The Information about Ireland Site Newsletter
The Newsletter for people interested in Ireland
Now received by over 50,000 people worldwide
Copyright (C) 2006
IN THIS ISSUE
=== News Snaps from Ireland
=== New free resources at the site
=== An Irish Leader: Sean Lemass
=== Tunnel of Light by Bree T. Donovan
=== Dollymount Strand by Barry Monaghan
=== A Musical Trip to Ireland by Fr. James F. Barry
=== Gaelic Phrases of the Month
=== Monthly free competition result
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
IRISH POPULATION AT ITS HIGHEST SINCE 1871
A population census which will be carried out in
April is expected to confirm that the Irish
population has grown to over 4.2M, an increase
of over 300,000 since 2002. A high birth rate,
the huge numbers of migrant workers arriving
here, especially from Poland and the new EU
states, as well as the high volume of emigrants
who have returned home, are being cited as the
main reasons for the dramatic increase.
The population of Ireland before the 1845-1849
famine was 6.5M. As recently as 1961 the
population was only 2.1M.
GOVERNMENT TRIES TO WOO SSIA SAVERS TO PENSIONS
The pension 'time-bomb' that is ticking
throughout Europe in general and Ireland in
particular is a cause of huge concern for the
Irish Government. Former Finance Minister
Charlie McCreevey recognised the problem when
he set up the National Pension Reserve fund,
which is aimed at financing the cost of
Ireland's imminent pension costs.
Another Charlie McCreevey scheme, the SSIA
(a bonus-led savings scheme), is to be targeted
by the Government as it attempts to persuade
Irish people to take out their own pensions now,
rather than rely on a Government State pension
later in life.
The Government will give a bonus of EURO 2500 if
a SSIA holder invests EURO 7500 in their pension
Over 15BN EURO will be released into the Irish
economy over the next year by the SSIA scheme.
EASTER RISING ANNIVERSARY TO GET A MILITARY PARADE
The 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising is to be
marked with a military parade and speeches on April
16th. Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahearn has invited
members of the opposition political parties to
suggest ways in which the event can best be
commemorated. The parade will travel from Dame
Street to O'Connell street where the famous
'Proclamation of Independence' will again be read
outside the G.P.O.
IRISH SMOKING BAN ADOPTED BY ENGLAND
Smoking in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern
Ireland is to be banned in public places from next
year. Ireland was the first country in the world
to introduce a total smoking ban in pubs,
restaurants and clubs and this example is being
followed throughout Europe.
Despite dire predictions of the thousands of jobs
that would be lost the Irish people have adapted
very quickly to the new laws in what is being seen
as one of he most pro-active pieces of health
promoting legislation in history.
RANDOM BREATH-TESTING INTRODUCED
In the continuing battle to reduce the alarmingly
high fatality rates on Irish roads (one of the
highest in Europe), the Minister for Justice has
announced that random breath-testing may now be
carried out by the Garda Siochana (police force).
Previously only motorists who had been involved
in an accident or who were suspected of
drink-driving could be tested.
SALE OF MAGIC MUSHROOMS BANNED
The Minister for health has banned the sale and
possession of magic mushrooms with immediate effect.
The boom in health-food shops and exotic markets
had made access to the mushrooms much easier in
recent years. From now on the mushrooms will be
classed as a 'controlled substance' akin to other
MORE WOMEN AVAIL OF 100% MORTGAGES
Single women in Ireland are taking advantage of
the newly available 100% mortgages in far greater
numbers than their male counterparts. In Dublin
up to 57% of women account for all applications
for the controversial mortgage product, including
joint-applications by couples.
STATOIL TO PULL OUT OF IRISH MARKET
Scandinavian oil company Statoil is to withdraw
from the Irish market. The entry into the
lucrative market by supermarket chain Tesco is
being cited as one of the main reasons the
company is leaving Irish shores.
GUINNESS FAILS TO LEARN ITS LESSONS
Those who forget the mistakes of the past are
doomed to repeat them. Tell that to Guinness!
Diageo, the company who own the Guinness brand,
are attempting to again launch an alternative to
the famous 'pint of plain'. Despite the disaster
that was 'Guinness Light' in the 1970's the
company is once more trying to steal some of the
lager market from its rivals by launching a
lighter version of its most famous brew.
'Guinness Mid-Strength' will have less alcohol
than regular Guinness but will look exactly the
same. It remains to be seen if history repeats
itself for the brewing giant.
NEW DUBLIN UNDERGROUND METRO LINK TO AIRPORT
The new Metro link from Dublin city centre to
Swords via the Airport is expected to take more
than 41,000 cars per day off the roads, with an
expected 30M passengers using the service
annually. The new rail link will run underground
in the city centre and emerge overground on the
outskirts of the city. The terminus will be
located at St. Stephens Green. The new service
will be a huge addition to the city's creaking
transport system and will be especially useful
for tourists arriving into Dublin Airport who up
until now have had to rely on buses and taxis.
IRISH DRAW TOUGH GROUP IN EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS
Newly appointed Irish soccer manager Steve
Staunton will get a baptism of fire when Ireland
face up to Germany in the opening qualifying match
for the European Championships which will be held
in Austria and Switzerland in 2008. The top 2
teams in each group qualify for the finals.
The away date with Germany in September will be
followed by a trip to Cyprus a month later before
home games to the Czech Republic and San Marino
in Landsdowne Road.
The first ever soccer match to be held at Croke
Park will take place in 2007 with Wales the
opposition. Slovakia are the seventh team in a
tough group, which ends with an away game in
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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:
D: Davies, Drake
J: Jenkins, Jameson
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AN IRISH LEADER: SEAN LEMASS
Sean Lemass was Taoiseach (leader) of Ireland
from 1959 to 1966. He is regarded by many
historians as the greatest of all political
leaders of Ireland and is credited with laying
the foundations of the modern economic success
Born in Dublin in 1899 Lemass was a veteran of the
Easter Rising in 1916. He fought in the War of
Independence and was imprisoned in Ballykinlar in
County Down for a year. He opposed the Anglo-Irish
Treaty and fought against the Michael Collins Free
State in the subsequent Civil War. He was among
the rebels who occupied the Four Courts which
were famously bombed by the Free State forces. He
was again interned in Mountjoy and the Curragh.
He was first elected to the Irish parliament in
1924 as member of Sinn Fein and was re-elected
from his Dublin South constituency at every
election that followed, up until his retirement
in 1969. With DeValera he was a founder member of
the new Fianna Fail party in 1926 which had
abandoned armed struggle in favour of using
political means to achieve its goals. He served
as Minister for Commerce, Minister for Supplies
and finally as Tanaiste (Deputy-Taoiseach) before
being elected leader in 1959. His dealings in
economic matters on behalf of the State were to
serve him well.
Ireland during the 1950s and 1960s was an economic
wasteland with little industry and huge
emigration. Costello worked incessantly to develop
industry and trade. His Programme for Economic
Development saw the creation of Bord na Mona, Aer
Lingus and the Irish Shipping industry. He worked
to develop and expand the tourist industry, to
extend the supply of electricity countrywide, to
develop the sugar industry, and a myriad of other
schemes and developments.
Irish society was changing at a rapid pace, with
RTE being set up in 1961. The old conservatism
was being challenged as never before. Ireland had
applied for membership of the EEC and was becoming
part of the wider modern European society.
Lemass favoured an attitude of co-operation with
the new political entity that was Northern Ireland.
In 1965 he became the first Irish leader to visit
Stormont for talks with Prime Minister Terence
O'Neill. The subsequent controversy as well as
failing health may have convinced him that it was
time to step down.
Sean Lemass retired as Taoiseach in 1966 and
eventually retired from politics in 1969.
He died in 1971.
His legacy of economic reform in Ireland is
perhaps his greatest achievement and is being
evidenced in the economic boom which began in
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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
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TUNNEL OF LIGHT by Bree T. Donovan
It had been a long day. The train's movement was
as soothing as a mother's lullaby. Fatigue and
sadness clouded Gillean's tired eyes. He hated
the idea of leaving his family, but the music
playing inside his head would not be silenced. He
was finally free to compose songs for his own
recently acquired record label after more than
two decades of being a commodity for others. The
constant demand for 'hit albums' from smug
business men who appreciated artistic expression
about as much as Gillean did being cooped up in
Board rooms, was gone. The particular, long
standing discomfort mercifully extracted like a
throbbing tooth. Instead, an inner calling
beckoned him back to the days of his musical
roots as a soulful story- teller. The fruition of
this creative endeavor weighed heavily upon him
for the past few months, but there never seemed
to be enough hours in the day to accomplish all
he wanted. After completing a successful and
exhausting World tour, he took great pleasure in
idle days spent with his wife and children in
their beautiful home nestled in a hamlet of
Western Ireland. Gillean made the difficult
decision to leave the comforts of hearth and
family to take an unaccompanied journey. He
believed the time in seclusion - away from all
the distractions that fame brought would
provide him with a clearness of vision.
Gillean didn't lack for material. He knew what he
wanted to say. A vast array of emotions had been
gnawing at him for a great while. He had simply
closed the door on the unmanageable feelings.
They were unwelcome guests. He was afraid of what
embracing them might mean. Most of all, he was
fearful that his musical message would fall upon
deaf ears. His treasured fans were always
supportive, but the Media could be so very
critical. He was beginning to feel like a rag
doll pulled from all directions. Although his
loyal listeners clamored for more, they differed
on what it was they wanted from him- who each
considered to be their own personal singer.
Pressure was building in his core like the heat
in the train's engine, and like the steam that
eventually has to be released in a great
expulsion of smoke, Gillean knew that he must
discharge the negative energy he was lugging
around. He was deeply puzzled that so many wanted
so much from him all the time. He just wanted to
write and perform songs; not the burden of
concern with whom or how many people approved
of his work.
He had unknowingly spent an hour staring into
the darkness as town after town sped by in a blur.
The large window he was seated next to offered the
perfect view - himself. Night crept across the sky
stealth as a highwayman. All he could see when he
looked out the window was his own face so much
older than he recalled staring back accusations.
He slowly dragged a hand across his cheek shaking
his head at the drained man regarding him. Where
had all the time gone? He considered. Where had
Gillean Faraday gone? His head fell against the
cold glass as his leaden eyes closed without
consent. The clacking of the train's wheels
against the track provided the rhythm to the
music that played over and over in his mind. Words
came to him shrouded in the gauzy veil of sleep.
Hear with the heart, and there it will start.
'Excuse me, lad. I think this is me seat.'
Gillean sluggishly turned to the sound of a
mysteriously, familiar voice. Beholding the man
standing next to the empty seat adjoining his,
Gillean was both delighted and frightened.
'Sully?' he rubbed his disbelieving eyes.
'What?' This can't be! Gillean?' the man looked
down at his ticket as if it would confirm his
'What are you doing here, Sully?' Gillean was
waking up with a sudden burst of adrenaline.
'What am I doin' here?' What are you doin' here?'
Sully raised his head to the non-visible entity
he addressed, 'What's he doin' here? Not again
with the singer!'
'So nice to see you too!' Gillean reached out
to place Sully's well-worn satchel into the
overhead compartment. 'And what the hell kind
of luggage would a... creature like you have?' he
asked making room for Sully to sit. Gillean knew
better than to believe there was any chance of
escape. Resistance was futile.
'Don't go askin' me about my baggage when
obviously ya have plenty of yer own!' The feisty
man plopped himself down with a great sigh.
'What's that supposed to mean?' Gillean looked
into the memorable, green eyes. This odd stranger
first appeared while Gillean was out walking
through the misty woods one lonely afternoon. He
thought one of his mates, or manager must have
been playing a joke on him. But he quickly came
to the realization that Sully was not of this
world. The mischievous, child-like man was
apparently some sort of guide. Gillean's entire
body quivered whenever he ventured to consider
what or who Sully really was. Creating magical
and ethereal characters for his songs was one
thing. Irish Folk-singers had done that for
centuries. It was their legacy. Confronting a
being seemingly from the hallways of his
imagination was too much to be believed. A few
stiff drinks of Jameson did little to dispel
Sully back into the parallel universe he had come
from. After their first encounter in the woods,
Gillean reckoned he would write a song about the
bizarre occurrence, and be done with it. Now it
proved none too simple a situation. Sully was not
so easily rid of. Gillean had an idea this train
ride would be one that would change his life
He shuddered as the little man fired back, 'Looks
like we're both goin' to find out why I got stuck
with ya again!'
'Who? Stuck with me? You...I...ARGH!' Gillean
exclaimed in total exasperation.
Sully began to laugh - his wide grin like the
'Sod you, Sully! I came here for some peace!'
Gillean grunted turning his back to the man
offering him his bum.
'Look here!' Sully smacked his companion on the
rump with a considerable wallop.
'We are clearly in this together, so there's
no need to get in a snit! Come on then, let's
sing a song, shall we?' Sully winked at the weary
'Sing a song? No! I'm exhausted. I'm going to
sleep! I pray you will do the same.'
'You? Pray?' Sully feigned disbelief with a
chuckle. 'Fine. Suit yerself!'
'I will, thank you!'
With that Sully burst forth-full throttle, 'Oh my
old man's a dustman, he wears a dustman's hat!'
'Oh, Sully, please! Shut it!'
'Come on then, come on!' Sully shoved his elbow
into the protesting man's side.
'Come on then!'
Gillean sighed with disgust, 'Okay, Okay, ya
damned imp! 'He wears cold blimy trousers and he
lives in a Council flat!' he offered with high
'Now that's got it!' Sully exclaimed with delight.
Together the two men filled up the silence of the
otherwise empty compartment as the train propelled
itself forward through the darkness into the
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DOLLYMOUNT STRAND by Barry Monaghan
Oh grounded vessel upon the strand
your wooden planking made so grand
how you must have proudly sailed
across the sea in wind and gale
could you but speak, how many a yarn
protecting souls from mortal harm
until a fateful storm would see
your voyaging ended ore the sea
how grand it is to climb aboard
young pirates armed with dirk and sword
this eddy pool your bow has formed
a crystal pool to swim unharmed
even when the tide has gone
a place to swim and slightly warm
but how you must have felt such pain
to run aground in wind and rain
great vessels now go sailing by
it's enough to make a pirate cry
MY MUSICAL TRIP TO IRELAND
by Father James F. Barry
Music has always been a part of the Irish scene.
For some reason, I noticed it more on this, my
nineteenth trip to Ireland. A 'session' in Irish
music terms is a group of musicians who gather
and play, usually traditional music. Traditional
in the sense of deeply rooted in Irish musical
An open session means that any musician can come
and sit in on the music. This was the case at
the Crane Bar in Galway, when at least fifteen
musicians were there with accordions, banjo,
guitar, flute, fiddle, and a Bodhran (Irish drum,
pronounced 'Bow-Rawn'). When the Bodhran player
left, I asked to sit in and played the set of
wooden spoons, which I just happened to have with
A closed session is when certain musicians are
chosen and invited to play, such as at Tom Malone's
Pub in Miltown Malbay, County Clare. There was Sean
on the fiddle, his brother Fintan on the banjo,
Theresa on the fiddle and flute and I played the
Bodhran and spoons. We hosted a group of tourists,
also from New Jersey, the Irish Heritage Society.
All this music is called 'craic' and yes, it is
pronounced 'crack.' This causes some puzzlement
for Americans who are invited to share some
'craic.' I got a good taste of craic in the
Preacher's Bar in Ennis, at Taffts Pub in Galway,
and closing the hotel residents' bar in Galway.
There are ballad singers, such as Tim O'Reardon
at Danny Magee's in Killarney. Down the street
was a place with a rock Irish music band, with
psychedelic lights and strobes, loud and noisy.
I felt right at home in the Great Hall Banqueting
Center of the Temple Gate Hotel in Ennis: at one
time it was St. Xavier's Chapel of the Convent of
Mercy, and it looks like it. The Sisters moved
from the Convent in 1995. We had another enjoyable
session there on the tour's last night in Ireland.
After my tour with Blarney, I drove to the Glenstal
Abbey in time for the Sunday morning Mass with the
monks on the Feast of Christ the King. It was
filled with music of all kinds: from the festive
entrance hymn, to the joyous sounds of 'Gloria in
excelsis Deo' (chanted in Latin), to the round
sung by the boys choir and the congregation. The
Mass concluded with a rousing organ piece.
One of the books I read, Divine Beauty: The
Invisible Embrace, by Father John O'Donohue, says
'Ireland has a great store of traditional music and
there is a great diversity of style and nuance.
Each region has a distinctive tradition. One can
hear the contours of the landscape shape the
tonality and spirit of the music. The memory of
the people is echoed in the music. Traditional
Irish music is joyous and lively. The reels, jigs,
hornpipes, polkas and slides have tremendous
energy and passion. In the 'slow airs' the
wistfulness of loss and sorrow is piercing....
The music of a people offers a unique entry to
their unconscious life.'
For the next three days, I was fortunate to be
a part of the monks' prayer life as we gathered
at 6:35 for morning prayer, at 10:30 for
mid-morning prayer, and at 6:00 pm for vespers,
and at 8:35 for night prayer. The prayers, some
in Latin, most in English, were sung in plain
chant and Gregorian chant. Central to the day,
in time and importance, was the concelebrated
Mass, likewise sung in Latin and English. We ate
lunch in silence while classical music was played.
Yes, there is much music in Ireland, and I enjoyed
most of it!
Father James F. Barry
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GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
PHRASE: Ba mhaith liom cupan tae
PRONOUNCED: Buh wah lum cup-onn tay
MEANING: I would like a cup of tea?
PHRASE: Le bainne? Le siucra?
PRONOUNCED: Leh bonn-yeh? Leh shu-kreh
MEANING: With milk? With sugar?
PHRASE: Ta se ro-laidir/ro-lag/an dheas
PRONOUNCED: Taw shay ro-law-dirr/ro-logg/on djas
MEANING: It is too strong/too weak/just nice
View the archive of phrases here:
FEBRUARY COMPETITION RESULT
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A Single Family Crest Print (decorative)
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