Wren’s Day in Ireland

Dec 26, 2013 by

December 26th is the Feast Day of St Stephen, and in Ireland it’s celebrated  as Fhéile Stiofán or Lá an Dreoilín, meaning the Day of the Wren (pronounced ‘ran’) or Wren’s Day.

 

The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
St. Stephen’s Day was caught in the furze,
Although he was little his honour was great,
Jump up me lads and give us a treat…

 


Mrs. Clancy’s a very good woman,
a very good woman, a very good woman,
Mrs. Clancy’s a very good woman,
She give us a penny to bury the wren…

Traditional verse sung on December 26th, Lá an Dreoilín, the Wren’s Day, in Ireland

 

 

Wren’s Day festivities aren’t as widespread as in the auld days, but in parts of Ireland there are Mummer’s Fests and “hunting the wren” that still go on.

Originally, groups of small boys would hunt for a wren, and then chase the bird until they either caught it or it died from exhaustion. Depending on the region of the country, they were called Wrenboys, Mummers or Strawboys. The dead bird was tied to the top of a pole or holly bush, which was decorated with ribbons or colored paper, and carried door to door by the boys, looking for small coins (ostensibly, to pay for the bird’s funeral or wake)  in exchange for a feather or a good wish. The money was used to host a dance for the town that night, with the decorated pole being the center of the dance.

Today, the live bird is no longer killed; it has been replaced with a fake one that is hidden, rather than chased. The band of young boys has expanded to include girls, and adults often join in, dressed in strange costumes of straw and thatch or garish colors.  The money that is collected from the townspeople now is usually donated to a school or charity.  A celebration is still held around the decorated pole, however,  and may be a big area-wide event or just a small local one, depending upon custom.

 

 

How did a little ‘wran’ become the object of such widespread pursuit and revelry?   Scholars theorize that Wren Day has its origins in ancient Celtic pagan rituals of sacrifice and celebration at midwinter, with the wren symbolizing the old year. Celtic names of the Wren (draouennig, drean, dreathan, dryw etc.) also suggest an association with druidic rituals. Indeed, some believe, the Gaelic word for wren – dreoilín – derives from two words, draoi ean, or Druid bird.   The wren was considered the ‘King of all birds’ in Celtic mythology.   Legend has it that all the birds had a contest to see who could fly the highest, with the eagle sure to be the winner.   The clever wren flew higher than the eagle by sitting on the eagle’s back as it soared upwards; the wren won the contest by flying even higher once the eagle  tired.

Another legend holds that during the Viking raids of the 700′s, Irish soldiers were betrayed by a wren as they were sneaking up on a Viking camp in the dead of night. A wren began to eat breadcrumbs left on the head of a drum, and the rat-a-tat-tat of its beak woke the drummer, who sounded the alarm and woke the camp, leading to the defeat of the Irish soldiers and the continuing persecution of the wren.   Another legend says the wren, a tiny bird with a loud singing voice, gave away St Stephen’s location, leading to the death of the martyr.

There is no clear answer about the origins of Wren Day, but it continues to be celebrated every year as one of Ireland’s nine official public holidays.

 

 

Here are a few videos of traditional Wren Day festivities in Ireland:

The Chieftains

In Gaelic

From West Clare, trad music and lively step dance:

From the Clancy Brothers–a funny explanation of the Wren Day traditions and the song

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The Viking Heritage of Mann

Jan 24, 2015 by

Did you know that the Viking heritage of Mann is one of the strongest amongst the Celtic nations?

The Isle of Man, (Ellan Vannin in Manx) often simply called Mann, today is a self-governing British Crown dependency, and not a part of the United Kingdom. Beginning in the 9th century, however, the Manx people (descendants of Iron Age Celts) were colonized and ruled by Vikings. The Norse rule did not end until 1266, when King Magnus VI  of Norway  ceded Mann to Scotland in the Treaty of Perth.  The Viking heritage of Mann can still be seen in many places on the island: in place names, myths and legends, artifacts on display in local museums, festivals and in its political structure.   The Tynwald, Mann’s legislative body, was probably created by early Celts, but derives its name from the Old Norse word Þingvǫllr , meaning “the field of the thing.” It claims to be the oldest continous parliamentary body in the world, dating back to 979 AD.

