The Information about Ireland Site Newsletter
The Newsletter for people interested in Ireland
Now received by over 50,000 people worldwide
Copyright (C) 2009
IN THIS ISSUE
=== News Snaps from Ireland
=== New free resources at the site
=== Great Irish Families: The O'Neills
=== A Biography of Wolfe Tone
=== Earn This by Brian Kelly
=== The Corn Crake by Pat Watson
=== The Irish Coins Proof Set
=== Gaelic Phrases of the Month
=== Monthly free competition result
Hi again from Ireland where a mini-heatwave has
actually given us something resembling a Summer!
The talk here is still of the economic problems
and rising unemployment - is there an end in
Until next month
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
IRISH ECONOMY AT THE CROSSROADS
The severe downturn in the Irish economy which
was in part fuelled by a property bubble and
which has been compounded by world events is at
a critical juncture. The Irish government has
acted decisively and increased taxes significantly
while reducing spending. It has also
recapitalised the banks and plans to set up a
'bad bank' to absorb the dodgy loans that the
banks have lent out over the last decade. Their
policies have not met with universal approval
although Brian Cowen's government will take heart
from a recent IMF report that, although critical
of government policies that led to the problems,
is broadly approving of current remedial actions.
Whether these policies work or not will define
the economic outlook for this country for the
next 5 years and possibly longer.
Recent property bubble collapses in Japan and
Sweden are often cited by economists here as
examples of the devastation that can befall an
economy if a property market collapse is not
handled correctly. Other commentators suggest that
it is ridiculous to compare an economy of the size
of Japans to that of Ireland. Opposition political
parties have been quick to, on the one hand blame
the government for all of the problems while on
the other hand criticizing everything that the
Fianna Fail and Green Party coalition have done to
remedy the problem. Both Fine Gale and Labour
expect to take over the reins of office in 2012
especially after the thumping that the government
parties received at the recent local and European
elections. While the opinion polls are in their
favour there is more at stake here than which
simply political party is in power.
Should the world economy recover within the next
two years (as seems likely) but Ireland gets left
behind, then the prospect of long unemployment
queues and emigration could blight the economic
landscape for the next decade. If the harsh tax
increases and public service cutbacks are matched
by the promotion of Irish development in the
technology sector however, then Ireland could be
well placed to recover in tandem with the broader
It is a high stakes game not just for the fortunes
of Fianna Fail and the various political parties
who would replace them, but also for a generation
of school-leavers and graduates who are looking
for jobs, as well as those at the other end of the
employment cycle who are about to retire.
GOVERNMENT PARTIES GET AN ELECTION WHIPPING
The results of the local and European elections
are in and it does not make good reading for the
ruling Fianna Fail and Green Party coalition.
Both of the government parties were severely
punished for their handling of the economy with
Fine Gael and Labour showing the biggest gains.
A very quick look at the share of the local
election votes shows that, if the trend were
repeated in a general election then a Fine Gael
and Labour coalition would easily sweep into
Fine Gael 32.2%
Fianna Fail 25.4% - government party
Sinn Fein 7.4%
Green Party 2.3% - government party
Therein lies the problem for Fine Gael and Labour.
The general election will not be held until 2012
which is plenty of time for the economy to improve
and sentiment to swing back somewhat to Fianna
Fail. The Greens look doomed with the Irish
electorate having a history of punishing smaller
coalition parties. Despite the best efforts of Fine
Gael to force a general election immediately
Fianna Fail know that to allow that to happen
would be political suicide.
NEW LISBON TREATY TO BE HELD IN THE AUTUMN
Recent opinion polls have shown that a re-run of
the Lisbon treaty would be passed in Ireland,
especially given the current economic malaise.
The 3 anti-Lisbon candidates in the recent
European elections all either lost their seats or
failed to get elected so the government has acted
and announced that there will be a second
referendum in October.
Should the treaty be again rejected by the Irish
then both Poland and the Czech Republic will also
refuse to ratify and the treaty will be doomed,
causing an unprecedented crisis within the Union.
Defeat would also almost certainly mean the end
of Brian Cowen's leadership of the country so it
is expected that the government will do all that
it can to promote a 'yes' vote.
