IN THIS ISSUE
~~~~~ Keep us Free!
~~~~~ New Free resources at the site
~~~~~ News Snaps from Ireland
~~~~~ Canadian Cutie exploits Irish Penpals!
~~~~~ Irish Film Review: The Crying Game by Dawn Hayden
~~~~~ Losing Brigit Finnity by Megan Elizabeth Wright
~~~~~ In Defence of 'Angela's Ashes' #1 by Tara Murphy-Flores
~~~~~ In Defence of 'Angela's Ashes' #2 by Gray Hodge
~~~~~ Irish Quotations of the Month
~~~~~ Gaelic Phrases of the Month
~~~~~ Shamrock Site of the Month: ABitoBlarney.com
~~~~~ Searcher Site of the Month: Genealogy Books
~~~~~ Monthly free competition result
THIS MONTHS NEWSLETTER IS SPONSORED BY A BIT O' BLARNEY.COM
We deliver Irish smiles
minus the Irish miles,
and that's no Blarney!
Screensavers, Jokes, Toasts and Blessings,
Wedding and Irish Gifts Galore
Hello again from Ireland!
First off, many thanks to abitoblarney.com who have sponsored
this month's newsletter. Run by Sheila McMahon they have
Irish resources galore and are this month's 'Shamrock Site
of the Month'!
Well, Brian Kelly's article about Angela's Ashes really set
the cat among the pigeons last month. We received dozens of
replies. Some of you argued that he was too hard on Frank
McCourt's work, but most of you agreed with Brian who
believes that this now (in)famous book is very over-rated.
We have posted the responses that we received (those that
were not X-Rated that is!) on our Angela's Ashes page at:
This months newsletter also includes two defences of Angela's
Ashe's written by readers. We have set up a brand new online
forum for you to add your opinion about these or any of the
other articles that appear in this months newsletter:
You can contribute to the newsletter too! Why not pen a few
paragraphs about your favourite Irish subject and send it
in for next month's issue.
On a different note we are delighted to announce that we are
now able to supply hand made family crest plaques, made with
mahogany and with the family crest painted on an embossed
copper plate. Check them out at http://www.irishnation.com
BEST WISHES FROM IRELAND!
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
NORTHERN IRELAND PEACE PROCESS IN GRAVE DANGER OF COLLAPSE
The Northern Ireland Assembly has again been suspended
following the resignation as First Minister by Unionist
leader David Thrimble. Despite a revised package of
concessions having been offered to both sides by the
British and Irish Governments, it seems unlikely that any
further progress will be made until such time as the
destruction of paramilitary weapons has begun.
The IRA has withdrawn its offer to decommission its weapons
on foot of the suspension of the Assembly stating that the
conditions for peace do not now exist.
All of the above is set against a backdrop of increasing
sectarian violence in Ulster with the threat to lives and
property seeming to increase on a daily basis.
It looks like stalemate with the next crisis looming in
October when the option to reinstate the Assembly arises
again. In the absence of a successful political process it
is feared that any future agendas will be set by those
outside of the political arena.
ECONOMIC UNCERTAINTY TO HIT HOUSE PRICES
The recent fall in the rate of increase of house prices has
continued with some commentators predicting that house
prices may actually fall during 2002 and 2003. The upper
end of the housing market has already sen dramatic
reductions in the prices that can be expected for the sale
of a house. Continued immigration and a 'young' population
though means that it is likely that demand will continue to
exceed supply in most sectors.
Reductions have taken place and a the market has stabilised
and even stagnated in places. It is possible to get a brand
new house in Dublin for IR£120,00 whilst a modern bungalow
on 1 acre within an hour of Dublin can be got for £180,000
or even less.
The Governments disastrous policy of taxing investors out of
the property market has meant that there is a dire shortage
of rental accommodation available and this is hitting
students and homeless people in County Council accommodation
The huge increase in the number of refugees seeking asylum
in Ireland has put further strain on the rental market with
many families having to be housed in rural settings with
each County having to take theer share of refugee families.
GOVERNMENT ACCUSED OF BRIBING NIGERIA OVER REFUGEES
Every third refugee who arrives in Ireland does so from
Nigeria. The Irish Government has always provided limited
financial aid to African countries in need but is set to
step up its aid program to Nigeria in what some commentators
have described as a 'refugee bribe'.
The proposed repatriation pact with Nigeria is the fourth
such agreement following on from similar deals struck with
Poland, Bulgaria and Romania. The increased amount of aid
to Nigeria is expected to top IR£9 Million. Nigeria will
agree to facilitate the early return of illegal refugees.
It is estimated to cost IR£6000 to deport every refugee out
of Ireland. 14,000 applications for asylum were received in
the first half of 2001.
WHO REPORT PLACES IRELAND 32ND IN THE HEALTH LEAGUE
The World Health Organisation (WHO) report on the health
systems of 191 countries has placed Ireland in 32nd place,
stating that Irish people can expect to spend up to 7 years
in 'less than full health'.
The Middle Eastern state of Oman led the way with tiny
Monaco in 12th place and the UK in 24th place. Zimbabwe is
ranked last with their citizens expected to spend up to 20
years each in 'less than full health'.
COMPUTER GIANT GATEWAY PULLS OUT OF IRELAND
US Computer manufacturer Gateway has announced that it will
shortly close its European manufacturing centre in Clonshaugh
in Dublin with the loss of over 900 jobs. The shock news
brings to over 600 the number of IT related jobs that have
been lost so far this year.
The Irish stock market took a hammering following the
announcement with the fear of a recession increasing. Ireland
is heavily dependent on the US economy and the slowdown on the
other side of the Atlantic has begun to bite.
The bad employment news continued with the shock news that
famous Irish Bakery Kylemore will cease all operations and
close all its stores with the loss of over 300 jobs.
IRISH PRISON POPULATION JUMPS BY 24%
The number of inmates in Irish prisons has increased by
nearly a quarter over the last 4 years. British home office
statistics show that Ireland has the third fastest growing
prison population in the world!
Irish prison authorities have responded by pointing out that
changes to the bail laws as well as a big increase in
convictions for sexual offence's at least partly account for
the upwards trend. Despite the increase in the rate of growth
Ireland still has one of the lowest prisoner populations in
the developed world with only 800 citizens in jail per 1
Million of population compared with 1250 in England. The
rate of crime detection in Ireland is 44% whilst in England
it is 26%.
Soccer: The Irish soccer team drew 2-2 with Croatia in a
friendly in Landsdowne road with Davor Suker equalising
Damian Duff's and Clinton Morrison's debut strikes. All eyes
will now be on the crucial September 1st clash at home to
Holland when Ireland only need to avoid defeat to virtually
secure a 'playoff' place for entry to World Cup 2002.
Golf: Irish golfer Paul McGinley won the Wales Open to boost
his chances of making the Ryder Cup Team.
Motor-Racing: Irish Formula One outfit Jordan have sacked
leading driver Heinz Harold Frentzen and now look set to
give Jean Alesi a second term of employment.
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CANADIAN CUTIE EXPLOITS IRISH PENPALS
Editor's note: Sorry about the cryptic title but we just
had to include this article from one of our readers who
uses the free Cara Irish Penpals service available at
Despite the fact that we get the occasional idiot online
who uses bad language or who tries to sell pyramid
schemes it is great to know that we have had some major
successes (and even a couple of marraiges!)
From Mary M (aka Canadian Cutie)
How wonderful that I came upon Cara Irish Penpals last
October. Was it by accident really, or was it that Irish
'magic' we hear so much of?
It was my third day on Internet and I was to go meet
a dear old friend in an Irish chatroom. As fate would
have it, I went to the wrong chatroom and visited
irishpenpals.com by mistake!
Not surprisingly my friend never arrived but I never left
because although there were just a handful in the Cara
chatroom back then there was also a quality of magic:
'Cara' charm I say!
I made a few friends who welcomed me to Cara and I could
not get over how nice they were. As I stayed longer I went
into the Cara Irish services where there was a whole world
of information on Irish heritage and my family crest which
I am still investigating. There were also free postcards
which I took advantage of and a whole lot of great
information on Irish tourisim.
I made penpals galore in the Cara chatroom (what a treat!)
as I kept coming back daily. Lo and behold so did they!
Some sadly left but I still email a few of them as I hold
them very dear still as pals. I was happy as I used Cara
as a means for my therapy as at that time I was taken very
ill and was housebound. I still say my Cara pallys are the
best medicine and I'm most all better after all this time.
My typing was horrid but they all laughed and said I have my
own MM language and they accepted that, how nice! Soon after
I met Bernie and her brother Tom and sister Julie, and Sean
and Finnbarr, my funny bartender and so many others.
Needless to say some invitations arose to visit other's homes
and some phone calls came too - wow! You see, I never
realized how wonderful a chatroom could really be as one
hears horror stories about Internet chatrooms, but my beloved
Cara is like no other because we very seldom get strange
people (other than mad ones like ourselves!). We all cheer
one another up if need be and we make each other laugh and
smile. What an unconditional bond we all have formed there,
so come and see all that read this and maybe I'll make a
cyber loaf of bread for you.
Well, Bernie and I started out together chatting last
October and we kept emailing and daily chatting as did
Julie. Imagine my surprise when, after I invited Bernie and
Julie to come to Canada anytime, Bernie said 'OK I am
coming'. I was shocked.
Julie wanted to come also but sadly she had her hands full
of family illness at the time. We will meet in the new year
when I go to meet my UK penpals as well as my penpal Sean and
his wife. He is going to cook me a Gammon meal and treat me
to a few glasses of Guinness. Oh my! I'm getting hungry as I
type (ha! ha!).
Well, Bernie's husband sent her off for her birthday and I
will say here and now, our mums were devastated! They were
worried we would become Internet statistics, robbed and left
in a dark ally. Oh my! We had great laughter over that. I
must say though that had that been my child I would have
thought the same.
On July 12th we left for Toronto airport to meet Bernie I
was ever so nervous as it made Cara Penpals seem now so real.
What if we did not like each other? Would she turn away?
What if she really was a man!! Yikes!! Silliness and mad
thoughts run through your minds when meeting a penpal for
the first time. I thought I might go all shy with her. Well
we met and we laughed and then I knew all was going to ok.
It was like meeting an old friend. At first we had to get
over different terms we use in our daily language. I
showed my Cara penpal all the sights I could muster in the
two weeks she was here and introduced her to my friends
which are hers now too.
I introduced her to 'cheesnips' and 'mountain dew pop'. We
daily went to the Cara chatroom to give detailed reports
to the rest of the members as they were most excited
to hear about all our mad escapades over here. I feel we
showed them that you can really make penpals friends on the
Internet in reality. We formed a great bond and are now like
sisters. I'll go see her and meet her hubby and four lovely
daughters next year. Her youngest daughter Lauren thinks
that I am a Princess living in a far away land!
I have many invites for next Spring from my many Cara penpals
in England. I'll be meeting my UK pals when I go to Ireland
when I will be staying with Cara friends also. How lucky can
one be? We ended up back at the Airport saying our goodbyes
but knowing it was really 'hello' and welcome to a new family
as we are like that now.
We chat more than ever and I think my life has been blessed
by my friend Bernie. I saw on my birthday also how special
Cara really is as I got a total of 41 ecards just from Cara
members that stopped by to wish me well.
Thank you Cara for giving this Lady in Canada friends that
are true and will last a lifetime.
See you all back in the Cara Chatroom!
You can join Cara Irish Penpals for free at:
IRISH MOVIE REVIEW: THE CRYING GAME by Dawn Hayden
The Crying Game is heavy duty adult entertainment that is
typical of director Neil Jordan, who also directed Interview
with the Vampire and Michael Collins. The fine cast includes
Stephen Rea as the lead with Forest Whittaker as the English
soldier that he and fellow IRA conspirators Adrian Dunbar
and Miranda Richardson kidnap.
The plot centers around IRA volunteer Fergus, played by
Stephen Rea, who is less than fully committed to the methods
of his IRA colleagues. He befriends the captive soldier but
is ordered to kill him in the woods where they are hiding.
The British Army intervene just as the soldier looks set to
escape but he is killed by accident by the very soldiers who
are trying to rescue him.
Fergus escapes to London where he seeks out the soldier's
girlfirend, superbly portrayed by newcomer Jaye Davidson. He
befriends her and it seems that salvation may be at hand but
it is not to be. His old IRA comrades track him down and
again order him to carry out a political killing. Desperate
to avoid any more violence he hatches a plan to protect the
girl whilst keeping the IRA at bay.
The Crying Game engages the viewer right from the very start
and the actors are in top form. Rea is typically understated,
impish and charming. Whittaker is seldom better as the
distraught soldier who knows he is facing execution at any
moment. After the initial excitement of the scenes in the
forest the plot slows down considerably to allow the viewer
to appreciate the dilemma facing Rea and the motivation
behind his transformation from prospective IRA killer to
someone seeking redemption and even love. The pace quickens
seamlessly as expert Irish director Neil Jordan leads us to
the violent finale and the realisation that humanity can
triumph in even the most severe of situations.
Completely top class.
LOSING BRIGIT FINNITY BY MEGAN ELIZABETH WRIGHT
Three generations jailed
in a rented minivan--
the cranky grandmother,
the obsessed mother,
and the gloomy daughter
stalking an ancestor
hiding somewhere in the history
of a musty public library
in the greenness of Northern Maine.
Sat outside on a broken bench
with the grandmother
to stare at a craggy bay into Canada
and to throw brown rocks at brown ducks
while, inside, the mother was
closing in on Brigit Finnity.
And she was found.
And the Irish heritage the mother hoped
turned up Canadian
so the drive home
was overcast and taciturn.
And I smiled at the grandmother
because we shared a feeling
Brigit would fade
back into the records
of the ancient public library
and we would be Irish again.
Megan is my daughter, a 23 year old writer living
in El Paso, in Texas and she is right: I still claim
an Irish heritage!
IN DEFENCE OF ANGELA'S ASHES # 1 BY TARA MURPHY-FLORES
I grew up in an American home as a member of second
generation descendants of a working class Irish family.
Although my father never beat his children, he and my
mother's rows were notorious in our neighborhood.She was a
tiny woman who barely stood five feet tall and he was a
hulk of a man who stood at six feet and weighed over 250
pounds. When my Ma couldn't ward off Da's drunken temper
physically, she would always dissuade him by appealing to
his undying sentiment. The source of this sentiment was
the feelings forged in the heart of every Irish son for
any mother, be it his own or that of his children.
My father died at the tender age of forty six. The drink
killed him. His years of carousing and the long illness that
followed left us in abject poverty. My mother, much like
Angela, did anything to keep her three girls fed and
sheltered. She was too proud to rely on government
assistance or even help from her family.
She worked countless hours in a yogurt factory that almost
killed her. She spoke with her three daughters nightly
about the importance of an education. She taught us that an
education was the only way out of the misery that had
befallen her. I don't have enough space to chronicle the
hope of their early marriage and the love that she and my
father had that resulted in the fine families that my
sisters and I are now raising.
I will concede that the Alcoholism in Frank McCourt's novel
is a stereotype that the Irish have long fought to abolish,
but the claim that there are so many more 'functional'
families can also be dangerous. It forces those of us who
have fought that war through education and tolerance into
hiding again. I reveled in the sincerity and the humor in
which McCourt weaved throughout his tale.
Today I teach literature in a poor inner-city school that
is populated by a majority of new immigrants. The value of
an education that was instilled at a very young age and my
mother's strength in the face of adversity is what leads to
my career decision. Mr. McCourt's work is not classic
literature as many of us would recognize , but his theme is
one that transcends race, creed, sex and even
'functionalism'. It is the idea that the human spirit can
transcend all barriers.This is a classic theme.
I am sorry that you were offended by the dysfunctional that
was depicted in the novel. I am grateful that an Irish son
did not have to endure this.However, some of my experiences
reflect an addiction that can occur when dreams are dashed
and frustration sets in . My mother also taught us that
alcoholism is an illness that with support, education and
tolerance can be combated. I wouldn't trade one day of my
experiences for the intolerance that your letter exhibited.
IN DEFENCE OF ANGELA'S ASHES # 2 BY GRAY HODGE
Hello again Michael, You asked for a response to Brian
Kelly's article on Angels' Ashes. Well I don't entirely
agree with him, 'tho I can understand his objections. I see
Angela's Ashes from an outsider's view. I'm British and
living in Australia, I have seen both the book and the film
to be popular here. I don't believe anyone here looks at the
book and believes Limerick is still like that. Well, I've
been to Limerick and I KNOW it's not. It would be like
someone reading 'For the term of his natural life' a
Tasmanian book which tells of the horrors of transportation
to Van Diemans Land and incarceration at Port Arthur, and
then thinking that Tasmania is still like that now. I
believe folk are able to regard Frank McCourt's story as
history as well as autobiography. If fact, the makers of the
film version had to especially construct the slum that the
McCourts lived in because they couldn't find a street that
bad in Ireland. Life MUST have been as tough as the book
depicts in that time, else why would so many leave beautiful
Ireland for America, England and Australia? Now the Irish
are returning to Ireland in droves, I'm told, and why is
that? because times are changed for the better. (I hope they
remain so) That the McCourts were a dysfunctional family I
have no argument. I'm sure that many families suffered the
same poverty but didn't have to resort to drunkenness,
prostitution and thievery in order to survive, but I am not
judging those who did, judging in God's work, not mine.
I understand that a lot of folk, especially in Limerick were
not too happy with the release of the book, they should
relax, Ireland and the Irish people and culture are very
much flavour of the month in Australia and I really don't
think that Angela's Ashes made any difference to that. The
only negative comments I have heard is that the book and
film were depressing That's true, it was, but there was a
victorious spirit that rose from such squalor and I found
Slan go foil,
Somerset, Tasmania, Australia.
IRISH QUOTATIONS OF THE MONTH
Money couldn't buy friends
but you got a better class of enemy
Spike Milligan, Puckoon, 1963
In general the worse thing you can do for anybody
is to give them money, because in the first place
it's easy-come, and in the second place instead of
being grateful they think it mean of you not to
give them more than you did.
Lynn C. Doyle, Green Oranges, 1947
Mrs Ryan had always thought that if the whole wealth
of the world was taken back and divided out equally,
giving the same amount to each person, you'd find in
five years that the same people would end up having
money and power and the same people would end up
shiftless and hopeless. In a changing world, she
found this view very comforting.
Maeve Binchy, The Copper Beech, 1992
GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
PHRASE: Cen tam e?
PRONOUNCED: cane thom a?
MEANING: What time is it?
PHRASE: Ta se a tri a chlog ar maidin
PRONOUNCED: Taw shay ah tree ah clug air mod/gin
MEANING: It is three o'clock in the morning
PHRASE: Ta se deich noimead tar eis a naoi
PRONOUNCED: Taw shay deh no/made tar aish a knee
MEANING: It is ten minutes after nine
View the archive of phrases here:
SHAMROCK SITE OF THE MONTH
A Bit of Blarney
Sheila McMahon is the owner of abitoblarney.com whose
ambition it is to make her website a 'One Stop Ireland
Resource' in the United States. 'We deliver Irish smiles,
minus the Irish miles, and that's no blarney! You can't
always hop aboard the next flight to Ireland, so we bring
the best of 'The Auld Country' directly to you via the
Internet' she told us.
Abitoblarney offers some very useful information about
Irish Weddings including an Irish wedding gift shop as
well as other 'hard to find' gift offerings including
Irish Dance Shoes, Mullingar Pewter and even Irish
Sheila's site also offers Irish Toasts and Blessings,
Screensavers, Wallpapers, Genealogy information and even
an article describing her own wedding day!
We asked Sheila if she had any advice as to the best time
of year to get married and she duly obliged with a poem!
WHEN TO MARRY
Marry when the year is new,
Always loving, kind and true.
When February birds do mate,
You may wed, nor dread your fate.
If you wed when March winds blow,
Joy and sorry both you'll know.
Marry in April when you can,
Joy for maiden and for man.
Marry in the month of May,
You will surely rue the day.
Marry when June roses blow,
Over land and sea you'll go.
They who in July do wed,
Must labour always for their bread.
Whoever wed in August be,
Many a change are sure to see.
Marry in September's shine,
Your living will be rich and fine.
If in October you do marry,
Love will come but riches tarry.
If you wed in bleak November,
Only joy will come, remember.
When December's showers fall fast,
Marry and true love will last.
You can visit Sheila's web site here:
SEARCHER SITE OF THE MONTH
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