The Information about Ireland Site Newsletter
The Newsletter for people interested in Ireland
Now received by over 50,000 people worldwide
Copyright (C) 2008
IN THIS ISSUE
=== News Snaps from Ireland
=== New free resources at the site
=== Tourist Tip #3: Visit Phoenix Park
=== The Journey Home by Robert Lyons
=== Ireland (Tir mo Chroi) by Nicole McMillan
=== Travelling Ireland by Kathryn McClean
=== My Legacy by Tom Heston
=== Daniel O'Connell Biography - The Liberator
=== Gaelic Phrases of the Month
=== Monthly free competition result
Hello again from Ireland where recent events have
been dominated by the resignation of Bertie
Ahern as Taoiseach (see the news snaps below).
The third in our series of 'Tourist Tips' give
you the low-down on the largest urban park in
Europe - can you guess which park it is?
If you have an article, famous Irish person
biography, story or poem please do send it in.
Until next month,
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
BERTIE AHERN RESIGNS AS TAOISEACH
It has been argued that the biggest mistake Bertie
Ahern ever made was indicating that he would
resign as Taoiseach before the next General
Election. Just as Tony Blair in the UK found out,
once you indicate that you are prepared to leave
office then your position quickly becomes
Had Bertie Ahern decided to face down the
opposition parties calls for his resignation and
to engage in a more robust defence of his
financial dealings at the Mahon Tribunal then
no one would have been too surprised. The fact
though, that he had already indicated that his
days were numbered only served to encourage his
political enemies and those media outlets who
were clearly gunning for him.
The high-profile campaigns by several newspapers
and the endless and mocking television coverage
of his appearances at the Mahon Tribunal proved
to be just too much for the longest serving
Taoiseach since Eamon DeValera. His dramatic
resignation paved the way for Brian Cowen to
become the new Fianna Fail party leader and
Having made the decision to resign, the speed
with which his former critics started to lavish
praise on Bertie Ahern did little credit to the
body politic or to the Irish media.
It remains to be seen if Fine Gael will suffer
electorally for their hounding of one of the most
popular of Irish politicians. The fulsome tribute
paid by their leader Enda Kenny was viewed by
some commentators as ill-advised. He perhaps may
have at least been respected had he continued the
criticism of his nemesis to the end, rather than
betraying himself as a hypocrite by praising the
subject of his former vitriol.
As Bertie Ahern prepares to address the US
Houses of Congress in his last significant act as
leader of this small country, a recap of his
achievements makes historically dramatic reading.
Peace in Ulster:
He was instrumental in forging the Northern
Ireland peace agreement. It is too easy to forget
just how bad life had been in Ulster with daily
bombings and killings the order of the day. It
would be foolish to under-estimate the part played
by Bertie Ahern and his government in bringing a
change to the Irish Constitution to provide a
backdrop against which Ulster Unionism and Sinn
Fein nationalism could make the great leap forward
to peaceful politics. This is the man who brought
Ian Paisley to the table to do a deal.
In a recent speech he stated that his 'parting
pledge for all the people on this island is that
we have learned the futility of violence'.
'Peace in Ireland is my proudest achievement. It
is an achievement I share with thousands and
thousands of people across this island and beyond
our shores who were voices for sanity, persuaders
for justice and the implacable opponents of those
who sought to cling to violence as a political
There is no shortage of parties and groups willing
to take credit for the Irish economic miracle of
the last 20 years. During that time Fianna Fail
has been in Government for all but 3 years, with
Bertie Ahern leading as Taoiseach for the last 11
years. While it is clear that the 'partnership'
agreements between employers and unions played a
significant part in the economic growth, praise
must also be given to the taxation reforms
instigated by Ahern's governments. The low
corporation tax regime adopted by Ireland is now
being copied by several other countries in Europe.
