Posted on | September 21, 2011 | by Ciara O'Brien | No Comments
Celebrate the uniqueness and charm of Welsh culture by visiting the West Coast Eisteddfod (Welsh Festival of Arts); this action-packed gathering is being held in Los Angeles, California from Sept. 23rd to Sept. 25th, 2011.
This year’s Welsh Festival of Arts will be held at picturesque Barnsdall Art Park (off Hollywood Boulevard), and it will feature an exciting and talented array of singers, poets, storytellers, and comedians.
Headlining performers at this upcoming festival include the Welsh Choir of Southern California, poets Chris Chandler and Janice Ann Johnson, and storytellers Harrison Lowe and Anthony Bircher.
Another festival highlight is the fascinating “Welsh in America” exhibit, which examines the impact of Welsh heritage on American culture; this special attraction has been borrowed from the Welsh government and promises to bring Welsh-American history to life for festival attendees…
…continue reading West Coast Eisteddfod: Welsh Festival of Arts – Los Angeles, California – Sept. 23-25, 2011
Posted on | September 19, 2011 | by Ciara O'Brien | No Comments
If you’re old enough to remember the early Seventies (or you just like learning about this pivotal era), you may enjoy reading about the state of the Emerald Isle in 1971.
For many, the Irish documentary television programme, Reeling In The Years, provided an amusing and informative look at Ireland from the years 1962 to 2009.
A Blast From The Past…
One of the most entertaining episodes of this television series featured lots of fascinating information about the way Ireland was at the beginning of this unique, progressive, and decidedly fashion-challenged decade…
Inspired by Reeling In The Years, we’d like to take you back to the era of Elton John’s Your Song, the James Bond film, Diamonds Are Forever, and T. Rex’s sexy glam rock tune, Get It On.
…continue reading Ireland In The Year 1971
Posted on | September 16, 2011 | by Ciara O'Brien | No Comments
Typically, an Irish Claddagh ring will feature two tiny hands, holding a pretty crowned heart; with our inventive new design, Celtic Trinity Knots flank the crowned heart motif, symbolizing faith and eternity…
The crowned heart is a symbol of love and loyalty, and it blends beautifully with the spiritual meaning of the three-part Trinity Knot design.
Each segment of a Trinity Knot illustrates Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so this handcrafted ring is a lovely mixture of romantic feeling and ancient Christian symbology…
About The Triquetra
Also known as the Triquetra, the Trinity Knot (as shown as left) actually predates Christianity, and it was a commonly-used motif on rune stones and currency in Germany and Scandinavia.
…continue reading Our Stunning New Take On The Classic Irish Claddagh Ring
Posted on | September 13, 2011 | by Ciara O'Brien | No Comments
Scheduled for Sept. 23rd, 24th, and 25th, 2011, this Connecticut event is an annual celebration that began in 2001, a few days after the tragic events of 9/11.
Unsure about whether or not to cancel the festival, organizers finally decided to proceed, and the first Greater Danbury Irish Festival became the site of a moving candlelight vigil for the victims and their families…
Today, the festival honors Celtic heritage through the beauty of Irish music, dance, and culture; this year’s schedule features headlining musical acts The Highland Rovers and the Mighty Ploughboys.
On Saturday, a a thrilling Pipe and Drum exhibition will take place in the morning; a charming CC Pipers & Children’s Parade is scheduled for 3 p.m on the same day.
Other fun activities at this weekend festival include a Cultural Tent (featuring information about the Potato Famine, the Book of Kells, traditional Irish music, and much more…) and a licensed food tent with corned beef sandwiches, burgers and Irish beers and libations…
If you’re looking for an energizing event that helps you to connect with the spirit of the Irish people (and the legacy of your own Gaelic ancestors), be sure to visit this popular social event.
For more information, visit the official The Greater Danbury Festival website…
Posted on | September 12, 2011 | by Ciara O'Brien | No Comments
Another guest post today, from Linda Stanley, from the US, who visited Ireland in April 2011 and fell in love with the place. Here’s the 2nd poem she wrote about the stone structures of Ireland. Thanks again for sharing Linda:
For as long as I can remember my mother told me of our rich Irish heritage as I was growing up. Her side of the family were of the Joyce’s and the O’Brien’s. I had heard so many stories that, as our plane broke through the clouds to approach our landing in Shannon, I looked out the window and thought I was finally coming home.
