IN THIS ISSUE
~~~ Keep us Free!
~~~ New Free resources at the site
~~~ News Snaps from Ireland
~~~ Irish Halloween Traditions
~~~ The Meeting of the Messages by Clara Byrne
~~~ Irish Movie Review: Far & Away by Dawn Hayden
~~~ How to solve your Christmas Shopping Problem
~~~ Irish Quotations of the Month
~~~ Gaelic Phrases of the Month
~~~ Shamrock Site of the Month: Ballykissangel
~~~ Monthly free competition result
I hope that this newsletter finds you all safe
and well. I want to thank you all for your kind
comments about last month's newsletter. We have
posted many of them in the Newsletter Forum and
have also included some poems that readers have
sent in. Many thanks.
This month we have included our article about
Irish Halloween Traditions. Just in time too as
Dublin is already showing signs of the impending
event with 'bangers' and fireworks going off
nightly and stockpiles of wood and junk being
collected for the annual bonfires.
We also have a true tale from Clara Burke Byrne
that just goes to show that emails, faxes and
telephones are not the only ways to communicate.
That's all for now, so.....
Until cold November is upon us,
and the nights are showing black,
'till hot whiskey needs to be taken,
and pints too, mostly black,
'till All Hallow tide has passed,
Concannon to be had no more,
I'll await our next encounter,
with my good tidings to the fore
Best Wishes from Ireland,
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Irish Pound Cake
NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
IRA MAY DECOMMISSION ARMS VERY SHORTLY
The IRA leadership may be on the brink of an
historic decision to put some of its weapons
beyond use. The Ulster Unionist leader, David
Thrimble has withdrawn his Ministers from the
Northern Ireland Executive but has stated that
in the event of substantial decommissioning of
weapons that this decision could be reversed.
He has indicated that any such gesture would
dramatically change the political landscape
in Northern Ireland.
It is thought that a major part of any such
development would see the removal of British
Government security towers in various parts of
Ulster and especially in Republican strongholds
such as South Armagh.
The Northern Secretary has announced that the
RUC will become the Police Service of
Northern Ireland from Sunday, November 4th.
HUGE THREAT TO THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT
The British Government has been accused of using
the media saturation of the coverage of the fight
against terrorism to hide the latest announcement
regarding Sellafield, its nuclear power plant
located in Wales.
Situated just a half an hour from the Irish
coastline the Irish Government has for long sought
to have the plant closed as it represents the
single greatest threat to the Irish Environment
and is a very real target for Terrorists.
Irish Leader Bertie Ahearn has now stated that it
is Ireland's intention to take the British
Government to court, starting with the European
Union court and most likely ending up in the
United Nations, in an effort to shut down the
AER LINGUS IN DESPERATE TROUBLE
State Airline Aer Lingus is losing over IR£2M a
day and has slashed the cost of its air fares. The
Irish Government is seeking permission from the
European Union to allow it to provide funding to
the troubled state-owned body.
It seems likely that permission will be given by
the EU once the viability of the airline can be
demonstrated. Already a major cost cutting
programme is under way with up to 2,300 jobs
expected to go. Staff Unions are insisting that
favourable redundancy terms be provided for their
members and are likely to strike if they do not
get what they want.
There is a very real possibility of the Airline
going bankrupt if the current precarious situation
is not handled carefully.
Closely watching events at Aer Lingus are the
managers of the budget Irish airline Ryanair.
They have already instigated legal proceedings
against the Belgian Government who have provided
funding to bail out their own national airline,
Ryanair are claiming that the money provided will
be used to try to force Ryanair out of the Belgian
market and that this is contrary to EU law.
ANTHRAX HOAXES EXPOSE IRELAND'S LACK OF PREPARATION
The spate of Anthrax hoaxes that are sweeping
major cities worldwide have not escaped Dublin
where children in a school had to be evacuated and
given antibiotics while a suspect package is
tested for the deadly disease.