PRESIDENTIAL APOLOGY TO VICTIMS OF ABUSE
Irish President Mary McAleese has met with victims
of clerical child abuse at Aras an Uachtarain.
Over 280 people attended the Presidents residence
at her invitation where they received a formal
apology for the part that the state played in the
decades-long abuse suffered by so many unfortunate
The President told her visitors:
'I know one day in the Phoenix Park cannot hope
to restore to your lives all the things that were
taken from you. The people of Ireland are
desperately sorry for many ways in which you were
not cherished, in the abuse itself, in the
silence, in the failure to act, in the failure to
listen, hear and believe in time.'
CONSUMER SENTIMENT PICKS UP
A surprising jump to a 14-month high in economic
confidence has been recorded by the consumer
sentiment index that is compiled by KBC Ireland
and the ESRI. The June reading was 53.4 up from
45.5 in May. The improvement in sentiment can
perhaps be ascribed to an overall feeling that
the worst is over, both in Ireland and in the
world economies. Although the banks are still a
problem for the Irish economy it is clear that
the Irish consumer is feeling more confident than
in recent months. Or maybe it is just the good
weather we have had recently.
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:
L: Lanigan, Leahy
P: Prendergast, Purcell
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:
GREAT IRISH FAMILIES: THE O'NEILLS
The history of the O'Neills could fill volumes
such has been their influence on Irish history
and culture. The O'Neills are most associated with
Ulster Province (the red hand of Ulster is taken
from their coat of arms) but there were other
septs located outside of Ulster who also
anglicized their name as O'Neill.
The O'Neills of Thomond were centered on the area
around Bunratty and although O'Neill is not
often found there today traces of the sept are
hidden under the names Nihill and Creagh.
The O'Neills of Carlow were located at
Rathvilly with descendants of another sept found
in Counties Tipperary and Waterford.
The Ulster septs of O'Neill, of course, are those
most associated with the name. Their ancestor was
Niall, King of Ireland, who died while battling
the Vikings in the year 919 AD. They were the chief
family of the Cinel Eoghan, their territory being
modern day Tyrone, Derry and Donegal. These septs
were originally of a tribe called 'the Ui Neill'
who were the descendants of the famous 'Niall of the
Nine Hostages' and who were undisputed Kings of
Ireland for centuries. They formed two main
branches, the Ui Neill of Ulster and the Southern
Ui Neill, located in County Meath.
The O'Neills were so powerful that they were
targeted by the English for extermination with
special zeal in the sixteenth century. Despite the
best efforts of the crown under their agent Essex,
the O'Neills continued to thrive in Ulster right
up until the 'Flight of the Earls' in 1607, and
the departure from Ireland forever of Hugh O'Neill
(1540-1616), the second Earl of Tyrone. His
departure signalled a new era in Irish life and
history as the Gaelic way of life was finally
subverted by the superior war machine of the
There have been many famous bearers of the name
including Shane O'Neill (1530-1567), Sir Niall
O'Neill (1658-1690) who distinguished himself at
the battle of the Boyne. Arthur O'Neil (1737-1816)
was a blind harpist of great renown. John O'Neill
(1834-1878) was a Fenian leader. Eugene O'Neill
(1888-1953), the dramatist, was the son of an
American actor, himself an Irish immigrant.
Congress Thomas 'Tipp' O'Neill (1912-1994) was a
US Speaker of the House of Representatives and
an advocate of the Irish cause.
In modern times the name O'Neill is still found
throughout the world in considerable numbers,
such was the influence of the mighty families
View the O'Neill family crest here:
Get the O'Neill plaque, print, signet ring and
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
A BIOGRAPHY OF WOLFE TONE
The famous and important Irish historical figure
Wolfe Tone was born Theobald Wolfe Tone on 20th
June 1763. His place in Irish history can
scarcely be overstated as he is regarded as the
father of modern Irish republicanism.
