WINTER/SPRING 2015 / VOL. 15 ISSUE 1
News of Ireland 
and of Irish Interest 
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Dervish at Milwaukee’s Irish Cultural and Heritage Center March 7

The iconic Irish band Dervish will spread more than a bit of exhilarating musical magic when they bring their passionate vocals and dazzling instrumentals to the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center, 2133 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, on Saturday, March 7 at 7:30 p.m.

Founded on Ireland’s windswept Atlantic coast during Sligo pub sessions, Dervish’s exceptional musicianship, groundbreaking songs, and carefully crafted arrangements explore the endless rhythms and complexities that go into making great Irish music. Respected for their treatment of tradition, Dervish is also known for a fresh, vibrant approach.

The group is fronted by Cathy Jordan’s hauntingly charismatic vocals and engaging stage presence as well as a core built around the tight and intuitive interplay between Michael Holmes on bouzouki and mandolin, Liam Kelly on flute, Brian McDonagh on mandola and mandolin, Shane Mitchell on accordion, and Tom Morrow on fiddle.

Dervish has wowed audiences around the globe and shared stages with artists as diverse as Sting, James Brown, and the Buena Vista Social Club. As worldwide ambassadors of Irish music, they accompanied Ireland’s Taoiseach (prime minister) on a historic trade mission to China in 2006.

During a 26-year critically acclaimed career, Dervish’s proudest moment may have been receiving the Freedom of the Borough of Sligo, putting them in the company of W.B Yeats, the first native to receive the award for international artistic achievements.

Concert tickets are $29 in advance, $33 on concert day and $10 for students with ID.To order tickets online, go to www.ichc.net. Tickets may also be ordered by calling (414) 345-8800. 

"There’s no substitute for class…this Sligo super group is virtually in a class of its own. Dervish’s music impresses immediately, with every member shining." 

Irish Music Magazine



Milwaukee Irish Fest Announces Tommy Makem Cultural Legacy Fund 

Continuing the organization’s mission to preserve, promote and celebrate all aspects of Irish, Irish-American and Celtic cultures, Milwaukee Irish Fest has announced the Tommy Makem Cultural Legacy Fund. 

Tommy Makem, who passed away in 2007, was a celebrated folk artist, poet and storyteller, as well as a longtime supporter of Milwaukee Irish Fest. Established as a tribute to his memory, the Tommy Makem Cultural Legacy Fund will support individuals who are promoting and living a legacy of Irish music and culture, through an annual grant or scholarship. 

To help with initial funding, Milwaukee Irish Fest has provided a $25,000 challenge grant. For every dollar donated to the fund, the organization will match up to $25,000. Additionally, Ed Ward, the founder of Milwaukee Irish Fest, as well as his wife Catherine Ward, president of Milwaukee Irish Fest, have issued a $5,000 challenge grant. The challenge from the Ward family will match $1 for every $2 donated to the fund. 

"Tommy Makem is a legend in the Irish music world, and was a dear friend and supporter of the festival," said Ed Ward, founder, Milwaukee Irish Fest. "By funding his legacy, we are ensuring continued support of the preservation of Irish music and culture for years to come." 

To learn more about the Tommy Makem Cultural Legacy Fund or for information on how to donate, visit www.irishfest.com

About Milwaukee Irish Fest: 
Milwaukee Irish Fest is the World’s largest celebration of Irish music and culture. The four-day festival showcases more than 100 entertainment acts on 16 stages at Henry W. Maier Festival Park on Milwaukee’s lakefront. The annual festival occurs every third weekend in August. The 35th annual festival takes place August 13 to 16, 2015. 

More than just a festival, the Milwaukee Irish Fest organization is passionately committed to igniting a love of Celtic culture in all people. With the help of more than 4,000 volunteers, Milwaukee Irish Fest promotes Celtic music, dance, drama, sports, culture, children’s activities and genealogy through year-round programming. For more information visit www.irishfest.com. 




Limerick Man Claims Christmas Tree Throwing Championship title

Limerick man John O'Dea reclaimed the Irish Christmas Tree Throwing Championship title he last won in 2013 when he threw his Christmas tree a winning distance of 8.6 metres. The competition was held on Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015.

Organized by Clare County Council in conjunction with Active Ennis Sports and Leisure Facilities, the fourth annual event took place at Active Ennis Tim Smyth Park in Co. Clare with all proceeds raised this year going to ISPCC Childline. The holiday trees are recycled.

The Championship, which is based on age-old lumberjack traditions and is commonplace across Germany and Austria, saw members of the public competing to achieve the longest distance for throwing a standard 1.5 metre tree.

