In Irish mythology, cows from the underworld were white with red ears. It may be no surprise that Andrew Murray’s record label and website is “White cow music”, as Murray has a voice that could easily be gifted from the otherworld. Deep, resonant and extremely expressive, it is easy on the ear and invites one to listen closely to what he sings. It would also be no surprise to find that he was asked to tour with the iconic band DeDannan as lead singer for a time. Raised on the island of Inishbofin, Murray cut his musical teeth singing in sessions at his family’s Doonmore hotel on the island. I had read some favorable reviews about his debut album, “Hell or High Water” and when I got a copy, was pleased to find that the good reviews were justified. I will add to the pile, as this is such a wonderful listening experience. Parallels have been drawn between Murray and Sean Keane, but I think that both put their own stamp on the songs they sing. “Hell or High Water” has a bit of a watery theme, if you will, with songs as diverse as the Grateful Dead’s “Black Muddy River” to “Another Story” by Dougie MacLean. However, Murray has great taste as well as diverse sources. One of my favorite ballads, “Lord Franklin” detailing the doomed trip by Franklin to find the Northwest Passage is done wonderfully here. Other ‘big’ ballads such as “My Love is Like a Red Red Rose”, “Green Grow the Laurels” (another standout track) and “Jock O’Hazeldine” are sung by a singer who respects the tradition from which these songs come and gives these songs the weight they deserve. Murray even puts some nice sean nos embellishments on them as well. In this day of faster, harder and more effects on songs and tunes, this is a welcome oasis. Great songs sung with simple and beautiful guitar accompaniment. Gavin Ralston, a superb guitar player, not only knows the right treatment to play these songs, he also created a wonderful atmosphere with his production of this album. Well done! For all lovers of ballads and singers everywhere, this is a “must have” in the CD stack. In addition to the traditional ballads, Murray also includes Ewan McColls “The Father’s Song”, one I had not heard before but is stark and powerful particularly in light of today’s world situation. Another songwriter and singer I admire greatly is Kevin Doherty, who’s “Sweet Water” CD was one of my top picks the year it was released. Murray includes the Doherty song, “Slow Song” on this CD as well. Tom Waits, Dougie Mac Lean, Richard Thompson, Ewan McColl, Kevin Doherty, Robert Hunter, Thom Moore. A glittering galaxy of some of the best songwriters in the firmament. It would be a daunting task for most singers to go after any of these songs, but Murray reached for the stars, and succeeded brilliantly. This is a release that respects the worth of the songwriter’s craft and the listener is well rewarded for the effort. Let’s hope that Andrew Murray is already working on his next treasure box of songs. Cindy Reich is a contributing writer to “The Living Tradition”, Ayrshire, Scotland, “Irish Music Magazine”, Dublin, Ireland, and presents the radio music show, “The Long Acre” on Mondays, 1pm-3pm on 88.9 FM, KRFC Ft. Collins.

