In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day last week on Tamara Leigh’s TREND ON our guest, Milwaukee’s own Mr. James O’Keeffe, son of an Irish Immigrant, Singer/Songwriter, Creative Director of Lenokey Press Publishihg, and Irish Festival Aer Lingus Stage Manager, enlightened us with all things Irish in gearing up for a full schedule of shenanigans over the course of 10+ days from 3/12-23/14, including Solas Shamrock Band in Chicago on 3/20/14 & at the Irish Cultural & Heritage Center in Milwaukee on Fri.3/21/14.
And while some of the events and St. Paddy’s Day* have come and gone, the conversation is still worth a listen and the mention of notable Irish artists is good reason to mark calendars ahead for this summer’s annual Irish Fest in Milwaukee — which is THE largest Irish Music Festival in the World!
No blarney there, Milwaukee, as well as Chicago (with its 43 years old tradition of turning the Chicago River green), New York, and Boston, are some of the best and biggest gatherings of the greens in the U.S. for the cultural homage to folk of Erin heritage either by birth or adoption. As Mr. O’Keeffe put it:
“…people celebrate the ‘day’ [St. Patrick’s] and move on. I celebrate my [Irish] heritage every day of my life. It is such a part of me…inbred so deeply. Through my parents, and grandparents on down the line, I am a child of Ireland raised in America. As are so many.”
And so in celebration of that culture (although I’m a wee bit late in posting), here’s a few highlights from the Lessons I Learned from an Irish Man:
First and foremost, if you’re going to shorten the holiday of St. Patrick’s, best don’t do it incorrectly or risk being called out on Twitter by more than a few Irish with their ire up about it. The holiday of the sacred male saint is masculine, as in *St. PaDDY’s NOT St. Patty’s. In less time that it takes to utter an Irish blessing, this “InfoTweet” straightening me out came all the way across the pond from Mr. Eamonn Tutty— a loyalist serious about linguistics.
Music is intrinsic to the Irish soul. An Irish music enthusiast, Jim highlighted some of the best bands and accomplished Irish musicians from Eileen Ivers (here with Sting) and Immigrant Soul, Gaelic Storm of Titanic fame, and Cherish the Ladies who performed with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra this past weekend. Among other notable are Eleanor McEvoy and Mary Black. It’s easy to embrace the earthiness and energy of the country’s folk music that connects dancing feet to the Irish heart.
One of my personal favorites: Yes, Braveheart was Scottish and Mel Gibson’s Australian, but the movie was filmed in Ireland and the thistle is also amongst Wisconsin’s native wildflowers. Having long since buried the Braveheart hatchet, Irish Fest 2014 will feature more than a few famous Scottish bands including Red Hot Chilli Pipers, not to be confused with Red Hot Chili Peppers. (But much more flavorful to the musical palette. I’m guessing Peter was Irish– If Peter Piper picked a Pepper, of course they’d be Red Hot Chili ones.)
If your Prince Charming is Irish, chances are your glass slipper is going to be Waterford Crystal. According to Jim, the Irish don’t fool around when it comes to glass with class. On our route from Amsterdam to Dublin in 2011, my daughter promptly fell asleep in her seat once we boarded before seeing the tall, dark, handsome northern Ireland lad take his seat next to her. After snoozing and drooling unknowingly on his shoulder, she awoke upon landing to discover her version of Prince Charming. They chatted briefly, but in fairytale fashion, he and his adorable accent disappeared into the sunset, but not before taking a piece of her heart with him and so, my daughter’s thinking she may have to return to Ireland to find her true love — and hope the glass shoe fits. .”
Green is synonymous with Ireland known for its lush landscape as the “Emerald Isle”. Green is the color of the shamrocks St. Patrick used to teach parishioners about the Trinity of Father, Son, & Holy Ghost. Green is the color identifying the Irish Catholics and Gaelic tradition on the Irish flag while the orange represents the protestants and supporters of William of Orange united by the field of white for peaceful union between the two faiths and countrymen. And blue, not green, is the historical color of the national coat of arms. Green shakes and beads… total exploitation of American marketing. Green the color of Spring and an essential in rejuvenating a winter wardrobe — as in Tamara Leigh’s TREND ON Fashion Spring Green post.
- And lest anyone think with all the shenanigans associated with celebrating St. Patrick’s Day that the holiday is only about drinkin’ green beer, leprechauns and pots of gold — it is, after all, a holiday about a Saint and deeply rooted in Ireland’s religious history. Of no less importance, is Ireland’s role in saving western civilization.
- March Madness is also for Mothers. In Ireland (and much of Europe), Mother’s Day is celebrated in March — this year on 30 March 2014 — and if an Irishman offers to treat you to brunch at Clodagh’s Kitchen in Dublin — say YES!