Holiday Folk Fair 2017
Celebrate the Culture of Welcome at the 2017 Holiday Folk Fair International

Cead Mile Failte.

He was waiting for his buddy when he caught a glance of himself in a window. "Snazz, I look," escaped from his gob. He was glad he glommed onto his new hat, managing to finagle a low price. "I look like a swell, and, hey wait until I get to that shindig. We will make a racket."

Then there were the friends who decided to play some poker at the swanky club. One of them had a slick gimmick. He often played his hunches. He took money from suckers, and from marks, many out for a spree.

So, do you think you do not know any of the Irish language? Well, much of the above two paragraphs were using words that came from Gaelic. Buddy came from "bodach," a clown, but later adopted to its present meaning. Snazz was "snas," meaning elegant. Gob is gob, a mouth. Glom was "glam," to snatch, finagle from "fionna aclai,"an agile contrivance. Swell grew out of "souil", cheerful or joyful, shindig from "scinnt-theach," a party house. And racket’s origin was "rac aird," or a loud disturbance.

The word "somhaoineach," (sow-in-ac) grew into swank. Poker was "poc," or pocket, as the game was played with money from a pot or pocket. You may know of camogie, as it is played in Milwaukee, but the root word, camog, means a hook or a crooked stick. From that grew gimmick.

And did you have a hunch was from aithint, (ahaonnch)? You were on the mark, as "marc", was a target. This slick spiel, after all, came from a learning spree. (Sliocach, speal and spraoi,) or sleek, cutting speech, and a sporting bit of fun. Oh, and the suckers? They were "sach ur" fat cats.

Cead Mile Failte - One Hundred Thousand Welcomes. It is what we say to people in the Irish language to welcome them into our homes, our gatherings, our lives. Failte - Welcome. You are welcome - Failte Romhat.

Language makes you feel welcome, or at home. But it is not always easy to translate that for people who do not know the language, or the culture. But in order to grow, to feel safe, and feel you have a home, you need to feel welcome.

When many of the Irish came to the United States, they did not know the English language. And, as with most groups who came over to this country, they incorporated their own language into English. I have seen it with my Sicilian in-laws, my Spanish speaking friends, and my German relatives, words that have a life in both worlds that provide the connective tissue to their old lives and their new, and the ability to be understood.

In the case of the Irish, the American English language, as had the English language of the British Isles, found itself enriched and enhanced, if not overwhelmed, by Gaeilge. They created a new lexicon to make that new home seem more welcoming, and less scary and onerous.

Working class terms, such as "stiff," started out as staf, a muscular man, sluggers as slucaire, and square, or honest ('s coir, meaning truthful or honest) grew out of the American slums, which came from "'s lom," (lom) which means a bare room.

Then there is dude, or "dud," a fool; a mug, from muc, a pig. Did you ever cry uncle? That was ancal. Know a real phony? Cheats would often sell fake rings, and a ring was a fainne. Do you have a lot of whatever, or money galore? Then you would know the word was from go-leor.

Daniel Cassidy has an amazing and well research book, How the Irish Invented Slang - The Secret Language of the Crossroads. It was published in 2007 by CounterPunch Press. Cassidy was director of Irish Studies at New College of California. He has unearthed many previously missed connections between the immigrant Irish and King's English.

We will be celebrating the 74th Annual International Holiday Folk Fair this November. The theme is the Culture of Welcome. We are a nation of immigrants. Many of us are children of multiple nationalities, and our children have even more ethnic groups stirred into the mix. All of these ethnic groups found ways to make this scary and harsh new place a home, a safe and welcoming locale.

Being able to create a welcome space is important to all of us. For the Irish, we created our own world by creating our own language.

Language is what connects us, as a people, a nation, or an ethnic group. At this gathering of ethnic pride, all of our individual languages funnel into English, so we are able to understand all of our neighbors.

The 74th Annual Holiday Folk Fair International will be held Friday, November 17 to Sunday, November. 17, 2017 at the State Fair Park Exposition Center in West Allis, Wis.

Hours on Friday, November 17 are 2 p.m. to 10; p.m.; 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. on Saturday, November 18; and 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. on Sunday, November 19. On Friday, students will be arriving about 9 am for an educational preview.

