Monday, June 19, 2017

Midsummer Blessings


May your days be sunny, your nights be festive and may you enjoy all the beauty of the season!

Sláinte!

Laurel

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Counting Crows


"One for sorrow,
Two for mirth,
Three for a wedding,
Four for a birth,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret not to be told,
Eight for heaven,
Nine for hell,
And ten for the devil's own to sel'. "

So I wonder what 18 will get me?

This is one of many versions of a corvid counting rhyme that plenty of us grew up with. The photo above was taken during a tour of the very depressing Kingston Penitentiary; this murder of crows shot up all of a sudden while the guide was talking about the killing of a guard that happened in 1948 {his parents had immigrated from Ireland}. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

An Anatomy Garden


I will admit to being one of those nerds that daydreams about having theme gardens, and one of those themes is an anatomy garden. Essentially a garden with plants that either resemble parts of a body or have it in their names {common or Latin}, and sometimes they are both.

There are so many potential candidates, so beyond my favourites listed below, I encourage people to search for other options should you be interested in having your own anatomy themed garden!

Borage {Latin borro for "rough hair"}
Comfrey {aka "knitbone"}
Herb-Robert {aka "storksbill"}
Mandrake {Mandragora officinarum roots often resemble a human form}
Orchids {from Greek for "testicle"}
Snapdragon {seed pod looks like wee skulls}

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Previous related posts:


Sláinte!

Laurel

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Dom-fharcai Fidbaide Fál/The Scribe in the Woods


"Dom-fharcai fidbaide fál
 fom-chain loíd luin, lúad nád cél;
 h-úas mo lebrán, ind línech,
 fom-chain trírech inna n-én.
Fomm-chain coí menn, medair mass,
 hi m-brot glass de dingnaib doss.
 Debrath! nom-Choimmdiu-coíma:
 caín-scríbaimm fo roída ross."
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"A hedge of trees overlooks me;
A blackbird’s lay sings to me {an announcement which I shall not conceal};
Above my lined book the birds’ chanting sings to me.
A clear-voiced cuckoo sings to me {goodly utterance}
In a grey cloak from bush fortresses.
The Lord is indeed good to me:
Well do I write beneath a forest of woodland."

~ Dom-fharcai fidbaide fál/The Scribe in the Woods {Author unknown, found in an early 9th century manuscript margin. Translation from Gerard Murphy's Early Irish Lyrics}

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Flowering Rowans, Naughty Crows & Other Friends



A couple of days ago a friend and I went for a little walk around our neighbourhood to get an idea of what grows wild around here. I find that this is the perfect time of year to identify plants and trees once the leaves are nicely developed and flowering is underway. We were not disappointed by all the options of potential free groceries, remedies and folk magic supplies.


Upon moving south one of the things that I lamented was not having very many rowan trees around me anymore. However, I guess my fear was misplaced because there are a whole bunch in my immediate area. 

Right now the rowans are in full bloom, and while their flowers are stinky, I think that they look glorious. All I can think of is how many berries will be laden on those trees come late summer/early fall. 


A laneway just around the corner from our building proved to be especially fruitful with with rowan, apple, elder, staghorn sumac, crabapple, hawthorn, honeysuckle/woodbine, raspberry, and cherry. There were pretties growing lower too, although I don't think I would trust to harvest anything from ground level in that spot.


Thankfully throughout our immediate area there are spots safer to harvest from and so far we have found dandelions, lemon balm, peppermint, motherwort, daylilies, comfrey, shepherd's purse, curled dock, rhubarb, chickweed, yarrow, cleevers, stinging nettle, pineapple weed, columbine, garlic mustard, milkweed, catnip, solomon's seal, creeping charlie, chamomile and lily-of-the-valley growing aplenty. 


On our way back to our building we were greeted by a pair of crows that were up to no good. They stopped their antics long enough to peek at us before resuming their domestic dispute over a found robin's egg.


We have a wildcrafting day planned for early next week, so in the meantime we are dreaming of what lovely thing we can concoct with the things we find. I saw a yummy-looking roasted golden beet pizza recipe that calls for garlic mustard pesto... {!!!}.

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Sláinte!