Reviewed by Mary McWay Seaman, Celtic Connection, June, 2007
Not having a scientific bent myself, I was leery of tackling even a modest tome on genetics; however, this thriller hooked me immediately. Bryan Sykes, Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Oxford, recently finished a 10-year DNA survey of the genetic structure of Britain and Ireland, and the revelations are let loose in his new book, SAXONS, VIKINGS, AND CELTS: THE GENETIC ROOTS OF BRITAIN AND IRELAND. An exceptional storyteller, the professor defines DNA as “those unseen architects of our bodies, even of our souls.” Never pedantic, the narrative glows as historic figures bray and geological surveys sing, while its momentum builds like a detective story. Sykes never just spews stats across pages; he weaves them into ageless stories of conflict and struggle. Bursting with surprises, the DNA studies track migration over millennia, primarily since the end of the last Ice Age, around 12,000 years ago. As ice receded, humans returned to the Isles over land currently under the North Sea and the English Channel, when the Thames was a tributary of the Rhine. As the warm-up progressed, the seas rose, creating the forested Isles. The professor warns, We are now in a warm phase of the long-term glacial cycle, but it will not last forever, and at some as yet unpredictable time in the future we will slide inexorably into another Ice Age. Readers trudge alongside Sykes and his crew from the Oxford Genetic Atlas Project into rural classrooms, blood donor sites, and local festivals in search of DNA. The author states that, It took a lot of mental effort constantly to remind myself that every single one of these strings of letters and numbers represented the journey of an ancestor. What combos of indigenous Britons (Celts), Romans, Scottish Celts and Picts, Irish Celts, Welsh Celts, Vikings, Saxons and Anglo-Normans are stirring within the genetic soup of the Isles today? Matchmaker Sykes introduces myth to scientific methodology when answering these questions. England, the most crowded region in the Isles today, was invaded for a thousand years beginning with the Romans in 43 AD. Asserting that tales of 6th century King Arthur and the ancient Britons are rooted in fact, the professor remarks that, In my research around the world I have more than once found that oral myths are closer to the genetic conclusions than the often ambiguous scientific evidence of archaeology. Arthurian traditions faded when Henry VIII broke with the Catholic Church in the 16th century, and the resulting veneration of Saxon King Alfred provoked centuries of Saxon vs. Celt conflict. This conjuring of a new origin myth peaked in the 19th century with Saxon superiority characterized by a righteous, crusty citizenry towering over low-life Celtic loungers. The Roman Empire’s collapse offered expansion opportunities to barbarian Angles, Saxons and Jutes from the 8th to the 11th centuries, and the DNA of these tough customers remains strong in northeastern England. The bloodlines of William of Normandy, leader of the Norman Invasion in 1066, render him a recycled Viking. Saxon, Dane and Norman are close German/Scandinavian cousins; our tongue is English instead of Celtic, courtesy of these invaders. In addition to donations of Viking, Saxon and Norman blood, a smattering of African and Middle Eastern DNA was found in southern England, shocking individuals with no such known ancestry. These DNA dribbles lead the author to think that these folks may be descended from Roman slaves. History lessons keep surging out of this grand field trip, and they alone are worth the price of the book. The professors instruction on Irish Celts is absorbing. Although the Vikings elbowed their way around Ireland during the 9th century, Celtic genetic dominance is huge. Folks in Leinster show some Anglo-Norman DNA influence, and an intriguing Y-chromosome ancestral study of males with old Gaelic names (Mc, Mac, O) had me in thrall. Research in Scotland turned up Picts, Celts from Ireland, Vikings and Anglo-Normans. Most Scots are genetically similar to the Irish, amazingly so in Argyll. Old camps show Mesolithic people in Scotland at Orkney and the Shetlands 10,000 years ago, and the exception to the genetic closeness with Ireland rests in these areas. Vikings began arriving in the neighborhood during the late 8th century, and Norse place names still dominate the landscape. DNA studies prove that the occupiers brought their own women along, and Viking ancestry stands at 30 to 40 percent today. Sykes describes a wee Scandinavian air in Shetland as an “Undemonstrative, no-nonsense feeling of the place.” I have always wondered about the Picts – Celtic variants or a relic population? The Romans called them Picti (Painted People). This treasure hunt demands reading in one sitting. Similarities with Celts were found, and DNA testifies that Picts flourish among us still, predominately in the Grampian and Tayside regions of Scotland. Wales withstood assaults by Romans, Irish, Saxons, Normans, and English, and it manifests a mighty genetic kinship with Ireland and Scotland, minus the Viking donors. Some individuals living in the remote mountains near Plynlimmon and Tregaron found themselves the focus of much early 20th century research on their odd-shaped heads and Neanderthal-like faces. One extraordinary anecdote concerns two brothers who were widely regarded as Neanderthals and notoriously named the Tregaron Neanderthals. In the 1950s and 1960s, local Welsh teachers, following instructions in their schools history syllabi, took students to interview these welcoming men. The brothers died in the 1980s, and Sykes doubts that they were true Neanderthals, but scientists are still looking out for Neanderthal DNA (none found to date). The professor’s reports confirm that almost everyone in Ireland and Britain has Celtic ancestors who arrived thousands of years ago in flimsy boats over the Atlantic from Celtic Iberia. These findings give credence to the Irish Milesian myth, and Sykes reiterates that,”Deeply held origin myths, however richly embroidered, have a habit of being right.” This book remains unforgettable as Bryan Sykes reminds that,”within each and every one of our cells is something that has witnessed every life we have ever lived.” Laced with fact and folklore from an ancient heritage and rich with lashings of comedy throughout DNA collection capers, SAXONS, VIKINGS, AND CELTS dazzles as blood and bone stand up and testify.

Legend has it that the Black Irish came from Spain. Here is a traditional Irish dessert sometimes called Flan Eireann. 3/4 cup fleur pastry 1/2 oz corn flour 3 egg yolks 3/4 pint cold milk 1 1/2 Tbs sugar 1/2 cup ground almonds 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 1/6 cup chopped almonds 4-6 glazed cherries (Candied Cherries) Step 1: Roll out pastry and line a 8-inch cake tin. Cover the pastry with parchment paper and weigh down paper with rice. Bake in Oven for 25 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove paper and rice when pastry is almost baked; put pastry back in oven to finish cooking paper covered areas, approximately 5 minutes. Let cool and then remove pastry shell from cake tin. Step 2: Blend corn flour and egg yolks, Next add a little of the cold milk. Step 3: In a sauce pan bring remaining milk to a boil. Pour heated milk into mix, stir constantly. Step 4: Rinse out sauce pan with cold water and pour mixture into sauce pan and bring back to a gentle boil. Step 5: Add sugar, ground almonds, and vanilla extract to mixture and stir until throughly blended. Pour mixture into pastry shell and set off to cool. Decorate flan top with chopped almonds and glazed cherries.

This is an old fashion recipe to make a large meal out of a single fish. 1 lb brill fillet (or similar white fish) 2 oz of cooking oil 2 oz flour 1/4 tsp paprika 1/4 tsp salt 1/4 tsp of white pepper 1 very thinly sliced yellow onion 1 chopped green bell pepper 1 tsp curry powder 1/8 tsp ground ginger 6 tomatoes (skinned and chopped) 1 Tbs chutney 1 1/4 cups of fish stock 2 cups of water 1/2 cup long grain rice Step 1: Clean and skin fish and remove all bones. Then cut into chunks between 1 inch and 1/2 inch. Step 2: Mix paprika, white pepper, salt and flour together. Coat the fish in the flour and put the remaining flour aside. Step 3: In a casserole dish, fry the fish using only half of the oil. Cook until brown then remove. Step 4: Add the remaining oil and add onion and pepper. Sautee but do not brown vegetables. Add remaining flour, curry powder, ground ginger, tomatoes, chutney and gradually add the Fish Stock. Stir constantly until sauce thickens. Step 5: Add the fish, water, rice and bring to a boil. Simmer until rice is cooked

As a child growing up in Canada, Loreena trained in classical piano and voice and she also learned to dance in the highland style. During a brief period studying at the University of Manitoba, she frequented the folk clubs of Winnipeg, which helped to hone her skills as a performer and strengthen her love of traditional music. After relocating to Stratford, Ontario, she eventually began capturing her haunting, high voice on recordings, at first releasing cassettes on her own label, Quinlan Road. By 1989, Loreena broke through with Parallel Dreams, and by the early 1990′s, with the release of her fourth album, The Visit, she achieved the kind of acclaim that has followed her ever since, selling hundreds of thousands of copies, and earning the first of her many Juno awards, Canada’s equivalent of the Grammy, as did McKennitt’s next recording, The Mask and Mirror, in 1994. Ms.McKennitt’s latest CD, her seventh, An Ancient Muse, continues her long term exploration of the international sounds that influenced the traditional songs of Ireland and Scotland. As typified by the multi-million selling hit The Mummer’s Dancer, from The Mask and the Mirror, the music on her latest album is infused with sounds more usually associated with Mediterranean cultures like Turkey, Greece, and Spain, as well as the distinctive flavors of Scandinavia. This record is a little like equipping yourself with a Eurail card, she said of her new CD, It’s like saying, I don’t know where I’m going on this trip. I’m just going to get on board the train, and allow each encounter to lead to the next. This musical travelogue has already garnered sales of over 500,000 copies, no doubt boosted in large measure by her excellent PBS television special, “Nights from the Alhambra.” Viewers of that program saw for themselves some of the exotic instrumentation Loreena features on An Ancient Muse, such as the zither-like kanoun from Arabia, the Persian lute called an oud, the Norwegian resonating Hardanger fiddle, and the Swedish hurdy-gurdy contraption known as the nyckelharpa. The new CD reaffirms Loreena McKennitt place as one of the great creative forces in Celtic music today, with an encompassing sense of grandeur and history and one of the clearest voices ever heard.

A man and his wife were having some problems at home and were giving each other the silent treatment. Suddenly, the man realized that the next day, he would need his wife to wake him at 5:00 a.m. for an early morning business flight. Not wanting to be the first to break the silene (and LOSE), he wrote on a piece of paper… “Please wake me at 5:00 AM.” He left it where he knew she would find it. The next morning, the man woke up only to discover it was 9:00 AM and he had missed his flight. Furious, he was about to go and see why his wife had not wakened him, when he noticed a piece of paper by the bed. The paper said, “It is 5:00 AM. Wake up.”

A thief broke into the local police station and stole all the toilets and urinals, leaving no clues. A spokesperson was quoted as saying, “We have absolutely nothing to go on.”

A man rushed into a busy doctor’s office and shouted “Doctor! I think I’m skrinking!!” The doctor calmly responded, “Now settle down. You’ll just have to be a little patient.”

from Conny Cones Sister Mary ran out of gas. She walked to the station to borrow a gas can and buy some gas. The attendant told her that the only gas can he owned had been lent out, but she could wait until it was returned. Since the nun was on the way to see a patient, she decided not to wait and walked back to her car. She looked for something in her car that she could fill with gas and spotted the bedpan she was taking to the patient. Always resourceful, she carried the bedpan to the station, filled it with gas, and carried the full bedpan back to her car. As she was pouring the gas into her tank, two men watched from across the street. One of the them turned to the other and said, “If it starts, I’m turning Catholic.”

sent by B. Obama Bill and Hillary are at the Yankee season opener sitting in the in the first row, with the Secret Service agents directly behind them. One of the Secret Service guys leans forward and whispers something to Bill. At first, Clinton stares at the guy, looks at Hillary, looks back , and shakes his head. The agent then says, “Mr. President, it was at the unanimous request of the entire team, from the owner on down to the bat boy.” Bill hesitates but begins to change his mind when the agent tells him the fans would love it! Bill shrugs his shoulders and says, “Okay, if that’s what the people want.” With that, Bill gets up, grabs Hillary by her collar and the seat of her pants, lifts her up, and tosses her right over the wall onto the field. She gets up kicking, swearing, screaming, “I’ll kill you! You *%$%**!!!… The crowd goes absolutely wild. Fans are jumping up and down, cheering, hooting and hollering, and high-fiving. Bill is bowing, smiling and waving to the crowd. He leans over to the agent and says, “How about that! I would have never believed how much everyone would enjoy that!” Noticing his agent has gone totally pale, he asks what is wrong. The agent replies, “Sir, I said they wanted you to throw out the first ‘Pitch’.

from E. Perkins Flynn staggered home very late after another evening with his drinking buddy, Paddy. He took off his shoes to avoid waking his wife, Mary. He tiptoed as quietly as he could toward the stairs leading to their upstairs bedroom, but misjudged the bottom step. As he caught himself by grabbing the banister, his body swung around and he landed heavily on his rump. A whiskey bottle in each back pocket broke and made the landing especially painful. Managing not to yell, Flynn sprung up, pulled down his pants, and looked in the hall mirror to see that his butt cheeks were cut and bleeding. He managed to quietly find a full box of Band-Aids and began putting a Band-Aid as best he could on each place he saw blood. He then hid the now almost empty Band-Aid box and shuffled and stumbled his way to bed. In the morning, Flynn woke up with searing pain in both his head and butt. His wife Mary was staring at him from across the room. She said, “You were drunk again last night weren’t you? Flynn said, “Why would you say such a mean thing?” “Well,” Mary said, “it could be the open front door, it could be the broken glass at the bottom of the stairs, it could be the drops of blood trailing through the house, it could be your bloodshot eyes, but mostly….. it’s all those Band-Aids stuck on the hall mirror.

Edwards Meats opened in Wheat Ridge in1961 next to Abner”s Garden Center. In 1966 both Abner”s and Edwards moved to their current location. They have been a family-run business for three generations. “My grandfather started it, my dad took it over from him, and I”m working on it.” said Darin Edwards who runs most of the day-to-day operations. When answering how the market stood the test of time, Darin explained, “We have always focused on personalized service” pointing with pride to his friendly staff willing to help customers with anything from dinner ideas to cooking tips. “We also have added store space and services, including a smoke house, and continue to add to our line of products.” A specialty grocery and deli with prepared foods make for a convenient one-stop shopping market for meals, parties, and special events. They even have charcoal and wood chips for the barbeque ” 18 different kinds! First-time customers to Edwards Meats should plan some extra time to absorb all that it has to offer. Not that the market is overwhelming in size, it”s easily negotiable, but it is packed with loads of familiar and exotic products. There are all kinds of steaks, roasts and beef ” from ground to Rocky Mountain Oysters (bull bollucks) – pork, poultry, Colorado lamb, veal, fresh fish & seafood, buffalo and wild game ” cut fresh or smoked to your liking. There are probably close to fifty (no, I didn”t count) kinds of homemade sausages ” fresh or smoked. How about a turduckin (turkey stuffed with Creole stuffing, a boneless duck, and a boneless chicken?) Included in the most recent products category at Edwards are the Irish specialty meats developed by meat cutter and former native of Belfast, Stephen McCabe. Stephen has been cutting meat for the past five years, and over the course has introduced popular items including Back Bacon, Irish Pork-n-Leek Sausage, Breakfast Bangers, Guinness Sausage and Irish Black & White Pudding, to name a few. Stephen was not originally hired to develop Irish products. “I hired him specifically because he”s about one of the only meat cutters that knows as much as I do” Darin answered bluntly, adding, “He”s great, he can do everything in this place that I can do ” which is pretty amazing ” I”ve been here 20 years, and I”ve never seen anyone come in here and run all of the equipment that we have and do all of the different things that we do ” and know how to do it! As the story goes, Darin brought Stephen in for a two week trial as a meat cutter. After a day or two working at the market the duely-impressed Darin offered Stephen a full-time job. Stephen laughs when he recalled the job try-out. “I had to impress them, the very first number I called was Edwards Meats ” the other eight I called weren”t hiring! Darin and staff were not only impressed with Stephen”s exceptional meat cutting skills, but his customer service skills tracked right in line with the their philosophy. “We get great feedback from customers who return asking, “where”s that Irish guy, he really helped me”". But as far as Stephen was concerned, “it was just the way I was brought up over there ” just leave what I”m doing and go out and talk to people ” treat people like a human being not as a dollar sign.” His meat-cutting skills and work ethic are all part of a job that Stephen really enjoys, “They have accepted me with open arms and I love working for them ” they”re just a great bunch of guys ” a real family-run business.” Both Stephen”s meat-cutting skills and work ethic were developed in Belfast. He grew up in the Catholic financially-depressed Falls Road neighborhood ” ground zero for activities involving “The Troubles” that ignited the underlying hatred between Republican and Unionist sentiments in the later half of last century. If it wasn”t for a couple of twists of fate and strong advice from an older brother, Stephen may have never seen the light of a Colorado day. Stephen left school at the age of 14, a very vulnerable age in a dangerous place and time. He and some of his neighborhood friends took advantage of a work program offered through the Christian Brothers secondary school, Gort na Mona (The Fields of Turf.) The program tried to keep kids off the street, so as not to be recruited into the activities of “The Troubles” ” which meant in Stephen”s neighborhood, a high percentage of getting jail time, or losing life. Luckily, his fate was sealed by a coin toss from one of the Christian Brothers. “It was a toss-up between me and another guy to get a job between a meat market and supermarket ” I called heads and ended up working in a meat shop called Billy Larkeys”" for which he was initially paid about a pound a week. “If I could shake his hand I”d shake his hand ” he did me two good things, he got me a trade that I could carry into the new world and a second chance of life.” For the next 20 years Stephen went on to work and learn his trade at a number of meat markets around Belfast. He even tried out at a few higher paying jobs in the Protestant markets but on threats of his life “learned to work in my comfort zone.” Stephen also brought up the name of his oldest brother Tony McCabe for whose passing the family just celebrated the second anniversary. Having spent time in jail for activities with the troubles, Tony gave advice to Stephen and his other four brothers to keep away from the gangs and groups involved in the strife. He told them that they would become just like a lighter ” once your flame went out you would be disposable. “My brother Tony was like a Shephard”s star that would lead you in the right direction ” he got me to the clean, and straight, and narrow and I”ve come through life with not too many points against me.” In the year 2000, the decision to move to America came sudden and absolute. Stephen was living in Belfast with his wife Darlene, who was originally from Fort Collins, Colorado, and their Belfast-born baby girl Ciara. One night they heard a commotion in front of their house; they opened their door to find a gunman motion them back inside and on the floor. A short time later shots rang out as two men in the neighborhood were shot. As soon as she could, Darlene left with the baby for Colorado. Stephen started an 11-month paperwork process to get his “Green Card” and followed his family to Colorado. Stephen and Darlene have since added 2 more girls, Breanna and Kaleigh, to their Wheat Ridge home. Much of their leisure time is spent with the Denver Gaels. Stephen has seemed to have found a comfort zone in his new home. He still has friends and family in Belfast and speaks about them with fondness. He does not talk bitter about “the Troubles” and just chalks it up to “the unfortunate history of Ireland”. Along with the so-many others, he has fingers crossed and hands held in prayer as the new power-sharing Executive took place last month inside Stormont Assembly in Belfast. It is hoped that the Executive, which includes former adversarial Republican and Unionist parties, will make a giant step toward a lasting peace and equality in Northern Ireland. As much as he is proud of his roots, Stephen is grateful for his “new life”. “I thank all of the people I have met in America who have not done me wrong ” and if I get a chance I will do them right.” So stop down to the Colorado landmark Edwards Meats and ask for “that Irish guy” and let him do you right. Edwards Meats, 12280 W. 44th Avenue, Wheat Ridge, Colorado (I-70 and 1 block East of Ward Road; Exit 266) OPEN 7 DAYS Monday – Saturday, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.Sunday, 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Information online at Order by phone, 303-422-4397.

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