The Information about Ireland Site Newsletter
The Newsletter for people interested in Ireland
Now received by over 50,000 people worldwide
Copyright (C) 2005
IN THIS ISSUE
=== News Snaps from Ireland
=== New free resources at the site
=== Peace on earth, and at sea by Brendan Power
=== A Celtic Music Quiz by Winnie Czulinski
=== The Card Game - a poem by Nuala Pinson
=== Christmas Gifts that are still available
=== Free US$5 Voucher
=== Irish Christmas Traditions
=== Christmas Cart - a story by Bree T. Donovan
=== A little bit of Dublin - #9
=== Gaelic Phrases of the Month
=== Monthly free competition result
Happy Christmas from Ireland. This is a bumper
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off first. We have included a free Christmas gift
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Nollaig Shona duit!
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
IRISH ARE THE HAPPIEST PEOPLE IN THE EU
A recent report from the European Union (EU) has
revealed that the Irish are among the happiest
people in Europe. The survey found that 92% of
Irish people are happy with their lives, compared
with the EU average of 80%. 50% indicated that
the health-care system was the most worrying
aspect of Irish life with 42% citing crime as
their biggest worry.
In respect of support for the EU Ireland ranks
second only to Luxembourg where 82% are
supportive, 73% being the rating in Ireland.
Austria and Britain are the most skeptical about
the EU, with 32% and 34% support respectively.
BUDGET 2005 IS ANNOUNCED
The annual budget, or allocation of financial
resources, has been announced by the Minister for
Finance. The big winners are families with
children who will receive an extra EURO 30 per
week per child, up until the age of 5 years. Old
age pensions were increased also with the
Government indicating it will reach its target of
a payment of EURO 200 per week before its term in
It is expected that extra tax will be put onto the
sale of cigarettes. Alcohol may also be targeted
for extra taxation but the Minister will be
mindful of the delicate balance required in
respect of keeping inflation low while at the same
time pursuing its policy of taxing unhealthy
The Irish economy will have grown by 5% in 2005
and is expected to top 6% in 2006. The construction
boom is the main driving force behind the
continuing surge in the economy, allied with a low
corporate taxation regime and record high
EU WORKERS FLOCK INTO IRELAND
Workers from eastern Europe are flocking into
Ireland attracted by high wages and employment
opportunities. In 2004 there were 7000
registrations of workers from the new EU states
who are entitled to work in Ireland. The figure
in 2005 is more than 11,000 per month. Most of
the new workers are from Poland (54%), Lithuania
(19%), Latvia (9%) and Slovakia (8%). Tax
documentation has revealed that the vast majority
take up employment immediately while others work
on short term contracts and return home. Citizens
of the new EU states are not entitled to collect
Social Welfare in Ireland. Non-nationals now
account for 8% of the Irish workforce which is one
of the highest rates in the EU.
HOUSE PRICES CONTINUE TO RISE IN 2005
Despite the now annual event of warnings from
economists of an imminent collapse of the Irish
property market house prices continued to rise in
2005. The average cost of a home in Ireland is now
EURO 275,000. The start of 2005 saw the rate of
increase in house values begin to drop off, but it
soon picked up again in the second half of the
year. House prices increased in Ireland by an
average of 9% in 2005. The increase in 2004 was
The recent one-quarter percent interest rate
increase by the ECB did little to dampen the
market. The huge influx of foreign workers is
regarded as one of the big reasons why the
market is still so buoyant. In order for prices
to decrease then supply would have to exceed
demand and, despite record level of houses being
built, this does not look likely in the short
ABBEY THEATRE MOVE FINALISED
It has been confirmed that the world famous Abbey
Theatre located in the heart of Dublin City is to
be moved a short distance to new premises at
Georges Dock. The Abbey has been under severe
financial pressure in recent years and the move
is intended to revitalize the ailing national
AER LINGUS AND RYANAIR SLUG IT OUT
Rival airlines Aer Lingus and Ryanair have stepped
up their battle, with the consumer being the big
winner. Ryanair recently added 18 new routes to
its service with Aer Lingus replying with 6 new
routes of its own, including direct flights from
Dublin to Poznan, Palma and Rennes. Ryanair now
offers a service to Marseilles, Milan, Valencia
Voice your opinion on these news issues here:
NEW FREE RESOURCES AT THE SITE
NEW COATS OF ARMS ADDED TO THE GALLERY:
The following 6 coats of arms images and family
history details have been added to the Gallery:
G: Gould, McGinty
T: Terry, Thorpe
View the Gallery here:
THE PERFECT WEDDING, ANNIVERSARY OR BIRTHDAY GIFT!