'Dea was unable to beat the current Irish Record of 10.3 metres, which he shares with Dubliner Gary O’Growney, but the Cappamore man managed to stave off competition from 250 others to reclaim the Irish Christmas Tree Throwing Championship trophy. Meanwhile, the winner of the Ladies section was Audrey Kavanagh (4.1m) while the Under 12 section was won by Shane Kenny from County Clare. 

The championship, which is based on age-old lumberjack traditions and is commonplace across Germany and Austria, saw members of the public competing to achieve the longest distance for throwing a standard 1.5 metre tree. 

Limerick’s O'Dea and Gary O'Growney from Dublin share the Irish Record having both thrown their trees a distance of 10.2 metres, which is just under two metres short of the World Record currently held by Klaus Pubnaz who hurled a tree a distance of 12 metres at an event in Germany four years ago. Last year's Under 12 section was won by Soran Drayas (9.2m), who finished ahead of second placed Aoife O'Gara (7.86 m).

This year's winner once again received the Irish Christmas Tree Throwing Championship trophy.

Tim Forde, general manager of Active Ennis Sports and Leisure Facilities, described the competition as "a novel way to turn Christmas tree recycling into a sport, while at the same time raise funds for a needy cause".

He added: "This is a sporting charity event with competitors from the four corners of Ireland and further afield being invited to take part. The event is open to men, women and children, and each contestant will get three attempts at throwing the Christmas tree."

"Disposing of the Christmas tree is often an arduous task for many so this event allows people to do so in style and with relative ease. The Council will be providing a free Christmas tree recycling service at various locations throughout Clare, but we would welcome anyone who wishes to drop their tree at the contest and make a donation to ISPCC Childline Services. We will also arrange for the tree to be mulched for use by the Council's gardening section," explained Forde.
 




Des Bishop Starts Barrow Street Theatre Run March 9

Irish-American comedian and television star Des Bishop brings his "Made in China" to the Barrow Street Theatre for a limited 3-week run starting Monday March 9 at 7:30 p.m. The 2014 Edinburgh Fringe sensation opens on Sunday March 15 at 5pm, and runs to Sunday, March 29. This is the show’s North American premiere.

In "Made in China" Bishop reveals what compelled him to travel to China to learn Mandarin and perform stand-up comedy for a Chinese audience. Not only did he meet this improbably difficult challenge, he landed a hosting job at a busy restaurant, started a comedy club, and then looked for love in a Beijing trade fair for spouses before finding himself on a television dating show seen by over 40 million viewers. 

Raised in Queens, and transplanted to Ireland as a teenager, the peripatetic Bishop has made a habit of pushing through boundaries. An unruly teen with a drinking problem, he nonetheless discovered a predilection for language, comedy and commentary, rising to national prominence sparking debate about Irish identity, alcohol and drug abuse, and relationships.

"Made in China" explores the very timely cultural divide between the West and China. His China exploits were captured by the Irish broadcaster RTE, which aired Breaking China -- a much-discussed, six-part reality series starring Bishop -- last year. For the record, Bishop performed "My Father Was Nearly James Bond" for a weekend run at the Barrow Street in 2010.

"Made in China" joins Barrow Street Theatre’s "Every Brilliant Thing," where the two will play in tandem. Performances (a total of 16) are Monday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday at 9:30 p.m.; Saturday at 5 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., and Sunday at 5 p.m. For tickets, which are $45, call 212/868-4444, or visit www.smarttix.com The Barrow Street Theatre is located at 27 Barrow S. (Bleecker & 7th Ave.), NewYork.




NASA Technology Gives Mid-West Athletes a Lift

Space age technology originally developed by NASA is being used at Active Ennis Leisure Complex in County Clare to help improve recovery times, increase mobility and lessen the chance of future injury for athletes and patients.

Active Ennis Leisure Complex is the only facility in the Mid West Region to provide public access to an anti-gravity AlterG treadmill which has previously been used by internationally renowned sports stars such as former Irish rugby international Brian O'Driscoll, Barcelona footballer Luis Suarez, multiple tennis Grand Slam champion Rafa Nadal and Irish Olympian Derval O'Rourke.

It's more widely used across the United States where it is a regular feature of the recovery process for injured professional basketballers and American Footballers.

The antigravity treadmill relies on advanced air pressure technology, which, after calibrating the user’s weight, reduces the load and impact on legs and joints at anywhere between 20 and 100% of the user's body weight to allow them to walk or run.

Physiotherapists throughout the world have hailed the treadmill for its role in expediting rehabilitation for athletes overcoming lower leg injuries, or for patients with a variety of medical conditions such as strokes, Parkinson’s disease and total knee and hip joint replacements.

