Favorite John O’Donohue Quotations Especially For Thanksgiving

Wishing everyone a very happy Thanksgiving. To celebrate this day of reflection and thankfulness here are some quotations from John O’Donohue (1956-2008), an Irish scholar, poet and philosopher, and expert on Celtic spirituality. 

This selection of his beautiful words focuses upon gratitude and blessings.

Irish Sunset

May you experience each day

as a sacred gift

woven around the heart of wonder.”

~ John O’Donohue


Autumn foliage

“Blessed be the gifts you never notice,

your health, eyes to behold the world,

thoughts to countenance the unknown,

memory to harvest vanished days,

your heart to feel the world’s waves,

your breath to breathe the nourishment

of distance made intimate by earth.”

~ John O’Donohue


Donegal Sheep

“Take time to see the quiet miracles that seek no attention”

~ John O’Donohue


Donegal Scenery


“Keep something beautiful in your heart

to survive difficult times and enjoy good times.”

~ John O’Donohue


Mackerel Sky

“May dawn find you awake and alert,

approaching your new day with dreams, possibilities and promises;

May evening find you gracious and fulfilled;

May you go into the night blessed, sheltered and protected;

May your soul calm, console and renew you.”

~ John O’Donohue


 Donegal Castle Ruins


“May I live this day

compassionate of heart,

clear in word,

gracious in awareness,

courageous in thought,

generous in love.”

~ John O’Donohue


La Bella Luna


“So at the end of this day, we give thanks

For being betrothed to the unknown.”

~ John O’Donohue



Happy Thanksgiving To All.


Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)


Irish American Mom

Introducing Emerald Heritage And A Chance To Win Your Own Little Piece Of Ireland

Have you ever dreamed of owning a little piece of Ireland? Well if so, today’s your day to enter our Emerald Heritage giveaway for a chance to become the proud owner of a little plot of Irish land.

I’m delighted to introduce you to a new and unusual idea. Emerald Heritage is offering for sale small plots of land within the Glens of Antrim, in an effort to protect this area from deforestation and to promote regeneration of this natural wildlife habitat.


Today’s fabulous prize is a one-square foot plot of land in the Antrim hills. But first, here’s some information about Emerald Heritage’s unique and wonderful conservation work.


About Emerald Heritage:


Emerald Heritage was established by some concerned Irish people to help conserve the land and protect the habitat in this officially recognized Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty


“Irish landscape and its protection and enhancement

is the primary goal of Emerald Heritage.”


The Emerald Heritage team was worried about the possible development of this historical area. They chose to purchase an estate to ensure it is permanently protected and preserved for natural wild plants and animal species.

By offering the public an opportunity to acquire souvenir plots, they hope to promote a world wide effort toward preservation of Ireland’s natural beauty.


Here’s a little snippet from their website where they fully describe their mission and purpose:


“Through your sponsorship we will be able to acquire further land

to conserve and continue to restore Ireland’s native trees,

such as oak, pine and birch providing woodland habitat

for wildlife in an area where deciduous woodland is scarce. 

We are also working to restore native woodland flowers

such as bluebells, bramble and blackthorn.”


A commitment is made to all those who choose to purchase a small plot of land and assist them on their mission.


No trees will ever be harvested and no hunting

will ever be permitted on the estate. 

“By allowing this woodland to regenerate naturally

it will be a safe haven for wildlife – in perpetuity.”


The Plots:


A little piece of Ireland, is available for purchase in plots of 1, 4 and 9 square feet with prices starting from $50.00. 

This land will be yours forever, becoming part of your personal estate. Your Irish legacy can be passed on to your children and grandchildren.

Conservation-images-the-land-pauls-photo-257x257Upon purchase you will receive:

  • personalized legal documentation for ownership of your land together with a certificate on parchment paper perfect for framing.
  • a photograph of your plot,
  • a map of the estate with directions and GPS co-ordinates for your plot.
  • master title deed,
  • a host of information about the area and its history.
  • plus a beautifully presented folder for all your documents.

