I’m sitting here drinking a Diet Coke and listening to my favorite Pandora radio of Irish Rock. Celtic Storm is playing now, and I’m loving it. I’m being a typical modern American… With a “mutt-ish” heritage in my blood. I have Irish, German, English predominately in me, but there are some Dutch and who knows what else in me. I just know I’m a European Mutt, but I connect the most to the Irish heritage that was given to me by my father.
Dougherty or Doherty is the family name I have come from, and over the course of the past five years, with the help of my dad, I’ve learned a lot about where I came from in my Irish heritage. It’s pretty cool. My dad was also able to go out there to Ireland (lucky him) and visit the land of our forefathers. I was also able to locate the church where my great grandparents married in online. One of these days I hope to get out there myself. But for the time being, I’m diving into the Irish American culture around me. I did that this past weekend at the Celtic Festival in Front Royal, Virginia.
What a blast I had! It’s not a big festival, but it was rich with everything Celtic. There were Scots and Irish all around me promoting all things of the culture. I went to a stand promoting Scotch Whisky, and yes, that’s spelled right. I was corrected by my good friend Dougie, who was the host of the stand, that the true Whisky was spelled that way. Now, I’m not a virgin when it comes to Whiskey, the typical stuff we have out here in America – Jack Daniels, Wild Turkey, etc. I happen to enjoy a good Irish coffee with a shot of Jameston whiskey in it. I told Dougie this, and he laughed,
“Oh, that stuff is all watered down! (you have to imagine he has a very strong Scottish accent) We, Scots, know how to make the good stuff. This isn’t watered down at all. It’s a pure and crafted drink for you. ”
I raised an eyebrow and was curious. I paid the fee to have some samples of the variety of scotch whisky he had to offer. “What do you think would be good for me to try, since what I do know isn’t up to par?”
My little cup was filled half way with a pale gold of some whisky in the name of Glenmorangie. I sniffed it and found the smell to be pleasant. I took a sip and was pleased to find it warm to my throat, which was tired from having a bad cold for the past week. It was a wonderful experience. Dougie looked to me curiously, and I had to say, “I like this! It tastes good and it doesn’t burn like the other whiskeys I’ve had.” His grin was contagious. “Isn’t it good?! Here, you ought to try another one.” He had me try one other one that had a nice bite to it, but I was already in love with my first taste. My cold, which was still lingering, was chased away that day and I enjoyed the rest of the day with a nice taste of orange and vanilla in my mouth. Towards the end of the day, I had to go back and find out the name of it… And sweet Dougie gave me another sample of it. I was a happy Irish girl.
I need to share onne funny incident that happened while I was at the Whisky stand. A man was tasting some of the Scotch Whiskys, and I hear “Whoa, I think I’ve had enough!” Dougie pipes up and says, “You must be an Englishman!” I had to laugh because you can only have two samples at a time, so if this poor man couldn’t handle two, and to be called an “Englishman”, it says a lot! If I can handle two… I think it’s safe to say I have my Irish blood going for me.
My husband also found some interesting things about his surname, as he is also of Irish and Scottish background. At some of the booths, we discovered the history behind our family surnames and which region we came from. What I discovered rang true as I already knew where my family came from. With that information, we moved to a both selling Kilts. Now if you don’t know anything about kilts, let me clarify one thing — They’re not skirts!!! Both men and women wear them. Each plaid is different as they signify where the wearer is from or which clan they belong to. Since I don’t know the exact plaid pattern of the Dogherty clan, I went with the county plaid that my family originates from – the Ulster Providence. After talking with the man who works with the kilts, my husband says, “You want one?” With puppy eyes, I nodded. I’ve wanted one for years!! So, this Irish gal is getting an official Ulster kilt!!
We also looked at the plaid patterns where my husband’s surname came from, and he’ll get his later. I am thinking about seeing if I can get kilts made for the kids in his Sligo kilt pattern. I know you would say, “Shouldn’t you get his plaid as you’re married to him?” Yes, you’re right… And traditionally, I should have, but I want to wear where I came from first. Eventually, maybe, down the road, I’ll get another in the same as my husbands.
Perhaps our 2011 Christmas pictures will be of all of us wearing Kilts!
When it was time to go home, I had bagpipe and fiddle music in my head, and a whole new level of appreciation of my heritage. We know we’ll be coming to this festival for as many years as we live out here.