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Mother’s Day: Irish Treats for Your Best Gal

In Ireland Mother’s Day, or Mothering Day is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Much like the US, mothers are treated to breakfast in bed, given cards, flowers and gifts or taken for special lunches or outings.

mother's day gifts Shanore Irish Jewelry

Rose Gold Pearl and Trinity Necklace. Perfect for Mom

Irish Mother’s day originally started out as a way to honor the Virgin Mary, traditionally people would visit their “mother church” (the church of their baptism) and bring offerings of various sorts.

Soon this custom began to include one’s own mother, who would be given flowers blessed at the church, small gifts, and cards. Doing Mom’s chores became an especially popular way to honor her. Simnel cakes,or “mothering cakes” became a traditional gift as well. To find a traditional recipe for this go to: bbc.co.uk. Surprise Mom with a special treat!

This lovely tradition of “Mothering Day” had all but been forgotten by 1935, after the second World War, American servicemen revived the holiday in Ireleand, while the Americans kept their celebration on the second Sunday of May, the Irish revival continued on the fourth Sunday of Lent.

mother's day gifts

Mona Tartan Bag in Violet

Wherever you are, moms are special. In Weston, Mother’s Day is extra special! It falls on the day right after our Second Saturdays, where our stores stay open late with samples of food and drinks from all over town, specials in the restaurants, and perfect gifts. If you want to treat her to an entire weekend, our bed and breakfasts are a great way to give her a respite from her daily routine, and be pampered.

 The Celtic Ranch has  a special party the Saturday before, with gifts for the first 25 moms to come in, and complimentary treats all

mother's day Celtic Ranch Whiskey Snug

Our Brand New Whiskey Snug!

day! Moms always take care of others first, so we put her first here at The Celtic Ranch. Buying a gift for Mom is easy, with our variety of jewelry, clothing, pewter, and crystal giftware, we’re a hub for all things Mom! If she’s a wine drinker, get her a special bottle, if she’s a whiskey drinker…we’ve got flasks, whiskey glasses, and our brand new snug!

Have a happy Mother’s Day, Mom. You earned it.


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Highland Romance: or why Outlander Makes us Swoon

Scotland is just plain romantic. The churches, the mountains, the castles, and of course…MEN IN KILTS (swoon). This is probably why Diana Gabaldon chose to set her epic love story, Outlander, in Scotland.

The story, for those not in the know, centers around Claire, an army nurse during World War 2 who travels back in time to the 18th Century where she meets James Fraser, a Scottish fugitive from the British army.

Time travel, strong women, MEN IN KILTS. It doesn’t get much more romantic. The series

Outlander tie

Wool tartan tie

has been made into a TV series for the Starz network, and as such has made us all fall in love.

The costumes and scenery are big stars in the series, and there has been international clamor for clothing and accessories, so Outlander fans can keep a piece of their favorite romance with them, and perhaps feel a little like a Claire or Jamie themselves.

Outlander shawl

Be a Claire!

Outlander pendant

Hamilton and Young Standing stone pendant

Ingles Buchen, a renowned maker of plaids in Scotland, has created and exclusive licensed line of  beautiful wool fabrics  of both the Fraser and Mackenzie tartans, as well as a special Outlander tartan. These have been made into hats, shawls, ties, bow ties, scarves, and stoles which are now available in select stores.

To complement the plaids, there are pieces of jewelry commemorating special parts of the books, for instance there is a beautiful thistle and knot ring like the one Jamie gave to Claire, pieces with the Fraser crest and motto, and delicate pendants to add to your collection.

These pieces are available exclusively at The Celtic Ranch, and can be purchased online or in store.

Please go to our website to see our full collection of Outlander pieces, they make an unusual and romantic gift for your loved one, or even yourself!

Outlander collection

 


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Irish Whiskey on the Rise, Hurray!

Whiskey…the magical elixir that is sunshine in a glass. Is it any wonder the Irish, whose island is notoriously damp and grey, created their own sunshine? They have, in fact, become one of the world leaders in whiskey production, exports of Irish whiskey have increased 220% since 2003. The Irish import to 77 countries, and 28% of beverge imports from Ireland are whiskey.

Wow! The worldwide excitement over Irish whiskey has grown by such leaps and bounds that in 2014 the Irish Whiskey Association was formed to “represent the rapidly expanding Irish whiskey industry….” Their goal is to expand the market for Irish whiskey export and tourism, creating jobs and economic growth throughout the island, while maintaining the quality and integrity of this much beloved beverage.

