The Information about Ireland Site Newsletter
The Newsletter for people interested in Ireland
Now received by over 50,000 people worldwide
Copyright (C) 2010
IN THIS ISSUE
=== News Snaps from Ireland
=== New free resources at the site
=== 10 Little Pieces of Dublin
=== An Evening in Lisdoonvarna by Kimberly Burke
=== The Thunder Storm by Pat Watson
=== The Flag of Ireland
=== A Poem for Molly by Gord Wilson
=== Gaelic Phrases of the Month
=== Monthly free competition result
After an initial surge in optimism with the advent
of the new year the mood has turned pessimistic in
Ireland again with the economy still struggling
badly. The country may be officially out of
recession but the huge increase in unemployment
and almost daily bad economic news means that 2010
is going to be another tough year for Ireland. The
coldest winter in over 50 years didn't help either!
This is sharp jolt to the younger generation who
have never known anything but the good times.
Spring is here though so maybe the tide can turn
later this year.....
Until next month
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
BAD-BANK GETS EU APPROVAL
The lynchpin of the Irish government's plan to
restore credit to the economy and thus to
promote economic activity has been given
approval by the European Union. The National
Assets Management Agency (NAMA) will being
taking bad loans from the main commercial banks
at a big discount, thus freeing up the banks
from these loans while providing them with
much needed capital. The banking system is under
renewed pressure with the news that Bank of
Scotland is to close its Halifax retail banking
division. Postbank is also to be closed down
The NAMA plan involves the government paying the
banks 54 Billion euro for loans estimated to be
worth 80 Billion euro. The government hopes that
it can recoup its investment over 10 to 15 years
and has written provisions into the legislation
to enable it to retrieve its initial stake from
the banks in future years, should the loans not
meet their repayment expectations. Five banks will
surrender loans to NAMA: Allied Irish Bank, Bank of
Ireland, Irish Nationwide Building Society, EBS,
and the now nationalised Anglo Irish Bank.
GOVERNMENT SURVIVES RECENT DRAMAS
The resignation of high-profile TD George Lee from
Fine Gael should have been very good news for the
ailing government led by Brian Cowen. Yet there
was to be no respite when his Defence Minister,
Willie O'Dea, was forced to resign. This was
quickly followed up by the resignation of two
members from his coalition partners party.
George Lee was the RTE economic spokesman before
being courted by Fine Gael and securing a big
boost for Enda Kenny's party in a landslide
by-election victory. He had expected to play a
big role in shaping the economic policy of the
party however and had recently given interviews
that he was unhappy with the lack of input he
had been afforded. His shock resignation not just
from Fine Gael but from politics completely put
the focus very much on the position of Enda Kenny
as party leader, with questions about his
leadership abilities refusing to go away.
Fianna Fail have their own problems however and
the resignation of Defence Minister Willie O'Dea
gave Enda Kenny the perfect opportunity to put the
focus back on the ruling coalition. Further
resignations were to follow with first Deirdre de
Burca and later Trevor Sargent resigning to heap
more pressure on the government
They look likely to survive. If an election were
to be called tomorrow then Fianna Fail would
surely be ousted from power. The Green party would
be decimated, perhaps losing all of their Dail
seats. It is likely this fear that is keeping
the two parties together in government. They will
press ahead and hope that the economy recovers in
time for the next election.
IRISH TOURISM HAMMERED BY RECESSION
900,000 fewer tourists visited Ireland in 2009
which is a huge decline in a most vital part
of the Irish economy. Part of the problem is the
currency weakness of both sterling and the US
dollar relative to the Euro which makes it more
expensive for visitors to travel to the emerald
isle. Hotels are offering hugely discounted
deals in an effort to attract business. Irish
trips abroad dropped by over 10% in the same
period, having a knock-on effect on airline
ANCIENT BROOCH SAVED FROM THE ASHES
When placing sods of dried turf on her fire
Kerrywoman Sheila Edgeworth had little idea that
she would make a major archeological discovery.