The Government has reacted by ordering medical
supplies to treat Anthrax as well as Smallpox. A
Government information pack is to be sent to every
household in the country to advise citizens of the
correct action in the event of a biological or
500 MORE GARDAI TO BE MADE AVAILABLE
It has long been accepted that far too many Gardai
are engaged in clerical duties that prevent them
from patrolling the streets and preventing crime.
Consequently the Government has announced that 500
civilian workers are to be introduced into the
system to replace the desk-bound law officials and
allow them to be reassigned to the sort of work
for which they were recruited.
RTE FACING JOB LOSSES
The state-owned television company, RTE, has seen
an advertising shortfall of over IR£10M for the
year. It had expected a shortfall of IR£7M but the
recent terrorist attacks and the subsequent global
economic slowdown have further reduced advertising
IRISH SOCCER TEAM UP TO 20TH PLACE IN THE WORLD
Following on from Ireland's excellent performance
in finishing second in their World Cup qualifying
group, the latest FIFA rankings have seen Mick
McCarthy's team rise one place on the list of the
top 20 soccer nations.
Qualification for the World Cup finals in Japan
and Korea in 2002 depends on the performance of
the Irish team over two matches against an Asian
qualifier, likely to be either Saudi Arabia or
FIFA has not yet decreed whether the Irish team
will be forced to travel into the Middle East
region to play the second match or if both
matches will take place in a neutral venue,
likely to be Cyprus, Malta or Italy.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON FINISHES SECOND, AGAIN!
Seven times this season Padraig Harrington has
finished runner-up in a major golfing tournament
and he is less than happy with his latest
Having made a tournament record 61 to lead Ian
Woosnam by two strokes in the final of the Cisco
World Matchplay Trophy he allowed the canny
Welshman to overhaul him to win by three shots
and claim his first European tour win in over
The STG£120,000 runner-up prize should be some
compensation for Harrington.
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IRISH HALLOWEEN TRADITIONS
The Celts celebrated Halloween as Samhain, 'All
Hallowtide' - the 'Feast of the Dead', when the
dead revisited the mortal world. The celebration
marked the end of Summer and the start of the
During the eighth century the Catholic Church
designated the first day of November as 'All
Saints Day' ('All Hallows') - a day of
commemoration for those Saints that did not have
a specific day of remembrance. The night before
was known as 'All Hallows Eve' which, over time,
became known as Halloween.
Here are the most notable Irish Halloween
Colcannon for Dinner: Boiled Potato, Curly Kale
(a cabbage) and raw Onions are provided as the
traditional Irish Halloween dinner. Clean coins
are wrapped in baking paper and placed in the
potato for children to find and keep.
The Barnbrack Cake: The traditional Halloween
cake in Ireland is the barnbrack which is a
fruit bread. Each member of the family gets a
slice. Great interest is taken in the outcome as
there is a piece of rag, a coin and a ring in
each cake. If you get the rag then your financial
future is doubtful. If you get the coin then you
can look forward to a prosperous year. Getting
the ring is a sure sign of impending romance
or continued happiness.
The Ivy Leaf: Each member of the family places a
perfect ivy leaf into a cup of water and it is
then left undisturbed overnight. If, in the
morning, a leaf is still perfect and has not
developed any spots then the person who placed the
leaf in the cup can be sure of 12 months health
until the following Halloween. If not.....
The Pumpkin: Carving Pumpkins dates back to the
eighteenth century and to an Irish blacksmith
named Jack who colluded with the Devil and was
denied entry to Heaven. He was condemned to
wander the earth but asked the Devil for some
light. He was given a burning coal ember which he
placed inside a turnip that he had gouged out.
Thus, the tradition of Jack O'Lanterns was born
- the bearer being the wandering blacksmith - a
damned soul. Villagers in Ireland hoped that the
lantern in their window would keep the wanderer
away. When the Irish emigrated in their millions
to America there was not a great supply of turnips
so pumpkins were used instead.
Halloween Costumes: On Halloween night children
would dress up in scary costumes and go house to
house. 'Help the Halloween Party' and 'Trick or
Treat' were the cries to be heard at each door.
