Saturday, September 2, 2017

Labor Day's Irish Roots

Irish immigration to the United States during the 19th Century is counted in the millions; with a huge concentration arriving during the Great Irish Famine of 1845 through 1852. In Ireland they were starving to death, but in the United States, along with other unskilled immigrant laborers, the Irish were working to death.

There was no shortage of work in our young country for the Irish immigrant and their progeny. Railroad and canals along with growing skylines were being built a rapid pace, and the mills factories and mines also ran on cheap and easily replaced labor.

The laborers toiled long hours, often 12 hours per day and seven days a week, just to earn the most basic living. The work was performed in often dangerous and unsanitary conditions. These conditions, along with child labor and low wages, contributed to the organization of labor unions. Many of the early leaders where Irish immigrants along with their adult children.

The industrialists of the day when to great length to halt the organization of the workers. Violence and death was a common practice as was the case of the Pullman Strike of 1894 that resulted in the deaths of 30 strikers. The strike was crushed and the demands were not meet, but industry was definitely on notice. Additionally, six days after the strike ended, congress, in an effort to appease organized labor, designated Labor Day as a federal holiday, a concept that was initiated by two men whose parents were Irish immigrants.

It is known that Peter McGuire, proposed a workingman's holiday during a meeting of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners. McGuire was the organization's general secretary at the time and he later went on to be a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor (AFL).
Labor Day's Irish Roots

A case is also made claiming that it was Matthew Maguire, a machinist and union leader, who proposed a Labor Day holiday to the Central Labor Union in New Jersey. Maguire went on to be selected as the 1896  nominee for vice president for the Socialist Labor Party of America. 


Samuel Gompers, who co-founded the AFL along with Peter McGuire, credits his partner as the father of Labor Day. It is widely speculated that Gompers did not want the credit to go to Matthew Maguire, who was an avowed socialist, because many in organized labor wanted to 
distance the movement from socialism.
      
Regardless of which of these two Irishmen is the actual father of  Labor Day, it is definite that both men were involved in establishing the Labor Day holiday. The Irish Gift House hopes that you enjoy your three day weekend.  

Monday, August 28, 2017

Irish Christmas Decorating


From weddings to wakes, nobody celebrates like the Irish, so Christmas is absolutely no exception.
Irish Christmas Decorating
For this reason The Irish Gift House offers a plethora of Irish Christmas decorations that are available in several different categories.
The Irish Christmas ornaments section is one of the largest categories on our site where we offer in excess of 250 different baubles for your tree. Separately indexed is our collection of over 100 different Belleek ornaments that includes a series of bells. These two sections, along with our Royal Tara ornaments, gives you almost 400 different choices.

The Irish angel tree toppers is another popular tree decorating category. You will find several illuminated designs that will compliment both your tree and your heritage. Our designs abound with shamrocks and have the assurance of being UL listed.
An Irish Santa figurine will stand out as a treasured centerpiece that you may wish to display throughout the year. Among these figurines you will find shamrock Santa decorations that include ornaments along with brooches and d├ęcor items.

Jesus is the reason for the season, so our selections would be incomplete without our Celtic advent wreaths so that you may welcome the Son of God on his birthday.

Another decorating idea, with the baby Jesus at the center, is our Irish nativity designs that include both figurines and ornaments.
So party with the Irish; just try to keep up!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Harp, not the shamrock, is the national symbol of Ireland.

The iconic shamrock is the most recognizable symbol associated with the Emerald Isle but it is the
Irish Harp
Irish harp that is the official symbol of Ireland. The harp is found on official documents and Ireland's coat of arms; it may also be found on uniforms and the presidential flag and passports. The harp has long been present on Irish coinage and it is currently embossed on Irish Euro coins. A version of this Irish symbol is also the cost of arms for the Irish province of Linster.

With a history that dates back over 1,000 years, the sound of an Irish harp is unique in that the sound board is hollowed out of a single block of willow wood. Harpist were held in high esteem in the Irish social order and were part of the court of Kings and noblemen.

An interesting fact is that in 1922 when the harp was adopted as the national symbol by the newly formed Irish Republic, the design, of what is known as the Brian Boru harp, had to be modified. The reason for the modification is that Guinness has been using the harp as its logo since 1862. The work around is that the sound board or the straight edge of the Guinness harp is on the left while the Irish government harp had to appear with its sound board on the right.
 
Irish Harp JewelryThe harp is also present on Great Britain's Royal Coat of Arms. This is ironic being how is was the English, who viewed the instrument as a symbol of opposition to the crown, who outlawed the harp in 16th century. This ban cause almost a complete demise as most harp music was not written; however, in 1792 an Irish harp festive was held in Belfast and one Edward Bunting is credited in saving the music for prosperity by writing it down on paper.

At The Irish Gift House we also play a minor role in preserving this part of your proud heritage with Irish harp jewelry. We feature a grand selection of Irish harp necklaces and brooches along with Irish harp charms and earrings.    
our

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

How to Draw a Shamrock

 Hi Kerry O'Neal here from The Irish Gift House and for the past 33 years of being in the Irish business, I have had many customers ask me, “How do you draw a Shamrock?”
how to draw a shamrock
My response has always been, “Remember the shamrock represents the love of the Irish people.” In Christianity, the shamrock represents “God’s Eternal Love”- the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In the ancient pagan belief, the three leafs of the shamrock represents the Earth, water and fire (Sun), all the essentials for the “Love of Life”.

Hence the shamrock is compiled of 3 hearts. So it truly is easy to draw. Start by drawing a heart then add a heart attached to each side and finally add a stem to hold your "Irish Love”. Easy!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Celtic Crosses, Their History and Symbolism

Celtic crosses are fundamentally Christian crosses with a circle connecting the arm and the stem with
Celtic Crosses
the earliest know examples dating to around 650 AD. These early designs were etched on face of a slab of rock much like you would find on a grave stone. It wasn't until the 9th century that the chiseled monuments, that are often referred to as the High Cross, came into being. The trend of these Celtic crosses, with recorded heights of 23 feet, continued in Ireland, along with the surrounding islands that were evangelized by the Irish, through the 12th century.

These early Celtic crosses were often found at churchyards and are self-contained monuments that were generally sculptured form sandstone. Some were simple designs, while others, such as the Cross of Scriptures at Clonmacnoise and the High cross at Monasterboice, featured ornate figure carving, but the chief characteristic feature is the circle connecting the arm and the stem.
There is much speculation as to why the circle or ring was added to what became to be known the Celtic cross. The theories and legends ascribed to the adaption range from spiritual to artistic and even consider structural implications.

One popular legends includes that St. Patrick came upon a standing stone that was carved with a circle, the symbol of the pagan moon goddess. St. Patrick blessed the stone and added a Latin cross to the design and thus created the first Celtic cross.
Another legend, again has St. Patrick, but this version it is the sun, a symbol of both light and life, as the circle that is combined with the Latin cross to create the Celtic cross. Metaphorically, the sun, which was worshiped by the pagan Irish, is replace with Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Regardless of which legend is correct the Celtic cross has evolved into a deep-rooted Christian icon that is historically connected to Ireland in the form of these ancient stone carvings.
    
The Celtic cross remains a popular symbol of faith and heritage as it continues to be use as grave stones and jewelry along with gift items and as tattoo designs.
The Irish Gift House can't help you with grave stones and our assistance with tattoos would be limited to that you are welcome to barrow any of our product designs as inspiration for your body art; however if you are looking for Celtic wall crosses or a sterling silver Celtic cross necklace you will hit the jackpot by visiting our site. Additionally, we have a huge selection of Celtic cross necklaces for men along with gold Celtic cross necklaces.

You will find all of these selections, along with nine additionally categories, under our Celtic crosses index heading  on our site.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Tree of Life

Crann Bethadh is Tree of Life in the Gaelic language and in Celtic folklore trees are the source of all life and creation. The ancient Druids believed that two hidden eggs hatched from inside a willow tree; one of these brilliantly colored scarlet eggs produced the sun and the other formed the Earth.

The Celtic spring festival of Beltane on May 1st marks the beginning of the light half of the year and it incorporates the legend by painting eggs as one of the activities. Eventually Christians adopted the practice of coloring eggs at Easter.
tree-of-life

Beltane also celebrates the mighty oak tree as the specie that is associated with the light half of the year when the leaves have returned to the deciduous trees and there is plenty. The ancient Celts considered the sacred oak to be a source of strength and it is from doire, its name in Gaelic, that the strength knot, the Dara knot, originated. The Dara knot represents the root system of the mighty oak and that we too have hidden strengths that we must use during challenging times. The Druids noted that it is the oak that is most likely of all trees to be struck by lightning, yet once stuck, it continued to flourish.
 
The Celtic winter festival of Samhain is celebrated on October 31 through November 1 and it marks the start of the dark half of the year on the Celtic calendar. This dark time of the year is associated with the holly tree, that like the oak is defiant of lightning strikes as its prickly evergreen leaves allow electricity to pass through. Subsequently it was often planted adjacent to structures and homes to guard against lightning strikes.

Celtic lore understood that bringing the foliage of the holly tree inside during the winter would provide sanctuary from the cold for the wee fairy folk, who in return would be kind and protective to the human inhabitants. This practice evolved into the Christian Christmas ritual of decorating the home with holly or accenting your front door with a holly wreath.

The Ash is another of Ireland's sacred trees as it is known for its strength with its wood prized for boot construction and in modern times for hurling sticks. The Druids considered the ash tree to have magical properties and later Irish immigrants would bring a piece of ash wood as a charm against drowning during their travel to new lands. According to Christian lore, St. Patrick used a staff of ash wood to banish the snakes from Ireland.

The ash is a large tree that will obtain heights of 130 feet with a massive root structure. Due to these proportions the Celts referred to ash trees as the Tree of Life that spans between worlds and was considered the backbone of the creation.

tree-of-life-jewelryCeltic mythology also held the yew tree in high regard as it is associated with longevity along with immortality. The yew can often live in excess of 2,000 years and it has an interesting way of regenerating itself by directing its branched to grow downward to the soil which in turn from new trees that would often wrap around the original.

The Tree of Life
Its branches reach in search of learning and knowledge.
The trunk symbolizes strength,
Its flowers and fruit renewed growth
and its deep roots represent our ancient Celtic heritage.
     
The ancient Tree of Life symbol has been preserved in Irish culture; thus The Irish Gift House is proud to present an assortment of Irish made Tree of Life jewelry that includes Tree of Life necklaces along with earrings and charms. We additionally feature a section of Tree of Life gifts that includes items that range from plaques to money clips with many eclectic selections in between.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Connemara Marble

Very little gold along with very little silver is mined in Ireland, but what they do have in their mountains and hills is the only green colored marble in the world, Connemara marble.  This natural mineral, with its exclusive green coloration,  is often referred to as Ireland's gem stone, and can only be sourced from a remote area in western Ireland.
 
Connemara marble is estimated to be over 600 million years old and was formed under heated pressure when limestone and various serpentine minerals amalgamated. This resulted in the beautiful striations that range in color from green to gray with no two pieces of the natural element the same.

Connemara marble was once used as a medium of exchange in parts of ancient Ireland while today it is a fashionable accent for jewelry along with gift items. The stone has also enjoyed architectural prominence as it lines the walls of the Senate Chamber in the Pennsylvania Capital Building along with the floor of the Galway Cathedral. You will also find Connemara marble crafted as counter tops in fine homes throughout the world.
 
According to legend, Connemara Marble is thought to bring tranquility to those who keep it close.

The Irish Gift House
is very pleased to report that we have just finished updating our extensive Connemara Marble Jewelry section on our site. With over 200 different products from respected Irish designers, such as Solvar Jewelry and All That Glisters, it was both exciting and challenging, but we added brand new choices along with updating the product descriptions and many of the
connemara-marble.jpg
product images.

Our assortments are listed in 10 product categories that include Connemara marble necklaces and Connemara marble earrings that are enhanced with iconic symbols that include the Claddagh along with Celtic designs; however, we have so many Connemara marble crosses that we felt compelled to grant them their own separate section.

Many of our design, such as some of our many of the Connemara marble bracelets, do not have an Irish or Celtic motif, but they are still as Irish as you can get considering where the stone is sourced and the jewelry is made. You may be interested to know that we include our own Connemara Marble history card with each purchase.

Ireland has long been called the Emerald Isle, due to the green beauty of the landscape. It is so appropriate that Connemara marble, the only green marble in the world, is only found in the Emerald Isle