Welcome to the Irish Culture & Customs newsletter which is published every week and sent out to going on 2200 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,

We hope this edition finds you all in fine fettle and as fit as a fiddle. As for ourselves, it's been another wild and whacky week which began last Monday morning with Bridget fainting. A couple of trips to the hospital and the cardiologist resulted in Herself being "wired" - literally! She's now wearing what they call an event monitor and the idea is that if something untoward happens, she or someone is supposed to press a button to tape the goings on. So far, no more "events" to report - or record!

In the process of exams and because of all the weight she lost, Bridget's wedding ring fell off her finger; we thought it was gone forever. But we got a call this morning - it's been found! Our prayers to St. Anthony were answered: "Tony, Tony look around, something's lost and can't be found." Works every time.

From outside the house, it looks like we're in the spirit of the season - Russ has done the annual marathon of placing a candle in every window. It looks beautiful and our local electric company must be rubbing their hands with glee! Now we need to get everything decorated inside - hopefully in time for our Black Swap party this coming weekend. For those of you who may not know what the Black Swap is, it's an old irish custom where two people exchange something they don't want. The item is wrapped so people don't know what it is; you're allowed to trade once and then you're stuck with whatever. It's a load of fun and has become our favorite party of the season. We'll give you details in the next newsletter. Enough about us..
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In news from Ireland:

Donegal: Road safety tips on Tory Island
Lying nine miles off the Donegal coast in the Atlantic Ocean and home to only one hundred and seventy people, Tory Island is known as Ireland's most remote island. Often entirely cut off by sea during the winter, the island is hardly the place you would expect the Gardaí to treat the locals to a major road safety presentation. However that is exactly what happened recently, after Gardaí drew up a road safety presentation to be shown throughout Donegal county following a significant rise in road deaths. The locals reacted with some bemusement to the presentation, understandably considering Tory Island has only twenty cars, virtually no roads and no road accidents in living memory.

Kerry: The Diocese of Kerry has drawn up guidelines for "suitable" Christmas carols in its churches, which would exclude popular favourites such as Frosty The Snowman and I Saw Mammy Kissing Santa Claus.

Longford: County to host Rare Plant Festival
Longford Tourism has recently announced that Ireland's only Rare Plant Festival will be held in the county in May of next year. The Festival is being organised by Longford Tourism and will consist of specialist plants workshops, lectures and garden tours, combined with floral displays and garden parties.

Mayo: From village shop to famous pub
Pat Cohan's shop in Cong, which was used for the exterior shots of the pub in "The Quiet Man", is to become a pub in real life since the owner, Jack Murphy, has handed over the premises to his nephew, John Connolly. The interior shots were filmed in Hollywood and now the fixtures and fittings are to be brought to Ireland and it is expected that the new premises will be open for business by next June.

Waterford: New over-sixties café opens in Waterford
A new café for the over sixties opened in Waterford city last Friday, offering a low-price and no-hassle alternative to many city centre establishments. Local actress Anna Manahan, who formally opened Café Moll in Lady Lane, called the café an "alternative to consumerism" for older people.

From all over
London, England - There must be something in the Guinness.
Life in Ireland is better than in any other country on earth, according to a new study. In a worldwide "quality of life index" compiled for the Economist's annual magazine, The World in 2005, Ireland was identified as the best place to live in the coming year. Britain, meanwhile, came 29th.

London, England - Antrim: Ballymena woman receives MBE
Eileen Johnston from Ballymena was in Buckingham Palace recently - not as a tourist - but to collect her MBE for charity work from the Queen. Eileen was honoured with the title for her services to elderly people in Northern Ireland and to children overseas.

From the mailbag:
H. Read writes: I grew up in Belfast and now live in Canada - I am a senior citizen now. I remember a children's rhyme as follows and wonder what its origin might be:
My Aunt Jane, she took me in
She gave me tea out of her wee tin
Half a bap with the sugar on the top
Three black balls out of her wee shop.

Debbi wants to know does Ireland have a national bird?

