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Garden GateFáilte
Welcome to Irish Culture and Customs, a labor of love we began several years ago. What started as a surprise milestone birthday trip to Ireland became the beginning of a journey through time. A 2,000-year voyage on a quest to learn as much as we can about everything Irish. So here's where we are so far - more than 700 pages that range from Irish poetry, superstitions , Kids Stories and recipes to specific Irish calendar celebrations such as St. Patrick's Day , Beltane, Samhain and the Feast of St. Brigid. Whether it's an Irish symbol such as the shillelagh, the Shamrock and the Book of Kells or an Irish craft like Aran Isle knitting, you'll discover a wide range of topics in our index. We hope you find the little bit of Ireland you may be looking for and we encourage you to share what you discover with your loved ones on your family website, blog, or social network.





Today's Irish headlines
We comb the newspapers and web sites to find news to start your day with a positive spin. In this section you will also find links to stories from the past two weeks as well as links to the major Irish newspapers, the current time in Ireland and a link to the weather forecast.




Shrove Tuesday Pancakes!
by Bridget Haggerty

Throughout the British Isles the day before Ash Wednesday - Shrove Tuesday - is commonly known as Pancake Day. In Ireland, It’s called Pancake Tuesday. As the child of Irish parents living in London, I
loved watching the Pancake Races. Usually, the contestants were housewives. Each of them carried a skillet which contained a large, very thin pancake. The idea was for the women to race to the finish line, tossing their pancakes as they ran. It was hilarious - especially when a stray pancake landed where it wasn't supposed to!
My other vivid memory of the day is my dad fixing our Shrove Tuesday supper - pancakes! As good as they were, we never had them at any other time of year. And, as good a cook as my mother was, she always let Dad take over the kitchen. Mum always claimed she was too heavy-handed to make good pancakes. I think it was a ploy on her part to let Dad have all the fun.

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The Lenten Season in Old Ireland
by Bridget Haggerty

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the holiest time of the Christian year in Ireland. For centuries, the faithful have gone to church on this day to have their brow symbolically marked with a cross of ashes. Traditionally, the ashes came from burning the palms saved from the previous Palm Sunday, but, in some areas, the custom was for people to bring ashes from their turf fire into the church to be blessed.

At least one person from every household attended the Ash Wednesday ritual and they would bring home a pinch or two, so that all family members could have their foreheads marked. And so, with the priest having used his right thumb to apply the ashes while saying the prayer, "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return," the 40-day Lenten season commenced.

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Shrovetide - The Marrying Season
by Bridget Haggerty

Well into the 20th century, the busiest time for match-making in Ireland began right after Epiphany - January 6th. This was because the Irish had misinterpreted a Church ruling set forth in November, 1563 which prohibited weddings during Lent. The popular reasoning that evolved from this decree was that if you could not marry during Lent, then you had to marry before. Thus, it was taken for granted that Shrovetide was the proper time to marry and Shrove Tuesday - the day before Ash Wednesday - became the most favored day of all.
With most weddings these days taking place on a Saturday, it may seem strange to us that just a few decades ago, marriages in Ireland would be performed on any day of the week except Saturday and Sunday. In fact, there's a little verse that illustrates the Irish luck associated with whichever day a couple chose to exchange their vows:

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What if you were still single by Ash Wednesday?
by Bridget Haggerty

In 1751, King George II decreed that Great Britain would switch over from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar - the one we use today. The switch went into effect in September, 1752. The day after September 2nd of that year became September 14th. There were riots in the streets because people believed that the king had stolen 12 days out of their lives. Meanwhile, in Ireland, the monks kept what came to be known as Old Time.
In my article, Shrovetide, the Season For Marrying, I described why the days before Ash Wednesday were when the majority of marriages took place in Ireland long ago. But, what if Shrovetide went by and you were still single when Ash Wednesday dawned? It was popular opinion in those times, that this was a major neglect of your social duty to the community; but, you could make amends by "Going to the Skelligs."

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Poetry Corner: Thomas Moore (b. May 28, 1779 - d. Feb. 25, 1852)

Irish poet and lyricist. Here's a good example of the blurry line between poem and song. Moore is best known for his sweet lyrical songs. The best example being Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms. He was most popular for his Irish Melodies which appeared in ten parts between 1807 and 1835 (...Endearing Young Charms was 1808). Moore was a skillful writer and a musician. He took the easy path and set many of them to Irish tunes.

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Emblems of Ireland: The Shamrock
by Bridget Haggerty

According to the Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, the identity of the true shamrock has long been debated, but the plants most often designated as the emblem of Ireland are the white clover, the small hop clover, and the wood sorrel, or oxalis.

It's likely that some or all of this information was provided by the botanist, Nathaniel Colgan, who endeavored to identify "the real shamrock" at the turn of the 20th century.
He asked people all over Ireland to send him living, rooted specimens which he carefully planted and labelled. When the plants matured and blossomed, he was able to identify four different plants - the three already mentioned and one called Black Medick.

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The Irish Kitchen: A Taste of Ireland...Soda Bread
by Bridget Haggerty

There's an ancient Irish proverb that says one should serve only "the newest of food and the oldest of drink." This illustrates exceedingly well the Irish attitude toward baking and distilling or brewing.