"We are delighted to expand our offering by providing this new facility in conjunction with an in-house consultant physiotherapist," commented Tim Forde, Active Ennis general manager.

"Built in Silicon Valley using the NASA technology, this unique device has proven to be extremely successful in the areas of sports and medical rehabilitation and obesity. It has been utilized by top Olympic athletes, Premiership soccer teams and Irish rugby players, added Mr. Forde.

"The AlterG treadmill is perfect for individuals who have suffered a lower extremity injury, like an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction, hip or foot and ankle injury," explained Anne Marie Kinsella, a chartered physiotherapist based with Active Ennis.

"Active Ennis has already received significant interest from sports clubs looking to treat athletes who are recovering from injury or seeking to avoid an injury, as well as patients who are post-operative or trying to prevent surgery. Non-injured athletes have also found ways to utilise the AlterG before and after endurance events. For example, long distance runners can use the treadmill without the impact before a marathon, or equally as a tool for recovery following a long race.

"Even stroke patients can benefit as the AlterG helps to retrain their legs and brain with supported movements," added Kinsella.

Active Ennis operates Active Ennis Sports and Amenity Park (Lees Road), Active Ennis Leisure Complex, Active Ennis Tim Smythe Park, Active Ennis Pitch (Coote Park), Active Ennis Pitch (Glenina), and Active Ennis All Weather Pitch (Cloughleigh).
 




Mitchell Scholars Alumni Board Formed

A Mitchell Scholars Alumni Board has been formed. There are now 160 alums. Derick Stace-Naughton and Cassie Farrelly will serve as co-chairs. Those on the inaugural board are:

Derick Stace Naughton – co-chair (Chicago)
Cassie Farrelly – co-chair (NYC)
Ben Bechtolsheim (SF)
Katie Boyle (SF)
Mark Brennan (Boston)
Catherine Fontana (NYC)
Yongjun Heo (SF)
Mohammad Modarres (LA)
Vicki Moore (Annapolis, Maryland)
Ben Trachtenberg (Columbia, Missouri)
Amanda Wetzel (Paris)




Kellys Eye Return to Mayo

The Kelly Clan is returning to Westport, Co Mayo, for the 11th Kelly Clan Gathering. The last time the Clan visited the town was in 2003.
The International Gathering is set for May 15-17, 2015, held in the four-star Star Castlecourt Hotel, with guests expected from Ireland, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Guatemala and the UK. The event is being supported by Westport County Council.

Included in the weekend's program will be a tour of locations of Kelly interest including Burrishoole Abbey, St. Patricks Church in Newport to view the Harry Clarke windows and Westport House, which has a strong Kelly connection. Among the speakers will be a local historian and the Clan's Genetic Genealogist giving an update on the DNA program. A five-course dinner will be the highlight of the Saturday evening.

Mary Kelly, one of the organizers and a spokesperson for the association, said that although the weekend will be action-packed, the atmosphere is relaxed. "It's a real opportunity for people who have a genetic, historic and cultural link to meet and have a good time, in a great location, with the added benefit of learning about their ancestors, as well as meeting living relatives," she affirmed.

Further information can be found on the Kelly Clan Website www.kellyclans.comemail clankellyinfo@gmail.com or phone Mary Kelly on + 353 (0)86 3296475.




Submarine Inventor Remembered in Clare

The 100th anniversary of the death of submarine inventor John P. Holland and to mark the anniversary a special commemorative event is being planned for later this month in his native County Clare.

The Liscannor Development Committee will host a day of events honouring the life and achievements of the local inventor on Sunday 31st August as part of Heritage Week 2014.

The event at Liscannor Harbour will feature the unveiling of a commemorative stone and a talk on Holland’s life, a film of his achievements, music and songs of the sea, and a photography and children's art exhibition.

John Philip Holland was born in Liscannor in 1841. His father, John Holland, Sr., patrolled the headlands of County Clare as a rider with the British Coastguard Service. The young Holland was a teacher in Ireland until 1872 when he immigrated to the United States, where he taught in Paterson, N.J., until 1879. He drew up plans of submarines and in 1881, with funds from Irish associates, launched a small submarine called "The Fenian Ram". He was later awarded a contract to build a submarine for the US Navy. 

In 1900, the Navy bought the Holland VI for $150,000, about half of its design cost, and later renamed it The USS Holland. The vessel could travel 800km on the surface of the sea and 40km submerged. One US newspaper described it as "Uncle Sam's Devil of the Deep". Other countries, including Great Britain, Japan and the Netherlands, purchased Holland's submarine designs. He died Aug. 12, 1914, just months before a German submarine sank a British vessel at the start of World War I.

