Ottawa Valley Dance & The Chieftains

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Geo-Genealogy of Irish Surnames

I haven't been very good about posting lately - too busy working in the garden this summer! The potato harvest was my best yet, and some of my potatoes even went to the State Fair this year :-) I will be posting more regularly with notes from our April/May 2013 trip to Ireland, so please do check back occasionally or sign up for email updates. In the meantime, I wanted to share this fun website that allows you to search Ireland by county or by surname for your ancestors. I found some surprises! I'm mailing in my AncestryDNA kit today, too, so we'll see what surprises those results bring!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Doonbeg trounces Doolin!

Photos of White Strand B & B, Doonbeg
This photo of White Strand B & B is courtesy of TripAdvisor New Plan - Again!! Found an even better B&B about 30 minutes south of Doolin in a little town called Doonbeg. The White Strand B&B is rater by several travelers on Trip Advisor to have the best beds! Teresa is only charging us 30 Euro per person per night, 10 Euro/night less than the Half Door B&B in Doolin, which has less glowing reviews. The nicest feature of the Half Door (other than the cool front door) is that it's directly across from a great pub, so getting home after dinner and a few pints would be safe and easy. But the White Strand is directly across from a beach :-) and only a few kilometers from pubs and restaurants. It's in such a serene setting, and we got the large bedroom upstairs with the veranda! Not too much competition for rooms in west Clare in late April, apparently :-) I love how the let-down of one place (Hillview) has become such an opportunity for us.

Time For a New Plan!

All attempts to confirm our stay in the countryside in Co. Clare have failed. The woman at Hillview B&B apparently doesn't want our business. Unfortunate in a way for us, because it's the only accommodation anywhere near where my Morey, Torpey and Powell ancestors lived. OK, then, time for a new plan! We'll be staying in the fishing village of Doolin, several meters from a famous pub and with views of the Atlantic! We'll be closer to the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren and can enjoy a day trip over to east Clare to touch the soil once worked by my ancestors. No worries - we like the new plan even better! Rule #1 in travel: must be flexible. Photos of Half Door B&B, Doolin
This photo of Half Door B&B is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Atlantic Villa, Valentia Island, Co. Kerry

Photos of Atlantic Villa, Valentia Island
This photo of Atlantic Villa is courtesy of TripAdvisor Photos of Atlantic Villa, Valentia Island
This photo of Atlantic Villa is courtesy of TripAdvisor I can't WAIT to be here!!! We leave in 25 days!!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Rumex acetosa - Say what?

Sorrel. Have you ever heard of it? Eaten it? If not, you've got to learn more about it, try growing it, and experiment with it in the kitchen! It's a fabulous addition to any garden. In the US, most "foodies" have heard of French sorrel, but there is another beautiful variety called bloody sorrel or blood-veined sorrel. The veins of these leaves of this variety are deep red, making the plant very visually interesting. The red color does not affect the flavor, however. Sorrel has a lemony/citrusy, tangy flavor that brightens salads and pairs well with arugula and spinach and with sweet vegetables like roasted beets and caramelized onions. Toss sorrel leaves into soups or add to scrambled eggs or omelettes. Sorrel can also be juiced along with your favorite fruits and veggies to make a healthy and nutritious juice, or toss some into your green smoothies along with a bit of fresh ginger for some real zing. There are many variations of sorrel soup, too, most involving cream and egg yolks as thickening agents, but lighter versions can be made as well. It's incredibly versatile and so darned easy to grow. It's perennial, so once planted, there's very little maintenance, and it reappears faithfully each spring, providing edible foliage from early spring right through early to mid winter. What does all this have to do with Ireland? Well, sorrel grows wild all over Ireland and is typically found in grasslands, woodlands, and even roadside ditches (or so I've read). In Ireland, it's known as sheep's sorrel, and it is distinctly different from another type of sorrel called wood sorrel, the plant that we recognize as the shamrock. Since we'll be in Ireland during the springtime, riding our bikes on roads that pass through grasslands and woodlands, I plan to do some sorrel-hunting. I'll post pictures if I find any! For additional information and recipes, you might like to visit these sites: PS If any of you know why I can no longer get paragraphs and indenting to show up in my blog posts, I'd love to hear your thoughts. It's frustrating to see these giant uni-paragraphs on my blog.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Chieftains Can Still Tear It Up

Fifty years and going strong! The Chieftains concert was last night, and what a night it was! My hands are still sore from clapping. Paddy Maloney can still bring his tin whistle to life, and he soothed his sensitive uilleann pipes (relative to the bagpipes) with a humidifier during the show to protect them from the dry Utah air. Adorable, bald-headed Matt Molloy, looking quite dapper in his winter white sport coat, was incredible on the flute. Where does that man find all that air to make all that beautiful music come out of those 66-year old lungs? I can't wait to order a pint at Matt Molloy's pub in Westport, Co. Mayo, in early May. What an interesting life he's led, and what tales have surely been told in that pub! Kevin Conneff performed a stunning a cappella ballad about an emigrant returning to Ireland to find things quite different from how he'd left them (sad, as usual). Kevin's performance on the bodhran (a traditional Celtic drum) was remarkable to watch. He's a whiz with the tipper (aka beater), the instrument used to rap on the drum. It's double-ended, held in the center, and flicked back and forth so quickly at times that it's a blur. He moved the tipper to the edge at times to create a different type of sound. There are lots of youtube videos showing how the bodhran is played, if you're interested. It's really cool. One of the guest fiddlers was Jon Pilatzke, a Canadian, and he was nothing short of AMAZING. Just when you thought he was perhaps the most talented one on stage, a surprise guest named Nathan was brought out on stage and began performing an Ottawa valley step dance - something you might expect to see if tap-dancer Gregory Hines were to put his unique twist on an Irish step dance: flamoyant, precise, athletic, and memorable. To the crowd's wild surprise, Jon put down his fiddle and joined Nathan in the dance. We didn't yet know that they were brothers, but their symmetry and timing were impeccable. Turns out that they're part of a team called "The Step Crew" ( and are on tour with the Chieftains. The Step Crew also includes the beautiful Cara Butler, an extremely fit, red-headed female dancer who must be in her late 40s, having been with the Chieftains since 1992. Watching her dance last night, I assumed she was maybe 25. She was leaping and flying effortlessly through the air as though suspended by wire cables. Methinks I need to get myself to the gym! I would encourage anyone who's anywhere near a town on the Chieftains tour to get yourself a ticket to their show. The evening far surpassed our expectations with its surprises, variety, and toe-tapping Celtic rhythms. We even had a taste of the Rolling Stones at one point. Go, while they're still around. You won't regret it!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lyrics to Molly Bán "Molly Bán (Bawn)" Come all ye young fellas / That handle a gun / Beware of night rambling / By the setting of the sun / And beware of an accident / That happened of late / To young Molly Bán / And sad was her fate. / She was going to her uncles / When a shower came on / She went under a green bush / The shower to shun. / Her white apron wrapped around her / He took her for a swan / But a hush and a sigh / T’was his own Molly Bán. / He quickly ran to her / And found she was dead / And there on her bosom / Where he soaked, tears he shed. / He ran home to his father / With his gun in his hand / Saying "Father dear father / I have shot Molly Bán." / Her white apron wrapped around her / He took her for a swan / But a hush and a sigh / T’was his own Molly Bán. / He roamed near the place / Where his true love was slain / He wept bitter tears / But his cries were in vain / As he looked on the lake / A swan glided by / And the sun slowly sank / In the gray of sky. /