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The Information about Ireland Site Newsletter
The Newsletter for people interested in Ireland
Now received by over 50,000 people worldwide
Copyright (C) 2008
IN THIS ISSUE
=== News Snaps from Ireland
=== New free resources at the site
=== Bridie Kearns' First Job
by Josephine Doherty McTague
=== Ireland House-Swap
=== Grace O'Malley - Gaelic Warrior Princess
=== Blackrock Castle - a poem by Roxie Fischer
=== Gaelic Phrases of the Month
=== Shamrock Site of the Month: irishsurnames.com
=== Monthly free competition result
Many thanks to all those who entered our recent
competition to win 1 of 5 copies of Pat
Watson's book 'Original Irish Stories' which has
60 of his 'lyrical yarns'. The winners were:
Stephen Lynch of Puxico, Missouri, USA
Bud Dennis of Bowling Green, Ohio, USA
Henry Ennis of Moctezuma 664, ARGENTINA
Roger Ferguson of Tempe, AZ, USA
Pam Scanlon-Hutton of Homewood, IL USA
The new house-swap service will go live early in
the new year. I guess the idea of cutbacks and
recession make this service an even more relevant
idea - will keep you posted!
Such was the popularity of our last competition
that we are running another! Enter your name to
win 1 of 5 traditional Irish music CDs. This
competition will be available for the next 3 days
only and only to those readers who enter their
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
PRESSURE EASES ON IRISH GOVERNMENT
The huge pressure that had been building on the
coalition government following their poor handling
of the recent budget seems to be dissipating.
The ruling Fianna Fail party are in coalition with
the Green Party and a number of independents. The
recent budget announcements were met with fury by
opposition parties and the public alike. Street
protests were followed by media condemnation of the
performance of the government which scrambled to
contain the damage before finally getting its
act together to diffuse the crisis.
Despite repeated attempts by Fine Gael and Labour
to drive a wedge between Fianna Fail and the Green
Party the coalition looks safe for the time being.
Recent opinion polls have shown that Fine Gael now
have a 34% to 30% lead over Fianna Fail, which
indicates that if there were an election tomorrow
then there would almost certainly be a change of
government. Perhaps this is not too surprising.
The economy is already in a serious downturn and
looks to be getting worse. It is typical that the
ruling government party would be unpopular in
Nevertheless the immediacy of their unpopularity
must be a cause of great concern for Taoiseach
Brain Cowen, who is now presiding over the biggest
economic downturn in nearly two decades and this
hot on the heels of his failure to 'deliver' a
favourable Lisbon Treaty vote to the European
Adjustments to the budget have been hurriedly
announced including a new 3% tax on people earning
over 250,000 Euro annually - a move that is sure
to be popular with lower earners! The propaganda
war being waged by teachers who are railing
against the 'cutbacks' in the education service
seems to be swinging the governments way also.
They have repeatedly pointed out that the
reversal in the trend of reducing class sizes
puts class sizes at 2006 levels - hardly a major
u-turn. By releasing details of the amount of sick
leave taken annually by teachers it is clear that
the government hopes to swing support away from
the teachers, with pay and conditions in the
public service currently under the microscope.
Cutbacks in the health service (or more correctly,
the non-commencement of previously announced
schemes) have proven much more unpopular and
difficult for the government to manage.
While it is widely appreciated that cutbacks and
increased taxes are inevitable in the current
economic climate, nobody wants the cutbacks or
tax rises to affect them. The future of the current
government depends largely on their ability to
communicate their message and to create a
consensus opinion among the Irish public regarding
the economy. Much to do.
IRISH ECONOMY STILL UNDER PRESSURE
Despite the recent cuts in interest rates
announced by the European Central bank the Irish
economy in general and the housing market in
particular are still heading into the doldrums.
The decline in property prices across the country
seems to have bottomed out with some areas and
markets actually showing increases. There is still
a big overhang of unsold and unrented properties
however so it is unlikely that any overall
improvement will be possible until the end of 2009
at the earliest.
Inflation in the eurozone as well as in Ireland
is decreasing rapidly as fuel and mortgage costs
plummet. The underwriting of deposits held by
Irish banks resulted in a some much needed
stability in the sector although it seems likely
that some banks may yet have to merge. The clamor
of calls for the government to recapitalize the
banks so they can start lending again have so far
been resisted by the Minister for Finance, Brian
Lenihan. Unemployment is definitely on the rise
with no sign of any exodus of foreign workers from
the country, although it is clear that emigration
to places such as Australia is on the increase.
All of which points towards a very difficult year
ahead for the Irish economy. The perfect storm of
falling property price, a worldwide recession and
the currency crisis is plenty to severely damage
any economy, never mind the tiny economy of a
country like Ireland on the fringe of Europe. The
ability of Ireland to continue to attract foreign
direct investment as well as a willingness to
improve competitiveness (wage-control!) will be
crucial to the performance of the country during
this economic storm.
