The Information about Ireland Site Newsletter
The Newsletter for people interested in Ireland
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Copyright (C) 2008
IN THIS ISSUE
=== News Snaps from Ireland
=== New free resources at the site
=== 'The Diary of a Scullery Maid' by Joe Rogers
=== An Irish Leader: Sean Lemass
=== 'Cheeky Boy' by Pat Watson
=== Tourist Tip #5: Ireland House-Swap
=== Gaelic Phrases of the Month
=== Monthly free competition result
Hello again from Ireland where the speculation is
rife that the Irish Government will try to hold
a second referendum to reverse the decision of
the recent Lisbon vote. They are in for a tough
time if recent opinion polls are anything to go
This month we are glad to include an article
about Irish holiday house-swapping and are
launching a new free service to allow anyone to
list their home for a house-swap - see below.
Until next month,
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
IRISH GOVERNMENT MUSES LISBON RE-RUN
The Irish government has thus far failed to rule
out a re-run of the recent Lisbon treaty which
was defeated, much to its chagrin. All of the
major political parties (excluding Sinn Fein)
were firmly behind this EU treaty which was
designed to changed the way the EU works, but
which was rejected by the Irish electorate for
a whole variety of reasons.
EU rules require that if any 1 member state
rejects a treaty then it cannot be ratified.
With nearly all of the other EU states having
now ratified the treaty the pressure is on the
Irish government to somehow force the issue
over the line. The only way to do this is to
hold a second referendum, the outcome of which
is far from certain.
While Brian Cowen is very pro-Europe he must
also realise that any second referendum would be
a huge political gamble. If a re-run was defeated
(as current opinion polls suggest) then his
reputation would be in tatters and there would be
inevitable calls for him to resign. Even if he
succeeds and gets a second vote passed it is
unlikely that the defeated half of the electorate
would forget the way they had been treated by the
EU in general and by Fianna Fail in particular.
Add a declining economy into the mix and it is easy
to see how the current government could be dumped
out of office if it gets the Lisbon issue wrong.
CENSUS REPORT SHOWS POPULATION DIVERSITY INCREASE
A report on the 2006 census has revealed that the
number of non-Irish people living in Ireland has
almost doubled to 420,000 since 2002. Of the 195
independent countries on the planet 188 are
represented in Ireland. By far the largest group
to settle in Ireland are those from Britain who
accounted for 112,000 with Poland at 63,000 in
second place. Immigrants now represent nearly 10%
of the entire population, compared with 5.8% in
2002. Most of these new arrivals are men in their
20's or 30's. The vast majority of the new
immigrants are in employment. 42% are married with
80% renting accommodation (British immigrants are
more likely to buy property outright rather than
The slowdown in the Irish economy however is
likely to result in this number decreasing over the
short-term with many migrant workers returning
home. It remains to be seen just how many actually
return to their homeland.
CRACKDOWN ON ALCOHOL CONTINUES
There has been some success in the ongoing battle
to persuade drivers not to 'drink and drive'.
While the number of people who have been stopped
and tested has increased hugely in recent years
there was a drop in the number of those found to
be 'over the limit' from 2.5% in June 2007 to
1.4% last month. A Europe-wide initiative of
increased testing was conducted across 18
countries in June. The average country figure
of drivers found to have excessive alcohol was
1.7%. Scandinavian countries fared best with an
average of 1% breaking the law. Switzerland and
the UK both fared poorly with figures over 6%
each. France was 2.17%. Moldova reported a figure
Convictions for drink-driving in Ireland were
also down from 9581 in 2006 to 7842 in 2007 with
this number looking certain to drop dramatically
again in 2008.
While it is certain that high-profile media
campaigns and stricter law enforcement have played
a huge part in this reduction, the effect of the
Irish smoking ban that was introduced in the 2004
should not be underestimated. Ireland was the
first country in the world to ban smoking in the
workplace, which effectively meant that smoking
in pubs became illegal. The result was a big
reduction in the actual number of pubs as well
as a reduction in the number of visits being
made to pubs by Irish people. Corresponding sales
from off-licenses boomed with people preferring to
take a drink at home rather than risk being
stopped and checked while driving.
Despite the protestations of the drinks and
entertainment industries about falling revenues
and increasing redundancies, it seems that
Government policy is finally starting to pay
dividends. Any visit however, to a major urban
hospital on a weekend night to view the large
number of patients waiting for treatment as a
result of excessive consumption of alcohol,
will demonstrate that there is still a long way
to go to change Ireland's drinking culture.
IRISH SCIENTIFIC EXPLOITS HIGHLIGHTED
The American publication 'The Scientist' has
hailed Ireland for its recent scientific prowess.
The recent boom in the Irish economy over the
last 15 years has meant that talented Irish
researchers no longer had to emigrate to find
employment as the worlds top biotechnology and
pharmaceutical companies located in Ireland. 8 of
the worlds top pharmaceutical multi-national
companies have located in the country with
exports of medicines and chemicals accounting for
nearly half of all Irish exports. It is expected
that 2008 will see 1000 students graduate with
a PhD, a figure that has nearly doubled in the
last 10 years.
IRELAND DEFEATS USA TO WIN THE SOCCER WORLD CUP
Ireland has beaten the US in a penalty shootout
to win its first ever soccer world cup. The
competition was held in China and while there were
celebrations they were a bit more muted than those
that might be expected from a winning soccer team.
The Robot World Cup saw an Irish team take part
for the first time with students from NUI Maynooth
blazing the trail. The games were four-a-side and
played on a small pitch for 20 minutes. The aim of
the contest is to eventually create robots that can
win a game of soccer against humans. The challenge
is to achieve this by the year 2050.
'They're a long way off, and they know they're a
long way off,' Professor Middleton of NUI Maynooth
said. 'But the organisers will ask you to think of
the first flights by the Wright brothers and then
ask how long was it before man was on the moon?'
NEW WORLD RECORD FOR CASTLEBLAYNEY
The town of Castleblayney in County Monaghan has
entered the 'Guinness Book of Records' for having
the most Smurfs in a single place. 2008 is the
fiftieth birthday year for the Smurfs. To celebrate
this fact 1253 people painted their arms and faces
blue, wore a blue tee-shirt, donned a Smurf cap
and generally behaved in a Smurf-like manner
(unspecified). An official representative from the
Guinness Book of Records confirmed that
Castleblayney had surpassed the previous record
of 533 held by Croatia earlier in the year.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON WINS BACK TO BACK GOLF 'OPENS'
Irishman Padraig Harrington has won the British
Open for the second year in succession. Despite
having an injured wrist the affable Dubliner
battled through the pain-barrier to become
Ireland's most successful golfer ever with the
win catapulting him into the realms of golfing
super-stardom. He is currently ranked third in
the world and is being hailed in some quarters
as the real 'Celtic Tiger'.
Voice your opinion on these news issues here:
NEW FREE RESOURCES AT THE SITE
IRELAND HOUSE-SWAP LISTING
Our new free service lets you find or list a
home for a house-swap:
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:
F: Falke, Falvey
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:
EXTRACT FROM 'THE DIARY OF A SCULLERY MAID'
by Joe Rogers
The small section of ten men, rifles at the slope,
marched in single file along the mountain, their
enthusiasm for the drill more than making up for
their nondescript appearance. Dressed in shoddy
overalls - some wearing wellingtons with others
in mud-covered hobnailed boots - they stepped out
with as much swagger as if they were
newly-commissioned officers on a passing-out
parade. 'Cle, deas, cle, deas, cle, deas, cle'
Seamus Duffin, in charge of the section, called
out left, right, in Irish, in time with the men's
marching feet, and then with the command,
'Complacht stad!' elevated his small section, in
his mind, to a full company and brought them
smartly to a halt.
'Right, men,' he said, his knowledge of Irish
confined to a few marching commands, 'Fall out
for a smoke, an' if ye see anyone comin', get in
among the trees quick an' hide yeselves till they
pass. Don't let me down now, for God's sake.'
The men, glad of a respite from their morning's
march, sat down to rest their weary feet!
'Well, Arthur, any word from the missus?' Duffin
was very pleased with the overall performance of
his newest recruit and was showing an interest in
his affairs. There was no doubt about Arthur's
prowess with a rifle as he had proved by being the
top scorer of the section on their makeshift
firing range farther back towards Kinnity. They
were on weekend manoeuvres in the Slieve Bloom
Mountains and had now reached The Cut making their
way across country to the Ridge of Cappard.
'No, Seamus, not heard a word. But...bear in mind,
lass has only been gone aweek. Any road, 'appen
she's home be now, like... an' studyin' where in
'ell I've got mesen to. Most likely kill me, will
lass, when I get 'ome.'
'Deed she won't. Not when she sees how Malachy's
looked after the place. An' sure, little Bernard...
he couldn't be in better hands, Emily mindin' him
like her own... an' Mrs Nielson droppin' in on them
every now and then.' The section leader knew that
Arthur had only agreed to come on this manoeuvre
because the farm and little Bernard were being
well attended to in his absence.
One of the men, without a request or coaxing,
began to sing,
'Sure for this Lord Edward died, and Wolfe Tone
sank serene - Because they could not bear to
leave the Red above the Green. And 'twas for this
that Owen fought, and Sarsfield nobly bled -
Because their eyes were keen to see the Green
above the Red. So let us hold a fearless course
- so that it can be said - Before the war is o'er
you'll see the Green above the Red!'
The song petered out as Mooney, the singer, lit a
cigarette, and Duffin - always mindful of his
position as Section Leader - couldn't resist the
opportunity to display his knowledge of Ireland
and its heroes.
'Good man yerself, Mooney,' he said. 'That song,
as you may or may not know, was written by Thomas
Davis, who along with John Mitchel and others,
inspired the 1848 Rising against the British.
Unfortunately, that Rising failed... Mitchel and
eight companions were sentenced to be hanged,
drawn and quartered, but worldwide protests got
the sentences commuted to transportation for
life.' Duffin paused, looked round at his men
before continuing. 'Twenty-five years later,
Queen Victoria heard that the new prime minister
of Australia - Sir Charles Duffy - was one of
those nine convicts. Then further enquiries
discovered that others of the nine were just as
famous... Mitchel had escaped to America where
he became a New York poitician. Patrick Donahue
an' Terrence Mcmanus became brigadier generals in
the US Army... Thomas Francis Meagher governor of
Montana... Richard O'Gorman, governor general of
New Foundland... Morris Lyene was Australia's
attorney general an' was succeeded in that office
by Michael Ireland which left Thomas D'Arcy McGee
the last of the nine... he became a member of
parliament in Montreal, Canada.'
Duffin strove to emphasise the point he was
making, 'Ireland robbed of great men by her
unmerciful masters, who had no right whatsoever
to deprive us of such awesome talent - God blast
them all anyway - the Sassenachs!'
Then remembering Arthur's origins, Duffin added,
'Present company excluded of course.' And
bestowing a friendly smile on the Yorkshireman,
said, 'Arthur, auld son, sure aren't you the
exception that proves the rule, an' mor Irish
than the Irish themselves. Don't let me down
now, for God's sake.'
The above is taken from Chapter 27 (Ireland 1902)
from 'The Diary of a Scullery Maid', a historical
novel by Joe Rogers which recounts in graphic
detail the excesses of the British Empire leading
up to the Irish Fight for Freedom.
Get your copy from here:
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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
by Pat Watson
He had waited for this day all his life. Now he
had his chance. He would show them. For years,
in fact all his life they had been belittling
and making a joke of him. Why, even his father
sometimes seemed to forget his existence. Only
today his brothers had verbally abused him and
called him a cheeky brat. Now was his chance to
show them up and he would not fail.
He had only been brought on as a sub and the very
last sub at that. He was not in their first team
or even their second team, nor was he on the
bench, why he was not even in the crowd, but now
he was on the field, here in the valley. This was
his big chance, the chance of a lifetime. He
would not blow it. He would prove his mettle to
himself and everybody else. He must keep his cool
and yet play the fool. He had the ability, he had
the nerve, he had the knowledge. His own modern
technology would win the day. He was fitter and
stronger than anyone thought - he had been running
twenty miles each way to play gigs for VIPs. He
was fit and fast, he had strength and stamina, he
had courage and determination, he had sex appeal.
Boy had he sex appeal! He had fought bears before,
fought and won. He had groupies around the gigs
he played but after today every girl in the
country would desire him, and would he enjoy
that? Would he what! He would not leave them
longing. It would drive his big brothers wild.
This would not just make him equal to his brothers
- it would make him totally superior. Then, he
would get his own back for today's humiliation,
indeed for a lifetime of humiliation.
His hairy adversary was still some distance away.
He could swagger and sing for a while yet. He
must look soft, silly even simple. To lull his
opponent into a false sense of security that was
his plan. Those were fearsome roars, he was
getting madder, bide your time boy, keep it cool,
he was coming straight this way. Now is the moment,
both feet firmly on the ground. Cheeky Boy now
chose his roundest water honed projectile for
least wind drag. He took cool and careful aim. He
let fly. Plonk, he hit the mighty creature right
in the middle of the forehead. For a second he
swayed backward then fell forward flat on his
face. With a leap and a bound Cheeky Boy was upon
him, lifting the great sword and cutting off his
head. He held the great hairy head aloft, the hot
blood spattering his bare legs. There was a gasp
from the crowd and in the second's silence that
followed Cheeky Boy called out, 'henceforth I will
be known by my own name, David.'
'Cheeky Boy' is one of sixty lyrical yarns from
'Original Irish Stories' by Pat Watson,
Creagh, Bealnamulla, Athlone, Ireland.
First published in March 2006.
Get your copy from here:
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TOURIST TIP #5: IRELAND HOUSE-SWAP
If you are looking for a different type of Irish
holiday experience then you might consider a
house-swap! The idea is simple: you move home
for a specified time with a family in a
different country - they stay in your house
and you stay in theirs.
Of course the big concern anyone has when doing
this is that their house will be damaged by
your partner family. Guess what? They think the
same thing about you! A certain level of trust
is required if you are to embark on this venture
but the rewards can go beyond merely getting
'free' accommodation. 'Partner' families have
been known to go on holidays together after the
initial ice is broken and some web-sites report
that marriages have resulted from their home
Of course there is always a flip-side to this and
there are plenty of reports of people who have
regretted getting involved with the idea. The f
act remains that your idea of cleanliness and
care of another persons possessions may not be
the same as your holiday home exchange partner.
From a financial viewpoint though this idea can
save you thousands as short-term holiday home
rentals are very expensive, especially if you
are travelling with a few kids in tow, or as a
part of group.
Cars can be included as part of the deal. Of
course both parties will want to make sure that
their 1984 Ford Escort (lets be generous and
say it has 'character') is insured and
that the person driving it knows the rules of
the road, is licensed and insured.
To get started you simply put the information
about your home on a web-site and wait for the
hundreds of calls to flood in (if only life were
that easy!). Just like everything else you will
need to promote your home as a desirable place to
stay. Honesty is by far the best policy and is
exactly what you would expect from the person you
are going to be swapping with.
There are dozens of websites on the web where you
can list your home for exchange. Some are free
- some are not. It would be no harm to try the
free web sites first just to get an idea of what
is involved. It is fair to say though that, if
someone is willing to pay a fee to have their
home listed (can vary from US$10 to US$100
upwards) then they are probably serious about
this venture. That said, what is most important
is that you find someone who is on the same
'wave-length' as you (this should become obvious
after a few emails and a telephone call or two).
This last part is important: make contact! Talk
to them (email is great but what it enjoys in
convenience, speed and succinctness it lacks in
charm, personality and nuance).
Dont be put off by an offer of a home that seems
much better than yours. While you may live in
small-bedroom terraced house in the city centre,
the fact that your home is in the city centre may
give it great appeal to someone who has a rural
Chateau in France or a fabulous cottage
overlooking the Dingle Peninsula in Kerry.
Once you have agreed on the dates for a swap and
are comfortable with the people you are swapping
with try to spend a few minutes listing exactly
what would please YOU most when you walk through
their door. Perhaps these might include:
* A spotless clean house.
* New bed-linen and towels.
* Plenty of sanitary supplies available
* Written detailed instructions about central
heating system, fire alarms, burglar alarms,
complicated door locks.
* Any issues with a car (if being swapped) such
as where the nearest gas station is, how to
start it! (turn the key in the ignition, wiggle
it twice to the left and once to the right,
say a prayer, put fifty pence in the meter
and hope for the best).
* Details on how to work the TV, satellite and
up-to date TV listings.
* A list of contact information for local police,
doctors, dentists, chemists, location of nearest
* A supply of the very basic foodstuffs (bread,
milk, coffee, tea, sugar, butter, etc. - a few
bits and pieces would be nice).
* A de-cluttered home with as much stuff as
possible out of sight. Most valuable possessions
are usually left with a friend or relative
(unless they are more likely to rifle-through them
than complete strangers, in which case they can
be put in storage). House attics with a lock are
great places to hide stuff.
* A contact number for a friend, relative or
neighbour of the person you are swapping with.
Now, once you have completed this list of what you
would like them to do for you make sure that you
do everything on the list for them!
An important issue to consider is that of house
insurance. You really need to contact your
insurance provider and tell them what you are
planning a house swap. Most insurers will no
problem with this as it means that the house is
occupied instead of being vacant, but you need to
get this confirmed as there is an urban legend of
an insurance company that did not want to pay out
on a policy because of a technicality. Really.
When your holiday is done it goes without saying
that you should clean up as much a possible and
even leave the place better than you found it!
(fill those ice-cube trays, straighten those
picture-frames, but try to resist rearranging
And remember, even if your first experience is
not all you wanted, persevere. Some families have
been swapping with each other on an annual basis
for decades. Reports of families who have house
swapped fifty times or more are not uncommon.
With a little effort ans bit of trust, the rewards
can be great.
You can add your home-swap details to our new free
listing service at:
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GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
PHRASE: Ta me/tu go hiontach
PRONOUNCED: taw may/two guh hun-tock
MEANING: I/you am wonderful
PHRASE: Ta se/si are buille
PRONOUNCED: taw shay/shee air bool-yeh
MEANING: He/she is angry
PHRASE: Ta sinn/sibh/siad tuirseach
PRONOUNCED: taw shin/shiv/sheed tear-shock
MEANING: We/us/they are tired
View the archive of phrases here:
JULY COMPETITION RESULT
The winner was: email@example.com
who will receive the following:
A Single Family Crest Print (decorative)
Send us an email to claim your print, and well
done! Remember that all subscribers to this
newsletter are automatically entered into the
competition every time.
I hope that you have enjoyed this issue.
Until next time,
The Information about Ireland Site.
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