A 1400 year old brooch that had become lodged in
a piece of turf was found in the fire-grate when
Sheila was cleaning the grate. It is thought the
ancient brooch was used by a priest to secure a
cape or overcoat. Having been initially lost in
the bog the brooch survived nearly one and a half
millenia to further survive first the turf cutting
machines and then the heat of Sheila's fire. The
Brooch was handed over to Kerry Museum who
confirmed its authenticity and that it was a
FILM CLIPS OF CIVIL WAR ERA IRELAND NOW ONLINE
The archives of the famous British Pathe News
Company that was established in Paris in the
1890s have been made available for public
viewing for the first time. Film clips of
Irish interest that can be viewed include:
The 1922 Free State Government
Civil War Scenes
The Tailtean Atletic Games, 1922
JFK visits Ireland in 1963
Voice your opinion on these news issues here:
NEW FREE RESOURCES AT THE SITE
IRELAND HOUSE-SWAP LISTING
We are working on the online program to allow you
to freely add and view details of other people who
are interested in this service.
You can add your home-swap details to our new free
listing service at:
IRISH HOLIDAY AND TOURIST BOARD
Post a question about holidaying in Ireland
and we guarantee an answer will be posted on
NEW COATS OF ARMS ADDED TO THE GALLERY:
The following 5 coats of arms images and family
history details have been added to the Gallery:
P: Payne, Pell
View the Gallery here:
THE PERFECT WEDDING, ANNIVERSARY OR BIRTHDAY GIFT!
We now have over 100,000 worldwide names available.
Get the Coat of Arms Print, Claddagh Ring,
Screensaver, Watch, T-Shirt Transfer or Clock for
your name at:
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
THE PERFECT WEDDING OR ANNIVERSARY GIFT!
View family crest plaques here:
10 LITTLE PIECES OF DUBLIN
HOW DUBLIN GOT ITS NAME
The Gaelic name for Dublin is 'Baile Atha Cliath'
which translates literally as 'town of the hurdle
ford', a description of the bank of wooden hurdles
built up across the river Liffey by the Vikings.
The word 'Dublin' is actually a composition of
two Gaelic words: 'dubh' meaning 'black' and
'linn' means 'pool' (or 'mire'). Thus the
literal translation of the words from which
Dublin gets its name is Black pool!
Crossing the 'hurdle ford' was not without its
dangers. In 770 AD a band of Bon Valley raiders
were drowned crossing the Liffey at the hurdle
END OF THE VIKINGS IN IRELAND
The famous victory by Brian Boru over the Vikings
at Clontarf in the year 1014 marked the end of
the Viking raids on Ireland. By this time however,
the Vikings had already begun to assimilate into,
and make their mark on Gaelic society.
One such Viking was Sitric Silkenbeard, the King
of Dublin. Despite the reputation of the Vikings
Silkenbeard was a devout Christian and was
responsible for the founding of the famous
Christchurch Cathedral at the top of Dame Street
in Dublin City Centre. His reign saw the first
coins ever minted in Ireland. They bore his
image on one side and a cross on the other. He
remained in power until 1036 and spent the last
of his days on the island of Iona, Scotland.
ORIGIN OF THE WORD 'CHANCER'
The sixteenth century saw a fierce rivalry develop
between the Butlers and Fitzgeralds. Violent
clashes between the two groups were commonplace with
once such melee occurring in 1512. Butler, the
Earl of Ormond retreated and was forced to take
refuge in Saint Patrick's Cathedral. He barricaded
himself behind a stout wooden door and refused to
leave until he got assurances for his safety. After
some negotiation a deal was struck. In order to
seal the deal a hole was hacked through the wooden
door so that the two leaders could shake hands. It
is thought that the modern expression 'chancing
your arm' originated from this event. From that
time on a 'chancer' was someone who took a risk
or a gamble. The hole in the door can still be
seen to this day.
In 1924 the main street in Dublin City had its
name changed from Sackville Street to O'Connell
Street, in honour of 'The Liberator'. This change
had for long been resisted by the English
Vice-Chancellor, Chatterton, who prevented Dublin
Corporation from granting the wish of the vast
majority of Dubliners. Not to be outdone, the
local citizenry opted to use the new name in
spite of the lack of official recognition.
Dublin Corporation joined into the spirit of
things by allowing the 'Sackville' street signs to
deteriorate and even threatened to rename a street
where prostitutes were known to frequent as
The creation of the Free State in 1922 finally
allowed for the official transformation of
Sackville Street into O'Connell Street.
Kilmainham Jail near Inchicore in Dublin was
originally built on a site known as 'Gallows
Hill'. A jail had existed on the site since the
year 1210 but was in such neglect that it was
demolished and rebuilt in 1796. By the time of
the 1798 rebellion the jail was overcrowded but
further development did not take place until 1863.
Many famous Irish famous historical figures were
imprisoned there including Robert Emmett, Charles
Stewart Parnell, Padraig Pearse, Countess
Markievicz and Eamon DeValera. The prison was
closed down in 1924 and is now a museum heritage
site, a national monument.
The early part of the twentieth century was a
magical time for Irish literature. Yeats, O'Casey
and Synge were prominent in the famous Abbey
Theatre while Dublin provided no less than three
Nobel prizewinners. James Joyce was born in
Rathgar although there are twenty houses in
Dublin city that claim him as an occupant, owing
to his family constantly moving about during his
early years. His most famous work is Ulysses.
Dubliners still celebrate 'Bloomsday' every year,
named after his most famous fictional character
George Bernard Shaw was another Dubliner who won
the famous Novel prize, renowned for 'Pygmalion'
on which the movie 'My Fair Lady' is based.
Dubliner Samuel Beckett also won a Nobel, and is
perhaps most remembered for writing 'Waiting for
THEFT OF THE 'IRISH CROWN JEWELS'
The 1907 theft of the 'Irish Crown Jewels' still
remains a mystery nearly a century later. The
famous regalia of the 'Order of Saint Patrick'
were to be placed in a safe in a strongroom in
Dublin Castle but, when it was found that the new
safe was too large to fit into the strongroom the
safe was located in the Library instead.
An inspection of the safe in July revealed that
the treasure had disappeared. The haul was valued
at 30,000 pounds, a huge sum at the time and has
never been recovered.
THE ATMOSPHERIC RAILWAY
The famous Atmospheric Railway was opened in 1844.
The line ran from Dalkey to nearby Kingstown (now
Dun Laoghaire) on the southside of the city. This
unique system relied on atmospheric pressure to
force the railway carriage up the hill to Dalkey
and then relied on gravity for the return to
A 483 yard pipe ran the length of the track from
which air was extracted by a steam-driven pump at
the Dalkey end. The resulting vacuum caused a
piston to move along the pipe, to which was
connected the train. Wax-covered flaps in the pipe
opened and closed allowing the piston to move
along its length. As the train moved along a wheel
pressed down on the pipe sealing in the vacuum as
progress was made. Problems with this system meant
a man had to follow the train to manually seal
Momentum from the journey would allow the train to
travel the final part of its journey when the pump
had been stopped. The piston was then hooked onto
the train for the return journey back to Kingstown.
If the train stopped short of the station the
third-class passengers were required to push the
carriage the final part home. Occasionally the
train would fly past the Dalkey station and off
the tracks at the far end.
The system worked well for a decade but was
eventually abandoned because of the problems with
sealing the vacuum flaps and because of
developments with steam-driven engines. The grease
and wax that was used on the flaps was also a great
attraction for rats who caused repeated damage to
the line. The tunnel that was constructed along the
line only offered 3 inches of head clearance making
it a tricky proposition passengers sticking their
heads out of the windows!
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
The famous General Post Office in Dublin was
first opened in 1818. A suggestion that the
building be used as a Catholic Cathedral was
rejected by the authorities as they did not want
a religious institution in such a prominent place
in the city.
The building was to gain international prominence
however, when it was seized during the 'Easter
Rising' of 1916. The rebellion, which was led by
Padraig Pearse, was very much centered at the GPO
which was gutted during the battle that ensued.
It was rebuilt during the 1920's but several of
the original bullet-holes from the Rising were
left untouched, as a reminder of the turbulent
history of perhaps the worlds most famous post
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
AN EVENING IN LISDOONVARNA
by Kimberly Burke
Though excited by the prospect of being in a
different part of Ireland that evening,
Lisdoonvarna seemed a bit sleepy when we
arrived. 'Sunday nights are supposed to be
good for music and dancing, right?' my
husband Eric asked as we drove through town to
find the Marchmont B&B. 'Looks a bit quiet
tonight,' he added as we parked and liberated
our luggage from the car.
We'd left the wild beauty of Connemara that
morning and the current landscape (the same type
that thrilled us upon our arrival in Ireland)
seemed uninspiring and conventional, adding to
our growing concern that this night might be a
bit of a let-down. Eileen Barrett met us with the
usual Irish grace and friendliness that we'd grown
so fond of and then showed us to our room. We
inquired if she knew of any live music being
played in town that night. She said she wasn't
aware of anything but to try the sport pub. We
walked the short distance to the pub. No music.
We stayed for a pint ('See? The evening isn't
going to be complete flop,' Eric pointed out) and
to watch a bit of television. The barman suggested
we try Lynch's Hotel and see if anything might be
So we sauntered off, already feeling better having
one under our belts. To our great surprise and
happiness, the pub at Lynch's was hopping with all
sorts of folk kids, young adults, older adults,
maybe even a dog. Above the door was a birthday
banner for Brigid and just inside a couple of
fellows were setting up their band equipment. 'A
birthday party fun!' quipped Eric. 'But we
haven't been invited,' I protested. The barman
quickly assured us that we were as welcome as if
we'd lived there all our lives and proceeded to
inquire after our drinking needs.
Eric wondered if there might be a whiskey he'd
previously overlooked and asked the barman what
his favorite was. Without a word he went to the
storage room and brought out a bottle of Jameson
Crested 10 for Eric to try. 'Brilliant' was the
We settled in with our drinks and watched the
locals visit with each other while we waited for
the music to start. Once it did, Brigid
(apparently she worked for the hotel) and several
friends commenced dancing. Watching a birthday
celebrant having a complete blast at their own
party has always made me happy and I felt
privileged to witness this same joy while in a
Eventually I needed to visit the toilet. While
washing my hands, a girl of about 10 years was
filling up a squirt gun in the other basin. 'Is
that to get your brother with?' I asked her. 'How
do you know I have a brother?' she demanded with
an astonished look. I replied that when I was her
age, I had filled up a squirt gun or two with my
brother being the intended target. She grinned and
confessed that she had already gotten him in the
pants so it looked like he had wet them. We both
had a good giggle over that.
I returned to our seat to find that Eric had
abandoned it for the dance floor. A woman in a
lavender jacket (we never got her name) either
took pity on him for being alone or felt brave
enough to ask the Yank to dance. Either way, they
looked like they were having fun. When the song
was over, the women rushed over to assure me that
her intentions were good and not to worry. I
wasn't, but it was a nice gesture on her part.
At one point the band launched into a song that
sounded a lot like a Gordon Lightfoot song we
like. So at the next break we asked them about it
and got a bit of a history lesson about Bobby
Sands (the song was 'I Wish I Was Back in Derry')
and the hunger strikes. When they played
'Fisherman's Blues” by the Waterboys, we raced for
the dance area, anxious to move along with one of
our favorite songs. Practically everyone danced
and smiles were plentiful. We felt like we
belonged and were sad when the song ended.
As we were making our way through the crowd to
leave when the party ended, Eric felt a tug on his
sleeve. He looked over and there was Eileen! With a
playful grin on her face, she asked us to leave the
light on for her. 'No problem' we told her as we
headed out into the chilly night. As we walked (or
was it wobbled?) back to our B&B, we noted with
great satisfaction that the evening had not been as
quiet, nor indeed disappointing as we'd originally
feared. In fact, it was one of the most enjoyable
evenings we spent while in Ireland. And though we'd
probably never be able to recreate the series of
events that transpired that Sunday night in May of
2003, I'd like to think we could pop back into the
pub at Lynch's someday and still feel the magical
warmth of that evening.
Newark, Ohio, USA
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
THE THUNDER STORM
by Pat Watson
'Gather up your cows and bring them home now,'
that's what Pakie said as he walked past very
fast on his way home from work.
'But it's only six o'clock yet and I don't bring
them home until eight.'
'There's lightning and thunder coming, so bring
them home now and you might make it before the
rain'. I think he changed it to rain because he
saw that I was frightened of the lightning and
thunder. Then he hurried on walking very fast.
If he was hurrying like that it looked bad for
me because I had farther to go than him and I
had to get the cattle from the far end of the
callow. If I ran very fast and beat them on with
my stick I might make it. Off I ran as fast as I
could but the cows knew it was early and I had to
run from one side of the field to the other
beating them on one at a time as they thought I
was daft bringing them home this early. There had
been no wind all day but now there was a sort of
strong whirlwind, warm and blustery, sort of going
all directions at once. Was this a fairy blast?
It certainly was eerie.
Then I heard the first rattle of thunder rolling
up from the bottom of the sky to a spot over
Lennon's shop. I had to pass that way so I would
meet the shower on the road. Then there was a
great zigzag flash of lightning, that must be fork
lightning and fork lightning is more dangerous.
Oh! Oh! The thunder was rolling up the sky again,
higher and nearer this time and much, much louder.
I had barely got the cattle out on the road when
the rain started, huge drops, bigger than I'd ever
seen before. The lightning flashes were one after
another now and the thunder rolled one on top of
the other. I beat the cattle into a run but I
could not hear myself shouting at them with the
noise of the thunder. Then the rain was running
down my face so fast that I could not draw my
breath without turning my face to the ground to
keep the stream of water off my mouth and nose.
My braces began to stretch, as my old trousers
got heavy with water. I was the third person to
grow into these trousers and the many patches on
the backside were now making it very heavy. That's
what comes from sliding down the hay-shifter. This
morning the dry sand was running between my toes
but now the road already had a sheet of water,
deep enough to cover my toes. Lucky I was in the
bare ones, (wearing no footwear). As we started
up the hill to the trees the water got deeper
under my feet, it was up to my ankles now and the
torrents were tearing the gravel from under my
feet and the lightning was very near. The thunder
was now a tearing sound and I could smell the raw
sulphur smell of the lightning. Would the next
flash hit me? I was seven years old and I had
just made my First Communion. I would say my
communion prayers. I give Thee my body that it
may be chaste and pure. I think chaste means clean
and even behind my ears is clean now with all the
heavy rain and my feet, which are always dirty,
are definitely washed now. I give Thee my soul
that it may be free from sin. There's a cow-dung
after passing in the torrent but it's washed away
now. I can't think of any sins now so I suppose
I'm all right. I give Thee my heart that I may
always love Thee. I suppose I do love You. You
look a nice little fellow in your Mother's arms.
I give Thee every breath that I shall breathe,
'as if I could stop' Hadn't I to turn my face to
the road a minute ago to get my breath. And
especially my last - maybe this is my last if the
next flash hits me. I might turn into a little
cherub and I could fly above the cows and beat
them on. But then I'd be naked and the people in
the shop would laugh at me. I give Thee myself in
life and in death that I may be Thine forever and
ever. What am I talking about? Aren't You already
in total charge already? Isn't it You who makes
the lightening and thunder and the rain and
everything, You can do what You like so I might
as well trust You?
