Ireland Reaching Out

Ireland Reaching Out is an amazing project, creating an online, virtual community for the 70 million people of Irish descent worldwide.

Irish volunteers at local parish level are literally reaching out to the Irish Diaspora via the internet and inviting them to reengage with the ancestral homes of their forefathers.

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Strong, deep ties link the people of Ireland and America.  For centuries the Irish crossed the Atlantic, seeking to start a new life.  Years later many of their descendants return to Ireland in search of ancestral threads, hoping to reweave their family story.  Their greatest dream is to reconnect with the people, parish and culture their forefathers left behind.

For many retracing their roots is a daunting task.  Searching for information in a strange land is simply intimidating.  For years the responsibility of reconnecting with long-lost relatives fell heavily upon the shoulders of the near 70 million people worldwide of Irish descent.

But all this has changed with Ireland Reaching Out.  Their volunteers now actively seek to reunite all people of Irish descent through a system of reverse genealogy.  Rather than waiting for people of Irish heritage to search for their Irish connections, Reaching Out volunteers at a parish level actively seek to find and trace descendents of those who left in years gone by.

Their admirable and formidable goal is to trace and record all the people who left a parish and to network and interface with their living descendents worldwide through the power of the internet.

Their motto is:

 

Ní neart go cur le chéile

 

There’s no strength without unity

 

 

I personally experienced the power of their work a few months ago.  A volunteer working for the parish where my father grew up in Co. Cork found this little blog of mine and contacted me, wondering if I am whom she thought I might be.  She knows my family well.  It was lovely to exchange e-mails and connect to my roots.  The internet is changing the world and the people of Ireland Reaching Out are harnessing its power.

So, if you know where your ancestors hailed from in Ireland, check out the parishes which have registered with this project by clicking here.  Over 2500 parishes are currently participating.  Who knows you may be able to trace your roots to where it all began.

This weekend the second annual Week of Welcomes celebration is concluding in Southeast Galway.  The friends, relatives and descendants of Irish emigrants from the area were invited to participate in a week of special events designed to help them explore their past, and reconnect with the people from their forefathers’ villages and parishes.  I hope all of the participants enjoyed a wonderful week of unforgettable experiences, forged new friendships, strengthened family bonds and created memories to last a lifetime and beyond.

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

 

Irish American Mom

County Dublin – Home Of Ireland’s Capital City

Dublin is a charming, architecturally spectacular capital where medieval and modern history blend to create a vibrant, welcoming atmosphere.  Yet Dublin offers much more.  The county is home to often undiscovered villages, beautiful scenery and ancient castles.

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Dublin’s River Liffey At NIght

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Dublin is my home town, so forgive me if today I sing her praises with pride.  Dublin is not only a “fair city,” but a historical county and my childhood home.

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Dublin is located on Ireland’s eastern shore and is part of the ancient province of Leinster.   As I researched this post I learned that in 1994 Dublin was split into three separate administrative regions.  A Local Government Act went so far as to state “the county shall cease to exist.”

I was shocked, but no matter what legal or administrative divisions were created for ease of governance, Dublin is, and always will be, a county in the eyes of Irish men and women.

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Satellite Radar Image Of Dublin Courtesy Of NASA

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This wonderful satellite image from NASA shows Dublin city surrounded by its less densely populated county.  Dublin Bay is the horseshoe shape at the center, with Howth Head to the North and Dalkey Hill to the south.   The Dublin Mountains lie to the south adjoining County Wicklow and its spectacular mountain range.

Dublin City:

 

Dublin City dates back over 1000 years, it’s origins attributed to a Viking settlement in 841 AD.  It’s name literally means Black Pool, from the Irish word ‘dubh’ meaning black, and ‘linn’ meaning pool.

To truly do Dublin justice, this post should include hundreds of photos and stories.   Instead I plan to limit our city center tour, so we can focus on the hidden gems of the county.  But rest assured, we will explore Dublin City in many more posts and photos in the future.

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I could not visit Dublin, however, without mentioning my alma mater, Trinity College.  This peaceful, beautiful campus with cobblestone squares, elegant gardens and classical buildings, lies right in the center of our bustling city.  Official, student-guided tours of the campus are available.

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© Copyright Raymond Okonski and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons License

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The River Liffey bisects the city and county into northern and southern regions.  The banks of the river are lined with magnificent old buildings like The Custom House, which opened in 1791.

A Rainy Day On Dublin’s Grafton Street.

Grafton Street is the main shopping thoroughfare on the South Side, with Henry Street being retail central for the North Side.  A little rain never slows down Dublin shoppers who always carry umbrellas for emergencies.

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Dublin Castle was first established in 1204 AD, and has played a prominent role in Irish history ever since.  Informative guided tours are available.