He was born in Dublin to a Protestant family and
attended Trinity College, qualifying as a
barrister at the age of 26, practicing in
London. He soon turned his attention to Irish
politics and wrote an essay attacking the ruling
administration which became popular among the
liberal 'Whigs' of the time. At the time the
French Revolution had had a profound effect on not
just French but on world politics. Ireland was no
exception with the ideals of that revolution
fuelling a desire for separation from English
Whig stalwarts such as Henry Grattan however,
wanted Catholic emancipation without breaking the
tie to England. Tone was adamant that the Irish
people should be governed by an Irish parliament
and, although he was an Anglican he proposed
co-operation among the various religions as a
means to make progress on the issue of separation
from England. In 1791 Wolfe Tone founded the
Society of the United Irishmen, together with
Napper Tandy and Thomas Russell. The moderate
aims of this society (parliamentary reform) soon
became overtaken with the desire for full
independence from England and especially once
Tones view of the necessity for armed insurrection
took prominence. It was at this point that the
difference between Henry Grattan and his pursuit of
parliamentary reform without democratic consequence
and Wolfe Tone's view of revolutionary democracy
came into stark relief.
The English authorities were quick to realise the
threat and sought to promote religious intolerance
and sectarianism, thus dividing the Catholics and
Presbyterians who otherwise were of the same Irish
stock. The newly formed Orange Order was also a
useful tool used by the English in stoking
religious discord. By 1794 and after much
political manoeuvring it became clear to Wolfe
Tone that no political party would fully get
behind their movement and they began to lobby for
French military support in the form of an
Communications between the United Irishmen and the
French were betrayed when the go-between, an
English clergyman named William Jackson, was
arrested and charged with treason. Given that
England and France had been a war since 1793 any
collaboration between the United Irishmen and the
French would certainly have greatly alarmed the
parliament in London. The organisation was
effectively broken up by the English with several
of the leaders fleeing the country. Wolfe Tone was
able to use his connections to negotiate passage
from the country and he duly emigrated to America,
arriving in May, 1795. He had first stopped in
Belfast however, and made what became known as the
'Cavehill compact' with Russell and McCracken,
'Never to desist in our efforts until we subvert
the authority of England over our country and
asserted our independence'.
He lived in Pennsylvania until 1796 but disliked
the new American revolution, declaring that the
birth class system of England had been replaced
by one decided by wealth in the US. He travelled
to Paris with Tandy to try to persuade the French
to invade Ireland. He provided the necessary
intelligence to the French who were impressed with
his proposal. The result was an armada led by
Louis Lazare Hoche consisting of 43 vessels under
sail and 14,000 men. Much to Tone's disgust the
French could not land off Bantry Bay due to severe
weather and eventually returned to France. A further
attempt at invasion by a Dutch expedition in 1797
also fell foul of the weather with Tone returning
to Paris only to find that his greatest French
ally, Hoche, had died of consumption.
Records of the time showed that membership of the
United Irishmen numbered 280,000 volunteers, or
about 5% of the entire population. Had the French
force under Hoche been able to land at Bantry, and
been joined by a popular native uprising, then the
country would surely have been liberated from
By the winter of 1797/98, with hopes of a renewed
French attempt fading, the United Irishmen were
forced to adopt a go-it-alone military strategy
focused on Dublin. Their organisation was
strengthened in and around the capital and it
also expanded in south Leinster. The planned
insurrection was to have been a three-phased
affair: the seizure of strategic positions within
Dublin city co-ordinated with the establishment
of a crescent of positions outside in north County
Dublin, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow. The
engagement of government forces in the counties
beyond was designed to prevent reinforcement.
Disaster struck on 12th March 1798 with the arrest
of most of the Leinster leadership. Further
arrests on the very eve of the rising in May
effectively decapitated the movement. The seizure
of Dublin from within was aborted as the rebels
waited for orders that never came.
United Irishmen positions outside the city
succumbed one by one with only Wexford showing
any success. A fortnight later (7-9 June), despite
the mauling at the hands of Lake's forces the year
before, the United Irishmen of Antrim and Down
managed to rise up but they too were quickly
The Wexford insurgents met with a string of early
successes but were ultimately prevented from
spreading the insurrection beyond their own county
by defeats at New Ross (5 June) and Arklow
(9 June). Massive government forces began to move
in for the decisive military showdown at Vinegar
Hill, outside Enniscorthy (21 June). Although the
insurgents suffered defeat, the bulk of their
forces escaped encirclement and carried on the
struggle for another month, one group in the
Wicklow mountains and the other in a 'long march'
into the midlands before being worn down and
forced to surrender.
