IN THIS ISSUE
=== News Snaps from Ireland
=== New free resources at the site
=== An Evening in Lisdoonvarna by Kimberly Burke
=== The Threat to the Hill of Tara by R. McElroy
=== My Roots - a poem by Christy Patrick
=== New hand-drawn Maps of Kerry, Cork and Clare
=== Gaelic Phrases of the Month
=== Monthly free competition result
Hi again from Ireland and a belated happy new
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
NORTHERN IRELAND PEACE TALKS ARE STALLED
Efforts to revive the Northern Ireland peace
process have taken a major blow with the
announcement by the Chief of the NI Police
Service that the recent massive Northern Bank
Robbery was conducted by the IRA.
Despite protestations by both Sinn Fein and
the IRA itself that they were not behind the
STG£ 23M robbery, both the Irish and English
Governments have reacted by criticizing both
Sinn Fein and the IRA, calling for an end
to all paramilitary criminal activity before
real progress in the North can be made.
The Northern Assembly (parliament) has been
suspended for over two years and is unlikely to
be restored anytime soon, given the current
political climate of distrust. The majority
Unionist DUP has already cut off all links
with Sinn Fein because of the robbery.
IRISH TRAFFIC SIGNS CHANGE FROM MPH TO KM
Over 58,000 new traffic signs have been put in
place all over Ireland as the changeover from
miles to kilometres was enacted. Speed limits in
built up residential areas have been reduced
while speeds on the faster motorways have been
HOUSE PRICE GROWTH SLOWS DOWN
A recent report on the overall increase in house
prices in Ireland has shown a slowing down of the
increases. Prices grew by 8.2% in 2004, compared
to 13.4% in 2003. Despite recent predictive
reports that the Irish property market is
over-valued and is likely to see a major downward
correction, prices continue to rise.
The Irish Central Bank has predicted a 'soft
landing' for the property market as prices
continue to increase but at a vastly reduced
level that the recent big gains.
SMALL COUNTRY PUBS ARE SOLD IN WAKE OF SMOKING BAN
Pub licences are being bought out in remote rural
towns and villages by supermarkets and business
concerns who want to set up off-licences in busier
urban areas instead. Publicans have complained
that their trade is down by at least 25% as a
result of last years smoking ban legislation.
Garage owners are also buying up the licences as
they convert their promises into 'one-stop-shops'
for food, drink, groceries as well as petrol.
Consumption of cigarettes has fallen by over 17%
since the ban was introduced. A similar ban has
already been mandated in Italy while England is
also preparing new regulations to outlaw smoking
in pubs and hotels.
LONG-HAUL BUDGET AIRLINE A POSSIBILITY
The three executives who recently quit Aer Lingus
may set up a transatlantic budget airline. Reports
suggest that the three executives who turned
around the fortunes of the national airline are
planning to buy up to 10 aircraft to operate as
a 'no frills' carrier.
CORK IS EUROPEAN CAPITAL OF CULTURE
Cork has assumed the mantle of 'Capital of Culture'
for 2005. A huge parade and firework display
attended by a crowd of over 26,00 spectators
launched the campaign which will see cultural
events being held in the city throughout the year.
Voice your opinion on these news issues here:
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NEW COATS OF ARMS ADDED TO THE GALLERY:
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C: Caufield, Collin
H: Hampsey, Harcourt
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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
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Anne MacDonald ordered a family crest plaque:
Received my plaque, carefully wrapped,
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THE THREAT TO THE HILL OF TARA
by Roibeard McElroy
Protect the soul of Eireann
whose mystic mantra is sounding gaunt
save the bearer of the Brehon Laws
whose chasms are forgotten haunts
Save the soul of the mystic Danaan
our history and the Gaelic seal
guard the glory of ages spannin'
whose Zeniths blazed with potent zeal
Protect the Hill of Tara
whose fabric was brocade and brooch
Save its treasure trove
where sullen barons encroach
Protect the homestead once so regal
when Ollamh Fodhla was renowned
Save the bastion of Eireann
where High Kings and glory were crowned!
Heritage is something deeply embedded in the
hearts of each nation and people around the world.