Unemployment fell to 4% (statistically 'full
employment'), home-ownership soared, unprecedented
changes were made to the infrastructural fabric of
While his political career may yet continue (it is
possible he may run for President of Ireland or
seek an office in the EU), history will perhaps best
remember Bertie Ahern for his role in bringing peace
to Northern Ireland. While his governments have had
their failings (problems with the Health Service
persist), few can deny his status as one of
Ireland's most effective leaders ever.
NEW ANTI-ALCOHOL MEASURES ANNOUNCED
Efforts are continuing to curb Ireland's addiction
to alcohol. The country remains at or near the top
of every survey conducted on international alcohol
usage. The Irish government has responded by
announcing the establishment of a new Bureau of
Alcohol Regulation to tackle the problem.
IRISH HOUSING MARKET CONTINUES ITS DECLINE
The continuing recession in the housing markets
of the US, the UK and Ireland have happened in
tandem and show no immediate signs of abating.
While the sub-prime problems in the US and UK
have seriously dented the markets there, in
Ireland the main cause of the slowdown has been
over-supply and the several increases in
interest rates by the ECB.
The scale of the decline has been dramatic with
the mortgage market predicted to fall from 40
B.illion Euro in 2006 to 25 B.illion Euro in
2008. The credit crunch that has seized up world
lending markets have further dampened activity
in the Irish housing market with lenders unwilling
to lend while borrowers sit on their hands waiting
for the market to 'bottom out'.
Estimates vary as to how much Irish property
prices may fall back. Some commentators are quoting
a 20% reversal as the likely figure before the
market starts to move again.
IRISH LANGUAGE SCHOOLS CONTINUE TO FLOURISH
The demand for Irish language schools continues
unabated. The waiting lists for these Irish
language schools (Gaoilscoileanna) have reached
two years in some cases. Currently there are 169
primary and 43 secondary schools operating in the
State, outside of Gaeltacht areas. 35,000 students
currently occupy these schools but the demand for
places is much higher.
Voice your opinion on these news issues here:
NEW FREE RESOURCES AT THE SITE
NEW COATS OF ARMS ADDED TO THE GALLERY:
The following 5 coats of arms images and family
history details have been added to the Gallery:
G: McGreevy, Gurkin
View the Gallery here:
THE PERFECT WEDDING, ANNIVERSARY OR BIRTHDAY GIFT!
We now have over 100,000 worldwide names available.
Get the Coat of Arms Print, Claddagh Ring,
Screensaver, Watch, T-Shirt Transfer or Clock for
your name at:
TOURIST TIP #3: VISIT PHOENIX PARK
Phoneix Park is one of the worlds largest urban
parks and is larger than all of the parks in
London combined! The park boasts 1752 acres of
walks, trees, picnic-tables, lakes and of course,
Dublin Zoo and Farmleigh.
Located on the northside of the city and just a
short hop from the city centre (it may even be
within walking distance depending on where you
stay), the park is crammed with trees! Aras an
Uachtarain is located in the park and is the
residence of the President of Ireland. Monuments
include the Papal Cross, the Wellington Monument
and the Phoenix Monument. The Deerfield Residence
is the official residence of the US ambassador to
Ireland. The visitor centre is located at Ashtown
Castle which dates from the fifteenth century.
The park is a great place for a picnic or a good
hearty walk! Many Dubliners will use the park at
weekends with Sunday walks being popular.
Dublin Zoo is located within Phoenix park and
comprises of 30 acres which will take you on a
voyage of discovery that stretches from the
fringes of the Arctic to the Plains of Africa
via Indian Rainforest.
The Zoo of today is a place where the joy of
learning about wildlife and conservation is at
the heart of everything. Today Dublin Zoo is
recognised as one of the most modern in Europe
- and is increasingly an integral part of
European Zoo breeding programmes. Crucially
though - it's a great day out for all the family.