A month later (22 August) over a thousand French
troops under General Humbert landed at Killala,
County Mayo, but it was too little too late.
Despite some initial successes, including a
spectacular victory at Castlebar, Humbert and the
United Irishmen who flocked to his standard were
defeated at Ballinamuck, County Longford on 8th
The 1798 Uprising was a military catastrophe. The
French and Irish forces were severely out-gunned
in the field and in one battle 2,000
revolutionaries faced 30,000 English regulars.
The captured French were shipped home, but the
Irish were all executed after their surrender. It
is estimated that 30,000 Irishmen were killed in
fighting that terrible summer, many of the victims
were peasants who faced cannon with pitchforks,
and a great number of these were women.
Tone himself had sailed in a French raid at
Donegal in October 1798 but here too his hopes
were dashed. He was captured and taken to Dublin
and court-marshalled. He requested that he be
afforded the death of a soldier, to be shot,
rather than hanged. His request denied he died in
Provost's Prison in Dublin of a neck wound in
November 1798 at the age of 35 years. History
records his death as being a suicide but there
remains some doubt.
The defeat of the United Irishmen signalled the
end of Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland as the
Act of Union of 1800 abolished the powerless
parliament in College Green and moved all
authority back to the parliament in London.
Some United Irishmen welcomed this development
as the first step on the road to parliamentary
reform as did many of the Catholic peasantry
who envisaged their election in the English
parliament. Daniel O'Connell secured Catholic
Emancipation in 1829 by which time the context
of separation from England had changed from being
a wholly national issue to being a Catholic issue.
The great famine of 1845 to 1849 destroyed the
countryside and for those who survived and did
not emigrate left a lasting legacy of hatred of
Wolfe Tone is remembered by republican groups
as the father of their cause. When examining the
timeline to Irish freedom it is certainly easy
to view him as the political ancestor of
O'Connell, the Young Irelanders, Parnell and
Davitt, Pearse and Connolly, Collins and DeValera,
on the ultimate path to independence.
He is commemorated annually at his graveside at
Bodenstown, County Kildare.
'To subvert the tyranny of our
execrable government, to break
the connection with England,
the never failing source of
all our political evils, and to
assert the independence of my
country - these were my objects.
To unite the whole people of Ireland,
to abolish the memory of all past
dissentions, and to substitute the
common name of Irishman, in the place
of the denominations of Protestant,
Catholic, and Dissenter
- these were my means.'
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
EARN THIS by Brian Kelly
Tom Hanks' character, dying, whispered that
simple phrase into the ear of 'Private Ryan',
after so many of his platoon had given their
lives in the quest to 'save' Private Ryan.
Throughout Ryan's life, he remembered that
moment, that whispered phrase, and the absolute
need for him to 'earn' the privilege made
available to him through the struggles and
sacrifices of many others.
Somewhere, you've got Ireland in your blood. The
great people of your ancestry may not have lived
the 'lace curtain' lifestyle. They likely suffered
great hardships somewhere along the line, had a
tremendous work ethic, valued and protected their
family, loved their homeland endlessly without
reservation. The country they loved so well was
a land divided. Regardless of their political
views, the internal civil struggle had horrible
impacts upon their lives and those of their
At some point, someone in that family line may
have made the decision to emigrate from Ireland.
Moving to a different house in a different town
can be traumatic. Can you imagine the personal
and family angst involved in moving to an entirely
different country? The strength of character, the
sorrows of divided families and friends, the
inescapable hurdles of living in a new land
(the prejudices, the poverty, the search for
employment, and more), the continued love and
faith in their actions and hopes and dreams.
Regardless of the details of your personal
background, there was the Irish deep in that
heritage. A proud, weathered, war-torn, faithful,
warm and family-loving peoples comprise the
underpinnings of who you are.
Whatever the specifics of your specific family
heritage, it would be safe to say that those that
had gone before you had done what they'd done and
lived where they lived and fought their
struggles... so that they would be the foundation
from which the next generation would reach to
greater heights. Each successive generation had
that same thought, as you do for your own children.
