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    The Celtic Ranch — Irish customs

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    Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-Nah-Saw) is the Gaelic harvest festival, which has been celebrated throughout the Celtic lands since ancient times. It is traditionally celebrated midway through the summer solstice and the autumn equinox. grain-1503388__180 According to Wikipedia, Lughnasadh is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and has pagan origins. The festival itself is named after the god Lugh. It involved great gatherings that included religious ceremonies, ritual athletic contests (most notably the Tailteann Games), feasting, matchmaking and trading. There were also visits to holy wells. According to folklorist Máire MacNeill, evidence shows that the religious rites included an offering of the 'first fruits', a feast of the new food and of bilberries, the sacrifice of a bull and a ritual dance-play in which Lugh seizes the harvest for mankind and defeats the powers of blight. Much of the activities would have taken place on top of hills and mountains. Lughnasadh customs persisted widely until the 20th century, with the event being variously named 'Garland Sunday', 'Bilberry Sunday', 'Mountain Sunday' and 'Crom Dubh Sunday'. The custom of climbing hills and mountains at Lughnasadh has survived in some areas, although it has been re-cast as a Christian pilgrimage. The best known is the 'Reek Sunday' pilgrimage to the top of Croagh Patrick on the last Sunday in July. A number of fairs are also believed to be survivals of Lughnasadh, for example the Puck Fair. Since the later 20th century, Celtic neopagans have observed Lughnasadh, or something based on it, as a religious holiday. In some places, elements of the festival have been revived as a cultural event.  Lughnasadh is also known as Bilberry Sunday, Blueberry Sunday, Crom Dubh Sunday, and Garland Sunday, and can be celebrated anytime between the middle of July and the end of August. Berry picking is a traditional part of Lughnasadh and legend holds that if there is a plentiful crop, then the rest of the harvest will also be plentiful. wreath-1520645__180 Another Lughnasadh or Garland Sunday tradition is the making of garlands and wreaths, which are then placed around all of the Holy Wells in Ireland, honoring the patron saints. So how can you celebrate the Lughnasadh Festival? However you want! Bake a pie, dig in the garden, relax around a fire or decorate your home with flowers. However you choose to honor this tradition, we wish you a happy and bountiful summer!

    The Puck Fair

    The Puck Fair in Ireland is one of the island's oldest festivals thought to date back to the 4th century and was originally part of the Celtic harvest festival, Lughnasa. From "During this ancient celebration, a wild male goat (known as a puck) is crowned king of the town for three days before being returned to his normal life in the Irish hills, his royalty all but ignored by his fellow goats. The festival begins each year on Aug. 10, when the captured goat is brought to the town square where he is crowned by the “Queen of Puck,” who is not another goat, but a young girl from the town. His worldly station raised, “King Puck” is then put in a cage on a high scaffold where he may survey his kingdom for the duration of the festival. The bars are allowed to stay open extra-late during the fair, so his majesty generally gets to see some drunkenness. At the end of the three days, the king goat is deposed and led back to into the wilderness." -Sounds like fun, right?  The Puck Fair is celebrating 403 years of documented festivals and although some animal welfare groups have called for an end of the tradition of crowing the goat king, the festival, which runs from August 10-12, is more popular than ever with more than 10,000 people gathering in the small town of Killorglin for the festivities. The first day of Puck Fair is called The Gathering and includes the Coronation Ceremony. The Goat King and the Maiden Queen are paraded through town, before being crowned, kicking off 3 days of festivities. The Gathering is also the oldest running horse fair in Ireland. People travel from all over the country to show, buy and sell horses and tack.  Photo by[/caption]   The second day of Puck Fair is called Fair day and it's a full blown carnival complete with cotton candy, crafts, and a Cattle Fair. The third day is called The Scattering. The Goat King is lead back up the mountain to rejoin his herd and is followed by a grand parade. The festivities conclude with a massive fireworks display.      I think that we can all agree that if you're going to be in Ireland in August, you're going to go the The Puck Festival, right? It's not every day that you can meet a goat king.

    Mother's Day: Irish Treats for Your Best Gal

    In Ireland Mother's Day, or Mothering Day is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Much like the US, mothers are treated to breakfast in bed, given cards, flowers and gifts or taken for special lunches or outings. mother's day gifts Shanore Irish Jewelry Rose Gold Pearl and Trinity Necklace. Perfect for Mom[/caption] Irish Mother's day originally started out as a way to honor the Virgin Mary, traditionally people would visit their "mother church" (the church of their baptism) and bring offerings of various sorts. Soon this custom began to include one's own mother, who would be given flowers blessed at the church, small gifts, and cards. Doing Mom's chores became an especially popular way to honor her. Simnel cakes,or "mothering cakes" became a traditional gift as well. To find a traditional recipe for this go to: Surprise Mom with a special treat! This lovely tradition of "Mothering Day" had all but been forgotten by 1935, after the second World War, American servicemen revived the holiday in Ireleand, while the Americans kept their celebration on the second Sunday of May, the Irish revival continued on the fourth Sunday of Lent. [caption id="attachment_723" align="alignright" width="130"]mother's day gifts Mona Tartan Bag in Violet[/caption] Wherever you are, moms are special. In Weston, Mother's Day is extra special! It falls on the day right after our Second Saturdays, where our stores stay open late with samples of food and drinks from all over town, specials in the restaurants, and perfect gifts. If you want to treat her to an entire weekend, our bed and breakfasts are a great way to give her a respite from her daily routine, and be pampered.