Here are few of my suggested readings for learning more about the Isle of Man, especially the Viking heritage of Mann.

Kermode’s book investigates the link between Celtic, Viking and Christian myths and legends that often appear on the standing stones and sculptures of Mann. Click HERE to purchase the book for $2.99.

 

From the Amazon review of Wilson’s book: “This book presents, for the first time, for both specialist and general reader, a major survey of the Island in the period from the early tenth century to the middle of the eleventh century. The rich archaeological material pagan grave-goods, silver-treasures, headland fortifications, farm-sites, inscribed and carved Christian memorial stones and the wealth of evidence provided by runic inscriptions, place-names and institutions, provide a unique picture of a vibrant society striving to be ever more politically and economically powerful. The story tells of the gradual change from paganism to Christianity and of the absorption of a native population into a society dominated by incoming land-owners and a king owing allegiance to Norway.”

Click HERE to read more and purchase either a soft or hard cover version of David Wilson’s well-written book.

Moore’s book is superb reading for those interested in learning the history behind Norse and Celtic place names and surnames (for genealogical research)that are found on the Isle of Man. Click HERE to purchase the Kindle version for $1.59, HERE for the paperback version or HERE for the hardback copy.

 

Last, but not least, Bryan Sykes’ book is a fascinating discussion of the DNA history of the British Isles. It is more generalized than the above noted books, but will help you see the many connections modern Celts have to the ancient Vikings who lived in and ruled over the Celtic areas of the British isles. Click HERE to purchase the Kindle or other versions of this fine book.

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Celtic Motivation For 2015

Jan 6, 2015 by

Need a bit of Celtic motivation for 2015?

We all make resolutions in January, but most of us–myself included– fail to follow through. This year, focus on your CELTIC MOTIVATION instead.  Set a goal for yourself that revolves around your Celtic heritage.

For example, choose a Celtic country that you’d like to visit, then take steps, even baby steps, that will get you closer to that country.

celtic-motivation-scotland

Celtic Motivation: The beautiful Isle of Skye in Scotland

Part of my Celtic motivation this year is to get back to Scotland. My family has ties to Clan Robertson, whose clan territory was in the historic earldom of Atholl, in Highland Perthshire,  including Loch Rannoch  and the wild, boggy Rannoch Moor.  I want to walk some of those ancient clan areas, to just BE there.

And then, merry of soul, I’ll go over the sea to Skye….

To quote the great Scottish bard, Rabbie Burns, however

“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley…”

from  To A Mouse, by Robert Burns

It may be that I won’t have the funds to travel to Scotland this year, or family and/or work issues may arise and prevent me from going to Scotland this year, or it may be that my new German Shepherd puppy just isn’t ready this year to be left alone for a month.

Doesn’t matter, so long as I keep taking those baby steps toward my Celtic motivation: I WILL get to Scotland soon.

CelticMotivation-ring-of-brodgar

Celtic Motivation: The neolithic stone circle of Orkney, the Ring of Brodgar. Image copyright Colin Smith

 

After all, the Ring of Brodgar wasn’t laid out in a day, and neither is the Celtic trip of a lifetime.

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The Drumtroddan Stones of Scotland

Dec 28, 2014 by

The Drumtroddan Stones are a set of three ancient standing stones near Dumfries and Galloway, in southwest Scotland.

The Drumtroddan Stones were most likely erected 4000 to 5000 years ago, during the Neolithic or early Bronze Age. The area around the stones hasn’t been archaeologically examined, and little is known about the history of this mysterious site.

DrumtroddanStonesinDumfriesandGalloway

The ancient Drumtroddan Stones of Scotland: image source

Until recently, two of the three aligned stones were standing; the middle stone had toppled over onto its side.  Whether the stone was pushed over or simply fell is a mystery. According to some folkloric sources, pagan sites such as the Drumtroddan Stones were Christianized during the Middle Ages by locals who knocked over the middle stone, thus forming a crude cross shape.

