Greetings & Blessings to all,
The warmest of welcomes to our Christmas edition. We hope it finds you and yours in good spirits, good health and good company - and if this is your first issue, many thanks for joining us. I If you enjoy our musings and meanderings, please feel free to share them with your family and friends. Go raibh maith agat.
So here we are then - the week  before Christmas. Are you full of mirth and merriment or leaning more towards rattled and ragged? Whatever your mood, might we suggest making yourself a nice cuppa tea (or something  stronger) and take a few minutes to sit back, relax and indulge in a wee bit of Irish cheer. 
Did those last few lines sound familiar? For readers who were with us a few years back, they should as they were adapted from an intro to a newsletter we wrote several years ago. In reading them again we were struck by how much the times  never change - and how much everything changes from year to year. We’re reminded of the old adage, “What is it you were worried about this time last year? Personally , we had a lot to be concerned with - but things seem to have sorted themselves out and we’re looking forward to a better new year. We know that not everyone can say that; however, whatever your current situation, we hope and pray all will be well in 2011.
Since last we wrote, we enjoyed our annual Black Swap Ploughman's Lunch. For those of you who may be new to this curiously named event, it's based on the old Irish custom of trading something you don't want for something the other fella doesn't want. In past years, we've run the gamut from a Stretch Armstrong doll dressed in drag to a cookie/biscuit jar so ugly, the recipient was given permission to smash it to smithereens on the back patio.
This year's "gifts" were just as worthy of immediate demolition. Imagine  mittens for smokers (with a hole in them to hold the cigarette) , Fabio-style romance novels, a very old clock radio, an action figure dressed in leopard skin with a purse to match,  and a “vintage” giant chocolate Hershey’s Valentine kiss which is said to have sat on the giver’s pantry shelf for at least five years. Suffice to say, all in attendance out-did themselves!
We recieved our first Christmas card featuring the The Three Wise Men. According to an old custom, one is supposed to place the card over the front door (on the inside) and this will bring good luck and prosperity in the coming year. Just in case you don’t get one in the mail, we are sending you one that you can print out. God only knows all of us can use all the good luck and prosperity we can get these days! To get your card, please click on this link:
 We’ve never actually pinned down whether or not this custom originated in Ireland. If anyone can shed some light on where it came from, please let us know.  Thank you.
 Enough of the blitherin’ - on with the update!

News: The County News for December will be sent at a later date  
From the Mailbag
Quotes, Toasts, Curses & Blessings
Joke of The Week
A Bit of the Wit
Did You Know
Know Your Writers
The week That Is
Leave 'em Laughing
SPONSOR: Help support this newslletter and our web site by visiting our friends at The Celtic Attic. Shop today until the 19th and receive 1/2 off on shipping on all orders. They will take that shipping special off the order total after you place your order. They charge all credit cards in their store, so they have all their holiday elves manually adjusting your order totals before processing. Remember to make your list and check it thrice! So shop now for all those last minute gifts you can't find anywhere else. Plus, take 5.00 off an order of $50 or more exclusively through Irish Culture & Customs. Just put the code IC01 in the add a gift card section! 
Contact the Celtic Attic on line or by phone - and tell them Bridget & Russ said hello!
Tel: 1-360-286-2307
On line:
Tom Doyle writes:  Please remember this holiday season the "Franciscan Spirit"  and do whatever you are able. Because there is hunger, because there is cold, because there is lack of shelter and clothing, because there is pain and misery- these are the reasons we are here.  We help because there is a need. God Bless.
ED NOTE: Tom’s message is well taken - and even though many of us are struggling, there are so many others who have it much worse.  Even just a few cans/tins of food donated to your local food bank will make a difference. 
Mary from Australia writes:
I am from Australia looking for my parents wedding photo.Can you please tell me if any of the old copies of the negatives would still exist. They married in 1919 and migrated to Australia in 1922. Names:  Thomas Patrick HOOLEY married Mary (Molly) SHEEHY 24th April, 1919. at the Catholic Church in Spa Tralee  No.2 County Kerry Ireland. I have been on Rootsweb Kerry List for some time and a lady noticed my request for information about photos and said to get in touch with the photographers in Tralee . Found one email but never got an answer sadly. Unable to find any phone numbers or addresses of any others in Tralee. Have you any idea who to write to please? Is there a place thatstores all the oldphotos in Ireland of negatives of weddings etc?
Michelle writes:
My husband and I have recently purchased a farm and we thought that we had a name for it.  However, there is someone about a half mile away that is already using the name (Goose Creek Farm).  My husband posted our dilema on the translator website and got some feedback this morning.  I have included the link. Any help would be appreciated.
Accuradio - Celtic Christmas
Hear the old carols you remember from when you were little as well as contemporary  seasonal tunes and songs all presented with Celtic flair:
An Irish Christmas - Part 1
We stumbled on this video quite by accident. It begins with a brief history of Dublin and goes on to a magnificent celebration of Christmas at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  Enjoy!
The 12 Days of Christmas - Irish Style
With many thanks to our dear friend Bill Crotty for sending us the link to this Frank Kelly classic.
Ireland under a blanket of snow
With many thanks to John J O’Carroll for sending us this link which will take you to RTE’s John Murray Show. Scroll down and you will see a link to the slide show of listener’s photos accompanied by music.
Christmas In Killarney - Joe McPartland
It’s with great pleasure that we share this particular link with you. Joe and his lovely wife have been faithful and supportive readers of our newsletter for many years. This is just one example of the many songs this talented duo have recorded. In the new year, we hope to do a story on them.
A Christmas Celtic Sojourn
Brian O'Donovan of WGBH Radio in Boston discusses what he describes as 'the pure drop' - Christmas music performed by the best musicians and singers from Ireland and other Celtic nations
ED. NOTE: We went looking and were delighted to discover that you can get the video on amazon. Be sure to copy the entire URL into your browser:
Oíche Chiúi - Silent Night
If you like Enya, you will love her rendition of Silent Night,  especially in Irish.
Christmas lights around the world
Breath-taking photos - and you thought you’d overdone it? To see all the pictures, click on the word next top right - it’s not immediately very obvious!
Ashland University Interactive Card
Several readers brought what is becoming a Christmas e-card classic to our attention once again. If your frazzled nerves need soothing, this should do it: 
ED. NOTE: Sometimes it's slow to load - be patient; it's worth the wait.
Fiddle Tree
One of our all-time favorite greetings - and joy, oh joy, it's still available:
NORAD Tracks Santa
For the 55th consecutive year, the men and women of the North American Aerospace Defense Command are preparing to track Santa. The site went live on December 3rd  and features holiday games and activities that change daily.
The Animals of YouTube sing Deck The Halls
Feeling less than merry? This is guaranteed to put you in a joyful mood. Many thanks to our dear friend and animal lover Michelle.
Irish Heritage Center of Greater Cincinnati Grand Opening
Decades of dreams have come true for Irish Cincinnatians with the offical opening the first Irish center in the city.. If you live in or near the tir-state area, founding members  Maureen Kennedy and her husband Kent Covey would be dilighted to give you the warmest of welcomes. Please click
Cleaning for a Reason 
Many thanks to Pamela Boyd who sent us the following: 
If you know any woman currently undergoing Chemo, please pass the word to her that there is a cleaning service that provides FREE 
housecleaning - 1 time per month for 4 months while she is in treatment. All she has to do is sign up and have her doctor fax a note confirming the treatment. Cleaning for a Reason will have a participating maid service in her zip code area arrange for the service. 
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:
ED. NOTE: Maria Eryaatz advises that free mammograms are also available in all states via the VNA (visiting nurses association).
Click on 'Find A VNA' for the your nearest location.
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:  Introducing Shamrock Gift - the latest addition to our list of newsletter and web site supporters. 
The Shamrock Gift promise is authenticity - every  item on offer is made in Ireland. They have  also mastered every aspect of "buying Irish"  - They buy directly from  Irish artisans, which results in a 30% discount and, because they are a US based company, they are not required to pay VAT taxes, which adds up to another 21.5% savings. Plus,receive Free Shipping on all orders over $100.  To learn more, please click:
There is a remarkable breakdown of taste and intelligence at Christmastime. Mature, responsible grown men wear neckties made of holly leaves and drink alcoholic beverages with raw egg yolks in them.
P. J. O'Rourke
Another oldie but goodie. Sometimes you just can't improve on what's already the best Christmas joke we've ever heard:
The teacher asked each of her students how they celebrated Christmas. She calls first on young Patrick O'Flaherty. "Tell me, Patrick, what do you do at Christmas time? Patrick addresses the class: "Me and me twelve brothers and sisters go to midnight Mass and we sing carols. Then we come home very late and we hang up our pillowcases at the foot of the bed. Then we go to bed and wait for Father Christmas to come with all our toys." "Very nice, Patrick," the teacher says. "Now, Billy Murphy, what do you do at Christmas?" "Me and my sister go to church with Mum and Dad, and we also sing carols. When we get home, we put biscuits and milk by the chimney and hang up our stockings. We hardly sleep waiting for Santa Claus to bring our presents." "That's also very nice, Billy," she said. Realizing that there was a Jewish boy in the class and not wanting to leave him out of the discussion, she asked him the same question. "Now, Isaac, what do you do at Christmas?" "Well, we also sing carols," Isaac responds. Surprised, the teacher questions further. "Tell us what you sing." "Well, it's the same thing every year. Dad comes home from the office. We all pile into the Rolls Royce and drive to his toy factory. When we get inside, we look at all the empty shelves and sing, 'What a friend we have in Jesus.' Then we all go to the Bahamas." 
A Dubliner gets on a bus and asks the driver how long the trip is between Limerick to Cork. "About 2 hours," says the driver. "Okay," says the Dubliner "then how long is the trip between Cork to Limerick?" The irate driver says "It's still about 2 hours, boyo. Why'd ye think there'd be a difference?" "Well," says the Dubliner , "It's only a  week between Christmas and New Year's, but it's a mighty lot longer than that between New Year's to Christmas!"
1. According to old Irish folklore, to have good health in the coming year, you should eat an apple on Christmas Eve?
2. You should never launder a Christmas gift before giving it to the recipient? It washes out the luck? 
3. It is unlucky to wear a ragged garment on Christmas Day? A hole meant a leak in the purse. However, if clothing is torn on the big day, it should not be sewn; it should be pinned together.
First off, the answers to our last quiz:
1. An Irish Country Christmas by Alice Taylor (or Patrick Taylor)
2. Dublin Carol by Conor McPherson
3. All Silver and No Brass  by Henry H Glassie
A tip of the hat and a pat on the back to our brilliant Irish bibliophiles:  
Donna Fetter
Mary Holm
Tom McGuire
Déirdre McKiernan Hetzler
 "Glorious Ireland" -  24 May - 5 June 2011
View our new itinerary at
ED. We were sad to hear that this will be the last official McKiernan tour. We have long intended to do a story on Deirdre’s father who began these personally escorted journeys to his beloved Ireland in 1966. It would seem the time has come to do that. 
 If you’d like to see your name on our list of Irish Literary Sleuths, please write and tell us who wrote the following:
1. An Irish Night Before Christmas
2. A Simply Delicious Irish Christmas
Sacred Space for Advent & The Christmas Season
Please send your answers to Bridget at
But first, the answer to our last bit of  skull-duggery:
This runs fore to aft on one side of a ship, and aft to fore on the other. What  is it? 
A. The ship’s name
As, always, our Riddle People didn’t  disappoint. We had a veritable avalanche of answers - both right and wrong. Many thanks to everyone who took the time to send in a solution but first in with the correct answer was Frank O’Halloran. Well done, Frank!
And now for our next brain bruiser:
I never was, am always to be, 
no one ever saw me, nor ever will. 
And yet I am the confidence of all  
who live and breathe on this terrestrial ball. 
What am I?
Please send your answers to Bridget at
It would be helpful if you put riddle answer in the subject line. Thanks!
 SPONSOR: Please help us keep your newsletter coming - visit our good friends at Lollysmith:
A new shipment of Walking Sticks is fast walking off the shelves. Order yours while they last. Also, the hard to find Blackthorn Crossheads,  new Dart Flights in Red, White, and Blue  and the latest must haves for dancers. Special gifts for  our men and women in the Military and Public Service are also instock.  Make your list, then come take a look - you’re sure to  find something for everyone!
1. Search Function Have you tried it out? You can find the search box in the banner on the left-hand side. Simply key in whatever word or words you wish and if they’re on the site, Google will find them!
2. Shopping Section: 
Christmas is right around the corner - but there’s still time to have gifts sent priority post or overnight.  Shop from the comfort of home and find the perfect Irish gifts  while at the same time support our efforts to bring you this newsletter and the website.  Many thanks in advance for your help..
3. An Irish Christmas - The Day Before
4. Memories of Christmas Eve Past
5. Rowing to Midnight Mass
6. One Moment in Time
7. Burying the Baby Jesus
8. White-Washed Walls
9. An Irish Christmas - Food for the Feast
10. Basic Irish - Words and Phrases for the Holiday Season
11. Kids’ Ireland - Midnight Visitors
12. Music Review: The chietains Bells of Dublin
 13.  December  Trivia Contest   
All  entries must be in by December 31 st no matter what time zone you are in.
 November’s winner has yet to respond to our notification. Nicala Hayward, if you are reading this, please contact us asap. 
14. The Daily News
Not all the news from  Ireland is about the economic meltdown or the big freeze. We publish headlines  from a variety of Irish newspapers - and we make a valiant effort to find material that’s not only positive but also relevant to Irish culture and customs.
15. Circle of Prayer
The fourth Novena in this cycle began on December 13th and continues through December 2st. As for our prayer requests,  whatever your spiritual leanings, please keep the following  in your prayers or meditations ,   a close family member going through chemo,  Caitlyn’s Aunt Judy, Hartson,  little Isabella,  Mickey,   Tara H; Patricia's daughter Heather, the family and friends of the McTiernans,  and so many others,   especially those suffering severe financial hardship and also our military personnel serving their countries at home and abroad. Dear Heavenly Father, please keep them safe from all harm and bring those away from home back to their loved ones soon.
SPONSOR: Please help us keep your newsletter coming - visit our good friends at the Irish Lottery:
In operation since 1988, it's one of the oldest online sites in the world. With subscribers in 89 countries it is also among the most reliable. Jackpots are never lower than US $1,500,000 and are frequently worth in excess of US$5,000,000 Here's the best part - you don't have to live in Ireland to play and all winnings are Tax Free! It’s always been a fantasy of ours that one of readers would scoop the big prize, but you can’t win it if you’re not in it. Play from the comfort of home here: - and the best of Irish luck to you!
So there you have it until we write again, God willing, at the end of the month. In the meantime, for all of you  celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other special event between now  and then,  we hope it's an occasion filled with joy and happiness.
Nollaig Shona Dhuit to you and yours and we’ll take our leave with this old Irish blessing: 
God bless the corners of your house and all the lintels blessed.
And bless the hearth and bless the board and bless each place of rest,
And bless each door that opens wide to strangers as to kin,
And bless each crystal window pane that lets the starlight in,
And bless the rooftop overhead and every sturdy wall.
The peace of man. The peace of God. With peace and love for all. 
 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
And this is for our dear friend Mary O’Hara who asked us to bring this phrase back:
May you be seven times better, a year from today!!
 in the Irish
Go mba seacht bhfearr a bheas tu bliain o inniu!!
Are you a loyal reader of our newsletter? 
Your voluntary donation will help us keep sending it around the world each week. Please give whatever you can to Russ and Bridget, 5814 Blue Spruce, Cincinnati OH 45224. Donations can also be made via PayPal at
Our account there is this email address:
Many thanks in advance for your kindness.
NOTE: All donations of $2.50 or more will receive this green ribbon bookmark  featuring metal brass-colored shamrock charm. 
Alternatively. we are also offering a traditional bookmark featuring a metal Celtic cross and the the words: The Lord will give strength unto his people from Psalm 29:11.
You can get your own copy if you sign up by sending an email to:
or click on this link:
Please check with the Wild Geese - they have a huge listing of events and we don't want to duplicate their efforts:
Irish Abroad also has a comprehensive listing:
If we receive a unique event not mentioned there, we will be happy to list it here.
Carribean Cruise  - February 27
Patrick O'Flaherty  invites you to join him  and other entertainers   as they  set sail aboard the Norwegian Spirit on an 8-day, 7-night Cruise to the Caribbean, leaving from New Orleans on February 27, 2011. Ports of call include Costa Maya, Belize, Isla Roatan and Cozumel and the the highlight of the week  will be O'Houligan's Ball, where General Livingston and his wife Sara will reign over the festivities as the 2011 King and Queen.  Visit 
or contact Susie Denman at 1-800-427-8473 ext. 7808 for more information. 
Thanks to underwriting from the Riley School of Irish Music, the second Wednesday of every month,   The Irish Heritage Center, 3905 Eastern Avenue, Columbia-Tusculum, (in the former McKinley Elementary School)  will resume their  "Session Night", featuring both an instrumental session and traditional singing session in two separate rooms from 7:30-11pm.  Plenty of free parking behind the building. Come with your talents, tunes and stories. The bar will be open and there will be room for respectful listeners as well. For details, please contact:  
Or Cindy  at 
Stay up to date with all the upcoming events and click here:
Or call 754-281-7202 / 954-432-8292
Celtic Spirit Culture Weeks are very carefully and sensitively designed to share with you a true and authentic Irish Celtic Experience,    with most activities guided by the islanders themselves. To learn more, please click:
The Irish Club is adjacent to St. Brides Church, the Journalists Church off Fleet Street. the construction of which gave us the standard wedding cake shape and is reputed to have been founded by St. Bridget herself alongside a St. Bridget's Well. To learn more about the club and upcomoming events, please visit their web site:
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
First Friday of the month Céilís and ongoing Tuesday night Céilí and Sean Nós dance classes. Our season runs from October through June and next season we may be moving the dances to Saturday rather than Friday nights. For more details, please click
This was sent to us by our good and faithful contributor Hartson Dowd several years ago. As he says, no one can fracture a Christmas carol or song better than a kid. Sing along with these new takes on old favorites: 
Deck the Halls with Buddy Holly 
We three kings of porridge and tar 
On the first day of Christmas my tulip gave to me 
Later on we'll perspire, as we dream by the fire. 
He's makin a list, chicken and rice. 
Noel. Noel, Barney's the king of Israel. 
With the jelly toast proclaim 
Olive, the other reindeer. 
Frosty the Snowman is a ferret elf, I say 
Sleep in heavenly peas 
In the meadow we can build a snowman, Then pretend that he is sparse and brown 
You'll go down in listerine 
Oh, what fun it is to ride with one horse, soap and hay 
Last but not least. Bridget does the bar quiz for our son’s Trivia Night at the B-List in Vellevue KY. . The following category provided a fun challenge for the teams . Have fun - and if you get stuck drop us a line.
1. Festoon the Elongated, Walled Enclosures  
2. The deity commands Relax You Cheerful  Courteous Males
3. Loyal Followers Advance
4. Far Off in a Feeder
5. Nocturnal Noiselessness
6. Proceed and Enlighten on the Pinnacle
7. Delight for this Planet
8. Quadruped with a Vermillion Proboscis
9.  Give Attention to the Melodious Celestial Beings
10. Do Not  Forbid  the Occurrence of Frozen Atmospheric Water Vapor Descending Lightly on the ground.