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:
If, for any reason, you wish to unsubscribe, instructions are at the very end - but we do hope you'll stay with us. And if you need to update your info' or change your email address, you can do that at the end, too.

Greetings and blessings to all,

To echo the lyrics of a song by the Saw Doctors:
"I got sunglasses, And I got the shorts,
I got factor 50, and a t-shirt of course,
I've been shopping in Penney's, I've walked out to Dunne's,
I'm all set for the summer, All set for the sun...
Oh God, will it ever stop raining?"

Compared to last year when we had one half inch of rain the entire month of May, we've been inundated with more than seventeen inches inches since March! On the plus side, our Ohio Valley looks almost as green as Ireland. So that's a good thing. Equally as positive is that the new lawn mower arrived and it 's been too wet to try it out. Russ is quite happy about that!

Now that we're in a much smaller place with tiny yard to match, it didn't make any sense to pay someone else to do the job. So, for the first time in about 25 years, Russ has decided he could use the exercise, plus we got a great deal on an electric model. No gas to buy - another good thing.

We hope all the moms, ma's and mums in the USA enjoyed Mother's Day. Now Dad's turn looms and might we suggest a nice Himself coffee mug or barbecue apron? We couldn't resist and bought ourselves a pair of the irish Culture and Customs cups from the little shop we just started and we are very happy with the quality. We'd also like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have ordered from us and we hope you are as happy with your purchases as we are with ours. If you haven't had a chance to visit the shop yet, we'd be delighted to have you take a look and tell us what you think:

In the meantime, we hope this edition finds you and yours in good spirits, good health and good company. And if this is your first newsletter, go raibh maith agat for signing up; we hope you enjoy our musings and meanderings and will forward them on to your family and friends.
Enough of the blather' ...on with the update:
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From the mailbag
Quips, Quotes, Proverbs & Toasts
A Bit of the Wit
Joke of The Week
Did You Know
Know Your Writers
The week That Is
Leave 'em Laughing
What follows are news clips from around the counties and the world. Links for more news stories can be found on our web site here where we post two weeks worth of headlines which are updated every morning:
And more county news can be found here:

Armagh: All nationalities on deck for Ballydougan thatching
The rethatching of the roof at Ballydougan Pottery has become something of a multinational affair. The thatch itself comes from China, since the local reeds both grow and rot too quickly, and the two men carrying out the work are from Poland, where there are still a good number of thatched buildings; they are employed by an English company. In addition to new thatch, the chimneys of the late eighteenth century building are also being rebuilt to the original specifications. The former plantation house is now home to a gift shop and the thatching work has attracted the attention of numbers of passers-by

Carlow: A bird's eye view of Bagenalstown
Both the parish priest and one of his parishioners had the chance to get a bird's eye view of Bagenalstown when a crane was brought in to help with the cleaning of the steeple of St Andrew's Church. Father Declan Foley was the first to be taken some one hundred and sixty feet up in the one hundred and twenty ton crane. And just before it was removed local man Roger Jones fulfilled the wish of a lifetime by going up for a view of the town. The church was built more than a hundred years ago and it is thirty years since the steeple was cleaned.

Cavan: Good Samaritan is looking for the man she helped
In the early 1990s a young man from Cavan by the name of James McDermott was working on the roads in Staffordshire in England. One morning on his way to work he was knocked down by a car and seriously injured. A local woman, Janet Doyle-Brigett, came to his aid and accompanied him to hospital. In later years James visited Janet with his wife Finola and their young baby, Jonathan, in order to thank her for her help. Now Janet is trying to contact James again to see how the family is getting on. On a recent visit to Ireland she came to Cavan but didn't have the time to complete the search for this particular branch of the McDermott family.

Clare: Final ordination for Bishop Walsh
The ordination of Fergal O'Neill from Shannon next year will be the last performed by Bishop Willie Walsh of Killaloe, who is due to retire in two years' time. In June Bishop Walsh will ordain Fergal as a deacon; the former carpenter has spent eight years with the Redemptorist Order but left before taking his final vows. However it does mean that he was exempt from the usual six or seven years of training prior to ordination. Another Clare man is also studying for the priesthood at the moment; Ger Jones from Killaloe is studying at the Irish College in Rome.

Down: Utility or ornament for Gallows Hill?
A debate is brewing over the best edifice to place on Gallows Hill in Downpatrick, with one suggestion being a statue or monument while the other side favours the more pragmatic wind turbine. The hill was notorious for public hangings in the past and the District Council, as part of its public realm artwork scheme, is already in talks on a design for the project. However Green Party councillor Cadogen Enright favours an eighty-metre industrial wind turbine which would benefit schools and public buildings by providing them with power. But public approval is needed for whatever is placed on Gallows Hill and the feeling is that public approval for a wind turbine would be difficult to achieve.