A few years ago, another of the three stones fell, leaving only one still up right.

Drumtroddan Stones 2013

The Drumtroddan Stones, photographed in September, 2013.

Near the Drumtroddan Stones is a set of carved cup and ring marked stones that most likely date to the Bronze Age or earlier. Their close proximity to the standing stones suggests they may have been connected in some way known only to their ancient designers.

Drumtroddan Stones and cup and ring carvings

Drumtroddan Cup and Ring Marked Rocks, near the Drumtroddan Stones. Photo credit: Roger W. Haworth (Geograph)

It also means that if you’re planning a visit to the Dumfries and Galloway area, you should try to fit both of these outstanding Scottish sites into your schedule.

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Kilted Up 2015 Christmas Present

Dec 20, 2014 by

Wrap up your own KILTED UP 2015 Christmas present and help The Wounded Warrior Project at the same time!

 

Kilted Up 2015 Christmas Present

Ready for the New Year? Get a Kilted Up 2015 Christmas Present now!

 

Ready for 2015? Thru 12/21, you can save 30% on a KILTED UP 2015 Christmas present by using the code NEWYEAR at check out!

 

CLICK HERE TO ORDER your Kilted Up 2015 Christmas present now. You can’t give a man in a kilt as a gift–how would you wrap him?- but you CAN give our  calendar bursting with kilted hotties!

Your purchase brings you 12 months of handsome men in kilts AND helps THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT, a group dedicated to supporting and empowering American military personnel injured while serving their country.

MODEL: Ray Bowen, talented blacksmith and owner of InvictusForge.com He is wearing one of the 27 tartans associated with Clan Donald.
All of our models are volunteers who have given their time and support to the Kilted Up 2015 project–please give them and AtlantaKilts.com a round of applause for their dedication!

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Welsh Christmas Lullabies

Dec 15, 2014 by

Welsh Christmas lullabies are among the most beautiful songs of the holiday season.

 

Welsh Christmas lullabies

Welsh Christmas lullabies: Sleep my child and peace attend thee….

Whether sung in Welsh or in English, these beautiful songs bring peace and tranquility to our often hectic holiday season.  Though these songs were not written specifically for the Christmas season, they have nonetheless made their way onto many Christmas song lists, and rightly so.   The songs are intended to lull children to sleep, but I find that they also allow us adults to take a deep, calming breath amidst our hurried Christmas coming and goings.

Hwiangerdd Mair is a the Welsh version of Mary’s Lullaby, a song written by Jane Siberry:

See the child that Mary bore
On her lap so softly sleeping
In a stable cold and poor
Ox and ass their vigil keeping

Sing lullaby, sing lullaby
My own dear son, my child
Lullaby, sing lullaby
Lullaby, my little baby

Flights of angels ’round His head
Sing Him joyful hymns of greeting
Peace on earth, goodwill to men
Each to each the song repeating

Shepherds kneeling by His bed
Offer homage without measure
Wise men, by a bright star led
Bring Him gifts of richest treasure

 

 

Click HERE to see the full Welsh lyrics.

 

One of the most well-known of the Welsh Christmas lullabies, Suo Gân (Lull song in Welsh) is a traditional Welsh song whose composer is unknown. You may have heard it in Steven Spielberg’s 1987 film, Empire of the Sun, where a young Christian Bale (born in Wales) lip-synchs the lyrics.  Here is a lovely version sung by Welsh soprano, Charlotte Church:

 

Suo Gân

 Huna blentyn ar fy mynwes
Clyd a chynnes ydyw hon;
Breichiau mam sy’n dynn amdanat,
Cariad mam sy dan fy mron;
Ni chaiff dim amharu’th gyntun,
Ni wna undyn â thi gam;
Huna’n dawel, annwyl blentyn,
Huna’n fwyn ar fron dy fam.

