IN THIS ISSUE
=== News Snaps from Ireland
=== New free resources at the site
=== Clohine Winds by Bree T. Donovan
=== Diaspora by Bill Maher
=== November in Northern Ireland by Christine Bode
=== Gaelic Phrases of the Month
=== Site of the Month: www.2studyabroad.com
=== Monthly free competition result
Hello again from Ireland where the sun has finally
broken through for two weeks of sunshine (hopefully
that is not the end of the Summer but who knows!)
Many thanks to our contributors this month who
have again provided us with a short story, a poem
and an account of touring Ireland.
Why don't YOU submit an article, story or poem
for the next edition?
Until next time,
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
10 NEW COUNTRIES JOIN DURING IRISH EU PRESIDENCY
Ireland currently holds the presidency of the EU
and was able to host the celebration to mark the
addition to the European Community of Poland,
Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary,
Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Economic development is already well in train in
many of the new EU states with GDP averaging at
over 5%. Of course many of these countries were
severely run-down as a result of their former
political situation. Divisions in Europe in recent
years have focused on Iraq with several countries
being notably opposed to the US and British led
action in that country. Of the new additions
however, 7 supported the allied action and even
contributed troops, most notably Poland.
Irish leader Bertie Ahearn will continue to try
to get agreement on an EU Constitution during
the Irish Presidency.
PUB-OWNERS CLAIM SMOKING BAN HURTS BUSINESS
Owners of public houses have claimed that revenue
is down by 20% in the wake of the newly
introduced ban on smoking in the workplace.
Vintners have taken to advertising with slogans
such as 'the atmosphere is now even better'
appearing on posters around the country. The most
high profile victim of the smoking ban has been
a Fine Gael member of parliament who was thrown
out of the pub in Government buildings for
refusing to extinguish a cigarette. He
subsequently lost his job.
HUGE BOOST TO IRISH ECONOMY BY INTEL
Computer giants INTEL have hugely boosted the
Irish economy by announcing a EURO 1.6 Billion
investment at its Leixlip plant. The US
multi-national already will provide an extra 400
jobs, bringing its overall workforce in Ireland
to over 5000. Israel, China and Singapore are
among the countries who competed for this
investment and the fact that Ireland won the bid,
despite having a relatively high wage bill, is
being seen as confirmation that Ireland is one of
the countries of choice for hi-tech manufacturing.
IRISH PEACE-KEEPERS PRAISED BY UN
A senior UN official who addressed a conference
in Dublin recently has praised Ireland's
peace-keeping role. Jean-Marie Guehenno, the
UN's Under Secretary General at the Department
of Peacekeeping, has praised Ireland for being
the first country to send peace-keeping troops
into Liberia. He also pointed out that Ireland,
per capita, contributes more troops to UN
peace-keeping missions than any other country.
MORE SCANDALS IN IRISH BANKING
There have been revelations of overcharging at
Ireland's largest bank, AIB. Foreign Exchange
customers have been overcharged on their accounts
over a number of years and will now have to issue
refunds amounting to EURO 14 Million. In the
wake of the John Rusnak affair and the bogus
off-shore accounts debacle these are revelations
that AIB can scarcely afford. In a further blow
to the reputation of Irish banking The CEO of
Bank of Ireland has resigned after it was
revealed that he accessed adult web sites on his
DUBLIN HOUSE PRICES CONTINUE TO RISE
The cost of second-hand housing in Dublin has
risen by 4% in the first 4 months of 2004 with
the average price being EURO 505,000. There is
some disparity across the city of course with
prices in Dublin 6 and Dublin 6 averaging at
EURO 800,000. Dublin 10 pricing is much more
modest with pricing in the EURO 240,000 range.
Dublin 5 on the Northside has seen a big increase
and houses in this are, which includes Raheny and
Artane, now average at EURO 400,000. Despite
predictions of an imminent down-turn in the
housing market in Ireland prices continue to
grow, most likely due to the continued shortage
of supply compared to demand. Add that to
historically low interest rates and a relatively
healthy economy and it seems that house price
increases are set to continue for some time.
ELECTRONIC VOTING POSTPONED
Electronic voting was to be introduced nationwide
for the forthcoming local and European elections.
The replacement of the old style ballot box was
announced amid a fanfare of publicity which soon
descended into farce when a Government sponsored
independent evaluation of the electronic system
provided negative feedback. The plans have now
been postponed while further research is done.
The old ballot boxes will thus have to be replaced
at an estimated cost of EURO 80,000. The Office of
Public Works sold off 1000 of the old ballot boxes
when the electronic voting scheme was announced.
An auctioneer bought all 1000 for only EURO 45
and is now selling them for EURO 2 each.
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CLOHINNE WINDS By Bree T. Donovan
The shadows fell across the room as I lay down to rest
A storm was raging deep inside my head
I fell into a restless sleep
Of crazy changing dreams
But woke to find you standing by my bed
Clohinne winds were blowing when you called me
First you spoke my name
Your voice was still the same
You beckoned me and I arose
To follow where you led
Out among the wild Clohinne hills.
The bed - her enemy. It had been for the past
year, ever since his death. What was once a
welcoming respite from the world- a place where
Sunday afternoons were spent snuggled together
with hot tea and buttery scones, and an ambitious
book-Joyce or Tolstoy-was now the bitterest
reminder of her aloneness. As she turned down the
covers her hand lightly brushed against his
pillow, Fionn's pillow. Stands of his dark hair
could still be found. She gently extracted one
from the flannel it had imbedded itself in.
