Green is on Top

For any of you who drive a car or, for that matter, have ever been a passenger, one factor always remains constant—a traffic light is red on the top, yellow in the middle, and green on the bottom.  Take a drive to Tipperary Hill in Syracuse, New York, however, and you might think you are standing on your head. The traffic light there is reversed, with green on top and red on the

Why, you ask? The reason is probably more Irish urban legend than historical fact, but it helps to know that this section of town is very proud of its Irish heritage. In fact, they have a parade every February just to kick off the St. Patrick’s Day season!

When the traffic light was first installed way back in 1925, it was just an ordinary traffic light. The young Irishmen in the area, however, could not stand for the British red being on top of the Irish green.  Repeated stone throwing and subsequent fixing of the broken light caused the city leaders to relent, and the order of the traffic light’s colors has been reversed ever since.

No one can actually find concrete evidence of the timing of the above incident, except for interviews of the widows of the stone-throwing youths. Nevertheless, the traffic light has gained infamous status in this proud Irish section of the city. In fact, when the Irish prime minister came to the United States in 1995, he made a point of visiting the traffic light on Tipperary Hill.


So the next time you are driving in Syracuse, make sure you make your way over to the intersection of Milton Ave. and Tompkins St. to visit this one-of-a-kind traffic light. But remember—green still means “go” and red still means “stop,” no matter what’s on top.

All About Ogham

Wedding Ogham

A personalized hand-painted Ogham artwork makes the perfect Irish wedding gift!

Ogham pieces, especially personalized Ogham works, have become very popular gift items, and I have therefore decided to provide a little Ogham history. First and foremost, however, is a quick lesson in how to pronounce the word. “Ogham” is pronounced “Ohm,” not “Og-ham,” as you might assume.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, Ogham is an alphabet, not a language, and is the earliest known form of writing in Ireland. The etymology of the word Ogham remains unclear. One possible origin is from the Irish og-úaim, “point-seam,” referring to the seam made by the point of a sharp weapon. The earliest inscriptions in Ogham date to the fourth century, but some contend the alphabet dates to as early as the first century BC.

An Ogham stone in Tralee, County Kerry

An Ogham stone in Tralee, County Kerry

There are two main schools of thought among scholars as to the motivation for the creation of Ogham. Some scholars suggest that Ogham was first created as a cryptic alphabet, designed by the Irish so as not to be understood by those with knowledge of the Latin alphabet. In other words, it was created by the Irish for political, military, or religious reasons, to provide a secret means of communication in opposition to the authorities of Roman Britain.

The second main school of thought is that Ogham was invented by the first Christian communities in early Ireland, out of a desire to have a unique alphabet for writing short messages and inscriptions in the Irish language. The argument is that the sounds of primitive Irish were regarded as difficult to transcribe into the Latin alphabet, so the invention of a separate alphabet was deemed appropriate.

Ogham alphabet

The Ogham alphabet

In either case, the alphabet consists of 20 linear characters, read from bottom upward. The characters of the alphabet were named after trees and plants. Originally, Ogham was inscribed on standing stones, carved into the edge of the stone. Roughly 380 of these standing stones have been discovered, with the highest concentration of them found in the southwestern part of the country, mainly County Kerry. offers a large collection of hand-painted Ogham items, any of which can be personalized for that perfect Irish birth, birthday, wedding, or anniversary gift.

Own a Piece of Ireland — Really.


We wish this adorable cottage in County Tipperary were ours!

Does the word “Ireland” conjure wonderful images in your mind, like it does in ours? From unspoiled coastlines to endless green vistas, from roaming sheep to hardworking sheepdogs, from stately castles to charming thatched-roof cottages, Ireland holds a special place in our hearts.

Because we’re just a little bit … obsessed with Ireland, we collect interesting facts about the country the way some people collect sports trivia. Did you know, for example, that the average height of an Irish man is 5′ 8″, while that of the average Irish woman is 5′ 5″? Or that the Irish report the lowest number of annual UFO sightings in Europe? Very sensible folks, the Irish. Fifty-seven percent of all Irish wear glasses or contacts, but only nine percent are redheads — at least natural redheads.

Cats now outnumber dogs two to one in Ireland, and Dublin boasts one pub for every 100 human residents. The shortest man in Irish history was Raymond O’Brien, who died in 1795 and measured 1′ 11″, while the longest river in Ireland, and indeed in all of Britain, is the River Shannon, at 224 miles.