Huna’n dawel, heno, huna,
Huna’n fwyn, y tlws ei lun;
Pam yr wyt yn awr yn gwenu,
Gwenu’n dirion yn dy hun?
Ai angylion fry sy’n gwenu,
Arnat ti yn gwenu’n llon,
Tithau’n gwenu’n ôl dan huno,
Huno’n dawel ar fy mron?

Click HERE to see full Welsh lyrics with phonetic translation and the English translation.

 

Ar Hyd y Nos or  All Through the Night in English,  is another of the old Welsh Christmas lullabies that began as a secular folksong.    Acclaimed Welsh opera singer Bryn Terfel’s sings Ar Hyd y Nos :

Dating back to at least the 18th century, Ar Hyd y Nos has been translated into English and Breton.

Sleep my child and peace attend thee,
All through the night
Guardian angels God will send thee,
All through the night
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
Hill and dale in slumber sleeping
I my loved ones’ watch am keeping,
All through the night

Angels watching, e’er around thee,
All through the night
Midnight slumber close surround thee,
All through the night
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
Hill and dale in slumber sleeping
I my loved ones’ watch am keeping,
All through the night

Click HERE to see the full English lyrics.

 

Meinir Gwilym is a Welsh-language pop singer born in Wales in 1983.  One of my favorite versions of Ar Hyd Y Nos is this accoustic version she released in 2002:

I hope these Welsh Christmas lullabies bring you peace and serenity during the holiday season and beyond.

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Outlander Christmas List

Dec 11, 2014 by

In the spirit of simplicity, I cut waaay back on my Outlander Christmas list this year. 

Poor Santa gets stressed out when he gets a big, greedy Outlander Christmas list, so I have requested just ONE item. 

Yes, I am that selfless.*

All I want for Christmas is James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser.  Honestly, my attention span is short these days,

and April 2015 is too long to wait to catch a glimpse of our Scottish hero. What’s a poor Outlander fan to do?

 

Hmmm…maybe I need a bit more.  Can I add Dougal Mackenzie to my Outlander Christmas list, Santa?

That’s just TWO things.

 

MyOutlanderChristmas ListisJamieFraser

My Outlander Christmas list is the essence of simplicity: Jamie Fraser.

 


*And I am not, Elf boy.


Pretty sure about that.


OK, more like “cautiously optimistic.”

 

If you’ve been suffering from the effects of Droughtlander, too, click HERE and HERE to see a couple of the new trailers for the second half of Season One.

I know, it’s like getting a fun size Snickers when you want/need the original, full size candy bar.  We’ll all just have to hang tough through this bleak midwinter.

May I suggest taking up a hobby, like, oh, I don’t know–whisky tasting?

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Scottish Stocking Stuffers

Dec 9, 2014 by

Need some Scottish stocking stuffers for Christmas?

Just click on the highlighted links or captions to find these goodies that will delight any Scotophile, old or young , on Christmas Day!

 

Everyone with a drop of Scottish blood knows the party doesn’t start until the bagpiper arrives. The Great Highland bagpipes–a’ phìob mhòr, in Gàidhlig–are beautiful to hear, but a bit large for a Scottish stocking stuffer.

I suggest you give this wee Lego piper instead–he’ll never wear out his welcome!

 

If you’re gonna play the war pipes, then you might as well have a Highland warrior to answer the call, aye? This Lego Hielan warrior isn’t wearing a Mackenzie tartan, but he can still bellow “to the car!” with the best of them.

If you REALLY want to have an authentic Highlands and Islands Lego Scottish set, click HERE to add a Viking Warrior to your collection.  You”ll need him for the Up Helly Aa Viking Fire Festival  held in Lerwick, Shetland every January.

In case you’re thinking these Legos are just Scottish stocking stuffers for kids–nope.  I’ve seen them on office desks, bookshelves, defending whisky bottles, acting as mascots for pipe bands, even Velcroed to a car’s dashboard.

 

Men in kilts don’t take kindly to having their national attire called a mere skirt.  This funny kilt shirt lets everyone know what happens to those who dare call it a skirt!