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Kilmainham Gaol (or jail) housed Irish prisoners between 1780 and the 1920’s.  Unoccupied today, tours of the jail tell the story of Ireland’s tumultuous past.

West County Dublin

 

 

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© Copyright Stephen Sweeney and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons License

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The Phoenix Park lies to the west of the city center.  With 1752 acres it is the largest enclosed park in any European capital city.  The Wellington Monument is a memorial obelisk dedicated to the Duke of Wellington, who was born in Dublin.

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A herd of fallow deer still roam the Phoenix Park.  Dublin Zoo dates back to 1831 and is located within the park.

The National Botanic Gardens are located in Glasnevin to the northwest of the city center.  Founded in 1795, the gardens are home to many beautifully restored glass houses.

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© Copyright Harold Strong and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons License

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Farmleigh House and Estate  once belonged to the Guinness family.  It is now owned and operated by the Office of Public Works.  Guided tours are available.  Many cultural events are scheduled here throughout the summer season.

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Ballybrack – © Copyright Anne Burgess and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons License

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The western county boasts a beautiful landscape of green fields lined by blooming summer hedgerows.  The Dublin Mountains lie to the southwest overlooking this verdant valley.

North County Dublin:

 

 

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© Copyright JP and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence

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Marino Casino lies to the north of the city.  Built between 1750 and 1775, this casino is not associated with gambling.  Its name is derived from Italian and means small house.  Despite its name this casino actually contains 16 rooms.

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© Copyright JP and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence

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Home to the Lords of Howth, the St. Lawrence family, Howth Castle dates back to the 14th century.  In 1576 the famous Irish sea queen, Granuaile or Grace O’Malley, attempted to visit the Baron of Howth.  She was informed the family were at dinner and was refused entry.  In retaliation, she abducted the Baron’s son, only releasing him when she was promised, from that day forward, a place would be set for visitors at the castle’s dinner table.  This agreement is honored to this very day.

Howth is a magical fishing village with a magnificent pier, two lighthouses, cliffside walks and breathtaking views.  Home to some of the finest seafood restaurants in Ireland, a great meal can easily be washed down by a cozy drink in one of Howth’s warm, inviting pubs.

The islands of Ireland’s Eye and Lambay can be spotted to the north of Howth.

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Moving futher north along the coast, Pormarnock is home to a magnificent golf course which has hosted the Irish Open on many occasions.  It’s beautiful sandy beach was one of my favorite summertime haunts.

Malahide Castle is located in the quaint, seaside town of the same name.  Home to the Talbot family for over 800 years, it is supposedly home to five ghostly figures, often spotted in the castle windows.

Newbridge House, Donabate, Co. Dublin

Located in Donabate, Newbridge House and Farm is an old Georgian Mansion and Demesne with a wonderful playground, beautiful gardens and a model 18th century farmyard.  It is one of my children’s favorite spots to visit.

 

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Skerries is a picturesque town with a watermill and two windmills, sandy
beaches and a scenic harbor.

Ardgillan Castle, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin

Ardgillan Castle lies a little further north, with magnificent views of the Irish Sea.  On a clear day, the Mountains of Mourne can be seen in the distance.  Look closely at the photo above, and you can see the shadowy mountains on the horizon.

 

South County Dublin:

 

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Rathfarnham Castle dates back to Elizabethan times.  It is open to the public and home to a collection of 18th and 19th century toys, dolls and costumes.

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Dun Laoghaire lies about seven miles south of Dublin city.  It’s harbor and pier offer lovely views of the bay and Howth Head.

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Further south in Sandycove, the Forty Foot was a “gentlemen only” swimming club in days gone by.  Not until the 1970’s did women gain the right to swim here.

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© Copyright JP and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons License

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Dalkey Island can be seen in this photo taken from Killiney Hill.

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Looking south from Killiney Hill the beautiful coast can be seen as far as Greystones in Co. Wicklow.  The DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) train line runs all the way from Howth to Greystones along the shores of Dublin Bay.  A trip on the train provides access to some beautiful scenery.

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The Dublin mountains lie to the south and are home to some spectacular peaks, mountain trails, and ancient megalithic sites and stones.

And so we conclude our quick trip around County Dublin.  Forgive me if I have omitted your favorite site or attraction.  I never even mentioned Dublin’s most famous daughter.

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So here is a picture of Molly Malone with her cart to bid you all farewell.

Some great sites for planning a trip to Dublin include:

Dublin.ie

Heritage Ireland – Dublin

As I publish each new county post, I will add a link to this alphabetical list.

 

1. County Anrtrim

 

 

2. County Armagh

 

 

3. County Carlow

 

 

4. County Cavan

 

 

5. County Clare

 

 

6. County Cork

 

 

7. County Derry

 

 

8. County Donegal

 

 

9. County Down

 

 

10. County Dublin

 

 

11. County Fermanagh

 

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

 

Irish American Mom

Easy Mini Pavlovas

Pavlova is a favorite Irish dessert, with fresh fruit and whipped cream used to decorate a meringue base.  It’s crisp, sweet crust contrasts deliciously with a soft, light center.

Pavlova was created in either Australia or New Zealand in the 1920’s to commemorate a visit by Anna Pavlova, the famous Russian ballet dancer.  A taste for this delicate dessert spread throughout the United Kingdom and it’s commonwealth, and was even embraced by the Irish.

I know many cooks shy away from making this delicacy because of the slow, complicated process required to achieve a perfect meringue consistency.

When I first made pavlovas I stuck to the step-by-step recipe of olden days.   Using this tried and true approach I beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff, then added sugar spoon-by-spoon in a time-consuming way.  Then I carefully folded in corn starch and white vinegar, before creatively piping the finished product onto a baking sheet.

Worry no more.  I have simplified the whole process.

I now make my pavlovas using a one-step, toss-it-in-the-bowl, and beat-it-all-up method.  My pavlovas turn out just as good today as when I used the pain-staking technique of old.

Here is my easy recipe for mini pavlovas, or pavlova nests as some may like to call them.

Ingredients

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 and 1/4 cups of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon of white vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons of boiling water
  • 2 cups of heavy whipping cream (to decorate)
  • 2 tablespoons of confectioners sugar (to sweeten the cream)
  • fresh fruit of choice (to decorate)

Before getting started pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Separate the egg whites and place them in a large mixing bowl.  Add the sugar.

Toss in the vanilla, white vinegar, cream of tartar and corn starch.

Add 4 tablespoons of boiling water, careful not to burn your finger tips.  This, I believe, is the secret ingredient for successful one-step pavlovas.

Set the mixer beating and while you are waiting you can prepare the baking sheets.  If you don’t have a stand alone mixer and need to hold yours, make sure you prepare the baking sheets before beating the meringue.

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Take a cup or a glass and mark the perimeter with a pen.  Create 6 circles on each baking sheet 2 to 3 inches apart, for a total of 12 mini-pavlova nests.

Next turn the paper upside-down, so the pen does not leach into the meringue mixture.  The guiding circles should still be visible.

The time required to beat the egg white mixture varies depending upon the power of your mixer.  Mine took 7 minutes, but my mixer is pretty powerful.

You can tell it is ready when it becomes very thick, and the egg white forms stiff peaks when the beater is removed.  It should be a glossy, satiny white, the meringue points looking like snowy mountain peaks.  (Can you tell I love to bake, when I dream that my meringue mixture looks like the Alps.)

Next, spoon the egg white mixture onto the pre-marked circles.  A large mixing spoon helps divide the mixture into 12 equal portions.

Now comes the fun.  Using the back of a dessert spoon, start smoothing the upper surface of each nest working from the center out to the edges.

Create a little lip on the perimeter of each nest.  This will help hold the cream and fruit when you decorate the pavlovas later.

Work all 12 mounds into a nest shape.

Bake both trays together in the pre-heated 250 degree Fahrenheit oven for 60 minutes, then reduce the heat to 225 degrees for an additional 30 minutes.

Other pavlova recipes call for a hotter oven with a reduced cooking time.  I have always found that low and slow is the best way to cook any pavlova or meringue.  (I’ll share my meringue recipe another time).

When the pavlovas are cooked turn the oven off.  Open the door slightly and allow them to cool in the oven.  Slow cooling is best to create a crispy outer crust.

Never cool a meringue in the fridge.  This will cause them to weep a sticky, orange goo.

When they are fully cooled its time to decorate.  Whip the cream until thick.  Add sugar to sweeten if desired.

Fill each mini pavlova with fresh cream and decorate with the fresh fruit of your choice.  Raspberries and blueberries are my favorite.

They really are as good as they look – one of my all time favorite desserts.

I like to make these mini pavlova nests since it makes serving a breeze.  There is less risk of cracking smaller shells as you lift them off the parchment paper.  Also presentation is easier than with a larger pavlova, since you don’t have to contend with a cracking crust as you cut each slice.

However, if you prefer one large pavlova, this recipe works just great.  Here’s how to make a few changes to create one stunning dessert.

How To Tweak This Recipe For One Large Pavlova:

 

Instead of using a cup to mark 12 mini circles, just use a regular dinner plate to mark a large circle on the parchment paper.  Again, remember to turn the pen-side under before transferring the meringue mixture.

Spoon all of the beaten egg white mixture onto the large circle on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Use the back of a spoon to smooth out the top, creating a small lip around the perimeter.  Then bake it exactly as above – low and slow for best results.

