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Meet the Blogger


The author, deep in thought. Probably about whiskey.

The author, deep in thought. Probably about whiskey.

Have you ever wondered just how Irish the Celtic Ranch blogger is? Let’s meet the blogger and ask some important questions:

1. So how Irish are you?

Susanna Bartee: Not very. Though DNA tests on both parents do show a heavy British Isles influence, I’m afraid it’s more English than anything else. If it helps, I have been married 25 years to a man so Irish that I can’t believe he doesn’t have an accent. He does look mighty fine in a kilt though. Oh, and I spent six days in Ireland in 2006. I think it’s time to go back.

2. Then what qualifies you to write about all things Celtic?

SB: I’ve spent most of my career writing on things I don’t know all that much about. I really love (nerd alert) to research. And everything about Ireland’s history, culture, and craftsmanship is fascinating. Writing about the Celtic lands is the next best thing to being there. Did I mention I want to go back soon?

3. So how did you end up with this job?

SB: It may have something to do with how often we frequent The Celtic Ranch’s brick and mortar store in Weston. The whole family has wish lists (mine = sweaters, boots, and pewter) and it’s one of the first places we take all of our visitors. If you don’t already appreciate Ireland, give it a few minutes for the beautiful treasures and the beautiful redheads employed there to work their magic.

4. What’s a topic you can’t wait to write about?

SB: Women and whiskey. I was born and raised in Texas so I’ve always wanted to be the cowgirl who bellies up to the bar and demands a shot of whiskey. It just sounds so fantastically tough. But I’m not an adventurous drinker so it remained just a fantasy until I attended my first whiskey tasting at The Celtic Ranch last year. One sip and I actually did feel fantastically tough. Now I want to know more about the women who make it and the women who drink it. Also I think I this calls for buying a new pair of boots.

5. So basically you’re a redheaded-whiskey-drinking-Irish-living wannabe?

SB: Exactly.



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Fight the Chill of Summer

Temple+Bar+rainSummertime tourists in shorts, sandals, and bikini tops? Not so much. The warm breezes of summer seem to have overlooked the Emerald Isle completely this year. As Ireland reports the coldest and wettest summer on record, residents and visitors alike are lighting fires and bundling up to fight the chill of summer.

The official weather reporting stations in Ireland all noted their coldest July temps in decades. Gale force winds and dangerous flooding have also occurred across the country this season. The good news is all that wind can come in handy in terms of creating energy. In fact, the Irish have always dealt with their wet and windy weather with heart and optimism and humor.

While Ireland is not exactly known for calm and balmy weather, the typical summer forecast is sunnier and warmer than 2015 has shown. Residents look forward to what they anecdotally call “the two weeks of summer” but this year the wet and chilly spring has kept its grip on the forecast and now it is already time to plan for autumn’s expected rainy, golden days.

Happily for visitors, nearly every activity in hearty Ireland continues on no matter what the weather. Why cancel and hide out indoors when you can bundle up and still enjoy the green beauty of the isle? Invest in a waterproof pair of boots and go hiking the trails and beaches. Grab a stout raincoat and enjoy horseback riding and sightseeing. Find a good cap and scarf and climb aboard a boat for a day of fishing. Exploring an ancient ruin in the rain? All the more romantic.

So we missed summertime this time around in Ireland? No sweat. Bring on the new sweater designs and boot liners. Layer up and try out a new slick jacket. Bundle up the baby in cozy sweaters and head out for a day enjoying the nature and beauty and authentic wildness.

The sunshine and warmth you will find in Ireland has far more to do with attitude than forecast anyway.

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Find a Penny…

copper_irish_penny_euro_bracelet_website_clipped_rev_1 Find a penny… do you pick it up? A penny may seem almost worthless these days. But a lucky penny might be the difference between fortune and destitution if you believe the legends.

Though one measly cent may hardly seem worth bending down to pluck off the ground, old Irish lore tells us these found pennies belong to the “good people” and have been left there to tempt the finder to good fortune. Depending upon how you feel about fairies, pixies, leprechauns and other little creatures, you may either spit on the coin and throw it into the bushes in order to secure some good luck from them. Or you might want to pocket it and consider it a gift.

“Find a penny, pick it up. All day long you’ll have good luck. Give it to a faithful friend and your luck will never end.”

A story that is definitely minted in truth is the long-practiced Irish concept of “Luck Money”. It was common at fairs and markets to return a penny to the buyer to wish them luck with the new purchase. Some chose to return more than a mere penny, securing their status as big spenders and generous patrons.

The Irish penny dates back to 1928 when a coinage committee, founded after Ireland gained its independence in 1926, sought to mint Ireland’s own money to distinguish from Britain’s monetary system. Poet William Butler Yeats was the chair of the committee and the winning design came from the Book of Kells. One side features an Irish harp, a national symbol, and the other a hen and chicks, to symbolize the national economy.

The Irish penny, made from copper, was minted from 1928-1968 and weighs about one ounce. After production ceased, many of the copper coins were melted down, making authentic Irish pennies a real find today. A lucky find, you could say.

Many of those rare coins are found in America as it was a common custom for loved ones to place a penny in an emigrant’s pocket with the blessing, “May your pockets never be empty.” The Irish-Americans held on to their Irish pennies as a connection to the homeland.



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