Click HERE to see the shirt in other colors and styles. You can also get this same design on other Scottish stocking stuffers, such as mugs, mousepads, tote bags, etc at Cafe Press.

Shirts also make great Scottish stocking stuffers for women. Click HERE to see the Women Love Men in Kilts design on other clothing and items–Cafe Press can put the logo on almost everything they sell.

Scottish-stocking-stuffers-kilt-clanedar

 

Speaking of loving kilts…
You can’t put a kilted man into a Christmas stocking, but our KILTED UP 2015 calendar of men in kilts will fit just fine!

This Scottish stocking stuffer is a two-fer: you get a dozen handsome kilted men to enjoy during 2015 PLUS a portion of the proceeds goes to The Wounded Warrior Project.  Donations to WWP help thousands of wounded warriors and their families, as those service men and women return from current conflicts.  Click HERE to see a preview of this popular calendar available at Lulu.com.

This Scottish dirk would make an elegant and inexpensive Scottish stocking stuffer.  Click HERE for more details about this classic weapon of Highland warfare.

Authentic Scottish Castle Music is the perfect stocking stuffer for Outlander fans!   This inexpensive cd features lovely Scottish music from the 18th century that you might have heard at a laird’s Highland castle–IF you could time travel through the stones!

Click HERE to sample some of these timeless Scottish songs.

Last, but not least, how about a thistle pin for a Scottish stocking stuffer? The thistle is the national flower of Scotland, a unique and beautiful icon of the rugged Scottish Highlands.

Click HERE for the above pin or HERE for a slightly more expensive, but more exquisitely detailed sterling thistle brooch.

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Sam Heughan Is Anglo Fan Man of 2014

Dec 6, 2014 by

It’s now official–Sam Heughan is America’s favorite British man.   BBC America’s Anglophenia blog just held their fourth annual Anglo Fan Favorite Men’s tourney and Sam Heughan won kilts down over fellow Scotsman, David Tennant.

 

Sam-heughan-in-scotland

Handsome Scottish hottie, Sam Heughan image

 

America successfully drove out the mighty British army more than two hundred years ago, but we can’t seem to resist those sexy Scottish men who reach our shores via films and television.

For example, when someone mentions James Bond, your first thought likely is of Sean Connery, the Scotsman who made that role come alive — Connery IS Bond.  Now, everyone’s favorite book boyfriend, 18th century Highland warrior James Fraser from Outlander, has been brought to life by Scottish actor Sam Heughan, and we must say:

we like him, we really, REALLY like him!

 

Sam-heughan-as-Jamie Fraser

Sam Heughan as James Fraser in Starz’ hit show, Outlander-image via Starz

 

With 32 contestants and more than three million votes cast, Sam Heughan ultimately defeated his closest rival, David Tennant, by a whopping 61% to 39%.    That is no small feat by relative newcomer Heughan in light of Tennant’s huge fan following from Doctor Who and Broadchurch.  Click HERE to read fan comments about the agony of being forced to choose between Sam Heughan and David Tennant:

“David Tennant is a stellar actor. But Sam IS Jamie. Can’t we have them both?”

Here’s a brief thank you from Sam Heughan–on location in Scotland– to all the fans whose votes propelled him to victory:

 

While Droughtlander will continue until April 4, 2015 (when the second half of Season One continues), Starz kind of feels our pain. On the fourth of each month until April, Starz will release a bit of previously unseen footage from the first 8 episodes.  Here is the most recent tidbit:

 

More videos are available on Youtube,  and the full 8 episodes can be seen on Starz On Demand.

To truly understand why fans are so passionate about Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser, first read Diana Gabaldon’s books, starting with Outlander, then watch (or re-watch) the tv episodes.   You can then make your own decision as to whether Sam Heughan has earned his title as Anglo Fan Favorite of the Year for 2014.

I vote AYE.

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Be Thankful For Your Celtic Heritage

Nov 26, 2014 by

Are you thankful for your Celtic heritage?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the US, a day for feasting and celebration, recognizing our many blessings and being grateful for family and friends, whether near or far.
All in all, it’s a traditional day not unlike ones celebrated by our Celtic ancestors, pagan and Christian alike.