A program of the International Institute of Wisconsin, Holiday Folk Fair International celebrates the cultural heritage of the people living in southeastern Wisconsin. This year's theme, Celebrate the Culture of Welcome , will allow Fair-goers the opportunity to learn the ways in which you are welcome into lives through the music, food, dance, art, and crafts of those that participate in Folk Fair.

Special attractions in 2017 include invited international performers and artisans, the Kohl's Color Wheels display, the Wisconsin Woodturners, and a bonsai exhibit.

The three-day event features the All Nations Theater with traditional music and dance, the World Cafe offering traditional dishes, the International Stage where young people perform their ethnic dances, the Tanzhauz (Music Pavilion) where attendees dance and sing along with a variety of musical stylings, the Coffee House where patrons enjoy a beverage and baked goods while listening to talented musicians, Heritage Lane with unique traditions and customs through interactive exhibits, the International Bazaar where cultural artifacts create a unique shopping experience, and the Callen Construction Chef's Stage featuring local chefs preparing traditional cuisine.

The 16th annual Around The World 5K Run/Walk, benefiting The Salvation Army of Milwaukee County, will be held Sunday, November 19, at 9:00 a.m. as part of the 74th annual Holiday Folk Fair International, America's premiere multi-cultural festival.

Starting and finishing near the Wisconsin Exposition Center at State Fair Park, 8200 W. Greenfield Ave. in West Allis, a portion of the race proceeds will support the Salvation Army's Homeless Children's Program, while the balance will be used to provide educational opportunities to help children take pride in their own cultures while developing respect and tolerance for other cultures through the International Institute of Wisconsin

We are again the face of the Irish community in this area. Each year we are called upon to represent the Irish, to show the world what we are, what we have done, and what we can do. To do that, the Shamrock Club will need volunteers for our retail, cultural, and food areas. We also need to sell tickets to the Folk Fair.

Holiday Folk Fair International is produced by the International Institute of Wisconsin. The International Institute is a not for profit organization dedicated to international cooperation. They try to develop a multiethnic, multi-cultural perspective, through education, exchange, communication, social activities, and immigration and naturalization services. Their website is Holiday Folk Fair

The Shamrock Club has been at the forefront of maintaining, cultivating and even helping to enlarge Irish folklife in Milwaukee and the State. We have lived Irish-American history, and we have helped to create some of our own, but we have done so very much to give the community an identity and a sense of belonging. It helped us discover who and why we are. And Milwaukee and Wisconsin are all the richer for it.

The Milwaukee Irish Dance Company will be representing the Irish on the performance stage.

Help Out At Folk Fair

We will need help in a number of areas. If you would like to work a shift at the Holiday Folk Fair, please contact the Shamrock Club's Holiday Folk Fair chairmen and women: Food Chair: Kim Nowak, (414) 940-8654 or Folk Fair Food, Cultural Chairs Jackie and Maureen Konkol, (414) 405-4870 or Folk Fair Cultural; and Retail Chairs: Mary Koehler, Mary Koehler, 414-963-1193 or email: or Folk Fair Retail.

Bridget Jaskulski is our dance school coordinator. Or contact us at the club's general e-mail address, Volunteer For the Shamrock Club at Folk Fair.

You will receive the annual Folk Fair participant pin, plus admission for Folk Fair for all three days. Admission is as follows: Adults $12 at the door, $10 in advance. Tickets will be available for sale at the November membership meeting.

The Irish language has disappeared, in many ways, from the landscape of Ireland. Ironically, in the United States many words have become insinuated into the fabric of the English language, and the American lexicon. After four hundred years of life in the New World, this relatively small island has provided an inordinate share of influence over American culture, music, and speech than a place that had only nine million people, at most, living upon it.

And for many of us, our language became our welcome mat to others, both Irish and non-Irish. And once we created a home, we made certain that we welcomed the others who followed. And again, Cead Mile Failte -- One Hundred Thousand Welcomes. And to make you feel more welcome, you say it Kay-ad Mil-eh Fall-cha.

And you are always welcome.


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November 2 -- Shamrock Club General Meeting; ICHC; 7 pm

November 17-19 -- Shamrock Club at Holiday Folk Fair; State Fair Park

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November 2 -- Shamrock Club General Meeting; ICHC; 7 pm

November 17-19 -- Shamrock Club at Holiday Folk Fair; State Fair Park

December 7 -- Shamrock Club Christmas party; ICHC; 6.30 pm


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