This tradition of wearing costumes also dates back
to Celtic times. On the special night when the
living and the dead were at their closest the
Celtic Druids would dress up in elaborate costumes
to disguise themselves as spirits and devils in
case they encountered other devils and spirits
during the night. By disguising they hoped that
they would be able to avoid being carried away at
the end of the night. This explains why witches,
goblins and ghosts remain the most popular
choices for the costumes.
Snap Apple: After the visits to the neighbours the
Halloween games begin, the most popular of which
is Snap Apple. An apple is suspended from a string
and children are blindfolded. The first child to
get a decent bite of the apple gets to keep their
prize. The same game can be played by placing
apples in a basin of water and trying to get a
grip on the apple without too much mess!
The Bonfire: The Halloween bonfire is a tradition
to encourage dreams of who your future husband or
wife is going to be. The idea was to drop a
cutting of your hair into the burning embers and
then dream of you future loved one. Halloween was
one of the Celt 'fire' celebrations.
Blind Date: Blindfolded local girls would go out
into the fields and pull up the first cabbage they
could find. If their cabbage had a substantial
amount of earth attached to the roots then their
future loved one would have money. Eating the
cabbage would reveal the nature of their future
husband - bitter or sweet!
Another way of finding your future spouse is to
peel an apple in one go. If done successfully the
single apple peel could be dropped on the floor
to reveal the initials of the future-intended.
Anti-Fairy Measures: Fairies and goblins try to
collect as many souls as they can at Halloween but
if they met a person who threw the dust from under
their feet at the Fairy then they would be obliged
to release any souls that they held captive.
Holy water was sometimes anointed on farm animals
to keep them safe during the night. If the animals
were showing signs of ill health on All Hallows
Eve then they would be spat on to try to ward off
any evil spirits.
Happy Halloween from Ireland!
The Meeting of the Messages by Clara Burke Byrne
Criostoir Kenneally and his girlfriend were taking
a walk along the Cunnigar on March 16, 1997 when
they spied a dark glass bottle lying on the beach.
They picked it up and carried it back to the home
of Criostoir's patents, Maurice and Anne, in An
Rinn (Ring) and proceeded to carefully open it
and retrieve the contents. Inside the bottle was
a note written on a piece of cloth - the writer
of the note was a resident of St. John's,
An Rinn (Ring) is a small village in County
Waterford on the southeast coast of Ireland. The
Kenneally house overlooks the Bay of Dungarvan
and the Cunnigar, a two kilometre long stretch of
beach which juts out into the bay like a pointed
finger. The Cunnigar is a beautiful area and Anne
Kenneally remembers when folks flocked there to
picnic on Sunday afternoons. At low tide people
often stroll along this stretch and this is where
Criostoir Kenneally and his girlfriend found the
bottle with the message.
My discovery of this bottle and its contents took
a circuitous route as I had never met the
Kenneally family until 1997. My connection to this
family was also through a message of sorts but one
which took a more modern route to An Rinn than the
bottle which floated to shore from the cold
Technology and a bottle met head-on in Dungarvan
in March, 1997 as an email message from St. John's
and a handwritten message in a bottle written by a
resident of the same Newfoundland city arrived at
the same time in a small town on the Irish coast,
a town which many of our ancestors probably
My role in this saga had begun about three years
prior to my visit to Ireland when I returned to
Memorial University to pursue studies in folklore
and decided to write my Master of Arts thesis on
Irish Customs in Newfoundland.
During this period I was introduced to a young
Irish woman, Deirdre Nuttall, who was in
Newfoundland doing research. Following her return
to Dublin we kept in touch and she suggested that,
as part of my thesis research, I write an article
suitable for publication which outlined my Irish
ancestry and described my interest in customs and
traditions associated with St. Patrick's Day.