In old Ireland, the woman of the house made a variety of breads and cakes which she baked every day in a bastible or pot oven beside the open fire. Whatever she created - from griddle cakes to barm brack, it was seen as a sign of great respect to offer her guests bread that was still warm and uncut.

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Basic Irish: The Language of Love - in Irish


This is a revised and updated version of our St. Valentine''s Day offering. The difference is that some of the following words and phrases can be used at any time of the year, whenever romance is in the air.

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Kids' Ireland: How The Causeway Came to Be
Edited and adapted from Irish folklore by Bridget Haggerty

What caused the Giants Causeway? Scientists say that millions of years ago, there were huge volcanic eruptions and after they were over, thousands of strange-looking columns appeared on the coast of Co. Antrim. Is that really what happened? The Seanchai*, or Irish story-teller, has a far different tale to tell.

It's said that the Causeway was built by a gentle giant, Fionn MacCumhain, or Finn McCool. Even legend, though, has its contrasting accounts. In one tale, Finn was said to be in love with a lady giant who lived on the Scottish island of Staffa, and that he built the Causeway in order to safely bring her home to Ireland. In fact, there's a similar though smaller collection of the strange columns on Staffa's coastline, and geographically, Ireland and Scotland were once much closer than they are today.



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Music: The Singing Word
by Mara Freeman

"The merciful word, the singing word, and the good word. May the power of these three holy things be in Erin for evermore!"
Irish Triad

Among all the other instruments that contribute to the unique sound of Irish music - fiddles, bodhráns, whistles, to name but a few - none is so enduring in its appeal as the human voice. In the chieftains' halls, the voices belonged to the bards, who sang or chanted praise-poems to their masters, and declaimed the great stories to music at feasts and assemblies. Although the Bardic colleges were dissolved in the 17th century, these ancient songs could still be heard only a hundred years ago in Ireland. In 1873, the Irish scholar, Eugene O'Curry, recalls one of his father's friends singing the old lays of Finn and the Fianna, which date from the 12th century:

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Live Music from Mayo

A link to the internet service from Midwest Radio out of Mayo. Broadcasting from their state of the art studios; Midwest Irish Radio plays nothing but the best Irish music. No matter where you are in the world, you are never too far from Ireland when you listen in.
Click here for: Irish Midwest radio.


Shop for the best of Irish products from the comfort of your home

We combed the internet to find reliable resources for the most popular Irish products: Aran Isle sweaters, Guinness glasses, Waterford Crystal, genuine blackthorn walking sticks, the flag of the Republic and more. Some of these shops have become friends; others we trust from their reputations and some offer products that are completely unique. We hope you enjoy browsing through what's on offer and we are confident you will find gifts for any occasion or person, all with an Irish flair.



Authentic Irish clothing from Aran Sweaters Direct

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Thu, Feb 23, 2017

The Irishman who designed
the Oscar satuette

Ireland’s first and most lasting contribution to the Academy Awards is at the ceremony’s very heart: the Oscar statuette was designed by Dublin- born Cedric Gibbons, an art director with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, who also became Ireland’s first winner. Although his first Oscar (for art direction on The Bridge of San Luis Rey) was the only award he received individually, Gibbons was nominated for 38 Academy Awards and received 11 Oscars. By most yardsticks, this record makes Gibbons the most successful Irish Oscar winner in history.
Source: The Irish Times
Photo Credit: Hollywood Confidential


Click for More Culture Corner.




Sunday Blessing


Blessing for Lent

Merciful God, you called us forth from the dust of the earth;
you claimed us for Christ in the waters of baptism.
Look upon us as we enter these Forty Days bearing the mark of ashes,
and bless our journey through the desert of Lent to the font of rebirth.
May our fasting be hunger for justice;
our alms, a making of peace;
our prayer, the chant of humble and grateful hearts.
All that we do and pray is in the name of Jesus.
For in his cross you proclaim your love for ever and ever.
From Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers

Photo Credit: Catholic Herald


Weekly Quote

the red rose shineth rare,
And the lily saintly fair;
But my shamrock, one in three,
Takes the inmost heart of me!
From Shamrock Song by Katharine Tynan
Photo Credit: The Garden Helper


This documentary follows Irish immigrants on their journey to the American Dream. From war hero and President Andrew Jackson to union organizer Mother Jones, you'll meet the colorful characters who fought and worked their way past oppression and into history. With their hearts, wits, and fists, they made America their own.
Click here for Irish In America



1000 Years of Irish Poetry: The Gaelic and Anglo Irish Poets from Pagan Times to the Present
by Kathleen Hoagland

Interested in Irish Poetry?Here's the easy way to collect them all (well, almost all, anyway).
Malachy McCourt says in his introduction, "With the republication of this book, the Irish recover under their roof of stars all the great poets and writers who have been falsely claimed by the saxon crown and its minions - even our reprobates."
Click here for 1000 years.



Irish Ways
by Ron Kavana

Six years in the making and accompanied by his regular Alias Band and a bevy of top-drawer guest musicians, including Brian McNeill, Gino Lupari, Shane Mac Gowan, Terry Woods, Paddy Keenan and Niamh Parsons, Ron Kivana has produced a remarkable 4-CD box set and book which tells the story of Ireland through songs, music and poetry.
Click here for Irish Ways.


 

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March 4, 2011
   
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This Web Site Bashed, Kicked & Glued together by Russ Haggerty.