“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…
It was thirty-three years ago this week that I made my first trip to…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…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…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…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,…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…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
Photo by: sugargliding
I have often heard about the Irish Christmas tradition of placing a single lit candle in a…Continue
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…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…Continue