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Welcome to the Irish Culture & Customs newsletter which is published every week and sent out to just about 3,000 readers all over the world. You are receiving this newsletter because you signed up for it - God Bless you! If you'd like to read past issues, they are archived at: http://www.ymlp.com/pubarchive.php?Herself
If, for any reason, you wish to unsubscribe, instructions are at the end - but we do hope you'll stay with us.
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Nollaig Shona and Blessings to all,

'Tis the day before Christmas and all through the mall the loudspeakers are blaring spend it all, spend it all. Well, let's hope that's not where you are. Instead, we'd like to think that you're safe at home, cup of tea or a pint in hand and spending a wee bit of R & R with us; all the shopping finished, all the presents wrapped and everyone looking forward to a happy Christmas Day. God willing, may it be so.

In the meantime, a warm welcome back to all of you and a special hello to all of our new subscribers. If this is your first edition, we hope you enjoy the read - and please feel free to forward it to your family and friends.

We also hope this issue finds you and yours in good health, good spirits and good company. As for ourselves, it's been a very festive week, beginning with our Black Swap party last Sunday which was the usual hoot - totally useless presents well worthy of a Grot Shop!

The week ended with Bridget taking our daughter and granddaughter to the Nutcracker. Caity just turned seven which is the perfect age to enjoy what was once a Haggerty tradition in our house until the kids outgrew it - much to Bridget's regret who has never outgrown anything except clothes! She's particularly upset that our Christmas weather will be more wet than white - however, it will make it safer for family and friends coming to our house for dinner - which is a good thing.

Enough of the blither and blather - on with the update:

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SPONSOR
Help keep our newsletter coming. Please visit our good friends at the Celtic Attic:
May all your wishes come true this Holiday Season and for the New Year! With your help we were also able to donate quite a tidy sum to the Katrina Hurricane Victims, Homeless shelters, Food Co-ops, Local and National Charities, Military personnel serving in Iraq, Several Local Military families, 3 children chosen at random received everything on their Christmas Wish List and last but, not least 2 Celtic Attic shoppers received gift baskets for the Holiday Season. Thanks again, you are all awesome and we send hugs and kisses for a Grand New Year! We also invite you to Kick off 2006 with savings. Our after-Christmas sale starts on December 27th . Please click:
http://www.celticattic.com/main.htm
http://www.celticattic.com/treasures/christmas_all_year_long.htm

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IN THIS ISSUE:
News
From the Mailbag
Links of the Week
Quips, quotes, proverbs & toasts
Joke of The Week
Did You Know
The Week That Was & The Week that Will be, God Willing
Leave 'Em Laughing
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NEWS:
GENERAL
Special North Pole Post Office Branch as popular as ever
This past week, cards from the North Pole for about 200,000 children began dropping through letterboxes all over Ireland. The special branch operated by An Post is as popular as ever, with children sending wish-lists to Santa, despite the fact that the company doesn't advertise or promote the free service.

Ryanair Not To Be So Cheap In The Long Run?
There are plans afoot to charge passengers extra to check in luggage and it is likely to happen in 2006. Meanwhile Flyby is also going to be charging for luggage and they already have a figure in mind - £4. So don't forget to factor that into the flight costs, along with airport taxes, local taxes, etc, etc.

Pearse Items Donated To Museum
Pádraig Pearse's chequebook and a number of his cashed cheques are part of some significant memorabilia donated to the National Museum of Ireland. The items will form part of a major exhibition at the Museum of Decorative Arts and History, Collins Barracks, to mark the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Rising next year.

Made a little too much merry? Toast to the cure!
According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, a "morning-after" breakfast of toast with honey or golden syrup is the little-known but ideal way to combat a hangover.

FROM AROUND THE COUNTIES:
Antrim: Bushmill's pours it on - again. Sláinte!
The 120 employees of Bushmills Distillery are getting a helping hand again this festive season as the firm pays out its famous 'Christmas bonus' of up to £600,000. Each staff member enjoys up to £5,000 every Yuletide and although the company changed hands during the summer, the bumper bonus will continue.