I emailed the article to Deridre which she in turn
submitted to several Irish newspapers. I was
looking for information on St. Patrick's Day
traditions in Ireland, but especially in Dungarvan,
County Waterford from where my ancestors had
emigrated in the mid 1700s. The only response that
I received came from Anne Kenneally of An Rinn who
had read my article in the local newspaper, The
Dungarvan Observer, on March 16, 1997 (note the
Shortly thereafter she wrote me a letter telling
me about life in that part of the world and how
her own interest in emigration spurred her to
write to an unknown woman on the other side of
Anne Kenneally and I continued to correspond and
in June, 1997 I visited Ireland for the first
time. After visiting Dublin and Galway I headed
for Dungarvan, County Waterford, the home of my
ancestors. As a child I had played amongst old
tombstones in an abandoned cemetery in Tilting,
Fogo Island. On one of these headstones was
engraved information about Thomas Burke of
Dungarvan, County Waterford who had come to this
new land about two hundred years before I was
born. Somehow I felt that my visit there was
really a return to my homeland and this feeling
was reinforced when I met my penpal shortly after
my arrival in her part of the world. She
immediately made me feel at home and ensured that
my visit was really a fulfillment of my dreams.
My new found friend worked in Dungarvan but lived
in An Rinn (Ring), one of the few Irish speaking
communities in Ireland, and which is located about
five kilometres outside of Dungarvan. Anne arranged
for a Bed and Breakfast in her village and she was
my host for the next few days as she introduced me
to the beauty of the Irish countryside.
We visited many places of interest and beauty and
I was a guest in her home for dinner one evening
when she brought forth a large sand and moss
encrusted bottle and proceeded to tell me the
story of how it came to be sitting on a shelf in
She told me that her son, Criostoir, had found it
on the beach near their house. Alas I did not have
time to talk to him regarding the details of his
discovery. I knew I would eventually return to
this land and when I did go back in September,
2000 I did not leave without the story of how a
bottle with a Newfoundland connection ended up in
a home in County Waterford where I would be
welcomed as a friend.
Criostoir Kenneally, the only son of Maurice and
Anne Kenneally is in his late twenties and has
spent most of his life in and around An Rinn
(the Irish name for Ring as it is called in
English). Criostoir has been involved in the
fishery in the area and knows the coasts and the
waters of the area like the palm of his hand. An
easterly wind was blowing on March 17, 1997 when
Criostoir and his girlfriend decided to go for a
walk at low tide. March in the southeast of
Ireland is not quite as chilly as Newfoundland at
this time of year (palm trees even grow in the
area) so walking on the Cunnigar was a great way
to spend an afternoon.
They were strolling along the beach when Criostoir
spotted a fairly large black object on the beach.
Having walked the Cunnigar hundreds of times he
realized that it was not a rock or other familiar
debris that he was seeing. When he reached the
spot where he spotted the object he bent to more
closely inspect it and realized that it was a
bottle. The bottle was sealed with a piece of
cloth tightly wrapped around the neck and this was
completely enclosed with black tape.
As Criostoir told me when we spoke last August,
'the bottle was as dry as a bone'.
Not wanting to risk damaging their exciting find
they decided to take it back intact to the home of
Anne and Maurice Kenneally, where Criostoir
resided with his parents. The bottle was very dark
in colour and they were unable to see if it held
anything but believed that there was something
enclosed because of the careful way in which it
appeared to have been sealed.
On arriving home Criostoir began to carefully
break the seal. Inside was a piece of white cloth
on which was written a message. The words had been
inscribed with what looks like a black marker or
felt pen and were undamaged in spite of having
spent almost seven years bobbing around in the
The message read:
Dec. 5 - 1990
33 Outer Battery
Canada - A1A 1A7
450 N.M. SE of NFLD
The bottle appeared on the Cunnigar on March 16,
1990, the same day my article appeared in the
Dungarvan Observer. A true meeting of messages from
Newfoundland - what a coincidence!
Criostoir wrote to Mr. Pretty and informed him of
his find. Mr. Pretty replied and told him that the
message had been dropped from a ship on which he
was a crew member. I was interested in the story
of the message in the bottle and contacted Mr.
