A Wild Goose Chase

In planning our most recent trip to Ireland, among the places I knew I wanted to visit were the studio of Wild Goose and also the quintessentially cute town of Kinsale in County Cork. Fortunately for us, Wild Goose Studio is located in the town of Kinsale, so it was very easy to plan.

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Kinsale Harbor and town

Kinsale is a must-see for anyone’s itinerary to southern Ireland. It is a town with much charm and boasts of some of the finest restaurants in the country. Its picturesque harbor is guarded by two forts. The one to visit, and where you can learn about the military significance of Kinsale, is the star-shaped Charles Fort.

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Charles Fort guarding the entrance to Kinsale Harbor

 

 

The fort is accessible via a pretty 45 minute or so walk from town (which also passes by a colorful spot for food and drinks, Bulman’s).

 

 

 

Kinsale is known for its historic streetscape and brightly colored shops. A walking tour is an enjoyable way to take in the sights of the town and also learn about the history of Kinsale and the architectural features of the buildings that you might never learn on your own.

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Kinsale street scene

 

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Make sure to leave time to sample some of the town’s fabulous restaurants. We particularly enjoyed Fishy Fishy, where we dined on delectable fish and chips washed down with Guinness and Smithwicks, but may I suggest reservations, so you don’t have to wait as long for a table as we did.

 

 

 

 

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Managing Director Jamie McCarthy-Fisher greets us outside the Wild Goose Studio

 

 

Sitting just outside of Kinsale is the Wild Goose Studio. Even though it was a Friday afternoon, and work for the week was primarily wrapping up, Managing Director Jamie McCarthy-Fisher was more than gracious to spend time with us and show us why Wild Goose is one of the premier craft studios in all of Ireland.

 

 

 

 

The studio was founded in 1970 by family members and still creates pieces that find their inspiration in Ireland’s rich cultural heritage. Each piece starts with an inspiring thought, an image or an emotion and is given a physical form by the craftspeople. Jamie still keeps some of the original stone works in his office.

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Some of the original stone carvings from which molds are made

The image is then carved into a sculpted piece from which a mold is created. This allows the studio to faithfully reproduce the image, each and every time, in full detail. WGBlog7

The production process itself starts with metal powders, mainly bronze, which form the outer surface. The inner part of the piece is created from a cold cast pouring. Once the piece is set, it is polished to reveal the beauty hidden beneath. From there it is set in a frame or packaged to make an ideal Irish gift.

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We were amazed to discover how many people work to create the piece that ends up in your home or the home of a friend. Wild Goose Studio certainly creates artisan handcrafted products, and we were grateful to witness the process firsthand.

Ever Irish Gifts carries a large line of Wild Goose Studio products that would look good adorning your home or would make a meaningful Irish gift. Check out our fine selection.

WGBlog12 , Doug

Celtic Chakra—The Irish Rainbow with an Ancient Meaning

There are a lot of beautiful, colorful objects in this world to appreciate, from rainbows to artwork to jewelry.  I’ve always enjoyed looking at colorful items, although since I’m colorblind, I’m never sure if I’m seeing a colorful object the same way that someone else does.  Recently, I seem to keep coming across the word “chakra”—an ancient Sanskrit term—and maybe you do too. If you are not familiar with this word and the spiritual meaning behind it, I thought I would give you a little insight so the next time you encounter it, you will have some background.

Chakra Blog1The word “chakra” (pronounced “cha” – “kra”) refers to centers of energy within the human body that are believed to help regulate all its processes. According to tradition, there are seven chakras positioned throughout the body, from the base of the spine to the top of the head. Each chakra is depicted through a certain chakra color and is said to govern specific functions in the body that help make us human.

The chakra colors follow the order of the colors of the rainbow, from red to purple plus white. These colors reflect the different frequencies of light and energy associated with each energy center.

The colors of the seven primary chakras, their locations within the body, and the emotions they are thought to control are:

  • Root Chakra – Base of the Spine – Security
  • Sacral Chakra – Lower Abdomen – Family
  • Solar Plexus Chakra – Upper Abdomen – Self confidence
  • Heart Chakra – Center of Chest – Love
  • Throat Chakra – Throat – Truth
  • Third Eye Chakra – Between the Eyes – Insight
  • Crown Chakra (white) – Top of the Head – Awareness

Although the power of the chakra is steeped in Eastern tradition, Annie Wealleans of Black Dragon Crafts has magnificently merged this ancient belief with her Celtic heritage to create a stunning line of Celtic Chakra jewelry. Ever Irish Gifts carries a full range of Annie’s Celtic Chakra jewelry, as well as many of her other fine handcrafted beady creations.

Now that you are an expert on the meaning of “chakra,” we invite you to consider Celtic Chakra jewelry for yourself or as a gift for someone special—woman or man—and display the rainbow of your Irish pride.

Stay Ever Irish,
Doug

The Perfect Irish Cure for Jet Lag

It’s May 2017, and Laura and I are finally on our way to Ireland for a combination business and pleasure trip. We’ll check off some of the sites we have yet to see, such as the Rock of Cashel and the Cliffs of Moher, as well as visit the studios and manufacturing facilities of several of our suppliers. After a number of delays both in Cleveland and Newark, we finally arrive late morning in Dublin.

Good to know….

That first day in Ireland is always tricky. You arrive in the morning after having flown all night, with very little to no sleep. Your first instinct is to get to your hotel and settle right into bed. But no way are we going to waste one of our few precious days on the Emerald Isle. After passing our first sign at the airport reminding us that we will now have to drive on the left, we make our way to our hotel, park our bags in the office (our room is not yet ready), and head out to explore Dublin City.

We are famished but not sure what meal to get, since we have missed many by crossing so many time zones. So like good tourists, we head straight to the legendary Leo Burdock’s, Dublin’s oldest chipper, for some traditional fish and chips.

Leo Burdock’s fish and chips — the breakfast (lunch?) of champions.

The long list of celebrities who grace their Hall of Fame wall include U2, Bruce Springsteen, and Mick Jagger. Standing in line with many other tourists for that quintessentially Irish tradition (which sadly is no longer wrapped in newspaper for health reason), we take away our heaping portions and devour them on a bench in front of Christ Church Cathedral. Luckily for us, the sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day.

Doug and the Brazen Head

We then stroll past the Brazen Head, Ireland’s oldest Pub (established in 1198!), through the Temple Bar area, and toward Trinity College, where we meet up with one of our jewelry artisans, Tracy Gilbert, at the Bank on College Green. Unfortunately, circumstances did not allow us to meet Tracy in her studio, but the Bank is an unbelievable bar and restaurant, fabulously and exquisitely converted from a venerable bank. (If you visit, make sure you go downstairs to use the bathrooms, which are among the old bank vaults.)

Laura, Tracy, and Doug at the gorgeous Bank on College Green.

It is great to see Tracy again and to enjoy a Guinness and Smithwicks with her. Tracy masterfully crafts some amazing jewelry that we carry on our website, capturing the spirit and essence of Ireland’s Celtic past. We knew she was an awesome craftsperson, but we also find out that like us, she is a long-distance runner who successfully completed her first marathon, in Dublin, in October 2016. We certainly have a lot to talk about!

Several hours later, we say our goodbyes as she has to catch the train to her home and family. Laura and I grab a quick dinner, walk back to our hotel, and check in. What a terrific first day in Ireland. Jet lag? What jet lag? But now it’s time to rest up for another great day.

Want to learn more about Tracy Gilbert’s stunning Celtic-inspired sterling silver jewelry? You can view the Tracy Gilbert Designs Collection here.

Trinity Heart pendant with birthstone, handcrafted by Tracy Gilbert.

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 bottom.green-on-top1

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.

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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.

http://www.EverIrishGifts.com

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.

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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.

www.EverIrishGifts.com 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.

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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 http://www.everirishgifts.com/info/Buy_Ireland.aspx for all the details.

Stay Ever Irish,
Doug

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.

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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.

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This http://www.EverIrishGifts.com 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,
Doug