I knew a little about Irish history and the strife they went through for years fighting those who attempted to take Ireland from them and the ensuing battles. I learned of the great potato famine in my history class and the anguish the survivors must have felt in leaving their country to start over with a new life. I had seen photos of famous castles of Ireland, beehive huts and dolmens that dot the Irish landscape.
But nothing could prepare me of the quiet steadfast stone structures that were made of the hands of men with no machines that still remain standing centuries later. They literally dot the landscape all throughout Ireland. It really hit me how young America really is when you compare it to other European countries such as Ireland.
I loved to stop at every stone structure we came across on our travel through Ireland until my sister, who was the driver, refused to stop anymore. She had shopping on her mind. When I was “allowed” to stop at castle remains or beehive huts I felt the overwhelming desire to place my hands on the cold stones of the structure, close my eyes and just imagine the life of the people back then and the life they must have led.
I found myself looking out the windows of a castle facing the Atlantic Ocean and imagine what people looking out the same window opening centuries ago must have seen- or were waiting to see. I’m sure the view is much the same as it was back then. Photo 1 is of my mother posing in front of a castle ruin. Photo 2 is of me standing in front of O’Brien castle at the Cliffs of Moher.
When I returned home I could not get theses memories of the stone structures of Ireland out of my mind. It inspired me to write this poem, Stone Sentries.
Dark remains of castles, ring fortes and dolmens
Like silent stone sentinels they stand
Standing on the horizon, seems since time began
Ancient hands have placed you across the land
Tell me, of the hands that laid each stone
For what purposes, what strategies, what gains?
As I now lay my hands upon these bleak ruins
Can I hear thy voices, my eyes see the stains?
What lives did these stone edifices serve to protect?
Or of burial sites or points on ancient maps to mark
If these stones had voices, the stories they could reveal
Of battles fought, wars won, and times so bleak and dark.
Battles across the land, constantly defending what is yours
Invasions from Vikings, Normans, Brits- countries all around.
Every man has to die, sadly, too many would before their time.
But the stones still stand as they watch over Irish ground
Witnesses to times of laughter and dance, celebrations and chants
Ancient feasts, festivals under the light of full moons.
Marriages, births, victories, coronations of kings.
The stones, they remember and almost pulse with ancient tunes.
My trembling hands I place today on these stones so cold.
My expectant eyes gaze through crumbled windows facing the sea.
Just as centuries past those looking out these same portals
Watched and waited with hushed prayers, patience, hope or glee.
Hoping, praying, dreading-what did they expect to see?
Lovers returning from too long past -or providers with seas’ bounties.
Oncoming invasions, heart wrenching decisions to leave or stay
From famine, persecution and exile from our forefathers counties.
So look not behind at the stone sentinels of a history bleak
Do not dwell of things lost, suffering, exodus, pain endured
But hear the true voices of these silent monuments of stone
And be proud of the people you’ve become… free and self assured.
Posted on | September 12, 2011 | by Ciara O'Brien | No Comments
If you’re proud to be Irish, let it show by attending this charming social event, which takes place in Military Park, right in downtown Indianapolis.
Running from Sept. 16th to Sept. 18th, 2011, the Indy Irish Fest offers a host of family-friendly activities to festivalgoers, including sheep herding demonstrations, a Celtic Canines petting area that is perfect for little ones, and a range of wholesome, Gaelic-inspired games and contests for children.
Of course, this festival offers more than adorable animals and children’s games – it’s also a blast for grown-ups, who always look forward to some exceptional live musical entertainment at this annual Irish event.
…continue reading Indy Irish Fest – Indianapolis, Indiana – Sept. 16 – 18, 2011
Posted on | September 10, 2011 | by Ciara O'Brien | No Comments
A bit of information about our trip to Ireland and what my inspiration was in writing my first poem…
After several years of waiting for a timeshare resort in Ireland to become available during a “warm” month, we were finally alerted to the Huntsman Club in Waterville during mid April, 2011. I wanted some peace and quiet and Waterville and the surrounding area of County Kerry was just what I wanted.