Here you are now. Look around you. Look at your
family and loved ones. Take close account of your
lifestyle, your benefits, and your comforts. In
clarity, take conscious note of the differences
in your lives as compared to those of your
In all our lives, let's enjoy and celebrate our
friends and family. Let's say and do things
befitting of the struggles, hardships, sacrifices
and aspirations of all the years and of all the
fine men and women of our ancestry. Let's live
all our days and nights that would make all that
have gone before us... proud and righteous, with
no regret for their sacrifices and no
embarrassment of explanations needed on our part.
Be the sibling, be the father, be the person, be
the Irishman... for whom people lived and died so
that you'd have the opportunities you have today.
Let's have days and nights befitting of our
lineage. Let's earn this.
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
THE CORN CRAKE by Pat Watson
When we were young in the nineteen fifties we used
to discuss what the birds said. We could never
agree about the black bird, the thrush or indeed
any other songbird but we all knew what the
corncrake said. He went
'grake grake, grake grake, grake grake'
and everybody knew that meant, stand back, stand
back, stand back. At that time there was a
corncrake in every field in Ireland.
At this time there was a certain young girl who
had just turned sixteen and she had her mother
annoyed to let her go to a dance in the town but
there was no way her mother would agree as she
did not have a chaperone and towns fellows were
not to be trusted.
Then luck struck. The local GAA club hired a big
tent in which to run a carnival for two weeks
and it was close by the girl's house. Now she
could go dancing.
She cycled to town and bought a lovely piece of
material and a pattern. The material was spread
out on the kitchen table, the pattern carefully
spread on top. There was great excitement. The
mother was more jittery than the daughter. They
had just got in the electricity. They had a
brand new singer sewing machine.
'We will put in shoulder pads and you can wear
your new bra. I will lend you my black patent
belt to match the shoes, sure it would go twice
round your little waist.'
These were modern times. For the moment meals
were suspended. The men could grumble and wait.
Oh it was wonderful, Harry Belafonte was singing
on the wireless,
'I see woman on bended knee, cutting cane for
'Well God be with the days.'
'I see man by the waterside, casting nets at the
'He might as well be, as looking for a bit to eat
In spite of those unhelpful remarks and a few
minor glitches the needlework classes paid off,
the project was successful and the dress was
completed. Now for the hair! All hell broke loose.
After tea, her mother rolled her hair on her
finger and held each curl in place with a pipe
cleaner. It took ages and was sometimes painful
but there were no complaints. You have to suffer
to be beautiful.
Next day, when the pipe cleaners were removed the
hair brushed out perfectly. On the night when she
put on the multi-coloured dress over the new bra,
with the shoulder pads and the patent belt, she
was beautiful. Even the hungry grumblers agreed.
'Mammy' she said,
'What is it a Gra?' (Love)
'If a boy wants to walk me home after the dance,
will it be alright?'
'I suppose as the place is well lit up and if he
is a nice respectable country boy, it will.'
'What is it now child?'
'If the boy wants to kiss me will I let him?'
The mother thought for a moment, her mind was
racing, racing back to her own youth, her dreams,
her dilemmas, her desires,
'You can if you both agree to obey the corncrake
and when he calls stand back you're to stand
As it happened, the boy who walked her home on the
night was a friend of mine and next morning I
'Well how did you get on?'
'How did I get on?' says he, with some agitation.
'I'll tell you how I got on! You know as well as
I know that the sweet girl lives only a hundred
yards from the marquee, and I walked her home all
of five miles but we never did get away from the
'The Corn Crake'
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 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: Maire/Seosaimh bhocht
PRONOUNCED: moir-eh/show-suff buckt?
MEANING: Poor Maire/Mary/Joseph
PHRASE: Ta si/se ag caoineadh
PRONOUNCED: taw shee/shay egg cween-idd
MEANING: She/he is crying
PHRASE: Thit si/se ar an urlar
PRONOUNCED: hit shee/shay air onn urr-lore
MEANING: She/he fell on the floor
View the archive of phrases here:
JUNE 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.