Celtic heritage thankful

So, when you are counting blessings before the Thanksgiving meal, be sure to count the unique cultural gift we share and hopefully will pass down to our children and grandchildren: our Celtic heritage.

 

 

 

 

Then, after you’re done with all the “stuffing”, relax with the simple gifts of the Celtic harp:

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving, Y’all!

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Jameson Irish Whiskey For the Holidays

Nov 21, 2014 by

If you’re looking for a good blended Irish whiskey to serve this holiday season, Jameson Irish whiskey may just be the elixir for you.

I’m frequently asked to recommend a whiskey to serve out of town guests who are visiting for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Although I’m partial to smokey, peaty Scotch whisky like Laphroaig, sometimes an all purpose whiskey–which in no way implies ordinary or cheap– that can be sipped with pleasure or added to a cocktail (such as Irish coffee) is the way to go.  One of the best known Irish blended whiskies in the world, Jameson Irish whiskey is my choice for a Celtic holiday gathering: smooth enough for sipping, flavorful enough for cocktails, reasonably priced, and available at most liquor stores.

Jameson-Irish-whiskey-ad

Jameson Irish whiskey makes a wonderful gift for the host or hostess of a party, as well as a stocking stuffer or under the tree surprise for a whiskey aficionado. In addition to the original, there are several other vintages of Jameson Irish whiskey from which to choose.  Jameson 12 Year Old Special Reserve, Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve and Jameson 2007 Rarest Vintage Reserve are all mature blends with more refinement and different flavors than the original, but you will pay a significantly higher price. Click HERE or HERE for reviews of these specialty vintages of Jameson Irish whiskey.

By the way, in case you were wondering about my changes in spelling,  Irish whiskey is spelled with an “e”, while Scotch whisky has no “e”.

 

 

Jameson-Irish-whiskey-collection

A selection of Jameson Irish whiskies to peruse

One of the most popular uses of Jameson Irish whiskey is as an ingredient in recipes for cocktails and food.  I use it in Irish coffee, a simple, but delicious treat on a cold night by the fire.

There are hundreds of variations on Irish coffee, with many calling for whipped cream on the top of the drink.  Here’s the original recipe, which I prefer–the cream is not whipped, just carefully poured on top:

Ingredients (serves 2-3 people)
1 cup Jameson Irish Whiskey
2 cups hot black coffee–I like it strong, but brew to your preference
3/4 cup fresh heavy cream–do not use half and half or your recipe will fail
1 TBS sugar–I use turbinado, but you can also use brown sugar or white sugar**

Directions
Pour coffee, whiskey and sugar into large pan and heat over medium -high heat til sugar is blended. Do not boil.

** The tablespoon of sugar is NOT optional; if you leave out the sugar, the cream won’t float on the top. If you don’t want to use sugar, buy a can of good whipped cream and use that as a topping instead of the heavy cream.

Pour equal amounts of mixture into two Irish coffee glasses (click HERE to see the type of glass preferred), leaving an inch or two of room at top.

That was easy, right?

Now comes the tricky part. There are two methods for getting the cream to float on top of the coffee; both require a wee bit of skill and practice.

1) Take a metal teaspoon, hold just above the surface of the coffee and then gently and carefully pour the cream over the BACK of the spoon, gradually raising the spoon until you have about an inch or so of cream on top. This is my preferred method (learned it from a bartender back in my college days) and is easy to master after a few tries. I promise–if you added the sugar as indicated, the cream WILL float on top of the coffee.

2) Using a teaspoon, hold the spoon facing up and just touching the surface of the coffee. Carefully and slowly, pour cream into spoon until it overflows, raising the spoon gradually as needed to keep it just touching the surface of the coffee. Again, the dissolved sugar will allow the cream to float atop the coffee mix.

Now that you’ve created your masterpiece, drink your Irish coffee by sipping it through the cream layer.

The experience is heavenly!