My mother and father had been to Ireland several times before he passed away and they had told us children so many charming stories of Ireland and how the people of Ireland go out of their way to make you feel like family. I thought we’d invite her as she was familiar with parts of Ireland and we thought it may bring back the good memories she shared with my father there as well. We also thought my sister, Barbara, would like to come as she has an adventurous spirit and has traveled extensively. She had experience in driving on the opposite lane of the road.
As soon as we arrived in Shannon the people were so genuinely nice to us. No one acted as if they were in a hurry and they all wanted to spend time and talk with us. We have so many stories of the warmth of the people. When we went into one pub a family was singing “happy birthday” to a young boy so we sang along with them. After the singing they brought us each a big slice of birthday cake !
Here in the States, I became familiar with a web site, etsy.com. This site sells homemade items from all over the world. I researched and found a very nice young lady, Rosemary Hill, who lives near Waterville. She makes wonderful handmade crochet items such as wrist warmers, handbags and facial scrubbies. Her website is selkiecrochet on etsy.com. She offered to meet with us in Waterville and showed us several items she had made. I bought as many as my luggage would hold. She then insisted on buying us tea and we had a wonderful visit with her for about an hour afterwards. (photo 1 is of Rosemary and myself).
During another day we found ourselves having lunch in a pub in Dingle. I wanted to take a photo of my husband, Floyd, in front of the bar. The bartender insisted he get behind the bar and pull a tap down for me to take a picture. The entire pub was laughing saying “silly Americans”. The waitress told us to show our friends back in America the picture and tell them we went to Ireland and bought ourselves a pub. (photo 2 is of my husband with the laughing bartender in the background).
We did find ourselves a bit ‘down in the dumps’ on our last night in Ireland because we went to so many pubs and still had not heard any authentic Irish music from a live band. For our last night we stayed closer to the Shannon airport in Doolin at Rory O’Connor’s B&B called the Doll Cottage. We were his very first customers since he opened his B&B. We shared with him that even at supper at O’Connors pub down the street, they didn’t have any music. He told us to come and meet him back at O’Connor’s in about an hour. In the back room there was a party for his grandmother who was turning 90 years old. There were going to be musicians at her party and we were all invited. Everyone at the party welcomed us with open arms. It felt like we were at a family reunion !
As we were waiting to board our plane at Shannon airport the next morning we began asking eachother, “what was going to be your favorite memory of Ireland?” Would it be Kilarney, the Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry, or perhaps Valencia Island??? We all agreed on the same thing… our favorite memories we will have of Ireland are all the people we met along the way. That’s when I thought- “Why can’t the whole world be more like Ireland”??
Why Can’t the Whole World be More Like Ireland?
Refreshing morning mist circles all around, invigorating my soul
Looking forward to a day of new friendly folks to meet
The dew shines damp upon the grass and my impatient feet
My heart is pounding with the excitement of another day in Eire
Oh, matron goddess of the land, full and abounding
This must truly be God’s dwelling place when he’s in need of respite
A heartland full of hope with each rising dawn taunting to incite
The connection of who you are and your bond with this land
The earth around you, intended as your Maker meant for it to be
No minorities, no classifications, everyone is a friend enjoying craic
You don’t hear shouting, quarrels, or any sirens-‘tis a fact’
Wherever you ramble, you’re part of one large family reunion
Your new Irish family is more than helpful to share with you
Places such as Valencia Island, Doolin, Killarney and Sneem
The excitement is getting there- if I could just ride a rainbow’s beam
With the help of a toddy at days end, I sleep comfortably well
Before my slumber, I watch the full moon travel across my skylight
I think of the emerald green pastures and sapphire seas and lochs
But when I think of the people I’ve met, my heart becomes full of knots
That’s when it occurs to me, “why can’t the whole world be more like Ireland?”
Posted on | September 10, 2011 | by Ciara O'Brien | No Comments
Created by the local Celtic Cultural Alliance, this lively festival is the perfect way to celebrate a new season, while also enjoying an authentic taste of Irish, Scottish, and Welsh culture.
Highlights of this year’s festival include musical performances by Blackwater, the Paul McKenna Boys, and the Screaming Orphans.
This festival has a lot to offer its guests – for example, this year’s Haggis Eating Contest promises to be a unique experience for participants and spectators alike!
