Tuesday, November 15, 2011

We have moved

To offer more freedom of design, this blog has been moved.

Please visit us at GotIreland.com for latest posts.

Thank you!

Monday, November 7, 2011

How to pour a Guinness

Do you ever go in to a bar and the barman (or lady) throws up some crap that they claim to be a pint of Guinness?  Well when I order a Guinness I expect a decent attempt at the following pouring process.  Pouring a Guinness is not as simple as sticking a glass under the spout and see what happens.  No!  You have to at least understand that it is a different kind of drink and deserves a different kind of pour.
Here's the steps that Guinness master brewer, Fergal Murray, recommends.

Step One: The Glass
"The bartender takes a dry, clean glass, which should be a 20-ounce tulip pint glass," Murray says. "The internal aerodynamics of a tulip glass allows the nitrogen bubbles to flow down the sides of the glass, and the contour 'bump' in the middle pushes the bubbles back to the center on their way up."

Step Two: The Angle
"The glass should be held at a 45-degree angle under the tap. The tap faucet should not touch the tulip glass or beer. If you just hold it straight under the faucet, you'll get a big block of bubbles and a fish eye."

Step Three: The Pour
"Let the beer flow nice and smoothly into the angled glass and fill it up three-quarters of the way."

Step Four: The Head
"Let it settle. On the way through the faucet, the beer passes through a five-hole disk restrictor plate at a high speed, creating friction and bringing out nitrogen bubbles. The bubbles are agitated now -- they can't go back into the solution, so they flow down the interior sides and back up the middle -- but they can't escape. So they build this wonderful, creamy head on top. It's like an architect building a strong foundation."

Step Five: The Top-Off
"Once it settles, you want to fill up the glass and top it off. You allowed it to settle, you created a domed effect across the top of the pint, and now your head is looking proud over the glass. That's the perfect vision of the perfect pint."

Step Six: The First Sip
"You drink with your eyes first. The cosmetic look of the pint is critical to the Guinness experience. We don't want anybody just putting liquid in a glass. And finally, drink responsibly."

Steps extracted from here

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ireland crossword puzzle


Irish Trivia Crossword

Questions by Liam

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

How to make a hot whiskey (hot toddy)

Winter is almost upon us, and one of my favorite remedies for the pesky illnesses, such as colds and flus, that are in abundance this time of year, is a Hot Toddy. Not really sure why we call it a Hot Toddy, but you can call it a hot whiskey if you like.

So here's what you're gonna need....
1 measure of your favorite Irish whiskey - I'm generous with my measure :)
2 teaspoons of sugar - brown is best, white will do.
6 - 8 cloves
2 slices of lemon - slice it at about 5mm thick
8 ounce of boiling water - the less water you add, the stronger the drink will be
A sample selections of Irish Whiskeys (Pic from Wikipedia)
Now here's what you gotta do with all that good stuff you've gathered...
Prepare your lemons - pierce each slice with 3 or 4 cloves.
Drop your sugar into a heat proof glass and pour your whiskey on top.  You can add a metal spoon to the glass to ensure it doesn't crack from the boiling water.
Put your lemons into the glass with the whiskey.
Add the boiling water, stir it all up so the sugar dissolves, and serve!

I always find drinking it while it's still hot ensures it has the best affect.  And if it's not working after the first one, I have another :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How do I trace my Irish Ancestors?

Having lived and worked in the United States for a number of years, I can't tell you the number of people that respond to my accent with the line "oh I'm Irish too".  What they generally mean is that they have ancestors who came from Ireland, and more often than not it was many generations ago.

Being Irish, or of Irish descent, is typically something most people feel very proud of, something they want to cling to, and usually something they want to find out more about.  It's estimated there are approximately 40 million Americans who trace Irish ancestry.  The number worldwide is obviously far greater than that.

It's sad to think that the huge number of Irish descendants around the world is due in part to the suffering of their ancestors many years ago.  People left Ireland in shiploads due to famine, oppression, poverty and lack of prospects.  They primarily left Ireland to go to places such as the USA, Britain, Australia and other more prosperous countries. 

Unfortunately for many US citizens, tracing their Irish heritage can be a very difficult task, generally because information was lost with the passage of time.  I've heard of many people jumping on planes and heading to Ireland, to search parish records of births, marriages and deaths with the hope of finding information that can help them build out their family tree.  This can be quite an effective technique because churches are pretty good at having all this information stored away, and the church staff are very willing to help..  And because the people of Ireland lived their lives with such close ties to the church, most people can trace ancestors in this fashion.  Thankfully, technology has made life a little easier for the current crop of ancestor hunters.  Now you can search Irish church records online (see below).
Like all the other ways of tracing your roots, you need to have some information to get you started.  First and last names, places and dates of births, town names, children's names, profession etc, are all good starting points to getting you the information you are looking for.

Luckily for you, these days there are so many options to building your family tree.  Before you waste too much time, or spend any money, the first place to start is by asking questions of older relatives who may have emigrated from Ireland, or had a parent or grandparent that did.  You'd be surprised at how much information they may be able to give you to get you started.  I've often quizzed my own grandfather on my own family history.  It's good to write it down now so you can pass it on to your children in years to come.  Print out a family tree off one of the many sites that offer them for free, and put yourself or your kids on the bottom branch and work your way up writing down as much information as you can.  When you exhaust the knowledge that your family members have on offer then your next move will probably to do some online research.

Here's a list of websites and services I've come across that can help you get started.  Some charge a fee for their service, while others have some very detailed information for free.

Irish Census Archives
To use this website you're going to need names and places of birth of your relatives.  This website allows you to search census records from 1901 and 1911 that took place in Ireland.  You will be able to print out a PDF scan of your ancestors actual census filing (pretty cool!).  It gives some pretty interesting information regarding the family's occupations, health status, ages, etc.  And it's free :)

This site allows you to search church records for marriages, baptisms and burials going back hundreds of years.  They even have a wonderful document you can download that gives you tips on tracing your Irish ancestors.  There is also a genealogy related Information Directory within that file that provides many useful phone numbers and other contact details for ancestry resources.

Ellis Island
Millions of Irish emigrants passed through the doors of Ellis Island en route to America.  If your Irish ancestors arrived in the US between 1892 and 1954 then there's a good chance this is where they first set foot on US soil.  Their website will allow you search for you relatives, and has original arrival records and ships manifests that you can print out.  Interestingly the first ever person to be processed at Ellis Island was a young Irish girl, Annie Moore, arriving on a ship from Cobh (formerly Queenstown) in County Cork.

Irish Heritage Certificate
Apply for your certificate of Irish Heritage at the link above.  The certificate is an official recognition by the Irish government of your Irish Heritage.

Some other notable websites that may aid you in your research:
There's plenty more resources available online to help you find where you came from.  I think with the information above, you should have a pretty good chance at finding this information.  I wish you the very best in tracing your roots.

I'll leave you with an excerpt from John Locke's famous poem, "Dawn on the Irish Coast", aka the "Emigrant's Anthem"

But there it is—
The dawn on the hills of Ireland !
God's angels lifting the night's black veil
From the fair, sweet face of my sireland !
O, Ireland! isn't grand you look—
Like a bride in her rich adornin !
With all the pent-up love of my heart
I bid you the top of the morning !