Laurel

Monday, May 29, 2017

Recommendation Round Up {for May}

This is my second monthly recommendation post, where I share different media and events that I come across during that month that I think might be of interest to other Gaelic Polytheists. There is a lot for the month of May, so I hope that you all enjoy.

The ladies over at Story Archaeology podcast released their third installment on the series called Circling the Táin, this installment being called The Birth Pains of Ulster. Before giving this episode a listen, you might want to listen to the first two episodes, 1. The Quarrel of the Two Swineherds {or Where it All Began and 2. Portents and Prophecies. I am a fan of both the blog and the podcast, and highly recommend it for all GPs or anyone into Irish myth.

There are two nifty web resources that I came across for the first time this month that deal with the history of Ireland. First up is a Irish Historic Towns Atlas, that features towns that are monastic in origin, Viking in origin, and quite a few others. The second website is geared towards tourism, but has a good amount of history and lore on it as well. Ireland's Ancient East is a pretty good looking website.

While an older article, Irish Central recently republished an article about North America's only official Gaeltacht {Irish-speaking community}, which I am more than happy to boast is just outside of the city where I currently live. Speaking of which, there is an annual event held there every summer that celebrates Irish language and culture. If you happen to be in the Kingston, Ontario area at the end of June, you should come check it out!

The Oireachtas Gaeilge Cheanada is a three day festival hosted by Cumann na Gaeltachta and Oireachtas na Gaeilge, held from June 23rd to 25th. You can find out more at the event website and purchase tickets over at this site.

There are two books that I have recently added to my wishlist, and although they are not really new releases, they are new to me. Food and Drink in Ireland is a "multi-disciplinary collection of fourteen essays explores the collection, cultivation, consumption and culture of food and drink in Ireland from the beginnings of settlement in the Mesolithic to the present". By the looks of it, this book is probably similar to Domestic Life in Ireland, which is a fantastic resource and read.

The second book is Seanchaidh na Coille / The Memory-Keeper of the Forest, which is a collection of Gàidhlig/Scots Gaelic literature from across Canada. It is described as, "A unique resource, it covers a wide range of territory and time, allowing Gaels to express their own opinions about a broad set of themes: migration, politics, religion, family life, identity, social organizations and more." I can't wait to get this one as well.

Someone from an online GP group that I am a member of found a book that is now available online for free; Celtic Heritage: Ancient Tradition in Ireland and Wales is one of those books that tends to be on all of the recommended reading lists posted by Celtic Reconstructionists. It can be found on Archive.org.

In the same group, someone else shared this video about Saint Brigid's Cursing Stone {you may need to go to the host site to watch the video}:

Harold Johnson and the Cursing Stones from Howard Goldbaum on Vimeo.

There were quite a few other good videos that I came across this month!

Tomás Ó hAodha does a quick intro to mythology of the Tuatha Dé Danann:
 

Tale Foundry does another quick intro, this time on all six groups of invaders found in Irish myth:



And to round off the Irish mythology theme, here is a short animated film by Damian Byrne called Cú Chulainns Lament:



I came across a Kate Masters lecture called Megaliths of Orkney and Shetland that is definitely worth spending an hour to watch:



Lastly, Kelden is starting a video series on Scottish witchcraft, and in the first episode the Scottish witch trials are explored:



May was a great month around the blogosphere too! Unsurprisingly, Bealtaine was a topic that came up a few times, including in posts such as May Day & Butter Stealing Witches on The Fading Year, The Folklore of May-Day/Bealtaine on Ireland's Folklore and Traditions, and Bealtaine, Water and Sun-Enchanted Dew on The Ever-Living Ones.

Over at the Primal Heart blog, the author explores devotional practice with An Dagda in a two part series: Devotional Practice with The Dagda and Learning: Devotional Practice with The Dagda.

On Living Liminally there is a great post The Influence of Folk Etymologies, Allec on Child of the Storm shares a lovely Prayer for Protection of the Land, Cailleach's Herbarium shares a yummy floral jam recipe in Preserving the May, Roaringwater Journal shares a lovely spring-time walk in We Welcome the Hope That They Bring, and Occvlta shares a good how-to in How to Burn Incense.