 

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Sean-nós Dancing

Nov 14, 2014 by

Sean-nós dancing is a traditional style of solo Irish dance. Outside of Ireland, it is not as well known as stepdancing (popularized by Riverdance). On the Emerald Isle, however, sean-nós dancing is a big crowd pleaser.

In Irish Gaelic, sean-nós (sha[rhymes with Da]-nohs[nohs rhymes with dose]) means “old style” and can be applied to singing as well as dancing.  Some say sean-nós dancing originated in the Connemara region, but as the dance style predates modern records, it’s likely that different regions of Ireland had their own, unique sean-nós dance styles.

 

 Stepdancing is a choreographed Irish dance style, where the costumed dancers hold their arms firmly at their sides and do intricate foot movements and high kicks, using either standard soft ( ghillies) or hard (reel and jig ) shoes.  Sean-nós dancing is almost the direct opposite:  one or two dancers wear casual clothing and street shoes, are free to mover their arms, and impromptu, casual dance steps are the name of the game.  Sean-nós dancers do low to the ground foot movements( as opposed to the high kicks of stepdancers) in rhythm to the music, in style called a battering step, which is similar to tap dancing and Appalachian buck dancing.  Stepdancers move across the entire stage, but sean-nós dancing is meant to be performed on a small, hard surface, such as a table, overturned barrel or a door off its hinges.

Sean-nós dancer Seosamh Ó Neachtain moves to the music of Laoise Kelly’s harp– watch how his steps change to match the tempo of the music:

Sean-nós dancers like to show off their skills by dancing on small surfaces. Click HERE to see All-Ireland sean-nós champion Emma O’Sullivan and Gerard Butler ( no, not THAT Gerard Butler) battering a barrel.

Sure, barrel dancing is tough, but not as tough as sean-nós dancing in a FRYING PAN!

 

Think you’d like to try a bit of sean-nós dancing? You don’t need elaborate costumes or fancy shoes, so anyone can do it. Here’s an easy how-to video to get you started:

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Happy Birthday, Gerard Butler!

Nov 13, 2014 by

Happy Birthday, Gerard Butler!

Handsome Scottish actor Gerard Butler was born this day, November 13, 1969, in Paisley, Scotland to a Catholic family of Irish descent. Although he graduated from law school, Gerard went on to choose a career in acting, for which we should all be truly thankful.

We can do without another lawyer, but not having The Butler to gaze upon would indeed be a tragedy.

happy-birthday-to-you-gerard-butler

Want to say Happy Birthday, Gerard Butler in Gàidhlig?

“Co là breith sona dhut” is Scots Gaelic for “Happy Birthday to you”.
Roughly, it’s pronounced KO-la brey sunna ghoot.
I was too lazy to look up the Scots Gaelic for “Gerard”,  but I think it’s Gearóid, or pretty close to that.

A short video to show why Gerard Butler takes our breath away:

Fancy yourself a Gerard Butler expert?

Ah, but did you know that Gerry was beaten to the Top Scot Of The Year award in 2009 by… Susan Boyle?

Click HERE to take the Gerard Butler Birthday Quiz.

happy-birthday-gerard-butler-cake-meme

Aye, I’ll take a slice, Ger.

 

Wishing you a most Happy 45th Birthday, Gerry–we love ringing for The Butler, ye ken.

 

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Richard Burton, Man of Wales

Nov 10, 2014 by

Richard Burton, the great Welsh thespian, was born on this date, November 10, 1925, in Pontrhydyfen, South Wales.

 

The son of a coal miner, Burton was born as Richard Jenkins,  the twelfth of thirteen children.  He grew up in a working class, Welsh-speaking household; in fact, the majority of Pontrhydyfen’s inhabitants speak Welsh as their first language.

 

 

 

 

Richard Burton came to be regarded as one of the greatest acting talents of his day, although he never received an Oscar ( despite being nominated seven times for an Academy Award) and was never knighted.  To see a synopsis of 6 memorable performances by Richard Burton, read Wales Online’s new tribute article HERE.