You may also choose to pay an additional fee to register your land ownership with the Northern Ireland Land Registry.


What Can I Do With My Plot Of Land?


This land is located in a beautiful, scenic part of Northern Ireland. As a landowner you are welcome to visit the area and take a walk around the woodland and photograph your little piece of Ireland.

You are welcome to scatter ashes, plant a tree, or leave a memorial stone.  There are terms and conditions applied to the purchase of the land as it is zoned as a protected woodland:

  • No shooting
  • No building
  • No subdividing your plot
  • Not for use as a commercial campsite


Become a Squireen or Squiress:


The team at Emerald Heritage have added a little bit of fun into their land ownership process.


As an Irish landowner you may adopt the title of ‘Squireen’ meaning Irish Landowner, the English terms being ‘Squire’ (male form) or  ‘Squiress’ (female form).

But remember, “it is simply a courtesy title, not a nobility title.”


Purchasing A Plot Plus A Special Discount Code:


A little piece of Ireland is truly an unusual gift, but I can imagine this unique gift becoming a treasured legacy for those of us with Irish ancestry.


A Quick Note and Legal Disclaimer:  If you choose to utilize the discount code listed below I will earn a commission for your purchase. Thanks to the generosity of Emerald Heritage I too am now the proud owner of a one square foot plot of Irish land.  If you have any questions you can contact me or leave a comment, and I’ll do my very best to reply.

Purchasing a plot is very simple and can be completed online through the Emerald Heritage website.

The good folk at Emerald Heritage have graciously offered Irish American Mom’s readers a 10% discount when purchasing their own plots of land.

To avail of this offer simply type “irishamericanmom” at the end of the purchasing process. 

CollagesSome Images Courtesy of Causeway Coast & Glens


Further Information:


Emerald Heritage’s website is a wealth of information about this project. In addition they have been featured in Environment Magazine, Good Housekeeping UK, and a host of other publications in Ireland, and the UK. Further information is available on their Emerald Heritage News page.

You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


The Giveaway:


And so, it is time for our little giveaway. Here’s your chance to own a little piece of Ireland.

EH-PACK-SHOT-SQ-WHITE-257x257The winner will receive the following prize package:

  • A plot of land sized – 1 ft x 1  ft
  • Access to the estate in perpetuity.
  • Information and pictures of the area.
  • A map of the estate and directions and GPS co-ordinates of your plot.
  • Your personalized legal documentation for ownership of your land and certificate on parchment paper perfect for framing.
  • A beautifully presented folder for all your documents.
  • Photograph


To enter simply follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter Widget below. Don’t forget to leave a comment on this blog post to complete your entry. Any comment will do, but I’d love to hear why you’d love to own a little piece of Ireland.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A big thank you to Emerald Heritage for sponsoring this giveaway, and to Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust for their support of this endeavor and the beautiful photos of this magnificent area.

And thanks also to everyone who enters and spreads the word about this little giveaway.  I really appreciate each and every one of my readers.

Feel free to share away on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Your help will go a long way to spread the word about this amazing project.


Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)


Irish American Mom

Carrot And Parsnip Mash

Mashed carrots and parsnips were a frequent dinnertime side in our house when I was a little girl.  And let me confess, I hated the mixture. 

But no matter how much I begged my Mom to spare me this weekly “treat”, these root vegetables regularly appeared alongside my roast chicken and potatoes.

Bowl of carrot and parsnip mash - Thanksgiving side dish

“Just one bite!” I can still hear her instructions. Dutifully, I let a miniscule amount pass my lips, before grimacing in disgust. But believe it or not, her persistence paid off.  Today I love this earthy veggie combination.

Most recipes recommend a vegetable pureé when pairing carrots and parsnips, but in Ireland the texture is seldom silky smooth, with a slightly lumpy mash preferred. I’m really doing a bad job of making these veggies sound appetizing.  By now, you probably have visions of me being force fed “lumpy” mash.

But honestly, this combo is truly satisfying and is wonderful alongside roast turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas, or to set off a Sunday roast beef.

So how about a tutorial on how to cook this popular side dish – Irish carrot and parsnip mash.

Ingredients for carrot and parsnip mash



  • 3 large carrots
  • 2 medium parsnips
  • 2 oz butter
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • salt and white pepper to season


Irish parsnip and carrot mash doesn’t have any fancy onion or garlic flavors added. It’s simply the two veggies combined with butter, cream, salt and pepper.

I use white pepper for this recipe since that’s what my mom always used. I only discovered black pepper when I came to America. So, I stick to white pepper and, truth be told, I don’t like black speckles in the middle of this lightly orange colored mash.

Sliced carrots and parsnips

Carrots are harder than parsnips and take longer to cook.  To make sure your parsnips don’t go mushy while you wait for your carrots to tenderize you have a few options.

  1. First, you can just chop the carrots into smaller pieces than the parsnips, and boil the vegetables together in the same pot for the same amount of time.
  2. Or you can give the carrots a head start before adding the parsnips. If boiling the vegetables a 7 minute lead time is good, but if steaming, the carrots need at least 10 minutes extra cooking.
  3. Or you can do what my mom always did, and cook the parsnips and carrots in two separate saucepans, and only combine them when they are tender, drained and ready to mash.


Steaming carrots

I find option 1 difficult, since I can never accurately estimate the right size for each vegetable.

Since I don’t like cleaning too many saucepans, I usually go for option 2 and give my carrots a little head start on the parsnips.

I also like to steam the veggies, so I don’t risk burning my fingers when adding parsnips to simmering water.

Steam carrots and parsnips for mash

So steam the carrots for about 10 minutes, then add the parsnips and steam them both for about 20 more minutes until they are fork tender.

Mashing carrots and parsnips together

Drain the vegetables and return them to the bottom pan. Mash them together using a potato masher.

Adding butter and cream to carrot and parsnip mash.

Add the butter and cream and mash together a little more.

Seasoning carrot and parsnip mash

Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Carrot and parsnip mash or purée

Transfer into a serving dish and garnish with a nice knob of butter.

Feel free to add a little green with some parsley if you like. You’ll have all the colors of the Irish flag, green, white and orange.  I never saw fancy parsley on my carrot and parsnip mash as a child, so I just stuck to a nice piece of melting butter to garnish this dish for its photo shoot.

Hope you all enjoy this ever so Irish vegetable side dish. Here’s the printable recipe:

Carrot And Parsnip Mash

Serves 4-6
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 35 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
Meal type Side Dish
Misc Serve Hot
Occasion Christmas, Thanksgiving


  • 3 Large carrots
  • 2 Medium parsnips
  • 2oz butter
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • salt and white pepper to season


Step 1 Wash and peel the carrots and parsnips. Cut evenly in 1/2 inch slices.
Step 2 Place the carrots in a steamer, add water to the pan base. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Step 3 Add the parsnips to the carrots in the steamer. Simmer for a further 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
Step 4 Drain the vegetables. Return them to the pot. Add the butter and cream and mash the vegetables together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Step 5 Serve warm and garnish with butter and parsley if desired.


Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)


Irish American Mom


Chilblains, Hot Water Bottles And Other Chilly Memories Of An Irish Childhood

Chilblains were part and parcel of an Irish childhood for many when I was growing up.  Memories of red, itchy, inflamed toes still linger for my generation, but painful, chilblain flash blacks still haunt the generation that went before me.

Chilblains and Hot Water Bottles

Now many of you are probably wondering what on earth a chilblain could possibly be. The word is not feared here in America, with very few even being familiar with the term.

One cold winter’s day I was reminiscing with an American friend, and asked her if she ever suffered from chilblains as a child. A flash of fear spread across her face, as if I had asked her if she ever had the plague. She never before had heard of the dreaded CHILBLAIN, but the very word put the fear of God in her.

