Welcome to the Irish Culture & Customs newsletter which is published every fortnight or so and sent out to going on 4600 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:
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Greetings and blessings to all,
We hope this edition finds you and yours in good health, good spirits and good company. And if this is your first newsletter, many thanks for signing up; we hope you enjoy our musings and meanderings and please feel free to forward all or part on to your family and friends.
Whether or not you're a golfing fan, you had to feel proud of Padraig Harrington's sweet victory at the British Open. In recognition of his historic back to back wins, we're dedicating this issue to him, i.e. there will be lots of references to what one wag once said was a game invented by the same people who think music comes out of a bagpipe!
If you think it's been a long time since you received a newsletter, you're not imagining things. We're back from our visit to relatives in Washington DC and it has proven almost impossible to resumeour normal routine. Five thousand or more emails to be dealt with don't help the situation. We're almost caught up and if we owe you a response to a message, please be patient.
It was good to go, but it's great to be home. Best of all, we were able to show our ten year old granddaughter and a close friend the sights of what is an amazing destination. Whatever your political persuasions, the power of the place is palpable. We've been many times and there is always something new. On this trip it was a visit to the newly opened extension of the Air & Space Museum near Dulles Airport. In the third largest building in the USA, or may be even the world, you can see the Enola Gay (the plane that dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima), the space shuttle Enterprise, an SR-71Blackbird, (the highest, fastest aircraft ever built), the Concorde and so much more. Best of all, unlike the museums downtown, it wasn't that crowded.
Another positive aspect of taking our granddaughter with us was that it gave her mother a rest as she recovers from the nasty automobile accident she had a month or so ago. Our thanks to all of you who wrote to say you were praying for her; we forwarded all of your messages and they really cheered her up. No doubt, the prayers have also helped her feel so much better. The prognosis is good and she is hoping to be back to work in mid-August.
It's hard to believe, but it was a month ago today that we had the pleasure of seeing The Elders in concert. What a great time we had! And while the music had the large and lively crowd on their feet with what the lads themselves describe as "kick-a*** Irish rock, it was the interview afterwards that was the highlight of the evening. They are lovely people and we hope you will enjoy our report as well as a review of their latest CD which we are putting together and will post soon.
Last time, along with being excited about going to the show, we mentioned that we had two free tickets for any of their performances. Congratulations to Tina and Finbar Hangman who won them. We also have copies of the Elders latest CD and a DVD to give away, thanks to the generosity of their publicist Anita Daly. We'll be pulling names from the hat on July 1st, so send us your entry asap to Bridget at
By the way, congratulations are in order for Anita who has been named one of the 50 most influential Irish American women by Irish America. She's a truly remarkable woman who has done amazing things to help promote Irish groups and music in the USA. Well done, Anita!
Enough of the blithering' ...on with the update:
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IN THIS ISSUE:
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 where we post the latest headlines from Ireland every morning and we keep two week's of previous news, http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/01 News/Home.html
And more county news can be found here:
FROM AROUND THE COUNTIES
Antrim: First photographs of Dunker cave
A Derry-based Scotsman has become the first person to take photographs of the Great Cave of Dunker at the Giant's Causeway, after planning the expedition for the past nine months. Andy McInroy and his friend Ian Miller had to repel down cliffs and kayak through a swollen river to reach the one hundred foot high Dunker cave. They ventured some fifty metres into the cave, which is reputed to stretch for miles inland, but went no further since it was pitch black. The pair noted both cormorants and razor bills nesting high up in the cave, which is about thirty yards in breadth.
Clare Birds of Prey center opened at Ailwee Cave
Recently, environmentalist and writer Dick Warner performed the official opening of the country's largest public birds of prey center. Burren Birds of Prey & Education Center, located at the Ailwee Cave, Ballyvaughan, has a comprehensive collection of eagles, hawks, owls and falcons and is primarily focused on conservation and education. Joint managers of the project are Darien Redingote and Ben Johnson, both experienced handlers of birds of prey, and they will be staging three flying displays each day. The center will also offer opportunities to see how young raptors are reared.
Down: National Trust puts trust in amateurs
For the first time in its history the National Trust has allowed amateurs to take up their spades to take part in an archaeological dig. The volunteers at Castle Ward have, however, been given training by both Queen's University and the Center for Archaeological Fieldwork before being let loose in the grounds of the early eighteenth century house. The original Queen Anne house was demolished in 1850, more than a century after the Ward family had built a new house, and it is hoped that the dig will reveal evidence of the original, the grounds of which included terraces and a canal.
Dublin: World's top baristahails from Dublin
At the World Barista Championships held recently in Copenhagen the title of best coffee-maker in the world was bestowed on a twenty-five-year-old Dubliner. Stephen Moresby from Sherries was one of fifty-two competitors who had to prepare four espressos, four cappuccinos and four original signature drinks in front of seven judges and an audience of hundreds. Stephen used Avon more milk in his concoctions and believes his friendliness also helped him to take the title.
Galway: Shock closure of Galway hotel
Staff at St. Clarion's Manor House hotel near Clarinbridge were shocked to learn that the hotel is to close on the last Friday in August, with bookings after that date having been cancelled; these include some wedding parties. General Manager Barry Kilroy reports that the hotel had plenty of bookings for the next four to five months but they believe that the decision of the American owners might have been influenced both by the death earlier this year of owner Merv Griffin, and the downturn in the economy. However all is not lost as some other American companies have expressed an interest in taking over the boutique hotel.
Kerry: Tom takes to the field - at 71
When his local hurling team found themselves a man short for a match against a team from Tullylease, Co. Cork in the Junior A Duhallow League, Tom Randles had no hesitation in offering his services. And despite the fact that the grandfather from Kilgarvan is seventy-one years of age, he played for the full sixty minutes at corner-forward. Tom uses hurling to keep fit and trains with his local team as often as he can, as well as running, walking and dancing. He played most of his hurling in Cork where, playing for CIE, he won an All-Ireland medal in the inter-depot competition.
Kilkenny: Does the banshee call in Mullinabro?
The removal of gates which were the site of the death of a member of the Jones family of Mullinabro is believed by some to be responsible for a terrible screeching being heard in the area recently. A sister of the victim vowed she would come back to haunt the area if the gates were ever opened again, and they have been left undisturbed for years. That is until recently, when construction began on the Waterford bypass. Although construction workers took heed of the local legend and walked away from the bulldozer, the gates were subsequently found to be down, and the "banshee" has been heard ever since.
Laois: Presentation sisters laid to rest
Some one hundred family members, fellow-nuns and friends were present in SS Peter and Paul's Cemetery in Portlaoise recently for the re-interment of sixty-two Presentation nuns whose graves in the old convent cemetery had fallen into disrepair. Father Joe O'Neill performed the official blessing of the plot, which has twenty-three grey marble headstones and a remembrance plaque designed by John Swayne.
Leitrim: Mac Diarmada memorabilia to go on tour
The artefacts and memorabilia associated with Sean Mac Diarmada, which were recently purchased by the county council on behalf of the people of the county, will be going on tour. Originally exhibited in Áras an Chontae, the items belonging to the Kiltyclogher 1916 signatory will begin their county tour in Ballinamore Library. Included in the collection is Mac Diarmada's leather travelling case, a mounted photograph taken in Edinburgh in 1904, and a collection of newspapers, among them the first edition of the Leitrim Guardian from 1907. Next year it is hoped to establish a Mac Diarmada Summer School.
Meath : Gold for Boley at Slane
The second round of the National Outdoor Tug 'o War championships took place recently in Creewood. Slane. In comparision to the first round in Monaghan the teams enjoyed glorious weather and ideal underfoot conditions. Who is Boley? Find out here:
Meath: GPS confounds Newgrange signage
It has become apparent that GPS systems in cars are causing thousands of visitors to lose their way when heading for Newgrange, since the systems send them straight to the site rather than to the Brú na Bóinne visitors' center, from where tours begin. It is particularly ironic since two years ago the county council, in conjunction with the Office of Public Works, expended 30,000 on a report recommending ways to improve signage to the site.
Offaly: Birr Castle launch for Game and Country Fair
The launch of the second annual Irish Game and Country Fair, which takes place on the last weekend in August, was held at Birr Castle recently. At the launch the guests were treated to a preview of the mediaeval jousting that will be a feature of the fair, as well as demonstrations of mediaeval weaving and long bow archery, the latter by the Limerick Yeomen. Among new events to feature at the Fair will be the All-Ireland Game Fair Championships in Clay Shooting, Fly Casting, Gundogs, and Terrier and Lurcher Finals. Also new to the Birr event will be the mounting of a major mediaeval festival.
Wexford: Ireland's first Kennedy statue unveiled in New Ross
Ray Lawlor, chairman of New Ross Town Council, admitted that it shouldn't have taken forty-five years for a statue of the late President John F. Kennedy to be erected in Wexford. Councillor Lawlor was speaking at a ceremony hosted by Gay Byrne during which JFK's sister Jean Kennedy Smith unveiled the bronze statue, the work of Kells-based sculptor Ann Meldon Hugh. This is the first statue of the late president to be erected in Ireland and it is located on Charles Street dock where he delivered his address. An exhibition of photographs in St. Michael's Theatre has also been mounted to mark the forty-fifth anniversary of the visit. __________________________________________________________________
FROM THE MAILBAG
Last time, Kate Egan wrote:
Can you recommend an excellent on-line source for learning about Traditional Set Dancing (including the steps, the figures, the history, the music, etc). I would greatly appreciate any advice or direction!!
In response, Mary wrote: I did a little Googling and came up with the following. I hope they help:
If I can find out where she lives, I can probably even find local lessons for her.
Malley Keelan writes:
A few years ago I wrote that Frank Patterson's site was gone. It is back and here is the contact page, including how to find the site of his son Eanan, the composer.
MaryEllen writes: my Mother used to say a phrase to me every time I asked the question "why" about something that was not answerable! It started "Because Cats . . . (something?) whiskers, did you ever see them on dogs?" I am pretty sure it is an Irish saying as my Grandmother came from Ireland and I am sure my grandmother used to say it to my Mother. Have you ever heard of this saying? I would really love to know as my 4 year old is asking the same kind of "why" questions I did and I would love to give him this answer!
Carol Edwards writes: I'm trying to trace a poem by Paul Durcan that's about a hurling match. I think it's about watching an All Ireland Hurling Final in a pub in Cork. Would you have any idea how I could track this poem down? Thanks.
In response to a query by David O'Connor about a song, Maria Eryaatz writes: I'm wondering if Mr. O'Connor might be thinking of the song "Sisters of Mercy" by the Chieftains (I've heard them play it with Sting doing the vocals).
Tom McInerney asks: Is there any specialness or right that goes to the eldest son of the eldest son of a large Irish family. This may seem odd, but if you know, it will end years of squabbling. Thank You so much
Caoimhghgin O Brolchain writes
I wonder if any of your readers could cast some light on an incident related by my father many years ago. My family left Kilkenny to work in the North East of England coalmines around 1880 . There was a flood of such immigration into the area from all parts of Ireland to work in mines, on railways and in shipbuilding yards about this time. Dad told me that one time his own father took him to the funeral of an old man from County Mayo. Since his own wife came from that county he felt it a duty to attend. When they arrived at the churchyard, they found that the deceased old man's sons - five of them - had gathered large stones from the surrounding hedges and fields. These they distributed all over the grave mound. Having said the rosary in Irish, they departed. My grandad enquired about the unusual practice concerning the stones and got a monosyllabic answer :"Wolves!" Now we are told that the last wolf in Ireland was killed sometime in the early 19th C.- I think in Wicklow...but it could hardly have been such a problem as to need such urgent safeguards of a burial site, and that in Mayo ! An tAth Peadar O Laoighaire (Fr Peter O'Leary) in his lovely autobiography, Mo Sceal Fein, tells of seeing starving dogs interfereing with shallow Famine graves when he was a boy in West Cork. Could this be the real origin of the stones on the grave in Co. Durham, in early 20th C. England ? B'fheidir go bhfuil eolas eigin ag duine de do chuid leitheoiri? Beidh me buiochasach ma's feidir libh rud ar bith a innsint.
Golf in Ireland
This series of brief videoswill give viewers a great perspective on playing the game on the ould sod! After you watch the first one, you will see more to click on.
Luke Kelly singing The Galway Races
The Pogues have done it; so have the Clancy Brothers and probably a host of others. But this remains a favourite version.
Ireland at Play at the Height of the Summer
A great blogspot for learning all about the Galway races, one of the most important events on the irish calendar
The Irish Page - There is a Fair
The latest offering from Jack & Vivian, this is a popular children's song often sung at Irish language weekends. It has been recorded by the Cassidys on their album "Singing from Memory." and it is also found on the album "The Best of Altan".
Interview with Gabriel Byrne
One of Ireland's most respected actors, Gabriel Byrne. He has worked with such directors as Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch, the Coen brothers, Costa Gavras, Ken Loach and Ken Russell. He talks about his career on stage and on screen, growing up in Dublin, and more. Please click
Shrines of Ireland
These are links to blogspots sent to us by Clodagh Smith. She says: I recently spent 3 weeks in the great isle. They're great pics Clodagh - thank you!
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:
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.
They arrange the appointment 'n all for ye at the radiology center or hospital. Also free pap smears.
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:
We hope everyone had a most delightful 4th of July holiday. We followed our festivities with our owner, Kristin, heading off on a buying trip to the East Coast. She has returned with all kinds of new items to add to the Website. They should all be online now so check under the NEW ITEMS section for everything just added. And pace your order now to get your complimentary Relax tea gift, complimentary Gift and complimentary shipping or reduced shipping (some restrictions apply). If you would like faster shipping such as Priority or Express, there will be a charge, but Regular shipping is paid by US!
Order on line or by phone - and tell them Bridget & Russ said hello!
Order by phone: Tel: 360-765-0186
Order on line:
QUIPS, QUOTES, PROVERBS & TOASTS
I regard golf as an expensive way of playing marbles. ~G.K. Chesterton
A BIT OF THE WIT
"If the ball was wrapped in bacon, Lassie couldn't find it."
- Irish caddie's comment after a shot into tall rough
JOKE OF THE WEEK
A retiree was given a set of golf clubs by his co-workers. Thinking he'd try the game, he asked the local pro for lessons, explaining that he knew nothing whatever of the game. The pro showed him the stance and swing, then said, "Just hit the ball toward the flag on the first green." The novice teed up and smacked the ball straight down the fairway and onto the green, where it stopped inches from the hole. "Now what?" the fellow asked the speechless pro. After he was able to speak again the pro finally said, "Uh... you're supposed to hit the ball into the cup." "Oh great! NOW you tell me," said the beginner in a disgusted tone.
DID YOU KNOW
1. One of the propellers of "The Lusitania," sunk off The Old Head of Kinsale in 1915, was melted down and turned into sets of golf clubs that sold for $900 each.
2. The Curragh Golf Club in Co. Kildare was founded in 1883 and features the oldest Golf Course in Ireland dating from 1852?
3. The first mention of golf in Irish history comes in a request to King James I by Hugh Montgomery for a Master of Arts to travel to his newly-founded Irish estate on the Ards Peninsula, east of Belfast, "To teach Latin, Greek, and Logycks, allowing the scholars a green for recreation at goff, football and archery."
ED. Goff is not a typo
KNOW YOUR IRISH WRITERS
To begin with, the answers to our last quiz:
1. Charles Trevelyan and the Great Irish Famine - Robin F. Haines
2. Medieval Ireland c. 1170-1495 -PWA Asplin
3. The Priory of Llanthony Prima and Secunda in Ireland - Arlene Hogan
A round of applause and pints for the following Irish literary sleuths:
I invite you to Visit my website and if you scroll down on the opening page, you can hit on any of your favorite categories; they will open up to the index. Pick a story or poem, and enjoy
my favourite website is
A good Irish Website:
http://www.IrishMusicMagazine.com Irish Music Magazine
where I found http://MartinDoyleFlutes.com Martin Doyle Handmade Flutes from Co. Clara
Want to see your name and favorite web site in our next newsletter? Who wrote:
1. Ireland's Golf Courses: The Complete Guide
2. Links of heaven: A Complete Guide to Golf Journeys in Ireland
3. Emerald Fairways and Foam-flecked Seas: A Golfer's Pilgrimage to the Courses of Ireland
But first, the answer to our last Head Banger: Four cars come to a four way stop, all coming from a different direction. They can't decide who got there first, so they all go forward at the same time. They do not crash into each other, but all four cars go.
Q. How is this possible?
A. They were all turning right.
Well done as always to dozens of our Riddle people who had no problem solving this one at all. However, first in was Frank O'Halloran of Beavercreek, Ohio Congratulations! Honourable mentions to all of you who specified a right turn if it was the USA but a left turn if it was Ireland, including Noel Kelly of Co. Monaghan and Trent who said they were all on a round about!
And now for our next cranium cruncher:
A classic from the past followed by a groaner for those of you who don't feel up to solving a toughie:
You have 9 golf balls, 8 of which are equal in weight. The ninth is slightly heavier then the rest. You also have a balancing scale. Can you use this scale two times and only two times in order to tell which ball is heavier?
Why did Ian Poulter bring two pair of pink slacks to the British Open?
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THE WEEK THAT IS
1. Article: The Galway Races - where the pint is the unit of currency
2. Article: In tribute to George Bernard Shaw
3. Irish Landmarks: The Abbey Theatre
4. Article: Constance Georgina de Markievicz - Suffragette, Socialist, Soldier
5. Article: Watching the Weather on St. Swithin's Day
6. Article: Who was Behind the Doors of Dublin?
7. The Irish Kitchen: Fraughan Fool
8. : Basic Irish - Going on Holiday
9: Kids' Ireland - Old Whiskers Wins a Wife
10: Music Review: William Ramoutar reviews Karan Casey's Ships in the Night
11. The July Trivia Contest will be coming to a close in just ten days! All entries must be in by midnight, on July 31st, whatever time zone you're in.
Our June winner is Michelle Ortz who chose for her prize the Tin Whistle set generously provided by our sponsor Lollysmith at
12. Circle of Prayer : The sixth Novena in the cycle began on July 20 and ends on July 28. Whatever your spiritual leanings, please keep the following in your prayers and meditations: Heather whose cancer has spread; Kathleen just home from the hospital, the family and friends of the McTiernans, Pauline Dewberry, our daughter Catherine, Cyndi, Mickey, Hartson, Laureena Blankenship, Sierra Mitchell, Michelle Lester, Katie Lacinak-Cancer and so many others including all the military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan who are enduring stifling heat on top of risking their lives. God keep them safe and bring them home soon.
So there you have 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 and happiness.Also, last time we forgot to include the special wedding verse for July:
They who in July do wed
Must labour always for their bread.
It hearkens back to the old days when this time of year was always very difficult for the rural Irish household. Stores would be dwindling and the grain harvest would still be a ways off. Thus, it came to be known as "Hungry July" and no doubt gave rise to that somewhat negative wedding verse.
We'll take our leave with this tongue in cheek blessing for golfers. May thy ball lie in green pastures and not in still waters.
...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
ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS
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.
Sea Isle Cty, NJ - Every Friday this summer
Fintan Malone, Irish traditional musician extraordinaire from Milltown Malbay, Co. Clara and Pete McDonald will be teaming up on Friday evenings at Kix McNulty's, 6400 Landis Avenue from 5 5 to 8 p.m.
For changes and updates, please check the website schedule page, http://www.petemcdonald.com/schedule.html
Los Alamitos, California -1st Tuesday of every month
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
Portland, oregon - 1st Friday of the month
Ceili of the Valley Society - First Friday of the month Céilís and on-going 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
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
LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING
This is probably our favourite golf joke of all time - a classic well worth repeating.
There was this priest who just loved to play golf, but he had been very busy for many months and had not been able to get away to play. Well, one Sunday morning he woke up to a gorgeous sunny day and felt he just HAD to go golfing.
He called up his assistant and convinced him that he was so ill, he needed him to say all of the masses that morning. The wily priest then got out his clubs and drove off to a golf golf course in a distant parish.
On arrival He set up at the first hole and blasted the ball with his wood. It was a beautiful shot! It went straight and true. It bounced, and bounced right up onto the green and rolled its way closer... and closer... a hole-in-one! The priest jumped up and down in his excitement, praising the Lord and shouting hallelujahs!
He struts off to the green, collects his ball, and tees off at the second hole, repeating his performance on the first hole, much to his astounded delight.
All this time St. Peter and God have been watching him from the gates of heaven. St. Peter has finally seen enough to pique his curiosity. "Lord," he says, "this priest ignored the duties of his parish and even lied to go golfing. Now you reward him with two back to back holes-in-one! Why?"
God smiles, looks over at St. Peter, and says, "I'm punishing him." St. Peter looks very confused and asks God for an explanation. God replies, Who 's he going to tell?