IRISH DEFENCE FORCES WITH UN FOR 50 YEARS
2008 has marked the fiftieth anniversary of the
involvement of Irish peacekeepers with United
Nations peacekeeping missions. Irish President
Mary McAleese inspected soldiers at Cathal Brugha
Barracks and noted in her remarks that Irish
soldiers were originally deployed to the
Lebanon as long ago as 1958. They have been
stationed there from 1978 to the present day
with over 30,000 Irish soldiers serving have
served in that country.
The recent focus of Irish peacekeepers has been
in the African country of Chad. Other missions
have included the Congo in 1960, Cyprus in 1964,
the Iran-Iraq border in 1991, Somalia in 2001
and Liberia in 2003. 86 Irish soldiers have
died while on UN peacekeeping duty. On a per
capita basis Ireland has volunteered more
peacekeepers to UN missions than any other
ANTI-LISBON GROUP MAY CONTEST EUROPEAN ELECTIONS
The Libertas organisation that was set up by
business-man Declan Ganley looks set to contest
the upcoming European elections. The poll is due
to be held in June of 2009 and it seems likely
that the man who spear-headed the anti-Lisbon
campaign will himself stand for office with the
possible creation of a new political party along
the way. It has also been speculated that the new
party may contest 2 of the other 3 European
parliament seats that are put to the electorate.
It has been estimated that Libertas spent over
1 M-illion Euro on their ultimately successful
anti-Lisbon campaign. The Standards in Public
Office Commission wants to know how they were
funded and are demanding documented proof.
Libertas are claiming that their organisation is
now firmly in the firing line of the Irish and EU
authorities because of their anti-Lisbon stance.
IRELAND TO HOST TOP SCIENCE EVENT IN 2012
Ireland has been chosen as the European City of
Science for 2012. Up to 8000 delegates will attend
the Euroscience forum where it is expected that up
to 50,000 scientists, researchers and
business-people will attend. The decision to award
the event to Ireland is being seen as recognition
of the great advances that have taken place in the
country over the last 2 decades, especially in the
fields of bio-technology and pharmaceuticals.
Voice your opinion on these news issues here:
NEW FREE RESOURCES AT THE SITE
IRISH HOLIDAY AND TOURIST BOARD
Post a question about holidaying in Ireland
and we guarantee an answer will be posted on
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:
A: Alexander, McAlinden
P: Parrish, Patten
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:
BRIDIE KEARNS' FIRST JOB
by Josephine Doherty McTague
In 1933 at the age of 14, Bridie Kearns got her
first paying job in the town of Balla, in
County Mayo, Ireland. It was early summer and
the McEllin's daughter, Mrs. O'Grady was home
from County Clare with her husband and their
three young children. They were in great need of
a nanny. The McEllin Family owned the largest
shop in town. It was a one-stop shopping store
in those days and you could buy all your
necessities under one roof. The McEllin's were
the 'big shots' in the town. They were the upper
crust of the Balla society, the high and mighty
city folk who wanted a simple country girl to
take care of their grandkids.
Well, young Bridie got the position but the
McEllin's and O'Grady's got much more. Bridie,
being the oldest daughter and the second oldest
of the 13 Kearns kids had a wide array of skills.
She could sew, knit, clean, cook, bake, organize
activities and take great care of these new
children. Her job was to mind these children
twenty four hours a day seven days a week.
Bridie proved to be an excellent nanny. That
being said, she never forgot her mother and
father and her siblings back up at Fargureens.
At every chance, she would squirrel away an orange
or an apple at mealtime to pass on to her brothers
or sisters as they came into town. If she didn't
see them coming in the Balla Road, they would
toss a pebble up to her bedroom window at the
McEllin Residence. Bridie would come to the window
and drop down the fruit and some pennies which
were received with great delight. A penny went far
in those days. It got the lucky recipient a
handful of sweets at the nearby store.
Bridie was away from her home but was always
thinking of her mom and finding ways to help. On
her spare time, she started knitting for her
mother. Underclothes, socks and long johns were
all knitted in those days. Ouch! Well, soon after
getting the job Bridie's boss discovered her
knitting talents. They supplied her with wool and
requested her to knit outfits for the children
under her care, thus putting a stop to her
family's needs. Bridie as I said before had many
skills and 'slight of hand' was one of her secret
talents. Unbeknownst to the McEllin's, Bridie kept
knitting for her own family. When in the eye of
the McEllin's or the O'Grady's, she would knit for
them but as soon as she was out of their
scrutinizing view, she would retrieve her own
knitting project from under the mattress of the
baby pram and resume knitting.
(Ah, what a trooper!)
At the end of the summer Bridie was so well liked
that the O'Grady family asked her to return with
them to County Clare and continue her duty as the
nanny. Bridie sadly accepted. Having a job and
being able to help support her family was of
utmost importance. Bridie had to leave the
familiar surroundings of Balla, Mayo and move to
Clare. Although miles away, Bridie sent her meager
salary home to her mother each week in the mail.
Bridie knew so well that her parents had many a
mouth to feed and that they all were depending on
her to help. Fortunately for Bridie, the O'Grady
Family returned to Balla each Christmas and spent
the summers there as well. Bridie worked for this
family for three years and during that time was
able to visit with her family on their trips to
Bridie enjoyed her job as nanny. But as we know
life has many bumps and turns. Bridie had to move
on. She kept in touch with the O'Grady's for many
years. Bridie Kearns' next position would lead her
across the Atlantic to New York.......
but that is another story to tell.
This story was told to me by my mother,
Bridie Kearns Doherty many years ago.
October 9, 2007
We had a great response to our article about
house-swapping which you can view in a
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:
GRACE O'MALLEY - GAELIC WARRIOR PRINCESS
Ireland's contribution to female heroines includes
the 16th-century Grainne Ni Mhaille who was known
as the 'Queen of the Irish Seas'.
She was called Mhaol (meaning 'cropped hair'),
but was called Grace O'Malley by the English.
Born in the Province of Connaught, Grainne
married and had three children before she
commenced her famous career on the high seas,
marshaling three pirate ships and up to 200 men
as she opposed the English attempts to remove her.
Her husband was an O'Flaherty who was executed by
Queen Elizabeth's colonists who attempted to
completely subjugate the Irish way of life. In
1556 she married again, this time to Iron Richard
Burke and had a son named Tibbot. Captured
and jailed for two years she returned to her
homeland in Connaught to continue her defiance.
In 1558 Elizabeth I pardoned her in an attempt to
bring peace to the region but this attempt failed
as the local English administrators continued to
goad the woman who had been a thorn in their side
for years. They even interned her son and brother
despite Elizabeth I instructing that they be
Fighting was her only means of survival and this
she did until the Irish defeat at the Battle of
Kinsale in 1601 checked her dominance. She died in
1603 and has since been, to a large degree,
overlooked as a genuine heroine of Irish history.
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
BLACKROCK CASTLE - a poem by Roxie Fischer
I was inspired to write this poem after
meeting an archaeologist who told me what
he uncovered at Blackrock Castle in Cork.
For David Antony - 'The Dream Weaver'
"My son watch as far as the sun rises for one day
this will belong to thee
My son watch as the sun sets blazing orange in
the emerald green sea
For one day I shall leave and you will reign over
the Kingdom of Blackrock
with all of her secrets and dark beauty
You must hold your ground and be ready
to defend her to the death bravely
When the time comes your mother and I
shall barter a bride
and you and your princess will be nobility
As it is only your happiness and position in life
that matter to me
You must keep the serfs and slaves lean and
bending at the knee
As a hungry man is a willing mule
and less likely to flee
Make them work hard
and pay homage and their tax fee
Keep their lives simple
do not give in to their selfish plea
Rule with a strong hand
and keep the peasants loyal it is for your safety
Remember my son your station in life is above them
do not grant charity."
These were the last words spoken to the boy child
as the king was struck down by the peasantry
Father and son perished at Blackrock Castle
Christened in the moat
condemned by their affluence and hypocrisy
For five hundred years they slumbered
anchored in time, air, and sand
emerging from their chrysalis into history
That is how the archaeologist found them
shrouded deep in hardened clay
with the arrow head once aimed precisely
With gentle hands he makes love to the hard sand
as if he is caressing his lover's breast gently
He weaves father and son's dreams paying homage
to their lives and memory
As they are released from their
once water-filled grave
their redeemed spirits soar
on their mystic journey
The Dream Weaver meditated and gave honor to the
owner of the arrow head
that left it's mark so deadly
The courageous peasant did not kill
out of spite madness or jealousy
He was content with his lot in life
but sickness had consumed his wife and children
leaving his soul raw and empty
He was driven by his grief, rage, hunger,
his humanness, and the bitter taste of poverty
Cloaked in an armor of rags the peasant archer
raised his arrow and delivered his unforgiving
absolution with swiftness and secrecy
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
PHRASE: An mor ata air?
PRONOUNCED: on moor ah-taw err
MEANING: What price is this?
PHRASE: Ceannoid me e
PRONOUNCED: kyann-owid may a
('a' as in USA)
MEANING: I will buy it
PHRASE: An dtogann tu cartai credit?
PRONOUNCED: on dowg-inn two kartee kredit
MEANING: Do you accept credit cards?
View the archive of phrases here:
SHAMROCK SITE OF THE MONTH: IRISHSURNAMES.COM
Find the family crest for your name of Irish
origin. Over 1000 listed - free to view and print.
Great for using in school reports, as desktop
backgrounds, for general research or fun!
NOVEMBER 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 time,
The Information about Ireland Site.
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