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

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

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.

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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? http://www.EverIrishGifts.com suggests this perfect option from the Irish Linen House, imported from Dublin, Ireland. http://bit.ly/1spGxUi

 

Stay Ever Irish,
Laura

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 EverIrishGifts.com 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,
Laura

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