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    Cathain nach 'máthair' í 'an mháthair'?

    Cathain nach 'máthair' í 'an mháthair'? Translated means "when is a mother not a mother?" I am not sure that this is ever the case. What I do know is Mother's Day is May 14th and that will be here quicker than a leprechaun can hide his gold. In Ireland the father was always looked upon as the protector and the bread winner. The mother was in charge of the home and raising the children. Often the Irish families were very large and the wife/mother had a huge task with little or no help. It is because of her love and devotion that the mother is so revered.  The mothers cleaned the house, did the laundry, found the time to do the shopping and cooked the meals.  She also set the religious example by attending church/mass nearly every day.  In her 'spare time' she would also take in sewing and laundry to help pay the rent or simply helped in the fields.  These saintly women would not have time to watch a soap opera even if they had a television but they always had time for their families. Take the time this year to remember your Mam, Mom, Mammy, Ma, Mommy or Mother. You can do it with a card, candy, flowers, a trip to her favorite restaurant or a meaningful piece of jewelry. It doesn't matter to her how you remember her but trust me it does matter that you remember.




    Lee River - Where is it? What is it?

    Lee River is located on the northern end of the City of Cork and flows into Cork Harbor that opens to the Atlantic Ocean. The City of Cork was founded by the Vikings and grew because the Lee River was navigable and helped bring trade to this area. Today the City of Cork is over 125,000 people and with the tourist trade booming there, it is home to 70 hotels.  It is also famed for being the home of Michael Collins.

    In 1985 in a small factory just south of the Lee River the Lee River Leather Goods company was founded. Since then they have been turning out hand made belts, buckles, billfolds and bracelets. Like most things made by the Irish their products are extremely well done and their popularity has grown on that reputation. The recent increase in the Lee River brand led Terry Kast to recently add a special section to the Celtic Ranch just for Lee River customers. I personally have several Lee River belts and buckles they are both attractive and wear well. Now that summer is just around the corner stop in and check out this display. While you are at it grab a free cup of Irish tea or drop by the Whiskey Snug and ask your host to serve you up the drink of the day. Slainte.

    Graduation Time is Near

     Seems like there is someone graduating each year from high school or college and I used to struggle with gift ideas. Several years ago I became acquainted with a line of Celtic jewelry carried by Terry at The Celtic Ranch. It is rich looking, well designed and priced within my budget. It is also nice because you can buy a gift that will always remind the recipient of you. The men's jewelry looks masculine and is heavy enough to make you feel confident it will standup to everyday wear.

    The women's jewelry is just plain beautiful. Who is this designer and what is the name of his jewelry? It is Keith Jack.

    The C. R. carries several of Keith's award winning designs and you can also look at their stock on the internet at http://www.celticranch.com. Whether you purchase one of these pieces of beautiful jewelry for yourself or as a gift, you will not be disappointed. Check them out online but better yet, stop by and feel the weight and see the quality up close.

    Saol fada agus breac-shláinte chugat.


    The not so Traditional Irish Dinner

    Corned beef and cabbage is often thought of as the traditional Irish meal.  Everyone wishing to be Irish on St. Patrick's Day has to eat at least one helping while washing it down with a pint of Guinness. In North America corned beef dishes are associated with traditional Irish cuisine. However, there is considerable debate about the association of corned beef with Ireland. Mark Kurlansky, in his book Salt, states that the Irish produced a salted beef around the Middle Ages that was the "forerunner of what today is known as Irish corned beef" and in the 17th century the English named the Irish salted beef "corned beef".  Some say it was not until the wave of 18th century Irish immigration to the United States that much of the ethnic Irish first began to consume corned beef dishes as seen today. The popularity of corned beef compared to bacon/rasher among the immigrant Irish may have been due to corned beef being considered a luxury product in their native land, while it was cheaply and readily available in America. In Ireland today, the serving of corned beef is geared toward tourist consumption and most Irish in Ireland do not identify the ingredient as native cuisine.  Given the option I much prefer a traditional Irish Shepherd's Pie made with lamb but Corned Beef works for me as well, especially when it is free. This year you are invited to The Celtic Ranch on Saturday, March 18th for free Corned Beef and Cabbage at the St. Patrick's Day Hangover Party. NO! you do not have to have a hangover to attend. If you can't make it to The Celtic Ranch then here is a recipe so you can make your own dinner.  I would give you a recipe for Guinness Stout as well but trust me that is a secret Guinness is not sharing. Slainte! Ingredients: 1 medium onion cut into wedges 4 large red potatoes, quartered 1 pound baby carrots 3 cups water 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 bay leaf 2 tablespoons sugar 2 tablespoons cider vinegar 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1 corned beef brisket with spice pack (2-1/2 to 3 pounds) cut in half 1 small head of cabbage, cut into wedges Directions: Place the onion, potatoes and carrots in a 6 to 7 qt. slow cooker, combine the water, garlic, bay leaf, sugar, vinegar, pepper and contents of spice packet, pour over vegetables, top with brisket and cabbage. Cover and cook on low for 8 - 9 hours or until meat and vegetables are tender.  Discard bay leaf before serving.  Yield: 6 - 8 servings.

    Centenary Plus One

    Last year we celebrated the Centenary of the Easter Rising.  The Rising was not only a result of British injustice but also the Potato Famine several decades earlier.  The famine was actually a blithe on the potato crops that prevented the poor Irish farmers living under British rule from paying their rent. During the years 1845 -1849 record crops were sent to England from Ireland. The poor in Ireland who depended on the potato had to choose to eat or pay their rent.  A million plus people could do neither which resulted in their starving to death.  Some families resorted to stealing food to feed their starving children. Those who were caught with even a single loaf of bread were given up to 20 years of hard labor in an Australian penal colony.  Many who chose to stay, lost their homes and were sent to work houses that were almost as bad as the English prisons. The starving peasants are remembered by statues located on the Quay of the Liffey River in Dublin. Forced to leave their homeland a million Irish people emigrated to Europe, Australia or America to escape the death spiral.  Even so thousands of these emigrants died on these black ships sometimes called 'death ships'.  One restored Death Ship the Jeanie Johnson is pictured below.   The famine finally ended but excessive taxation and ill treatment did not. The result was the Rising of 1916. Though the Rising failed, the execution of the leaders and murder of many innocent people kept a guerilla movement growing.  Finally in 1922 A.D. the English had enough.  Twenty-Six of the Irish Counties were granted independence. The six colonies in the North (Northern Ireland) remained under British control until 2005 A.D. when the last of the British troops were finally removed. The north and the south are still separated and each is an independent country today. In spite of over 800 years of brutal treatment by the British government and their landlords the Irish people have chosen to be forgiving of the English.  Forgiveness however, does not mean forgotten.  We should always remember the sacrifices that were made and the hardships of our ancestors. These brave people sacrificed, fought and died that future generations can now live in peace and freedom.  Almost every city around the beautiful this island has statues and monuments remembering the brave men and women of the Easter Rising.  If you would like to learn more about these heroes,  read the historical novel by Morgan Llewellyn entitled "1916."  This is a work of fiction with many real people and historical facts.  Miss Llewellyn has written several other historical novels that makes learning the history of Ireland fun.  I have read them all and each one was enlightening.