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PEACE ON EARTH, AND AT SEA by Brendan Power
The tiny village of Slade is at the end of the
road; nobody passes through on their way to
anywhere else, so the only people who get to see
and enjoy its rugged beauty are those who want
to go there. It is tucked away in the South East
corner of Ireland, on a rocky stretch of the
County Wexford coastline in the shadow of the
Hook tower, Europe's oldest working lighthouse.
Today, many people who want to escape the rush of
city life are slowly discovering the secret of
its beauty and tranquillity, but in the early
part of the last century things were very
different. Visitors were virtually unheard of and
life for most of the inhabitants was a daily
routine of work and sleep with very little time,
or money, for leisure activities. Except Sundays
of course; Sundays were for going to Church and
gathering in groups to share the gossip.
Peter Power, my grandfather, was a typical
villager. He was born in Slade and by the
outbreak of the First World War he had lived and
worked there for over 50 years. His home was a
little cottage on the dockside, he owned a small
fishing boat, and he rented some land from Lord
Ely's estate one acre, three roods and thirty
perches to be exact.
Peter's day consisted of fishing in the morning
and working on the land in the afternoon. His
prime aim was to provide enough food for his
family and whatever was left over would be sold
to pay for the other necessities of life. Life
had never been easy for Peter and his wife, Mary,
struggling to provide for their children, but
life was never easy for anyone in those days.
Peter's first wife had died and the children of
that marriage were now grown up sufficiently to
fend for themselves; John had joined the merchant
navy, Tommy and Margaret had moved to Cardiff in
search of work, and Annie worked for a family in
Wexford. There were still four young ones,
however, that needed feeding and clothing, so
the never-ending circle of work and sleep
continued while the war to end all wars was
fought on foreign shores. Slade was a long way
from the battlefields of Belgium and France,
and the war was a long way from the minds of
Peter and his neighbours.
On a misty September morning in 1916, Peter left
the dock in Slade early in the morning as usual
to catch the tide. The sea was choppy but not
rough, and there was a fair wind to fill the
sails of his boat. With him that morning was his
14-year-old son, Patrick, who had left school
that year and was now expected to make a
contribution to the household. The lobster pots
they had laid the previous day were about three
miles offshore and Peter was hoping for a good
catch. He needed the money the lobsters would
provide; Mary had told him she wanted to make her
annual trip to New Ross to buy shoes for the
children in preparation for the winter the rest
of the clothes she would make herself, sewing and
knitting during the long dark nights.
It is often said that God smiles on the righteous,
and sure enough the lobsters were plentiful today
twenty-one from their fifteen pots. After
baiting and re-setting the pots, they raised the
sail and headed for home, fishing for mackerel on
the way. By now, Peter's mind was on the work to
be done that afternoon, but he was suddenly jolted
out of his thoughts by a disturbance in the water
no more than 100 yards away.
It was like nothing he had ever seen, the sea
appeared to be erupting in front of his eyes, and
then his surprise turned to fear. He had never
seen one before, but he did not need anyone to
tell him that what was emerging from the sea was
a German submarine. First the bow rose high in
the water and then, as it smashed down and
levelled out, causing a wave that rocked the boat,
he could see a single machine gun on the deck and
could clearly make out the number, UB17, on the
The submarine looked huge; it must have been 80
or 90 feet long, and towered high over the little
sailing boat even at that distance. Peter had read
about a submarine sinking the Lusitania just 10
miles off the coast of Cork last year, and now, as
he attempted to reassure Patrick, a hundred
thoughts raced through his mind, 'What do they
want?' 'What will I do?' 'I can't escape, they
could shoot me out of the water'. He knew that even
a glancing blow from the mighty metal monster could
smash his little boat like matchwood and send it to
join his lobster pots at the bottom in seconds.
The sound of banging metal came from the submarine
and a small group of uniformed figures appeared on
the tower. They signalled him to move closer, he
really had no choice but to do as they indicated so
he told Patrick to drop the sail and they edged
closer using the oars. He could hear them shouting,
'Haben Sie jede mogliche Nahrung bitte'. He could
hear them, but he had no idea what they were saying.
'Bitte Hilfe, etwas Nahrung, fische'. Then a few
words of English, 'Please, some food, have you
fish, please help'.
A rope was thrown to their little boat and - still
nervous, still fearful of what might happen - they
tied up alongside. In broken English an officer
explained that they had been at sea longer than
expected and had run out of food. There were
fourteen men on board and they had not eaten a
proper meal for two days. Without hesitation,
Peter told Patrick to pass over the box of
mackerel. 'Danke, Sie sind ein guter Mann'.
'Thank you, you are a good man. Please take this,
we have nothing else to give you'. Peter and
Patrick looked at the jar and wondered what it
was; they had never seen Piccalilli before.
As father and son moved their boat away from the
submarine, they could see sailors cleaning the
fish as others brought a small paraffin stove up
on deck to cook them. With the Germans waving and
calling out to them, they headed straight for
Slade, catching just enough mackerel for their
dinner on the way. Patrick jumped from the boat
onto the dock steps and ran as fast as his legs
would carry him to show his Mother the strange
jar of Piccalilli.
'How could you do that?' she asked when she heard
the story, 'don't you know there's a war? They're
our enemies.' Peter's answer, perhaps proving that
God did indeed smile on the righteous earlier in
the day, was, 'Mary, I couldn't leave them hungry,
after all, they're someone's sons'.
Brendan Power is a professional conference speaker
A CELTIC MUSIC QUIZ by Winnie Czulinski
Author Winnie Czulinski is the author of
'Drone on! The high history of Celtic music'
which is available from Amazon and other good
bookstores. ISBN: 0920151396
1) What are the seven 'Celtic nations'?
2) What was the most important fish in Celtic
3) Maewyn Succat become a famous Irish religious
figure under what name?
4) What kind of specialized Celtic song-form was
urine used in?
5) Musically speaking, what is a 'Strathspey'?
6) What's the name of the Irish bellows-blown
bagpipe, and what does the name mean?
7) Why is the mountain dulcimer often called a
8) What does the Gaelic word 'craic' (pronounced
9) Which 18th-century blind Irish harper created
many 'planxties' - and just what is a planxty?
10) Which historical 'lady a la moan' wrote the
Scottish song Will Ye No Come Back Again?
11) What 19th-century American scholar collected
so many Celtic folk songs he just had to
number them all?
12) Who wrote the lyrics of the famous song
13) Where in Canada was the Black Watch Regiment
14) What early-20th-century magnate funded big
fiddling festivals in America?
15) When he was almost Baroque, what famous
classical composer churned out dozens of
arrangements of Celtic folksongs for a big
16) Where and when did Lerner and Loewe's stage
production Camelot first open?
17) What Irish rock group had a name that
means 'kiss my a--'? (i.e., posterior)
18) What famous American TV show did The Clancy
Brothers and Tommy Makem appear on, in the
19) Which two famous young Canadian Celtic
fiddlers tied the knot in 2002?
20) How many taps per second can famous
Irish-American dancer Michael Flatley do?
* * *
1) Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man,
Cornwall, Brittany (NW France) and Galicia
2) The Salmon of Knowledge (or Wisdom)
3) St. Patrick, in fifth-century Ireland
4) The 'waulking' song, sung by a group of people
pounding/kneading wet wool treated with urine,
to shrink and 'full' the fabric.
5) A distinctive Scottish tune and dance, named
for the strath or valley of the Highlands'
6) The uillean bagpipes, and it means 'elbow'
as they're squeezed under the arm.