Dublin: Plaque erected to Dublin firefighters
A plaque was unveiled last week at the site of the old Exide Batteries factory in Dublin to commemorate three firefighters who lost their lives in 1936. The plaque, placed on what is now the Sports Centre of Trinity College Dublin, recalls the courage of Thomas Nugent, Peter McArdle and Robert Malone, who died during a series of explosions at the Pearse Street site. Attending the unveiling was Tony Behan, nephew of Robert Malone, who has written a history of the incident, and Stephanie Nolan, daughter of Peter McArdle

Galway: Artist nurses rare bird back to health
Padraic Reaney, an artist living on Inis Mór, is nursing back to health a rare bittern he found dying on the shore at Kilronan. The bird, known for its distinctive call, had a damaged leg and was very undernourished when Mr Reaney found it. He keeps hawks and falcons and the bittern is not the first bird he has helped. Although there is no record of bitterns having bred in Ireland since early in the nineteenth century, four sightings around Lough Corrib have been recorded in the past ten years. The artist is hoping to release the bird into a wetland area , the preferred habitat for the species.

Galway: The Cup surfaces once again, but from where?
It is reported that a rowing cup that has been missing for four decades has made a reappearance, though no word has emerged as to its whereabouts over that time. The Galway Regatta Cup, now some one hundred and thirty years old, was presented to the Galway Regatta Committee last week, and present on the occasion were John and David Hickey, the son and grandson of the 1912 winner, Eugene Hickey of the Hibernian Boat Club. Also present on the occasion was former Government Minister Bobby Molloy, who was the last recorded winner of the cup in 1956.

Galway: Crowning glory
Construction work has begun on the new €400million 'Crown Square' development on the east side of the city - set to be the single biggest retail park in the West of Ireland.

Kilkenny: GAA history for auction in Kilkenny
An auction due to take place in a few weeks time in Castlecomer will comprise eight hundred lots of sporting interest, the greatest among them being a medal dating from 1904. This was presented to Jack Hoyne of Tullaroan, who represented the county in the All-Ireland competition of that year; it is expected to fetch between €12,500 and €17,500. Also on sale is a Gaelic football medal dating from 1911, when Kilkenny won its third All-Ireland football title; sadly it has not had a similar success since that date. A ticket for the 1920 match in Croke Park, which led to "Bloody Sunday" is also expected to be sold for a considerable sum.

Laois: World Fleadh launched in Portlaoise
Among those due to take part in the Fleadh are Shane McGowan, Mundy, Sharon Shannon and the Hothouse Flowers. The Fleadh will take place over the August bank holiday.

Limerick: Village retains ancient name
The residents of Doon have won their campaign to have the ancient name of their village restored. It had been known for centuries as Dún Bleisce, which translated reads as Fort of the Harlot. The campaign was backed by support from the county council and by local politicians, among them Councillor Mary Jackman; she contended that the word 'harlot' might simply denote a very powerful woman. The amending placenames order was signed by Minister Éamon Ó Cuív last week on the grounds that the name Dún Bleisce has an attested historical basis.

Limerick: International cook-off in Limerick
Barbeque chefs from South America, the Middle East and America gathered on Lough Quay in Limerick recently to take part in the centrepiece of the Riverfest, a mammoth barbeque. The festival is recalling the one hundred and fortieth anniversary of the six-week period in 1868 when the vessel Hannah Parr had to remain in Limerick with its almost four hundred Norwegian passengers for repairs to be carried out after it was damaged in a storm. The vessel had been en route to Quebec from Oslo and four of the child passengers, who died while it was in dock, are buried in St Munchin's churchyard.

Mayo: Freedom torch for summit of Croagh Patrick
To mirror the carrying of the Olympic torch up Mount Everest, a group supporting Tibet's bid for independence organised a similar event, for Croagh Patrick. Tibetan nationals accompanied by Burmese and Irish supporters lit a torch at the foot of the mountain before carrying it to the summit after which the Tibet Support Group Mayo held a forty-eight hour fast accompanied by a series of interdenominational readings.

Sligo: Old town pub to reopen
One of Sligo town's oldest pubs is to open its doors once again next month. Hargadons, located on O'Connell Street, is a listed building which dates from the middle of the nineteenth century. It closed two years ago for renovation and restoration work which has retained much of the original interior. The new manager of Hargadons is Ann Britton from Rossnowlagh, whose brother William runs Sligo Wood Flooring. The pub will be linked to a wine shop in Johnson Court Shopping and will also feature a beer garden and tables outside on O'Connell Street itself.

