================================================= The Information about Ireland Site Newsletter April 2009 The Newsletter for people interested in Ireland Now received by over 50,000 people worldwide http://www.ireland-information.com http://www.irishnation.com Copyright (C) 2009 ================================================= IN THIS ISSUE === News Snaps from Ireland === New free resources at the site === Who were the Black Irish? === Portrush, Northern Ireland by J. Herbert Silverman === The Mayo Memorial Peace Park by Martin Coyle === The Goose by Pat Watson === A Dream of Ireland from Afghanistan by Rick Ervin === The Irish Coins Proof Set === Gaelic Phrases of the Month === Monthly free competition result ================================================= FOREWORD ======== Hello again from Ireland where the full grip of the recession can be felt everywhere. The mood is very gloom and doom here at the moment with almost daily announcements of job losses and further financial problems. Of course the media have joined in with gusto with certain commentators never having looked so happy! Be sure to check out our limited time offering of a proof set of Irish coins that are sure to increase in value (see below). These are real recession-busters! Michael Help keep this newsletter alive at www.irishnation.com WE NEED YOUR HELP! PLEASE - send this newsletter on to your friends or relatives who you think are interested in Ireland. By doing this you are helping to keep us 'free'. Got something to say? Don't keep it to yourself! Why don't you submit an article for inclusion in the next edition? Go here for more information: http://www.ireland-information.com/newsletter.htm Do you have access to a website? You can help to keep this newsletter alive by adding a link to any of our websites below: http://www.irishnation.com http://www.irishsurnames.com http://www.ireland-information.com http://www.allfamilycrests.com http://www.irishpenpals.com If you have an AOL or HOTMAIL account then you will get much better results by viewing this newsletter online here: http://www.ireland-information.com/apr09.htm The only way that you could have been subscribed to this newsletter is by filling out a subscription form at the site whereupon a confirmation notice would have been issued. If you wish to unsubscribe then go here: http://www.ireland-information.com/newsletter.htm ======================= NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND ======================= SAVAGE BUDGET CUTS CONTINUE The extent of the problems facing the Irish government has been highlighted by its introduction of arguably the most savage budget in recent history. The huge public sector pay bill has not been tackled however and it remains to be seen if this omission will cost the Fianna Fail government even more of its dwindling support. Various opinion polls have put the party at as low as 23%, well behind Fine Gael and even behind the Labour Party in some polls. With a huge fall in the amount of income taken in by government, due largely to the property crash, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has decided to try to tax his way out of the problem. The new income levy that was only recently introduced has been doubled, with those earning 50,000 euro or more paying 4% in direct tax, without any allowances and before the other rates of taxation are applied. Cuts in payments have also been announced with the Christmas bonus to welfare recipients being scrapped and the possibility of child benefit being either taxed or 'means tested' being mooted. The government has surprised some commentators with its announcement of a new National Asset Management Agency which will buy 'bad loans' from the banks at a greatly reduced price. The current valuation is expected to be at least 80 B.illion euro but the government will pay only a fraction of this amount and will recoup any loss it might incur from the banks over time, if necessary. HOUSE PRICE COLLAPSE LEVELLING OFF A recent survey has found the average price of a house in Ireland is now 281,000 euro, some 63,000 euro off the peak and back at 2005 levels. Huge price reductions in new developments and a final acceptance of the new situation by previously over-optimistic sellers has resulted in the market moving again somewhat although at a more modest rate than in previous years. The large oversupply of houses that still exists, some 60,000 homes, will have to be reduced considerably however, before the absolute bottom of the market can be called. ECONOMIC DOWNTURN REDUCES ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION One aspect of the ongoing recession that may yet have a positive effect is the reduction in the use of alcohol. The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland has stated that 2008 was the worst year for its business in 25 years with alcohol consumption reducing by nearly 6% in 2008 alone. For the first time the amount of alcohol sold in off-licences has exceeded that sold in pubs and clubs which is a further blow to the rural pub trade. A recent report has indicated that alcohol consumption is now back to 1998 levels. SIGNIFICANT ARCHEOLOGICAL FIND AT HILL OF TARA An ancient wooden version of Stonehenge has been discovered at the Hill of Tara. The scale of the monument which is still buried beneath the hill is comparable with the size of the pitch at Croke Park. It is estimated the discovery is 4500 years old and while the actual wooden structure no longer exists a ditch stretching six metres wide and three metres deep was detected in the bedrock, using techniques that give a kind of X-Ray of the hill. DUBLINER WINS WORLD BOXING TITLE Dubliner Bernard Dunne has enhanced his boxing reputation with the stunning capture of the WBA World Super Bantamweight title in Dublin. An eleventh round knockout of Ricardo Cordoba of Panama was the culmination of a fine display