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Have You a Party Piece?

by Joyce McGreevy on November 14, 2016

Kiaran O'Donnell and Rick Chelew play guitar at a small gathering, carrying on the Irish tradition of the party piece, sharing songs, stories, and poems. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Sharing our gifts turns strangers into friends; Kiaran O’Donnell and Rick Chelew had just met.
© Joyce McGreevy

What an Irish Tradition
Can Teach Us Today

It was known as the party piece, a “bit of an auld song” or spoken word. Would we have called it an Irish tradition? Probably not. As students in Galway, sharing songs, stories, and poems was just something we did on Saturday nights.

But the tradition goes back centuries, notes Irish historian P.W. Joyce. Ancient Irish sagas depict hospitality to travelers as a social virtue, and guests reciprocated with music or spoken word. “Like the Homeric Greeks, the Irish were excessively fond of hearing tales and poetry recited  . . . Every intelligent person was expected to know a reasonable number.”

World Photography: The Art of the Neighborhood

by Meredith Mullins on September 12, 2016

Man from Dublin street photography series by Eamonn Doyle. (Image © Eamonn Doyle.)

Untitled, from the i series
© Eamonn Doyle/Courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery

Eamonn Doyle’s Dublin Streets

Sometimes the sets and characters of a neighborhood become just a background track for daily life. The peripherals fade from view. Familiar details lose their luster. People pass unseen.

The act of creating through a camera lens can bring a neighborhood back into focus.

That’s exactly what happened when Irish photographer Eamonn Doyle took camera in hand after a 20-year hiatus.

He rediscovered his home turf—capturing the urban landscape of North Dublin within a half-mile radius of his house, often finding his subjects within just 10 meters of his front door.

First, Dare to Be Wild

by Joyce McGreevy on July 25, 2016

The Art of Gardening to Save the World

A close-up prairie flower in Chicago's Lurie Garden reflects the trend toward wild gardening. Image © Joyce McGreevy

Up close, a wildflower is a world.
© Joyce McGreevy

Here’s what happens when landscape designers dare to be wild. Lavender hyssop, maroon prairie smoke, blue quamash, and frothy calamint run rampant in all directions. The work of creative problem solvers, wild gardening centers you in the heart of nature.

Native spiderwort flourish in Chicago's Lurie Garden, thanks to wild gardening. Image © Joyce McGreevy

Native spiderwort and wild grasses grow knee-high in Midwestern fields.
© Joyce McGreevy

A Wild Surprise

Now, look skyward. See the skyscrapers. You’re standing in the center of America’s third largest urban area. Welcome to Chicago, city of wild surprises.

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