Tyrone: First the mill and now the house
Four years ago Sion Mills saw the closure of Herdman's Mill after one hundred and seventy years of linen manufacture. And now the home of the Herdman family, Carricklee manor house in Strabane, has been put on the market. According to the present owner, James Herdman, the house has become too big for the family. The thirty-nine-roomed house, dating from the end of the eighteenth century, has a number of ancillary features including a tennis court, an orchard and paddocks, as well as seventeen acres of park and woodland. James is intending to retain his ties with the area as he is involved in the development of the former mill site.

Wexford: President attends twin churches' celebration
The celebration of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Wexford's twin churches was recently attended by President Mary McAleese. A white marquee was erected in the grounds of Bride Street church where refreshments were served after the Mass, which was celebrated by Bishop Denis Brennan and at which President McAleese gave the first reading.

Wicklow: Golf Classic marks 80 years of golf club
When the Scoil Chonglais Golf Classic took place last weekend it was also an occasion for celebration, as Baltinglass Golf Course was also celebrating its eightieth anniversary. Known originally as St John's Golf Club, the golf club is on land known originally as 'The Lord's Wood" and until six years ago it was a nine-hole course. The site was purchased by the Land Commission in 1927 and it was then granted to the people of Baltinglass in the care of seven trustees. The first clubhouse was a modest building in the yard of the derelict Stratford Lodge.
Cindy writes: Just thought your readers might get a kick out of the fact that the University of Kentucky is traveling to China from May 18-30th on a goodwill pre-Olympic tour! BUT, beyond that......we are bringing Irish music with us! My husband commissioned a piece when he was at Texas Tech University called, "Minstrel of the Kells" and in it there is a section where an Irish pub band can be inserted for a four minute round of reels! Our friends and former colleagues have a traditional Irish pub band and they performed on the original premiere of this piece in Texas. They will be traveling with us for the performances in China. My two daughters are going with us too, sixteen and four years old!! Just thought you might like to know that we are doing our part to saturate the world in Irish music! And a joy it is.

ED. NOTE: Cindy leaves for China today - a week later than originally planned. And just as well, because she and her family would have been in Chengdu visiting the Panda habitat during last week's earthquake. As far as we can determine, while the loss of human life is massive, all the pandas appear to have survived. Meanwhile, please keep the victims of this terrible disaster in your prayers - and also the suffering people of Myanmar.

Cindy is taking her laptop with her and will be adding to her blog. If you would like to keep up with her travels in China, please click

Update on Shamrock Radio's Tommy Murphy
Lee Patterson writes:
Hello Brigid & Russ, I do hope that you have been keeping well. I have to tell you that Shamrock went over really well last week-end. There were so many more email's, a lot from the USA and I am sure that your newsletter was a great help. I think Tommy still has some left over for  next week. I would like to thank you once for your help and to thank all those who emailed Tommy. It was great listening to all who emailed telling us all their news. 
ED. NOTE: The show is on Shamrock Radio out of Co. Mayo. Here is the URL:
If you would like to make a request, here is Tommy's email address:

Patty writes: I'm trying to find a saying I recently read. It goes something like: God gave us the Italians for cooking, Germans for ? Chinese for ? And when God saw no-one was having any fun, that's when He made an Irishman.
ED. NOTE: We recall reading something like this, but we don't have it in our files. Can anyone help?

Does the Real Ireland still exist?
Dan Barry of the NY Times writes a superb indepth 4-page article that is must reading for anyone planning atrip - or who lives in Ireland and might wonder what impression you're making on those across the big pond.

Discovering the old in the new Ireland
In tandem with the Dan Barry article above, at the following link you can watch a delightful slide show featuring photographs taken by Pulitzer prize winning photographer Stephen Crowley:
To see more of Mr. Crowley's work, please click:

Ireland - Heaven or Hell?
After recently returning to Ireland, two Irish undocumented immigrants who lived in New York, one for 10 years, the other for seven, are adjusting to their new lives in a country that has changed dramatically in a short few years. April Drew reports. Please click

Watch Coldplay video exclusive
The video for Coldplay's new single 'Violet Hill' isn't released until Monday, but RTÉ.ie is giving you the chance to have a sneak preview. To watch the teaser for 'Violet Hill' in Real or Windows. Please click

Irish Art Awards 2008.
Our friend and generous Trivia Quiz sponsor Roger Cummiskey is asking for your vote in the Irish Art Awards 2008, He quips: You do not have to be Irish but I grant you Honorary Irish status during the voting process! For complete details, please click

Free Mammograms
Many women can't afford the test, but here's how you can help: Go to the Breast Cancer site and click on their free mammogram link; if the site gets enough clicks , they'll be able to donate at least one free mammogram a day to underprivileged women. It takes just a minute and there's no cost involved:

Free Pet Food!
Last but certainly not least - our ongoing gift to AG in California and all friends to animals, please click this link today and everyday. It only takes a second to feed an animal. Thanks!