Burton certainly enjoyed the limelight, but didn’t view his profession as a higher calling:

The Welsh are all actors. It’s only the bad ones who become professional.
Richard Burton

After playing King Arthur in the Broadway production of Camelot, Burton replaced another actor as Mark Antony in Twentieth Century-Fox’s Cleopatra (1963). It was on the set of Cleopatra that he met and fell in love with Elizabeth Taylor (both he and Taylor had spouses at the time), beginning a tempestuous love affair that would intrigue the public and the media for decades.

 

 

Burton died at age 58 from a brain hemorrhage on 5 August 1984, at his home in Céligny, Switzerland, and is buried there. To read more about Richard Burton’s life and achievements, visit the Official Richard Burton website HERE.

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KILTED UP 2015

Nov 9, 2014 by

Give the gift of our KILTED UP 2015 calendar this year!

Chocolate candy is good, but kilted AYE CANDY is the BEST gift!    Kilted Up 2015 is chock full of AYE candy, featuring twelve REAL men, wearing real kilts, and looking irresistible!

 

Just $17.99 now at Lulu.com– this year’s calendar sales will go in part to support The Wounded Warrior Project, a well-known charity which benefits America’s wounded veterans.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER Kilted Up 2015 now. You can’t give a man in a kilt as a gift–how would you wrap him?- but you CAN give our  calendar bursting with kilted hotties.

KILTED UP 2015 is the perfect gift for anyone who loves A MAN IN A KILT!  Get a daily dose of KILTY pleasure with our handsome men in kilts — all ages, all professions and all MAN ENOUGH to don the kilt.


Beat the Black Friday Rush–order KILTED UP 2015 now to give as unique Christmas gifts, stocking stuffers, or as a special treat to yourself. Preview KILTED UP 2015 here and see for yourself why this calendar is so popular!

kilyed up 2015-why women love men in kilts!
So, show off your Celtic heritage and support a great charity –buy KILTED UP 2015 today!

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Tommy Makem, Irish Bard

Nov 4, 2014 by

Happy Birthday, Tommy Makem–we miss ye.


Tommy Makem, the internationally known and loved Irish musician, poet and storyteller, was born on this day, November 4, in 1932. He died at age 74 in 2007.


I had the privilege of meeting Tommy Makem when he came to the now-defunct Atlanta Celtic festival back in 2000( or maybe it was 2001). He was a charming Irishman, who could tell a tale as adroitly as he played the banjo and tin whistle. Tommy was a legend of Irish music, and he lives on in his songs and in the many musicians inspired by him.  Here’s The Dubliners in 1978 performing The Town of Ballybay, written by Tommy Makem:


Born and raised in Keady, County Armagh, in Northern Ireland, Tommy grew up in a household where both parents were performers of traditional Irish music. Tommy emigrated to the US in 1955, eventually joining with the The Clancy Brothers for recordings and tours, becoming hugely popular in America and around the world.  Click HERE to see an excellent documentary about the history of Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers.
Here’s a video of Tommy and the Clancy Brothers performing The Wild Colonial Boy (remember it from “The Quiet Man” film ?) on the Ed Sullivan television show in 1965:

Makem was a prolific composer/songwriter whose compositions often became standards in the repertoire of the Clancy Brothers and many other Irish folk groups. Four Green Fields, one of his best known songs, became so popular amongst Irish Folk bands that many mistakenly thought it was an anonymously penned traditional Irish song. It is an emotional, moving tribute to the hardships Ireland has suffered throughout the centuries:

 


Other well known songs written by Tommy Makem include  Gentle Annie, The Rambles of Spring, The Winds Are Singing Freedom, The Town of Ballybay, Winds of the Morning, Mary Mack, and Farewell to Carlingford.  Even though many people mistakenly believe that Makem wrote Red is the Rose, it is truly a traditional Irish folk song.

Thank you, Tommy Makem, for your deep love of your native country, for your songs of pride and peace that you shared with the world, and for bringing Irish music to so many of us who first felt that magical pull from Ireland when we heard your songs.

 

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