Other fun things to see and do include a full roster of Highland Field Games on Saturday, the 24th and Sunday, the 25th – including Caber Toss and Braemar Stone competitions.
…continue reading Celtic Classic Highland Games & Festival – Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (Sept. 23,24,25)
Posted on | September 9, 2011 | by Ciara O'Brien | No Comments
The beauty, symbolism and artistry of Celtic illuminated manuscripts makes them something to marvel at – that’s why the most spectacular examples of these ornate, medieval works of art (such as the Irish Book of Kells) are displayed in museums.
In fact, the most shining examples of this unique art form are considered priceless artifacts in the British Isles.
If you’re not familiar with these manuscripts and how they were made, you’ll enjoy learning about the care that went into these epic labours of love.
After all, each one was composed of beautiful text, written in the most careful and elegant hand, along with intricate borders, Celtic knot work symbols, and drawings of meaningful scenes that were embellished, or illuminated, with shining sections of precious gold leaf…
Silver And Gold…
The addition of glowing gold (or sometimes silver) is really a defining characteristic of these illuminated manuscripts; often, they were written on vellum parchment.
By the 16th century, the first printing presses made these traditional masterworks obsolete, although the wealthy still commissioned them from time to time.
Today, there are a multitude of medieval illuminated manuscripts from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and many of them contain amazing examples of Celtic lettering, borders, and painting…
The Art of Illumination…
Painstaking attention to detail defines this art form; after all, only the best artisans could create the beautiful figures and backgrounds in these books, and then use mixtures of gold leaf and glue to add illumination to the designs.
As well, the designs found in Celtic illuminated manuscripts always had a spiritual focus; in fact, the gold leaf was believed to “exalt” the drawings and borders, adding a magical or supernatural aura to the pictures, patterns, and letters.
In the case of the Irish Book of Kells, which depicted four books of the Gospel (this ancient manuscript now rests at Trinity College, Dublin), Irish monks would have followed a traditional six-step process when creating the religious work.
First, the designs would be sketched with silver-point, and then the gold dust would be applied. At this point, a variety of bright colors, such as saffron, royal blue, and ruby red, would be added to the design.
Next, the main figures in the drawings would be detailed with outlines; after this step, decorative motifs known as foliates would be added to borders, and the manuscript would be finished with delicate coloring of the figure drawings.
Magical beasts, flawless calligraphy, and interlaced Celtic knot work patterns decorate the folios of the Irish Book of Kells, and these letters and symbols are quite common in Celtic illuminated manuscripts.
This type of decorative work is referred to as Insular Art, and it is unique to Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Most Insular Art was made during the early medieval period.
The distinctive knot work patterns found in this Gaelic masterpiece were designed to reinforce the meaning of the religious drawings they adorned; in fact, it is believed that the knot work designs represented eternity and faith, and the endlessness of life, death, and spiritual rebirth…
Other famous examples of Insular Art illuminated manuscripts in the Middle Ages include the Lindisfarne Gospels (from the eighth century) and the Scottish Book of Deer, which was created in the 10th century.
Experience Celtic Knot Work That Is Handmade In Ireland
Honor your Celtic heritage on your special wedding day, by choosing a stunning Ladies Diamond Cluster Celtic Wedding Band that is crafted with the ancient symbols of your ancestors.
This diamond cluster design features beautiful Celtic Trinity Knots, which symbolize Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Precious gemstones add a touch of shine and shimmer to the piece, which is available in 14k white gold, or two-toned 14k yellow and white gold.
Classic and beautiful, our signature Celtic design is made by hand in Ireland, and stamped at the Assay Office of historic Dublin Castle.
Posted on | September 7, 2011 | by Ciara O'Brien | No Comments
We get tons of valuable feedback from our clients, and we’re always listening carefully. To reflect market conditions, such as the high cost of gold, we’ve begun offering more versatility to our customers by giving them a choice of karat weights and precious metals.
Whether you want affordable sterling silver, ten karat gold, or fourteen karat gold, we’ve put together a range of practical and beautiful options that put you in the driver’s seat, giving you total control over your budget and the look of your Celtic jewelry.
By offering different price points, we open up affordability, while still offering you handmade pieces that are authentic, lovely, and created right in Ireland.
…continue reading More Customizable Celtic Rings You Can Make Your Own