Armagh: Historic cottage becomes Christmas wonderland
Dan Winter's Cottage in Loughall, where the decision was taken to form the Orange Order in 1795, has become a winter wonderland to raise money for charity. The money received from visitors to Santa's Grotto and the life-size nativity scene will go to the Meningitis Research Foundation.

Carlow: Not one but fifty partridges
Tullow Sport and Gaming Club have released into the wild fifty red-legged partridges, a species that has almost disappeared in Ireland except for some areas of the Midlands. The club is also intending to plant seeds in the area to ensure the birds' survival through appropriate feeding, so that they will be able to breed in the coming year. The distribution of partridges has been affected by intensive farming but club members now hope they can reverse the decline in numbers. If this year's project is successful they hope next year to release a similar number of grey partridge.

Cork: Operation concrete beam in Cork last week
The largest concrete beams ever to be lifted in this country were put into position on a new flyover in Cork last week. The twenty beams, each weighing one hundred tonnes, were brought from Co. Offaly to the Kinsale roundabout in Cork city on Tuesday where they were placed on the centre island.

Dublin: Local group wins fight for tower
The Rally Round the Tower group, comprising residents of Clondalkin, have won their fight to preserve the Clondalkin Round Tower, one of the oldest in the country. The land on which the tower stands is owned by developer Rory Burgess and he had applied for permission to build six apartments and a bar on the adjacent site. However the planning application has now been rejected by An Bord Pleanála, who have opened the way for the land to the rear of the tower to be purchased by South Dublin County Council.

Fermanagh: Mummers unite
The Aughakillymaude Mummers have forged links with a group of mummers from Bulgaria and the two will perform for Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the Bulgarian president, Georgi Parvonov in Dublin in the coming week. Last weekend the two sets of mummers were joined by others from Donegal and Down and they entertained shoppers in the Diamond area of Enniskillen.

Galway: Mass in two places marks church's reopening
When St Augustine's Church in Galway City reopens this Sunday after its major refurbishment, Mass will be celebrated in two places. Father Dick Lyng will begin Mass in St Nicholas' Collegiate Church, where the Rev. Patrick Towers will give the homily. The clergy and congregation will then walk in procession to St Augustine's via Market Street, Mainguard Street and Buttermilk Lane, and Mass will continue at the church on Middle Street.

Kildare: From convent to hotel in Athy
The former Convent of Mercy in Athy is to reopen as a hotel early in March of next year as part of the Carlton Hotel Group. The new facility will have forty bedrooms, with fourteen family suites in the grounds of the convent, and is expected to cost in the region of €10m.

Limerick: Old Flying Boat to be replicated
The Foynes Flying Boat Museum will have the only flying boat in existence, made possible by a government grant of €50,000. No flying boats were preserved by Boeing but the museum has the manuals and construction drawings to enable a full-scale model to be built which will be located on water at the port.

Louth: First stop for FAI Cup
When Vincent Hoey decided to bring the newly acquired FAI Cup to everyone in Drogheda, his first port of call was to the home of Tom Munster. The ninety-one-year-old played midfield for Drogheda in the FAI junior cup final in 1940, and was club treasurer for twenty-three years. In his Cord Road home Tom saw only the first few minutes and the last few as he couldn't bear to watch the whole match. He remembers a time when cattle would have to be removed from a field before a game could begin, and was one of the founder members of the "friends of soccer" who helped raise funds for the home ground.

Meath: Two young Dunshaughlin people steal the show
At a concert attended by President Mary McAleese to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Dunshaughlin Choral Society, the star performers were not the forty-strong choir but two young people who sang Andrew Lloyd Webber's Pie Jesu. Eleven-year-old Jakob Mahase has been singing for just a few months and this was his first public appearance. He was accompanied by Aisling Toher standing in for Allanah Scully, who was unable to attend through illness, and she learnt the song only the day before the performance.