Pretty at his home. He told me that he was a member
of the crew of the Cable Ship, John Cabot, when he
tossed the bottle overboard. They had been laying
cable but at the time when he threw the bottle
they were 'just steaming'.
I was, and continue to be, intrigued by the many
factors which played themselves out and found me
sitting in the Irish cottage of a new found
penpal friend and reading a message from a fellow
Newfoundlander. Two very different messages
utilizing two very different means of
communication had come together on the southeast
coast of Ireland, a day before St. Patrick's Day
Was it mere coincidence or the 'luck o' the Irish'
that brought me to that place and time?
I think perhaps a little of both!
Clara Burke Byrne
IRISH MOVIE REVIEW: FAR AND AWAY by Dawn Hayden
Far and Away is a Ron Howard directed tale of two
Irish emigrants with very different backgrounds.
Joseph Donnelly is the son of a poor tenant farmer
who has ambitions of owning his own farm. Spurred
on by the death of his father, he initially seeks
revenge on the landlord who he blames for his
father's demise before setting out on his long
Of course, the best laid plans are mere fodder
for the fates and he ends up being rescued by
Shannon, the daughter of the landlord, with whom
he absconds to the new world. Upon arriving in
America, the couple encounter more misfortune and
lose the few valuables they have. Joseph resorts
to prizefighting whilst Shannon works in a
Fortune does not favour the brave pair and having
been evicted from their meagre dwellings by a
Taminy Hall Irish politician wannabe they break
into a private house to try to get food and
shelter. Shannon is shot during the break-in and
she is returned to her family who have followed
her to America.
Joseph initially abandons his desire to become a
landowner but soon regains his enthusiasm and
takes part in the great Oklahoma land rush where
the fastest and the fittest are promised a prime
piece of real estate - if only they can stake
their claim. Shannon and her family are their
too as well as her suitor of old, who was in
actual fact responsible for many of Joseph's
woes to being with.
Will Joseph get the land he wants? Will the
love-hate romance blossom into anything more
than contempt? Rent it and see!
Starring Tom Cruise as Joseph and Nicole Kidman as
Shannon, the cast is augmented by Robert Prosky as
the landlord and Colm Meaney as the Taminy Hall
crook. This film is great family fun. It is an
adventure that seeks to show the hopes and dreams
of emigrants but in a very gentle way. This is not
a gritty realistic exploration of the coffin ships
that ferried the Irish poor in their thousands
across the Atlantic, but is rather and unlikely
adventure that unites the two different emigrants
in their common struggle: to make a new life in
the new world.
Far and Away is not without humour and, once you
do not try to take it in any way seriously, is
HOW TO SOLVE YOUR CHRISTMAS SHOPPING PROBLEM
A little early to be thinking about Christmas
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IRISH QUOTATIONS OF THE MONTH
I brought up my children to read and write, and
there never were children with cleverer heads for
their books. But there was no place for them in
Ireland, and they have all gone to America but
one, and soon he too will be gone
Peig Sayers, 1873-1958, The Western Island, 1944
No longer shall our children, like our cattle,
be brought up for export
Eamon deValera, speech in Dail Eireann, 1934
I've said and written a lot about emigration. But
maybe soon I'll be writing the Flight of the Earls
in reverse - about everyone coming back home again
Liam Reilly, in the Irish Post, 23 August 1997
GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
PHRASE: An feidir liom cabhru leat?
PRONOUNCED: On fay/dur lum kav/roo lath?
MEANING: May I help you?
PHRASE: Cad is ainm duit, le do thoil?
PRONOUNCED: Cod is ann/um dwit, leh duh hull?
MEANING: What is your name please?
PHRASE: Cen seoladh atá agat, le do thoil ?
PRONOUNCED: Kane show/lah ah/taw ah/gut, leh duh hull?
MEANING: What is your address please?
View the archive of phrases here:
SHAMROCK SITE OF THE MONTH
The Ballykissangel Site
Everything you wanted to know about the famous TV
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