7) Traditionally played, it has a 'drone' -
an underlying note that remains the same.
8) Fun, a good time, a certain 'spirit' (and
often in the bottle)
9) Turlough O'Carolan. A 'planxty' was a song
composed specifically for a patron.
10) Lady Caroline Nairne (1766-1845), a staunch
11) Francis Child. (Child #65, Child #66, etc.)
12) English barrister Fred Weatherly, in 1912
(apparently while on a commuter train)
13) New Brunswick
14) Henry Ford
15) Ludwig van Beethoven, for Scottish publisher
George Thomson. And actually, Joseph Haydn and
Ignaz Joseph Pleyel also did folksong
'arrangements' for publishers.
16) Broadway's Majestic Theater, New York City,
17) Pogue Mahone - the phonetic spelling of this
rather cheeky Gaelic phrase. (Later, the band
shortened its name to 'The Pogues.')
18) The Ed Sullivan Show.
19) Natalie MacMaster (of Cape Breton) and Donnell
Leahy (of the Ontario musical family group
20) 35 taps per second.
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
THE CARD GAME by Nuala Pinson
Seven years old and excited
I watched through a crack in the wall,
People gathering in from the cold,
There was John Joe who was thin and small
And Maggie Sheehan wrinkled and old
Whiskey was on the table and glasses of ladies gin
The cards were cut and Johnny dealt them,
Flying face down amongst the din.
Then I saw my Granma's face and heard her say again,
'It is the devils past time, playing card games is a sin'.
The voices droned then quietened
Only the moaning wind I heard,
Fear of a sudden struck at my heart
First the lamp went dark and then lighted
On the empty chair by the hearth.
A voice was raised in anger
Glasses clinked as I heard somebody's cries.
It was a game no longer
But a fight to the last for the prize.
Slap, slap, the cards hit the table,
Then a knock was heard at the door
A tall, dark coated stranger entered
And the cards were dealt once more.
The night wore on, the room went cold,
More turf was flung on the fire.
The stranger played 'gainst the friends of old
As their throats grew slowly drier.
By God, he knew his cards all right,
He was winning all hands 'round ,
Soon the stakes were upped
And more was supped
There'd be fortunes lost this night.
'Alright so' said Joe 'I wager that piece of land'
Joe looked desperate at the cards fanned in his hand,
'Have the cow and take the ewe whenever she has lambed.
Take them all I tell you, take them and you be damned'
Bad cess to him, thought Mollie
We're ruined by this night.
The stranger uttered not one word
But took their all as right.
Ashen faced they watched as
The stranger gathered his loot.
A thud was heard in the fireplace
'Twas the sound of falling soot.
The night was lost in eerie darkness
Wind keening in the roof.
Maggie bend towards the embers
And saw……….the cloven hoof!
'Oh, Lord' she breathed 'It's the devil'
'Please help us now' she cried.
The others shrank back from the evil
He'd land for which fathers had died.
Maggie was ever the brave one
She ordered them up on their feet
'Ask Our Lord for forgiveness,
For all our sinful greed'.
The Prince of Darkness facing,
They held their faith as a shield,
A dreadful roar then rent the air
Then peace….. he was no longer there.
In the morning I found myself
Curled at the foot of the bed
'Has he gone? Is it over?' I said,
As she smiled and patted my head.
(C) Nuala Pinson June 2000
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IRISH CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS
Ireland, like most countries, has a number of
Christmas traditions that are all of its own. Many
of these customs have their root in the time when
the Gaelic culture and religion of the country
were being suppressed and it is perhaps because of
that they have survived into modern times.
THE CANDLE IN THE WINDOW
The placing of a lighted candle in the window of a
house on Christmas eve is still practised today. It
has a number of purposes but primarily it was a
symbol of welcome to Mary and Joseph as they
travelled looking for shelter.
The candle also indicated a safe place for priests
to perform mass as, during Penal Times this was
A further element of the tradition is that the
candle should be lit by the youngest member of
the household and only be extinguished by a girl
bearing the name 'Mary'.
