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Greetings and blessings to all,

As always, it's lovely to be back, albeit late and a wee bit sad as we close the door on another Christmas - but also with great hope and joy as we welcome in the new year. There's an old Irish saying that God made time, but man made haste. In all of the madness and merriment of the holidays, we hope you took the opportunity to sit back and savor the special moments.

For us, it was BK (black cat) batting at the baubles on the Christmas tree. Hard as we try, we can't distract him. But, this was his first Christmas with us and there's no doubt he thinks the tree was put up as a special toy just for him. Other images are of all the family and friends who joined us to celebrate the season. The last one being New Year's Eve when a very small group graced Toad Hall in their "jammies." Our annual slumber party and the Mimosa toasting brunch the next day were, as usual, loads of frolic and fun. But enough about us...

In news from Ireland:
Spring salmon season has begun! As January 1, 2004 made its debut, hundreds of anglers on a number of lakes and rivers, including the Drowse in Co. Donegal and the Liffey in Co. Dublin, particularly at Islandbridge, took up their positions to land that prized first catch. It was claimed shortly after 9am on the River Drowse near the Leitrim/Donegal border. The seven-and-a-half pound fish was caught by Ballymena angler, Bill Cathcart.

The first baby of the year was one of twin girls born to an Armenian couple in the National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street in Dublin. Natalie Arutunayan, weighing 5 lb 11 oz, was born at one minute past midnight.

Congrats to Joe O'Connor who has been awarded the Prix Litteraire EuropeenMadeleine Zepter for the Best European Novel of the Year for his "Star of the Sea". We interviewed Joe last year when he was in town for a book-signing. We sat down over a coffee or two, and before long, we forgot we were talking to someone who might possibly become one of Ireland's most celebrated writers. We don't think it has anything to do with our interviewing skills. The man is down to earth, witty, and fun to be with. (And yes, he really is a good writer!)
We discovered this little tidbit from Book Review Ireland - it's well worth reading the whole lot:

As of January 3, Mike Barry, the Kerry mountaineer who is aiming to become the first Irishman to walk to the South Pole, had crossed the 86th degree parallel on his 1,200-km trek. The former Everest mountaineer, wind energy consultant and father of three is part of an international expedition led by US/Canadian polar traveller and guide, Ms Matty McNair, who has already been to the South Pole once.

Tony Kennedy, the Chief Executive of Co-operation Ireland was awarded an OBE in the Queens' New Year's Honours List. He welcomed the award as "a recognition of the important peace-building work undertaken by everyone connected with Co-operation Ireland over the last 25 years". For more details on the work of Co-operation Ireland, please click

Dublin: The traditionally tranquil New Year's Day is no more. The inaugural Lord Mayor of Dublin New Year's Day Parade featured marching bands from the USA, the UK and Ireland.

Carna, west Connemara: On Christmas Day, the first home for elderly Irish speakers opened its doors. Ms. Kate Green, 94, is its first and oldest resident.

Co. Kerry: Sister Consilio Fitzgerald of the Mercy order, has been voted the Greatest Kerry Person of All Time by radio listeners in the county. The 66-year old nun who founded a series of rehabilitation centres for people suffering from alcohol and drug addiction, surpassed some of Kerry's highest profile names: Tom Cream, Daniel O'Connell, John B. Keane, and even Brendan the Navigator, just to name a few of the "runners-up."

Clew Bay: Regarded as a botanical jewel because of the number of wild rare plants that grow there, the owners of holdings on this small island, with a population of less than 200, have been invited to grow rare flower seeds which will be distributed on the internet and to mail order customers worldwide. Island farmers have embraced the idea which is the brain child of Austin and Felicity O'Malley. (We'll keep an eye on this one and let you know if/when the idea bears fruit - or seeds for sale).

In news from all over:
Israel: Forget that Israel's Irish population is microscopic. From January 7 through January 10, some of the world's top Irish and Celtic musicians will be in town to razz things up during Murphy's Irish Festival at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque.

From the mailbag
As always, we get questions we can't answer and more:

Peter Moore wants to know the meaning of: "racings homage to deValera."
We haven't a clue. Can anyone help?

Bill Reynolds took a CIE tour to Ireland last year and visited Tabernault. He writes: "Since my wife's medical problems seem to have been resolved after our visit and taking water from the well, I just want to thank the correct Saint. Nutty Yank eh?"
We don't think Bill's nutty at all. Does anyone know which saint is associated with Tabernault?

Sharon Callis asks:
"I was wondering where I could get and image that was used on Irish postcards in the early forties and fifties and it was taken in Fishamble Street in Dublin and the subject matter was of three men on the street heading for work. I am sorry that is all the information I have. I am trying to locate the image for relatives of the men who were brothers."
We did a bit of searching on the internet - no luck, so far.

Alexandra writes:
In August 2003, An Bord Pleanála granted planning permission for a 50-km, 680 million euro motorway scheme through an archaeologically important area near the Hill of Tara in Co. Meath. According to Conor Newman, of NUI Galway, who is the expert on Tara: "The Hill of Tara is one of the most important and famous archaeological sites in the world," and therefore this plan is inappropriate. Save the Tara/Skreen Valley Campaign was formed immediately to oppose the M3 motorway alignment through this valley. It is comprised of local and national members. Time is ticking, and we need your help:

And we received this interesting tidbit from Livna, age 15, in Holland:
"The river Liffey is also known by the name of its goddess, Anna Livia. The name came from the Irish 'Abha an Life' to eventually be immortalised as 'Anna Livia Plurabelle' in James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake. Arising from a dark pool ten metres wide between the mountains of Tonduff and Kippure in Co. Wicklow 16km away from Dublin, the Liffey flows on a meandering journey of 130km before finally flowing through Dublin city and out into the Irish Sea."
Thanks, Livna. It's always great to see such interest in Ireland, especially from young people in other countries.

Links of the week:
The new Homeland Security Bill has passed. Things will be different now. Internet surfing will be tracked by the FBI with a non-intrusive method. The FBI says you will not notice anything different. For a demonstration, log on to the link below: http://users.chartertn.net/tonytemplin/FBI_EYES/
Thanks, Hartson!

Hartson also sent us a delightfully silly speeded up version of a favorite Randy Newman song:

Planning a trip to Ireland?
We subscribe to the Frommer's newsletter and found this bulletin board discussion with an incredible number of useful links offered by people who have either been or want to go:

For fun, we found:
We tried Pegs - aaagh! May be we've been indulging in the Christmas cheer too much!

And last but definitely 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!

Enough of the blither and blather...on with the update:
Please help us to keep this newsletter free - visit our good friends, LollySmith: Welcome to our Irish Gift Shop where the countdown to St. Patrick's Day has begun! Plant our shamrock seeds now and you'll have good-sized plants by March 17th. You will also find what you need to look the part - and party! Caps, shirts, walking sticks, Guinness gear and glasses, lapel pins and more! Stock up now before the rush begins and enjoy great prices, quick shipping, and friendly, personalized service. And from all of us at LollySmith, Aithbhlian Faoi Mhaise - Happy New Year! http://store.yahoo.com/cgi-bin/clink?lollysmith+wSpfhS+index.html ==================================================================
A Bit of The Wit
Joke of The Week
Did You Know?
Quotes & Quips
Know Your Irish Writers & Books?
New This Week
The Week Ahead
I have the body of an eighteen year old. I keep it in the fridge. Spike Milligan
From all of the responses we received when we published this joke at this time last year, we have to decree it's the year's best - and worthy of repeating - especially for all of our more recent subscribers:

Miss O'Leary, the church organist, was in her eighties and had never been married. She was much admired for her sweetness and kindness to all. The parish priest came to call on her one afternoon early in the spring, and she welcomed him into her little cottage. She invited him to have a seat while she made the tea. As he sat facing her old pump organ, the priest noticed a cut glass bowl sitting on top of it, filled with water. In the water floated, of all things, an item the menfolk use to help prevent conception. Imagine his shock and surprise. Imagine his curiosity! Surely Miss O'Leary had lost her senses! When she returned with the tea and scones, they began to chat. The priest tried to stifle his curiosity about the bowl of water and its unusual contents, but soon it got the better of him; he could resist no longer. Miss O'Leary," he said, "I wonder if you would tell me about this?" (pointing to the bowl). "Oh, yes, Father," she replied, "Isn't it wonderful? I was walking in the village last October and I found this little package on the ground. The directions said to put it on the organ, keep it wet, and it would prevent disease. And you know... I haven't had a cold all winter.
1. Irish Households generated enough packaging waste during Christmas 2003 to cover Lansdowne rugby pitch 336 times?
Nationwide, Irish households will have consumed 20 million bottles of wine, 106 million plastic bottles, 64 million beverage cans and nearly four million rolls of wrapping paper over the Christmas period. In wine bottles alone this would stretch from Dublin to Miami.
2. Twelve of the heros who defended and died at the Alamo were of Irish ancestry, among them Davey Crockett, Jim Bowie, and Bill Travis?
3. Cork-born John Edward O'Connor, an agile acrobat feature of Ringling Barnum and Baily Circus, was the father of famed dancer Donald O'Connor?
Our very low-key 2004 fund drive has begun. Is our newsletter worth 10 cents a glance, or perhaps even a quarter or two for a quarter-hour read all the way through? If so, please donate a little something to help us survive. Donations can be made through PayPal at http://www.paypal.com
Our email address there is bnhaggerty@cinci.rr.com.
Or, you can send your gift to us via snail mail: 5670 Meryton Place, Cincinnati, OH, 45224.
Every penny is important, so it doesn't matter how little. It means a lot! Many thanks in advance for your kindness.
I thought I'd begin by reading a poem by Shakespeare, but then I thought, why should I? He never reads any of mine. Spike Milligan
First off, the answers to last week's quiz:

1. Irish Weather Wisdom: Signs of Rain - Gabriel Rosenstock
2. New Weather - Paul Muldoon
3. Weather Permitting - Dennis O'Driscoll

Even with all the hubbub of the holidays, we were delighted at a grand showing this week. In the words on one Irish MC, clap your feet for:

Patricia Edwards
This is a great site for those interested in Myths & Legends - so much to discover: http://www.odinscastle.org/index2.html

Ellen Parodi
Namely Gifts at:
http://namelygifts.com Personalized Name Keepsakes and Gifts Something for every name on your gift list! Happy New Year!

Déirdre McKiernan Hetzler
"Glorious Ireland in May" May 25 - June 8, 2004
To request a brochure or see the itinerary, please visit us at: http://www.irishbook.com/tours.htm

Pat Battles
Favourite website........hmmmm....well here's one I've been looking at lately: www.cork-guide.ie

Dallas http://www.sellwritingonline.com
Website and Newsletter for Writers. Paying markets, author interviews, book reviews, and more. Come, grow with us!

Norma Mackey
I look forward to every weekend (or Monday!) and your newsletter. One of the things that keeps me sane these days. (Thanks, Norma!)

We invite you to visit our club website:
Ed. Note: We took a look and enjoyed seeing the photos.

Helen Dowd
If you would like to read some New Year's poems, please visit my website at: http://www.occupytillicome.com

Hartson Dowd
A good and informative Irish website which includes history of Ireland reports, free screen savers, celtic clip art, Irish coat of arms, family crests & genealogy guides, Irish literature, gifts and more: http://www.ireland-information.com
Want to see your name and favorite site on our list? Try to find the following authors - we assure you, it's really easy! Who wrote:

1. For the Cause of Liberty: A Thousand Years of Irish Heroes
2. Sinn Féin - A Hundred Turbulent Years
3. Historic Ireland - Five Thousand Years of Ireland's Heritage
Hint: All three titles can be found here, and note that this is Bridget's "bible" - well worth adding to your library: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?tag=irishcultucus- 20&path=tg/detail/-/1856350932/qid%3D1073257674/sr%3D1-3

