Monday, July 30, 2018

Creevelea Abbey, County Leitrim.jpg 
A little more about the Creevelea Friary.  Yeah, I think old Hank # 8 might have had something to do with the fire.  I remember the skeletons of some Scottish churches that he had torched.  Anyway, back to Ireland. It was rebuilt by another O'Rourke, Brian, who, being a good Catholic, sheltered some survivors of the Spanish Armada.  Henry's daughter Elizabeth I, of course, had issues with Brian. She invited him to London.  He never came home.  His castle on Loch Gill outside of Leitrim was confiscated and given to the Parkes family.  I've read that several O'Rourkes are buried at the Friary, but as I inspected graves there in 2016, I failed to find them.  The last Franciscan Friars were driven out by Cromwell's soldiers in the 1650's.  A sequel work in progress will drill down into that action.  Stay tuned

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Well, had a nice day at the Mid-Maryland Celtic Festival in Mount Airy in June.  The folks from the St. Andrews Society were great hosts, very helpful and cooperative.  Met lots of fine and interesting people.  Many stopped by the author's tent to chat, ask questions, and some even bought a book. Sharing the tent with other authors made for an interesting day.  Learned some by watching their approach to bookselling.  I felt that my approach was more successful.  Most of the others sat behind their desks and waited for visitors to approach.  I stood outside the tent inviting people to view my display and engage them in conversation.  I believe I sold more books than the others.  if not, I know I met more people and increased my network of followers of the Celtic festival circuit.

There was one incident that I regret.  A kilted father and son engaged me with some banter.  The son challenged some of my historical notations.  No problem, I enjoy dialog about things that are matters of opinion.  I was happy when they wanted to buy a book.  They were short of cash, (I would wager they spent a lot of it on the pints they carried).  And I had a problem getting to the WIFI at the site to be able to take their credit card on my tablet.  The son, a self-proclaimed IT expert tried but failed to help me get online. A bit embarrassed and frustrated at my failure to make the sale, I offered to sign a book for them on credit, gave them my address, and asked them to send me a check at their convenience. They agreed but did not offer their contact information, and I failed to ask for it.  Guess I should know better than to fully trust men in kilts with pints in their hands.  Needless to say (but I'll say anyway), to date, no check.  They stiffed me!

Cost of doing business and being too trusting I suppose.  I hope they enjoy the book enough to send a check when they finish reading it.

Oh well, on to the next venue, Timonium in November, the Maryland Irish Festival at the fairgrounds.  Perhaps they'll stop by and settle up.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Book Promotions

As a prelude to the Annual Celtic Festival in Southern Maryland, I was invited by my friend Jennifer Cooper to work with her and her guitarist Carl Reichelt (known professionally as 'GrooveSpan duo), to fill in when they took a break.  I know a couple of chords and sing a few Celtic songs, so I welcomed the opportunity.  The venue was a popular local winery called Perigeaux, and the manager invited me to promote my book while I was there.  The event was most enjoyable and several books were sold.

The festival was the next day.  I had paid to be a vendor and to sell my book there, so I arrived early to set up next to another author I met a last year's festival.  Ben Anderson has a series of fantasy books called "The McGunnegal Chronicles" Considering that Ben had much experience selling his books at similar venues, he was very helpful to me in succeeding at the festival. We are friends and not really competing for readers.  Ben's books are targeted t younger readers than my target audience.  His books are magical, check them out.

I next will be at the Mid Maryland festival on June 16, 2018.  If you're in the area of Frederick, MD, stop by the author's tent and say hello.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Well, we're going to give a book signing another attempt.  My scheduled book signing at the Fenwick Street Used Books and Music Store in March was a victim of March coming in like a lion and blowing away the plans.

So a new date:  The first Friday in April 4/6/2018  from 5 to 7 PM at the same place in Leonardtown:

 Joe Orlando's Fenwick Street Used Books and Music Store

If you've not been to the store before, you should come.  It is a destination in Leonardtown for bibliophiles, writers, and music lovers, specifically, vinyl jazz collectors.

Hope to see you there 


Tuesday, March 6, 2018

I've told you a lot about the book.  Take a look for yourself. .  Check it  out

It costs $18.85 on Amazon

 Here's a link

Thursday, December 7, 2017


To write demands recall. Recall of the minute details of all experience.  The look on the face of a man who is hungry; the smell of the wind s a new day is born; the feel of a velvet milkweed leaf in the hot summer sun; the touch of a woman who can look into your mind; the pain of despair or the wonder of loving. Each detail must be observed, analyzed, categorized and recorded with the rhythm of sensuous prose. A challenge that few stand to meet it.
To be a chronicler of life is an ambitious calling, but who is qualified? Every person has their own interpretation of what’s really going on. Every eye sees a different world.  The music sounds different to each ear. What is perfume to one is air pollution to another. Every personality exists in a different reality. The willingness to accept everyone’s reality is the first step toward creating an accurate set of minutes to life’s proceedings.
Take every sight, sound, smell, taste, feel, emotion and sensation, and multiply by the number of beings that have ever been or will ever be in reality or fantasy, and you have touched on the possible variations on a theme. How can writer’s block exist? The number of definitions is a number that defies definition.  Infinity?
Where to start? Which direction? Any adjective can be the launching pad, any verb the plotted course, any noun can be the passengers and crew or the destination, any adverb can describe the trip. Any word in any language can be the cosmic center of an ever-expanding or diminishing spiral of consciousness that can encompass the lives of all creatures, real or imagined, everywhere for all time. The secret is the catalyst the prime mover that sets the spiral in motion.  Once it starts, it can grow to universal proportions, touching every sense that has or will or should exist. Add sensations to moods, personalities, causes, goals, laws, and morality and you have a formula for writing.
What senses then should exist for a writing foundation? Would we be better off without pain, sorrow, worry, regret, loneliness, complacency, boredom, torment, misery, distress, anguish, vexation, irritability, woe, affliction, suffering, and on and on? Could the good be measured without the bad? Is there a high without a low? Would pretty be prettier without ugly? Hot without cold? Up without down? Love/hate War/peace death/life crime/laws sin/punishment /universe/GOD? Four simple words, “what senses should exist?”.
The spinning starts, slowly at first, then quicker.  The spark is lit!  The specter is illuminated!  Spiiinnninngg, spewing fire to the far corners of the dark cool niches of your being. Starting a hundred fires that can rage to consume all or quickly die. The fire needs fuel if the spiral is to grow. Add something familiar. People. Let them spin and see what happens. Some will surely be consumed, while others hold the spark and are flung to new experiences. They glory in the light of the funeral pyre.  The burning bones of the weak and unimaginative light the way through the darkness. New inspirations rise from the ashes of old ideas. This is what creativity really is.
How can such awesome power be controlled? Who can harness the whirlwind? Everything spins. The nucleus of the atom, the orbiting electron, chains of molecules, the vital juices of living organisms, planetary satellites in solar circles endless galaxies spinning through the black vacuum of the cosmos, billions of spirals, eternal and now. Pick on an unimpressive star. Elect one inconsequential planet, Single out one solitary creature. Assess its condition. Who cares?
Writers care. I care. Sometimes I care so much it hurts my insides. I see some solitary creature in some state of despair and I want to weep, but weeping does no good. I want to reach out and let it know that it is not alone. Be it a person, animal, tree or the single flowery polyp of coral on a dying reef. But then again, often I feel a cold distance about the problems of others, and it makes me question the apathy. I question who or what I am.  What business is it of mine to impose my values.  What the hell?  I’ve got problems of my own.  Who reaches out to help me?  If I can hack it, damn it, so can you.
But if I didn’t care, why the hell am I writing this? Why go through the trouble of trying to express the confusion that has a hold on me? Is it a substitute for real-gut level involvement? A copout on reality? What I can’t say to an individual face to face, I can say to the whole world on paper.  Could be if I didn’t express myself on paper, I wouldn’t express at all.  Then I surely would implode or explode as the weight of confusion crushed my mind.

So, writers, write. Justify it. Even if writing as a vehicle of expression feels like non-involvement. Write!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

1. Constant foreign invasions
Gauls, Milesians, Galacians , Norsemen, Normans, English Saxons
Spanish, French, English, Dutch
2. Land stolen by Imperial Europeans
Vikings took over coastal areas for ports.  Normans bargained for it.  English rewarded soldiers and investors with Irish land.
Expatriates and explorers from Europe “discovered” the new world and took it by force or treachery.  Called it “Manifest Destiny”
3. Defeat by superior weaponry
Norman knights in armor. Tudor navy.  Parliamentarian siege guns
Guns, cannons, swords, later repeating rifles
4. Invaders brought disease
Dysentery, flu
Typhoid, measles, alcoholism
5. Slavery
Sold to West Indies sugar plantations
Same (Pequods) Caribes enslaved in Jamestown.
6. Native language forbidden
Forced to speak the language of the invaders
7.Family names Anglicized
Eg. Gráinne Ní Mháille to Grace O’Malley
Metacomet to Phillip
8. Place names changes
e.g. Cloneen to Manor Hamilton, Learga to Blacklion
Arbitrarily named land based on where invaders came from, New York, Jersey, Hampshire, or named it after royalty, Maryland, Virginia
9. Lacked unity
Old clan rivalries impeded ability to fend off invaders
Ancient differences between tribes blocked any unity to stand together
10. Assimilated invaders into culture
Norseman and Normans slowly became “new” Irish.
The opposite, native peoples were ‘civilized’, but never assimilated, except by intermarrying.
11. Duality beliefs
Druidic influence about separation of physical and spiritual lives.
Shamanic influence about dream state and physical state
12. Sanctity of trees / wood
Oaks held ancestors ghosts and rowan had mystical protective powers.  Walking sticks and shillelaghs and St. Patrick’s staff.  Druid practice of raising staff to speak at gatherings
Coup stick of northern plains, and talking sticks to maintain order at meetings.  Red stick for protection
13. Bread without yeast
Irish soda bread
Wood ashes used by woodland tribes in bread making
14. Social gatherings
15. Hospitality
Expected and delivered. Never turn away a traveler, particularly from your clan
Similar within tribe or neighboring tribes / clans     potlatch traditions
16.Spiritual leaders
Celtic druids and later Catholic priests interpret and explain experiences as messages from god
Shaman / medicine man/woman as messenger of spirit
17. Conversation and oratory
Celtic / Irish national pastime
Important part of socializing and communicating oral history

8. Myths and stories
Oral process from generation to next about heroes and saints, fairies and banshees
Stories help to ‘shorten the night’. Oral process of tales of ghosts and spirit animals
19. Music
Embedded in culture a higher, singing is sophistication to storytelling.  Harps and whistles, bodhrans and fiddles. An outlet for joy or rage Celebrate life and mourn death, keening
Drums, flutes, rattles and chanting part of spirituality and celebration and awareness elevation and motivation to hunt, fight. Funeral chants telling stories of departed.
20.Value individuals
Recognized talent, courage, and status. All social levels had a currency value according to Brehan law.  Had rules of engagement 
Would sing songs of brave warriors.  Valued individuals but not arrogance or fanaticism.
21. Guerilla war tactics
Rapparees or Tóraighs and later IRA and UDL
Evident in most areas of U.S.  Particularly with Comanches
22. Respect for enemy
If he fought bravely he was recognized in story and song
Higher honor to touch an armed enemy with coup stick than to kill him.  Courageous enemy might be spared after battle.
23. Invaders forced religion on ‘conquered’
Catholics persecuted by Protestant Anglicans and Puritans
Spanish, French, Catholic missionaries.  English, and Dutch protestants, all worked to convert natives
24. Invaders forced law systems
English law over Brehan law, an excuse for persecution
European law over tribal values and traditions. Reason behind failure of every so called ‘treaty’
25. Invaders forced ideas of land ownership
Royal grants and payment to ‘adventurers’ over familial or clan ownership
Total foreign concept about ‘owning’ land.
26. Ceded land to survive
Better to give up land than to die trying to keep it.
Overwhelmed by technology and growing white population, little by little they gave in.
27. Destroying food source as a military tactic.
Crops burned or stolen and exported
Crops burned, prairie plowed, and buffalo exterminated
28. Trees destroyed
Harvest Irish oaks for the British navy
Cleared Eastern forests for cultivation, and construction materials
29. Hierarchy ignorance
Invaders negotiating and getting agreement from lower leaders who had no right to speak for all of the people.
Nations would not recognize agreements made by sub-tribe leaders. E.g.  Ogallala could not speak for all Lakota Sioux