THE LADEN TABLE
After evening meal on Christmas eve the kitchen
table was again set and on it were placed a loaf
of bread filled with caraway seeds and raisins,
a pitcher of milk and a large lit candle. The door
to the house was left unlatched so that Mary and
Joseph, or any wandering traveller, could avail of
THE WREN BOY PROCESSION
During Penal Times there was once a plot in a
village against the local soldiers. They were
surrounded and were about to be ambushed when a
group of wrens pecked on their drums and
awakened the soldiers. The plot failed and the
wren became known as 'The Devil's bird'.
On St. Stephens day a procession takes place where
a pole with a holly bush is carried from house to
house and families dress up in old clothes and with
blackened faces.In olden times an actual wren would
be killed and placed on top of the pole.
This custom has to a large degree disappeared but
the tradition of visiting from house to house on
St. Stephens Day has survived and is very much part
The placing of a ring of Holly on doors originated
in Ireland as Holly was one of the main plants
that flourished at Christmas time and which gave
the poor ample means with which to decorate their
All decorations are traditionally taken down on
Little Christmas (January 6th.) and it is
considered to be bad luck to take them down
TRADITIONAL GAELIC SALUTATION
The Gaelic greeting for 'Merry Christmas' is:
'Nollaig Shona Duit'
......which is pronounced as 'null-ig hun-a dwit'.
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
CHRISTMAS CART by Bree T. Donovan
The Eyles moved to Ireland in mid-December 1947.
Their origin unknown, (some even called them
gypsies), but neither that nor the local gossip
of the family's 'strangeness' mattered to Binne
McCarty. There was talk of a son. She received
the news with great curiosity and joy. Her only
sibling was a sister seven years her senior. A
turbulent teenager was of no use to Binne whatever.
The Eyles's boy was reported to be about Binne's
age. She was longing for the company and
companionship of good, hearty lad, one who would
appreciate her tomboyish ways. For once Binne
would have an ally instead of disapproving eyes
always on her, and the constant question of,
'Why can't ya act like a good, little lass?'
Binne had suffered through more than one
Christmas of rushing to look neath the fir
tree only to find that St. Nicholas once again
must have mistaken her for another girl named
Binne - one who treasured rag dolls rather
than building logs, and trains as this Binne did.
Binne's family was not wealthy. Castlebar, a
rural community in County Mayo offered little in
the way of luxurious living. It was a town
embraced by the brackish sea at its tip, and
lush, green fields at its tail. Cathal McCarty,
Binne's da, made decent enough wages possessing
the good fortune of knowing how to cut turf, as
any seasoned man of Eire, but also the rare
ability to repair almost anything mechanical.
This enabled him to support his family well
enough. When the Eyles arrived it was said they
came from money, but a black-hearted father who
deserted his wife and son had squandered the
fortune. Binne's father made it a point to
abruptly end the questionable conversion at the
dinner table one evening saying he would not
allow the local 'hens' chatter' in his house.
The McCartys were Catholic, but Cathal was certain
of powers that could not be explained away by the
Church's teaching. Perhaps it was all the time he
spent in the murky bogs that allowed his
imagination to run wild with stories of fey and
the like. At least that's what Binne's mother
concluded as she briskly cleared away the dishes
that night informing her chiding spouse she was
not a hen, but a good Christian, unlike her Pagan
Being nine years old and in desperate need of
a friend who truly understood her, Binne didn't
care if the Eyles boy walked on a dirt floor or
a Persian carpet. She just wanted to make his
acquaintance and commence with all the fun they
could have tramping about the countryside.
Years later, devotedly working for a Children's
Shelter in Africa, Binne could still recall clear
as the bells at St. Dermot's the very first day
she met young Mr. Eyles. Only a few days before
Christmas, Binne's Yuletide excitement provided
her the courage to make the visit alone. A tall,
gaunt woman on the verge of nervous exhaustion,
greeted Binne at the door. Binne extended her
hand, taking hold of Mrs. Eyles slender wrist
shaking it with confidence.
