IN THIS ISSUE
~~~ News Snaps from Ireland
~~~ New free resources at the site
~~~ Play the Irish Lottery
~~~ The Measure of My Dreams by Cindy Brandner
~~~ John Quinn: The amazing Irish-American
by Kathleen Dixon Donnelly
~~~ Power of the Ages by Stephanie Hoffman
~~~ Golfing in Ireland by Sean Downes
~~~ Gaelic Phrases of the Month
~~~ Shamrock Site of the Month: celticattic.com
~~~ Monthly free competition result
Hello again from Ireland where Winter has hit
- and hard! It is difficult to believe that
another Saint Patrick's Day is almost upon us
- doesn't time fly!
Many thanks to all who have submitted an article
for inclusion in the newsletter. This month we
have a wonderful tale from Famine Ireland by
Cindy Brandner, an exploration of a hitherto
unknown Irish art benefactor, an endorsement of
golfing in Ireland, and a poem - all
contributed by readers of this newsletter.
We want more!
Until the Saint Patrick's Day edition...
STAY OUT OF THE COLD!
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
ELECTRONIC VOTING TO BE INTRODUCED THIS YEAR
The Government is pressing ahead with the
roll-out of electronic voting to be used in the
upcoming local and EU elections in June. Despite
opposition concerns about the lack of a verifiable
'paper-trail' should the system fail, Bertie
Ahearn has insisted that the system is foolproof
and will make for more accurate tallying of votes.
The new system does not allow any mechanism for
people to 'spoil' their votes as has been the case
up to now. Spoiling of votes has long been
acknowledged as a form of protest by some voters
but the new system does not allow for any such
protest. The new system has so far cost 40
Million Euro to install.
WELFARE RESTRICTIONS TO BE IMPOSED ON IMMIGRANTS
Restrictions on the allocation of welfare
payments are to be introduced prior to accession
of 10 countries to the European Union in May.
There are fears that immigrants from the new EU
members may travel to Ireland with the sole aim
of collecting welfare.
INFLUX OF ASYLUM SEEKERS HALTED IN 2003
Applications for asylum in Europe fell by over
22% in 2003 but in Ireland the number of
applications fell by 33% with 8000 applications
made, of which over 3000 were of Nigerian origin.
In 1992 there were only 40 applications for
asylum. By 2002 this figure had increased to
over 11000. The rate of refusal is estimated at
92%. The UK is the world's most popular
destination for asylum seekers with over 61,000
applications in 2003, compared with 60,700 in
IRISH MOTORISTS DRIVE MORE THAN DRIVERS IN US
Car ownership in Ireland grew by a third in the
ten years up to 2002, reflecting the increased
prosperity following the economic boom. The poor
state of the national transport system is being
addressed with the completion of the M50
ring-road around Dublin, the Port Tunnel which
will remove trucks form Dublin City Centre and
the installation of the Luas light rail system.
Nevertheless Irish drivers still drive an
average of nearly 15,000 miles annually. This
compares with 5,000 miles in Spain, 10,00 in
Britain and 12,000 miles per annum in the US.
Urban sprawl has been cited as one of the main
contributing factors for the high Irish
GEORGE BUSH TO VISIT IRELAND THIS YEAR
A massive security operation is to be launched
ahead of the visit of US President George Bush
later this year. The venue for the summit
between the EU and US leaders has yet to be
confirmed but it is expected that the meeting
will be held outside of Dublin as there is a
strong likelihood of protests by various groups.
IRISH OBESITY TO BE TACKLED
A recent survey of obesity in children placed
Ireland as fifth out of fifteen countries. The
US fared worst in the survey with 15% of girls
and 14% of boys being diagnosed as clinically
obese. Only the USA, Greece, Portugal and
Israel fared worse than Ireland in the Danish
survey. 5% of Irish boys and 3% of girls are
now regarded as obese. 13% of the overall
population is obese and this compares with a
10% statistic in 1998. Half of the entire
population of the country are regarded as
The International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) is
urging Ireland to use its presidency of the EU
to implement its recommendations to reduce
IRELAND TO JOIN THE EUROPEAN SUPER LOTTERY
Irish lotto players could hit a jackpot of up to
50 Million Euro later this year as Ireland looks
set to join the EuroMillions super lottery.
Participants in the new lottery include France,
Spain and Britain. The addition of Ireland a
clutch of other countries will bring the
participating population base up to 200 Million
Voice your opinion on these news issues here:
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'The Measure of My Dreams' by Cindy Brandner
It was the whole breadth of my experience. Fifteen
square miles of soil and wee cottages. The
townland, the baile of my youth became the expanse
of all my years. You will think I was an ignorant
peasant who knew not how to want more. You will
smile at my simplicity, spare me a moment's sorrow
But I tell you, the measure of my dreams was the
span of a world entire.
I'd like to tell you my story, but first you must
understand my landscape. Will you come? Will you
look through history's kaleidoscope, knowing that
the passage of time distorts vision and makes the
dead seem small, even toylike. As though we
existed in dioramas, the sort found in folk
I will not bother with the name of my village, for
it no longer exists on any map or even as a ripple
caught in the traces of living memory. Its roots
are there in overgrown stone foundations and
depressions in deep grass that were once cart
tracks and paths made for feet to fly along.
There were twenty-one homes contained on three
hundred acres, but that is merely a note for the
historians. You couldn't see the baile until you
were almost upon it, it merged with the
countryside in an organic manner, a small huddle
that contained a wealth of tangled relations,
loves, hates- in short all the salt of life. Even
our memories were scarcely personal, they were
communal, shared, transformed through the
tellings and re-tellings.
But I think, in the beginning at least, I was
different. I wanted all my thoughts for myself,
I clutched at memory like straws of salvation.
The fire that was to ruin me was burning in me
From the day I was born I could hear the grass
grow in the fields. It was I, after all, who first
heard the potatoes in their death cries. When
people spoke I saw the colors their words left
behind. Some said I was a changeling, child of
the fairyfolk, but they said it with fondness
and indulgence. Later they would mutter from the
corners of sunken mouths that my mother ought to
have left me on a hillside to die. I cannot
disagree that, in the end, it might have been
better for all concerned had my mother done just
Can you define the moment that changed your life,
that put your feet on the path to heaven or to
hell? I can, though the moment was small and
consisted only of five words.
It was the hedgemaster who showed me The Word,
who stirred the embers in my chest into a
consuming blaze. It was myself who sacrificed
all to that fire. How was I, who thought hearts
were sexless, to know that words were not for
women? For words sang to me, ran their relentless
tunes and dirges through me like knives. I was
cursed with the desire to set them down, to carve
them with the perfume of ink into the flesh of
But paper was a feast, and ink unheard of. So I
set my words in soil and rock, cut them into tree
bones, wrote them with blood let free from my
wrists and ankles onto rock walls and wooden
tables. Later I would open those same wrists in
an effort to stave off death. I think those cuts
were cursed though, that the fire that burned in
my blood, poisoned others.
The Word was contained within a small blue-bound
book, frayed about the edges. It was the architect
of my disaster.
The hedgemaster was a fine strap of a man, with a
voice that could draw blood from the wind. Would
it have mattered had the Word first been spoken
by an ugly man with grated tin for a voice?
What words, you ask, could cause the downfall of
a life barely begun? Five of them, written by a
tuberculous Englishman. Ironic that it should be
an English poet that led an Irish girl down the
road to perdition.
'And her eyes were wild' - Five words and I felt
a desire that left me without breath. I was
possessed, obsessed, filled with an unholy need
for those pages. The man who'd written those words
knew me, I felt it surely.
I slept with the hedgemaster for that book. Are
you shocked? Don't be, for who can measure the
madness of such a desire? Who can say how these
passions become twisted when invested in the body
of a woman? He'd spoken Keats to me, and unlocked
the door of my cage, that was all the seduction I
required. He took me down amongst long grass and
dusty bluebells up by the old oak where the
townland couples courted. Behind closed eyes I
saw the rainbow of the words I would soon possess.
My terrible greed cost me dear though. For when
the hedgemaster moved on, he left more behind
than the Word.
My son was born under a sickle moon, to a mother
bewitched by the Word and a father who did not
share his blood. I married the boy next door so
as not to bring greater disgrace upon my family
than was necessary. He was a good man, with a
broad back and a kind heart.
I never lied to him, I told him about the Word
and how it burned within me like a holy flame.
How to hold it back was to let poison free to
gnaw my insides. I thought, fool that a young
girl can be, he understood. Even when I realized
he did not, I thought I could have my words in
the dark of night, in the bones of trees, bits
of soil and spilled blood.
But God, it seemed, had other plans for me and
I remember the night it began. A fog, the color
of iron, came rolling down over the hills. It
was a vapor, thick and creeping, pouring itself
into crevices and hollows. Into the cup of leaf
and vein of soil. It seemed as though Death had
breathed out over the land. In the morning there
was a fine white dust on the potato stalks,
their hardy necks bending already under the
We didn't understand at first. No one ever
understands when they are face to face with
disaster. It had come so quietly after all. On
hands and knees we scrabbled in the dirt, only
to find despair. We didn't know that was to be
the season God abandoned Ireland. He didn't
show his face again for many a year. He left us
with four mouths to feed, and no food with which
to do it. I hated Him, and yet understood the
impulse to run away from such need.
I cannot explain the weight of hunger to one that
has never known more than a moment's growl in the
belly. Hunger consumes, it eats you alive. It
crushes you when it is not merely a question of
where to find your next meal, but a matter of
knowing there will never be a next meal.
When the British came to burn it down there were
holes in the thatch of our cottage, for my husband
no longer had the strength to patch them. The
soot-soaked rain streamed in brown ribbons upon
us all, but we no longer had the means to care
for such small discomforts.
I know it sounds wretched to you, but I could see
the stars through those holes. Do you understand?
I could still see the stars.
The landlord offered us one passage on a ship.
Redemption for one, damnation for the rest. We
sent the hedgemaster's son.
What price redemption? The landlord only wanted
the Word, some pages with ink you may say, a
small price to pay for the lives of your family.
He might as well have asked for my soul.
Did I give it to him? Of course I did, but after
I saw my son safe on the road that would take him
away forever and always, I stole it back. It was
my soul after all and who can count the cost of
such a thing? For my sins my husband took the
blame. My husband died, tied to a flogging pole
in the village square. Back stripped down to the
bones. He ended hating me. Do not blame him. How
was he to know he'd married a woman who contained
within her the madness of congealed quartos and
Our first daughter was carted off to the foundling
home. I never did find her, though I tried,
please understand that I tried. I walked two weeks
amongst the lice and dirt and small throated cries
to an absent God, that infested that small corner
of hell. The flux took my youngest boy while I
The baby was the last to die. I count upon the
clicking of my unfleshed fingers how long since
she departed and find I cannot separate the days,
they swarm together now in a mass of unending
misery. I remember how she looked though, like
an odd fever dream, a translucent angel. Her
bones laying against folds of blue skin like
long shafts of pearl. Small mouth rimmed in green
from the grass I'd fed her.
From my son there is no word. I pretend not to
know his fate. I write long fanciful letters in
my head from him. I imagine him drinking milk and
honey, walking on streets paved with gold, in a
And so here tonight under a sharp-faced moon, I
I do not know why I cannot die. The cuts from
which I nursed my children on blood do not heal
well anymore. I pray to a God I no longer believe
in that I'll take infection and die. I pray for
the fever to come for me. I have not been so lucky
as others for I am still alive. Perhaps I am cursed
to walk this earth forever, cursed to live when the
very grass in the fields withers black with sorrow.
Do not look for me in the history books, you will
not find me, there I will merely be one of an
impossible number. Don't search amongst the
rollcall of poets. Unlike Keats all my words were
writ in water. I will tell you where to find me.
Follow me up the hill, the one that stretched its
toes down to the edge of the townland. Up through
the long grass to the twisted oak, where couples
once courted and young girls lost their innocence
amongst long grass and dusty bluebells.
Dig beside the stone that looks like a folded
child. A foot down it's waiting for you to find,
shrouded in the homespun I took from my husband's
back, before they tied him to the post.
Has it survived the years well? Is it moldy? Have
the dead poet's words bled across the pages, can
you smell the copper tang of the blood of those
who died for it? Handle it carefully as you turn
the pages, give it some small respect before you
move on. For it is all the measure of my dreams.
Fifteen square miles, the span of a world entire.
By Cindy Brandner
Author 'Exit Unicorns'
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JOHN QUINN: THE AMAZING IRISH-AMERICAN
by Kathleen Dixon Donnelly
I want to tell you about an amazing man.
While doing my academic research on early 20th
century writers, an interesting fringe character
kept popping up. Like Woody Allen's Zelig he
appeared in biographies, letters and group photos
with Matisse, Picasso, Ezra Pound, James Joyce.
Who was this guy?
Recently I researched the 1913 New York Armory
Show for my book about the writers, Such Friends.
There was John Quinn again, buying art in Paris,
organizing the first exhibition of international
modern art in America, writing to Joseph Conrad
and other struggling writers.
Curious, I read B. L. Reid's 'The Man from New
York: John Quinn & His Friends' and discovered it
is really awful—poorly written, badly organized.
Worst of all, it makes this fascinating man
Here is the Quinn I discovered:
Born in 1870, he was the son of an Irish immigrant
baker. He grew up in middle-class Fostoria, OH,
and attended the University of Michigan. When a
family friend was appointed US Treasury Secretary,
Quinn went to work for him in Washington. Holding
down a full-time government job, he attended
Georgetown University law school at night.
After earning an advanced degree in international
relations from Harvard (not bad for a shanty-Irish
baker's son), Quinn moved to New York City, his
home for the rest of his life. He predictably
worked on high-profile corporate cases for a large
firm. Just after 1900, his mother and two sisters
died within a few months of each other. He began
to explore his Irish roots. On his first trip to
Ireland, at a Galway feis, he met Lady Gregory and
other friends of Yeats. While helping this group
establish the Abbey Theatre, he started his own
New York law firm in 1906.
His practice was supported by lucrative corporate
retainers, and he became associated with Tammany
Hall. When his candidate didn't get the 1912
Democratic Party nomination, he became disgusted
with politics. He turned his energies to the arts.
During the first decades of the 20th century Quinn
managed to help organize the Armory Show. He fought
to eliminate tariffs on contemporary art. He to
bailed out the Abbey players. He was arrested for
performing The Playboy of the Western World in
Philadelphia. He had many affairs, including one
with Lady Gregory. He supported Yeats' father in
New York by buying his paintings and supported
Joyce in Paris by buying his manuscripts. He
argued the original obscenity case against
the banning of Ulysses excerpts. He carried on
detailed correspondences with most of the cultural
luminaries of the time and amassed an incredible
collection of modern art.
All before his death from cancer at the age of 54.
The only other book about him is a catalogue from
the Hirshorn Museum's memorial exhibit in 1978.
The most fascinating tidbits are found in the
footnotes. Quinn's 'assistant', 'companion' and
'devoted friend' was Mrs. Jeanne Robert Foster,
who, for the last six years of his life helped him
on his European collecting trips, while remaining
married to the wealthy Matlock Foster.
After his death, his art collection of 2000 pieces
was sold off among museums and collectors. His
voluminous correspondence was donated to the New
York Public Library, including the manuscript of
T. S. Eliot's 'The Wasteland'.
When I gave my presentation about the Armory Show
to the group of art collectors, I tried to
communicate to them Quinn's enthusiasm for
supporting artists as well as art.
