Welcome to the Irish Culture & Customs newsletter which is published every fortnight or so and sent out to nearly 4500 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:
If, for any reason, you wish to unsubscribe, instructions are at the very end - but we do hope you'll stay with us. And if you need to update your info' or change your email address, you can do that at the end, too.
Greetings and Blessings to all,

Happy spring and we hope and pray this edition finds you and yours on the pig's back and fit as a fiddle.

April? How did that happen? A belated pinch punch, first of the month, white rabbit! - and please God you survived the hare-brained tricks and pranks of yesterday!

What a fortnight! What a month! St. Patrick's Day, Easter, the March Madness of college basketball championships, an incredible period of continuous rain, record visits to the web site (nore than 200,00), a new grandchild on the way, and the passing of papers on Toad Hall. Yes, the old family homestead has been officially sold and another chapter in the annals of the Haggerty family has closed. We are now enjoying watching springtime unfold at Tadpole Cottage. A forsythia bush at the corner of the driveway is about to burst into a glorious cascade of gold and a flowering tree that almost fills the front of the house is loaded with buds. Our new neighbors say it is breath-taking when it finally blooms. We can't wait. We're also back to taking our daily walks and we are literally only about 1000 feet from our old street; so, we can enjoy the spring over there as well. We'll miss the view from the grand front porch of the old house, but not the work.

Onwards. Thanks to all of you who sent us St. Patrick's Day Greetings and Easter Blessings. We'd also like to thanksthe large number of new readers who just joined us. We hope you enjoy our musings and meanderings and please feel free to share them with your family and friends.

One more important bit of news . Our auction of a character name in mystery author Patricia Harrington's next novel has come to an end. We are pleased to announce that L. William Crotty was awarded the honour of naming the character. It will be Van Dyne Crotty after the nationally renowned Dayton-based company Mr. Crotty once owned. He made a death-bed promise to his partner that the company name would never disappear. In this unique way, it will be permanently remembered. So, when the third Bridget O'Hern mystery comes out entitled Death Tours in Ireland look for an international banker named Van Dyne Crotty who moors his yacht in Kilrush, Co. Clare. Maybe. The author is still writing the book. Coincidentally Mr. Crotty's grandfather, Fergus, emigrated to Canada from the Banner County!
Enough of the blather' ...on with the update:
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From the mailbag
Quips, Quotes, Proverbs & Toasts
A Bit of the Wit
Joke of The Week
Did You Know
Know Your Writers
The week That Is
Leave 'em Laughing
What follows are news clips from around the counties and the world. Links for more news stories can be found on our web site here
And more county news can be found here:

GENERAL: Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to resign
We were totally blown away by this morning's announcement. In our links section below, we have URLs that will take you to a video of Mr. Ahern delivering the announcement outside the Government buildings in Dublin. We also have the URL for the printed version of the speech so you can read it.

Antrim: Artists in search of a new home
A group of eighteen artists whose studios are housed on the top floor of the Loop Bridge Mill on Belfast's Castlereagh Road must leave. The directive has come from the owners of the building, the Lagan Group, who have lodged planning applications for the development of the nineteenth century building. Regarded as an excellent example of a mill from the nineteenth century, The Loop Bridge Mill is under consideration for official listing.

Antrim: Sirocco site to yield evidence of bottle plant
A team of archaeologists working on the old Sirocco site at Bridge End in Belfast are confident that they will uncover a number of interesting finds. The site was the location for the bottlehouse, built in the late eighteenth century by Benjamin Edwards and one of the first industrial plants in the emerging city of Belfast. Until the Lagan weir was built it was possible to see shards of glass on the river bank when the tide was out. Already the archaeologists have uncovered the top of a circular wall, the remains of the kiln in which domestic tableware, watch glass and industrial glass containers were fired.

Armagh: Major angling award for Richhill boy
Eight year old Matthew McSorley from Richhill has been named Young Specimen Angler of the Year by the Specimen Fish Committee Matthew's river brown trout, which he took in the River Blackwater in Moy last September, weighed 5.39 kilograms.

Carlow: Residents on collision course with council over Oakpark
Carlow residents who have formed themselves into the Save Oakpark Group are continuing to battle with the county council over its proposed local area plan. Seven hundred and fifty acres of Oakpark demesne and its eighteenth century house, just north of the town, are owned by Teagasc, the golf club owns two hundred acres, a further fifteen acres are in the possession of the local rugby club and more than one hundred acres comprise a forest park set up by the council two years ago. However the council now proposes to rezone ninety acres for housing, with a new road going from the Dublin road in Carlow to the Athy road.

Cork: US award for Cork observatory
For the first time an American Thea science award has gone to a facility outside the US. The Blackrock Castle Observatory won its award, which recognises excellence in outstanding visitor centres, for a science centre on a limited budget. In particular the award recognised the Cosmos experience which includes an interactive cinema experience where visitors monitor the path of a comet heading to earth and decide what avoidance action to take. Cosmos at the Castle, a joint venture between the city council and Cork Institute of Technology, was one of seventeen winners from a total of over one hundred and twenty nominees.

Derry: History of the first water
As part of the "Step Back In Time" project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund an evening devoted to the history of the water supply of Creggan and Derry took place during the week at Creggan Country Park. Jack McFarland, who has recently retired from the Water Service, delivered a talk on the different water supply systems used over the past three hundred years. He was followed by local historian Mickey McGuinness, whose topic was the different industries that had been supported by the water systems, from whiskey distilling to shirt-making.

Donegal: "Wakers" drink reservoir dry
An unexplained draining of the Listillion reservoir which serves the village of St Johnston has now been explained - it was due to tea consumption. The water shortage took place last winter but it has only now come to light that it arose due to the holding of two wakes, both of the deceased being very well known in the area. As a result the wakes were very well attended and the amount of water used in making endless cups of tea caused the level of the reservoir to drop below the point at which water would still be pumped into houses in the area.

Dublin: A crèche, but not as we know it
Seeing a niche market in her locality, Dublin woman Sinead Deegan has opened up the first crèche for dogs in the capital. Mutt Ugly on Charlemont Street caters for dogs whose owners don't want to leave them at home alone all day while they are at work. In addition to looking after the animals, the outlet also offers a weekend spa treatment for dogs, and a range of dog clothes and accessories.

Fermanagh: Lough Erne Canoe Trail wins premier award
For the first time a Waterways Renaissance Award has gone to a facility in the North. The Lough Erne Canoe Trail was named the winner of the innovation award at a ceremony in Manchester last week. The awards, now in their sixth year, recognise best practice in sustainable waterway regeneration and development in the UK. Running from Belturbet to Belleek, the canoe trail comprises fifty kilometres of waterway with jetties along the route to enable canoeists to visit the castles, ruined abbeys and activity centres they encounter.

Galway: Alasdar takes life-long learning seriously
Many people take up new interests in their retirement, but there must be few who can equal the record of Alasdar MacCana of Oughterard, who has recently been awarded an Equal Skills Certificate in Computing by the County Galway VEC. For Scottish-born Alasdar celebrated his one hundredth birthday at the beginning of February. A lecturer in physics at NUI Galway, he didn't fully retire until he was ninety and even now he walks the four miles from his home into Oughterard on a regular basis. Only last year Alasdar also completed the one-hundred mile Santiago de Compostella pilgrimage, walking ten miles each day.

Kerry: Aisling named musician of the year
Aisling O'Carroll from Tralee took the overall prize in the Kerry Young Musician of the Year competition for 2008 in the senior voice category. Also representing Tralee and taking third place was cellist Maria O'Connor, while Killarney resident Marcel Vigh, originally from Hungary, came second. Some two hundred young people between the ages of six and eighteen took part in the competition, now in its eighth year.

Kerry: Tralee honours women at last
Mayor of Tralee Miriam MCGillycuddy officiated at the unveiling of a plaque to honour the contribution to the welfare of the town by a group of women. At the ceremony she said she had been pointing out to the Town Council for years that roads, buildings and roundabouts had been named after famous men, but women never had a look in. Now a plaque has been unveiled on the site of the first Convent of Mercy in the town, at Day Place. With a presence in the town for almost two hundred years, the nuns provided accommodation for young women and children at risk, as well as setting up a soup kitchen in the mid-nineteenth century. Nowadays their focus is on addiction treatment, complementary therapies and working with asylum seekers.

Kilkenny: Accolade for Kilkenny cheesemaker
At the announcement at l'Ecrivain restaurant in Dublin of the winners of the 2008 Irish Food Writers Guild Food Awards, a Kilkenny couple received an award for their Irish farmhouse cheese. Roger and Olivia Goodwillie have been producing Lavistown cheese at their home, Lavistown House, for the past twenty-five years. Made from cow's milk, the cheese was chosen for the award for flavour texture and consistent quality, and Olivia believes that much of its success comes from their Friesian herd and the Kilkenny location of their business.

Kildare: Martina becomes a luck icon
A Newbridge woman has become the target of dozens of people seeking good luck after it emerged that she had sold the winning ticket for the recent €14m lotto prize. Martina Curran has worked for the past four years on the check-out at Tesco in the town and since it became known that she had sold the winning ticket people have been coming to visit her, some even touching her to see if the 'luck' would rub off on them. However the mother of three confesses that, while she has sold hundreds of winning scratchcards during the time she has worked in the supermarket, she has never won anything herself in her whole life.

Laois: Previously hidden poem now on display
Two local businesses in Durrow have added their own contribution to the three hundredth anniversary celebrations with the display of a poem that was discovered in archives. The poem, entitled "Laetitia's character of her lover rendered in metre", was the work of William Flower, Baron Durrowscastle, who sent it to his friend Jonathan Swift; the Laetitia of the title was believed to be the wife of the local curate, the Rev. Matthew Pilkington. The manuscript was discovered in the 1920s and now Susan Lawlor's newsagency and Sheppard's auction house have collaborated to have the poem printed on a large banner stretched between their two premises in Durrow.

Leitrim: Scór finals taking place in Manorhamilton
Last year the Connacht Scór Sinsear Finals took place in Ballinamore and this weekend they will be held in the Bee Park Centre in Manorhamilton, with the county being represented in all eight categories of competition; last year Leitrim won five of the eight events. Two of last year's winners have again qualified, Glencar/Manorhamilton in the Rince Foirne and Bornacoola in Tráth na gCeist. Hoping to make up this year for last year's defeats are Louise Staunton, who will recite for Bornacoola, the set-dancing team from Fenagh St Caillins and the ballad group from St Mary's.

Longford: Cottage of "Blacksmith" to be retained
Rose Cottage in Ballinalee, the headquarters of General Sean MacEoin (known as the Blacksmith of Ballinalee) during the Battle of Ballinalee in 1920, has been saved from demolition following objections by the County Longford Historical Society. The Midland Development Company had proposed building a number of single-storey dwellings on the site, but they have now agreed to retain the cottage, at the same time removing modern extensions.

Louth: Dundalk developer to rectify mistake
Kieran Slevin of IBEX Construction has pledged to reinstate the wildlife habitat the company destroyed during the course of a development on the banks of the Ramparts River in Dundalk. The two-acre site was home to a variety of wildlife including the lark, the grey wagtail and, most notably, the kingfisher. The removal of sheltering trees and the flattening of the area destroyed the natural habitat, but this is now to be restored.

Mayo: Gerard casts a record line
Foxford man Gerard Downey has a new world record under his belt after breaking the current record for a Spey cast at the Lough Agency Angling Fair in Derry last weekend. The twenty-five-year-old, who has been fishing the Moy almost all his life, had a cast of two hundred and twenty-two feet, beating the existing record by two feet. Although he is a long-time fisherman Gerard only took up casting eighteen months ago and has already been invited to join the Scottish-based Carron team as only the second Irish member; the other is Ruari Costello.

Wexford: Facelift for Bride Street church
A new face has been fitted to the Church of the Assumption in Bride Street in Wexford town, with the installation of a new clock face, which has been selected to continue to match that of the Rowe Street church. Parish Administrator Father Jim Fegan reports that the old clock face was struck by lightning some time ago and had become dangerous. The church is also benefiting from a new stained glass window to replace the one removed in the early 1970s; no one apparently knows why the original was removed and replaced with plain glass.

