Greetings & Blessings to all,
Welcome to our January/Celtic spring edition. We hope this issue finds you and yours on the pig’s back and in fine fettle. As for ourselves, we enjoyed a very brief spring thaw earlier in the week with temperatures near seventy. The daffodils and snowdrops are up - but today, it’s back to the usual conditions - bitter cold and occasional snow flurries. However, we’re not complaining - yet. For the last few years, February has been the worst month of the winter - not January.  Another effect of climate change?
Meanwhile, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for all of your wonderful greeting cards and good wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! We did enjoy a great time with family and friends throughout what Himself calls “the silly season” and we hope it was the same for you and yours.
It wasn’t all fun and frivolity - Just as with so many other people , Herself managed to catch a series of flu-like bugs. However, she’s now on the mend and fingers crossed this will be the end of it until next year (it usually happens around the same time!) 
Once a year,  we make a request for donations to support our efforts. Very simply,  if you enjoy what we do - whether it’s spending time on the web site or reading the newsletter, we ask you to consider making a small contribution to help keep us going. Any amount is fine, but as always, all contributions of $5.00 or more will receive a small token of our appreciation. We still have shamrock bookmarks and Irish blessing tokens but we’re looking for alternatives. If you’d like to support our efforts, you can make a donation through PayPal here:
Our account there is this email address:
Or you can send your gift via snail-mail to:
Bridget & Russ Haggerty
5814 Blue Spruce
Cincinnati OH 45224
Go raibh maith agat in advance for your kindness.
Many of you know we spend time each summer whenever we can at a cottage on Cape Cod. The owner of that cottage and matriarch of the  Shields family  is Mary Theresa Shields who went to her reward early in December 2012. We knew we wanted to do something special to celebrate  Theresa’s love of Ireland and her Sligo heritage, so we sent the family a canister of Irish dirt - if you can’t be buried in Ireland, it’s the next best thing. At the grave site, family and friends were given a wee bit to strew over Theresa’s  casket. We know she would have loved the gesture and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank Caron at Sullivans Irish Alley for her help in making sure the gift arrived in time. You can find out more about this unique product  here:
The question of the moment is: Should the potato be the National Vegetable of Ireland?
When we saw a petition to make the potato the national vegetable of Ireland, we were surprised that it wasn't already. What do you think? Enquiing Irish minds would like to know. You can express what you think on Map Your Vote where you will find numerous polls on a wide variety of topics, not just Irish or Ireland. Simply click 
ED NOTE:  Just so you know, Map Your Vote is a  site created by our nephew Ian and his dad Dennis -   descendants of the Shields clan in Sligo. 
We’d like to thank those of you who have bought the book and tookhe time to write a review. While sales are very slow, it IS selling and that’s without the usual major publisher promotional efforts. We’re going to be doing more PR ourselves, but ultimately, what often turns an unknown novel into a best seller is word of mouth - so please ask your family and friends to check it out at Amazon’s Kindle book store here: 
ED. NOTE: For those of you who don’t have a Kindle or compatible app, Russ is working on producing a print edition. We’ll keep you posted.  
Because it was becoming increasingly more difficult to get weekly news from many of the small county newspapers, we’ve decided to do this feature once monthly. It will now be posted on the first Saturday of the month beginning on February 2nd. 
Did you know that Irish Culture & Customs has a FaceBook page? True, we haven’t done much with it, but we’re hoping to improve on that. In any event, we’d like you to take  look and give us a “Like” - if you like what you see so far!
If for whatever reason you think you might not have received one of our newsletters, they  are all archived beginning with the newest one first. Here’s the link: 
To our friends down under who recently celebrated Australia Day and our Celtic cousins, the Scots, who did their annual tribute to Robert Burns with haggis, kilts, pipes an a' that. We hope a good time was had by all.
Enough of the bltherin  .. except to say that if this is your first  newsletter, many thanks for becoming a subscriber and if you enjoy our musings and meanderings, please feel free to share them with your family and friends.
SPONSOR: Tara Irish Clothing 
The ancient site of the Hill of Tara located in the mystical and romantic Boyne Valley provides an almost infinite source of inspiration for the skilled artisans of Tara Irish Clothing. Drawing from a knitting history and heritage that spans generations, intricate stitches and patterns are used to create meticulously crafted garments and accessories for men, women and children. They invite you to explore what's on offer, confident in the knowledge that all Tara Irish Clothing products are made in Ireland and are guaranteed to be of the highest quality. Your satisfaction is their promise - or your money back, no questions asked. To see the full line, please click 
ED. NOTE: If you do place an order, tell them Bridget & Russ said hello!
Quips, Quotes, Proverbs & Toasts
A Bit of the Wit
Joke of The Moment
Did You Know
Know Your Writers
The week That Is
Ode to St. Brigid
A song of Brigid, goddess and saint, whose 'festival of the little lights' at Imbolc celebrates the birth of spring. She was once honoured, as the song says, " not just in Ireland, but in many countries ... a shining lantern, a flame throughout the land ... winter is hard and dark, but once Brigid's day comes, spring cannot be far behind "Sung by Blanche Rowen.
St. Brigid’s Shrine
A very peaceful video shot at Faughart, Dundalk, Co. Louth with just ambient sound. 
Hymn to St. Brigid
An all too short and sweet hymn sung sean nos:
Irish Saints
Inspiring video that touches upon all of the major Irish saints including St. Brigid. Powerful music from Michael Card:
The Relics of St. Brigid in Portugal
Fascinating piece on how back in the Midddle Ages, three knights transported the skull of St. Brigid to Lumiar near Lisbon:
Spring Charm - Peaceful Celtic Music
Spring water stream - so relaxing!
SPONSOR:  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:
That God once loved a garden we learn in Holy writ.
And seeing gardens in the Spring I well can credit it.
Winifred Mary Letts 
ED. NOTE: Winifred Mary Letts was an English writer, with strong Irish connections, known for her novels, plays and poetry.
Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account  
Attributed to Oscar Wilde
The wealthy tourist couldn't understand why the Irish angler was lying lazily beside his boat on the beach, smoking a pipe. "Why aren't you out fishing?" asked the tourist. "Because I have caught enough fish for the day," said the fisherman. "Why don't you catch some more?" "What would I do with them?" "You could sell them and make more money," was the tourist’s 's reply. "With that you could have a motor fixed to your boat and go into deeper waters and catch more fish. Then you would make enough to buy nets. These would bring you more fish and more money. Soon you would have enough money to own two boats . . . maybe even a fleet of boats. Then you would be a rich man like me." "What would I do then?" asked the fisherman. "Then you could really enjoy life." said the tourist "And what do you suppose I might be doing right now?" said the Irishman, smiling and puffing away on his pipe.
1. Until the 1920s, on St. Brigid's Day, at Teltown, Co.Meath, couples could legally marry by simply walking toward each other? If the union didn't work out, they could 'divorce' by walking away from each other at the same place exactly a year and a day later.
2. Supposedly, the tradition of a woman being able to ask a man to marry her on Leap year originated with St. Brigid 
3. In the liturgical calendar, February 3rd is the feast of St. Blaise which in Ireland and many other countries is observed with the Blessing of the Throats. The blessing is supposed to protect against illness or other problems associated with the throat. It’s based on St. Blaise saving the life of a small child who was choking. 
SPONSOR: The Celtic Attic
Support our efforts and visit the Celtic Attic - Especially now when you can take advantage of their massive post holiday sale! And, exclusively for Irish Culture and Customs readers, take 10% off your order and get FREE shipping on orders over $50!   The discount will be removed AFTER you place your order.  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:
ED. NOTE:  Live in WA State? Win two FREE tickets to the Rhythm of the Dance event featuring the National Dance Company of Ireland at the Comcast Arena in Everett WA on Tuesday March 19th at 7:30PM. Enter Celtic Attic’s Monthly Contest and you will automatically be entered to win the tickets.  If you don't live in WA state, they  will enter you into their regular drawing for a cross pendant or a tea gift basket. 
To begin with, the answers to our last quiz:
1.An Ulster Christmas by Maggi Kerr Peirce
2. All Silver And No Brass by Henry Glassie 
3. Dublin Carol by Conor McPherson
A round of pints and applause to the following  Irish bibliophiles
Conor McPherson
Tom McGuire
Deirdre Mckiernan Hetzler 
Author of  IRISH AMERICA RE-AWAKENING: The Eoin McKiernan Story. Borealis Press in Ottowa, Canada
Virginia Gaines (Hope you get your wish and meet Mr. Glassie someday!)
ED. NOTE: Did we leave you out? Sorry - with the flood of mails during the holidays, we may have overlooked one or more readers. Just let us know and we’ll be sure to include your name next time.
And now for our next quiz - Who wrote:
1. St. Brigid, Patroness of Ireland
2. Life of St. Brigid, Abbess of Kildare
3. St. Brigid’s Well
Please send your entries to:
It would be very helpful to put Book Quiz in the subject line. Thanks!
First off,   the answer to our previous head banger’
Q. What does December have more of than each of the other months? 
 A. The letter D. We had a slew of people who thought the answer was E - but September has just as many. We also liked Jas Turley’s answer - hangovers, so we’re giving him an honorable mention. AND we’re also giving an honorable mention to Bridget’s brother Terry O’Flaherty for his astute and funny observation: “It has to be Irish Birthdays  as most Irish babies are conceived in March; how do I know this you may ask? well if you work back 9 months  from my birthday, 18th), what window of time do you arrive at?”  Hmmm. Onwards:  Many thanks to all of you who sent in a solution but first in was Tom McGuire, USA. Well done Tom.
And now for next Noggin’ Niggler
Give it food and it will live
Give it  water and it will die
Q. What is it?
Please send your answers to Bridget at the following email address
ED. NOTE: It would be helpful if you put Riddle in the subject line. Thanks.
 SPONSOR:  Lollysmith
Please help us keep your newsletter coming - visit our good friends at Lollysmith who would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your patronage  in 2012 wish you a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. And don’t forget - whatever the occasion,  birthdays, graduations, weddings or anniversaries, you’re sure to find the perfect present at  Lollysmith!  Stop by soon and tell them Bridget & Russ said hello.
1. Shopping Section: Naturally, we hope you and yours will do all of  your shopping through Irish Culture & Customs and and the advertisers in our newsletter - not just at the holidays - but all year round. For every sale, we make a small commission which goes a long way toward helping us cover the expenses of maintaining the web site and sending the newsletter. Many thanks in advance for your kindness! 
ED. NOTE: Many thanks to all of you who did some or all of your shopping through Irish Culture and Customs throughout the holiday season. Our main shopping page is now featuring gifts for Valentine’s day. Here’s the link:
2. County News: The bits and bobs that used to come by mail are now on line here on the first Saturday of the month:
3. Daily Headlines: We keep two week’s worth of headlines and links here: And we try to keep it all positive:
ED. NOTE: In the right-hand margin on this page, you will also find a link to the time and weather in Ireland.
4. Trivia Contest:  All entries for the January Contest must be in by midnight on January 31st, whatever time zone you live in.
December’s winner was Carolyn Billen,USA who chose for her prize the Celtic Warrior pendant generously provided by  the Celtic Attic. 
5. Article: St. Brigid - The Giveaway 
6. Article: Brigid of the Songs
7. Article:  Celebrating a Name Day in OldIreland
8.Article: Celebrating Candlemas in Old Ireland
 9. The Irish Link to St. Valentine
10. Article: The Holy Wells of Ireland
11.  The Irish Kitchen - St. Brigid’s Oatcakes
12. Basic Irish: St. Brigid & Spring
13. Kids’ Ireland:  Making St. Brigid’s Crosses Music Review:  
14. Music Review: Celtic Love Songs  
15. Circle of Prayer
The 9th Novena in this cycle began on January 28th  and continues through February 6th. Whatever your spiritual leanings please keep the following in your prayers or meditations: those still suffering from the affects of super storm Sandy, the families of all those so cruelly cut down at the school in Connecticut, those who lost their homes during the fires in Australia, Kim D from Canada who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer, Kevin Donahue, Susan Schupp, Hartson Dowd, his wife Helen and their family, the family and friends of the McTiernans, all those who are struggling with serious health and financial problems, and last , but certainly not least, all the men and women serving in the military all over the world. Please God, keep them safe and bring them home soon.
So there you have it until, God willing, we write again around around St. Valentine’s Day. If you’re celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other special event between now and then, we hope it’s an occasion filled with love, joy and laughter. And if you were married in February or plan on tying the knot this month, here is your special verse:
When February birds do mate, 
you may wed nor dread your fate.
We’ll take our leave with this lovely blessing for the day that’s in it:
Through her holy intercession with our Father in Heaven, may St. Brigid bless you and and make you generous in your giving, pleasant in your greeting, honest in your speaking, loyal in your loving, clear in your thinking, strong in your working, and joyful in your living And when it's time for your homecoming, may there be peace in your passing and a warm welcome in heaven 
And as they say in Ireland, mind yourself! 
Until next time, pinch punch first day of the month white rabbit. Happy St. Brigid’s Day. Happy Imbolc, and Happy Chinese New Year, Gung Hay Fat Choy! (may prosperity be with you)!
Slan agus beannacht 
Bridget & Russ
Get down on your knees and thank God you’re still on your feet. 
Téigh ar do ghlúine is bí buíoch le Dia go bhfuil tú fós ar do chosa.
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Irish Abroad lists many events taking place all over the world. Check them out here:
If we receive a unique event not mentioned there, we will be happy to list it here.
2013 Over The Edge Poetry Book Showcase at The Kitchen @ The Museum. In this annual retrospective of the year just past, Galway-based poets who published a new collection of poems during 2012 are invited to read three poems from the collection in question. To learn more, please click: 
Upcoming dates for The Irish American Ceili Club ceillis are  January 26, February 16 & March 9 with Tommy & Sharon IRISH - AMERICAN CEILI CLUB
PO Box 220315
Facebook Link:
An AIA Art Exhibition featuring artworks by Dublin artist Roger Cummiskey and Juan Cruz Plaza based on personal Spanish themes takes place at: Café-academia Picasso Calle Miguel de Unamuno, 5, Fuengirola, 29649. 15th January to 20th February 2013. To learn more, visit Roger’s web site:
Family Day, a national celebration of the diversity of families  will be held at Iveagh Gardens with song, dance, music, magic, arts and crafts workshops, sports, storytelling, face painting, games and festivities for children of all ages. A complementary pampering area for grown-ups provides a relaxation haven, while a food village offers flavours from around the globe. Family Day is presented by One Family, Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families, and EBS. For more details, please visit the official site:
From Bodran Classes to Irish Fiddle sessions and much, much more, there is always something going on to celebrate Ireland & the Irish. For complete details about all events, please click
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
The CIA loses track of one of its operatives, and so calls in one of their top spy hunters. The CIA boss says, "All I can tell you is that his name is
Murphy and that he's somewhere in Ireland. If you think you've located him, tell him the code words, 'The weather forecast calls for mist in the morning.' If it's really him, he'll answer, 'Yes, and for mist at noon as well.'" So the spy hunter goes to Ireland and stops in at a pub in a small village.  He says to the barman , "Maybe you can help me. I'm looking for a man named Murphy." The barman replies, "You're going to have to be more specific because, around here, there’s a lot of fellas  named Murphy. There's Murphy the baker;  There's Murphy the banker;   There's Murphy the farmer;  And, as a matter of fact, my name is Murphy, too." Hearing this, the spy hunter figures he might as well try the code words on Murphy the barman , so he says, "The weather forecast calls for mist in the morning."
The barman replies, "Oh, you're looking for Murphy the Spy. He lives right down the road"