by the 29-year old who has become the first Irishman since Barry McGuigan to win a WBA title. IRISH RUGBY TEAM WINS THE GRAND SLAM The Irish Rugby team has claimed its first 'Grand Slam' in 61 years with a last gasp victory against Wales. The victory was as dramatic possible with the Welsh having a chance to ruin the party with a last minute penalty. It didn't cross the bar though and the long wait for Irish rugby was over. Voice your opinion on these news issues here: http://www.ireland-information.com/newsletterboard/wwwboard.html ============================== NEW FREE RESOURCES AT THE SITE ============================== IRELAND HOUSE-SWAP LISTING We are working on the online program to allow you to freely add and view details of other people who are interested in this service. You can add your home-swap details to our new free listing service at: http://www.ireland-information.com/irelandhouseswap.htm IRISH HOLIDAY AND TOURIST BOARD Post a question about holidaying in Ireland and we guarantee an answer will be posted on the board. http://www.ireland-information.com/irishholidays-irishtourist/irishtouristboard.html 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: B: Bird C: McCall G: Godfrey L: Landers P: Powers View the Gallery here: http://www.irishsurnames.com/coatsofarms/gm.htm 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: http://www.irishnation.com/familycrestgifts.htm ================================================= YOU CAN HELP TO KEEP THIS FREE NEWSLETTER ALIVE! Visit: http://www.irishnation.com where you can get great Irish gifts, prints, claddagh jewellery, engraved glassware and much more. Anne MacDonald ordered a family crest plaque: Hello, Michael, Received my plaque, carefully wrapped, in good order. It is splendid! I am thrilled, and I know that my dad, for whose 81st birthday this was ordered, will love it. I would like to order another one! Everyone who has seen the plaque has been really impressed, even those who, as my daughter says are 'not into ancestor worship!' Again, my hearty thanks for this first-class product. Best wishes for happy holiday season. Sincerely, Anne MacDonald THE PERFECT WEDDING OR ANNIVERSARY GIFT! View family crest plaques here: http://www.irishnation.com/familycrestplaques.htm ========================= WHO WERE THE BLACK IRISH? ========================= The term 'Black Irish' has commonly been in circulation among Irish emigrants and their descendants for centuries. As a subject of historical discussion the subject is almost never referred to in Ireland. There are a number of different claims as to the origin of the term, none of which are possible to prove or disprove. 'Black Irish' is often a description of people of Irish origin who had dark features, black hair, dark complexion and eyes. A quick review of Irish history reveals that the island was subject to a number of influxes of foreign people. The Celts arrived on the island about the year 500 B.C. Whether or not this was an actual invasion or rather a more gradual migration and assimilation of their culture by the natives is open to conjecture, but there is sufficient evidence to suggest that this later explanation is more likely. The next great influx came from Northern Europe with Viking raids occurring as early as 795 A.D. The defeat of the Vikings at the Battle of Clontarf in the year 1014 by Brian Boru marked the end of the struggle with the invaders and saw the subsequent integration of the Vikings into Irish society. The migrants became 'Gaelicized' and formed septs (a kind of clan) along Gaelic lines. The Norman invasions of 1170 and 1172 led by Strongbow saw yet another wave of immigrants settle in the country, many of whom fiercely resisted English dominance of the island in the centuries that followed. The Plantation of Ulster in the seventeenth century saw the arrival of English and Scottish colonists in Ulster after the 'Flight of the Earls'. Each of these immigrant groups had their own physical characteristics and all, with the exception of the Ulster Planters, assimilated to some degree into Irish society, many claiming to be 'more Irish than the Irish themselves!' The Vikings were often referred to as the 'dark invaders' or 'black foreigners'. The Gaelic word for foreigner is 'gall' and for black (or dark) is 'dubh'. Many of the invaders families took Gaelic names that utilised these two descriptive words. The name Doyle is in Irish 'O'Dubhghaill' which literally means 'dark foreigner' which reveals their heritage as an invading force with dark intentions. The name Gallagher is 'O Gallchobhair' which translates as 'foreign help'. The traditional image of Vikings is of pale-skinned blond-haired invaders but their description as 'dark foreigners' may lead us to conclude that their memory in folklore does not just depend on their physical description. The Normans were invited into Ireland by Dermot McMurrough and were led by the famous Strongbow. Normans are ultimately of French origin where black haired people are not uncommon. As with the Vikings these were viewed as a people of 'dark intentions' who ultimately colonised much of the Eastern part of the country and several larger towns. Many families however integrated into Gaelic society and changed their Norman name to Gaelic and then Anglo equivalents: the Powers, the Fitzpatricks, Fitzgeralds, Devereuxs, Redmonds. It is possible that the term 'Black Irish' may have referred to some of these immigrant groups as a way of distinguishing them from the 'Gaels', the people of ultimately Celtic origin. Another theory of the origin of the term 'Black Irish' is that these people were descendants of Spanish traders who settled in Ireland and even descendants of the few Spanish sailors who were washed up on the west coast of Ireland after the disaster that was the 'Spanish Armada' of 1588. It is claimed that the Spanish married into Irish