The John P. Holland Commemoration is one of 75 Heritage Week events being coordinated by Clare County Council and The Heritage Council, with support from the Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht and Fáilte Ireland. Among the other events taking place in Clare from August 23-31st is a a lecture on the life of an Kilrush-born Boer War General Sir Thomas Kelly-Kenny, a Victorian Heritage Walk around Kilkee, a tour of Lisdoonvarna's famous restorative waters, a tour of towerhouses around Shannon Town, and a recital of traditional Irish tunes on the Uilleann Pipes by Matt Horsely at Ennis Friary.

The centenary of the outbreak of World War I also being marked with a lecture by historian Cormac O Comhrai's on life in Ireland during the Great War, while Killaloe will also be marking the millennial anniversary of the death of one of its most famous citizens, Brian Ború. Meanwhile, annual festivals such as the Tulla Week of Welcomes and the Dan Furey Weekend in Labasheeda are holding heritage events as part of the weeklong celebration.

Heritage Week is part of European Heritage Days, a joint initiative of the Council of Europe and the European Union. Download the free "National Heritage Week" App for iPhone or Android smartphones at www.heritageweek.ie. For further information on the 75 events taking place throughout Clare contact Congella McGuire, Heritage Officer, Clare County Council, New Road, Ennis, Co. Clare, at Tel: 065-6846408 / Email: cmcguire@clarecoco.ie.
 




Maureen O'Hara Receives Oscar Award.

Dublin-born and lifelong Shamrock Rovers supporter Maureen O'Hara received a lifetime achievement award in November, 2014, from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

O’Hara, 94 who appeared in films such as the French-themed Hunchback of Notra Dame (1939), the Welsh setting for How Green is My Valley and the Cong, Co Mayo rolling fields for her favorite, the classic The Quiet Man,...... with John Wayne, "The Duke."




Council Moves to Holy Island

Clare County Council confirmed Sept. 10 that it is an advanced stage of negotiations to secure the purchase of Holy Island (Inis Cealtra) on Lough Derg, the largest lake on the River Shannon.

Holy Island is one of the most important historical and ecclesiastical sites in Ireland, has important links to Brian Ború and is known throughout East Clare as the "Jewel of the Lough'. The island comprises some 50 acres of which more than four acres are in the ownership of the Office of Public Works (OPW).

Still used as a burial ground, the ruins and buildings still standing on Holy Island date back as far as the 7th century when the monastic site was established by St. Caimin. Buildings on the island include a 24-metre high Round Tower, an Oratory, and a number of churches. The Island lies close to the village of Mountshannon and is on the UNESCO World Heritage site tentative list as an Early Medieval Monastic site along with Clonmacnoise, Durrow, Glendalough, Kells and Monasterboice.

Cllr. John Crowe, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, was delighted that discussions are at an advanced stage and said he is "confident the acquisition of this important site can be completed."

The Cathaoirleach added: "I briefed the Tourism Minister, Mr. Pascal Donohue, T.D., on the current status during his recent visit to Clare and I also have been in contact with the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW who already own land on the island. It would be tremendous to secure public ownership of Holy Island this year, considering it is the millennial anniversary of the death of Brian Ború."

"My Council colleagues as well as Clare’s six Oireachtas members are very supportive of public ownership of this important site," he added.

Gerard Dollard, Director of Services, Clare County Council confirmed that the acquisition of the island has been under consideration for a number of years and that an opportunity recently arose to bring the site into public ownership.

"We are fully aware of the significance of this location and would be anxious to see it forming part of the local tourism product and available to the wider public," explained Dollard.

He continued: "We are conscious of the strong heritage, environmental and conservation considerations associated with the Island and for that reason have commenced the preparation of terms of reference for a visitor management plan on how the untapped potential of this site can be realised. A critical first step is to secure public ownership and we look forward to receiving ongoing Government support for this initiative."
 
 




Irish Techies Win Awards

Ding*, the world’s largest international top-up provider, has been awarded the number two spot in Deloitte Technology Fast 50, a ranking of the 50 fastest growing technology companies in Ireland. Rankings are based on average percentage revenue growth over five years and ding* posted growth of 1073%. This is the third year in a row that ding* has featured prominently on the list having brought home the top prize in both 2012 & 2013 and was also named Deloitte’s Rising Star in 2011.

