Irish Gathering 2013

Ancestry Research, Stories from the Irish and The 2013 Festivities of the Gathering in Ireland!

The Battle of Clontarf re-enacted

July 9, 2012
by Christine
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Vikings conquering Clontarf once again

The members of the Clontarf Business Association have come together in June over the last few years to highlight the reasons for shopping local in the Clontarf area of Dublin. This year was no exception and it was bigger and bolder than all previous years.

The Battle of Clontarf re-enacted

With the millennial celebration of the Battle of Clontarf peeping over the horizon, the festival was presented along with a full viking village, offering visitors a chance to see how people lived a thousand years ago. Stands re-inacted tradespeople at work, making coins, carving from wood, spinning yarn from raw wool and the village even had a herbologist, advising on natural methods and homegrown remedies to cure all ailments.

Blacksmith in deep concentration

Blacksmith in deep concentration

During the day children had a chance to spar like vikings and move in battlement formation with their viking leader instructing them on holding sword and shield and the correct positions of defence, upon being attacked by the enemy. The crowd were treated to a re-inactment of the Battle of Clontarf by the vikings themselves, during which the sound of metal against metal proved to be too much for many who were faint of heart.

As well as the obvious presence of the vikings during the weekend, there was also a huge inflatable bouncy assault course and a petting zoo, including the chance to hold a Boa Constrictor python snake and an Empire Scorpion from the Reptile Village Zoo Conservation based in Kilkenny. Other attractions included a formula one car, a full festival stage featuring music and entertainment from local talent throught the festival, the Dublin Fire Brigade opening a fire truck for photos with locals and the highlight of the festival, a live Air Sea rescue demonstration by the Irish Coast Guard Helicopter.

Christine meeting the showmen

Christine meeting the showmen

The heart of the festival has to be acknowledged and a big well done to the Clontarf Business People who brought their restaurants and businesses outside to the seafront for the weekend, keeping the visitors well fed and happy with their delicious food. In particular Moloughneys and Kinara, who worked tirelessly each day to bring fresh produce, cooked in the open air and served in the most scenic of locations, despite the obvious logistical problems. Lets hope 2013 has the beautiful weather we had this year and the festival grows in strenght. Irishgathering2013.com commends the Clontarf Business Association for organising such a terrific event and we believe it sets a precedent for other communities to follow.

Heron hovering over a pond in St Stephens Green, Dublin

July 2, 2012
by Christine
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Genealogy Adventure: A Joyce’s Return to the Homeland – The Bet

From Chris’s Diary …

“You cannot just expect to turn up in a town in Ireland and run into your long lost relatives, that only happens in the movies. Ireland’s small, but it’s not that small! You cannot substitute genealogy research for that much dumb luck.” This is Alex, my German friend speaking. It’s Wednesday and we’re catching up over a lunch in Davy Byrnes.

“Alex, let me explain something to you about a force called “Irish Magnetism”. You cannot throw a sod of turf on this Isle or abroad without knockin’ at least one long lost member of your family in some way, shape or form. When the Irish were created, we were bound together by invisible green thread, that’s why when my friend Gaz was driving through the middle of Australia and stopped for petrol, the girl who served him turned out to be his second cousin from Finglas. It’s physics, biological, whatever, Irish relatives are like racing pigeons, we’re unnaturally drawn back to the place where we came from and those who came from that spot!” I replied, waving my bruschetta in the air and in the process, dropping bits of chopped tomato and garlic into an elderly woman’s grey curled hair beside me. She didn’t notice, so I kept quiet.

“Irish people are coming back to Ireland from all over the world for The Gathering, you can’t just tell them to wander down to their families birth place and expect their long-lost relatives to be waiting there with open arms and yellow ribbons tied around oak tree’s? Surely you agree there has to be planning and research done to make the connection?” He insisted.

Heron hovering over a pond in St Stephens Green, Dublin

Heron hovering over a pond in St Stephens Green, Dublin *

“Some planning but, it’s not everything. Right Alex, I’m going to prove to you that Irish people are physically, spiritually and preternaturally bound to each other and no law on this planet or any other can interfere with it. If I go to my Tribes hometown literally called Joyce Country on the Galway/Mayo border and I don’t meet a long lost relative without using the church village records or any Thom’s Directory, I won’t even use technology, then I will do a naked lap of the duck pond in Stephens Green. But if I win, then you have to dress up for the Viking Battle re-enactment on the 9th of June in Clontarf seafront. You won’t be wearing a beard or brandishing a sword like the other vikings , no… I will. You will be my horse for the duration of the re-enactment.” I threw down my napkin and ordered two Middleton’s from the barman.

“You’re crazy.” Alex laughed. “I wouldn’t be the first in my family line to be called that and I won’t be the last…” I confessed, handing him a glass full of amber as I raised mine. “Do we have a deal?” I asked. “We do, good luck, you’re gonna need it! Prost!” He toasted. “I don’t need luck love”, I replied dropping my half of the bill. “I’m Irish, born lucky.”

Read on in part 2: Genealogy Adventure: A Joyce’s Return to the Homeland – Day 1: Into the West

*Photograph by leapleg

June 26, 2012
by Sabrina
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Royal Family Search

Electoral Registers can be a great way to confirm your relative’s whereabouts at specific times. Local city councils hold the more modern records and Local Libraries can hold historical records. Only those over 21 were able to vote for many years so bear this in mind when searching. Also in the 1800’s only those who had freehold land had a right to vote. For the years 1832-1838 you can use the pay service at www.irishorigins.com. However www.dublinheritage.ie have a searchable database free of charge for the Dublin region 1939-1940.

With the Jubilee celebrations still taking place all over the United Kingdom, it is now possible to get information on any of your ancestors who may have worked for the Royal family as indeed many Irish young women and men did. It’s a subscription service as part of findmypast.co.uk but you can get the year they worked and the source in the records books where the entry is held for free.

Bloomsday in Dublin

April 18, 2012
by Sabrina
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Bloomsday 2012: A Worldwide Affair

Bloomsday in Dublin

Bloomsday in Dublin

At one minute past midnight on the 1st of January 2012 the copyright on Joyce’s great work Ulysses ceased. This marks a very special year for Bloomsday celebrations as James Joyce’s’ masterpiece can be liberated and free to be read aloud in public all over the world. Previously only The James Joyce Cultural Centre in Ireland had permissions to do readings in the public domain. Hopefully this will influence a new wave of artists re-interpreting the work via, theatre, film and art. It’s a very special year for us Joyces’ particularly as in the past Ulysses was considered a “dirty book” and our relatives were made to feel ashamed being related to Joyce and his masterpiece. After trojan work by many a Joycean scholar, public opinion shifted right around and Ulysses was voted no 1 English novel of the millennium. But still we could not shout it from the rooftops only a small roar on Blooms day. This year the James Joyce Cultural centre hopes to unite the world in reading Ulysses, but we can say no more until the program is announced very soon! In 2012 a number of events happen in Dublin and Nationwide in Ireland, including Bloomsday breakfast, Musical theatre, Bloomsday bicycle race, readings and re-enactments on every street in Dublin, we will list the events on our site when they announced but in the meantime you can go to James Joyce Cultural for more information.

April 17, 2012
by Christine
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Barney McKenna a True Dubliner

Barney McKenna was born in 1939 and became a master at the banjo at a young age. He very nearly could have become one of the Chieftains after a short time playing with Paddy Maloney and Martin Fay, but history was to dictate that he became a founding member of the traditional Irish Band the Dubliners, together with Ronny Drew and Luke Kelly and later joined by John Sheehan and Ciaran Bourke.

McKenna was a character with a wit as sharp as a double edged sword. During the course of the Dubliners career they played all across the world and managed to get to no five in the British charts with “seven Drunken nights”. The Genius banjo player died on the 5th of April in the middle of his 50th year as a member of the Dubliners. True to his affable nature he was said to be having a morning cup of tea with a friend when his head fell on his chest and he finally joined his fellow band members who had all passed away before him, Kelly in 1984, Bourke in 1988 and Drew in 2008. Ireland may have lost one of her great musicians but we still have many a man and woman who know how to play a great session. In Dublin pubs such as the Cobblestone in Smithfield, The Stags Head off Dame Street and The Brazen Head in the Liberties have such spontaneous Trad Sessions which can make a historic night in Dublin.