     The Celtic Ranch has  a special party the Saturday before, with gifts for the first 25 moms to come in, and complimentary treats all

    mother's day Celtic Ranch Whiskey Snug Our Brand New Whiskey Snug![/caption]

    day! Moms always take care of others first, so we put her first here at The Celtic Ranch. Buying a gift for Mom is easy, with our variety of jewelry, clothing, pewter, and crystal giftware, we're a hub for all things Mom! If she's a wine drinker, get her a special bottle, if she's a whiskey drinker...we've got flasks, whiskey glasses, and our brand new snug!

    Have a happy Mother's Day, Mom. You earned it.


    Irish Whiskey on the Rise, Hurray!

    Whiskey...the magical elixir that is sunshine in a glass. Is it any wonder the Irish, whose island is notoriously damp and grey, created their own sunshine? They have, in fact, become one of the world leaders in whiskey production, exports of Irish whiskey have increased 220% since 2003. The Irish import to 77 countries, and 28% of beverge imports from Ireland are whiskey. Wow! The worldwide excitement over Irish whiskey has grown by such leaps and bounds that in 2014 the Irish Whiskey Association was formed to "represent the rapidly expanding Irish whiskey industry...." Their goal is to expand the market for Irish whiskey export and tourism, creating jobs and economic growth throughout the island, while maintaining the quality and integrity of this much beloved beverage. irish whiskey Irish Whiskey Association Recently the Irish Whiskey Association laid out their goals in their "Vision for Irish Whiskey", a 52 page document (found here) detailing how they plan to increase the number of distilleries by 26 (there are now 8 major distilleries), to ensure that the supply meets the demand; to increase whiskey tourism from the current 600,000 to 800,000 in the medium term (think 5-8 years or so); and increase global market share to 12% from the current 4%. Statistics and numbers are all well and good, but what does this mean for the consumer? Y'know...those of us who drink the stuff? It means everything. More tourism centres, in more places in Ireland mean maybe someday you'll be able to travel the entire Island sampling the finest whiskeys they have to offer. It also means that the variety will increase, with new blends and distillations to tease our palates. Best of all, we won't run short. Yes, with all this growth we can be sure of an adequate supply (is there such a thing as an adequate supply of whiskey?) to the U.S. and other countries, insuring the legacy of the Irish lives on. "Distillers second golden age of whiskey"[/caption]

    Snug as a Bug in a Pub

    What is snug? According to Merriam-Webster online some synonyms are:   comfortable, cozy, snug, easy, restful, enjoying or providing a position of contentment and security. Celtic Ranch Whiskey Snug Our Brand New Whiskey Snug! comfortable applies to anything that encourages serenity, well-being, or complacency as well as physical ease <started feeling comfortable in our new surroundings>. cozy suggests warmth, shelter, assured ease, and friendliness <a cozy neighborhood coffee shop>. snug suggests having just enough space for comfort and safety but no more <a snug little cottage>.easy implies relief from or absence of anything likely to cause discomfort or constraint <living in easy circumstances>. restful applies to whatever induces or contributes to rest or relaxation <a quiet restful vacation> A Snug is also a small, private room in a pub, a cozy spot designed to provide privacy, comfort, and relaxation. That sounds lovely, doesn't it? Who doesn't want a nice quiet place to relax and enjoy their favorite libation far from the madding crowd? Traditionally a snug would be a small, private room with a frosted glass external window where people could drink without being seen, frequently it was reserved for the wealthy, and the beer was a higher price. It was also used by anyone who wished to enjoy a drink without being seen, for example ladies would imbibe in the snug when it was unseemly for them to be seen drinking in public. The snug also offered a private haven for the local police officers or priests who didn't wish to be seen drinking. At times a snug would also be a discreet place for a romantic tryst, where the lovers could have privacy. There are very few traditional  snugs left in the public houses of Ireland and Britain, but this long-standing tradition won't die, thanks to The Celtic Ranch and our own Terry Kast. Charmed by the whole concept of the snug, Terry and her team of ranchers have been diligently preparing a snug for your enjoyment. It will feature a wide array of whiskey, scotch, and beers, as well as a delightfully quiet atmosphere in which to enjoy your favorite drink. Keep updated by visiting the website, and our facebook page. We look forward to seeing you there! snug Slainte!