Running her fingers the length of it, she
remembered a haunting Irish folk song about an
innocent maiden killed by her jealous sister. The
murdered girl's hair was fashioned into the
strings of a harp by fishermen who found her
drowned body. The magical harp told the story of
the girl's untimely death. This single strand of
Fionn's hair filled the isolated bedroom with the
sound of his voice like the notes of the
'Come on then, Derry! Will ya come to bed!' he was
laughing. She invariably found some last minute,
unnecessary task that had to be completed before
she could join him in their warm cocoon of
blankets. 'Get-in-bed!' he would grab for her,
putting an immediate stop to whatever she was
doing. She would fall into their queen-sized
refuge tickling him and playfully cursing his
impatience. Their laughter, like the song faded
She held her glass of whiskey, shaking it, the
ice cubes clanged together in a disquieting
manner, making her feel all the more anxious at
the prospect of simply lying down. The wooden
shutters, (that Fionn had so proudly crafted)
to cover the window behind the bed, were still
open. She always kept them that way so that
whatever natural light, be it sun or moon would
find it easy to enter, and take its time when
leaving, lingering for a long visit with an old
friend. Tonight there was no moon. She looked to
the sky speckled with stars like the tiny freckles
that dotted the bridge of her nose and cheeks. The
moon, it seemed had decided that the hunks of
white clouds, planetary constellations and the
occasional aircraft making its way to somewhere
other than Castlebar were ample visual aid for
this particular March evening. She felt herself
becoming angry. Something like a fist, clenched
inside her stomach. She had not seen the moon for
five nights in a row. The sky was either, barren
and black or, like tonight, offered a meager array
of stars. She wanted to see the moon - in fact,
was desperate for it, like a junkie needing a fix.
Nights when she could peer out the small window of
her cottage and see even a silver crescent gave
her some comfort. It meant he was with her. He
had told her as much before he died. 'When you
need me, just look to the night sky and I will be
there. I will be the moon shining down on you in
all my radiance!' She thought his promise overly
sentimental, but she also knew it was his way of
assuaging not only her fear of his impending
death, but his own.
'Oh yeah? You think you can just commandeer the
moon, do ya, like some kind of nocturnal pirate?'
She teased him as he lay in a hospital bed, the
sick smelling room illuminated with inhospitable
His smile was weak, but his emotive eyes still
bright. He answered; 'The moon won't have a
chance against me! If whatever 'powers that be'
see fit to take me from this life - from you -
they are gonna have a lot to answer for. The moon
is the least concession they can grant me!' She
began to cry. He was so small and pale against
the stark, bleached white sheets, tubes painfully
inserted into his arms. He was only thirty years
old, and he was dying. 'No...no...' She gripped
his hand. 'I don't want the God-damned moon!
I want you!'
She took a deep drink of whisky. It was like
swallowing a lit match. 'Where the hell are you
then?' she shouted at the window with her
new- found liquid courage. 'Come on ya bastard!
Come-to-bed!' She fell back against the pillows
just barely setting the glass on the floor before
it slipped from her hand. She was sobbing, mucus
blocking her throat and nose, but as she was
falling into yet another alcohol induced slumber
an indescribable scent slipped its way in from a
crack between the closed window and the sill. It
washed over her in a brilliant wave. The smell of
burning peat and crisp night air, the salty brine
of the sea and the scent of her lover, as if he
had just come off of a troller's boat after a
long stint at sea and tiredly lay down next to
her. She desperately clutched at the air,
sniffing tears and sweet memories.
Then, all was black.
It was going on 2am as the men stumbled out of
the pub. They leaned against one another for
support. Their scruffy faces ruddy from the heat
of the bar, and when they spoke, their breath
came in short puffs riding on the air. With the
overly accentuated movements of intoxication,
each attempted to navigate his way down the
narrow street towards their neighboring homes.
No one else was about, only the occasional
barking of a dog, presumably unhappy at being
left out on such a cold night. The two walked
and fell about, anxious to get home and stagger
into their houses and respective beds. They soon
came upon the intersection of Marion Row and St.
Bridget's Crossing and looked to each other in
surprise finding a man standing alone on the
corner. It appeared to their drunken eyes that
mist encircled him, or was that just the frosty
night air? He was wearing a dark colored tweed
coat, and thick corduroy trousers. A woolen cap
partially obscured his face.
'What the hell?' the one man turned to his
friend. 'Who would be out here at this hour?'
The silent, unmoving man was a sobering vision
indeed. 'I don't know, Hugh, but I don't have
a good feelin' about this.'
'Ah! Come on, Stephen. He don't look like much.
Maybe he's just as knackered as us two, and
needs a hand?'
They came closer to the stranger and the mist
that swirled around his feet rose up in a great
white vapor encircling his whole body like a
pallid shroud. Effulgent green light emanated
from his eyes, as the apparition turned his face
towards them. 'Jaysus!' Hugh clutched at his
friend. 'What is that?'
'I don't know, and I don't want to find out
either!' But even as Stephen spoke, neither
man, despite their great desire to leave, could
muster the strength to do so. They merely watched
as the spirit-man approached them. As he did,
both men were filled with an incredible sense of
sadness and longing. It both came from and clung
to the strange creature like the mist that
enfolded to him.
'What do ya want?' Hugh called out in fear, not
so much of the strange apparition, but of the way
it made him feel. His heart ached, and he felt a
sob forming at the back of his throat. Whatever
this creature was, he was in indescribable pain.
He reached out to Hugh, placing a hand on his
chest. While his friend looked on in shock, Hugh
placed his own hand over the man's and closed
his eyes. Flashes of a life, not his, but like
that of a movie projected through Hugh's mind.