A Chilblain On The Third Toe

A Chilblain On The Third Toe

She was relieved to hear they’re non-contagious, small, itchy swellings on the skin that occur as a reaction to extremely cold temperatures. I have only ever seen chilblains of the toes, but apparently they can appear on fingers, heels, ears and even on the tip of the nose.  OUCH!

I was one of the lucky ones in Ireland in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s. My little piggies seldom succumbed to the frosty bite of winter’s chilly air, but my poor sister often complained of burning, itchy toes that swelled and turned bright red. Sometimes her poor little piggies were blistered by these notorious chilblains.

Chilblains seldom occur in America, because despite the cold winter temperatures, the air is dry, unlike the cold, damp conditions found in Ireland and the United Kingdom during the winter months. Chilblains were common in my youth, in the days before we had central heating.

Now it’s time for a little technical explanation … after studying physical therapy, I just can’t resist sharing the medical rational behind this winter discomfort.

Chilblains are caused by an abnormal reaction of blood vessels to the cold. As the skin gets cold, blood vessels near the surface get narrower, and then when suddenly exposed to intense heat, the blood vessels near the skin surface grow wider too quickly, and the blood leaks into the surrounding tissue, causing none other than, a chilblain. Warming our freezing toes by an open fire was not a good idea.

Allergy to cold and hives are two diagnoses some American readers have reported, but I think a differential diagnosis of chilblains might be indicated in some cases.

A Cozy Fire

Does anyone remember coming in from the freezing rain, discarding coats and scarves by the door, and ripping off wet shoes and socks to wiggle those freezing piggies by the fire?  If you answered yes, then you must be IRISH.

Little did we know we were creating the perfect conditions for a CHILBLAIN ATTACK.

I remember sitting by the cozy fire in the living room, my legs all toasty and warm, mottled red and white from the heat of the fire. We always said we had the ABC’s on our legs when we overheated our skin. I remember trying to convince myself I didn’t need to go upstairs to the bathroom, afraid to face the arctic air of the hallway. You see, when I was young, most houses were heated by an open fire, with no central heating. The living room was the only comfortable room in the house.

Hot water bottle

At night we snuggled under a layer of wooly blankets and brought our favorite friend to bed – the hot water bottle, hoping to ward off those dreaded chilblains. In my day, if our hot water bottle was too warm at first, we wrapped it in a towel, but nowadays they come with all kinds of fancy covers.

Apparently wearing socks in bed is a better way to prevent chilblains. Our hot water bottle solution only exacerbated the situation, creating more exposure to extreme temperatures.  Little did we know!  And oh, how I loved my pink hot water bottle. It was made of pink rubber, and had no fancy knitted heart like this modern day hot water bottle pictured below.

Pink polka dot hot water bottle cover with a white heart

Chilblains are now practically a thing of the past. Central heating has ensured most houses have a nice warm, dry atmosphere promoting chilblain free Irish feet.

A few years ago when I took a guided tour of Glenveagh Castle in County Donegal, I learned a neat little fact about its previous aristocratic inhabitants.

Servants were tasked with warming the master’s bed before he retired for the night. No, the poor servant didn’t have to jump in and lie there for a while to warm the sheets.

Metal Bed Warmer

Metal Bed Warmer

Image Credit

The task of heating the sheets was accomplished using a special metal bed warmer, which consisted of a copper container, shaped a little like a frying pan.  The pan was filled with hot coals from the fire, covered with a finely perforated lid, then placed under the bed covers. A long handle allowed the servant to swish the hot pan over and back across the sheets without burning them.  This process also dried out damp beds. I wonder if the gentry suffered from chilblains?????

Anyway, as I snuggle under my comforter each evening, warmed by the soothing warmth of my forced air heating system, I wiggle my pain free toes, and count my blessings. It’s lovely to live in a chilblain free age.

And so, I hope all my American readers have learned a little bit about our Irish winter time ailments of days gone by, and that my Irish readers won’t have any chilblain infested nightmares after reading this little post with a trip down a chilly memory lane.


Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

Grandpop Was An Immigrant – Guest Post By Phyllis Easterbrook

Phyllis Easterbrook is a writer who lives in Missouri. Her grandfather was born near Ballymena, County Antrim, and in today’s post, she shares some beautiful memories of her Grandpop, her family’s American journey, and lovely insights into life in the row homes of Philadelphia many years ago.

And so over to Phyllis for the next installment in our Immigrant Tales – Stories of Our Ancestors…….


Grandpop smoking his pipe, with Suzy, his beloved dog

 The Early Years:


Grandpop was born in Ireland, in a small town called Ahoghill, which sits in The Borough of Ballymena, in Northern Ireland. He accompanied his parents to the United States as an infant, thereby making me a second-generation American on my father’s side!

In 1889, John and Elizabeth (my great-grandparents) left Northern Ireland aboard the ship Furnessia, which docked in the port at New York City, after a two to three week voyage. This was three years before Ellis Island was transformed into the major immigration station. They, no doubt, were processed at Castle Garden Depot in lower Manhattan.

John and Elizabeth arrived with five children, ages ranging from ten years old down to 9 months old. Grandpop was the 9 month old.

Before my family’s arrival in America, Ireland was a country dealing with the aftermath of The Great Famine.  More than a million people died of starvation and just as many immigrated to other countries. The British government subsidized immigration to the US and Canada. The subsidy was a good thing for my ancestors, because at the United States immigration stations, some folks were sent away and back to their country of origin, if they could not prove they had adequate funds to support themselves and their families.


Grammy and Grandpop in Philadelphia – the missing digits on his left hand can be seen.

 A Coal Miner In Pennsylvania:


Grandpop’s family settled in the coal mining regions of Pennsylvania with many of their kinsmen.  It’s interesting and kind of sad that they settled in the coal mining region as back in their country, Grandpop’s grandparents were farmers, and his own father was a carpenter. Nevertheless, it was where they, and many of their countrymen, took up residence and made their home.  Eventually two more children were added to the mix.

The story is told of Grandpop having a bit of a skirmish in the 8th grade. Apparently he had an altercation with a teacher, therefore deciding (to himself) never to go back to school. He went to the coal mines and secured a job, something his father never wanted any of his kids to do. So while his parents thought he was attending school each day, he was working in the mines. Eventually the school contacted his family, and Grandpop was found out. Somehow, I imagine, heated arguments ensued, he kept his job at the mines, and never went back to school.

lincoln logs

Grandpop’s Homemade Lincoln Logs

 Philadelphia, Here I Come!


At some point, I believe in the late teen years, Grandpop and one of his brothers decided they would not live in the coal-mining region for the rest of their lives. They had the “world” to conquer. They left family behind and made their way to Philadelphia where they each met and married their wives, had children and settled down.

I remember Grammy and Grandpop living in a row home in Philadelphia. I loved to go there. It was inviting and friendly and fun. Grandpop was fun (in my eyes anyway). Apparently even as a young child he was a handful. It was told that he was playing with fireworks (forbidden) and they exploded. He lost two digits on his hands. One is his thumb digit. As an adult, he always, always, smoked a pipe and he used that thumb, or what was left of it, to press down the tobacco in the pipe. I always though it was very clever of him as that digit was just the right size!

When Grandpop settled in Philadelphia, he secured a job with Abbott’s Dairy. He worked there until he retired. He barely made enough to support the family (by now with three children) but it was a fun place to work so he kept at it. My dad (the oldest child and only son) tells of having to work at a very young age selling eggs, just to help make ends meet.

Grandpop's cowboy and indians

Grandpop’s Cowboys and Indians

Grandpop was very creative and handy. He made his very own made-to-look-like Lincoln Logs, and I believe, crafted little cowboys and Indians, possibly made out of lead as they are heavy. He would be amazed and proud that even today, his great-great grand kids are still playing with the logs! (The little figures are put away, as no doubt they are covered in lead paint!)