Recently the Irish Whiskey Association laid out their goals in their “Vision for Irish Whiskey”, a 52 page document (found here) detailing how they plan to increase the number of distilleries by 26 (there are now 8 major distilleries), to ensure that the supply meets the demand; to increase whiskey tourism from the current 600,000 to 800,000 in the medium term (think 5-8 years or so); and increase global market share to 12% from the current 4%.

Statistics and numbers are all well and good, but what does this mean for the consumer? Y’know…those of us who drink the stuff? It means everything. More tourism centres, in more places in Ireland mean maybe someday you’ll be able to travel the entire Island sampling the finest whiskeys they have to offer. It also means that the variety will increase, with new blends and distillations to tease our palates. Best of all, we won’t run short. Yes, with all this growth we can be sure of an adequate supply (is there such a thing as an adequate supply of whiskey?) to the U.S. and other countries, insuring the legacy of the Irish lives on.

 


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Scotch: Water of Life

Scotch is one of the most desired libations in the world. Its smooth, peaty taste is bold and stimulating to the palate, full of complex flavors and rich variety.

What differentiates Scotch from most whiskies is that the entire process from mashing, malting, fermentation and maturation must take place in Scotland. It’s made with malted barley, and  if other grains are used, they must be whole and not malted. The barley and water are malted using smoldering peat from the Scottish moors, which gives it a distinctive rich smoky taste. Also, in order to be considered Scotch it must be produced by a large man named Angus who wears a kilt and plays bagpipes.

Scotch

April 16 3PM Scotch Whisky Tasting-12 Year Single Malts

Japanese and German scientists have tried to reproduce Scotch but have failed, despite using the same processes, as neither country has the same climate as Scotland. (reference: 9 million in unmarked bills) Also they didn’t have a large man named Angus on hand.

Additionally, Scotch is highly regulated. The Scotch Whisky Act of 1988 primarily regulated the production of Scotch, in 2009 it was repealed and replaced with the Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009 which includes labeling as well as production laws. There’s no mention of Angus or bagpipes, but that is kind of an unspoken law.

So what makes it such a big deal? Scotch isn’t just a beverage, it’s the  “water of life” , an oral (see what I did there?) history of Scotland, a tribute to a rugged land and a rugged people. It is an ancient and beloved drink, revered by poets and philosophers.

Robert Burns wrote:  “Let other poets raise a fracas
Bout vines, an’ wines, an’ drucken Bacchus,
An’ crabbit names an’stories wrack us,
An’ grate our lug:
I sing the juice Scotch bear can mak us,
In glass or jug.”

Modern philosopher W.C. Fields said: “Set up another case bartender! The best thing for a case of nerves is a case of Scotch.”

Finally, we’ll hear from our bagpipe playing, kilt wearing, Scotch making friend Angus: “Scotch, it’s good for what ails you, and better for what doesn’t”.

Interested in learning about Scotch? Attend our Scotch tastings. You’ll be glad you did!


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To E or Not to E…The Ultimate Whiskey Question

Is it whiskey or whisky? Two different spellings? What gives? Whiskey is a spirit distilled from a mash of fermented grains. So whiskey/whisky is part of a major food group (grains are on the food pyramid, so clearly whiskey/whisky is good for you ).

But I digress…the different spellings depend on what variety you are drinking. Fortunately for us there are many ways to include whiskey/whisky in your diet (nutrition!).

Irish whiskey (e): Distilled in Ireland, typically a mix of grains, although there are single malt whiskies available. Tends to be lighter and smoother than a Scotch whisky, although there are some fantastic peated whiskies that are reminiscent of the peatiness of a Scotch. Use the “E” or the fairies will get ye!

American whiskey (e): The distillation process bears more of a resemblance to the Irish distillation process, and is typically a blend of grains. America had different grains than Ireland, so modern versions of American whiskey bear little resemblance to their Irish heritage, but nonetheless are a fine tribute to their forefathers. (I’m talking to you, bourbon)

whiskey

Midleton Irish Whiskey

Scotch whisky (no e): Made typically from barley, which has been dried with peat rather than wood. The flavor profile depends on the type of peat used, as well as the drying time. DO NOT PUT AN E IN THIS. You don’t want to annoy a Scot. Offending a large man in a kilt who can toss (hurl) a caber is unwise at best.

whiskey

Lagavulin Scotch Whisky

Canadian whisky (no e): Bears more of a similarity in design to Scotch whisky, use the “e” or the Canadians will send a mountie to correct your spelling. Politely.

Japanese whisky (no e): Again, more of a Scotch design, distilled typically from barley. Again, the lack of “e” is important. I’m not sure what happens if you include the “e” in the spelling, but it probably isn’t good. For more information on the Japanese whiskys go read this nifty article on the whisky exchange website.