I didn't know that the shop was full of people
crying with fear and saying the rosary. Jack who
was standing looking out the door saw me and
shouted, come out ye bunch of cowards and see
this. Faces and more faces appeared at the door
and windows. Some even came out in the rain. They
were laughing and crying at the same time. How
was I to know that the weight of the rain had
pulled all the patches off my trousers and that
my backside was looking out? I was ready to die
a minute ago anyway, so what did I care! I
laughed too and walked on with my cows. I would
never again fear death or people laughing at me.
'The Thunder Storm' is one of sixty lyrical
yarns from 'Original Irish Stories' by
Pat Watson, Creagh, Bealnamulla, Athlone,
Ireland. First published in May 2006.
To get your copy email the author here:
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
THE FLAG OF IRELAND
The national flag of Ireland is a tricolour of
green, white and orange. The tricolour is
rectangular in shape with the width being twice
the depth. The three colours of the Irish flag
are of equal size, vertically disposed, and the
green is displayed next to the staff, followed by
the white, and then the orange.
The flag was first introduced by Thomas Francis
Meagher during the revolutionary year of 1848 as
an emblem of the Young Ireland movement which
sought Irish independence. The 3 colors have
great significance. The green represents the
old Gaelic tradition, the orange represents the
Ulster Unionist tradition and the white
represents a place in the middle where both
traditions can co-exist in peace. The 1916
rising led by Padraig Pearse was the moment
when the tricolor began to be accepted as the
The national coat of arms of Ireland depicts the
famous Irish Harp on a blue background. The Irish
harp is also often used on flags bearing the
saying 'Erin go Braugh' which has been a symbol
of Irish identity for centuries. The phrase Erin
go Bragh (sometimes 'Erin go Braugh') translates
from Gaelic as 'Ireland Forever' and is pronounced
'air-inn guh braw'. The Saint Patrick's Battalion
who fought in the Mexican war of 1847 were among
the first to use the flag which shows the harp
with the famous phrase underneath it.
In modern times it is not uncommon for people of
Irish heritage to display the Irish flag with
their own family coat of arms within it.
Any of the flags above and the Ireland Family
Crest Flag for YOUR family name can be ordered
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
A POEM FOR MOLLY
by Gord Wilson
This is a little bit of verse I've been working
on since seeing the statue of Molly Malone on
Grafton Street in Dublin, Ireland. For those who
don't know the story, Molly Malone was a woman,
made famous in song, who sold fish (alive,
alive-o) from a cart that she wheeled around the
city. What I learned from a tour guide and people
in Dublin is that Miss Molly was thought to be
selling something other than fish, if you know
what I mean - and that her area was around
Trinity College, quite a distance from the nearest
fish market. The Irish refer to the statue as
'The Tart with a Cart'.
A POEM FOR MOLLY
An Irish girl is in my heart
she's just as real as her cart
and though we shall never meet
she waits for me on Grafton Street.
Not far from St. Stephen's Green
for many years, there she's been
and while many say that she was not true
who can guess what she'd been through?
It's been said she sold near Trinity
with no market in the vicinity
though her reputation has been smudged
by me, my friend, she'll not be judged.
She did what she felt she must do
in order to earn her daily stew
I'm sure some details she'd like to alter
Who, pray tell, are we to fault her?
She made her choices as best she could
to make her way in the neighbourhood
As decades pass we see the folly
of being too hard on dear Miss Molly.
THE IRISH COINS PROOF SET
The recent limited edition proof set of Irish
coins produced by the Irish government is now
available. We have a very small supply of these
fantastic items which you can get from here:
GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
PHRASE: Corp dicheile
PRONOUNCED: corp dee-kayleh
MEANING: The height of folly
PHRASE: Rogha an da dhiogha
PRONOUNCED: rowah on daw deegah
MEANING: The lesser of two evils
PHRASE: Bua na cainte
PRONOUNCED: boo-ah nah coin-che
MEANING: The gift of the gab (ability to converse)
View the archive of phrases here:
FEBRUARY COMPETITION RESULT
The winner was: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 month,
The Information about Ireland Site.