Grandpop’s job at Abbott’s Dairy was as a mechanic and he put his skills to good use. Lack of formal education never seemed to hold him back.

The following comes from The Philly History Blog:


“Abbott’s Dairy shut down in 1984, after 108 years.

It is too bad. It sounds like it was a fun company.

In 1937 they put out a book called Raggedy Ann and Maizie Moocow,

with an ice cream driven plot (meant to illustrate the healthful benefits of ice cream).

It’s dairy truck drivers are remembered to have been known

to throw kids free ice cream sandwiches. . .”


Yep, sounds like a good fit for Grandpop!


Their street of row homes was a delight. Each connected with the other and if you sat on the tiny front porch and looked in both directions, you could wave to your neighbors probably ten houses each way. There was an alley in back where all the cars drove in and garages were under each home. Overlooking the alley, in between each home, was a tiny porch off the kitchen attached to the neighbors kitchen door. (the expression “back-door neighbors” comes to mind!) The porch was big enough for Grammy to stand on and yell down to us kids as we played in the alley to “put away our skates and come in for supper.”

At one end of the street was a little shop of some kind where one could buy the necessities – milk, bread, eggs, etc. At the other end, we could always count on a street vendor selling hot pretzels! Philadelphia Hot Pretzels! YUM! I know the tradition was to eat them with yellow mustard, but I was a holdout on the mustard. Just give me that big, soft, salty pretzel and I was good! Actually better than good!

Sometimes, if we were lucky, a little truck would come down the street playing a merry tune to get our attention. It was decked out in all pretty colors and on the back was a little tiny carousel with maybe four seats. I loved that thing and always begged Grammy for a ride. Money was so precious but she never said no.

Grandpop had a dog named Suzy.  That dog loved Grandpop and the feeling was quite mutual. Suzy knew Grandpop’s schedule and was at the ready when it was come-home-from-work time. Sweet little dog!


Grandpop and Suzy

 The Florida Years


At one point in his career, Abbott’s Dairy sent Grandpop to Florida to give input on designing an ice cream shop for an extension of the company. Well, he had never been south of New Jersey before and fell in love with Florida!

When he retired, he decided he and Grammy would move there.  She was heartbroken because their whole family was in the Philadelphia area – her two daughters (my aunts) with their husbands and children, along with my dad (their son) and our family. But Grandpop had made up his mind and off they went. I was in second grade.

Obviously we ourselves headed south a lot, at all times of the year, to visit. But Grammy only lived three years in Florida before her death.  Grandpop’s health and mind suffered in later years but he was surrounded by his family as he eventually moved back “home”.


Sweet Memories


The memories are sweet and I will always remember his “fun” influence in my life.

A little fun fact: my dad and his cousin (both sons of the two brothers who left the coal-mining regions) each bought houses across the street from one another in Willow Grove. Dad’s cousin moved out of state when I was two years old so I did not remember them but years later, my second (or is it third) cousin (our mothers were pregnant at the same time) was doing family research and tracked us down.

I thank Janice for her research going all the way back to our roots in Ireland, which I’ve used here and for her new friendship. It’s really kind of amazing because she lives in South Carolina; our grandparents are buried in Pennsylvania; I live in Missouri!

I have fond vivid pictures of life in that row home in Philadelphia and my Grammy and Grandpop. I sure wish I had asked a lot of questions about them! But I was just a kid!!!

I’ll just have to hang on to my memories!



Phyllis Easterbrook

Thanks to Phyllis for sharing her grandfather’s immigrant tale with us today. On her blog PJ, Your Friend, Phyllis shares random thoughts and ideas and describes herself as a newish writer and storyteller. She is thankful for the words God gives her to share, and hopes readers enjoy, relate, and find meaning in her stories.  You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

If any other readers would like to share their family’s immigrant tales, please feel free to contact me with your submission. I love to hear stories of our ancestors and how their American dreams came to fruition.




Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)


Irish American Mom