Flanagan lays out the early stages of formal Irish communities in Chicago through clubs. From these clubs emerged Irish dancing schools. Soon competitions were more regulated and organization entered the scene. Flanagan shows the premier dancers of their day and details the rising prestige of certain schools. With the introduction of the Irish Dancing Teachers Commission of America, dance extended beyond the Irish communities in cities like Chicago. Flanagan also explores the Riverdance phenomenon and its effects on the sport. The short history is illustrated with a wealth of old photographs that demonstrate the development of costume and add to the pleasure of the book.
– Tara Dougherty
($24.95 / 174 pages / University of Wisconsin Press)
Like many children, Reneé Gatz and her sisters often responded to their parents’ advice with rolling eyes. It wasn’t until years later that Gatz found herself repeating the familiar verbal expressions of her youth to friends, who suggested that she write them down. Realizing the impact her parents’ maxims had on her, Gatz has compiled their sayings into Wise Words & Witty Expressions. She combines well-known adages with humorous retorts that will remind readers of their own family expressions and provide new ones to return to and live by. The author largely credits her Irish Catholic mother, who learned many of her oft-used expressions from her own mother, an Irish immigrant who came to the U.S. alone at the age of 18.
With its cover photo of the Irish coast, the book is a nod to Irish wisdom and humor: one of Gatz’s favorite sayings is “The Irish have a way of telling you to go to hell so that you look forward to the trip,” meaning “No need to be nasty. If you are creative enough, you can shake off an annoying person.” With sections devoted to motherhood, love, life’s challenges, and sarcasm, readers will carry wisdom and wit through all of life’s situations.
– Aliah O’Neill
($14.95 / 122 pages / Woodpecker Press)