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Sláinte!

Laurel

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Gaelic Roundtable for May: Devotionals

{Artwork Corax by Stephanie Lostimolo}
This is my third post participating in The Gaelic Roundtable blogging project, May's subject is Devotionals. The Roundtable asked:
"Does your Worship include Devotional acts? If not, why not? If so, why? Who is the common object of these Devotionals- or who do you find yourself performing them for the most often? Do they have a structure, or is it whatever feels right? Do you record these devotionals? What acts do they usually include? How often do you practice them? Is it daily? Weekly? Whenever the fancy strikes?"
I feel that I have touched on a lot of this already in last month's post, so for this month I will share devotionals that have become a staple within my own practice. A few I have come up with or adapted myself, and many others are created or adapted by others.

It may be noticed that one of the biggest sources of inspiration is Carmina Gadelica, and it will also probably be noticed that some of the versions I am sharing are not adapted. The adapted versions I have previously shared online I will linked to, and for the rest, the originals will be shared.  

In general I work within an outline so I don't get sidetracked when doing my devotionals, but as I have become more comfortable in my religious practice I will do spontaneous devotionals as well. 

Daily

Upon rising in the morning I light a candle, make a small offering and say a prayer. Sometimes I will add to that prayer, do divination or do a meditation. 
Togail an Teine/Kindling the Fire
Toirt Taing/Thanksgiving
Urnaigh Èirigh/Prayer at Rising

Before bed I will relight a candle for an evening prayer and sometimes a meditation. 
Smaladh an Tein/Smooring the Fire
Coisrig Cadail/Sleep Consecration

Monthly 

While a little more than monthly, every 20 days I will participate in a Brighidine flamekeeping vigil and a water blessing. I am not comfortable sharing the ritual outline as I don't feel it is mine to share, however, some of the prayers I use can be found below under the "Prayers and Praxis" section.

Another monthly practice is a new moon ritual, which I used to do monthly but have been lax on for the last bit. I would like to incorporate it and make it a monthly devotional again. A' Ghealach Ùr/The New Moon  { A ritual outline I like to use can be seen over at the Gaol Naofa website.}


Prayers and Praxis

These are some of the devotionals that I use as needed, while making offerings, doing certain tasks or when asking for aid with something. By no means is this an exhaustive list, but these are some of my favourites.
A Prayer to Macha for Safety
An Coisrigeadh Sioil//The Consecration of the Seed
An Deiseal/Sunwise Blessing {to open a ritual, by Annie Loughlin}
An Invocation of Macha {by Morgan Daimler}

Sláinte!

Laurel

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

For Those Who Might Ask About the UW Shop

Over the last couple of days I have been getting a heap of messages and emails asking me when I am opening my shop. This is definitely a jump in number, as I will get the odd one every once in a while. So thank you to whoever recommended me, that is very kind!

With that said, the shop has been closed down for about a year or so and I have been only doing a few orders here and there, replenishing supplies of old customers and doing some wholesale orders. As of right now, I am still not really ready to open up the shop due to lack of time and restricted access to some ingredients that are a necessity to what I make.

One of the most requested products lately has been my Mistress of Stags incense and one of the ingredients {sweetfern} I am running low on again. I do have a friend up north who harvests some for me, but I will not be able to get a decent amount until I go back and visit my old patch up there. I hope to do that some time this summer.

At this point I can't say for sure when my shop will open again, but if you are interested in something, just drop me a line and we can chat. And as before, I am always down for swaps in lieu of traditional payment. :)

Sláinte! 

Laurel

Monday, May 15, 2017

Bealtaine in the Woods {part two}


My various observances for Bealtaine have been scattered over the course of a couple weeks largely due to my work schedule, but also the weather and being out of commission for a bit with some sort of bug {which has led me to be a bit more prolific online than I usually am, especially on Tumblr! heh}. 

Since on the hike I took with my friend a little while back, I have gone into my neighbourhood woodland a few times, and it is looking just as beautiful as the last place I went to. 