Offaly: Fire bells ring for Christmas in Clara
For the Clara and District Fire Service Action Group it is fire bells rather than Christmas bells which are ringing this week, with the news that the county council has voted to retain the fire station in the town. According to committee secretary Michelle Coyne, the news has been welcomed by all the communities affected, including Ballycumber, Tubber, Pullough, the Island and Rahan. The original meeting for the group was organised by Barry Flynn, who also collected the petition and has led the group for the past year.

Roscommon: Volume 2 of Rindoon Journal launched
At Culleen Hall in Knockcroghery last weekend Volume II of the Rindoon Journal was officially launched by one of the contributors, Seamus Duke, the News Editor of Shannonside Radio. The journal is edited by Liam Byrne, chairman of the St John's Parish Heritage Group, and articles cover the entire area of Knockcroghery parish, including Rahara, Killenvoy, Kilmaine and Portrunny. The Priests of Knockcroghery and St John's are the subject matter for one article, and two families, the Dunnigan Families from 1659 to 2004, and the Poynton Family also feature.

Wicklow: Medals for parishioners' years of service
Thirty-three medals engraved with a replica of the tapestry of St Fergal and with the names of each recipient were presented to thirty-three parishioners of St Fergal's Church in Bray last week to mark their service to the parish over the past twenty-five years. The medals were presented by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin who celebrated the first of two Jubilee Masses at the church. The second Mass was for families, to which all parishioners were invited, and the two Masses were the latest in a series of events to mark the church's anniversary.

FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Bethlehem, Wales: Our Celtic cousins save their post office
While rural post offices across Ireland are closing, one 30-house hamlet in Wales has saved its own service because of its festive name and a determined population. Bethlehem, near Llandeilo, is expected to receive a record number of visitors all hoping to have their Christmas cards stamped with the hamlet's name and the image of an angel.

Turin, Italy Salute to strongest arm of the law
Garda Tom Coyle is the strongest arm of the law in the world. The Abbeylara, Co Longford native has just returned from Turin where he defeated all competitors in the World Power Lifting Championships to take the coveted title. The garda, who is stationed at Shercock in Co Cavan, was a member of the Irish team taking part in the international event, having won the national series earlier in the year.

USA: Portroe journalist honoured by Yale Club
Declan Kelly, a native of Portroe, Tipperary was honoured at a recent luncheon at the Yale Club as one of the top one hundred Irish American businessmen in the US. His inclusion in the Business 100 Awards, sponsored by Irish America magazine, marks his position as President and CEO of public relations company Financial Dynamics USA.
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SPONSOR
Help us keep your newsletter free. Please visit our good friends at Lollysmith:
We'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for shopping with us during the past year and wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday season and all the very best in the new year. In the meantime, if you're looking for an authentic gift direct from Ireland, take a look at our authentic caps from Hanna Hats of Donegal! Just in! See these and many more gifts imported directly from Ireland, including Jewelry and Shamrock Seeds, Connemara Marble, Tin Whistles, Bodhráns, and much more. So, stop by soon. Lollysmith is always open and they also offer Celtic themed gifts from American companies such as Russ Berrie Angel Cheeks, Silver Moon Jewelry, and Dorfman Pacific Hats. And definitely take a look at their genuine Irish Blackthorn and Hazel Walking Sticks! Please click:
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FROM THE MAILBAG
Great news! Hartson is home from the hospital. After spending over 50 days away, he is already back at his computer sending out his Hugs from the Heart newsletter and other messages. We have sorely missed him and fingers arecrossed when he goes back for his check-up after Christmas, all will be well.

Re: Bainin Yarn, "Eringo" writes:
After searching, including the Bainin sites you listed, I think the real stuff may just have disappeared. This is a quote from the Sheeweknit site; " Jamieson's Aran is suitable for all patterns that call for a true Aran weight yarn. It's a virtual substitute for the now discontinued favourite Bainin yarn and is available in the exact same shades!"
Does anyone know for sure if the real thing has gone forever?

Re: Veronica's query about an odd Irish saying:
"Kilkreest" writes: My friend who lives in Loughrea, Co. Galway and is now about 55 told me when he went to the Christian Brothers School that the Brother was so fed up with the students not being able to repeat back what was told to them as part of a lesson. So after saying this expression once, he had each student say back to him (individually): "I hit my ankle against my uncle and gave my knee a sore big toe". (slightly different version from Veronica's Mum) My friend was so proud of himself to be able to repeat it back without a hitch (as the others were stumbling on it). The Brother was furious that he could repeat nonsense and not his lessons. So it must have been some nonsensical statement going round Ireland at one time.

Chris Broersma shares with us the origins of Bah, Humbug!
The early Welsh language contained the word bwg (no vowels!) which refered to a ghost or evil spirit. It was borrowed from by the English and changed to bug. With all the nasty insects and flies around it became a term used to describe the bugs that damaged crops, pestered livestock and plagued people - the bed bug, for example. One bug seemed harmless, but had a loud buzz or hum and sounded very much like the British bumblebee and so people would duck and dodge it until they realized that it was simply that pesky "hum bug!" As a result it was often branded as a fake or a cheat and the name eventually was passed on to describe a person who deceived or was nasty to someone else. By 1750, any bluffing impostor was called a humbug.
So now you know.
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LINKS OF THE WEEK

Need lyrics for an old-fashioned Christmas Carol Sing-Along? Click here:
http://www.nevada.edu/~blake/Christmas.carols.html#Angels%20From%20The%20Realm%20Of%20Glory

The First Christmas Gift
A lovely song to share with your family - especially the children:
http://www.andiesisle.com/thefirstchristmasgift.html

Christmas animation and music
This was sent to us by our good friend Judith Flynn:
http://www.powerpres.com/xmascard03.html

Judith also sent us this fun Christmas puzzle:
http://www.jacquielawson.com/viewcard.asp?code=EF31300691

Have an Irish Christmas
Make sure you have your speakers turned on.
http://www.fionasplace.net/Christmas/Have_an_Irish_Christmas.html

An Old Irish Custom
Vivian & Jack of the Irish Page are offering a poem that is an evocation of an old Irish custom in which each household would leave a lighted candle in their window on Christmas night. Click on the link below and read on.
http://www.irishpage.com/noel/Kerynoel.htm
They also wish all of you a blessed and happy Christmas Day.

The Fourth Sunday in Advent
Jack & Vivian have also been sending us links to the progression of Advent. To learn more about the fourth and last Sunday of Advent, please click
http://www.irishpage.com/noel/advent-4.htm

Free mammograms
Do you know of a woman who can't afford a mammogram? Here's how you can help. Go to the Breast Cancer site and click on their free mammogram link; if they get enough clicks , they'll be able to donate at least one free mammogram a day to underprivileged women. It takes just a minute and there's no cost involved:
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com

Last but certainly not least - our on-going gift to AG in California and all friends to animals, please click this link today and everyday. It only takes a second to feed an animal. Thanks!
http://www.theanimalrescuesite.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/CTDSites.woa

It only takes a second to feed hungry people, too:
http://www.thehungersite.com

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QUIPS, QUOTES, ANECDOTES AND TOASTS
Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done,
In sending His belovèd Son.
With Mary holy we should pray
To God with love this Christmas Day;
In Bethlehem upon the morn
There was a blest Messiah born.
(From the 12th-century Wexford Carol)
To read the lyrics and hear the tune, go to:
http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/w/e/x/wexfordc.htm
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A TOAST ON THE EVE
Where is the star that dances in the east?
Son of Ghost and Virgin forgive our meagre
welcome.
Busy in the inns we feast
your arrival cribbed between ox and ass.
O give us our innocence, all green and eager.
To the God of renewal. I raise this glass.
Micheal O' Siadhail
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FAVORITE JOKE OF THE WEEK
Sarah and her thirteen-year-old sister had been fighting a lot this year. This happens when you combine a headstrong four-year-old, who is sure she is always right, with a young adolescent. Sarah's parents, trying to take advantage of her avid interest in what Santa might bring, reminded the four-year-old that Santa was watching and doesn't like it when children fight. This had little impact.