When fully cooled just decorate it with whipped cream and fresh fruit.  You can make a beautiful, symmetrical pattern, or just go crazy and spread the fruit around all higglety pigglety like I do.  Delicious whichever method you choose.

Here is the printable recipe:

Easy Mini Pavlovas

Serves 12
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 1 hours, 30 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 50 minutes
Meal type Dessert
Misc Serve Cold
Region British
Pavlova is a favorite British and Australian dessert, with fresh fruit and whipped cream used to decorate a meringue base. It's crisp sweet, crust contrasts deliciously with a soft, light center.

Ingredients

  • 4 Large egg whites
  • 1 and 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream (to decorate)
  • Fresh fruit of choice (to decorate)

Optional

  • 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar (to sweeten cream)

Directions

Step 1 Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2 Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a pen to trace the perimeter of a glass or cup 6 times on each sheet of parchment. Turn the papers upside-down. The guiding outline should still be visible on the clean side of the paper.
Step 3 Add all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and beat using an electric mixer until thick and the egg whites form stiff peaks. The meringue will be satiny, and gleaming white.
Step 4 Spoon the meringue mixture onto the 12 pre-marked circles on the parchment paper.
Step 5 Using the back of a spoon smooth the top of each pavlova nest, working from the center to the perimeter, and making the edge slightly higher to form a nest.
Step 6 Bake in the pre-heated 250 degree Fahrenheit oven for 60 minutes, then reduce the heat to 225 degrees Fahrenheit for an additional 30 minutes.
Step 7 Turn the oven off. Leave the pavlovas to cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar.
Step 8 Fill with whipped cream and your fruit of choice to serve.

Wishing you all happy pavlova baking!

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom

Dublin Sunset

Beauty to me lies in the radiating glow of the setting sun.  Ireland’s west coast is renowned for spectacular sunsets, but today I thought I might share the magnificence of the setting sun across Dublin Bay.

This photo was taken from the beach at Sandycove on the southern shore of Dublin Bay.

Dublin City lies at the center of a horseshoe shaped bay facing east and stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south.

It is lovely to fly into Dublin Airport from America early in the morning, when the airplane flies towards the rising sun in the east, then turns over the bay to approach the runway from the sea.  Sunrise is amazing over the watery horizon of the Irish Sea, but sunsets can be just as brilliant.

This sunset is seen from the northern tip of the bay at Howth Head.  Dublin Bay sunsets are glorious.  These pictures are a little taste of all that County Dublin has to offer.  I hope it whets your appetite for our full tour of my home county which is coming up later this week.

 

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

Happy Father’s Day

Wishing all fathers around the world a very Happy Father’s Day today.  In Irish we say:

 

“Lá na nAthar faoi shona daoibh.”

 

The pronunciation goes something like this:  law nah nah-her fway hun-ah deeve.

And so in honor of all fathers and grandfathers today, I thought I might share some of my favorite quotations from around the world, dedicated to the men we all love.  So let’s start off with a few Irish Blessings for Father’s Day and then some great American quotations.

 

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“You’ve got to do your own growing,

no matter how tall your grandfather was.”

 

- Irish Proverb

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“The work praises the man.”

 

- Irish Proverb

 

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“May there be a generation of children

On the children of your children.”

 

- Irish Blessing

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“May God be with you and bless you,

May you see your children’s children,

May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings.

May you know nothing but happiness

From this day forward.”

 

- Irish Blessing

 

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“Mothers and fathers hold their children’s hands

for just a little while…

And their hearts forever.”

 

 – Irish Saying

 

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“Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most

is soap-on-a-rope.”

 

- Bill Cosby

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I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as

the need for a father’s protection.

 

- Sigmund Freud

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“I watched a small man with thick calluses on both

hands work fifteen and sixteen hours a day. I saw

him once literally bleed from the bottoms of his feet, a

man who came here uneducated, alone, unable to

speak the language, who taught me all I needed to

know about faith and hard work by the simple

eloquence of his example.”

 

- Mario Cuomo

 

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“It is admirable for a man to take his son fishing,

but there is a special place in heaven

for the father who takes his daughter shopping.”

 

- John Sinor

 

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“One father is more than a hundred Schoolmasters.”

 

- English Proverb

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“When I was a boy of fourteen,

my father was so ignorant

I could hardly stand to have the old man around.

But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished

at how much he had learned in seven years.”

 

- Mark Twain

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“When I was a kid, I said to my father one afternoon,

‘Daddy, will you take me to the zoo?’

He answered,

‘If the zoo wants you, let them come and get you.'”

 

- Jerry Lewis

 

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“May embers from the hearth warm your hands,

May sunshine from an Irish sky warm your face,

May a child’s bright smile warm your heart,

And may everlasting love warm your soul.”

 

- Irish Blessing

 

Happy Father’s Day!

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom