of a mysterious reader a wee piece on Hurling and Camogie (the female version).

Camogie
Camogie

Hurling is believed to be the world’s oldest, and fastest, field game. The game of hurling is unique to Ireland; it has always been a huge part of our culture and heritage and is our national sport. It is featured in Irish folklore to illustrate the deeds of heroic mystical figures and it is chronicled as a distinct Irish pastime for at least 2,000 years. When the Celts came to Ireland as the last ice age was receding, they brought with them a unique culture, their own language, music, script and unique pastimes, including hurling.

Hurling
Hurling

The stick or “hurley” (called camán in Irish) is curved outwards at the end, to provide the striking surface. Hurleys are made of ash wood and are between 30 and 37 inches in length. The part of the hurley used to strike the ball is known as the ‘bas’. The ball in hurling and Camogie is known as a ‘sliothar’ and is similar in size to a hockey ball, but has raised ridges.

Hurling is played on a pitch that can be up to 145m long and 90m long. The goalposts are similar to those used on a rugby pitch, with the crossbar lower than in rugby and slightly higher than in soccer. You may strike the ball on the ground, or in the air.

Unlike hockey, you may pick up the ball with your hurley and carry it for not more than four steps in the hand. After those steps you may bounce the ball on the hurley and back to the hand, but you are forbidden to catch the ball more than twice. To get around this, one of the skills is running with the ball balanced on the hurley.

To score, you put the ball over the crossbar with the hurley for one point, or under the crossbar and into the net by the hurley for a goal, worth three points. Camogie is the female version of hurling.

The sliothar is in play once the referee has given the signal for the game to start or restart. The sliothar will remain in play until the referee signals the game to stop or until the sliothar has passed over any of the boundary lines. The sliothar can be struck with the hurley when it is on the ground, while in the air or when lifted from the hurley. Players may run with the sliotar balanced or hopping on the base of the hurley.

Players can catch the sliothar, play it on their hurley and bring it back to their hands only once. A player can strike the sliotar with the hurley, hand (but not throw it), by kicking and by hitting it from the ground. If the sliothar goes out over the end line off one of the defending players a ’65’ meter free ‘puck’ is awarded in hurling and a ’45’ meter free ‘puck’ is awarded in Camogie.

An attacking player will then take the free puck. If the sliothar goes out of play over the sideline the referee will award a ‘sideline puck’. The player taking the puck must hit the sliothar from the ground. Under no circumstances can the player lift the sliothar on to their hurley.

The referee is assisted by two lines people and four umpires. The referee plays a central role in the game following the play on the pitch, while two umpires take up position at each of the two goals. The lines people follow the game from the sidelines. The referee’s decision is final, but the two lines people and the four umpires may be called upon for additional input into a decision made by the referee.

I recommend you visit the official GAA website www.gaa.ie for more information.

Trivia
Last month’s question: Originally, Ryder Cup competition pitted the USA against representatives from Ireland and Great Britain – at which tournament (year) were golfers from continental Europe included in the team? In 1979 the event was held at the Greenbrier course in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The first non-Irish/British players to be picked were Seve Ballesteros and Antonio Garrido, both of Spain. The USA won that year 17-11.

This month’s question: The GAA All-Ireland Championship season has come to an end in Ireland; what teams have now won the most (a) All-Ireland Football titles, and (b) All-Ireland Hurling titles?

*Mark Owens is originally from Derry City, Ireland and has resided in the Cleveland area since 2001. Mark is the Director of Marketing for Skylight Financial Group in Cleveland. Send questions, comments or suggestions for future articles to Mark at: markfromderry@gmail.com

Issue #94, October 2014
Issue #94, October 2014