Welcome to the Irish Culture & Customs newsletter which is published every weekend and sent out to going on 1500 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: http://www.yourmailinglistprovider.com/pubarchive.php?Herself
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Greetings and blessings to all,

In these dwindling days of the waning year, time is like a whirlwind, turning us all around so that it seems as if we were only just here. How are things at your house? Is everything done? At Toad Hall - not at all! The dining room tree has lights, but no decorations. Stockings are empty with stuffers still to be bought, and there's all that baking to be finished before the big day. But, we're not complaining. Our boys bought Russ two cords of wood for his birthday and they were delivered over the weekend. So, we now have plenty of fuel to warm the family room for the winter. Since the wood-burning stove is the only source of heat in that area of the house, this is a very welcome gift, indeed.

Despite the strange antics of our internal clocks and the feeling that it was only just yesterday when we wrote, it is lovely to be back! And we hope this edition finds you in good health, good spirits and good company. We'd also like to say a special hello to all of our new subscribers. Many thanks for joining us and we hope that you'll forward our musings and meanderings on to your family and friends. Among the new members, we are particularly pleased to welcome a high-ranking official of the Irish diplomatic corp.; now, if he could only persuade Bernie and Mary to join us, too! Ah well, enough about that... and about us. On with the update:

In news from Ireland:
Land Of 40 Shades Of Chocolate
Ireland can now add "chocoholism" to its list of bad habits. A new report has found that the Irish are Europe's biggest buyers of chocolate, spending an average of 121 euros each a year. Products such as Mars bars and Kit-Kat account for 53 per cent of total volume sales in the Republic.

Co. Donegal - Experts who have uncovered 700 skeletal remains believe they have discovered an early medieval monastic burial site. The archaeologists have identified the site at Ballyhanna in Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, as a Cistercian 'church of ease' burial ground for people who lived beside the River Erne. The burial ground, which has been dated to between 1100 and 1400, contains approximately five skeletal remains per square metre.

Co. Wicklow - A new statue of the famous United Irishman and rebel leader Michael Dwyer was unveiled in the Glen of Imaal on Sunday, December 14. Proceedings began at 11am with a pike march from the landmark Dwyer-McAllister cottage in Derrynamuck to the site of the new statue, adjacent to the Glen of Imaal Bar in Seskin.

Co. Fermanagh: According to Charlotte Wilson of the Tourism Information Centre in Enniskillen, caretaker Lilias Pinkney can take the credit for the centre's toilet facilities having achieved five stars in the 2003 Loo of the Year Awards. The British-based awards have been up and running since 1987.

Co. Kerry: Some two hundred members of the Tom Crean Society last week gathered in the Brandon Hotel in Tralee for the first mid-winter celebration of the Antarctic explorer who came from Annascaul. On the menu were some of the items of the Terra Nova expedition on which Tom Crean travelled in 1911, including roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and... buzzard's cake.

Co. Waterford: The end of an era. The landlord who ran a pub with a difference for seventy-seven years in Waterford city's O'Connell Street has passed away. Tom Maher, who died last week at the age of ninety-two, had a number of strict rules surrounding his premises, Moondharrig House, one of which was that no women were allowed. He also banned smoking in the bar, and refused to stock any Guinness products after he had a dispute with the brewery. Moondharrig House closed at ten o'clock each night and Tom never worked more than forty hours in any one week.

In news from all over:
New York: Developers in New York State have reconstructed a 19th-century cottage brought stone by stone from Ireland. It is the first building to be completed in an "Irish village" being built in the town of East Durham. Jerry Laverty, one of the village's architects, donated his family's cottage from Co. Donegal. An Irish thatcher used traditional techniques to build the roof.

From the mailbag:
Patricia Banker from PatriArts and Saints Preserved, (and one of our most unique sponsors) wrote that there'd been a great article about them in the local paper. To quote Patricia: "A priest even came over to the studio and said, "Hmmm, it's the Irish saints ya favor, huh?" She says she thinks he's Polish. The real coup for Patricia is that the BBC has linked her "About Saints" page to their official history of the British Isles web pages. To visit her wonderful site(s), please click

How do you send off a well-liked, highly-respected clan chieftain with proper honours? That's the question posed by Kathi, from Seattle, Washington. She'd like to know if there are any special rituals for the funeral of a Chief. Any help you can give her would be greatly appreciated.

Links of the week:
In Ireland, it's a Christmas tradition to place lighted candles in the front windows of the house. In the past, many families did not own enough candleholders, so they improvised. Turnips were plentiful and both large and heavy enough to hold a candle. (What the Irish refer to as a turnip is a rutabaga in the US). George of the Irish Heritage newsletter sent us a link to a site that tells you how to make a turnip candleholder:

Did you know that as of right now, Irish will not be included as an official language of the EU? There hasn't been much about it in the media, so we are very appreciative to Jack and Debbie for bringing it to our attention. To sign a petition in protest, please click

For all of our Jewish subscribers, Jack sent us:

Jack also sent us a great page of carols in Irish as well as English. Be sure to have your sound turned on:

Bernard Evans and David Lattimer will be counting down to Christmas Day with all the best in Celtic and Irish Christmas greats from midnight on December 23. Tune in here:

As might be expected, we received many links from our readers related to Christmas. Here's a sampling:

From Eileen in New York:

From Jane in Ohio

From Patricia in England

From us - a countdown to Christmas - as if you need to be reminded!

And, as joyous as it might be, if you would welcome some relief from all the holiday hubbub, Hartson sent us:
Wait for the entire screen to load up with all four horses and a fence in front of them. Then click on each horse. Make sure your sound is on. Re-click on any horse to make it turn off or turn it back on again. Somebody did some real wizardry of programming to coordinate this!

And last but definitely not least - our Christmas 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!

We've blathered on long enough...on with the update:
Please help us to keep this newsletter free - visit our good friends, LollySmith:
Welcome to our Irish Gift Shop. Here you will find a wide range of gifts with an Irish and Celtic theme from Irish Jewelry and Shamrock Seeds to Connemara Marble, Guinness Glasses,Tin Whistles, and much more. We're known worldwide for our quality Irish gifts, great prices, quick shipping, and friendly, personalized service. And while our Christmas elves are still busy with sending out last minute gifts, including gift certificates, the countdown to St. Patrick's Day has begun! We look forward to your visit and from all of us at LollySmith, Nollaig Shona Duit - Happy Christmas!
A Bit of The Wit
Joke of The Week
Did You Know?
Quotes & Quips
Know Your Irish Writers & Books?
New This Week
The Week Ahead
Given the season and all of those family feasts, we offer a repeat, (and we don't mean a burp!)
"After a good dinner one can forgive anybody; even one's relations." Oscar Wilde
Adapted from one sent in by Tom Haggerty (no relation). Thanks, Tom! Fair warning, this is a groaner:

Sean goes into his dentist's office, because of a pain in his mouth. After a brief examination, the dentist exclaims, "Good God, man! That plate I installed in your mouth about six months ago has nearly completely corroded! What on earth have you been eating?" "Well... the only thing I can think of is this... my wife made me some asparagus about four months ago with this stuff on it...Hollandaise sauce
she called it... and doctor, I'm talking' DELICIOUS! I've never tasted anything like it, and ever since then I've been putting it on everything...meat, fish, toast, vegetables..." "That's probably it," interrupts the dentist "Hollandaise sauce is made with lemon juice, which is acidic and highly corrosive. It seems as though I'll have to install a new plate, but made out of chrome this time." "Why chrome?" Sean asked. "Well," said the dentist, "everyone knows that there's no plate like chrome for the Hollandaise."
1. According to Irish folklore, it's bad luck to take the Christmas decorations down before January 6?
2. To have good health in the coming year, you should eat an apple on Christmas Eve?
3. You should never launder a Christmas gift before giving it to the recipient? It washes out the luck? (Especially if it's a DVD player!)
One of the best all-time Irish curses ever levied is from the rebel song Nell Flaherty's Drake:
May his pipe never smoke, may his teapot be broke, and to add to the joke may his kettle not boil, may he lay in the bed 'till the moment he's dead, may he always be fed on lob-scouse and fish oil, may he swell with the gout, may his grinders fall out, may he roar, bawl and shout, with the horrid toothache. May his temples wear horns, and all his toes corns, the monster that murdered NeII Flaherty's drake.
(If you'd like to read all of it, click here:
First off, the answers to last week's quiz:

1. New Irish Cooking - Conrad Gallagher
2. Irish Cooking - Classic and Modern - Ethel Minoque
3. Poolbeg Book of Traditional Irish Cooking - Biddy White Lennon

Not too may entries this week, but given the season and all that's in it, we were happy to hear from our regulars and a couple more besides. Sláinte to:

Helen Dowd
For good Christmas reading, check out http://missionmagazine.tdlofton-ministries.net/mag/index.php. Search for Christmas stories, or for a familiar name. Or, for plenty of Christmas reading in all categories--some serious, some fun, check out Helen Dowd's site at

Déirdre McKiernan Hetzler
"Glorious Ireland in May"
May 25 - June 8, 2004
To view last year's itinerary or request a brochure, please visit us on-line:

Hartson Dowd
Ed. Note: Hartson sent us the news item about the Tom Crean dinner in Tralee. He also included this link if you'd like more details':

Judy Skapik
Ed Note: Judy didn't give us a favorite URL She's very modest, so we hope she won't mind that we found a link for her:

Sean Nolan
Enjoy your website and the newsletter. (Thanks, Sean!)

Annie Considine

Want to see your name and favorite site on our list? Try to find the following authors - we assure you, it's really easy! Who wrote:

1. Hot Toddies: Mulled Wine, Buttered Rum, Spiced Cider and other Soul-Warming Winter Drinks
2. The Cold That Burns
3. Irish Stories for Christmas
Hint: All three titles can be found here:

Send us the correct answers to two out of three and the rewards are:
1. If you have a web site, send us your URL plus a short description and we'll publish it in the next newsletter. If you don't have a web site, please nominate a favorite. Also, please remember that we list our sleuths in the order of entries received.
2. Receive a correct entry into the current "So You Think You're Irish" trivia contest. (In fairness to those of you who go to the trouble of actually finding the answers to the trivia contest, you'll get a bonus entry!)
3. Click through on the Hint URL above, tell us the title and earn another entry into the Trivia drawing.
NOTE: It would be very helpful if you would send your entries to:
Help us keep this newsletter free by visiting the The Irish Lottery:
Lottery tickets make great stocking stuffers! And it isn't too late for the drawing on Christmas Eve. Remember the Irish Hospital Sweepstakes? It was replaced by the Irish Lotto in 1988. Since then it has become one of the most trusted lotteries in the world. Drawings are held every Wednesday and Saturday. Best of all, you don't have to live in Ireland to play and all winnings are tax-free. Do you have the luck of the Irish? Play the Irish lottery and find out! Please click here for full details:
We were inundated by answers. One, in particular, deserves a special mention:
The beginning of eternity
The end of time and space
The beginning of every end
The end of every place.
What is it?

Having passed on the riddle last week,
I thought this week I'd give it a peek.
Sure, the answer is clear
And I'll give it, my dear:
'Tis the fifth letter, "e" that we seek.

Many thanks to Bill of NC for a great effort, but he wasn't first with the answer. Congrats for that go to "Wild Irish" Maureen. Well done!
And now for this week's offering which was sent to us by John O'C. He says his dad told it to him in Ireland long ago:
What side do you get down off a horse?
It is the week of Christmas, so your patience in waiting for the site to be updated (and this newsletter!) is particularly appreciated
1. Home Page - See what's new at a glance:
2. New - Article: Many Years Ago; a condensed version of a lovely story by John B. Keane
3. New - Culture Corner: St. Colmans Cathedral in Co. Cork. We've included a link so that you can hear the chimes
4. New - Culture Corner Kids' Ireland: Playing Irish Instruments
5. New - The Irish Kitchen: Starters for the Holiday Feast, including links to two other pages of appetizers, may of which were contributed by Hartson
6. Featured - Article: Memories of Christmas Eve Past
7. Featured - Article: An Irish Christmas, The Day Before
8. Featured - Article: St. Stephen's Day to New Year's Eve
9. Featured - Article: Time at this Point of the Year
10. Featured - Grandma's Irish Shortbread Cookies
11. Featured - An Irish Christmas, Food for the Feast
12. Ongoing - Circle of Prayer: Our ninth Novena in this cycle began on December 16 and most appropriately, ends on Christmas Eve. We will begin a new cycle on Christmas Day. There are so many who need our prayers and meditations and we hope you will take time out from your holiday celebrations to remember our military personnel, especially those stationed in Iraq. Also, please continue to remember Maggie's family and friends, Bob and Kathy in Utah, Eileen's brother Bob, her son Christopher, Debbie's friend Bertha, Rita, Lindsea, Dianne, Claire, C.J., baby Christopher, Sam, Steven & Margaret, and the Mulligan family. Whatever your spiritual leanings, we hope you will join us each day
13. On-going: December Trivia Quiz - there's still time to enter. As they say in Ireland, if you're not in, you can't win. All entries must be received by December 31, no matter which time zone you live in.
14. On-going - Irish News: Headlines for the past week
15. On-going -This month in Irish History:

Mumming is coming, we promise (with thanks to Betsie and Dallas who gave us valuable help with the research); we're also working on a piece about the Winter Solstice at Newgrange, and we'll have a new Irish lesson - a collection of overlooked holiday words and phrases. The blessing for the week is posted, a new quote will go up on Wednesday and toward the end of the week, we'll definitely have a new recipe from Hartson. We will also be publishing a new Novena schedule on Thursday. As one might expect, what with all the hustle and bustle, visits to the site have gone down quite a bit. However, we hope that as you enjoy your wee drop of port or whatever else warms your heart, you'll take a moment or two to come see what's new. The welcome mat is always out.

Hard to believe that the next time we write, we'll be thinking about New Year's! But, between then and now, our weird and wacky calendar tells us that December 21 is not just the Winter Solstice, it's Humbug Day! It's also Pongol of the Cows in India - and we have no idea what that is! The 22nd is National Date-Nut Bread Day; the 23rd is Night of the Radishes in Mexico and National Pfeffernüsse Day in the US. The 24th is National Eggnog Day, and the 26th is the beginning of Kwanzaa in the US, as well as St. Stephens Day and the Day of the Wren in Ireland. (Boxing Day, too). Celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other special event this week? Congratulations and best wishes! And, for all of our Jewish readers, happy 5764!

In closing, while we would like to, we can't send a personal greeting to each and everyone of you. So, here's the next best thing:

Until next time, may the light of the the Babe of Bethlehem shine from your eyes like a candle in the window, piercing the dark of night. May the strength of the winds of heaven bless you, and carry soft rain to wash your spirit clean, that it may sparkle renewed, refreshed, and bright.

Beannachtaí na Nollaig to you and yours, and, as they say in Ireland, mind yourself.

Bridget & Russ
Get down on your knees and thank God you're still on your feet
Did you enjoy reading this edition of our newsletter? Voluntary donations to help keep us going are always welcome and can be sent to us via http://www.paypal.com
Our email address there is bnhaggerty@cinci.rr.com. Many thanks in advance for your kindness!
Events & Classifieds
Note: To avoid duplication, we list only those events not mentioned in the comprehensive listing put together by The Wild Geese. To check their Events Page, please click: http://www.thewildgeese.com/pages/events.html
The Irish Heritage Newsletter also lists events - if you'd like to subscribe, just send a note to George at Steeler059@aol.com
And, if you're in Ireland, or lucky enough to be visiting, you can see what's on offer here:

Croi Turkey Walk - December 26
Croi, the Galway heart charity is appealing to people to walk off the Christmas excess on St Stephen's Day by taking part in a 10-mile event. The walk kicks off at Annaghdown national school at 1pm. City participants can avail of the courtesy coach which leaves from the Skeffington Arms Hotel, Eyre Square at 12.30pm sharp. For sponsorship cards or more information, contact Peter Flaherty at (086) 2515 263 or Ina Duggan at (091) 791162.

DCU Business School 2001 reunion - December 29
A reunion for 2001 Dublin City University graduates from BBS/BSI4/IML/IBL will take place at the Sugar Club on Leeson Street on Monday, December 29. Entertainment will include a band, DJ and a late bar. Admission will be EU8 before 9.00pm. Graduates wishing to attend may contact Nicola Riordan at mailto:buzinessdcu01@yahoo.com with a "Yes" in the Subject field of the email.

Dublin, Ireland - January 4
The 18th commemoration gig for the Thin Lizzy hero, Phil Lynott will be held on Vicar Street. Get all the details about this tribute to one of Ireland's greatest-ever rock stars here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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