'Hallo, Mrs Eyles?'
'Yes....' The woman concurred suspiciously.
'I'm Binne McCarty from 'round the way and I
was hopin' to see yer son.'
She received no words in reply, only the most
queer glance from the woman. Binne thought it
was because of her trousers and short-cropped
hair. Girls her age wore dresses, even if they
had no shoes, and hair long enough to fall past
their shoulders. Binne's curls, black as pitch
were cut close to her head. Dark eyes and ivory
skin were her sole feminine qualities. Her
attire and manner were all boy.
'Ah, I've brought this.' She took a loaf of
raisin bread she'd pilfered from her mother's
cupboard. 'It's from me mam.' She blushed knowing
that her mother would not be so welcoming to the
odd newcomers, but wanting Mrs. Eyles to believe
so. 'And, I've got some grand stones here to
show yer boy. I collected them from the Ce'ide
'Ce'ide Fields?' the woman politely accepted the
bread. 'Yes, they are the most beautiful fields
in all of Ireland! Well, not that I've seen all
the fields in Ireland... yet. But, they have to
be the oldest to be sure, over five thousand
years they are!' Binne asserted.
'That's just a drop in the bucket.' The woman said
in her tired way. Binne regarded Mrs. Eyles
expecting further explanation.
'Please thank your mother for me.' Mrs. Eyles
stepped away from the door. 'And thank you for
calling on my son, but, he is not one to go out
romping through fields.'
'Oh, we don't have to go today then. I wouldn't
mind stayin' inside for the afternoon.' Binne
smiled. 'No, I'm afraid that won't be possible,
dear, at least not any time soon.'
Before she could shut the door a young boy seemed
to materialize from behind his mother's skirt.
'Who is it, mother?' Binne held her breath as the
lad looked first to his mother then settled his
great, green eyes on her. The afternoon sun resting
on his blond head gave him an ethereal form. He was
rather slight for a boy of ten, his pale skin
almost translucent. Tiny veins, like blue lines of
a map rested just below the surface of his
forehead. Through the years Binne would come to
know this certain look about him. It always
signified he was deep in thought. It was one of
the things she would treasure about him.
'Ya look like an angel!' Binne exclaimed.
The boy laughed, 'And you look someone with a
'What?' Binne stared then remembered the bag of
stones. 'Oh, it's not terribly heavy, and I
thought I could share with ya.'
He beamed. 'Alright then, mum?'
'I think it best we go inside now, Gabriel.'
'Now mother, it would be very rude indeed if
we sent her away without seeing what she carries!'
'Yes, luv, you're right.' Mrs. Eyles gave in with
a sigh. 'Take the girl's burden, and bring her
The children jumped with delight. 'I don't think
yer mam likes me much.' Binne whispered to the
boy as he gently took her arm.
'Don't let her frighten you.' The boy whispered
back. 'Mother sometimes forgets we all have our
work to do.'
Bree Donovan is an author, poet and storyteller.
She welcomes any feedback: email@example.com
A LITTLE BIT OF DUBLIN - #9
The part of Dublin city just off Clanbrasil
Street has for centuries been known as 'The
Blackpits'. The origin of this name is unclear.
One theory suggests it is so named because of the
large number of dead who were placed there during
the 'Black Death'. Another suggestion alludes to
the black vats used by tanners during the
GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
PHRASE: Nollaig faoi shean is faoi mhaise duit!
PRONOUNCED: Nullig fwee yan iss fwee mway/shih dwit
MEANING: A prosperous and enjoyable Christmas!
PHRASE: Nollaig Shona duit
PRONOUNCED: nullig hunna dwit
MEANING: Happy Christmas to you
PHRASE: Athblian shona duit
PRONOUNCED: ought/bleen hunna dwit
MEANING: Happy new year to you
View the archive of phrases here:
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who will receive the following:
A Single Family Crest Print (decorative)
Send us an email to claim your print, and well
done! Remember that all subscribers to this
newsletter are automatically entered into the
competition every time.
I hope that you have enjoyed this issue.
Until next time, have a Great Christmas
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