30. Broken promises
Regime changes would negate promises of former royalty
Details of some treaties not understood by tribes who did not speak the language of the written treaty.  They relied on the ‘spoken’ promise which the whites did not
31. Sacrifices
Old Druidic practice (assumed)
Northern Plains tribes sun dance
32. Mound builders
e.g. Tara, New Grange
All over the southeast U.S.
33.  Mystical beings
Leprechauns, fairies, Sidhe (fallen angels, harbinger of doom)
Shape changers, little people of the Iroquois
34. Derogatory names
Red legs, Mick, Papist
Savage, red skin
35. Mistrust of ‘mixed bloods’
Irish and Old English Catholics/Norman Catholics/Scottish Presbyterians/Norse pagans
“Half Breeds” Natives and Anglo-white or Natives and Mexican “Comanchroes”
36. Super heroes to save the culture
Cu Chullain, Brian Boru, Gráinne Ní Mháille
King Phillip, Tecumseh, Crazy Horse, Quannah Parker, Geronimo, Ghost Dancers
37. Terrorism
Massacre at Drogheda, Wexford
Massacre at Sand Creek, Wounded Knee
38. Forced to move west, toward the setting sun, the darkness, the unknown and impending doom
‘To Hell or Connaught’ per O. Cromwell
 Slaves to West Indies
Trail of Tears.  Andrew Jackson committed to pushing all Eastern Tribes to “Indian Territory” now Oklahoma.
39.  Dehumanizing
Killing a Celt (Irish Catholic)  was not a crime
Similar even to the extent of paying a bounty on native scalps from men women and children.
40. Laws to specifically suppress
Irish couldn’t vote or hold office, own property, become a priest, or own a horse worth more than

41. Celebrate planting and  harvest
Beltane and Lughnasadh festivals
Corn dance, rain dance, dance for a successful hunt
42. Strong family ties but families separated
Captives and kidnapped shipped into slavery or bondage
Children taken and sent to school to “De-Indian them” Punished for speaking native language, required to wear white man clothes
43. Spiritual connection to ancestors
Cairns and burial mounds were holy places
44. Reverence and respect for elders.
Wisdom based on experience led decision making
Elders would hold council to hear problems and suggest (or mandate solutions

45. Folk medicine
Sage-femme as mid-wife, druidic knowledge of herbal medicine
Folk knowledge of using the environment for health
46. Courtship
Intervener, usually the parents of the couple would negotiate the courtship and the dowry
Parents, chief and shaman would be involved to consider the advantage, disadvantage of relationship and the bride price
47. Status
The potential groom evaluated on parent’s wealth and status in the clan.  Land and successful harvests were the currency.
Same, with horses and successful hunts and battles as the currency
48. Signal fires
Along the mountaintops in Ireland to give orders to armies
Natchez tribes kept informed of DeSoto’s movements
49. Sanctity of trees
Matty’s rowan walking stick
Tribal talking sticks, coup stick
50. Little people
Fairies , Leprechauns, etc
Teachers of the medicine men