“The wran, the wran, the king of all birds,
on Stephen's day was caught in the furze.
His body is little but his family is sweet
so rise up landlady and give us a treat.
And if your treat be of the best
your soul in heaven can then find its rest.
And if your treat be much…
It was thirty-three years ago this week that I made my first trip to Ireland. I planned it to coincide with the Puck Fair, one of the largest fairs in Ireland that takes place annually August 10-12 in…Continue
The oldest harp on which the ‘official’ national emblem of Ireland is based is housed in the Long Room at Trinity College, Dublin. Two other medieval harps that have also been preserved from that era, are housed in The Museum of Scotland: The Queen Mary Harp 15th century - and the Lamont Harp [date being…Continue
“Nollaig na mBan,” or “Little Women’s Christmas,” is an old custom that’s still celebrated by women all over Ireland. It goes back to the days when large families were the norm. Men never lifted a finger in the house to help, and were never expected to. If a man washed the dishes, he would be called an “auld…Continue
These days, when we think of New Year, parties, champagne and celebration spring to mind. Once upon a time however, it was more about getting through a quiet night. The New Year was never really a big festival in Ireland, with the focus more on the necessities of…Continue
CHRISTMAS SHOPPING IN MY FATHER'S TIME
In rural Ireland, the Christmas shopping started on December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. On that date, shops would decorate their windows with Christmas decorations and Christmas fare. I remember when I was young, a Cadbury's merchandiser would organise our Christmas display window.…Continue
A silent, unseen killer, born on the arid plains of Central Asia, attached itself to the rampaging Mongol armies, and traveled with them purposefully, along the Silk Road, arriving in the Crimea in 1343. The killer then boarded the myriad of…Continue
No matter how good a cupcake is, when you are expecting a full dessert, it can be disappointing.
Which was my reaction on seeing the award-winning (very) short film "Spiorad na Samhna -- Spirit of Samhain," advertised as exploring “the origins of Halloween in Ireland.” By…Continue
I first heard that toast when I was very young from an elderly neighbor. It was a toast from her childhood in the early 1920s. The toast her mother and uncles always used. Already something of an antique in Jazz Age America.…Continue
Oh the town, it climbs the mountain and looks upon the sea
At sleeping time or waking, 'tis there I'd long to be
To walk again that kindly street, the place where life began
And the Boys of Barr na Sráide went hunting for the wren
With cudgels stout they roamed about to hunt the dreólín
Photo by: sugargliding
I have often heard about the Irish Christmas tradition of placing a single lit candle in a window, signifying that in that house there was room and welcome for Mary and Joseph…Continue
Christmas at the House on an Irish Hillside (available only in e-book format) by Felicity…
Two years ago if you asked me what magic realism was I would have confidently told you that it was “a creative device where magic elements appear within an otherwise realistic environment.” I was sure I understood the concept. After all I had read Allende, García Marquez and…Continue
The Christmas season in Ireland is a happy combination of modern and ancient customs that combine to bring a unique meaning to this special time of year. While Christmas shopping, decorated trees, and Santa Claus are evident everywhere, traditional customs that signify the true…Continue