See lions and tigers, gorillas, chimpanzees and
orang-utans, rare monkeys, rhinos, hippos,
giraffes and many more exotic and endangered
species - and of course our new beautiful baby
elephants - the first of their species to have
been born on Irish soil.
As well as the multitude of animals children will
love the pets' corner, the unique meerkat
restaurant, city farm and the safari train ride
around the African Plains.
Farmleigh is an estate of 78 acres located within
the grounds of Phoenix Park and was purchased
from the Guinness family by the Irish Government
in 1999 for 29.2m Euro. The house has been
carefully refurbished by the Office of Public
Works as the premier accommodation for visiting
dignitaries and guests of the nation, for high
level Government meetings, and for public
Originally a small Georgian house built in the
late 18th century, Farmleigh was purchased by
Edward Cecil Guinness (1847-1927) on his marriage
to his cousin, Adelaide Guinness in 1873. A
great-grandson of Arthur Guinness, founder of the
eponymous brewery, Edward Cecil became the first
Earl of Iveagh in 1919. The first major building
programme was undertaken in 1881-84 to designs by
Irish architect James Franklin Fuller (1832-1925),
who extended the House to the west, refurbished
the existing house, and added a third storey. In
1896 the Ballroom wing was added, designed by the
Scottish architect William Young (1843-1900).
With the addition of a new Conservatory adjoining
the Ballroom in 1901, increased planting of
broadleaves and exotics in the gardens, Farmleigh
had, by the early years of the 20th century, all
the requisites for gracious living and stylish
entertainment. Its great charm lies in the
eclecticism of its interior decoration ranging
from the classical style to Jacobean, Louis XV,
Louis XVI and Georgian.
In 2001 the Office of Public Works began the
delicate job of restoring this magnificent estate.
This was carried out with great delicacy and care
so as the historical ambience at Farmleigh has
been preserved as it assumes its new role on
behalf of the Irish State.
Tours of the house and gardens are available from
10.30am to 4.40pm. There is a small cafe onsite.
You can get more Ireland Travel Information here:
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THE JOURNEY HOME
by Robert Lyons
Note: Robert Lyons grew up in South Dakota, where
his Irish ancestors homesteaded. He teaches Irish
Studies in OSHER Lifelong Learning Institutes at
Tufts University, Boston, and University of
Southern Maine, Portland. He and his wife, Nona
Lyons, have lived much of the past seven years in
Ireland and now reside in New England.
From a pest house in New York City, my
great-grandparents, Jeremiah and Ellen Lyons,
had the first glimpse of their new home, America.
Forced to flee famine and oppression, they left
Dungarvan, County Waterford, Ireland in 1845.
Filled with hope for a better life and $1,500
sown in Jeremiah's underwear, they made the
crossing. But when Jeremiah caught the cholera
on board ship, he was isolated from his wife and
two young daughters, Bridgit and Margaret. Upon
arrival at the docks, unknown to Ellen, Jeremiah
was placed in a pest house along the shore line.
There he was nursed by anonymous caretakers. For
three months Ellen searched every shanty and shack
in New York City until, in the words of the story
recited at every family reunion:
One day a man said,
'Well, yes, but it just couldn't be him,
He was so old and bearded and thin.'
If she wished she may come in and look,
There were no records on the book,
He seemed to be traveling alone,
His memory was gone, and without name or home.
Thus she found her Jerry, lying on a bed of straw,
His face was drawn in a look of awe.
What had happened in the past there was no telling
He raised his head and whispered 'Ellen'.
The money had disappeared. After Ellen nursed her
Jerry back to health they joined with other
recent arrivals to build the railroads from New
York to Chicago. Near that windy city, with a
growing family – including my grandfather Will
– they became successful farmers and later moved
farther west to Iowa and finally Dakota Territory
where they spent the autumn of their lives with
their pioneer sons and daughters. Ellen and
Jeremiah brought with them, and passed to their
children, and their children's children, a passion
for education and a strong commitment to exercise
the civic virtues of their new country.