Founder & CEO Mark Roden commented: "It’s an honour to be recognised in Deloitte’s Fast 50 for a third time. Not only does this award recognise our successful growth to date but it is also a wonderful validation of all the hard work and long hours put in to building the business by all the team at ding*." He also congratulated Inhance Technology, a Cork based company that develop white-label mobile applications who were awarded the top spot.

ding*, formerly ezetop, enables people living abroad to top-up the mobile phones of their friends and family back home, making it easier for them to stay connected and empowering the receiver to get the most out of their mobile phone. Since its inception in 2006, ding* has built a network that spans half the world and is partnered with over 300 mobile operators in 130 countries with a total reach of a staggering 3.5 billion phones. Through www.ding.com, the ding* mobile apps and its 500,000 retail outlets, the company delivers a top-up every second of every day.

The year 2014 was great for Founder & CEO Mark Roden, who was awarded EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2014 and was also named ‘Business Person of the Month’ by Business and Finance.

About ding*
As the world’s largest top-up provider, ding* safely delivers a top-up every second of every day. Created to help people living abroad to support loved ones back home, the company is directly connected to 300 mobile operators in over 130 countries with a reach of over 3.5 billion phones. People can send top-up on www.ding.com, the mobile app and in more than 500,000 retail locations around the world.

ding*employs 200 people and is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland with regional offices in Miami, Dubai, San Salvador, Bucharest and Dhaka.

It’s been a busy month for Founder & CEO, Mark Roden as in addition to receiving the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award for 2014 he was named Business and Finance Business Person of the Month for October. He has also secured his company’s place as the world’s largest international top-up providers after acquiring RecargasaCuba.com, a website specialising in mobile top-up exclusively to Cuba.
 




Limerick Lace Part of City's Social Fabric

An important new book profiling the 200-year history of Limerick lace was researched and written by Dr. Matthew Potter and edited by Jacqui Hayes, both of Limerick Museum and Archives. Amazing Lace, A History of the Limerick Lace Industry documents how Limerick lace manufacturing emerged as the largest in the history of Irish lace and one of the largest industries of any kind to operate in Limerick over the past two centuries.

At its peak in the early 1850s, an estimated 1,800 workers were employed in Limerick City making lace. Over many decades, it produced a large output of lace products, from dresses, christening shawls and ecclesiastical robes to handkerchiefs and doilies.

"Limerick lace was one of the greatest craft industries in Irish history and one of the most famous and beautiful laces in the world," explained author Potter

Commenting on the background to his book, Potter said: "The book was compiled using newspaper accounts of Limerick lace, including working conditions, adverts and accounts of where it was sold, as well as contemporary accounts by visitors to Limerick, trade directories listing lace manufacturers in Limerick at different dates, the private papers of manufacturers Florence Vere O'Brien and Maude Kearney, and Census returns. 

Many of the images featured in the book came from the collection in Limerick Museum and Archives, plus the private collections of Florence Vere O'Brien and Maude Kearney, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the National Archives of the United States.

Limerick archivist /editor Jacqui Hayes stated that the social history of Limerick was altered by the lace industry. "Limerick lace provided employment to a significant proportion of the female workforce, who in turn supported or helped to support a large number of dependent relatives. In 1851, it was estimated that each lace worker maintained two or three other family members," she outlined.

Hayes noted that the significance of Limerick lace as perhaps the city’s leading brand name has resulted in its usage in a number of contexts.

During the 1920s and 1930s, one of the most famous horses in the world was the celebrated show jumper ‘Limerick Lace’ ridden by Major Ged O’Dwyer, of Bruff, County Limerick. Limerick Lace was worn by thousands of women, including a few who figure prominently in the pages of history, such as Queen Victoria, American First Lady Edith Roosevelt and Countess Markievicz. Generations of churchmen also wore Limerick lace and used lace to decorate their churches, in Ireland and throughout the Irish Diaspora.

In 2014, Limerick composer Bill Whelan marked his native city’s designation as the first national City of Culture by writing a flute concerto for Belfast flautist Sir James Galway entitled Linen and Lace in honor of the major textile industries associated with their respective native cities.

"Whelan’s naming of his piece demonstrated how deep were the roots that Walker’s 1829 foundation had put down in Limerick and that even after 185 years, Limerick lace still continued to be closely associated with the city," explained Hayes.

Amazing Lace, A History of the Limerick Lace Industry is available in O’Mahony’s Bookshop, O'Connell Street, Limerick. 

Background to Limerick Lace:
Limerick lace is a specific class of lace which evolved from the invention of machine made net in 1808. Limerick lace is a form of hand embroidery on machine made net and is a "mixed lace" rather than a "true lace," which is entirely handmade. Limerick lace comes in two forms: tambour lace is made by stretching a net over a circular frame like a tambourine and drawing threads through it with a hook and needlerun lace is made by using a needle to embroider on a net background.

The Limerick lace industry was established in 1829 when Charles Walker, an English businessman selected a premises in Mount Kennett, Limerick city as the location for a lace factory. Limerick lace was produced mainly in factories for the first forty years of its existence. Between the 1830s and 1860s, several lace factories operated in Limerick, mainly in Clare Street and Glentworth Street. I

t was also made in Cannock’s and Todd’s department stores. In the 1840s, Limerick lace making was introduced to a number of convents and convent-run institutions, both in Limerick and elsewhere. In 1850, lace making was introduced to the Good Shepherd Convent on Clare Street Limerick, but it was also made in other religious houses based in the city, including the Presentation Convent in Sexton Street and the Mercy Convent at Mount Saint Vincent, on O’Connell Avenue. 

Limerick lace was disseminated widely throughout Ireland by Catholic religious sisters anxious to provide employment at the time of the Famine. They introduced it to several other convents including religious houses in Youghal, Kinsale, Dunmore East, Cahirciveen, and Kenmare.

In the 1860s, the spread of machine-made lace from Nottingham brought about the collapse of large scale factory-based lace making in Limerick and many of the lace makers lost in their jobs. In the 1880s, Limerick lace underwent a significant revival due to the activities of Florence Vere O’Brien, an English lady who married into the O’Brien family of Dromoland Castle. She began to employ several former factory workers to make lace for her in their own homes, which she then sold. 

In 1893, she established a Limerick lace school in George’s (now O’Connell) Street which taught skills, provided workrooms and was used as depots where the lace was sold. After their training was completed, the former pupils usually became lace workers, working at home and using the school as their depot.

In 1904, Maude Kearney, a daughter of James Hodkinson, founder of the famous firm of specialists in church decoration in Henry Street, Limerick, established a lace making business which she called the Thomond Lace Industry. Based in Thomondgate, Thomond Lace employed between fifty and eighty workers at the height of its success. After the Second World War Limerick lace declined rapidly but the tradition is still continued by a number of individual lace makers and lace classes. 




Causeway Tees Up Top Amateur Golf Tournament

Entries are open for the largest amateur golf tournament in Europe, set to swing into action at Northern Ireland’s legendary Causeway Coast this summer. The Causeway Coast Golf Tournament, which takes place on four major golf courses surrounding the World Heritage Site of the Giants Causeway, is in its 48th year. The competition attracts amateurs from all over the world to play the best courses on the celebrated north coast.

The awe-inspiring scenery of the area is known as a ‘golfer’s paradise’ or more recently ‘The Major Golf Capital of the World’, following the major-winning exploits of Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke, who grew up nearby and who honed their games on the tournament’s venues.

The venues, Royal Portrush (Valley Course), Castlerock, Ballycastle and Ballyliffin are regarded as four of the finest course on the island of Ireland, with the Royal Portrush Dunluce links now added to The Open rota.

With incentives of individual and daily prizes on offer, the four-day 72-hole individual Stableford competition (June 1-5), played in four-ball groups, attracts amateur players at every level.

As well as the setting of the Causeway Coast, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the tournament is famous for its camaraderie and Irish hospitality – it regularly attracts up to 1,000 golfers from South Africa, Canada, Australia, the USA and Europe.

The 2015 opening ceremony will be held on Sunday, May 31, at Castlerock Golf Club, where entertainment will include a golf trick show artist, traditional Irish music, Bushmills whiskey tasting, hog roast and perhaps a pint of the black stuff.

Nearby attractions such as the Giants Causeway, the Old Bushmills Distillery and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge are close by for golfers to explore, and Game of Thrones fans may also be able to spot several locations in the area used in the hit TV series. Various packages offering accommodation and entry fee combinations, as well as a dedicated tournament app, are also available.



Hunger Museum Opens

The Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., has launched a digital database of materials relating to Ireland and its devastating famine of 1845-‘52.

The new database offers students, scholars, historians, and interested members of the Irish diaspora free access to over 1,500 articles and illustrations. They include excerpts from illustrated newspapers and publications such as The Illustrated London News, Punch, The Pictorial Times and The Graphic.

"Because photography was in its infancy, these illustrations were how people saw and learned about what was going on in Ireland at that time," said Grace Brady, the museum’s executive director.

A key part of the museum’s mission is to educate people about this avoidable tragedy in Ireland’s history and the database is another way to do so," she added.

The database was officially launched Dec.16, with a Dec. 16, 1848, sketch from The Illustrated London News depicting a starving family that had been dragged from its cottage and forced to spend Christmas in a hole, burrowed in the ground "like otters and snipes."