Free People Food!
It only takes a second to feed hungry people, too:
SPONSOR: Please help us keep our newsletter coming - visit our friends at the Celtic Attic:
We have some fantastic New Personalized items (Order one now for Dad or Grad and take $2.00 off that personalized item), new Kitchen goodies, New jewelry and more Wedding items. Spend $50 and receive a $5.00 Gift Certificate or Spend $100 and receive a $10.00 Gift Certificate. Certificates are valid for your next order and will be emailed to you with your purchase. The next time you order, you simply put the code into the Add a Gift Note section and we deduct it from your total after your order is placed... FREE GIFT with each and every order placed in the Month of May and a FREE COPY of the CELTIC ATTIC COOKBOOK PDF with each order. Order on line or by phone - and tell them Bridget & Russ said hello!
Order by phone: Tel: 360-765-0186
Order on line:
With the wedding season in full swing, you might be asked to make a toast to the bride and groom. Here are a ccouple of favourites to tuck into your wallet or purse so you're not caught short:

1. May the flower of love never be nipped by the frost of idsappointment, nor shadow of grief fall among your family and friends.
2. May the roof above you never fall in and the friends gathered below never fall out.
Marriages are all happy. It's having breakfast together that causes all the trouble.
This one we "borrowed" from Pete McDonald's latest "Petepourri. "

Man sees an ad in a pet shop for a talking caterpillar at £500. He thinks, 'I'm having that'. Goes in to the shop and buys it, they put it in a wee box, and he takes it home. That night he opens the box and asks, 'Do you fancy going for a pint?' No reply from the box.
So he asks again in a slightly louder tone, 'Do you fancy going for a pint?' Still no reply.
Getting angry at thinking he had been conned out of £500 he shouts 'DO YOU FANCY GOING FOR A PINT?'
The caterpillar sticks his head out of the box and says, 'I flippin' heard you the first time, I was putting me shoes on!'

Always a fun read, you can subscribe to pete's monthly newsletter here:
1. Plans were made to rescue Marie Antoinette from her Paris prison and transport her to Dingle, Co. Kerry? Ultimately, she was hesitant about the arrangements and the plans fell through.
2. Wooden truncheons, which have been carried by Irish police since the 1800s, will finally be phased out and replaced by lightweight retractable batons? The truncheons, with notches, fancy carvings and names cut into them, were often passed down generations of gardai.
3. One of the most popular radio shows in rural Ireland is still the weekly broadcast of local obituaries?
To start off, the answers to our last quiz:

1. Recipes for a Perfect Marriage by Morag Prunty
2. Scenes from a Receding Past by Aidan Higgins
3. Over My Shoulder by Norma McMaster

A round of pints and applause to our latest Irish literary sleuths:

Hartson Dowd
Here's a site that's full of raditional Irish Tunes.

Pat Edwards
Pat didn't nominate a site this time around but we know she loves to visit the Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham. We found this great site which features a beautiful choir singing during the intro. Enjoy.

Helen Dowd
Many thanks in advance for visiting my web site. I invite you to sign the guestbook, found on the top right hand corner of the front page.

Mary Ruggiero
I'd like to nominate my website, and if you visit, please sign my guestbook I love hearing from new friends!

Want to see your name and favorite web site in our next newsletter?
Who wrote:
Kathleen O'Byrne
Flying Feet - The Story of Irish Dance
Liffey Rivers & The Mystery of the Sparkling Solo Dress Crown
Send your answers to Bridget here:
To begin with, the answer to our last skull scratcher:

I am the ruler of shovels
I have a double
I am as thin as a knife
I have a wife
Q. What am I?
A. The King of Spades

Well done to all of the Riddle People - you did it again. An avalanche of correct answers. But alas, there can only be one first in (with a rare tie now and again). This time, the accolades go solely to Alan Meagher from Hardwick MN. Good job.

And now for our next head banger:
I have two arms, but fingers none. I have two feet, but cannot run. I carry well, but I have found I carry best with my feet OFF the ground.
Q: What am I?