He saw images of a man and woman. It was as if
in that brief instant of contact, the man was
able to illustrate his life in a way that Hugh
could experience all the emotions connected to
it. Hugh had no doubt the man in the images he
was seeing, was the same one who stood before him
now, and the red-headed woman must be his wife or
lover. Hugh could see, feel, hear, taste all the
things this man had. Suddenly he was lying on a
cold metal table. He was naked, only a thin sheet
covered him. He could not see anything- the sheet
covering his eyes. The only sound was of crying -
the mournful sobs of a woman. He knew it was the
crimson-haired woman weeping. The grief in her
voice was unbearable. He wanted to rise up from
the table, but he was paralyzed. The ache in his
heart was so great he felt as if it would burst.
He thought he was dying.
Hugh found himself on the ground then. He was on
his knees retching into the street while Stephen
held his head. 'Steady now, lad. You'll be
alright. Last time I let you drink away half
yer pay!' his friend was saying.
Hugh slowly lifted his head and looked out across
the empty street. He and Stephen were once again
alone. 'What happened? Where did he go?' Hugh
spit out the last of the bile and wiped at his
mouth with his sleeve.
'Who?' Stephen asked looking about.
'That... the... spirit! That man who was standin'
on the corner!'
'The what? Lad, you better get yerself home.
Your talking daft!'
Hugh struggled to his feet with Stephen's
assistance. 'You mean to tell me you didn't see
a man come up and put his hand on me?' the look
of distress on his face gave Stephen some cause
for concern. 'Hugh, I'm being straight with ya.
There was no man on any corner. We were just
walking along and suddenly ya fell down and
began to puke. End of story.'
Stephen's face showed no recognition of anything
Hugh had mentioned. He quickly looked down at
his shirt to see if there was any kind of
indication that the man had touched him. There
were only a few specks of vomit and beer stains,
nothing more. He rubbed at his eyes and reached
for his friend. 'Yeah, yeah, you're right, ya sod!
Don't let me drink so much next time. My wife's
gonna kill me as it is!' He tried to shake the
recent, disturbing event from his now aching head.
'Come on then. We best get home before ya see any
more fairies!' Stephen pulled his friend onward.
The next morning Hugh would wake with a pounding
head, dry mouth, but no memory of the spirit-man
and the picture show of his life and death. Hugh
did, however, possess the tremendous urge to
spend the entire day with his wife.
'I can't believe ya did it! Fionn, are ya sure
ya understand the repercussions?' Rory walked a
long the beach with his companion. The sun was
still sleeping, nestled in the great depths of
the sea. 'Of course I don't understand it all.
Whoever it is that keeps us here makes sure of
that! We know just enough, which translates into,
we know what we are not supposed to do, and
that's all.' Fionn's disgust was obvious.
'Then you know making contact with that man was
definitely ill-advised.' Rory was a soft-spoken
man who had lived well into his seventies. In
life he had been a world-renown player of the
'I know it was the step I needed to take.'
Fionn lowered his head. Rory stopped walking and
reached out to his young friend. 'Fionn, don't
think I can't sympathize with what you're feelin',
but ya can't go runnin' about doin' things that
may have ever-lasting ramifications, especially
when you don't have all the information.'
'I have all the information I need. I had to
establish contact with a living human being, and
show him my heart - get him to feel me! That is
my gateway to Derry. Now I can go to her.'
'And do what? You can't be with her Fionn, you're
dead, and she is part of the living world...'
'She is part of me!'
'Yes, and that is what you must be content with
now - the part of her that will always be with
you. It can't be any other way.' Rory's voice was
animate, but not without compassion.
'Who says? By whose authority am I bound?'
'We don't have all the answers yet, this I will
grant you, but at least we know what we must not
do. There has to be a very important reason for
'And maybe there is none, Rory. Maybe we are all
just part of some magnificent universal blunder.'
Rory was silent. He had considered the obvious,
and it made him most uneasy. It was far simpler
to work with the rudimentary knowledge they had,
and hope for the best. The alternative - that
there was some dark force behind their present
state of existence - or worse, there was no reason
for their after-life banishment was unthinkable.
Fionn grabbed for the man, 'Look, for all we
know we are being tested.'
'Tested? For what purpose?'
'I don't know, maybe to prove our courage, to
demonstrate that we are not afraid to go after
what we want. Maybe we did not do enough of that
in life, and now we are being given one more go
around at it now?' Fionn watched as the waves
reached great heights before rolling in and
crashing onto the shore. He considered the actions
of the sea much like the cycle of human life.
'Do you feel you did not possess courage in life,
Fionn thought again of Derry, and how she had
wanted to start a family long before they received
news of his terminal illness. He told her he wasn't
ready. He kept from her his fears of not measuring
up as a good father, and also his uncertainty of
how children may change their lives. He so
treasured what they had then. They had been
together eight years. He wanted nothing to change.
He wanted her all to himself, the freedom to write
and to tend their small farm. He wanted not to be
challenged. Fionn knew he had disappointed Derry,
for as much as he knew she loved him, and he
never once doubted that, he knew she welcomed the
challenge that he shied away from.
'Did you?' he asked of Rory.
Rory snorted and took hold of the small man's arm,
resuming their walk. 'Touché, my friend. I am
certain I should be found lacking in that virtue
were I put to the test.'
'All I know is, I am not waitin' around here
anymore like some kind of spiritual hostage. If I
have the power to be with her, you can bet that
is just what I am gonna do!' Fionn seemed to be
throwing his challenge to the wind and waves.
'But how do you know you have that power?'
'I don't. Until I try.'
Derry twisted and turned in restless sleep. Her
body covered every inch of the bed as she thrashed
about, kicking the covers and knocking pillows to
the floor. She was dreaming, walking through Inis
Oirr - the smallest of the islands in her County,
Mayo. She and Fionn had spent many afternoons
strolling the length of the isolated beach between
the quay and the airfield. A maze of footpaths ran
between the high stone walls that divided the
fields, which were overrun with wildflowers, red
clover, daises and harebells. It was a perfect
summer's afternoon-the kind that she and Fionn
would cherish the opportunity to languish in. She
wore a long, light dress of silk. The tepid sun
cheered her, but as she took a few more steps
towards the Church of St. Kevin, the moon began
to slide its way across the sky - stealth and
silent as a highwayman - overtaking the powerful
orange ball with its pearly light.
'Fionn!' she called out in her sleep.
'I'm here, my love' he whispered.
She could not be sure, but she thought she heard
his voice drifting through the tall grass. Moving
towards the small church she could make out the
figures of several people. They were enshrouded
in darkness, hidden by shadows, and bent over
digging around the church in an effort to free it
from the sand that buries it every year during the
winter storms. It was such an odd juxtaposition
- the diggers materialized like mourners making
ready to bury a body, but the more they worked,
the more the embedded church emerged from the
womb of the sandy earth. The lofty clouds that
danced around the moon separated like reluctant
lovers, allowing the top of the church's primeval
steeple to shimmer in the rich moonlight. She
could even see beyond the church to the ruins of
O'Brien's castle on top of a rocky hill. It was
there that she saw him - Fionn. He was standing
amidst the rubble of the ancient tower. A gust
of air kicked up the soil around her feet,
coiling the bottom of her dress about her legs.
She kicked in her sleep as the sheets curled a
round her body. She was in that mysterious state
between slumber and wakefulness. Her breathing
became shallow, her heart like an over-inflated
balloon. There was an ache even stronger than the
constant pain she carried inside since his death.
His voice traveled to her on the wind, wispy as
the wing of a fay, but clear as the stars
entrenched in the sky.
'Come to me, my love!' he called to her reaching
out his hand. Her brain was transmitting the
message, ' No! Wake up!' but she struggled against
the interference. She opened her eyes, seeing the
recognizable blue ceiling of her bedroom, but when
she blinked again, she was back on Inis Oirr, the
vision of Fionn more lucid than any dream.
'Yes, Derry! Yes! Come to me!' he called again.
She did not know that he was unable to move any
closer to her. She had to go to him of her own
volition if their union was to be, and the
boundaries of life and death forever blurred.
She moved closer, coming upon the cloaked diggers.
They each turned to her, five in all, as if to see
what action she would take. She understood they
were aware of her, and of Fionn. She could see
their faces the nearer she came. They were just
like any other human men and women. They did not
seem dead, but very much alive, like Fionn.
Derry, Fionn, the diggers, they all appeared to
inhabit the same world. They were not merely some
sleep-induced apparition. The five were not
frightening, but appeared to be afraid, of what
she was not certain. Among them stood a kindly
older gentleman, and when Fionn called out one
final time, 'Derry, please, take my hand, girl!'
the elder man smiled at her, a cautiously,
encouraging grin. The pounding in her chest was
so great it echoed in her ears. She could feel
her heart constrict. The wind that now stirred
freed her legs from the diaphanous garment, the
blankets fell away from her body as she writhed
one last time in her bed, their bed. She ran to
him breathless and laughing. When she was only
inches from her lover he grabbed her hand,
pulling her to him with extraordinary strength.
She felt herself being lifted off the ground.
He spun her about laughing and shouting,
'I have you! I have you now!' Once again the
sweet scent of sea and earth, night and fire
permeated the air around her. She and Fionn were
swept up in great joy. He buried his face in her
hair, and she held on to him certain that nothing
would ever separate them again. They had been
victims once-torn apart, but their great love had
allowed them to cheat death itself and neither
cared what price would have to be paid.
'Derry? Hello? Derry!' Angela pounded on the
cottage door. She pulled her hand away, rubbing
her sore fist, and taking a step back. She was
worried when her best friend failed to meet her
at the cafe for their prearranged morning coffee
before work. That was most unlike Derry. Angela
knew that if something had come up, and Derry
needed to change their plans, she would have
called. When Derry was three hours late to the
office, missing two appointments with
case-workers, Angela officially allowed herself
to panic. After no answer to several phone calls
and pages, she decided to make the trip out to
the house. Angela had been uneasy about her dear
friend for the past few months. Most people who
knew and worked with Derry felt she was dealing
with her loss remarkably well, but Angela knew
otherwise. Derry and Fionn lead a very private
life. They were familiar to all in Castlebar. It
was a close-knit community, but Fionn, being a
writer and farmer, happily spent most of his time
at home, and when Derry was not working in the
office or out on a case, she was with him.
Everyone who knew the couple, knew of their
devotion to one another. It was obvious enough
to Angela, being Derry's closest confidant and
self-appointed sister, that Derry's attempt at
normalcy was all an act. Angela detected the dark
circles under her friend's eyes that she tried to
conceal with make-up. In fact, Angela noticed all
the mental and physical complications that
plagued Derry since she lost Fionn. Most of all,
Angela feared the deep depression Derry was
succumbing to. It was like a disease or an
addiction. Derry allowed her grief total access:
body, mind and spirit.
Walking around to the back door that she knew to
be always left unlocked, Angela resolved that
when she did find her friend, she would sit her
down for a cup of tea and reach out to her. She
would insist that Derry check into a facility
equipped in helping her to truly recover, so that
she could piece back together a life without
Fionn. Angela felt her confidence wane as she
entered the house, passing through the simple
kitchen. Everything was neat and in its place
- same as the living room and dinning area. All
was clean and orderly. She came to Fionn's study,
a pang of sadness fluttered in her chest,
surprising her. She spent time here in the house
since Fionn had died, but something about the
door to his study being semi-closed made her
imagine how desolate Derry must feel seeing the
same thing day after day. She peeked in, his
computer, and well used reference books, (his
'bibles' as he referred to them) were in their
rightful places on the antique desk. Angela
smiled, remembering Derry's request for assistance
in finding the perfect twenty-fifth birthday gift
for Fionn. When they discovered the old wooden
desk in the oddity shop on the outskirts of town,
they knew they had accomplished their mission.