society and created a new class of Irish who were immediately recognisable by their dark hair and complexion. There is little evidence to support this theory and it is unlikely that any significant number of Spanish soldiers would have survived long in the war-torn place that was sixteenth century Ireland. It is striking though how this tale is very similar to the ancient Irish legend of the Milesians who settled in Ireland having travelled from Spain. The theory that the 'Black Irish' are descendants of any small foreign group that integrated with the Irish and survived, is unlikely. It seems more likely that 'Black Irish' is a descriptive term rather than an inherited characteristic that has been applied to various categories of Irish people over the centuries. One such example is that of the hundreds of thousands of Irish peasants who emigrated to America after the Great Famine of 1845 to 1849. 1847 was known as 'black 47'. The potato blight which destroyed the main source of sustenance turned the vital food black. It is possible that the arrival of large numbers of Irish after the famine into America, Canada, Australia and beyond resulted in their being labelled as 'black' in that they escaped from this new kind of black death. Immigrant groups throughout history have generally been treated poorly by the indigenous population (or by those who simply settled first). Derogatory names for immigrant groups are legion and in the case of those who left Ireland include 'Shanty Irish' and almost certainly 'Black Irish'. It is also possible that within the various Irish cultures that became established in America that there was a pecking order, a class system that saw some of their countrymen labelled as 'black'. The term 'Black Irish' has also been applied to the descendants of Irish emigrants who settled in the West Indies. It was used in Ireland by Catholics in Ulster Province as a derogatory term to describe the Protestant Planters. While it at various stages was almost certainly used as an insult, the term 'Black Irish' has emerged in recent times as a virtual badge of honour among some descendants of immigrants. It is unlikely that the exact origin of the term will ever be known and it is also likely that it has had a number of different creations depending on the historical context. It remains therefore a descriptive term used for many purposes, rather than a reference to an actual class of people who may have survived the centuries. ========================== KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE! Visit: http://www.irishnation.com ========================== ========================== PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND by J. Herbert Silverman ========================== The winds blow steadily off the Atlantic and across the sandy dunes along the Antrim coast road. High above the sea stands a tiny pub surrounded by a hedge of twisted blackthorn. Nameless, it is certainly the only establishment of its kind in Ireland - North or South. Here the average drinker will order a large whiskey, down it at the instant and be off - all within ten minutes. For here stands one of the Emerald Isle's most notable watering spots, a venerable bar on the tenth tee of the Royal Portrush Golf Course, where the phrase 'Make it one for the road' actually means, 'Get on with it to the second nine, there's a foursome behind you.' It may well be the only institution of its kind anywhere that lowers its flag to signal that the bar stocks need replenishing. In Portrush, the links (by definition, a course along the sea) attract avid golfers as do such nearby attractions as the spectacular Giant's Causeway and Old Bushmills. The latter is the world's oldest licensed distillery. Often, not surprisingly, both tourists numbering in the thousands and golfers intermingle cheerfully. To the uninitiated, the Causeway is the place where the legendary Irish folk hero Finn MacCool is said to have crossed the sea between Ireland and Scotland. The astonishing set of basalt columns number in the thousands and stretch from this North Atlantic port to the Hebrides. It goes without saying that Bushmills is another kind of local attraction. Located on the coast between Tara, one-time capital of Ireland, and Dunseverick Castle, it dates to 1608. In this historic region, the Royal Portrush Golf Club has helped convert an erstwhile fishing village into a world-famous holiday resort. It was at Portrush that the Irish Open Amateur Championship was inaugurated in 1892. Three years later, Lady Margaret Scott, playing in a long white dress and wearing a broad-brimmed straw skimmer, won the British Ladies Championship here. Both events established the course's reputation as one of the most challenging in Britain. The links have been laid out on the windward side of the Causeway Road, and from inception were extended further and further onto the sand hills. In some places three terraced levels, created in prehistoric times by the receding of the ocean, have left parallel lines of high hills, plateaus and valleys. The difficulties caused by this touch of nature's handiwork could contribute to the fact that foursomes have been known to reach the end of their tether at the ninth hole and bartender John McLoughlin's hospitable bar. This article is continued in the online edition of this newsletter: http://www.ireland-information.com/apr09.htm#article
Members take custom and history seriously. The books of clipping about past events would do justice to a newspaper's 'morgue.' A faded letter, framed on a corridor wall, sent from Whitehall in 1908 by an aide to King Edward VII, informed the club president, the Rt. Hon. Lord Macnaghten, that 'I am directed by the Secretary of State that the application of the Port Rush (sic) Golf Club to use the prefix 'Royal' has been graciously acceded to by His Majesty,' who two years later became a patron.
Another interesting footnote to history is the club's liquor license for its unique alfresco operation. That invaluable document was awarded by one Lord Babington, a distinguished public official who with a 'scratch of a pen' made it all legal. (Oddly enough, he also happened to be president of the club at the time.).
The opening hours, unlike those of any other bar, are 'totally at the discretion of the bartenders, and indeed if they doesn't want to serve, they don't, said a member. 'In fact, on occasion in the past when someone has had a dram too many, a bartender has been known to take him home on a golf cart.'
At the fifth hole on the brink of the sea, golfers can handily view another of Antrim's more appealing offshore sights, Rathlin Island. The island, Ireland's largest, is a favorite for sportsmen of a different order, with deep-sea angling for cod, haddock, flounder and mackerel. It's also site of the cave where legend has it that Robert the Bruce hid after his defeat at Perth. Here the Scots soldier saw a spider repeatedly trying to ascend to the cave's roof by a gossamer strand, eventually succeeding in the effort. Bruce was thereby inspired to 'try, try again' to regain the Scottish throne, which he finally did at the Battle of Bannockburn.
Not to be overlooked is the sixth hole, which is sinking toward the sea. It has been shored up with railway ties and planted with course grass to hold the slopes. Here the sea itself is a hazard as it 'comes up' with the gales off the Atlantic, but golfers at Portrush quickly adjust to such natural intrusions.
Cattle from a neighboring farm used to roam the fairways until the club bought the acreage. Earlier golfers were also distracted by the sight of the great Clydesdale brewery horses stabled alongside the road near the old clubhouse, a steepled structure resembling a church.
In the past, the club secretary at Royal Portrush was as distinguished as the course itself. Eric Wainwright, a mustachioed Yorkshire-man and every inch the officer and gentleman, befitting his rank as an RAF squadron leader during WW II came out of retirement several years ago, prompted by the 'boredom of it all,' to take command of what he considered to be one of the finest courses in the British Isles and then re-retired Brothers Hugh and Kenny Gault currently tend the bar.
Visiting players are welcome to the club, with fees of approximately 125 pounds per person during the week and $140 pounds on weekends apply during high season - March-October.
Old Bushmills Distillery, a ten-minute drive away, offers a different kind of welcome - a chance to visit a tourist center and museum and taste the magnificent triple-distilled whiskey known as 'Black Bush' while listening to the story of 'Usquebaugh' or 'water of life,' told by the chief guide Valerie Coils While on the tour, you have the choice to taste one of the fine Bushmills whiskeys The picturesque and placid River Bann flows from Lough Neagh,thelargest lake in Ulster, to the rugged Northern Atlantic coast emptying into the ocean at the seaside town of Portstewart.
On its way, the river passes through the lush countryside of County Antrim and some of the finest farmland in the North of Ireland. The Antrim coast, with the famous Giant's Causeway and its 'stepping' stones extending seaward toward Scotland only 14 miles away, is Northern Ireland's leading tourist attraction. The countryside has its fair share of small hotels, beach resorts and 'bed & breakfasts' to accommodate the thousands of visitors who annually travel up the coast.
Their destination, this awesome natural phenomenon formed 60 million years ago by cooling molten lava from ancient volcanic explosions. Looking for a place to stay? Just minutes from coast and, of course Bushmills, is the highly recommended is Joey (short for Josephine) King's farmhouse here in the nearby bustling town of Coleraine. This cheerful ebullient cattle breeder has turned an historic farmhouse into an astonishingly comfortable b&b although the term, country inn, might be more applicable. Her wayfaring guests have a chance to experience, at first hand, a touch of Irish farm living and folk history along with delightfully warm hospitality, l9th century style, albeit with some modern amenities such as large bathrooms, color TV and telephones.
The house, known as Camus (Gaelic for bend in the river), was built in l685 by the Hemphill family, passing to l9th century 'linen lords,' by the name of, owners of mills which produced some of the finest of all Irish fabrics. The estate originally occupied 2,OOO acres. In l9l4, Joey's father purchased it starting what was to become one of Ireland's premier Friesian herds. He sold off some of the land, retaining enough, however, to maintain the family's presence on the river bank and to insure adequate grazing for his herds.
After WW 11, Joey and her late husband, James, took over the herds and began to specialize in Jersey pedigree stock which produced 'Jersey' cream, that delicious high butterfat product, a major ingredient in authentic high tea.
It was after James's premature death that Joey decided to take in visitors. 'I like people, and I thought our house would be appreciated by travelers who would enjoy farmhouse living, even though it might only be for a few days,' she says with understandable feeling.
Guests are made welcome on arrival with tea, possibly warmed with the local Bushmills whiskey and scones with the cream fresh from the cow. Joey serves it in a cozy living room brightened by a fire in a fieldstone fireplace built by James.
The chimney which twists toward upper gables is an impressive four feet in width and burns ash logs 'which gives no sparks,' Joey notes, 'although we do have smoke detectors and alarms to protect our home, just in case.'
The furnishings are purely Antrim inspired with l25 horse 'brasses,' intricate handmade saddle decorations that Joey painstakingly shines with Brasso every ten days. There are comfortable period couches, easy chairs, and antique chests and tables as well as a priceless 'gossip' chair' all contributing to a feeling of l9th century home entertaining.
In an adjacent sitting room, King family memorabilia includes a Georgian hunting table, also known as a 'wake' table, made of mahogany with a pitch pine finish and wooden dowels. It once served a dual function as a desk and end table and occasionally served as the resting place for coffins during funeral vigils.
Perfectionists might have a problem with the room which has three floor levels, supported by massive pitch pine joists, a product of additions, revisions and repairs over three centuries.
The house is somewhat of a mélange of architectural styles with a dividing outer stone wall from the original farmhouse separating an addition probably built in the early l8OO's. Upstairs there are five bedrooms, each with basin and hot water, a comfortable bed with electric blanket, plenty of closet room and hangers, and equally refreshing, plenty of lamps for reading and writing. The bath is a shared facility.
Breakfast is ready at 7 a.m. in order to let guests wander the nearby fields or pet the one cow that remains from the dairy herd. On a sideboard in the dining room there is a choice of fresh fruit and juices. One can enjoy an Ulster 'fry' with eggs and ham or country bacon and tasty wheaten bread. Joey whips up the repast in a huge farm kitchen complete with traditional copper preserving pans and measures, overhead clothes drying racks from the turn of the century and a large corner family table in the corner.
A series of warming pans hang near the big c
ook store and can be heated for guests who want some extra warmth before retiring on a chill January evening. Early in the morning one can walk through the dewy tall grass to the nearby banks of the River Bann to cast a line for its resident salmon, trout, pike or perch. With the mist rising from the river, it is one of the more pleasant ways to start the day.
An ancient graveyard with a 'High Cross' as its centerpiece adjoins the main house. Here lie Hemphills, Bennetts and now Kings.
The weather beaten stones have epitaphs remembering former Coleraine residents such as Mary, wife of Samuel Patton, dead 25 March l847.
Farewell my husband and children dear,
I am not dead but sleeping here.
My end you know and my grave you see
Prepare yourselves to follow me.
Then in another corner of the graveyard there is the marker for Anne Hendry with this lament on a similar theme with some unconscious plagiarism.
'Weep not for me, my husband dear
I am not dead but sleeping here
I rest in faith and hope to rise
And live with Christ in paradise.
The grass grows tall in this cemetery. Once sheep kept it trim, but the local authorities, in their infinite wisdom, decreed that it was not a proper show of respect to mow such hallowed ground in this fashion. So all buried here rest among lush greenery.
Coleraine is easily accessible by excellent highways from Belfast. The Antrim Coast Road drive is akin to a Gaelic version of the Corniche drive along the Mediterranean coast of southern France and passes through the famous Glens of Antrim.
J. Herbert Silverman