WBEZ | Irish http://www.wbez.org/tags/irish Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Irish master craftsman builds traditional furniture, some really tiny http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/irish-master-craftsman-builds-traditional-furniture-some-really-tiny-109867 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/tools.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Antique planing tools are part of Michael Walton’s woodworking arsenal. (Photo by Linda Paul)" /></div><p>It&rsquo;s St. Patrick&rsquo;s Day and lots of folks &ndash; especially here in Chicago &ndash; are celebrating the manifold contributions of the Irish. So let me chip in. Here&rsquo;s someone new to add to that magnificent collection&nbsp; of Irish talent that has landed on our shores. Someone I met via serendipity.<br /><br />It started with a stoplight.<br /><br />I&rsquo;m driving home from an interview a couple of weeks ago &amp; pull up to the intersection of Laramie and Irving Park Road. Not much to look at -- just a couple of car dealerships and a gas station.</p><p>My head swings to the right and a storefront catches my eye. It has a little wooden house and old-timey diagonal letters that read &ldquo;Woodshop.&rdquo;<br /><br />Invitation enough.<br /><br />I park, grab my gear, and head in the door, tape rolling. Two dogs yip at my feet and a man with a pleasant Irish brogue asks if I mind the dogs? Not at all.</p><p>I&rsquo;ve just met Fin McCool, a poodle/schnauzer mix named after <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fionn_mac_Cumhaill" target="_blank">a benevolent giant with magical powers</a>, according to Irish folklore. The other dog I meet is a Brindle Boxer called Bronagh, an <a href="http://www.babynamesofireland.com/bronagh" target="_blank">old Irish girl&rsquo;s name</a>.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Walton%20with%20room%20boxes.jpg" style="height: 533px; width: 400px; float: right;" title="Master craftsman Michael Walton. (Photo by Linda Paul)" /></div><p>All that is prelude to meeting the proprietor. It turns out I&rsquo;ve just barged, unannounced and uninvited, into the workshop of traditional furniture maker and master craftsman Michael Walton.<br /><br />When he landed here ten years ago from Dublin, his green card classified him as an alien with extraordinary ability. At the outset of his career, he tells me, he worked for years as an apprentice at one of the top antique dealers in Ireland.<br /><br />Almost all of his work is done by hand. &ldquo;I use very little machinery,&rdquo; he says.&nbsp; &ldquo;And the planes you see are moulding planes. You know I can make a piece of moulding. If there&rsquo;s a piece missing on a piece of furniture, I make it from scratch.&rdquo;</p><p>I don&rsquo;t doubt it. A wall of his workshop is lined with tools including antique planes from the 18th and 19th century. The kind of array I drool over at flea markets. He has flat planes for flat surfaces, convex planes for working on inside curves, like in barrel making &ndash; all different tools for the various areas of the wood trade.<br /><br />Furniture-making and antique restoration are not the whole of Walton&rsquo;s business, however. The most astounding aspect of his work is a related, self-taught skill. For the last twenty years he has specialized in hand-built miniature furniture. Collectible, fine museum quality furniture. The kind of thing you see at the Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/miniature%20room.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Inside an individual room box. (Photo by Linda Paul)" /></div><p>Walton offers to show me some pieces, and with that he walks me to an area just behind the storefront. It turns out Walton&rsquo;s commute to work takes, umm, let me see. About four seconds.</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah, I live at the back of the workshop,&rdquo; Walton says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s old school.&rdquo; He apologizes for the mess, which actually is no mess at all. (He should see my place.)</p><p>Just across from the couch, and within eyesight from his bed, sits Walton&rsquo;s latest project. It&rsquo;s six room boxes, made to look like a dollhouse with the front wall removed. It allows voyeurs (like me) to enjoy all the splendor inside.</p><p>I see a chandelier, a fireplace and mantle, an antique table, chair and lamps-- and one piece in particular he has built, that is jaw-dropping.</p><p>&ldquo;This is a globe drinks cabinet,&rdquo; Walton tells me, &ldquo;and it&rsquo;s all inlaid in veneer.&rdquo; And with that he shows me a hinged wooden globe that opens to reveal a detailed wooden veneer tabletop. On it, sits a flask and glasses made by a glass-cutter, now retired from Waterford Crystal. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s use an old Irish pattern,&rdquo; Walton tells me. &ldquo;An 18th century pattern.&rdquo;<br /><br />It&rsquo;s beyond me how Walton can create this extraordinary miniature work-- and then part with it.<br /><br />&ldquo;Don&rsquo;t you fall in love with the pieces you do?&rdquo; I ask him.<br /><br />&ldquo;Yeah, yeah, I do. But you always have to move on to the next project,&rdquo; he tells me. &ldquo;Every job is a project with a new beginning. And new problems,&rdquo; he laughs.<br /><br />True that.<br /><br />Walton&rsquo;s work is on display<a href="http://www.michaelwalton.com/servlet/StoreFront"> at his website.</a> Or you can see it at a<a href="http://bishopshow.com/"> miniature dollhouse event</a> in Chicago coming up on the weekend before Easter. Walton will teach two wood-finishing classes prior to that event.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 17 Mar 2014 05:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/irish-master-craftsman-builds-traditional-furniture-some-really-tiny-109867 Notre Dame football is on top - like it or not http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-11/notre-dame-football-top-it-or-not-104030 <p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_kelly_bath.jpg" style="height: 204px; width: 280px; float: left;" title="Irish Coach Brian Kelly gets a shower after cliniching a trip to the Championship game.(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)" />If you want to spark a heated discussion in college sports there is one team that seems to top most other schools &mdash; Notre Dame.</div><p>Last weekend the Fighting Irish finished an unbelievable regular season beating USC on the road and finishing with a 12-0 record and one more game to play. That game will be for the BCS title on January 7 in Miami. Their challenger for the National Championship will be determined in a few days.&nbsp; For now, it is the team from South Bend, Ind., that is making the headlines and stirring the conversation.</p><p>There seems to be no middle ground. Fans love the program and the years of glory (not many the past several years) or they can&#39;t stand the team, the program or the history. (It is hard to use the word hate, talking about a religious-based school.)</p><p>Years ago, two words seemed to get under the skin of many people about Notre Dame: Irish and Catholic. For some reason it made the school seem very segmented and is a &quot;turn-off&quot; to a significant number of individuals.</p><p>It seems that was the genesis of the distain that has evolved&nbsp;into just viewing Notre Dame as pompous and very arrogant. They have for a long time had their own lucrative national television agreement. In the crazy collegiate world of big NCAA conferences expanding, Notre Dame&#39;s football program refuses to budge in joining them and still remains independent. (The rest of their sports programs are in conferences).</p><p>Right now, that decision looks pretty good. They don&#39;t have to share their football revenues and money will flow in South Bend as they march on to the big title game.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" ap="" be="" can="" class="image-original_image" darron="" from="" mural="" nd="" photo="" seen="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_1td_jesus.jpg" stadium.="" style="float: right; height: 463px; width: 280px;" title="'Touchdown Jesus' mural can be seen from ND stadium. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)" touchdown="" /></div><p>Chicago has always laid claim to Notre Dame as being part of its realm. It is a short drive from downtown and there are a multitude of alumni that live and work here. Full disclosure, the only vacations I ever took as a kid were to South Bend to stay with my godparents. In fact, we were just there on Saturday, hours before the game in California. It was the first time my son got to see the famous campus and field &mdash; and of course &quot;Touchdown Jesus.&quot; For those that don&#39;t know what that means, there is a huge mural of Jesus with his arms extended like a referee signaling a score visible at the stadium.</p><p>When we were there this weekend, strangers had no trouble walking up to me asking what I thought about the &quot;big&quot; game that day. In this small town, Notre Dame is everything and to the rest of the country it is a big deal, too.</p><p>The next several weeks, the stories about this tradition-rich school will fill sports pages and airwaves. Love them or not &mdash; the ascension to the top of the college football world has been fascinating. Before the season began the AP pre-season poll (voted by sportswriters) did not have the Irish in their top 25 rankings. The coaches voted them 24th in the USA Today pre-season poll. How dumb they must all feel now?</p><p>The start for a perfect season began overseas, at where else &mdash; Ireland &mdash; against Navy. They followed by beating three Big Ten schools in consecutive week: Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue. The ride to the national championship had two exciting overtime wins: one against Stanford and a triple overtime win against Pittsburgh. The lovers of Notre Dame will say they are a team of destiny, the ones that don&rsquo;t care for them will say it was just luck.</p><p>Either way, you can&rsquo;t deny head coach Brian Kelly (in only his third year) has pushed all the right buttons, even though his seniors were recruited by predecessor Charlie Weis. The team&#39;s biggest star isn&rsquo;t Irish, isn&rsquo;t Catholic, but a Mormon from Hawaii &mdash; Manti Te&rsquo;o. Last year the senior linebacker could have opted for the NFL but he stayed and has dominated. Te&#39;o is being considered for the Heisman Trophy and is a finalist for the Maxwell Award. Next spring the Notre Dame defender will likely be a high first round pick in the NFL.</p><p>If this team from South Bend is going to win the title, it will be a red-shirt freshman Everett Colson guiding the team at quarterback.&nbsp;There are bountiful stories to tell leading up to the big game on January 7. And if the Irish win, there will be lots of stories forever. After all it is Notre Dame, like it or not.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="http://%3chttps//twitter.com/Crayestout%3E"><font color="#006896">@CRayeStout</font></a> and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame"><font color="#006896">Cheryl Raye-Stout #AtTheGame</font></a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 28 Nov 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-11/notre-dame-football-top-it-or-not-104030 BBC Documentary: The Irish are angry about the country’s financial crisis http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/bbc-documentary-irish-are-angry-about-country%E2%80%99s-financial-crisis <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/56935442.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Celtic Tiger seems to have lost its roar. After months of resistance, this past weekend Ireland agreed to accept an EU/IMF bailout of some $100 billion to help shore up its crippled banking system.</p><p>As Ireland faces one of Europe&rsquo;s most punishing financial crises, the anger amongst its citizens has grown. After coping with two years of recession and major cuts, many Irish taxpayers have had enough. Some have decided to leave the country in order to find employment.</p><p>For the program <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00bgtqd">Assignment</a>, the BBC&rsquo;s Ed Butler went to Ireland to meet some of the casualties of the country&rsquo;s economic collapse.<br />&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 23 Nov 2010 17:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/bbc-documentary-irish-are-angry-about-country%E2%80%99s-financial-crisis