Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Heritage Syrup Festival in Texas

Heritage Syrup Festival
Henderson, Texas
2nd Saturday of November 14th

The making of syrup was and still is an integral part of Anglo-Celtic society and culture in the Southern United States. The practice is still done and celebrated in those areas that were heavily settled by Ulster folk.

Many years ago, as the leaves were turning and the air was crisp, families gathered at the Syrup Mills. This was a time of fellowship and trading, but most importantly, Ribbon Cane Syrup. Syrup was a very treasured sweet. Made from crushed sugar cane, using mule power, and cooked in a pan over a wood fire. The old-timers still reminisce about this well remembered traditional folk art.

This operational syrup mill is made from parts of two country mills. The pan is more than 100 years old and came from the Richardson-Lowe Plantation and the crushing mill was part of the Leopard syrup making facility at Church Hill, Texas. Sugar cane was crushed in the mill to extract the juice. The juice is piped down to the furnace, where it is cooked down into syrup.

The highlight of the Heritage Syrup Festival revolves around a day of old time syrup making demonstrations. The grounds of the Historic Depot Museum come alive with over thirty folk artist demonstrating and selling their crafts. Folk music and rural East Texas soul food round out the festivities.

For more information visit:

The Depot Museum

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Oldest Known Ulster Ancestor Data

Of interests to participants of the Ulster Heritage DNA Project; the short article below tells how to enter your oldest known Ulster ancestor data on your Family Tree Page so that the information will appear in the results chart.

Oldest Known Ancestors Location for Mapping

If you have taken a Y-DNA or mtDNA test, you can gain more from your test results by entering information about your oldest direct male line or direct female line ancestor. As more people enter their information, the value of the My Maps feature increases.

With My Maps, you can see the ancestral locations of your matches. This information may provide a clue to finding your ancestral homeland, or a clue for further research.

Take a moment today to enter your most distant direct line male or direct line female ancestor information:

Log into your personal page. In the menu on the left, under My Maps, click "Plot Ancestral Locations".

Below the map you will find the entries for your most distant known paternal and maternal ancestors. If you have not made an entry before, the entries will say “No Label Saved” or “No Location Saved.” To add your direct male line ancestor, click the edit button on the left. To add your direct female line ancestor, click the edit button on the right.

Enter your ancestor’s name, date of birth, and date of death. Where a date is unknown, enter date unknown. This is a free form text field, so enter as much or as little information that is known.

Then click "Next Step." In step 2, you will identify the location of your most distant ancestor. You can now enter your location using natural language, such as Dublin, Ireland. You can also still enter the location by latitude and longitude. Choose either "Search by Location Name" or "Enter Latitude and Longitude". We recommend searching by location name.

You will now enter your most distant ancestor’s birth place. Perhaps you only know a general area, such as Ireland, and not a specific location. This is fine, and the pin on map will go in the country.

Perhaps you don't know your ancestor’s birth place, but do know where he or she married or where he or she is buried. Then in Step 1, where you entered information about your ancestor, also add a note that the location is for the marriage or for the burial. This will help the people you match when they see your ancestor’s pin on their map.

Once you have entered the information for your direct male line and direct female line ancestors, click "Maps" in the menu on the left to view your matches’ ancestral locations.

The color of the push pins on the map reflect how closely you match, from red for an exact match to grey for a 7 step genetic distance.

On the upper right is a button called "Map Instructions." Click on this button to get a tour and explanation of the different features of the map.

My Map is an exciting new tool which may help you in finding your ancestral location. For the tool to be very valuable, everyone needs to enter their most distant known ancestor's location. Please take a moment to do this today.

Additionally, your Group Administrator can select an option for the DNA Project web site to display the map of the location of most distant ancestors. If you are a Group Administrator, go to your Group Administration Page. Then click on Family Project Web site. This page is used to set up and maintain your web site. Move down the page, below the boxes, where you will see:

Display Ancestor's (Alleles) Map:
Display Ancestor's (mtDNA) Map:

Check the box to the right of the first line to display the Y-DNA most distant ancestor map. Check the box to the right of the second line to display the mtDNA most distant ancestor map.

The Group Administrator can also view a map of the most distant ancestor or of the participants' locations by going to the Group Administration Page and clicking "View Member Distribution Map."

Those who have tested are encouraged to add their most distant ancestor information today!

My Maps is an exciting step forward for all genealogists. Again, Family Tree DNA is the leader in Genetic Genealogy, consistently investing in new tools, features, and services for genealogists.

Take a few minutes today to enter the location of your oldest known direct line male ancestor and direct line female ancestor so everyone can benefit from My Maps.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Maternal Ulster Ancestry

The Family Tree labs are running a special on their maternal DNA tests for a limited time. Unlike the Y chromosome test, which can only be taken by males, the maternal, or mitochondrial DNA, tests can be used by males and females. Interested parties can access the Family Tree labs from our main website on this page:

Ulster Heritage mtDNA Project.

Both men and women may take this test. It traces the direct maternal line without influence from other lines. This test is for all three regions of the mitochondrial DNA: HVR1(16001-16569), HVR2(00001-00574), and the coding region (00575-16000). The entire mitochondrial genome is tested and this is the last mtDNA test that a person would need to take. A perfect match indicates a common ancestor in recent times. Results identify the ethnic and geographic origin of the maternal line. The customer receives a certificate and report generally describing the testing process and the meaning of matches. Results are placed in our database. When another person shows identical results, if both parties have signed the Family Tree DNA Release Form then we will inform them of the match.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The Gallóglaigh and their Surnames

a Gallóglach with his conical helmet

The Gallóglaigh are one of the most important phenomenon in Irish history and they had a profound effect on the survival of Gaelic culture into the modern period. They were a uniquely Gaelic warrior caste that were organised by kinship groups and they were the heart and backbone of almost all Irish armies in the long series of wars against the English.

Their name in the plural is Gallóglaigh which has been in the past anglicised as galloglass, the singular form is Gallóglach. Descendants of the Gallóglaigh families and clans are located throughout Ireland, but it was in Ulster that they were particularly numerous and active. Historians not familiar with Gaelic culture often pass them off as mere mercenaries who worked for various Irish chiefs and lords, but in reality they were much more than this. They were a hereditary warrior caste that functioned much like the Japanese Samurai. They were Gaelic families that originated in Argyll and the southern Hebrides, that moved to Ireland and settled circa anno domini 1200 to 1400. They were well paid and were given land for their service and were part of the upper levels of Irish Gaelic society. They were known by their unique dress and battlefield accouterments, which included a two handed axe, shirts of mail, and their stylised conical helmets.

Gallóglaigh with their trademark conical helmets and mailed shirts

The descendants of the Gallóglaigh are found in Ireland and throughout the Diaspora and a growing number are participating in the Ulster Heritage DNA Project. The great Gallóglaigh kindred groups include Clann Suibhne (MacSweeneys), Clann Dhómhnaill (Mac Donnells), Clann Sithigh (MacSheehys), Clann Ruaidhri (Mac Rorys), Clann Dhubhgaill (MacDowells), Clann Chába (MacCabes), Clann Chaimbeul (Campbells), Clann Mhic Giolla Eáin (MacLains). Each of these clans and kinship groups also had several well known septs and each one developed their own surname, for example many from Clann Chaimbeul carry the surname McAllen.

Like the Redshank families in Ulster, the Gallóglaigh families represent an aspect of Ulster Scot history not often written about. Their history is different that the Ulster Scot families that participated in the Ulster Plantation, because the Gallógaigh were very much part of the traditional Gaelic power structure and society. Y Chromosome DNA testing is allowing the descendants of the Gallóglaigh families to very effective research their history and to explore their deep past and clan connections.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Èrinn 's Alba

A celebration of Gaelic Scotland and Ireland...

Mar phàirt do Oireachtas na Gaeilge 2009 tha Colmcille toilichte an cuireadh seo a thoirt dhuibh gu ÈIRINN ‘S ALBA, feasgar, le Lillis Ó Laoire mar fhear-an-taighe, far am faigh sibh òrain, ceòl, dannsa agus craic bho luchd-ealan às gach taobh de Shruth na Maoile.

Aig a chuirm-chiùil bithidh Éamon Ó Cuív, TD, Ministear airson Ghnothaichean Coimhearsnachd, Dùthchail agus Gaeltachta, a’ toirt seachad na duaisean airson na deilbh a b’ fheàrr anns a’ cho-farpais Saoghal nan Gaidheal.

Taigh Òsda Mount Errigal, Litir Ceannain, Dùn nan Gall, Èirinn
Disathairne 31mh An Dàmhair aig 12.30f

Grèim bidhe agus deoch.

Bus an asgaidh a’ fàgail an taigh-òsda as dèidh làimh a’
dol chun an AURA Letterkenny Leisure Complex airson
na co-fharpais Danns’ anns an t-Seann-Nòs.

RSVP: 0044 1463 225 454

As part of Oireachtas na Gaeilge 2009, Colmcille has pleasure in inviting you to join us for ÈIRINN ’S ALBA, an afternoon hosted by Lillis Ó Laoire, when artists from both sides of Struth na Maoile will entertain with song, music, dance and craic.

During the event Éamon Ó Cuív, TD, Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Aairs, will present the prizes for the best pictures in the Saoghal nan Gaidheal/Saol na nGael photographic competition. Mount Errigal Hotel, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, Ireland; Saturday 31 October 12.30pm. Buffet and refreshments

Free bus leaving the hotel after the event for the Sean-Nós Dancing Competition at the AURA
Letterkenny Leisure Complex.

RSVP: 0044 1463 225 454

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Goin' to Starvy Creek

the stage at the Starvy Creek Bluegrass festival

Goin’ to Starvy Creek

Bluegrass music, mountain music or hillbilly music. Whatever it’s called, it has always held a wonderful fascination for me. From the doghouse bass to the fiddle, the blend of acoustic instruments stirs my blood and gets my toes tappin’ and my hands clappin’.

When I was a youngin’, folks would gather on the weekend; bringing their guitars, banjos and fiddles or mandolins. We would eat, visit and make music. Mostly we would play and sing from the church hymn book. However, our neighbor Dick Stanger had a three-ring notebook full of songs. He had written them all out by hand and included the guitar chords. There were a lot of old-timey songs in that notebook along with about every song Hank Williams Sr. ever recorded.

I had me a Silvertone guitar from Sears & Roebuck. Dick would help me tune the thing and he showed me a few chords. What fun times those were.

Over the years, my musical adventures have taken different avenues but I’ve never strayed too far from my back-home roots. I have made a living playing music, singing and entertainin’ folks.

And while it seems most of the music I’ve performed has been everything except mountain music, that very mountain music is what I think of when I think of relaxin’ and havin’ a good time.

Kenny and Amada Smith on stage

Now, having said all that, a few weeks ago, I found out State of the Ozarks would be going to a bluegrass festival. I really had no idea what to expect. The place we headed to was the Starvy Creek Festival near Conway, Missouri.

Joshua Heston, editor of State of the Ozarks, had been telling me of the thousands of folks at this event — and what a big deal it was. On the way out to the park, I was a bit skeptical. We were the only ones on the road (I had figured the traffic would be more like Branson). But as we rounded a corner on the appropriately named Bluegrass Road, Joshua said, “Now you ain‘t gonna believe what you’re about to see.” And boy, was he right!

As we topped a knoll, a sea of RV campers and trailers came into view — hundreds of them. Josh was right. I could hardly believe what I was seeing. Folks and music and food were everywhere, all centered around the main stage: a little cabin with a big front porch — settled low in a small ravine. Folks set up chairs all up and down that ravine. And there were thousands of them.

Group after group performed all day long. When evening came, the performances started all over again! Josh was busy taking pictures and talking to folks now and then. But he told me my job was to just enjoy the festival and I did! I just sat there and soaked up a wonderful experience!

One of the biggest highlights of that day was watching the group Nothin’ Fancy make their Starvy Creek debut. A lot of folks had never seen Nothin’ Fancy perform before that Friday but by the end of the day, just about everybody was talking about them.

Those fellas know how to entertain folks. When they received their first standing ovation, I couldn’t help but tear up a little for them.
The music on that stage wasn’t the only music happening! No sir! I went wanderin’ to stretch my legs. I strolled through the RV village and came upon several groups of folks jammin’ just like we had when I was a kid! It was hillbilly heaven.

I decided right then and there this wouldn’t be the last time I came to one of these events. Josh and I were both invited to sit in on a late-night jam session by the good folks of Iron Mountain, a new band from Salem, Missouri. Time and weariness didn’t allow for that, but next time I surely hope to get out my mandolin and join in.

It was nearing midnight and the chill of the evening had set in. We bagged up our chairs and headed home. You might say I was tuckered out but ready to do it all over again. I’ll be there next year and hope to see you there too.

’Till next month,

Elias Tucker
October 11, 2009

To explore the Ozarks visit: The State of the Ozarks

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The Foyle Halloween Carnival

Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival
Welcome and Failte

Celebrate Halloween in style with the Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival

With family fun days, magic shows, movies and live music, and of course the spectacular carnival parade and jaw dropping fireworks over the River Foyle, it is clear to see that this city is the place to be this Halloween!

So get your costumes at the ready, and discover the magic of Halloween with us.

For a full programme of events from Wednesday 28th to Saturday 31st October, visit or contact 028 7126 7284 for further event and accommodation details.

Accommodation Specials starting from £69pps for 2 nights B& B and one evening meal, check out the offers at