SPONSOR: Please help us keep the newsletter coming - visit our good friends at the Irish Lottery.
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Latest results: There was NO winner of Saturday's drawing. It's always been our fantasy that one of our readers will scoop the big prize; but, as they say in Ireland, you can't win if you're not in. To play on line, please click http://www.irishlotto.net
1. Article: St. Brendan the Navigator
2. Article: Emblems of ireland - The Book of Kells
3. Article: Witsuntide in old Ireland
4. Article: A Little Bit O' Heaven
5. Article: Marry in May & Rue the Day
6. Article: Who was Behind the Doors of Dublin?
7. Article: Bantry Bay in May
8. Basic irish: Mothering Sunday words and phrase will be replaced in the next day or so
9. Kids' Ireland: Finn's Hounds
10. Music Review: We will be posting the latest offering from our good friend William Ramoutar in the next day or so.
11. May Trivia Contest. We're already nearly three weeks into the May contest. How did that happen?! All entries must be in by midnight , May 31 whatever time zone you're in:
12. Circle of Prayer The eighth Novena in this cycle began on May 18 and continues through May 26. Whatever your spiritual leanings, please keep the following in your prayers or meditations: Jo, who has suffered a stroke; Annie's mother Geri and her brother Richard who are recovering from a car accident; Kim, a young wife and mother who is severely brain damaged after a fall; Johanna Robarge;  Mary Layman; Laurie Martin; Jane F; Baby Brenna; Liam Nolan's friend Kim Parker; Hartson Dowd, and little Isabella. Also Randy & Donna and their children; Ergin & his wife Joan; Josie and her family; Kathy, Pauline Dewberry, and so many others especially our men and women in the military serving their country all over the world. Please God, they will all be home safe and sound soon.
So that's the long and the short of it until we write again. If you're celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other important event between now and then, we hope it's an occasion filled with joy and happiness.

Meanwhile, we wish all of our readers in the UK a safe and happy bank holiday weekend and the same for our readers in the USA who will be celebrating the Memorial Day weekend and the official beginning of summer. In Russ' family from Rhode Island, this was the time to visit the family graves to make sure they were neat and tidy and perhaps lay down fresh flowers or a wreath. This reminds us of an old Irish tradition called Cemetery Sunday which still takes place in some parts of the country on a convenient date for the parish priest. A Mass is celebrated for families of those buried in the local church graveyard, after which an effort is made over several days to clean up the churchyard. Special attention is traditionally given to the graves of those who have no one left among the living to remember them. A lovely gesture, that.

Wherever the weekend takes you and yours, may you be wrapped in the mantle of God's love and protection; and as they say in Ireland, mind yourself.

Slan agus beannacht!

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

Andalusian Artists Three Day Show-June 6-8
Summer Showcase at Valtocado
The Andalusian International Artists Group celebrates the arrival of Summer with a three day exhibition of members work at the studio of the artist Richard Wood in Valtocado, Mijas. The exhibition opens on Friday the 6th June between 7-9 pm and continues on Saturday and Sunday between 2-4 pm. urther information is available from the Chairman, Roger Cummiskey on 952 592 652 or their web site:

Sea Isle Cty, NJ - Every Friday this summer
Fintan Malone, Irish traditional musician extraordinaire from Milltown Malbay, Co. Clare 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

Best Job Application Ever?

This is an actual job application that a 75 year old senior citizen submitted to Wal-Mart in Arkansas .They hired him because he was so funny.

NAME: Kenneth Way (Grumpy Old Bastard)

SEX: Not lately, but I am looking for the right woman (or at least one who will cooperate)

DESIRED POSITION: Company's President or Vice President. But seriously,whatever's available . If I was in a position to be picky, I wouldn't beapplying here in the first place

DESIRED SALARY: $185,000 a year plus stock options and a Michael Ovitzstyleseverance package. If that's not possible, make an offer and we can haggle.


LAST POSITION HELD: Target for middle management hostility.

PREVIOUS SALARY: A lot less than I'm worth.

MOST NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT: My incredible collection of stolen pens and post-it notes.



PREFERRED HOURS: 1:30-3:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL SKILLS?: Yes, but they're better suited to a more intimate environment .

MAY WE CONTACT YOUR CURRENT EMPLOYER?: If I had one, would I be here?


DO YOU HAVE A CAR?: I think the more appropriate question here would be 'Do you have a car that runs?'

H AVE YOU RECEIVED ANY SPECIAL AWARDS OR RECOGNITION?: I may already be a winner of the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes, so they tell me.

DO YOU SMOKE?: On the job - no!
On my breaks - yes!

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE DOING IN FIVE YEARS?: Living in the Bahamas with a fabulously wealthy dumb sexy blonde supermodel who thinks I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread. Actually, I'd like to be doing that now.