Wexford: Small deer is a big concern
Possibly introduced for sport by hunters, the Muntjac deer, about the size of a fox and with a bark like a dog, now has a significant presence in the south east, particularly along the banks of the River Slaney. According to the Irish Wildlife Trust the species is extremely destructive of vegetation and crops and, due to its size, it is very difficult to spot. They are capable of breeding from the age of six months and live on average fifteen years, so once established they are very difficult to eradicate.

Wicklow: Arklow crew to make history
A crew of twelve from Arklow who are taking part in this year's Celtic Challenge, taking place on May 3, will be making history as the first Irish ladies' crew to row across the Irish Sea. The Challenge, which takes place every two years, sees boats setting out from Arklow to row the ninety miles to Aberystwyth in Wales, a feat that takes up to seventeen hours to complete. Featured in the team is Claire Tyrrell who, along with her eleven teammates, trains two nights of the week and on Sunday morning, overseen by Atlantic rowers Eamonn and Peter Kavanagh.
SPONSOR: Please help us keep your newsletter coming - visit our good friends at Lollysmith:
Now that the St. Patrick's Day parades and Easter are over, it's time to turn our attention to Mother's Day (in the United States), Father's Day, graduations, First Communions and more. We're stocked with a wide range of appropriate gifts for every occasion. Anne Jacobs from California says LollySmith is my favorite place to shop online. Every order has come in a timely manner. I love the selection and the quality is excellent. I will continue to shop at LollySmith and recommend this store to my friends. See what Anne is talking about here: http://store.yahoo.com/cgi-bin/clink?lollysmith+wSpfhS+teandgrgi.html

Beth writes: Is there anywhere in the United States that carries Irish Aran 4-oz-or-better, not dyed, natural wool for knitting?  Even the unwashed, oily wool would be great, but I can't find a yarn shop that carries anything heavier than 3-1/2 oz hanks, and that just won't do.

Alivia J. Agnew writes: I am looking for information on where Irish people like to go for vacations for a class I am in. Can you help me by helping me understand this part of your wondrous culture?
ED. NOTE: We wrote and told Alivia that anywhere warm would suit!

Janet writes: According to the little bit of information we've been able to scrounge up on my great-grandparents, Great Grandfather John Brayden (Breadon) was born in Fivemiletown, Co. Cavan. When I look at a map of Ireland I find that Fivemiletown is in another county. Did the county lines change in the 1840s? He was born in 1837.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's resignation speech in full
As with most people, we are still in a bit of a state of shock over this morning's political bombshell. Did any of us really think he'd resign? It our humble opinion, it was an emotional speech delivered with great dignity. You can see and hear him here:

The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest
All you might ever want to know about the classic hoax broadcast by the BBC. Please click

Ireland in Springtime
A gallery of gorgeous photographs taken by one Terry Ballard. Please click

Spring Break in Ireland
Photographs by David Metraux. On this site you can also send a free postcard of any scene you happen to like a lot

St. Patrick's Festival from Dublin
We watched a lot of this parade and while it was spectacular, we didn't see a statue of St. Patrick or anyone dressed like him. Is it possible that the parades in the US are now more Irish than the ones in Ireland?

From the Hennessy Irish Page - The New Schools
The latest offering from Vivian and Jack's Irish page is a fascinating look at Hedge Schools which emerged out of the harshness of the Penal Laws. Please click

Free Mammograms
Many women can't afford the test, but here's how you can help: Go to the Breast Cancer site and click on their free mammogram link; if the site gets 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:

Free Pet Food!
Last but certainly not least - our ongoing 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!

Free People Food!
It only takes a second to feed hungry people, too:
SPONSOR: Please help us keep our newsletter coming - visit our friends at the Celtic Attic:
Happy Spring! We are running a special promotion in April. Spend $50 and receive a $5 Gift Certificate. Spend $100 and receive a $10 Gift Certificate. Certificates are valid for your next order and will be mailed to you with your order. The next time you order, simply put he code into the Add a Gift Note section and we will deduct it from your total after your order is placed. Also, receive free shipping on all orders over $100 and a FREE copy of the Celtic Attic Cookbook PDF with all orders.
Order on line or by phone - and tell them Bridget & Russ said hello!
Order by phone: Tel: 360-765-0186
Order on line:
The sun was blistering down on a rare irish spring day and a farmer remarked to his neighbour, "Isn't it a lovely class of day?" "It's so lovely, the neighbour replies, "I wish I was working so I could take the day off."

A pub in the West of Irelandhad this notice over the front door:
The following charges apply to all men who wish barmen to take phone calls from their wives:
€1 "He'just gone."
€2 "He hasn't been here all day.
€3 " I haven't seen him for ages."
€10 "WHO?"
When Kate found out she was pregnant, she told the good news to
anyone who would listen. Her 4-year-old son overheard some of her parents' private conversations.

One day, when Kate and her 4-year-old were shopping, a woman asked
the little boy if he was excited about the new baby.

"Yes!" the 4-year-old said, "and I know what we are going to name it, too. If it's a girl we're going to call her Fiona, and if it's another boy we're going to call it quits!"
1. According to an old Irish superstition, when a diving bird called a Water-Ousel appears in the spring time in unusual numbers in any unfrequented locality, it is a sign of abundance of fresh-water fish?
2. In addition to the familiar black faced sheep, a new white faced breed called a Belclare has been developed? It's noted for its ability to produce twin lambs and gets its name from the village of Belclare in Co. Galway.
3. Why Handel chose Dublin for the first performance of his Messiah? He had received a request a few months earlier to supply a new work for the benefit of three charities in the city. here's the announcement from the March 17 issue of the Dublin Journal:
For relief of the Prisoners in the several Gaols, and for the support of Mercer's Hospital in Stephen's Street, and of the Charitable Infirmary on the Inns Quay, on Monday the 12th of April, will be performed at the Musick Hall on Fishamble Street Mr. Handel's new Grand Oratorio, call'd the MESSIAH, in which the Gentlemen of the Choirs of both Cathedrals will assist, with some Concertos on the Organ, by Mr. Handel.
The premiere actually took place a day later than indicated in that announcement, but there was a public rehearsal on April 9, and both that event and the formal premiere on the 13th were reviewed in the Journal, which printed the following on April 17. To read the review, please click

And, if you'd like, you can hear the Hallelujah Chorus here:

For the first time in our brief history, we've had no entries into our writer's quiz. This might be because we've also had problems with sending and receiving emails. And then of course, everyone was busy with St. Patrick's Day, Easter, and other distractions. In any event, if you entered, please re-send and if you didn't, here's another opportunity.

Want to see your name and favorite web site in our next newsletter?
Who wrote:
1. Essays on the Early Irish Kings
2. Welcoming the Stranger: Hospitality in Contemporary Ireland
3. Roddy Connolly and the Struggle for Socialism in Ireland
First off, the answer to our last cranium cruncher:
Q. What is a nuahcerpel?
A. Leprechaun spelled backwards!
This one was just way too easy for the Riddle People!! We can't imagine how many responses we actually received given that we haven't been getting all of our messages. But the ones that did make it into our mailbox were in the hundreds! However, first in was Annie Murdoch from down under. Ace, Annie!

And now for our next headbanger:
A word I know, six letters it contains.
Subtract just one, and twelve is what remains.
Q What is it?
SPONSOR: Please help us keep the newsletter coming - visit our newest sponsor: St. Patrick's Day and Irish T-Shirts.
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NOTE: Made in and shipped from the USA

1. Article: April Fool's Day
2. Article: The Borrowed Days
3. Aericle: The Year of the Spud
4. Video Review - An irish Country Calendar/Spring
5. Article: Co. Clare - The Banner County
6. Article: Tribute to Turlough
7. The Irish Kitchen: Grilled Mountain Lamb
8. Basic Irish - Spring Cleaning
9. Kids' Ireland: A Fireside Story - How St. Patrick Banished the Last Serpent

10. Music Review: Tunes About St. Patrick?
11. April Trivia Contest. The new quiz will be posted asap. Or as soon as we get this newsletter out! All entries must be in by midnight on April 30 whatever time zone you're in:
Winner for February: Congratulations to Kate Davis from Iowa who is our latest winner and has chosen the Warrior Pendant from the Celtic Attic. Well done, Kate!
12. Circle of Prayer The second Novena in this cycle continues through April 2 and the third one begins on Thursday. Whatever your spiritual leanings, please keep the following in your prayers or meditations: The family of Matt Maupin - a local boy who was captured in Iraq four years ago. .We all hoped for a better outcome, but it was not to be. Matt's remains were just found, RIP. Please also remember Kim, a young wife and mother who is severely brain damaged after a fall; Johanna Robarge; 
Mary Layman; Laurie Martin; Jane F; Baby Brenna, Liam Nolan, Hartson Dowd, and little Isabella. Also Randy, Donna and their children; Ergin, Josie and her family; Kathy, Celeste's husband Gene, Pauline Dewberry, and so many others especially our men and women in the military serving their country all over the world. Please God, they will all be home safe and sound soon.
SPONSOR: Please help us keep this newsletter coming - visit Irish Incense!
We are very pleased to bring you a special offer we negotiated with the fine people at Irish Incense. If you long to experience the nostalgic aroma of an old-fashioned turf fire, here's your chance to purchase a turf incense burner at a huge 20% discount. Just visit the following URL and enter the Coupon Code ICC170308 in the space provided in the left-hand column.
So that's the long and the short of it until we write again. If you're celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other important event between now and then, we hope it's an occasion filled with joy. Did you tie the knot in April or planning on doing so this month? Here's your special verse and it's a good one:
Marry in April if you can, joy for maiden and for man,

With that, we'll leave you with another verse for all of our readers:
You're the twinkle and warmth in Irish eyes.
The whimsey and charm of leprechaun guise.
The treasured gold at the rainbow's end.
The beauty and mystery of emerald glens.
You're the top o' the mornin' - our cup of tea.
You're springtime adornin'. God's blessings on thee.
Edited and adapted from that famous Irish writer Anon.

And, as they say in Ireland, mind yourself.

Slan agus beannacht!

Bridget & Russ
Get down on your knees and thank God you're still on your feet!
Celtic Blessing - sung by the St. Coca's Choir, from Kilcock, Co. Kildare
Please check with the Wild Geese - they have a huge listing of events and we don't want to duplicate their efforts:
If we receive a unique event not mentioned there, we will be happy to list it here.

April, 12th, April 13th - Covington KY
The Irish American Theatre Company will perform A Little Like Paradise by Niall Williams at Molly Malone's on4th Street. Originally performed in Dublin at the Abbey, this play depicts with hope and humor the regeneration of a small Western Irish town unknown to the European community and ignored by Dublin. Tickets on sale now. Question? Write or call Maureen:
E-mail: IrishAmericanTheaterCo@fuse.net
Tel: 513-225-6915 

Los Alamitos, California
Friends of Ireland of Southern California Monthly Breakfast. Events are held on the 1st Tuesday of the month. Please call in RSVP to one of the contacts below, one day in advance so we can accommodate you.
Barbara Walsh (714) 739-4195 Kathy Wisdom (714) 572-8277
Tom Kennedy (562) 425-2636 Jim O'Dea (626) 965-0307

Eastern Caribbean Irish Genealogy Seminar Cruise - January 09
The Irish Ancestral Research Association is organizing an Irish genealogy cruise in January 2009 on Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas. Speakers include our friends Eileen & Sean O'Duill from Dublin. For complete details, please click

Three fellahs are drinking in the pub. Two of them are talking about the amount of control they have over their wives, while the third remains quiet.

After a while, one of the first two turns to the third and says, "Well then, what about you? What sort of control do you have over your wife?" The third fellah says, "I'll tell you. Just the other night, my wife came to me on her hands and knees." The first two fellahs are amazed. "Glory be to God, man! What happened then?" they ask. The third fellah takes a healthy swallow of his pint sighs, and mutters, "She said, 'Get out from under the bed and fight like a man!"

Did you enjoy this edition of our newsletter? Fingers crossed you did and you'd like to keep it coming. A tangible way to do that is with a small voluntary donation. Any amount is welcome. And go raibh maith agat in advance for your kindness!

Bridget & Russ
5814 Blue Spruce
Cincinnati, OH 45224
Or you can make a contribution on PayPal to this email address:
God bless you for your kindness and generosity!