"I'll just have to tell Santa about your misbehavior," the mother said as she picked up the phone and dialed. Sarah's eyes grew big as her mother asked "Mrs. Claus" (Sarah's aunt), if she could put Santa on the line. Sarah's mouth dropped open as Mom described to Santa (Sarah's uncle) how the four-year-old was acting. But, when Mom said that Santa wanted to talk to her, she reluctantly took the phone.

Santa, in a deepened voice, explained to her how there would be no presents Christmas morning to children who fought with their sisters. He would be watching, and he expected things to be better from now on. Sarah, now even more wide eyed, solemnly nodded to each of Santa's remarks and silently hung the phone up when he was done. After a long moment, Mom (holding in her chuckles at being so clever) asked, "What did Santa say to you, sweetie?" In almost a whisper, Sarah sadly but matter-of-factly stated, "Santa said he won't be bringing toys to my sisterthis year."

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DID YOU KNOW
1. In the old days, a boiled ox head was a favorite Christmas favorite dish in Armagh, Tyrone, and Monaghan?
2. 'Gift Grub' star Mario Rosenstock's spoof of the Roy Keane song "Leave Right Now" is the number one Christmas song on Irish radio stations this year?
3. In Ireland, putting up a Christmas tree is a relatively modern custom? It began in the late fifties and early sixties with the advent of television.
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There was NO winner of Wednesday's drawing which means Saturday's jackpot will be € 2.5 Million Euro or more!Wouldn't that be nice to have for the new year? So play now. You don't have to live in Ireland to enter, winnings are tax-free and checks are mailed within 48 hours. Do you have the luck of the Irish? Play the Irish lottery and find out! I Please click here for full details - and best of Irish luck to you!
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IRISH WRITERS AND BOOKS QUIZ
To begin with, the answers to our last quiz:

1. Christmas Wonder: From Ireland for Children by Sean C. O'Leary
2. The Irish Christmas Book by John B. Keane
3. The Wexford Carols by Diarmaid O Muirithe

Hats off to our latest literary sleuths:
Déirdre McKiernan Hetzler
"Glorious Ireland " - from June 28-July 12, 2006. To view the proposed itinerary, please click:
http:// www.tours2ireland.com

Josephine Battye
Ireland's own celebrated 100 years in 2003 and it is still going strong. You can have a read of the stories that featured in the Christmas annual.
http://www.finnvalley.ie/irelandsown

Rita Roche
I do like to go to the www.blarney.com website as I have purchased Waterford crystal and other Irish ware from them.
ED. NOTE: We wish they had an affiliate program! Better yet, we wish we were in Co. Cork so we could buy from them directly!
http://www.blarney.com


Helen Dowd
Please visit my site and if you like it, please vote for me in the Top Chrstian Sites listing. Thanks to all if you who have voted for me, I am now in fifth place.
http://www.occupytillicome.com/

ED. NOTE: Helen needs less than three thousand votes to move up yet another notch in the top Christian sites list. Thanks to all of you who continue to vote for her every day.

Hartson Dowd
http://lightoflove.net/WhisperingHope.htm
Welccome back, Hartson!

Want to see your name in our next newsletter? Send us the names of the authors who wrote the following:

1. Gift of The Gag
2. Islands of Connaught
3. The Irish Highwaymen

ED. NOTE: Many books have the same title; please keep in mind that we are looking for Irish authors or Irish-related books.
Send us the correct answers to two out of three and the rewards are:
1. If you have a web site, send us your URL plus a short description and we'll publish it in the next newsletter. If you don't have a web site, please nominate a favorite - preferably Irish. Also, please remember that we list our sleuths in the order of entries received.
2. Receive a correct entry into the current "So You Think You're Irish" trivia contest. (In fairness to those of you who go to the trouble of actually finding the answers to the trivia contest, you'll get a bonus entry!)
NOTE: It would be very helpful if you would send your entries to: bhaggerty@irishcultureandcustoms.com
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SPONSOR
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http://www.irishincense.com
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RIDDLE
But first, the answer to our last one which we tried to make easy, given that we're stressed out enough already!
Q. What do you call children who are afraid of Santa Claus?
A. Claus-straphobic
Loads of people sent in answers -- all correct of course! But first in was Tom McCarthy of NYC. Well done!
This week's is going to be just as easy - at least we think so.
Q: What do you call a cat at the beach at Christmas time?
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THE WEEK THAT WAS:
1. Article: Burying The Baby Jesus
http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/ACalend/XmasBuryingjesus.html
2. Article: Time at This Point of the Year
http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/ACalend/XmasPt_in%20Time.html
3. Article: Mumming - A Yuletide Tradition
http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/ACalend/Mummers.html
4. Article: Many Years Ago
http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/AWriters/JohnBKeane.html
5. Special Christmas Shopping Page
http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/Shop/1Xmas1.html
6. The Irish Kitchen - Spiced Beef
http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/2Kitch/rBeef.html#SpicedBeef
7. Article - Beannachtaí an tSéasúir - Season's Greetings
http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/ACalend/XmasGreetings.html
8. Kids' Ireland: Little Red Bird
http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/1Kids/LittleRedBird.html
9. Library
Books: A Simply irish Christmas by Darina Allen
http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/2Kitch/2Lib2.html
Videos: Am Irish Country Calendar
http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/Libr/1Video2.html
CDs: Home For Christmas by The irish Tenors
http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/Libr/1MuscXmas1.html
10. Circle of Prayer: Our last Novena in this series began on December 19th and ends on December 26th. We will be u[pdating the next Novena Cycle after that date. This week, hatever your spiritual leanings, we ask that you please remember Jane, Samantha, Candy; Joe McTiernan who had surgery on Thursday; Hartson, Mally Keelan's family; and the victims of earthquakes and hurrucanes. We also ask that you remem ber the men and women in the armed forces all over the world who are so far away from their families and friends At this time of the year, it is especially hard for them all.
To join us, please visit our Novena page:
http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/Blessings/CirclePrayer.html
11. December Trivia Contest. Tim'es running out. All entries must be in by midnight December 31st, whichever time zone you're in:
http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/TriviaContest.html

WHAT WILL BE, GOD WILLING
The new year looms; the beginning of the month is always extra busy for us, what with a new culture corner, new kids; story, Trivia contest and so on. As always, we'll have a new blessing and now that Hartson's back, just maybe a new recipe! And don't overlook our daily headlines and history for the date. We eschew the usual Irish penchance for politics and pandemonium. Instead, we try to find news that is fun to read. Not always easy, but we seem to manage somehow.

So that's the long and the short of it for this edition. Happy Christmas to all, Happy Hannukah to our Jewish freiends and Happy Holidays to those of you celebrating a festive occasion at this time of year. And, if you are having a birthday, anniversary or special event this coming week, we hope it is filled with joy. In the meantime, we leave you with this special Yuletide blessing, followed by the hope of the Irish President:

May the songs of the season rise to greet you. May the winter wind be always at your back. May the frost shimmer soft upon your fields. And, until we meet again, may the love of the Christ Child shine warm upon your home.

"As the wrapping goes around the last of the presents and the countdown starts to Santa's arrival, please keep each other safe on the roads and on our streets so that this Christmas will bring only happiness and joy into every home." From President McAleese's Christmas speech for 2005.
To read the speech in its entirety, please click
http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/ACalend/XmasMcAleese5.html

And, as they say in Ireland, mind yourself!

Slan agus beannacht
Bridget & Russ
http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com
Get down on your knees and thank God you're still on your feet
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WHEN A LOT OF PEOPLE GIVE A LITTLE, A LITTLE BECOMES A LOT
If you enjoy reading our newsletter or visiting the website, please support our efforts and send whatever you can to Bridget or Russ Haggerty, 5670 Meryton Place, Cincinnati OH 45224. Or you can send a donation via PayPal. The URL is:
http://www.paypal.com
and our email address is:
bhaggerty@irishcultureandcustoms.com
Many thanks in advance for your kindness
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LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING

The little girl was visiting Santa. He asks her the classic question? "And what do you want for Christmas m'dear?" The little girl's eyes grow wide with astonishment? "Santa," she cries, "didn't you get my email?"