Wednesday, March 18, 2015

House of Ireland ( Happy St. Patrick's Day)

Another sweet bi-product of genealogy research is wanting to celebrate your heritage.  For me, that meant attending the March lawn program sponsored by Balboa Park's House of Ireland. So I marked my calendar months in advance, asked my friend whose married name is O'Leary, to join Jenn, Alex and Eric and me for an afternoon of Irish culture.  Upon hearing about our outing, Marcia wanted to join us as well.  So I got a shamrock manicure, cut up some soda bread and drove Marcia and Mrs. O'Leary to Balboa park.  We had the luck of the Irish and found a parking space quickly and close by the International cottages in bustling, busy Balboa Park .

Shamrock nail art in honor of St. Patrick's Day

We set up our chairs, commandeered a park bench, and saved a space on the grass with a beach towel for Jenn's gang who were driving separately.  We were handed programs and perused the vendors on the lawn prior to the show.  Marcia bought a bangers and mash stew the House of Ireland was selling.  I talked with the Civil War re-enactment members of the 69th Regiment New York State Volunteers, photographed the shamrock seller and petted the Irish Wolf hounds.

Ray, an Irish Wolf Hound

Shamrock Seller
The Cameron Pipers, a bagpipe group, started off the music by marching through the International Cottage courtyard.  They ended their on the dragon laden stage.  Yes, the stage had a dragon who was named Ollie. According to legend, Ollie helped St. Patrick drive out the snakes and dragons ( except for himself ) in Ireland.  The House of Ireland Queen and Princess emceed the afternoon that featured Kid's Session Musicians from the local school of Irish dance, Pride of Celti Dancers, a Q& A session for both the Irish Setter Club of San Diego and the Irish Wolfhound Association of the West Coast.  The dogs were a big hit with the crowd eliciting many ooh's and ah's at their size and weight.  

Irish Wolfhounds stealing the show

Upon arrival, Alex ate most of the soda bread by himself.  I am happy to report he also enjoyed the Children's Spotlight portion of the program performed by the Little Dancers.   They danced the Pee Wee Reel, Little Light Jig and Single, Jig Shenanigans. The polka set also included the funny sounding Oh, the Britches Full of Stitches and, appropriately for this hot day, We Brought the Summer With Us.

 The Gaelic sports presentation Q & A session was surprisingly interesting to me.  Not much of a sports fan, I was surprised to learn that hurling is thought to be the oldest sport in history going back thousands of years.  It was used as a way to keep in shape when you had to fight to defend your village.  Some very skilled athletes demonstrated bouncing the baseball- sized ball on a bat that looked like a canoe paddle.  Hey, I said I didn't know much about sports.

The program ended with the singing of the Irish National Anthem.  For all you trivia buffs, it is called "A Soldier's Song."

Before I let the photos tell the rest of the story, I'll end by saying Mrs. O'Leary bought a giant shamrock plant that matched her "This is my Lucky Shirt" t-shirt.

Mrs. O'Leary with her giant Shamrock plant

Alex with a little Shamrock plant. (L-R)  Marcia, Jenn and Mrs. O'Leary behind him.
Ollie the dragon on stage with the musicians.  

House of Ireland Singers in Sunny San Diego

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