It's something which is integral to a people and
their development, character, identity,
well-being and evolution, culturally,
psychologically, intrinsically and otherwise. If
the 'Godfather' or 'Patron' of a nations' heritage
were under threat, akin to, hypothetically for
instance, the 'Valley of the Kings in Egypt', the
current Egyptian people and all right thinking
people would be indignant and confounded in a wave
of dissension. Yet, this scenario is at present,
looming like a 'Sword of Damocles' over the vale
and glorious Hill of Tara in Ireland. A Plan is on
the table of the current Government Minister,
emanating from the National Roads Authority, to
construct a tolled Motorway, which will carve like
a Grim Reaper through this premier gala of
monuments and violate it for evermore.
The 'Godfather of Eireann's spiritual core and
mass' could be wiped out as a result of this
'fit of madness' and societal disrespect and
obliviousness to the wonder of Tara.
The Hill of Tara is the most ancient and revered
site of ancient Ireland and her mythology. It
dates back some five thousand years and has been
the staging post for many events throughout her
pre-history and recent history: it is a treasure
trove - a goldmine - of archaeological riches
(probably the greatest collection in Europe),
even a candidate for the buried Ark of the
Covenant, whose main mound was profanely dug
beneath by British Israelites in the 1890's, was
the Coronation Seat and abode of the High Kings
of Ireland for around a thousand years - the
soul of the nation - and has seen and been witness
to some major recent events, e.g. it is the site
of a mass grave dating from the 1798 rebellion and
in the nineteenth century was the gala setting in
1843 for one of Daniel O'Connell's famous
gatherings known as 'Monster Meetings'. In short,
the very soul of Eireann which carries an energy
much like the spiritual psyche of its people.
In circa. eight century BC, the first Gaelic High
King was believed to be crowned here - Eremon, a
Milesian - according to all the ancient chronicles,
and this continued for more than a thousand years.
Some mythologists believe it may have been the
seat of the previous Fir Bolg Kings also. It was
around the eight century BC that the laws and
customs of Eireann were enacted - vis-a-vis - the
Brehon Laws by the legendary Ollamh Fodhla - a
sage and erudite man. He also established a
Triennial Parliament and Feis - the Feis taking
place every Samhain (Halloween). These laws - a
Gaelic legal system, were the envy of Europe for
their equity and acclaimed as the most progressive
in medieval Europe. They survived intact until the
early 1600's when they were finally made obsolete
by the destruction of Gaelic Ireland after the
Tara is probably an anglo-Saxon corruption of
Teamhair which meant 'Holy Place', although the
mythology states Teamhair was a contracted form
of Teamur meaning 'Tea's House' (Tea being the
wife of Eremon). The Brehon Laws themselves were
written down by King Cormac Mac Art in circa.
third century A.D., the most famous of the High
Kings, when Tara was at the very pinnacle and
Zenith of its acclaim and glory.
Tara has always been synonymous with an oft talked
about monument in Gaelic Chronicles - the Lia
Fail (the Stone of Destiny) which according to
legend would cry out when a rightful claimant to
the throne would kick it with his foot. Legend
had it, that it was brought to Ireland from Egypt
and was the original Jacob's Pillar - properly
called Bethel's Stone. Essentially it was a
Pillar stone, much akin to a phallic symbol!
The Scots testify it was brought to Scotland by
Saint Columcille/Columba and was the famous
Coronation Stone - The Stone of Scone - which
King Edward Longshanks pillaged and took to
London in the late 1200's . However, it is more
probable that this was a duplicate stone with
the real one still in place on Tara!
One of Tara's main features is the so-called
'Mound of Niall of the Nine Hostages' (Duma na
ngiall) - a neolithic Passage Tomb - and the
only monument extant to have stood the test of
time, as this was associated with, a rendezvous
for 'Hostage exchange' and the founder of the
Southern Ui Niall clan. It was beneath this
mound that British Israelites carried out
excavations in the 1890's for the legendary Ark
of the Covenant having been given permission by
Mr. Briscoe, who owned the land on which the Hill
was located. Whether they found anything or
destroyed invaluable archaeology waiting to be
discovered, we'll never know! It was this act
which caused the poet WB Yeats to protest with
great indignation. In near proximity to the mound
is an enclosure consisting of a ditch with a bank,
in which some sort of Iron Forgery was used, as
leftover products from Iron production have been
Tara was also the scene of many other events from
Eireann's ancient and pre-history. For example:
Conn of the 100 battles run - so named because he
literally was prodigious in battle and was
constantly at war with the northeastern Dalriada
(second century A.D.). In addition, it is where
Saint Patrick in c. 432 met King Laoghaire in a
kind of tete-a-tete of the time and was also the
starting point for the five main roads or Sli of
Ireland - pilgrim routes. It was the hubbub, the
epicentre of the Ireland of the day, the political
capital of the country, the glorious maelstrom
surging and rising like a great crescendo
illuminating everything on its path. In its
apotheosis, it had no peers and was unsurpassable
and its glory and reputation stretched like a
giant tentacle far beyond the shores of Eireann!
So how then, one may ask, can such a vista be
unfurled before us: that such a sacred and magical
place is under threat and endangered with
destruction, essentially at the stroke of a pen?
Well firstly, it must be stated that this
potential dark panorama is a macrocosm of the
systematic and ongoing destruction of Irish
heritage which has been occurring hitherto and
seems to be accelerating at a greater rate all the
time. To date, 34% of the heritage has been
systematically wiped out - the perpetrators
being: Road Developers, Building Contractors, some
greedy farmers with the direct collusion of the
State, as in the guise of the Department of the
Environment. It has manifested itself right across
the board - as if medieval pirates are at work
ravaging and scouring the countryside - tearing
asunder: Ring Forts (as in Promontory Forts),
Dolmens, Fairy Forts, Standing Stones, Cairns,
Mounds or what are also known in Ireland as
Tumulus, Holy Wells, and even Ogham Stones
(ancient stones on which are inscribed Gaelic
alphabet) and ancient churches. The phenomenon -
if it could be called that - shows no mercy or
remorse in its path, despoiling all heritage in
its midst, displaying wanton disregard in its
wake. 'Heritage at risk' have said that if it
continues at this rate, there will be no heritage
left in a hundred years! the worst example of
this occurrence, would be the dissection of the
Hill of Tara and its environs by this proposed
Motorway! Many eminent Archaeologists have stated
in dismay, that it would deny them the chance of
unearthing more of the, as yet, undiscovered
archeology of the place - never mind the major
30 or so sites, - which make up its present
archaeological complex - being destroyed!
Secondly, the whole issue of cost effectiveness,
along with 'The make the quick buck' syndrome,
which is such a symptom of modern life, also
accounts for this dark spectre on the
countryside and landscape of Ireland. The
momentum of this 'onrushing tide of progress' is
totally ruthless in its sway and seems intent on
sweeping everything before it like a battering
I, like anyone else, do not object to a motorway
or addressing the major problem of travelling to
and from Dublin . All we propose is merely
re-routing the motorway, to bypass Tara and the
Skreen Valley (which was an Ecclesiastical centre
from the twelfth Century) to preserve and
safeguard this genuine emblem of world heritage.
However, the National Roads Authority, who in
their blinkered 'rose-tinted' short-sightedness,
have commissioned this plan, refuse to yield an
inch or deviate one iota, to placate all concerned
that the sanctity of Tara be safeguarded.
There are only a few sites in Ireland which are
World Heritage UNESCO designated sites. Skellig
Michael Rock, off Kerry is one. The Boyne Valley
Passage Tombs (Newgrange) is another.
There is a possibility of Clonmacnoise Monastery
being nominated by the Government (whose
responsibility it is!) but remarkably and
significantly Tara is not on that list nor has
it ever been earmarked. This is all the more
remarkable and indeed ironic, considering its
neighbour - the Boyne Valley - is on the list.
It also demonstrates a total stupidity and
dereliction of duty on the part of the Government,
moreover, illustrating their total lack of
priority for heritage in their programme. Even,
if they 'saw the light', it would probably take
a while to get UNESCO designation, as their is a
list of criterion to be met, which takes time to
be processed. So alas, this option for Tara is
So, in conclusion, the Tara/Skreen Valley, of
which the Hill of Tara and its environs form
the apex is under jeopardy. If the Government
approves the current plans then Ireland's
'Valley of the Kings' is faced with imminent
peril. Would this be tolerated if Egypts'
'Valley of the Kings' was under threat?
We should take an example from Native American
tribes who've fought successfully to protect
heritage and what they call 'Sacred Sites'. The
Hill of Tara and the Tara/Skreen Valley is one
of those 'Sacred Sites.' The dark scythe which
has seared and severed so much of our heritage
is lurking over the very soul of Ireland. It
must not happen, surely it cannot happen,
if you demand it doesn't happen.
Many thanks to Roibeard for his article. This
topic is the subject of some debate in Ireland at
the moment with environmentalists and archaeologists
squaring up against the Government.
As with many things in life it is pretty easy to
see validity with the views of both sides of the
argument. Roibeard has expressed several of the
views of those who want the new motorway relocated.
It is fair to say that those who are proposing the
new motorway development would take severe issue
with some of his assertions.
We recently had an email from a reader who said it
was a disgrace that the Hill of Tara was going to be
dug up and a new road run through the middle of it!
She failed to realise that the new motorway is
actually further away from the Hill itself than the
existing road. Opponents of the plan want the new
road completely relocated away from any possible,
as yet undiscovered relics. Motorists want to be
able to use a decent motorway and not spend hours
every week stuck in unnecessary traffic jams.
There are views and opinions on both sides, some
of which are expressed in the article above. You
are invited to find out more and judge for
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Timothy Meade got some family crest watches as
gifts for his wedding groomsmen:
The watches are amazing. They arrived at just the
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bill me for the extra shipping. It warms the
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Thanks for making my wedding day just that much
THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS GIFT!
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MY ROOTS by Christy Patrick
My roots lay here
in the land of the brave and the free
But my heart lays in the land across the sea
In a land that my eyes have never seen
In a place that I seen many times,
but only in dreams
In a land of Celtic Warriors,
and fields of green
In a land where history
still lives and breaths
In a land where Mother Nature is said to live
For the beauty of this land is quite unsaid
History and Nature all as one
In a place called Ireland
By Christy Patrick
NEW HAND-DRAWN MAPS OF KERRY, CORK AND CLARE
Our ever popular series of ancestral maps of
Ireland has been expanded. These superb creations
make the perfect gift and look great when framed.
They are a perfect adornment when placed in a
study, hallway, library, living room, or office.
Each map has the ancient clan name (the sept),
for hundreds of names, placed in their original
location. The main mountain ranges, rivers,
glens, cities and towns are all shown alongside
numerous places of historical interest.
The County Kerry Map also features the heraldic
family crests of the McCarthy, O'Donoghue,
Fitzmaurice, O'Sullivan, O'Shea, O'Connell and
O'Connor families. Miniature illustrations on
the Kerry map include The Gallarus Oratory, Ross
Castle, Daniel O'Connell, Ardfert Cathedral,
Skellig Michael and St Brendan the navigator.
The County Cork Map also features the heraldic
family crests of the O'Mahoney, O'Keefe, O'Flynn,
O'Daly, Lynch, McCarthy, MacDonagh, O'Sullivan,
O'Callaghan and O'Donovan families. Miniature
illustrations include Blarney Castle, Wolfe
Tone, The Drombeg stone circle and Timoleague
The County Clare Map also features the heraldic
family crests of the O'Brien, Quinn, O'Hickey,
Ahearne, Molony, Clancy, McNamara, McMahon, and
Gorman families. Miniature illustrations include
Brian Boru, Bunratty Castle, The Doorty Cross,
Poulnabrone Dolmen, The Cliffs of Moher and
The Spanish Armada.
You can learn more about these wonderful
GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
PHRASE: Buchaill/cailin maith!
PRONOUNCED: boo-kill/coll-een mott
MEANING: Good boy/girl!
PHRASE: Na dean sin!
PRONOUNCED: nah dane shin
MEANING: Don't do that!
View the archive of phrases here:
SHAMROCK SITE OF THE MONTH: Hand-drawn Irish Maps
Beautifully drawn and historically accurate. Unique!
JANUARY 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 prize, 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,
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