And we know we’re not the only ones crazy about Ireland. Because although 7.73 percent of Americans are unable to identify Ireland on a map without country names, that means that more than 92 percent of Americans can! We’re in touch with many of you American lovers of Ireland, so we also know how much you’d love to visit the country someday, if you haven’t already.

So given how much Ireland means to you, wouldn’t it be amazing to own land there, visiting your very own lush, green property in the beautiful Irish countryside, whenever the mood strikes? Believe it or not, that’s not an impossible fantasy or dream. As part of Ever Irish Gifts’s “Roots in Ireland” personalized gift collection, you can own a small plot of land (1′ x 1′, to be exact) in rural County Roscommon, Ireland, Piece of Ireland1that will be yours, or a special gift recipient’s, forever. This unique and personal gift, coordinated by BuyIreland, is meaningful for anyone who feels a strong connection to the magnificent island of Ireland and has always dreamed of someday buying property there. There is no better way to celebrate the love of Ireland than by owning — and even visiting — your own little piece of it. It’s a perfect way to reconnect with your Irish heritage and ideal for anyone who calls Ireland his or her spiritual or ancestral home or who simply admires the country’s rich cultural and natural diversity.

With a beautiful certificate, complete with a reproduction of an original illustration by Irish artist Francis Leavey, wax seal, official land deed, and two framing options to display your certificate for everyone to see, this is a must-have gift. Visit for all the details.

Stay Ever Irish,

Keeping Ireland Green

Stroll the Yew Walk on the Lisnavagh Estate, where you can plant a tree in Ireland.

Stroll the Yew Walk on the Lisnavagh Estate, where you can plant a tree in Ireland.

With Earth Day and Arbor Day occurring this past week, it reminded me that trees have played a central role in the practical and daily spiritual lives of the Irish people for hundreds of years. Trees served as landmarks and icons of family and clan identity, and their importance can be measured by the great number of tree-based place names in Ireland—of the 16,000 towns in Ireland, 13,000 are named after trees.

Unfortunately, over the centuries, Ireland experienced a near-total destruction of its forests mainly because of human activity and a deterioration of the climate. Of Ireland’s total land surface area, just 10 percent is comprised of forests, which represents the second lowest proportional percentage of any country in Europe.

The reforestation of Ireland is vital to Ireland’s long-term ecological health. As an old Chinese proverb espouses, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago; the second best time is now.

Ever Irish Gifts has developed a unique “Plant a Tree in Ireland” program with County Carlow tree aficionado William Bunbury, whose love for trees in Ireland is unparalleled. There are few more epic ways to celebrate a birth, birthday, wedding, or anniversary than with the planting of a majestic tree in Ireland that your children, grandchildren, and their descendants can admire in generations to come. A beautiful, majestic tree is a living memorial of life-changing events. Its strength, long lifespan, and regal stature give it a monument-like quality and make it a powerful tribute to a life well lived or an occasion worthy of celebration.

Honor or celebrate someone dear to you by planting a living, growing tree in Ireland in his or her name—a unique Irish gift to be treasured forever.

Tree certificate

The tree certificate makes a meaningful memento.

We will notify the recipient of this very personalized gift by sending him or her a beautifully illustrated certificate bearing your own individual message. Information sent with this unique Irish gift includes directions on how to personally visit the tree, or to “visit” it virtually online using Bing maps.


This customer was present as William Bunbury planted her tree in Ireland.

One of our customers even timed a visit perfectly so she was able to actually be there at the planting of the tree she had purchased in memory of a close relative.

Whether planted in celebration of a life event or in memory of a lost loved one, your unique Irish gift of planting a tree in Ireland is of critical importance to the sustainability and regeneration of the Irish woodlands, and it will contribute to maintaining and repopulating the country’s forestry, helping to keep Ireland green.

If you are interested in planting a tree in Ireland, click here.

Stay Ever Irish,

Potatoes on My Mind, Plus two Delicious Recipes

I’ve been thinking about potatoes, of all things, recently. Maybe it’s the approach of Thanksgiving, because in our house, mashed potatoes are always on the menu. Creamy, buttery, heavenly mashed potatoes — the ultimate comfort food.

potato loveThoughts of potatoes led me to wonder about the love affair between the Irish and that marvelous tuber. Is it truth or stereotype?

Well, Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, conducted a survey recently and found that 52% of all households in Ireland consume one portion of potatoes a day, and one in three homes eat two portions. However, except for dairy products, potatoes are the most consumed produce in the U.S., and the diet of the average person throughout the world in the first decade of the 21st century included about 73 pounds of potato per year.