The museum acquired the volumes of the pictorial newspapers from Kennys Bookshop and Art Gallery in Galway. Four scholars from the museum worked for over a year to ready the scans for public viewing.

"This database provides a unique insight into the aesthetic, technical and contextual roles of pictorial newspapers in narrating and interpreting the Famine," said Niamh O’Sullivan, Quinnipiac’s Professor Emeritus of Visual Culture and Curator of Ireland's Great Hunger Museum.

"The value of the database to scholars, teachers, researchers and students, no less than the diaspora, is inestimable. The museum's commitment to Famine scholarship is imbedded in this ongoing ambitious digitization program."

Over the course of the next year, articles from before 1845 and after 1852 will be added to the database.

You can access the database here. Learn more about the Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, the world's largest collection of visual art, artifacts and printed materials relating to the Irish Famine, here.




Limerick Tackling Homelessness

Limerick City and County Council has released figures showing that emergency accommodation was provided to 205 people in the week up to and including Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014).

Figures for seven-day periods during the previous months show 211 (June), 201 (July), 212 (August), 208 (September), 218 (October) and 229 persons (November) were accommodated in emergency hostels, transitional accommodation and long term-supported housing throughout Limerick.

While acknowledging that the number of people sleeping rough throughout Limerick is "significantly lower" than other urban locations in Ireland, the Council's Homeless Action Team said it continues to experience "high demand" for emergency accommodation.

The Homeless Action Team is based at No. 2 Church Street, St. John's Square and is the first point of contact for persons who become homeless. The service is jointly staffed by the Local Authority, Department of Social Protection and the HSE, delivering a multidisciplinary approach to solving homelessness.

"Rough sleeping may occur in our administrative area on occasion, however, with our partnership funding arrangement with the HSE, we have ensured that our emergency accommodation providers have capacity to accommodate those who are willing to accept help," commented Rob Lowth, Coordinator of Homeless Services, Limerick City and County Council. Lowth noted that the Local Authority, the HSE and the NGO's conduct regular Street Searches for rough sleepers.

These was a co-ordinated effort between An Garda Síochána in relation to rural areas and smaller towns while the majority of the search took place in the City and key locations in the environs.

"The search found no rough sleepers or no evidence of rough sleeping during this search. While this could change daily, the Homeless Action Team is in regular contact with emergency services and reports will be logged and investigated as a priority by the Team. We also contract an Out of Hours Service with the NGO sector to deliver a 24/7 cover in relation to ensuring solution can be put in place for after 5 p.m.," he added.

Lowth said the Council delivers a "vast and extensive" range of services to persons who find themselves homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

"Accommodation and Support Services are provided on behalf of the Local Authority by a range of Non-Government Organisations (NGO's) who are also Approved Housing Bodies. This allows them to utilise various capital grants via the Local Authority to provide specialist solutions for homeless persons. The types of accommodation range from emergency hostels, transitional accommodation and long-term supported housing," he stated.

"At the Homeless Action Team base in No. 2 Church Street, St. John's Square, the Duty Officer is the contact staff member for a homeless person or family, a level of reassurance is offered and a full holistic needs assessment is carried out covering everything from accommodation history to mental and physical health. Following assessment the Duty Officer places the person or persons into the most appropriate accommodation available," Lowin concluded.

Members of the public who are concerned about known rough sleepers are asked to contact the Limerick Homeless Action Team at No: 2 Church Street, St. John's Square, Limerick, or on Tel: 061 - 481212.




Hallamor Concert Series, Irish Cultural and Heritage Center, Milwaukee

Spring 2015

Hallamór Concert No.2

Dervish 

Sat., March 7, 2015 – 7:30 p.m.
$29 advance / $33 on concert day / $15 students with ID

Michael Holmes – bouzouki
Cathy Jordan – vocals, bodhrán
Liam Kelly – flute, whistles
Brian McDonagh – mandola, mandolin
Shane Mitchell – accordion
Tom Morrow – fiddle, viola

The members of this iconic Irish band have wowed audiences in every corner of the world from Brazil to Israel during the past 25 years and shared stages with artists as diverse as Sting, James Brown, and The Buena Vista Social Club. As worldwide ambassadors of Irish music, they accompanied Ireland’s Taoiseach (prime minister) on a historic trade mission to China in 2006.

Dervish’s exceptional musicianship, groundbreaking songs, and carefully crafted arrangements explore the endless rhythms and complexities that go into making great Irish music. Fronted by Cathy Jordan’s singing and masterful stage presence as well as a core sound built around the tight and intuitive interplay between flute, accordion and fiddle, Dervish is one of traditional music’s most magical and dazzling bands. Its 13th album, The Thrush in the Storm, was released in 2013.