Each time I have gone, I go to a different spot to do some a few times to do some wildcrafting and to leave offerings and do some trashing clean up when I see any. Generally when I head on out these days I bring my little deer spirit vessel that I use as a representation of Flidais {purchased from Sarah Anne Lawless a few years back} and some of little fertility charms to use as offerings. 



After one my trips out last week I gathered some greenery and flowers to decorate our shrine and some rowan wood cuttings to make protective crosses with. And then I finally got down to my main Bealtaine ritual of light a new hearth candle and saining our home. 





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Sláinte!

Laurel

Thursday, May 11, 2017

An Apartment Dweller's Quick Tip for Polytheists: Outdoor Shrines


I had already shared a post about indoor shrines to nature spirits, but I like to keep one outdoors if I can as well. If you are an apartment dweller who is lucky enough to have a patio or balcony, an outdoor shrine can be as easy as a flower pot with whatever pretties you want to put in it.

During the move I had brought the original stones of my mini "dolmen" from my last outdoor shrine and placed them in the pot I had chosen for the new shrine. Yesterday while out and about I came across a log on the side of the road with mossy bits on it. I decided to bring it home with me and now some of the mossy bits are in with the stones. 

I am not sure if the moss will be happy there or not, but if that doesn't work out I was thinking of putting some other woodland pretty in it. 



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Sláinte!

Laurel

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Bealtaine in the Woods {part one}


A few days ago a friend and I made our way to the woods for a small hike. We decided to go to one of her favourite places, Parrott's Bay Conservation Area, which I had never been to before. It was a perfect opportunity for me to see what grows wild in my area at this time of year. However, being a conservation area, I skipped leaving any offerings and we didn't do any foraging.

There were all sorts of pretties including some spring ephemeral flowers such as trilliums, trout lilies and hepaticas. 







About a half hour into our walk we came across a particularly beautiful spot, and we stopped there for a little while. Being surrounded by moss has a tendency to make me giddy, and the only thing that probably stopped me from pulling a momentary Mad King Sweeney was having a companion with me.  


Instead we sat and chatted about The Good Folk, and we both had a bit of a laugh at how a lot of people probably think that I am slightly touched in the head for being as superstitious as I am. Just as we were about to set off on our hike again, a musical instrument started playing, which sounded to me like a recorder or a penny whistle. 

While it was most likely just another mortal serenading the forest or perhaps having a go at us, I found that both the timing and location made me feel a little unsettled. My friend wanted to see where the music was coming from, and against my gut instinct I had agreed. 

We hadn't walked twenty feet before there was a crackling in the trees beside us; I saw what looked to be a streak of red fur out of the corner of my eye and I assumed that it was a fox running away. Going a head another minute or two and we heard another crackle in the trees beside us and this time it was a deer flashing us its white tale as it ran away. After a few more apprehensive minutes there was a third crackle in the woods, this time really big and really close.

Being the chickenshit that I am I turned around and we headed on out the way we came, faster leaving than when coming. If I had been smarter, I would have taken cues from the fox and the deer, both who I see as messengers of a certain Someone

We never did find the source of the music, but I was more than happy to leave it a mystery.






The trail eventually split off into another, which led us to the way out. On this trail we came across two old abandoned cars. I am not sure what the stories are behind them, so two more mysteries. 



Apparently Parrott's Bay is even more beautiful in the autumn, so I hope to make my way back there then, if not before. 

Tomorrow I am planning to go to another spot that is becoming a regular haunt for me, where I will leave some offerings and do some wildcrafting. 

May you all be enjoying the season so far!

Sláinte!

Laurel

Monday, May 8, 2017

An Apartment Dweller's Quick Tip for Polytheists: Witch Bottles


A little while ago I finally got around to making a new witch bottle for our home, but finding ourselves without an in ground garden, chimney or floor boards to put it in, it was buried in a flower pot on our balcony instead. If you have never made a witch bottle before, you can find out how you can here


Thursday, April 27, 2017

We Have Brought the Summer With Us...



"May doll, maiden of Summer,
Up every hill and down every glen,
Beautiful girls, radiant and shining,
We have brought the Summer with us."


I shared a lovely version of this song before, Samhradh Samhradh by The Gloaming which I encourage folks to go listen to if they have not heard it yet. 

May your summer be full of bounty, beauty and plenty of sunshine! Beannachtaí na Bealtaine oraibh go léir/Bealtaine blessings to you all!

Sláinte! 

Laurel

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Gaelic Roundtable for April: Veneration


This is my second post participating in The Gaelic Roundtable blogging project, April's subject is Worship. The Roundtable asked:
"Which Gaelic Gods do you Worship? Do you worship your Ancestors or otherwise participate in Ancestor Veneration and related practices? What about the Gaelic Heroes? The Fae? How long have you Worshiped them? Who came first? Last? Second? How did you establish your relationships with them, and how important is that relationship to you? How integral is that relationship to your spirituality? Your religion? Your every day life?"
As far as my own personal practice goes, I tend to shy away from the term "worship" ; while perhaps just a semantics game, I associate worship with coming from a place of grovelling or fear. This might be just a holdover from my Christian upbringing. Instead I would like to think that my devotion comes from a place of hospitality and respect, so I prefer to use "honour" or "venerate" in my approach to the Gods, Spirits and Ancestors.

My relationships with The Three play a central role both in my faith and in my daily life. At our hearth shrine I do a small devotional every morning with an offering, prayer and candle lighting {kindling} and do another small one in the evening with a prayer and extinguishing the candle flame {smooring}. There are special dates in which I honour specific individuals and during certain activities I will make offerings and ask for blessings as well.  

The Gods


In general I honour all the Gods of the Gaels, however, there is a handful of deities that I am especially devoted to, whom I call "household deities". My relationships with them are pretty much all different from each other, some being stronger in certain seasons or when I am doing certain activities. Some I have actively sought out, while others it seems that they have "tapped me on the shoulder".

Brigid

 From the best of my memory, Brigid was the very first Goddess that I did any research on and try to summon back when I was first exploring Paganism. For quite a few years my approaching her was limited to Imbolc and some petitioning, and it wasn't until after I started delving into Celtic Recon that it started to go beyond that. That was some time ago and her along with another Goddess below was the first that I became devoted to. As time went on I eventually became one of her flamekeepers, which I have been doing for two or three years. During every cycle I make offerings to her and of course at Imbolc and Latha na Caillich. For my own life I feel that she oversees keeping of the home, healing, protection, relationships and women's fertility/sexuality.

Macha

Prior to subscribing to hard polytheism I honoured a generic "Mare Goddess", whose faces included Macha, Epona and Rhiannon. So, my relationship with Macha continued on once becoming a Gaelic Polytheist and became deeper, richer. I have always had a great love for horses, so a part of my devotion to her is to do my part to end horse abuse and slaughter. Corvids are also my buddies. During Lughnasadh and Michaelmas I make special offerings to her and for myself I think that she aids in divination, sovereignty, abundance, justice and protection.

Flidais

Besides honouring a "Mare Goddess" as an eclectic Pagan, I also paid homage to a generic "Antlered Woodland God" {think Herne or Cernunnos,}, so when I came across info about Flidais for the first time my interest was piqued. After doing a wee bit more research I made some offerings to her and have built the connection over time. Besides deer and cattle, I also associate robins and foxes with her. During Bealtaine and prior to doing wildcrafting or going out in the bush I will make offerings to Flidais. For me she helps as a catalyst with Nature Spirits, and also helps with environmentalism, bushcraft/wildcrafting. lust/sexuality, and beauty.

Airmed

Having a keen interest in plants and herbal healing, it was only a matter of time before I tried to establish a relationship with Airmed. She plays an essential role in all of my gardening, working with plants, and all healing {both emotionally and physically}. Being someone who has faced abuse I felt a strong connection with her own story. I associate bees with her and therefore is an especially sacred pollinator. Offerings are made to her on Midsummer and during any herb harvest and working with plants. 
An Cailleach

This is the one Goddess out of the group that I definitely feel was "lurking in the shadows". By the time she popped up I had already heard about her, but was quite intimidated to try to connect with her. After some really intense dreams and other happenings, I was certain who was there but was quite bewildered as to why she was there. For about a year I did more research and asked other Gaelic Polytheists about their experiences with her. It wasn't until after I felt that I learned as much as I could that way that I apprehensively tried to make a formal connection {more about that can be read here.} To be honest she still does kind of intimidate me, but at times she can have a warmth about her. My connection to her is twofold, being both seasonal and due to my occupation. In the winter months she is ever present, and I make special offerings to her during Samhain, Yule, and Latha na Caillich. I also turn to her for insights on how to deal with the hardships of aging, as I work in long term care with the elderly. 

Ancestors


Ancestor reverence is something I practiced prior to becoming a Gaelic Polytheist, but became even more important to me when my maternal grandparents passed away. When still living in North Bay I would regularly go to the small family cemetery to visit. Now that I am a few hundred miles away, I have been scoping out the various Irish memorials here in town to leave offerings. I do keep an Ancestral shrine in my home where I make regular offerings, and hold special rituals dedicated to my Ancestors during Samhain, Remembrance Day, Christmas, and on  certain birthdays and anniversaries.  

Spirits/The Good Folk



Besides being a polytheist, I am an animist as well, so I essentially believe that everything has a spirit. To me trees have spirits, the stones do, animals do, and are just as important as humans. As well, I believe that sometimes beings may be attached to a certain place, sometimes a body of water or piece of land or a building. These spirits {nature spirits/genii loci/The Good Folk} I feel are due the same amount of respect as the Gods or Ancestors and give them the same hospitality, although my approach to them is sometimes different

On top of keeping indoor and outdoor shrines, there were certain places where I would leave regular offerings and act as a steward of sorts. These were generally places that I would wildcraft from and do rituals at. As of right now I am still getting know my new area and the spirits that are here. So, a work in progress. ;) 

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If you are a Gaelic Polytheist, why not join us at The Gaelic Roundtable? I am looking forward to the posts of the other contributors!

Sláinte!

Laurel

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Recommendation Round Up {for April}

cover of Lugh na Bua/Lugh the Deliverer, artwork by Sean Fitzgerald
This is a new installment on the blog that I hope to keep up with on a monthly basis where I share different media and events that I come across that I think might be of interest to other Gaelic Polytheists. There is quite a bit for the month of April, so I hope that you all enjoy.

First up is a video from Lora O'Brien's Youtube channel that some folks might find helpful:


Very recently there were two books published that I can't wait to add to my shelves! A Cottage and Three Acres is written by Colette O'Neill of a lovely blog called Bealtaine Cottage. The book is about Colette's journey of taking a barren piece of land in Ireland and making it a little piece of paradise. The book can be purchased straight from the author If you are into Permaculture, gardening, sustainability or Irish folklore, you will love her blog, so check it out.

The second book is Lugh na Bua/Lugh the Deliverer written by Cathal Ó Searcaigh & Seán Ó Gaoithín and illustrated by the very talented Sean Fitzgerald. The book is described as "Two new tellings of a Donegal Folktale concerning the troublesome Balor and Lugh of the Tuatha Dé Danann". The book can be purchased directly from the illustrator {for a limited time, until his 60 copies sell}, from the publisher or on Amazon. Make sure to check out Sean Fitzgerald's blog too, which besides his artwork he shares beautiful photos of his garden and sacred sites in Ireland. 

There have been a few really great posts from some of the blogs I regularly haunt. Cailleach's Herbarium explores the fairy faith and animism in Scotland in their most recent post Who the Hell is Sidhe?Anna from Sweet Delicate Thing writes about her findings and take about an Irish Goddess in Resurrecting the Irish Gods: Flidais, Morgan Daimler from Living Liminally sets some things straight in Misinformation and Truths About the Morrigan, and Jane Brideson of The Ever-Living Ones shares her adventure to a dolmen in Co. Roscommon, Ireland in Walking the Path of the Ancestors.

And finally, there are some upcoming events happening in my neck of the woods that I urge folks to go to if they happen to be in the area! From April 28th to 30th the Irish Language Immersion Weekend is going on here in Kingston Ontario Canada, which is by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Harp of Tara/Kingston Branch. From May 12th-14th the Spring Rain Weekend is happening a wee bit further from me in Centre Wellington Ontario Canada, featuring Irish music, dance and language workshops. 

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Sláinte! 

Laurel