They were the real radicals in America's history.
These people lived in their adopted land, not as
victims of the oppression they had fled, but as
confident and contributing citizens who saw that
their own fulfillment was in helping to build this
country, its schools, farms and businesses. When I
reflect on their odyssey, I realize that the
journey to my home began in a pest house in New
York City where the kindness of strangers gave my
first American relatives a taste of the goodness
and greatness of its people.
Robert F. Lyons
IRELAND (TIR MO CHROI)
by Nicole McMillan
In my mind I hear a melody,
A lilting fairy song,
Of a time long ago and so far away.
I wish I was sitting by a turf fire
In some small village pub,
Listening to a bodhran and a fiddle play.
I want to go to that isle across the sea,
Tir mo chroi.
I want to feel my footsteps in the sand,
It gives me peace to think about
The green rolling hills,
The Garden County's vale of flowers.
I can imagine myself there,
Walking along the Cliffs,
Or dancing at a ceili for hours.
I want to go to that isle across the sea,
Tir mo chroi.
I want to feel my footsteps in the sand,
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
TRAVELLING IRELAND JOURNEY INTO OUR FAMILY
by Kathryn McClean
When my cousin and I decided to travel to
Ireland in 2005 we didn't realise it would
become such an important trip in our family's
lives. We have one of those families other
people dream of we are in constant contact
and enjoy organising get-togethers instead of
dreading them.... we are very lucky.
Our grandparents moved to Australia in the
1950's to start a brand new life with their
children.... leading to what our family has
become today with all my cousins and I
enjoying a wonderful life. My grandma and
grandpa are great story tellers (personally
I think that's the Irish blood that's flowing
through their veins!) and would randomly break
into an Irish song while washing the dishes or
begin these amazing stories from what they did
and where they went when they were young in
From the moment we began planning out trip to
Ireland we couldn't wait to see all the places
we had grown up hearing about the old
Ballymoney streets... the church where my
grandparents got married, where the old country
school used to be where grandpa went till
grade 7... the street to the old picture show
where grandma would ride on the handle-bar of
grandpas push bike... the old hall where the
country dances would be held until 3 or 4am in
the morning every Saturday night... the house our
great grandma lived in and even the cemetery
where our family is now buried.
Hearing about the stories in their animated still
strong Irish accents is amazing in itself but
actually travelling there to see and feel and
smell and touch everything we heard about was
well worth the trip. Even if I had not seen any
of the old castles or drank one drop of
guinness... the look on my grandparents face when
they saw the photos and realised we were standing
outside the very places we had heard about so many
times was worth every second of the trip.
If I could go anywhere in the world again it would
be to Ireland. Its such a beautiful country to
begin with and with the family memories it holds,
there is nowhere I would rather go.
Both my grandparents are in there 70's now and I'm
really not sure whether they will make it back to
Ireland again, but they are safe in the knowledge
that we know there stories and we have been there
in our 20's so have enough understanding and
experience to pass onto our children and
grandchildren as the years unfold.
Kathryn McClean, 2008
MY LEGACY by Tom Heston
From the salty spray of Erin's coast,
Wind-blown across the sea,
Wandered a roving poet's ghost,
Yearning to be free.
With that noble shade came haunting dreams
Of proud, heroic days,
Of magic meadows, golden streams,
And ancient mystic ways.
All my life I have heard the songs
The Emerald Island sings'
And in my heart a spirit longs
For the land of saints and kings,
Where the poet wandered, a soul apart,
A burning firebrand.
It's sad to have a poet's heart,
And not be of Ireland.
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
DANIEL O'CONNELL BIOGRAPHY - THE LIBERATOR
Daniel O'Connell was born in 1775 in Cahirciveen,
County Kerry. Although he was born into the native
ascendancy, he was raised among the Catholic
peasantry and thus learned not only the Gaelic
language, but also the many tribulations faced by
the poorer class.
As a teenager he was sent to France for further
education but travelled to London in 1793 on
foot of the French revolution. His experience of
the violence that was part of the revolution
forged his lifelong commitment to peaceful means
to achieve social change.
He qualified as a barrister and built a successful
practice in Dublin. O'Connell abhorred the
violence of the Wolfe Tone led 1798 rebellion but
agreed with the overall aims of thr United
In 1802 O'Connell married his cousin Mary. The
marriage was a good one with 12 children being
born, although only 7 survived.
The 1800 Act of Union had raised hopes of Catholic
emancipation but these remained unfulfilled.
O'Connell soon got involved in political
activities and in 1823 founded the Catholic
Association with the express aim of securing
O'Connell was known a famous orator, debater and
a sharp wit. He was a regular thorn in the side of
the Dublin authorities and when in 1815, he called
Dublin Corporation a 'beggarly corporation', the
authorities thought they had a chance to discredit
him. One member of the Corporation, D'Esterre, a
noted duelist, challenged him to a duel. If
O'Connell accepted the challenge then it was
thought he would certainly be killed. If he backed
down then he would be politically damaged and
To everyone's surprise O'Connell accepted the
challenge and fatally wounded D'Esterre. O'Connell
always regretted his death, and later assisted the
D'Estere family financially.
With the backing of the clergy O'Connell stood
for election to the English parliament in County
Clare in 1828. A massive victory for O'Connell
followed as the momentum for reform gathered pace.
O'Connell refused to take the Oath of Allegiance
to the English crown and the crisis point had
been reached. With 6 M-illion supporters backing
O'Connell the English government feared an
uprising was on the cards and eventually granted
Catholic emancipation in 1829. O'Connell was
now the undisputed hero of Ireland and a year
later became the first Catholic in modern history
to be take his seat at the English parliament.
By this time O'Connell had given up his legal
practice and was concentrating fully on politics.
He set his sight on repealing the Act of Union
and the establishment of an Irish parliament. His
Repeal Association organised monster meetings that
attracted hundreds of thousands. An estimated
three-quarters of a m-illion people attended the
Hill of Tara meeting. The authorities responded
by banning a similar meeting scheduled for
Clontarf in 1843. Despite cancelling the meeting
O'Connell was arrested and charged with conspiracy.
He served 3 months in prison before being released
but the damage had been done. The tactics that
had achieved emancipation could not be used to
achieve an Irish parliament. His stay in prison
had also adversely affected his health.
The more radical 'Young Irelanders' withdrew from
the Repeal Association. In the countryside the
potato crop was already beginning to fail. The
Great Famine of 1847 devastated the Irish
countryside. O'Connell tried to help and spoke
in the London parliament, appealing for aid for
his desperate starving countrymen.
O'Connell will always be known as the 'Liberator'
and Catholic emancipation was indeed his greatest
success. It is unknown if his peaceful mass
protests could have achieved any further
concessions on the road to Irish independence. The
famine that resulted in over 1 million deaths from
starvation and a further million taking the
emigrants boat stopped any political momentum
dead in its tracks.
At 70 years of age O'Connell was advised to move
to a warmer climate to placate his ailing health.
He set off for Rome but only made it as far as
Genoa. He died in May 1847 and was buried in
Glasnevin cemetery in Dublin. His funeral was
among the largest ever seen in Ireland.
GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
PHRASE: Nil aon leigheas ar an ngra ach posadh
PRONOUNCED: neel ain laygus air on grah ock pus-idd
MEANING: The only cure for love is marriage
PHRASE: An rud a lionas an tsuil lionann se an croi
PRONOUNCED: on rud ah lean-uss on sewell lean-onn shay on kree
MEANING: What fills the eye fills the heart
PHRASE: Giorraionn beirt bothar
PRONOUNCED: gurr-on bert boh-hurr
MEANING: Two shorten the road
View the archive of phrases here:
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