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. 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!)
3. Click through on the Hint URL above, tell us the title and earn another entry into the Trivia drawing. NOTE: It would be very helpful if you would send your entries to: bhaggerty@irishcultureandcustoms.com ==================================================================
Help us keep this newsletter free by visiting the The Irish Lottery:
Remember the Irish Hospital Sweepstakes? It was replaced by the Irish Lotto in 1988. Since then it has become one of the most trusted lotteries in the world. Drawings are held every Wednesday and Saturday. Best of all, you don't have to live in Ireland to play and all winnings are tax-free. Do you have the luck of the Irish? Play the Irish lottery and find out! Please click here for full details:
First off, the answer to our last one:
Q. What is bought by the yard and worn by the foot?
A. Carpet.
Congrats to KW and Denise who tied for first. And now, for this week's head-banger:
An angler met two shepherds, one of whom had three loaves and the other, five loaves. All the loaves were the same size. The three men agreed to share the eight loaves equally between them. After they had eaten, the angler gave the shepherds eight bronze coins as payment for his meal. How should the two shepherds fairly divide this money?
We're late with the newsletter - and we're late with the homepage update. So much for our New Year's resolutions!
1. Home Page - See what's new at a glance:
2. New - Article: Mumming - A Yuletide Tradition
3. New - Book Review: The Twilight Hour
4. New - The January Trivia quiz has been posted. All entries must be received by midnight, January 31, no matter which time zone you live in.
Congratulations to the winner of our December contest - Jenny Rundle from Australia!
5. Featured - Symbols of Ireland: The Shamrock
6. Featured - Article: New Year's Day to Epiphany
7. Featured - Article: Oi'che na Gaoithe Mo'ire...The Night of the Big Wind
8. On-going - Circle of Prayer: Our second Novena in this cycle began on January 3 and continues through January 11. This week we heard from Linda in Australia - she asks for us to pray for her new-born grandson Oscar Jack who is having lung problems. We also learned of two boys from our immediate circle heading for Iraq - and to us they are just boys, we've known them since they were infants. Do our prayers work? We also heard from our dear friend Eileen about her brother Bob - he's stage 4, but, to the surprise of his doctors, miraculously, his tumor has shrunk; good news about her son, too - his last checkup was negative. Amen! Please keep them in your prayers and also continue to remember Maggie's family and friends, Bob and Kathy in Utah, Debbie's friend Bertha, Rita, Lindsea, Dianne, Claire, C.J., baby Christopher, Sam, Steven & Margaret, the Mulligan family and all of the people in our armed services, especially Iraq. Whatever your spiritual leanings, we hope you will join us each day
9. On-going - Irish News: Headlines for the past week
10. On-going -This month in Irish History:

A special blessing for Women's Christmas is posted and a new quote will go up on Wednesday. The children's story is late for the best of reasons - our resident story teller spent longer with her 80-plus year old dad over the holidays teaching him how to use his new computer. Aideen has sent us a great new lesson which will be published Tuesday. We're late with the recipe, but that will go up asap. And also anything else we can think of to keep you coming back. Bridget's still twiddling with the winter solstice at Newgrange - fingers crossed, we'll see that before summer!

So there you have it for another week - except for the essential goings-on in our crazy calendar. Ever hear of Bonza Bottler Day? This happens every month when the day and the date are the same number. (1/1, 2/2, 3/3 and so on) Any excuse for a party! Coming up, the 6th celebrates Women's Christmas in Ireland, Epiphany, and, it's a public holiday in Cyprus where our resident Irish speaker lives (enjoy!) The 8th is English Toffee Day and also Rock 'n Roll Day (Birth of Elvis). The 9th is Balloon Ascension Day, Stepfather's Day and the day when income tax was first introduced (1799). Unfortunately - or maybe not - our main resource for the daily breakdown, literally and figuratively, is "unavailable due to high traffic." Perhaps this is a good thing. Ever notice how many of the "days" are devoted to food? Herewith, a respite from all of those national eat your self silly occasions and a wish that if you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other special event this week, may it be memorable.

Before we take our leave - it's that time of the year again. Yes, the annual Preditors and Editors Poll! The voting began on January 1st and ends midnight, January 14. Last year, thanks to you, we won first place in the non-fiction magazine/ezine category and we did very well in the editor category. We're nominated again and we'd really appreciate your vote. To vote for the Irish Culture & Customs newsletter which is under the NonFiction Magazine/e-zine category, please go to this link:
Just scroll down and click on the little white circle beside Irish Culture and Customs‚ and then further down on the same page, enter your name, email address (for verification) and hit Submit Data. That's all there is to it.
To vote for us under the Magazine/e-zine Editor's category, go to this link:
Many, many thanks in advance for your support!

We're not done quite yet. We hope this edition finds each and every one of you where you want to be. Resolutions? We hope you keep them. If not, don't fret. One of the best things about the Irish is that we're experts at procrastination.

We'd also like to thank all of you who signed up since our last edition - the warmest of welcomes - and please feel free to share these musings and meanderings with your family and friends.

Until next time, may the Good Shepherd of us all keep you and yours from all harm and keep you warm. And, as they say in Ireland, mind yourself!

Bridget & Russ
Get down on your knees and thank God you're still on your feet
Events & Classifieds
Note: To avoid duplication, we list only those events not mentioned in the comprehensive listing put together by The Wild Geese. To check their Events Page, please click: http://www.thewildgeese.com/pages/events.html
The Irish Heritage Newsletter also lists events - if you'd like to subscribe, just send a note to George at Steeler059@aol.com
And, if you're in Ireland, or lucky enough to be visiting, you can see what's on offer here:

The Very Short Story Competition
This is a new competition launched to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Fish Anthology, published by Fish Publishing in Co. Cork. The judge is GINA OCHSNER, the 2000 winner of the Flannery O'Connor Short Fiction Award and the winner of the 1999 Fish Short Story Prize, with her story "From the Bering Strait". For more details or to enter, please click

Cultural Holidays on Inis Mór
The new programme with the dates for 2004 is uploaded now on our homepage:
Book Now! You will get 5% off if you book before the end of January.

Broward, Florida - January 8
Broward Center for The Performing Arts - Opening night of Malachy & Frank McCourt's ' A Couple of Blaguards.
The Center is offering 2 for 1 tickets to the Irish community for the Opening Night performance. Call the Box Office at 954-462-0222
& reserve your seat. You must use the code word "IRISH" to receive the special offer!

Dublin, Ireland - January 8
Calling all Irish Elvis fans! Gala Rehab Charity event in honour of the late Elvis Presley on his birthday and the 50th anniversary of his song "That's All right Mama". St. Colmcilles G.A.A., Club, Swords. Live music. All are welcome. Admission 10 Euro. Tickets at the door. For more info' contact Maurice Colgan. at 01-8403685.

Houston - January 13
The Chieftains are coming January 13! Sponsored by the Society for
Performing Arts. Details to be announced.

Hollywood Broward, Florida - January 17
The Irish-American Ceili Club's 32nd Anniversary Dinner Dance will be held at the American Legion Hall - Post 92. Hollywood Broward's Oldest Steak House, Tropical Acres is preparing prime rib or salmon (your choice) Noel Kingston is on the band stand. Tickets @ $20 are selling like hotcakes! Don't wait a moment longer! Call Maureen at 954-432-8292 or Dorothy at 954-920-4583

Texas Dulcimer Cruise - February 5-9
Galveston to Cozumel on the Carnival Celebration. There will be workshops, jam sessions, talent show and more. These spots will go fast, so book early! Inside cabins are $430.80 pp, double occupancy and oceanview cabins are $480.80 pp, double occupancy. Ask for Marcy: 281-535-5703 or e-mail marcy@delesandri.com

Galveston, Texas - March 28,
Galveston 1894 Grand Opera House - James Galway, flautist. More details coming.

Calling all Gurteen past pupils for a reunion, May 2
Past pupils of Clonkeenkerrill, Shanballard, and Tample national schools are invited to recall their school days at a reunion taking place in Loughrea. Tickets for the event cost € 30, and can be purchased from Breda Noone at (090) 9675912; John Corbett at (090) 9677825; Oliver King at (087) 2975132; or any committee member. Tickets must be purchased before Sunday February 1.

Nova Scotia, Canada - May 26-29
Cais Conference/Reunion, Saint Mary's University, Halifax. The theme is "Mother Tongues: The Languages of Ireland." For details, please click

6th Int'l McManus Clan Association Gathering May 25th through May 31st
For full details please visit our website at:
or contact Phil McManus at Manus@aol.com

7th Clann McKenna Rally - June 25th through Sunday June 27th
For details, please write plunkettmckenna@eircom.net
or click on the following link:
Send an email to: bhaggerty@irishcultureandcustoms.com
OR click on this link: