Celticsprite’s Blog

The Claddagh Ring : Wearing & Meaning
November 12, 2009, 4:47 pm
Filed under: Celtic Jewellery

The Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish ring given as a token of love or worn as a wedding ring.

It is an heirloom in the family transferred from the mother to the daughter who is first [to be] married, and so passes to her descendants.

The Wearing of the Ring

The ring worn on the right hand, crown turned inwards tells that the wearers heart is yet unoccupied, the wearer is free as the birds in the sky

The ring worn on the right hand with the crown turned outward reveals love is being considered.

The ring worn on the left hand, place of choice, heart in crown out, she is happily married for evermore


The Meaning

I have readabout a a celtic mythological meaning that sayd The Dagda, the father of the gods ,some say, represents the Right hand of the Claddagh ring.

Then there’s Danu., the ancestral and universal mother of the Celts, who supposedly represents the Left hand of the Claddagh ring.

The heart represents the hearts of all of mankind…and also represents that element which gives everlasting music to the Gael.

On modern symbolism the Claddagh’s distinctive design features two hands clasping a heart, and usually surmounted by a crown. The elements of this symbol are often said to correspond to the qualities of love(the heart), friendship(the hands), and loyalty (the crown).

The expression which was associated with these symbols in the giving of the ring was: “With my two hands I give you my heart, and crown it with my loyalty.” Yet, the expression, “Let love and friendship reign forever” can be found as another meaning for the symbols.

Loreena McKennitt : Is she a Pagan?
November 9, 2009, 4:30 am
Filed under: Loreena McKennitt
It was in the latter half of the year 2000 when I had the chance to contact Linda Slater, a kind lady who carried an unofficial FAQ recognized even though by Quinlan Road since she was a member by those days of “The Old Ways” e-mail list, … by the way, if you are not willing to read this post, I am pleased to inform you that Loreena McKennitt doesn’t have any pagan believes at all!

Hereby I share with you Linda’s comments

“[At this point, let me hand it over to Dave Gosselin who knows much more about Paganism than I do for the next couple of paragraphs. LGS ] Let me address two issues before the question of whether or not Loreena is a Pagan gets answered: What is Paganism, and Why would one even ask if Loreena McKennitt is a Pagan?

When we speak of Paganism, with a capital “P,” we are talking of the Neopagan community which is basically the magical religions which have seasonal celebrations. This is slightly different than the dictionary defmition of paganism, which is religions that are not Christian, Moslem or Jewish. There are many different traditions (“denominations” if you will) within the
Neopagan community. The most widely known are Wicca and Druidism. The adherents of Paganism have seasonal celebrations at the Solstices and Equinoxes as well as the cross quarter days (the days half way between the Solstices and the Equinoxes).

Pagan beliefs tend to include such beliefs as: divinity is both the immanent and transcendent (Goddess is within and without), reincarnation, that “Goddess” makes as much sense as “God”, and that Nature is divine, and that we are part of Nature, not her “rulers.”

Most Pagans use Magic as part of their rituals. One of the most important Pagan holidays is Samhain, also known as Halloween and All Soul’s Night, at which time Pagans (and Christians, influenced by this tradition) honor the dead and attempt to communicate with them. Samhain (pronounced sow- ane or sow-een) is also the Celtic New Year. So why would someone ask if Loreena McKennitt is a Pagan? She did the music to three very important Pagan-positive films by the NFB, (The Goddess Remembered, The Burning Times, and Full Circle).

There is also a great deal of Celtic imagery in her music, and Pagans rely heavily on Celtic traditions. The tilles of many of her songs use ñames that are Pagan Holidays or images. These include, Samhain Night and Hurón ‘Beltane1 Fire Dance (Beltane is considered second in importance only to Samhain in the Pagan community), All Souls Night and The Oíd Ways.

The Old Ways is a synonym for Paganism. There are also a few songs that invoke Pagan sympathies due to their environmental tone, or magical vision, such as Bonny Portmore and Courtyard Lullaby. Thanks, Dave!

Back to me for the rest, but before I proceed let me just say di
scussing somebody’s spiritual beliefs is a tricky business and whenever one does it, one has to admit they are treading on thin ice.
So, I admit that’s what I’m about to do and hope that if the ice below my feet cracks, and I plunge into frigid water, somebody will be there to pul
l me out and wrap a warm blanket around me and say “I hope you learned your lesson!”

Anyhow…. there’s been a couple of recurring rumours regarding Loreena’s spiritual life:
Rumour #1. Loreena is a practising Pagan but won’t admit it publicly for fear of the effect such an admission would have on her career;

Rumour #2. Loreena is both a practising Pagan and a practising Román Catholic. The latter rumour started a movement among a certain Pagan group to boycott Loreena’s music because to buy her CD’s or concert tickets would in a roundabout way support “the enemy” (i.e. the Roman Catholic Church).

BOTH THESE RUMOURS ARE TOTALLY UNSUBSTANTIATED, and there is much more evidence to the contrary. Loreena has never stated in an interview that she is a Pagan or that she participates in any Pagan religious rites.

She has indicated that she knows she has a Pagan following and acknowledges that some of the images she uses in her inusic (those derived from nature or mythology) would attract those with some kind of environmental orientation to her music (and Pagans tend to have such an orientation).

Loreena and her family attended the United Church of Canada (a mainline, liberal Protestant denomination) when she was young,but in reference to her current religious practices, Loreena has said that she doesn’t attend church or belong to any particular religión, but that she finds renewal in settings that bring her in closer touch to nature.

It is obvious from the themes she explores on the Mask and Mirror album and things she’s said recently in interviews that Loreena spends a certain amount of time pondering spiritual matters, but I have never heard her say anything in the media like “I believe…” or “God is…” or “I am a [insert name of institutionalized religion of your choice]….”

Most of the time when she’s talked about religion or spirituality, she’s tended to ask questions, like “What is god?” “What is the soul?” rather than stating what she herself believes to be true.

For those of you who distrust the media and think “So, she’s never said she’s a Pagan in the media. That doesn’t mean a thing!”

Let me add that I myself heard Loreena say she was NOT a Pagan, and somebody else posted a message about a year or so ago saying she’d asked Loreena at a promotional appearance whether she was a Pagan, and, again, Loreena said “No”.

Loreena Mc Kennitt : February 16th, 2008. -Her First Online Chat
November 9, 2009, 3:21 am
Filed under: Loreena McKennitt
The first live chat with fans was exhilarating for Loreena and she was astounded by the geographical diversity of participants. Members of the Quinlan Road Community from the U.S. to Turkey, and Iraq to Italy took part in the February 16 chat, sending in all sorts of interesting questions about Loreena’s travels, which was the theme.

“I thought it was just fascinating,” says Loreena. “There was an aspect to this event that was like discovering many pen pals from all over the world. These chats represent another opportunity for us all to learn things from each other.” The invitation to participate in a live chat with Loreena is the latest benefit being exclusively offered to members of the Quinlan Road Community.

To read a complete transcript of the chat go to http://www.quinlanroad.com/pdf/Live-Chat-February16-08-Transcript.pdf
Official Press – all rights reserved

Loreena McKennitt : The Quinlan Road Mail Order Service
November 9, 2009, 3:07 am
Filed under: Loreena McKennitt

Hereby some interesting thoughts of Loreena about art versus business regarding her QR now online catalogue:

I have to confess that I’ve always had rather mixed feelings about the subject of merchandise. I never wanted to confuse the business – and, of course, the enjoyment and hopefully the art – of making music with the business of making and selling clothing. When we are on the road, however, particularly as we strive to continue to play in venues intimate enough to keep the experience enjoyable for you, merchandise sales become a fundamental part of financing those tours. And, trankly, they become ever more nec-essary the larger an entourage we bring on the road with us.
Of course, as you will see in our catalogue, making and selling such items is never merely a matter of dollars and sense; I know I have myself often wanted to mark my participation in an event or concert with a memento. With that in mind, we have endeavoured to expand the small repertoire of iems we sell via our Quinlan Road mail order service with things which we hope will be of interest or use to you…” – LM- Official Press

Our intention in offering this service is to augment, rather than replace, the important role played by local retailers. If you have any questions regarding an order you wish to place, or an order you have already placed, please do not hesitate to contact us at shopping@quinlanroad.com (or visit Contact Us for more options)

All of Quinlan Road ‘s online orders are processed and fulfilled by our partner, the Canadian music sales company Maple Music . Their service is offered in English and French only. If you are not comfortable ordering online in English or French, see our Purchase Options page.

Faerie Lore: Fairy Music & Fairy Gifts
November 5, 2009, 4:38 pm
Filed under: Faerie Lore, Fairy Gifts, Fairy Music
Posted from the bookFairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry” – Edited and Selected by W. B. Yeats [1888] (Obtain this full work and many more backups by clicking here!)

THE PIPER AND THE PUCA. Recopilated by DOUGLAS HYDE. Translated literally from the Irish of the Leabhar Sgeulaigheachta.

In the old times, there was a half fool living in Dunmore, in the county Galway, and although he was excessively fond of music, he was unable to learn more than one tune, and that was the “Black Rogue.” He used to get a good deal of money from the gentlemen, for they used to get sport out of him. One night the piper was coming home from a house where there had been a dance, and he half drunk. When he came to a little bridge that was up by his mother’s house, he squeezed the pipes on, and began playing the “Black Rogue” (an rógaire dubh). The Púca came behind him, and flung him up on his own back. There were long horns on the Púca, and the piper got a good grip of them, and then he said–

“Destruction on you, you nasty beast, let me home. I have a ten-penny piece in my pocket for my mother, and she wants snuff.”

“Never mind your mother,” said the Púca, “but keep your hold. If you fall, you will break your neck and your pipes.” Then the Púca said to him, “Play up for me the ‘Shan Van Vocht’ (an t-seann-bhean bhocht).”

“I don’t know it,” said the piper.

“Never mind whether you do or you don’t,” said the Púca. “Play up, and I’ll make you know.”

The piper put wind in his bag, and he played such music as made himself wonder.

“Upon my word, you’re a fine music-master,” says the piper then; “but tell me where you’re for bringing me.”

“There’s a great feast in the house of the Banshee, on the top of Croagh Patric tonight,” says the Púca, “and I’m for bringing you there to play music, and, take my word, you’ll get the price of your trouble.”

“By my word, you’ll save me a journey, then,” says the piper, “for Father William put a journey to Croagh Patric on me, because I stole the white gander from him last Martinmas.”

The Púca rushed him across hills and bogs and rough places, till he brought him to the top of Croagh Patric. Then the Púca struck three blows with his foot, and a great door opened, and they passed in together, into a fine room.

The piper saw a golden table in the middle of the room, and hundreds of old women (cailleacha) sitting round about it. The old woman rose up, and said, “A hundred thousand welcomes to you, you Púca of November (na Samhna). Who is this you have brought with you?”

“The best piper in Ireland,” says the Púca.

One of the old women struck a blow on the ground, and a door opened in the side of the wall, and what should the piper see coming out but the white gander which he had stolen from Father William.

“By my conscience, then,” says the piper, “myself and my mother ate every taste of that gander, only one wing, and I gave that to Moy-rua (Red Mary), and it’s she told the priest I stole his gander.”

The gander cleaned the table, and carried it away, and the Púca said, “Play up music for these ladies.”

The piper played up, and the old women began dancing, and they were dancing till they were tired. Then the Púca said to pay the piper, and every old woman drew out a gold piece, and gave it to him.

“By the tooth of Patric,” said he, “I’m as rich as the son of a lord.”

“Come with me,” says the Púca, “and I’ll bring you home.”

They went out then, and just as he was going to ride on the Púca, the gander came up to him, and gave him a new set of pipes. The Púca was not long until he brought him to Dunmore, and he threw the piper off at the little bridge, and then he told him to go home, and says to him, “You have two things now that you never had before–you have sense and music (ciall agus ceól).

The piper went home, and he knocked at his mother’s door, saying, “Let me in, I’m as rich as a lord, and I’m the best piper in Ireland.”

“You’re drunk,” said the mother.

“No, indeed,” says the piper, “I haven’t drunk a drop.”

The mother let him in, and he gave her the gold pieces, and, “Wait now,” says he, “till you hear the music, I’ll play.”

He buckled on the pipes, but instead of music, there came a sound as if all the geese and ganders in Ireland were screeching together. He awakened the neighbours and they all were mocking him, until he put on the old pipes, and then he played melodious music for them; and after that he told them all he had gone through that night.

The next morning, when his mother went to look at the gold pieces, there was nothing there but the leaves of a plant.

The piper went to the priest, and told him his story, but the priest would not believe a word from him, until he put the pipes on him, and then the screechin

“Leave my sight, you thief,” said the priest.

But nothing would do the piper till he would put the old pipes on him to show the priest that his story was true.

He buckled on the old pipes, and he played melodious music, and from that day till the day of his death, there was never a piper in the county Galway was as good as he was.

Loreena McKennitt introduces her own principles
November 3, 2009, 4:39 pm
Filed under: Loreena McKennitt, Reviews

Quote from her Official Press: “Loreena McKennitt introduces herself”

“… just as one builds a company’s mission statement based on values and principles, I have done the same thing for myself. Certain principles have become my compass points. I reference them whenever I make important choices and decisions, professionally or personally. They are things to which I strive and am pleased to share some of them with you.”

Be compassionate and never forget how to love.

Think inclusively.

Reclaim noble values such as truth, honesty, honour, courage.

Respect one’s elders and look to what they have to teach you.

Be empathetic.

Look after the less fortunate in society.

Promote and protect diversity.

Respect the gifts of the natural world.

Set your goals high and take pride in what you do.

Cherish and look after your body, and, as the ancient Greeks believed, your mind will serve you better.

Put back into the community as there have been those before you have done the same and you are reaping what they sowed.

Participate in and protect democracy. It does not thrive as a spectator sport.

Undertake due diligence in everything.

Seek balance and space, and solitude.

Don’t be afraid to feel passionate about something.

Learn to be an advocate and an ambassador for good.

Be mindful of your limitations.

Indulge and nurture your curiosity as it will keep you vital.

Take charge of your life and don’t fall into the pit of entitlement.

Assume nothing and take nothing for granted.

Things are not necessarily what they seem.

Learn to play "Irish Songs for Guitar" -Book of Popular Irish Songs and Ballads on Acoustic Guitar (CD & Tabs included) by Danny Carnahan
November 2, 2009, 3:30 am
Filed under: Reviews on Celtic Tunes by Danny Carnahan
Author, performer, and Acoustic Guitar magazine contributing editor Danny Carnahan has collected 15 of his favorite popular Irish songs and arranged them here for acoustic guitar. Many moods and subjects are covered.

This large format book includes notation and playing tips for mastering fifteen of my favorite Irish songs on the guitar. The notation is clear and simple; suitable for intermediate players as well as hotshots. Click here to see a sample notation page.

The accompanying CD demonstrates each song played very slowly and up to speed for students who learn more easily by ear. A speciall emphasis was taken by Carnahan on the recording of the CD wich has a very friendly way of learning.

Tunes were recorded instrumental first slowly, afterwards at right tempo, and then with vocals. Each tune is accompanied with tabs and lyrics plus further backup information on the song like history, sources and even featured recordings of it.

Songs are grouped in three tunings: standard (EADGBE), Drop-D (DADGBE), and the less common but wonderfully moody DADDAD. Several of the songs were personally collected in Ireland. A detailed Music Notation Key is also included to help newcomers understand all the sneaky symbols in both standard and tablature notation.

There are innocent (and very old) love songs like “Rosemary Fair” and more lustful romps like “Newry Town.” There is the revolutionary fervor of “The Rising of the Moon” in contrast to the story of the poor kid who deserts after one day in the army in “The Rambler from Clare.” There is the regional pride of “The Star of the County Down” and the terrible longing for home in “Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore.” And then there’s highway robbery, questionable job choices, unabashed love for one’s fellow man, and more.

Here are some quotations by Danny Carnahan regarding this wonderful book:

“One summer in my teens I was visiting family in the far west of Wales. My young cousins and I spent evenings tuned into a pírate radio station, Radio Caroline, which broadcast very cool music from a ship out in the Irish Sea, just out of the BBC’s reach. Drawn by the rebellious spirit of the station, I was captivated by what I heard: the Irish hit parade of 1968.1’d never given much thought to Irish music as distinct from any other tradition, but I fell instantly and deeply in love with the entire playlist. I managed to find a couple of LPs in heavy rotation, the Dubliners’ Seuen Drunken Nights and Danny Doyle’s Whiskey on a Sunday. A few months later, about the time a bankrupt Radio Caroline was hauled off the air, I was back home in California, learning every song on both albums by heart. Three decades later, those songs are still happily rolling around in my brain. There is no richer lyrical tradition than the one that gave birth to Irish ballads and folk songs. Every conceivable human activity, emotional state, adventure, and misadventure experienced by the Irish, individually and collectively, has been artfully captured in countless songs that are so catchy and memorable, they’ll be sung as long as people have vocal cords. And one doesn’t have to be Irish to feel the emotional power of the love songs and the hopeful pride that fuels the best historical ballads. Tve collected 15 of my favorite Irish songs for this book, choosing from hundreds I love every bit as much. I tried to cover as many moods and subjects as practical in the available space. So we have innocent (and very oíd) love songs like “Rosemary Fair” and more lustful romps like “Newry Town.” We have the revolutionary fervor of “The Rising of the Moon” in contrast to the story of the poor kid who deserts after one day in the army in “The Rambler from Clare.” We have the regional pride of “The Star of the County Down” and the terrible longing for home in “Paddy’s Creen Shamrock Shore.” And then there’s highway robbery, questionable job choices, unabashed love for one’s fellow man, and more. Most of these songs predate the music hall era of the early 20th century, which stuck us with some regrettably stereotyped hits that are all too available elsewhere. I tried to dig a little deeper into the current oral tradition for songs that enjoy some popularity and for settings that fall pleasantly under the fingers on the guitar. These songs use three tunings—standard, dropped-D (with the sixth string tuned down to D), and the less common D A D D A D—and the various right-hand techniques should come pretty easily to anyone who’s played fingerstyle guitar. Most songs can be played with thumb and two fingers, though there are some nice chord rolls using three fingers. Using the fingers both to pick upward and snap downward on the nails might be challenging at first, but it’s really no harder than banjo frailing. And sometimes I just brace my índex finger with my thumb for my “zen pick.” Overall, Tve tried to keep things pared down to essentials because I don’t want to work hard any more than you do. The songs in this collection can be heard in pubs across Ireland and in sessions in every outpost of the English-speaking world. And this is just the tiniest sample of what’s out there. You could learn a new Irish song every week and not exhaust the tradition. So here’s hoping you take as much delight in these songs as I do and find yourself hungering for more.”

Books are available directly from Danny Carnahan. Payment by check ($9.95 per book plus $1.50 shipping – for US orders only– Please contact for shipping rates outside the US), made payable to Danny Carnahan and sent to: 725 Pomona Avenue, Albany CA 94706.
Both Acoustic Guitar and Hal Leonard will be delighted to take your credit card. Click on the links in the previous sentence to rocket to their sites.