Notes from Vernon Parish

From the Country Inn motel, Leesville, Louisiana, Monday night.

After a busy but fantastic weekend at the North Texas Irish festival, I returned home about 11:30 p.m. Sunday night. I worked online till 2:00 a.m., then fell into bed. I rose at 6:00 hurriedly packed, and hit the road by 8:00 a.m. for Vernon Parish. I was interviewed on a local radio newspaper by an entergetic broadcaster on a Leesville station. I performed my first “live on the radio” song, “The Water Is Wide,” and talked about my books and the Library Musical Odyssey V program. It seems I’m their last musician for the year. The libraries website is here: The library’s director, Howard, and Gary, the Musical Odyssey director, are doing a fine job serving the community. We had a very large crowd and they were so into the Irish songs and the stories behind the songs and were delightful to be with. It seems everyone loves the Irish. I’m now in my hotel room, giving thought to the tasks that need to be done tomorrow.

Return from North Texas Irish Festival

It has been one busy week. Thursday, I was with the McComb Public Library. And in a schedule arranged by them, I presented to a middle school there in town, a luncheon for a group of readers who meet in the library, a short presentation to a day-care center, and another middle school in Pike County. It was a wonderful day. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, each table at the luncheon had an Irish potato center-piece. Here is a photo of one of them.

Last Friday, I taught my classes at Delta Community College, and then hit the road for the North Texas Irish Festival. Riding with me were my friends from the Celtic Society, Tom and Michael. We headed out to a pub I’d never been to–Tipperary Inn and had a grand time.

I’ll probably have more posts about the NTIF festival as emails and photos filter in. I signed books at the NELA Celtic Society’s booth the whole weekend. I performed three times and my work seemed well received. Our booth was next to an organization devoted to saving Irish Wolf Hounds, the biggest dogs in the world! You should do a study on these beautiful, gentle with people dogs. Absolutely fascinating. Here is a photo of a tapestry they had of Finn McCool (legendary Irish hero) and his two hounds, Bran and Sgeolan.

In my Irish set, I perform the song, “Rose of Tralee.”

Irish Confederate Units During the War Between the States

As I prepared for the North Texas Irish Festival coming this weekend and for my program at McComb MS Public Library on Thursday, I was reading The Irish Brigade by Russ A Pritchard, Jr. and came upon a list of Irish units during the Confederacy and decided to publish it. If you know of any others, please send them my way and I’ll add them to this post.

Travel News & “Wrong Train” Song Lyrics by Jeff Talmadge

Today, as most days are when I’ve just returned from a trip, has been spent trying to catch up. A friend of mine, Carol Murdoch, a writer with an award winning blog, sent me a book, Ghost Riders by Sharyn McCrumb. It arrived today and I can’t wait to get to reading it! I had a grand time last Saturday in Lake Jackson, Texas at the Historic Museum there and will post some good photos when they arrive of that event. I found a new route from Monroe to Houston that is not much further than going to the west side of Fort Worth, so I’ll likely be planning more trips there. Of personal interest were the statues I passed this trip: the small memorial to Jim Reeves on Highway 79, the HUGE statues of Sam Houston (77 ft. high, including base at I-45 Huntsville) and Stephen Austin (Highway 288, 76 ft. high). I also booked a coffee shop for a musical program at a mall in Sherman, Texas and a couple of bookstores and libraries.


If Jeff Talmadge isn’t a poet, then I truly don’t know what one is. His songs are constructed with lyrics that can scald or soothe the heart and reflect the voice of experience and wonderfully deep insights into human nature. Here is a song of his about “choices,” entitled, “Wrong Train.”

Wrong Train by Jeff Talmadge

On a train between two cities
I knew that I

An Odd Story from America’s Civil War: Gunpowder

I have to thank Harry Sargent of Lake Jackson Texas for this information. I met him at the museum where I did my program this weekend. As my Confederate ancestor was assigned to the Mining and Nitre department that made gunpowder, I was very interested.

The Art of Making Saltpetre

During the American Civil War,