"There’s no substitute for class, and after almost twenty-five years together this Sligo super group is virtually in a class of its own. Dervish’s music
impresses immediately, with every member
shining." – Irish Music Magazine
 

Hallamór Concert No.3

Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas

Sat., April 11, 2015 – 7:30 p.m.
$21 advance / $25 on concert day / $10 students with ID

Alasdair Fraser – fiddle
Natalie Haas – cello

The ICHC welcomes back internationally acclaimed Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser and dynamic cello player Natalie Haas. The musical collaboration of Scotland’s premier fiddle ambassador and the stunningly talented young instrumentalist is credited with helping return the cello to its role at the rhythmic heart of Scottish dance music.

Referred to as "the Michael Jordan of Scottish fiddle" by The San Francisco Examiner, Fraser’s fiddling has thrilled audiences around the world for more than 30 years including during the 2014 Milwaukee Irish Fest. In addition to a long list of awards and accolades, he has been featured on movie soundtracks including The Last of the Mohicans and Titanic.

A graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, Natalie was 11 when she first attended Alastair’s Valley of the Moon Scottish fiddling school in California. In her percussive bowing and musical spontaneity, Alasdair found the perfect partner for a musical conversation.

"While his fiddle dances, her cello throbs darkly or plucks puckishly. … Their sound is as urbane as a Manhattan midnight, and as wild as a Clackmannan winter." – Boston Globe




Queen’s University 9th in the UK for Research Intensity

Figures released in mid-December, 2014, by the national Higher Education Statistics Agency have confirmed that Queen’s University has been placed joint ninth in the UK for research intensity.

Queen’s returned the fourth largest percentage of staff next to the University of Cambridge, UCL and Queen Mary University, with more than 95% of Queen’s academics assessed. The University also has 14 subject areas ranked within the UK’s top 20 and 76%t of its research classified in the top two categories of world leading and internationally excellent.

These results are part of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 results, also released this morning, which announced that over 75 per cent of Queen’s researchers are undertaking world-class or internationally leading research.

The ‘Research Excellence Framework,’ which assesses the quality and impact of UK higher education institutions’ research, is also used to allocate £2 billion in research funding across the UK.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston said: "This spectacular news, coming on the back of our excellent REF 2014 performance, clearly validates Queen’s as a University with world-class researchers carrying out world-class research."

He asserted that to be positioned 9th in the UK is an outstanding achievement. Johnston also praised the work of his academic colleagues "that has enabled this excellent result. The breadth and depth and the quality of research, right across the University, has clearly been recognised at a national level and we should be rightly proud."

Johnston pointed out in food security, education, pharmacy, health, modern languages, astrophysics, engineering, cyber security, english or history, Queen’s research impacts right across society and makes a huge contribution to both the local and global economy. 

By creating jobs, informing government policy, developing new treatments for many of the world’s most chronic illnesses, protecting children or creating new technology, Queen’s is having real and meaningful impact, he said.

"Queen’s University is on a journey to become a powerhouse of world-class research and this is a great platform from which to build a world-class research institution that is globally competitive," according to Johnston.


Gigante to Present O’Rowe’s Terminus

Special to The Irish American Post

Theatre Gigante brings Terminus, Mark O’Rowe’s international sensation and tour de force of poetry and drama, to the Milwaukee stage May 1-16. O’Rowe is one of a steady influx of young Irish dramatists who are inventing a new brand of modern theater based on heightened poetic language.

Terminus is a supernatural fantasy of interlocking monologues sweeping the audience on a helter-skelter ride through the wildest parts of the imagination, our greatest hopes, and our darkest fears. According to the producers, the play is not for the faint of heart. Terminus is directed by Mark Anderson, the cast includes Tom Reed, Isabelle Kralj, and Megan Kaminsky. Set design is by Rick Graham with lighting by Alan Piotrowicz.The language is a vertiginous conncatenation of assonance and rhyme, whose rhythm remains limber enough to let the play – and its audience – breathe…

Terminus is a luridly compelling waking nightmare of Dublin as an eighth circle of hell.The Guardian calls it "uncomfortable and exhilarating, pared-down but full to bursting of linguistic, emotional, and imaginative riches. not just a welcome reminder of what theater can do; it feels like what theater is for." Gritty details, grotesque flourishes and internal rhymes pour from Mark O’Rowe’s characters with a velocity to match the ferocity of his narrative in TERMINUS…

Terminus runs May 1-16, at the Kenilworth Studio, 508 Theater, 1925 E. Kenilworth Pl., Milwaukee. 


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