Eventually I would like to give him the decent
biography he deserves.
Kathleen Dixon Donnelly
POWER OF THE AGES by Stephanie Hoffman
Blood in my veins
Beats to an ancient Irish drum
Primal music of the Celts
A lust for life
A will to fight
A heart to love
These I have inherited from ghosts
Mere whispers in the darkness?
Blurry visions in slumber?
They emerge from the past in
Every part of me
Living through my thoughts
Speech and actions
Reminding me of what once was
Celtic ghosts of old run forever
Within me and my children
As I am forever in them
YOU CAN HELP TO KEEP THIS FREE NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
where you can get great Irish gifts, prints,
claddagh jewellery, engraved glassware and
Anne MacDonald ordered a family crest plaque:
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
Again, my hearty thanks for this
Best wishes for happy holiday season.
Sincerely, Anne MacDonald
View family crest plaques here:
GOLFING IN IRELAND by Sean Downes
If you are itching to hit the little white ball
around somewhere new this year, then take yourself
to the home of golf and leprechauns. Rolling green
hills, ocean views, and beautiful scenery are only
a plane ride away. Did I mention the fresh
Guinness? Ireland is easily accessible from most
major cities on the east coast of the US. Golf
packages can be put together for you by a
reputable travel agent. Golfing in Ireland is a
must for all avid golfers. If golf is one of your
passions, go to Ireland and play the best courses
in the world while experiencing beautiful scenery
and an amazing culture.
Ireland's golf courses are consistently ranked
among the top courses in the world year after
year. Courses such as Old Head, Lahinch, Connemara,
to name a few, have all won the course of the year
award within the last decade. Golf courses in
Ireland are traditional courses or Links courses.
These courses are known for their wide open
fairways and those tough, almost impossible to hit
out of, pot hole bunkers. While playing a round,
you have your choice of a motorized buggy or a
caddie to carry your clubs. Be sure to bring plenty
of balls with you because the rough next to the
fairways is sometimes two feet deep. Most courses
have very fast greens due to the strong winds that
blow off the ocean. If a challenge is what you're
after and you love playing the best the Ireland
is for you.
When your round of golf is over, you will have the
ability to see the most beautiful landscape a
country has to offer. Why not take a walk down by
the ocean. Go hiking up a mountain to a 16th
century castle. Or look for a rainbow and find the
pot of gold that is waiting for you. Ireland has
so many different activities for the young and the
old. You can go to the mountain country and go
horseback riding through the fields down to the
beach. Or try your luck at salmon fishing in the
west. A golf trip to Ireland let's one experience
one of the most unique, rugged and absolutely
beautiful places on earth.
My personal favorite part of an Ireland golf trip
is interacting with the people of this great
country and experiencing all of its great
traditions. The first thing you realize about
Ireland is that most everything revolves around
public houses or pubs. People meet in pubs to
discuss everything from business deals to recipes.
The pub is the heart of most small towns. If you
want to hear some of the latest gossip, go to the
pub. If you are interested in hearing some of the
best musicians anywhere, go to the pub. By the
way, did I mention the Guinness? The Irish are
great story tellers and after a few pints, will
gladly sing you a song or two. Religion in Ireland
is very important as well and touring through some
of the old churches is a must. Experiencing
Ireland's traditions alone makes for a great
vacation and will keep you coming back for more.
Golfing in Ireland is truly a must for all
aficionados of the game. Magnificent courses are
located throughout this golfer's paradise. Ireland
was rated the number one golf destination five of
the last seven years. Experiencing the vast
topography of this country is a trip of a lifetime
in itself. Spending an afternoon in the village pub
talking to the natives is priceless, not only for
their wit and charm but for the pub's libations as
well. After experiencing all of the wonderful
things this country has to offer it its easy to
see why it is the premier golf vacation
destination in the world.
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Claire Latevola ordered an engraved ring:
I did want to let you know the watch I ordered
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I hope that you have enjoyed this issue.
Until next time,
ROLL ON SPRING!
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