Men of Action: Ireland Triumph At 6 Nations

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Brian O’Driscoll raises the 6 Nations trophy after Ireland’s victory in 2009 (Photo by Arun Marsh via Flickr Creative Commons)

Last weekend was a big one for the Irish. Ireland’s big win of the RBS Six Nations tournament kick-started the St Patrick’s Day celebrations!

But this was a hard fought victory. Ireland headed into their final game needing a win against France. Only a win would ensure the team was clutching the trophy come St Patrick’s Day.

After a strong performance from France in the first quarter, Ireland fought back to crush this early lead. Jonathan Sexton scored two tries and the team continued to fight off a French retaliation. In the end Ireland secured their second Six Nations victory, beating France 22-20!

This was Brian O’Driscoll’s last international game, and what a fairytale ending for him.

‘It is great to finish my career on a high,’ O’Driscoll said. ‘When I do hang this jersey up on the hook inside it will be with fond memories’.

‘The emotions are starting to kick in now. It feels great to be a two-time Six Nations winner’.

In 2009 Brian O’Driscoll captained Ireland to win the Six Nations and a second victory is long deserved.

‘It’s a wonderful feeling. I’ve played a long time for Ireland and to only have won one Six Nations championship would have been disappointing so I’m really delighted for this group of players, for how talented they are, how hard they worked’.

Now is the time that the emotions will flow. The team was welcomed back to a huge crowd in Dublin, with the win marking one of the best starts to St Patrick’s Day in recent years. For the Ireland team and many of the fans, the victory will be bittersweet following O’Driscoll’s retirement from international games.

St Patrick’s Day 2014: It’s A Long Way To The Tipperary But Our Heart’s Right There

P1010677The Tipperary is the oldest Irish pub in London. Steeped in Irish heritage, it has been a haven for Wild Geese for hundreds of years and a remarkable taste of home. And now we’ve flocked behind the bar! Yes, The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey* is now served in London’s oldest Irish pub, just in time for St Patrick’s Day!

The Tipperary was first built in 1300, on the side of a monastery where the monks brewed ale.

In 1605 it was transformed into ‘The Boar’s Head’. It’s stood the test of time, surviving the Great Fire of London having been built of stone and brick, rather then wood.

It came under Irish ownership in around 1700, becoming the first Irish pub outside of Ireland. It was fitted out in traditional Irish style, including a clock by Thomas Tompion.

Following the First World War, the printers returning from the war had the pub named ‘The Tipperary’, inspired by the war song, ‘It’s A Long Way’, and the name remains today.

Today The Tipperary is run by Steve Rowlands, who has a huge passion for fine spirits. The interior retains the original Irish character and behind the bar now sits The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey Collection. It’s a great place to enjoy The Wild Geese this St Patrick’s Day!

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The Tipperary’s owner Steve Rowloands with The Wild Geese Collection*

** Outside North America The Wild Geese Soldiers & Heroes Irish Whiskey Collection is sold under the ‘brand name’ of ‘The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey Collection’

St Patrick’s Day 2014: Meeting Today’s Wild Geese

To celebrate St Patrick’s Day we’ve met some of today’s Wild Geese, who have reflected on what it means to be Irish abroad.

In 1691 Patrick Sarsfield and his followers left Ireland. They took the name ‘The Wild Geese’ in the hope and belief that they would one day return. Although many did not see Ireland again, they kept Ireland in their hearts while they achieved extraordinary feats in their host communities.

This story continues today with Wild Geese still making valuable contributions while living and working away from Ireland. Full of ambition and determination, their Untamed Irish spirit shine through.

Meet some today’s Wild Geese in London! Cormac Redmond, Ian McKeown, Vashit Curran and Mick Kelly who work at the famous Waxy O’Connor’s and Karen Houlihan and Robert Murray from the stylish Bentley Oyster Bar & Grill, who were good enough to share their own stories with us.

Click to discover more on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheWildGeeseIrishSoldiersAndHeroes

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Men of Action: George Washington’s St Patrick’s Day

In 1787, reflecting on his travels in North America, George Grieve noted:

‘On more than one imminent occasion, Congress owed their existence, and America possibly her preservation, to the fidelity and firmness of the Irish’

The Irish were already prominent members of American communities by the time the American Revolution started. Sympathising with the plight that America faced, many Irish soldiers flocked to the support of George Washington and his commanders and joined the fight for freedom.

These Wild Geese quickly became the largest immigrant group in the Continental Army. It is thought that they made up one quarter of the fighting force. France sent support as the revolution intensified and the first troops it sent were the regiments Dillon, Walsh and Roche of the Irish Brigade. Irish soldiers were a familiar yet formidable force on the battlefields, and played their parts in forming the new nation of America. As George Grieve noted their contributions were many and they pursued the path to freedom with courage and determination.

The Marquis de Lafayette noted this contribution in 1779, saying:

‘May the kingdom of Ireland merit a stripe in the American Standard’

 

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But toward the end of 1779, the soldiers fighting in the revolutionary war faced the bleakest winter yet. General George Washington set up camp in Morristown, New Jersey. Snowstorms were commonplace and in this harsh climate the Continental Army was hungry and cold. Morale was low.

After months of these conditions, General Washington recognised that his troops needed to rest and it was important to reinvigorate moral. The key to this was St. Patrick’s Day.

Many of the soldiers in the camp were Irish or held Irish ancestry, with the regiments from Pennsylvania and Maryland thought to be nearly half Irish. Seven of the eleven brigades were commanded by generals either born in Ireland or with Irish ancestry. So it seemed appropriate to celebrate St Patrick’s Day.

Washington declared the 17th March 1780 as an r&r day for the camp, awarding the holiday ‘as an act of solidarity with the Irish in their fight for independence’.

Today it is thought there are over 50 million people of Irish ancestry in the USA and St Patrick’s Day is celebrated throughout the country.

Men of Action: Last Charge of the ‘Leinster Leviathan’

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Image by wynnert, via Flickr Creative Commons

Ireland are rocketing into their next 6 Nations Rugby match with two wins behind them. The team’s performances in the annual championship have been exemplary, and it seems like the perfect tournament for Brian O’Driscoll to retire to.

The ‘Leinster leviathan’s’ departure from the game is already being felt throughout the rugby world. He’s often referred to as one of the greatest players ever and has displayed the strong Irish heart of the Wild Geese. His determination on and off the field has shone through.

O’Driscoll will be hoping to capitalise on the 28-6 win against Scotland and the 26-3 win against Wales, to hit a hat-trick of wins against England this weekend, where he will draw with Australia’s George Gregan for the most caps in the game (139).

Although his career glistens with achievements, it is his character and commitment to his team that will be remembered. Camaraderie has also been an important trait to Wild Geese from which strong leaders have emerged. Like Patrick Sarsfield, O’Driscoll has lead his troops abroad.

‘I believe that any team taking the field with Brian involved always fell they have a chance of winning,’ explains Ireland’s captain Paul O’Connell. ‘You see that confidence now spread across the provinces’.

O’Connell has been celebrating the transformation Brian O’Driscoll has brought to the game by spreading ‘confidence across the whole set-up’.

‘He’s the complete player. You have to defend as well as you attack, to be an elite member of the team off the pitch as well as on it. Many of those who come through now are in the mould of brian, in terms of the way he has carried himself. They have modelled themselves on him’

Men of Action: Martin Luther King Jr’s Dream Lives On

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Martin Luther King Day passed this week on Monday 20th January, proving that The Dream still resonates with people far and wide.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who would not accept the world around him. He stood up to be counted and united people under a banner of love to fuel change in his society. He was a Man of Action and Martin Luther King Day has always been a day to reflect on the man and what he stood for. In honour of this, yesterday was billed as ‘a day on, not a day off’, despite being a US Federal holiday.

People were encourage to work with the passion of Martin Luther King to improve their communities. US President Barack Obama and his family served food in a Washington soup kitchen and throughout the US communities gathered to hear topical speeches and walk in parades.

All this acts a focal point. During tough times, it’s important to remember why Martin Luther King took action. To champion character over colour. Love over hate. Protest over violence. Freedom over oppression. Equality over discrimination.

He was a Man of Action and this week reminds us all to stand up. To be counted. To take action.

Irish Talent: The Enigmatic Hudson Taylor

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Hudson Taylor (image from Hudson Taylor Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/HudsonTaylorMusic)

In 1691 Patrick Sarsfield and his followers left Ireland. They took the world by storm and the name ‘Irish’ soon became a sought after in European armies.

Today Irish talents are diverse and two Wild Geese are preparing to have their voices heard in 2014. The duo Hudson Taylor are one of Ireland’s top bands heading into the new year and like the original Wild Geese will be making their talents known beyond the shores of the Emerald Isle.

Hudson Taylor consists of brothers Alfie and Harry. Born in Dublin, they started busking on the streets of the capital at a young age. They were regulars on Grafton Street and belting out covers of the Beach Boys and the Beatles with their own unique twists. In an interview with Digital Spy they explained:

‘They all contributed to us learning to be quite diverse, but we try to keep our songs short, catchy and raw in their production’

They spent most of 2013 supporting UK sensation Jake Bugg on his tour with their folk pop music. During the tour they got the chance to explore their sound and work on their first album. After their debut EP ‘Battles’ shot to number 1 in the iTunes Ireland and number 14 in the iTunes UK charts, the demand for their music is growing.

Those who have already seen Hudson Taylor live champion their interesting songs and strong lyrics. Their live performances gel the band with the audience and there’s no doubt that they will feature on the festival scene this summer. But the duo are still ‘doing a lot of experimenting with vocal techniques’.

‘I think our Irish accents are quite handy in terms of that, making us stand out a little bit more’, Harry explained.

Hudson Taylor are very active on Youtube, which is where a majority of their fanbase has come from. You can check them out in the link below as they take their unique sound abroad.

http://www.youtube.com/user/HudsonTaylorMusic

Men of Action: 4000th Win Rockets McCoy to Sports Personality of the Year

Tony_mccoyIrish jockey Tony McCoy must be used to winning by now, but when he was announced as RTE’s Irish Sports Personality of the Year at the end of December, there was a great sense of consensus for the decision.