Other references include: Master of Malt, The Kitchn, and Whisky For Everyone (a concept we can get behind).

Regardless of its spelling, the derivation of both words is Gaelic, and means “water of life”. Grains are an important part of our diet, and I can’t think of a better way to get them.


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To Kilt or not to Kilt? The Kiltman Manifesto

MANIFESTO

Seeking a manifesto, we sought out Kiltman, who lives in the border area between propriety and recklessness, a harder place to find than you might think. We located him and told him we needed a manifesto, to describe what makes a man. He replied brusquely, “Wearing one of my kilts won’t make you a man; these kilts were made to be worn by real men.” He then launched into a brief speech on manifestos and kilts and masculinity, which we quickly recorded: “There were a lot of manifestos in the 1920s and 30s, by emergent art movements and revolutionary factions. It was a time when values were in flux and hopes were expressed exuberantly. Kiltman likes manifestos, likes making statements, appreciates the creative pressure of having to sum up one’s position. Most clothes don’t need a manifesto. And yet I consider almost everything I say a kind of manifesto. In our time almost 100 years from the age of manifestos I referenced, gender norms are being called into question on a wide scale. Along with this shakeup, Kiltman is speaking. The Streetkilt is on the march. Traditional Scottish garb has been reinvented for our discordant age.

“For a Kiltman, the walk and the talk always go together. You can’t tell somebody the liberation of wearing my kilts, any more than a manifesto could stroll past you down the sidewalk. And yet when you’re wearing a Kiltman kilt, you’re always going somewhere.

“By way of theory, what I’d say is this: Kiltman is the ethic of masculinity. In terms of an article of clothing, this indicates being functional, versatile, and strong. Whether industrial or leisurely, formal or recreational, Kiltman has the right garment for the occasion. He demands his kilt to be functional, but isn’t trapped or defined by this function. My kilts are the essence of versatility, its pockets the very openness of attachment, which you can choose to wear or not, and then choose what fits your style and performance needs for that day. Whatever you’re doing, wherever you’re going, Kiltman can take it, and enhance the experience. This is strength, not brutishness, but sound design, quality materials, and in overall toughness the ability to meet any occasion head­on. Whether it requires the finesse of schmoozing at a banquet, the flair of a night of drinking and pub crawling, the comfort and coolness for an afternoon hiking, the ruggedness for a day of demanding work, or the tradition and innovation to outfit a contemporary Highland gamer — this is how Kiltman provides strength in function and versatility. This is the ethic of masculinity. I just make the things. And I love making em, and I’m going to continue making em. For me this ethic says there are men enough out there to wear them. ”

In freedom,
Kiltman

Kiltman Kilt

Kiltman Kilts-Walk your own way


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Wild Irish Horses: Equestrian Ireland

celtic horse

Celtic Horse from Book of Kells Courtesy of libraryireland.com

Horses are important in ancient cultures throughout the world. China, Japan, Great Britain, and of course Ireland and other Celtic cultures have revered the horse for its beauty, grace and usefulness in farming as well as battle.

There are several gods and goddesses associated with horses in Celtic religions, Epona, (Gaulish for mare),was a mother goddess, and a warrior goddess. She was so popular she was the only Celtic goddess worshiped in Rome. The horse deities were often associated with the sun, perhaps because horses were an important source of meat, as well as useful farm animals, and so a significant part of  ancient life giving energy.

Celtic horse

Celtic Horse Pewter Pendant

Of course horses were also used in battle, ridden upon and chariot driven both. The ancient Irish used a thick blanket that was heavily decorated instead of a saddle. There are historical records indicating that ancient Irish horses were shod with something referred to as a crú  (see libraryireland.com for more), which is still a term used for a horseshoe.

Horses remain an important part of Irish and Celtic culture. An old Irish saying says “Sell cow, buy sheep, but never be without a horse”.  Irish horses have long been prized for their sure-footed and light gait. Being bred on a rocky, craggy, boggy island has given them these unique attributes, and their history of being bred with wild horses has created a bloodline sought after by equestrians worldwide. In fact, the steeple-chase is believed to have originated in Ireland in 1752, when two County Cork farmers decided to race their horses between two church steeples which were four miles apart.  During the race, the horses jumped the natural obstacles as they came upon them. (for more information visit irelandofthewelcomes)

The love affair the Celts and Irish have with horses has been a long and happy one.Irish draft horses, Connemara ponies, Vanner (Gypsy Vanner), and Kerry bog pony are a few of the breeds originating in Ireland (for pictures and more information go to theequinest.com), and remain sought after for their sturdiness, beauty and grace which mirrors that of the people who bred them.

irish horse

Irish Draft Horse ( Image from davidlkel)

 

 


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