Fionn was truly delighted with his present. He
kept a picture of the three of them on the desk.
Once they had installed his most precious piece
of furniture, he insisted on the photograph,
setting up his tripod as Angela and Derry looked
on in amusement. Angela recalled how he stood in
the middle of the two women and, being shorter
than both reached up on tiptoe and with a grand
gesture threw his arms around them, hugging them
close. The photograph captured the genuine
happiness each felt that day their wide toothy
grins forever a testament to that gem of a moment
She called out one last time as she came to the
bedroom. The door was open. The honey colored
noontime sun spilled over the bed. The room
contained an unexplainable presence, as if it
recorded within its very walls all the echoes of
the occupants - their sighs of passion, cries of
pain, and wild laughter. Judging from the bed's
state of disarray, either a passionate tryst had
taken place, (Angela highly doubted such an idea)
or more than likely, Derry had experienced another
night of unrest. The half-full glass of liquor on
the floor baring evidence to that. The radio was
playing - the alarm set to go off at 6am. Angela
turned the switch and the room was eerily quiet.
She quickly did a sweep of the bathroom; all the
usual toiletries, towels and beauty supplies were
tidily stocked on the freestanding shelves and in
the closet. She checked the bedroom closet, and
chest of drawers. It didn't seem as if Derry had
prepared to go anywhere, if she did, she was
traveling light. Taking one more walk-through of
the house and finding nothing out of the ordinary,
save that Derry was missing. Angela left by the
back door coming round to the front of the house
once again. Derry's car was in the driveway, but
no sign of her. It was as if she had simply
vanished, or been taken off by the fairies as
would have been the more common supposition in
this provincial town.
The seven people who might never have met in
life, now sat on the beach, watching the sun
making its triumphant return over the horizon,
sharing confidences not even their closest of
friends were privy to. Fionn sat behind Derry,
his arms encircling her. She tried to listen as
the older man, Rory spoke about his thoughts
regarding their present situation, but she found
it none to easy to concentrate. She still could
not believe she was here with Fionn. It was as
if the last year of her life, and his death simply
took to the wind with the ease of ashes from a
turf fire. They were together. She could not
fathom how or why, but she did not care at the
moment. She leaned back against him. He hugged
her close, whispering affections in her ear. It
was difficult to digest all that Rory shared, but
at least she knew the identity of the others she
saw digging at the church.
'There are only a few of our kind.' Owen, a man
to be a few years younger than Rory continued.
'Although we're not sure what our kind is!'
Roisin, Owen's wife added. 'We were University
professors, living a decent enough life, but
after the car accident we found ourselves here.'
She looked to the others. They nodded their
support and mutual confusion.
'After I died', Cain, a Catholic priest with
striking blue eyes explained, 'I could not believe
that I was not dispensed to any of the after-life
destinations I expected. I had not gone to Heaven,
or, to Hell.'
'And you can bet he is now seriously questioning
the validity of his priestly vows!' Fionn joked.
'Especially that one about celibacy!' He reached
over and jabbed at the Holy man making everyone
laugh despite the seriousness of the situation.
'Well I at least expected to be reborn into yet
another incarnation with the opportunity to make
right the mistakes of my previous life!' A woman
with hair the color of winter spoke in a quiet
voice. She was the most timid of the group.
'Clara, how could you have anything to pay for?
You died homeless on the dirty streets of Dublin!
To hell with whoever would see fit to punish you!'
Fionn could not hide his outrage. Derry, being a
social worker, empathized with Fionn's anger. She
had seen far too many people die on the streets,
and children at the hands of their own parents.
It was all so senseless to her.
'Is this like a purgatory, a place of waiting
then?' Derry asked.
'Father, any thoughts on that?' Fionn turned to
Cian. The man shook his head. 'I've lost all logic
as far as this is concerned. And now with you here,
Derry, please pardon my language, but how the hell
did that happen?'
'Because it was meant to.' Rory answered as the
group turned to him in surprise.
'You sound pretty sure about that, Rory. Why did
you give me such a fight about it before?' Fionn
Rory stood over the young couple regarding them
with a mixture of pride and piety. 'You were meant
to swim against the tide, Fionn. You did so all
your life, am I right?'
Derry smiled at the astute man, 'That he did, but
please tell me that my presence here is not a bad
thing for Fionn - for any of you.'
'The power and eternity of love can never be a bad
thing, me girl, it is simply yours and Fionn's
'What are ya talkin' about, Rory? Why is it you
seem to have all the answers now?' Fionn took
his hands from Derry, and they both stood to face
the man whose appearance began to alter slightly,
as did the others. 'What's goin' on here? What
haven't you told me? What have you all kept
from me?' he demanded.
'Fionn...'Derry tried in vein to calm him.
'We have kept nothing from you, Fionn. On the
contrary, we have supported you in your quest.'
Rory explained in a soothing voice, 'It's not
that I have all the answers, but that you have
asked the correct questions. You fearlessly sought
the answers for yourself. Now it is our time to
leave you.' He motioned for the others to stand
and join him.
'Leave me? You don't mean to...' Fionn struggled
with his words as he whirled around to confront
each of his fellow travelers, 'And Derry?'
'There is still time for her if she so chooses.'
Rory and the others began to take on a darker
color, a chestnut glow. They seemed to fold into
'Am I not one of you - a spirit of your world?'
'No, my dear, you have not died, nor will you
ever if you choose to stay with Fionn, but if
you stay with him, then you two will be like the
winsome gannets of Skellig Michael.'
'You mean we are to become birds?' she grabbed
Rory chuckled. He grew larger, and a soft down
- like coating covered his body - the figures of
the others were now obscured by him.
'Not literally, but you will be mated for life.
I must tell you, you do have one last opportunity
to return to your world, Derry, and live out the
natural course of your life. I honestly don't
know what will become of you then.' He turned to
Fionn reaching out a long, talon-like arm.
'You see, Fionn, we all have our purpose. I was
simply instructed to help you. Your spirit burns
so exquisitely. You are one of the rare ones
- a keeper of the light. You can still help
others out of darkness, just as you did that
young man on the street.'
'How?' Fionn was incredulous to all that was
'With Derry, lad. If she stays with you…'
'I won't leave him! There is nothing any of you
can do to make that happen!' She clung to Fionn.
'Derry, are ya sure? You don't even know what is
to become of us.' Fionn brushed back her hair
with his hands searching her eyes.
'Whatever is to be for us, Fionn, already is.
You loved me enough to come back for me, and I
loved you enough to go with you. Isn't that
the way of it?' she questioned Rory.
'It is your path. Didn't you once direct Derry to
look to the moon for you?' Rory asked of Fionn.
'Yes. How did you...'
'And so it will be then, for the both of you. You
will move about this land, unrecognizable to most,
but to the ones who have the heart to see you -
the ones who also search the moon and stars for
answers - you and your love will guide them.'
'But what is it we are to do? How are we to help
these people? Derry asked stepping closer to the
man who was now much more like a night bird than
a human - his face multi-colored, like the
speckled birds of the island.
'You will learn. Your love will lead you.' With
that Rory drew the couple to him, enfolding them
in his vast feathered wings. 'We must go now, but
we will be lookin' after you, and we will all
meet again on the other side of the sea.' As he
let go of them, he and the others rose up in a
frenzied flapping of wings and joyful birdsong.
Fionn and Derry held close to one another
watching the breathtaking vision of their flight.
The five creatures circled once over head then
flew towards the direction of the horizon, where
the land kisses the sea, and continues on into
Fionn turned to Derry. Both were frightened by
the uncertainty of it all, but exhilarated at
the prospect of facing the challenge together.
That very night as the moon hung low and fat in
the silent sky, the red lights of the inspectors'
vehicles flashed outside of the home that Fionn
and Derry once shared, slashing at the empty
cottage with their sinister light. A tearful
Angela stood outside giving her statement to a
member of the Garda. The man took her hand and
reassured her he would do all that he could to
locate her missing friend. Before he walked
back to his car he said, 'Don't worry now, these
things have a way of working out in a manner you
could never imagine. It doesn't always mean the
worst in this type of situation. You keep
thinkin' good thoughts, okay?' Angela shook her
head not really hearing what he said. She was
still in shock.
As the officers drove away, the night once again
took on the stillness of sleep. She thought she
heard the sound of familiar voices. She became
disoriented and frightened. Considering the
benefits of a stiff drink, she hugged her arms
against herself. A cool, eventide breeze moved in
and brushed her cheek, soft as a daffodil.
Approaching her car, she saw them, Derry in a
delicate dress of white, reflecting each unique
ray of the moon's light. Her arms were entwined
with Fionn's, in his cap and tweeds. They stood
in front of their cottage smiling at her and
laughing, just like the day he had taken their
picture. Angela rubbed her tired eyes, sure the
stress of recent events was causing her to
hallucinate, but when she opened them again, her
friends were still there. They did not speak, but
somehow imparted the understanding that all was
as it should be. She felt great relief wash over
her. She smiled back at her beloved friends.
Yes, all was as it should be.
It has been said that the residents of not only
Castlebar, but of the many other small counties,
and even large cities in Ireland have reported
seeing young lovers walking through their streets
in the moonlight. They bring a sense of hope to
those fortunate enough to catch a glimpse. And
always, just overhead, the two are accompanied
by the most beautiful night birds in all of Eire.
The years have passed
And I am growing weary of this earth
The magic of the dream is with me still
I've lain beneath the fairy tree
I've shouted to the moon
I am the haunted woman of the hill...
Bree T. Donovan
Moorestown, NJ, USA
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DIASPORA by Bill Maher
From the green hills and glens of a proud, ancient, land
Came a torrent of people who had made their last stand
From the hunger and fever and oppression they fled
For to stay in old Erin was a sentence of death
We don't know these people they're a shadow in green
We don't know their roads or the sights they have seen
We've heard of their glory and we've heard of their pain
And although they are family we don't know their name
Have we heard of the coffin ships that took them away
Have we heard of their leaders who led them to the fray
Do we know of their poets who condemned England's laws
Do we know of their language, their heroes, their cause
We must learn of Trevelyan, of evictions, of corn
Of Skibbereen, the workhouse, of the mothers who mourned
Of Soyer whose soup was but poison not food
Of the crown whose indifference was true to her code
Do we know of the Fenian, of Boru, and of Tone
Of Pearse, de Valera, O'Connell, Monroe
And the fate that befell them in their glorious fight
Of the places of triumph and the places of fright
We are the Diaspora and we cover the earth
From the land of the Saxons, to the hills around Perth
In the heart of America, and on Canada's plains
Each Continent echoes the sound of our names
But deep in our soul is a glimmer of green
That shines in our hearts, in our minds, in our dreams
Be our roots deep in Ulster or on Connaught's bold coast
In Leinster or Munster we can all proudly boast
For its Ireland we came from and never forget
There is work there unfinished, to repay an old debt
To support the Republic. To find peace at last
And help unite dear old Ireland as our gift to the past
Westfield, NJ, USA
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Anne MacDonald ordered a family crest plaque:
Received my plaque, carefully wrapped,
in good order. It is splendid! I am
thrilled, and I know that my dad, for whose
81st birthday this was ordered, will love
it. I would like to order another one!
Everyone who has seen the plaque has been
really impressed, even those who, as my
daughter says are 'not into ancestor
Again, my hearty thanks for this
Best wishes for happy holiday season.
Sincerely, Anne MacDonald
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NOVEMBER IN NORTHERN IRELAND by Christine Bode
November in Northern Ireland
by Christine Bode
My third vacation in Ireland occurred from
October 27 to November 17 in 2003. It wasn't the
best time I ever had on the Emerald Isle as I
had my purse stolen out of an Internet Cafe in
Dublin, losing a week's cash and activities.
I also had my heart broken by a Kildare man I
met and fell for in Dublin, but I survived to
recount an interesting part of my travels in
Northern Ireland for you.
On Friday, November 14th I joined a Shamrocker
tour bus, lead by our tour guide Mick and driver
Catherine, from Dublin through Counties Louth,
Antrim, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Meath and back again.
There was an assortment of Aussies and Americans
on the bus, plus one other Canadian girl from
Halifax. Everyone was younger than me and most
of the passengers were students.
Our first stop was the Boyne Valley. The handsome,
thirty-something Mick told us all about the Battle
of the Boyne between James II and William of
Orange and we walked up a small hill to the site
itself (in Louth) and stood in the wind and rain
for a few minutes. I took a couple of photos of
cows in the field by the river. From there, we
drove to Monasterboice, a monastic ruin that dates
back to the 9th century. The monastery, which was
founded by Saint Buite, who died in 521 AD,
contains two of the finest sandstone High Crosses
in Ireland, the primary one being the Cross of
Muiredach. The site also has a round tower, which
is in excellent condition. The photo opportunities
From Monasterboice we travelled to Dundalk, Co.
Louth, home of The Corrs. I had a late breakfast
at The Windsor bar, a slightly burnt omelette
special with brown toast for €7.55 and listened to
a local radio station. After my Irish repast, I got
back on the bus and we drove straight to Belfast
City in Co. Antrim. We were dropped off at a cheap
hostel (£8.50) in Kent St. where I had to share a
room with ten other people and one bathroom
between us. Not recommended! Don't try to travel
economically in Ireland when you're 40 or over!
Mick had arranged for us to take the Black Cab
tour (£7.00), which lasted just under two hours,
with six of us crammed into a cab and taken to the
Shankill Road (Protestant/UVF dominated land) area
first. The row houses were painted with political
murals and the curbs were marked with red, white
and blue bars to identify the dangerous Protestant
neighbourhood. We saw the equally mural-laden
Peace Wall that divides Protestants from Catholics
and then we drove to the Falls Road, which is the
Catholic/IRA-Sinn Fein region. We were given a
brief history of each side's story of The
Troubles. It was interesting, but quite
depressing. I saw the offices of Sinn Fein and
was told that Gerry Adams was likely there that
morning as he stops in regularly during the week.
When we returned to the hostel I arranged to meet
the nephew of my mother's friend, Clive, and he
was pleased to meet me for coffee and a short
walking tour around the City Centre. Belfast City
is modern and attractive, particularly City Hall
which was lit up beautifully, like a postcard in
the dark. Clive also showed me the Europa Hotel
(the most bombed hotel in history), the Lagan
River walk, Albert Clock and the gorgeous Belfast
That evening our tour group went to a really
posh, trendy restaurant/club called The Northern
Whig for dinner. We had a reservation so we all
sat together between two tables and it was quite
enjoyable. I had chicken fajitas for £7.55 and
they were tasty but lacked cheese, an essential
ingredient in any fajitas recipe! I had a pint
of Guinness as well and was totally stuffed
afterwards. Despite indigestion, I trundled off
with a large part of the group to a beautiful old
pub called The Crown where Gerry Adams worked as
a bartender in his younger days. I had one
tequila & 7-Up and chatted with a Belfast man
named John who was a fiddler. He was very nice to
talk to, as are most of the locals in Ireland.
Saturday on The Shamrocker saw Mick give us a
very good history lesson about everything from
the beginnings of the Irish Republican Brotherhood
all the way through to the 1916 Easter Rising and
the good fight of Michael Collins. Catherine
talked about how the IRA is funded today, which
is mostly by Americans, but also by IRA
kidnappings, bank robberies, drug dealings, etc.
Catherine drove us through Larne, the Glens of
Antrim and finally to The Giant's Causeway which
I had been dying to see for years. The Antrim
Coast route is spectacular and the towns of
Ballygally and Glenarm are especially picturesque.
I saw several vibrant rainbows that filled me
with a sense of spiritual renewal. The landscape
is mountainous and craggy at times but it
overlooks the Irish Sea in all its glory.
Ballymena, where Liam Neeson hails from, wasn't
far from where we were. We travelled through
Glencoy, past the Londonderry Arms Hotel that was
once owned by Winston Churchill. He inherited it
from an aunt but apparently never went there.
We stopped in the village of Cushendun for a much
needed bathroom break (there should be a bathroom
on those tour buses!) before moving on through
Ballypatrick Forest which is full of coniferous
evergreens not indigenous to this country. Scots
pine, oak and ash are and as ancient settlers cut
most of them down up to 9,000 years ago to clear
the land for agriculture, new indigenous trees are
in desperate need of being replanted. Mick said
that the pine needles have actually poisoned the
land and created a natural ecological disaster.