The 18 time champion jockey has been a powerful ambassador for Irish sports and horse racing throughout his 22 year career, but back in November 2013 he rode his 4000th win! Riding Mountain Tunes at Towcester in the UK, the Antrim native took a moment to contemplate his successful career:

‘It really was the first time that I felt really proud and happy for what I’d achieved and felt brave enough to say that I was proud of what I’d achieved’

This 4000th win rocketed him into the public eye and he soon won nominations for the RTE  and BBC Sports Personalities of the Year, awards that recognise the skill and determination of sportsmen. He came third in the BBC contest (won by tennis player Andy Murray), but a week later he won the Irish award.

‘It’s great,’ he said, ‘and a fantastic honour to win such a prestigious award here at home’

But like The Wild Geese before him, this level of success does not mean an easy ride from here on out. His 4000th win and the Sports Personality Award have exhilarated him and he’s now set his sights on 5000 wins going into 2014! His ambition is unyielding. Just like Wild Geese throughout the centuries.

Men of Action: Wild Geese Create A Christmas Like No Other

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General Corcoran, ancestor of Patrick Sarsfield (Image from Wikipedia.com)

For hundreds of years Irish soldiers have sought their destiny abroad. Wherever they travelled, whichever side of the battlefield they have stood, the tales of their exploits have never been forgotten.

For many Irish soldiers abroad, Christmas was a difficult time. Far from home and often in harsh conditions, many Wild Geese have spent Christmas fighting for causes close to their hearts.

During the first year of the American Civil War, the brutality of battle quickly became commonplace. But for the Union Army’s Irish Brigade, a bleak Christmas was not acceptable, even on the battlefield.

The Brigade was made up of mostly Irish Americans, who were familiar with the Christmas traditions of Ireland: time with family and friends, gift giving and feasting. It was lead by Brigadier-General Michael Corcoran, an ancestor of Patrick Sarsfield. And like his ancestor, Corcoran was determined to bring a sense of camaraderie  and resourcefulness to the battlefield, especially during Christmas.

To contrast the misery of battle, the Irish Brigade transformed their camp into a winter wonderland. On Christmas Eve the drill was suspended so that the troops could decorate the camp. Soldiers from neighbouring camps visited to appreciate the resourcefulness of the Irish Brigade and enjoy some Christmas spirit. One eyewitnesses recorded:

‘All the men were working like so many beavers decorating the camp with evergreens. There were arches of evergreens, some as high as thirty feet and stars made out of the time-honoured holly’

Another stated: ‘Without any exaggeration I believe such a camp and such a fairytale-like scene were never seen before and may never be again’

The soldiers gathered at midnight to think of family and friends. They sang songs and General Corcoran offered his staff and guests a glass of Irish whiskey each.

The following morning brought with it a glorious day. The soldiers sang more carols and played games. Officers from four Navy ships moored nearby were invited to join in the festivities and the evening brought with it a large meal, followed by General Corcoran toasting to the Irish Brigade. Like many Wild Geese before them, the Irish Brigade had brought optimism to an adverse situation.

The Civil War, however, was on the horizon. A month later the Irish Brigade were in the midst of battle. Many of them, including General Corcoran, would not see another Christmas, but the celebrations of 1862 will be remembered as one where the generosity, determination and resourcefulness of Wild Geese shone through. It was a Christmas like no other.

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The Irish Brigade marching into battle (Image from racontours.com)

Men of Action: Irish Gold Medalist Nominated For Sports Personality of the Year

Martyn_Irvine_2012Eleven of Ireland’s top sports stars have been nominated for the RTE Sports Personality Award, celebrating a fantastic year for Irish sports.

One of the nominees is professional cyclist Martyn Irvine who has had a roller-coaster year. In February he won the Scratch World title at the UCI World Track Championships in Minsk, only an hour after winning a silver medal in the individual pursuit discipline. A huge achievement and highlight in his career, making him the first Irish male rider to win a World Championship in 117 years.

This turned into an uncompromising race:

‘I rode smart for the first half of the race. I didn’t want to race too much, but then I started to use my head’

‘I looked around and other guys were grimacing more than me. I rolled off the front and got in the groove. It was a all or nothing’

From this point it seemed as though anything was possible, but a month after winning the Scratch World title he fractured his femur during the Tour of Taiwan. But like Patrick Sarsfield and The Wild Geese, Irvine was bolstered by this would be tragedy. Just seven months later, Irvine cycled and won the men’s points race at the Cycling World Cup in Manchester, UK.

‘I must have done something right in the rehab, looks like i need to break a leg to get good results!’, Irvine exclaimed after winning, maintaining the ‘can do’ attitude of The Wild Geese.

It’s good to see both Irvine’s achievements and determination rewarded with a recognition at this year’s Sports Personality of The Year. See the full list of nominees here: http://www.rte.ie/sport/darts/2013/1129/489989-rte-sports-awards/