So yes, potatoes are popular in Ireland — and almost everywhere else as well.

Here are a few interesting facts about the potato, provided by the Irish potato experts at the Irish Potato Federation.

  • In October 1995, the potato became the first vegetable to be grown in space when potato plants were taken aboard the space shuttle Columbia. NASA wanted to develop super-nutritious and versatile spuds to feed astronauts on long space voyages.
  • Potatoes contain more potassium than bananas.
  • A potato with its skin contains more vitamin B1 than an equal portion of broccoli or cauliflower.
  • China is now the world’s largest potato-producing country, and nearly a third of the world’s potatoes are harvested in China and India.
  • French fries were first served in America in 1801.
  • Potato chips were invented in New York in 1853.
  • Potatoes are the world’s fourth most important food crop, after corn, wheat, and rice.

So what better way to celebrate the humble spud, beloved by the Irish and people everywhere, than a traditional Irish potato recipe or two?

mashedClassic Mashed Potatoes

2 lb. yellow potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, peeled and cut into 2- to 2-1/2-inch pieces
Kosher salt
2/3 cup whole milk; more as needed
4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg

Put the potatoes in a 4-quart saucepan with enough cool water to cover by at least 1 inch. Add 1 tsp. salt and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and cook at a gentle boil, skimming off any foam, until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes.

Drain well in a colander, letting the steam rise off the potatoes for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the milk and butter in the saucepan until the butter is melted. Season with 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. Return the potatoes to the pan and mash with a potato masher to the consistency you like.

Season to taste with more salt and pepper and thin with additional milk, if necessary, before serving.

BoxtyIrish Potato Boxty

Traditional Irish potato cakes, or boxty, are mostly associated with the north midlands of Ireland in Connacht, and Ulster. The people of Mayo, Sligo, Donegal, Fermanagh, Longford, Leitrim, and Cavan are particularly big fans of this delicious and simple style of potatoes.

1 cup raw, grated potatoes
1 cup leftover mashed potatoes
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup (about) milk to mix
Butter or oil for frying
Sugar (optional)

Place the grated raw potatoes in a clean cloth and twist to remove excess moisture.

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Combine flour mixture into raw potatoes, mashed potatoes, and eggs. Add enough milk to make a batter.

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat and add butter or oil. Drop potato batter by the tablespoon into the hot pan. Brown on both sides (about 4 minutes per side). Butter each boxty and serve hot with or without sugar.


And by the way, speaking of Thanksgiving, nothing brings a group of people together quite the way gathering around a table does. And what better place to gather than at a beautifully appointed table featuring a stunning 100% Irish linen table runner embroidered with a modern interpretation of a traditional Celtic design? suggests this perfect option from the Irish Linen House, imported from Dublin, Ireland.


Stay Ever Irish,

10 Ancient Irish Spells, Just in Time for Halloween!

Everyone knows that on October 31, witches, ghouls, and other beasties come out to play, and magic is in the air. Of course, we at put our faith year-round in the power of the shamrock to bring luck and good fortune and to ward away evil.

However, since Halloween will soon be here, perhaps you’d like to try your hand at the folk magic of ancient Celtic witches and druids. Whether you are seeking a spell for love, luck, or healing, emotional charms, or even potency, these charms and spells will have something for you. But remember, if all else fails, we’ve got plenty of other lucky shamrocks — shamrock jewelry, shamrock money clips, and even shamrock whiskey flasks — just in case.

1. Love spell

On the night of a full moon, walk to a spot beneath your beloved’s bedroom window. Whisper his/her name three times to the night wind. The night breeze is believed to have a guardian who is compassionate toward requests from mortals between midnight and 1:00 a.m. (the witching hour).

2. To find stolen goods

Place two keys in a sieve, cross ways. Two people hold the sieve while another makes a cross sign on the forehead of the suspected thief, calling out his or her name loudly three times. If the person is innocent, the keys will remain stationary. If the person is guilty, the keys will start to revolve slowly around the sieve.

3. Attract good fortune

You will be lucky with this one. You will need a candle, some string, and a trinket.

Light the candle and loop the string in through the trinket and tie it. Then start swinging the trinket above the flame and chant:

“A candle flickers, this trinket I pass, good energy and fortune come to me, wealth, knowledge, influence, energy,
By good means come to me, wealth, knowledge, influence, energy,
This trinket I pass into power, to attract to me wealth, knowledge, influence, energy, come to me!”

Repeat this three times, then wear the “necklace” around your neck. The more you do this, the more powerful the charm will be.

4. Beauty spell

This spell makes you prettier than you think–just follow the instructions.

During a full moon, take a mirror and go outside (if you can’t then open a window, make sure the moon is reflected on the mirror), take a piece of a picture of your hair, lips, eyes, or whatever you are interested in changing, and place it on the mirror. While concentrating on it, say, “Moonshine, Starlight, let the wind carry your light, let your glow cover my body, and let your shine cover every eye.”

Say it three times and concentrate on the part you want to change. Then say, “Moonshine, Starlight, shape and mold my body, as a rose is granted beauty, let me blossom in your light, the light that brings me beauty, and grant me beauty three times three.”

Say it three times and when you are finished, light a pink candle or incense.

5. To get someone to call you

Take a piece of parchment or fine quality writing paper and inscribe the name of the target. Write it in a circle twice, so the ends meet. As you do this, concentrate on the person’s face and your desire for them to call you. Then, while still concentrating, put a needle through the center of the circle created by the name. Place the charm by the phone.

The call will come within five minutes, five hours, or five days depending on how well the spell was cast and how much willpower was used.

6. Hair binding / Bond of trust

In ancient Ireland, it was customary for a man to braid a bracelet from his hair and give it to the woman he loved–a gift of trust–knowing what can be done to people magically if you possess their hair.

The binding is not activated unless she accepts the gift, thus accepting him and agreeing to the spell. This is not a binding that can be imposed on another person without their knowledge.

7. Healing charm for a wound

Close the wound tightly with the two fingers, and repeat these words slowly:

“In the name of Dagda, Bridget and Diancecht. The wound was red, the cut was deep, and the flesh was sore; but there will be no more blood, and no more pain, ’til the Gods come down to earth again.”

8. A charm for always having money

Take the feather of a black rooster, go to the crossing points of three fairy-paths, and while holding the feather and a gold-colored coin, call the name of the Goddess Áine three times, to bring you everlasting prosperity.

9. Elixir of potency

Two ounces of cochineal, one ounce of gentian root, eight grams of saffron, four grams of snakeroot, four grams of salt of wormwood, and the rind of 10 oranges. All of this should be steeped in a quart of brandy and kept for when it is needed.

10. Charm against depression

When a person becomes low, depressed, and careless about everything, as if all vital strength and energy had gone, he is said to have got a “fairy blast.” Blast-water must be poured over him by the hands of a fairy doctor while saying, “In the name of Lugh with his shining sword, who has strength before the gods and stands among them.”

Be careful to ensure that no portion of the water is dirtied. Whatever is left over after the procedure must be poured onto a fire.

Stay Ever Irish,

Thanks to the magical folks at IrishCentral for providing information on the spells.

Pushing the Envelope: Antique Irish Maps Out, Postal Codes In

Antique maps of Ireland are beautiful and might be just as helpful in assisting the modern Irish Post Office to deliver the mail as they might have been in the 1800s.


Why? Because Ireland today, even with its technology-driven economy, does not use any postal codes. Many parts of rural Ireland don’t use street addresses, and some don’t even use street names. The Wall Street Journal reports that more than a third of Ireland’s official 2.2 million residential addresses refer to more than one household, which makes delivering mail quite a challenge in a country full of Murphys, Kellys, and Callahans.

PostboxThe modern world’s first postal codes seem to have been used in London in 1856, while the U.S. first started to use ZIP codes to help mail delivery in 1943. The U.S. Post Office was forced to use the codes during World War II when new mail carriers, unfamiliar with the neighborhoods, were replacing those carriers who had been sent off to the war. As sorting equipment has become more advanced, ZIP codes have gone from five digits to nine to some as long as 31 digits, which show up as bar codes at the bottom of the envelope.

Now it appears that the last holdout, An Post, Ireland’s postal service, will scrap the antique maps of Ireland, the cheat sheets that some carriers carry with handwritten names of residents on their route, and its private internal code system kept hidden from the public. Next spring, it will roll out its own postal code system. Now, when three Kevin Callahans live in the same County Tipperary town, the post office won’t have to deliver mail first to the one who has been there the longest.

Irish_Routes_Visscher_Map_FramedOf course, there is still nothing quite like physically holding an antique map of Ireland to revel in its charm, color, and detail, all laboriously made by hand. has a large selection of stunning reproduction antique Irish maps, in the form of a paperweight, coaster, and good old map, all attractively presented in elegant handmade paper packaging. Browse the selection at

Stay Ever Irish,