Spending a mere 90 minutes at the majestic Giant's
Causeway, one of the natural wonders of the world,
was a big tease. I was absolutely thrilled to
stand in the wind on the Causeway's basalt
hexagonal columns and have my picture taken by
another tourist. It is one of the most
breathtaking landscapes I have ever had the
privilege of seeing. The Giant's Causeway is a
major tourist attraction and boasts a restaurant,
theatre where you can watch a short film about
the scientific theory, myth and legend of the
place, a couple of excellent gift shops and a
stunningly beautiful walkway along the cliffs.
I could have spent an entire day there.
Sun showers pelted us on and off all day and I
got drenched again at Dunluce Castle. Dunluce is
said to be seriously haunted by the ghost of Peter
Kerry who was hung there hundreds of years ago.
It is a gorgeous fortress jutting out of the
cliffs over the sea. It was chillingly cold when
the pouring rain turned into hail, but it didn't
last too long.
We stopped at the Bushmills Whiskey Distillery
just to look in the gift shop on our drive to
Derry, where we stayed in a slightly nicer cheap
hostel called Steve's Backpackers (£9.00
When we arrived in Derry we left almost
immediately after dumping our bags in our rooms
for a guided walking tour of the medieval walls
of the original city and into the Bogside area
for tales of Bloody Sunday. I'd seen the 2002
movie of the same name starring James Nesbitt so
it was really incredible to relive the history.
Our professional guide was very knowledgeable so
it was extremely interesting. However, after
walking around a very hilly, steep city in the
rain (at times it was almost torrential) for 90
minutes, with a chest cold and cough, I was
completely done in.
We came back to the hostel where £2.50 bought us
either an Irish or Bailey's coffee. I opted for
the latter. It was heavenly. We watched a bit of
a soccer match between Russia and Wales and then
went out to dinner to The Ice Wharf where the
food was great and the prices reasonable. I had
to pass on going out to any pubs afterwards, as
I was feeling too ill.
On Sunday, November 16th, after a free breakfast
at Steve's Backpackers of toast and jam with
coffee, we loaded onto the bus for 8:30 a.m.
leaving Derry behind. We drove through County
Tyrone where the countryside is lush farmland
traipsing through hills and valleys that are
largely vacant with several rivers running through
it. The sun shone brightly (finally!) as we drove
through the City of Omagh and the sight of the
1998 bombing by the Real IRA (a splinter group
that were against the peace process), which
claimed the lives of 29 people. It was the most
devastating act of terrorism of all the years of
The Troubles. A 60-year-old woman, her daughter
who was nine months pregnant with twins and her
two year old granddaughter were all killed in the
bombing, which originated in a car that was meant
for the Court House. Some Spanish students were
killed as well and they had the distinction of
being the first foreigners who lost their lives
in the IRA's campaign. This was a disturbing
memory for Catherine and Mick as the images from
the news reports of Omagh's city centre were still
relatively fresh in their minds. Everything has
been rebuilt so it's hard to imagine the damage
that was done, but I also remember when it
happened and the horrifying newspaper images,
so I felt a bit sick with sorrow.
We headed to Enniskillen in County Fermanagh where
we stopped for a drink and bathroom break at
Charlie's Pub, primarily because Mick wanted to
catch the soccer scores. It was very quiet in
Enniskillen on Sunday and many of us went to the
Spar to buy food for lunch because we had limited
Euro dollars on us and were soon leaving Sterling
country. From Enniskillen we drove to Meath where
we were to visit the Loughcrew Passage Tombs.
Climbing the mountain to the Loughcrew Passage
Tombs is one of the achievements in my life that
I can be truly proud of considering I was almost
40, a size 18/20 and terribly out of shape! I
thought I might have a heart attack before I
reached the summit, but I made it, the last
person on the tour to arrive, huffing, puffing
and beet red in the face. The view was
absolutely magnificent and well worth the effort,
but I missed Mick's history lesson. I went inside
the tomb very briefly to say I did and Mick shone
his flashlight on the stone wall carvings so I
could see. I retreated to leave the spirits of
the dead in peace. Walking down the mountain
amidst the sheep excrement, I employed my best
nanny goat footing and managed to make it to the
bottom without falling.
From there we went to Trim Castle, the Anglo-Norman
fortress made world famous because Mel Gibson
filmed parts of 'Braveheart' there. It was used as
Robert the Bruce's castle and the scene at the end
of the movie where William Wallace is drawn and
quartered was filmed outside the entrance to the
Keep. Our tour guide Karlos led us through the most
significant rooms inside the castle and seemed very
informed about what life would have been like there
in the 12th century. Cold and smelly, I'd say! We
walked slowly up to the roof for another fabulous
view of Trim and then descended 90 very narrow
stone steps down to the first floor again.
It was very cool indeed.
The weary passengers of the Shamrocker tour were
dropped off near Kinlay House in Dublin at around
5:45 p.m. that evening. With little adieu we said
goodbye and happy travels to the people we'd spent
the last three days with. Bus tours are an
excellent and economical way of seeing Ireland,
but I would recommend that you don't travel in
November as the weather will not be in your
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I did want to let you know the watch I ordered
for my Sister's birthday, with the Nugent crest,
She received it in short order and was delighted.
I recently saw it and was very happy with it.
Sometimes you feel you are taking a chance placing
such an order, but I would not hesitate to place an
order again thru your system.
Again, thank you.
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GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
PHRASE: An féidir liom cabhru leat?
PRONOUNCED: on fay-durr lum cow-roo lat?
MEANING: May I help you?
PHRASE: An bhfuil tu ag lorg duine eigin?
PRONOUNCED: on will two egg lurg dinn-eh aig-ginn
MEANING: Are you looking for someone?
PHRASE: An gno pearsanta no oifigiuil e?
PRONOUNCED: on gih-no parr-sann-tah no iff-igg-ool ae
MEANING: Is it personal or official?
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I hope that you have enjoyed this issue.
Until next time,
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