Rae asks: Isn't there anybody in any part of Ireland that could supply a short list of e-mail addresses encompassing the Matchett name ? As a 5th generation Irish Matchett, of William Matchett who immigrated from Ireland in the year 1815 ant the tender age of 15 years, I find it very difficult to trace my Irish Roots anywhere in Ireland.

A reader asked if there's a national Irish costume. Bernie, a researcher from Ireland now living in the US answers:
With the revival of Irish dancing, the traditional Irish costume has become associated with the bright flamboyant costumes worn by traditional Irish dancers. However, in ancient Ireland people were more likely to be seen wearing 'leine' (Irish for shirt), trews (Irish for trousers) and long cloaks fastened with a brooch.

Thanks to several readers, the poem by Patrick Kavanagh called "The One" has been found. It's in his Collected Works (which is featured in the poetry section of our website!). Karin took the search a step further and found an audio version of it on RTÉ. There's quite a bit of news and other programming before you get to the poetry reading:

Links of the week:

Vivian & Jack of The Irish Page have another song to share with us. Coirneál Ó hOireamhan - Colonel John Irwin http://www.irishpage.com/songs/carolan/irwin.htm

Hartson sent us a delightful Christmas Calendar

Subscriber website spotlight
This is truly an incredibly tasty site. Enjoy!

Our on-going 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!

It only takes a second to feed hungry people, too:

Enough of the blither and blather - on with the update....

Quips, quotes, proverbs & toasts
A bit of the wit
Joke of The Week
Did You Know
Writer's Quiz
New This Week
The Week Ahead
We're continuing our series of toasts in anticipation of festive parties and fancy dindins:
Here's to the holly with its bright red berry.
Here's to the Christmas, let's make it merry.
Larry Gogan: 'With what town in Britain is Shakespeare associated?'
Contestant: 'Hamlet'.
OUR FAVORITE JOKE OF THE WEEK. Adapted from one we received from Randall. Thank you!
A lady is having a bad day at the roulette tables. She's down to her last 50 Euros. Exasperated, she exclaims, "What rotten luck I've had today! What in the world should I do now?" A man standing next to her suggests, "I don't know... why don't you play your age?" He walks away. Moments later, his attention is grabbed by a great commotion at the roulette table. Maybe she won! He rushes back to the table and pushes his way through the crowd. The lady is lying limp on the floor, with the table operator kneeling over her. The man is stunned. He asks, "What happened? Is she all right?" The operator replies, "I don't know. She put all her money on 29, and 36 came up. Then she just fainted!"
Please help us to keep this newsletter free - visit our good friends, LollySmith:
Explore what we have on offer, including great items from Guinness, Hats of Ireland and Roundstone Bodhrans from Galway. We also stock authentic Irish whistles from the leading makers like Fádóg, Clare, Walton, Guinness & Clarke. One of the oldest musical instruments in Ireland. the Irish whistle is affordable, easy to learn and can be used to play music your entire family will enjoy - from haunting airs to lively reels. Come take a look - browse to your heart's content, and remember, when you buy from Lollysmith, you'll always enjoy great prices, quick shipping, and friendly, personalized service.
1. Irish consumers will munch their way through over a million turkeys on Christmas 2004, putting us in the top league of gobblers in the EU?
2. The average Irish household will spend €1,270 during the festive season, far surpassing other European nations?
3. In Co. Meath, it was believed by the children that Holly Pux, a friend of Santy would sit on the chimney watching who was good and who wasn't? If you were a naughty child, Santy wouldn't come down the chimney.
To begin with, the answers to our last quiz:

1. The Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle by Grey Larson
2. The Complete Irish Tin Whistle Tutor by L.E. McCullough
3. An Irish Whistle Book by Tom Maguire

A Round of pints and applause for this week's Irish bibliophiles:

Hartson Dowd
Take a relaxing break from the holiday hustle and bustle - visit:

Brenda Ross
For travel planning and small group tours with Celtic soul:

Patricia Edwards
God bless her, Patricia nominates:

Déirdre McKiernan Hetzler
"Glorious Ireland in May": May 25 - June 8, 2005 view this year's itinerary:

Mary Sigrist
My web site about my book. FLASH is a flying dragon in old Ireland, befriended by a group of young cousins. Trips to a fairy village called Oolagilbie; a dragon wedding; and a near escape from the trolls and ogres are just a few of the adventures of FLASH and his friends. Set on Ireland's west coast in the Kingdom of the Bald Ferns.

Want to see your name on next week's list? Try finding the following:
1. An Irish Christmas Feast
2. Christmas in Ireland
3. Rover Saves Christmas
HINT: All three titles can be found here, and note that this is Bridget's "bible" - well worth adding to your library: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?tag=irishcultucus-20&path=tg/detail/-/1856350932/qid%3D1073257674/sr%3D1-3

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 - preferably Irish. 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: bhaggerty@irishcultureandcustoms.com ==================================================================
Please help us keep this newsletter free - visit our good friend, Molly's Irish Imports:
Bring joy and delight this Christmas season with a gift from your Irish heart. Avoid the long lines and hassles at department stores. Find truly unique and beautiful gifts with meaning at Molly's Irish Imports. "Lovely things from Celtic lands", including finely crafted jewelry, luxurious woolen capes and scarves, tweed caps, and a wide variety of gift items, from Irish dancer dolls and shamrock rosaries to tasty Irish treats. All items are personally selected for their artistry and authentic Celtic origin and each is guaranteed to bring delight or your money back; also, your credit card purchases are absolutely secure. Shop with confidence and pleasure at Molly's Irish Imports, now offering free holiday gift wrap with handwritten note cards for all holiday gift orders through Dec. 20. Please click http://www.irishmollys.com
To start off, , the answer to last week's head banger:
Two brothers we are, great burdens we bear, all day we are bitterly pressed; Yet this I will say - we are full all the day, and empty when we take a rest.
Q: What are we?
A: A Pair of Shoes. Congratulations to Mervyn C. from Northern Ireland who was first in with the correct answer. And now, in the spirit of the season, the first of several grinchy groaners:
Why was Santa's helper so depressed?
1. Article: An Irish Christmas - Waiting for St. Nicholas
2. Article: Yes, Kelsey and Maddie O'Flaherty, there is a Santa Claus
3. Article: Beannachtaí an tSéasúir - Season's Greetings
4. Article: Many Years Ago
5. Article: Time at This Point of the Year
6. Music Review: The Bells of Dublin - The Chieftains
7. Video Review - An Irish Country Calendar
8. Article: An Advent Memory
9. The Irish Kitchen: Homeland Irish Christmas Cake http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/2Kitch/XmasDesserts.html#HomelandXmasCake
10. Basic Irish - The Big Dinner
11. Kids' Ireland - How The Causeway Came to Be
11. On-going - Circle of Prayer: Our second Novena in this cycle ended on December 1 and our third one began last Thursday. It continues through this Friday, December 10. Please join us in prayer or meditation on behalf of Margaret M who is home from the hospital but not expected to recover. Also, please pray for Mollie's son Casey, Mary from NY, Pauline recovering from surgery, Michael Davitt in Houston, Hartson & Helen, Aideen, Graine, Barbara G's mom who just had a stroke, Cheryl, little Sebastian, Matt Maupin who has been held hostage in Iraq more than 8 months, the sons of personal friends Paul and Ashley, who are serving in Iraq, and all military personnel stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and all over the world. We have experienced first-hand the power of prayer and know that God listens and will answer.
12. New - The December Trivia Contest has been posted. All entries must be in by midnight, December 31st, whichever time-zone you're in.
November's Winner: Diane Dubay, USA. Congratulations! Your Roger Cummiskey print should be on its way.

THE WEEK THAT WILL BE - GOD WILLING A new lesson is just about ready to go and we're hoping to publish some seasonal offerings from a book called "No Shoes in Summer." It's out of print and we're not sure who holds the copyright so that we can get permission. As always, we'll have a new blessing on Sunday and a new quote on Wednesday. We'll also publish another holiday recipe and we'll update the news and history pages daily.
For news, please click:
And we keep a week's worth of history here:

So, until next time, that's the long and the short of it except for the "essential" goings-on in our crazy calendar - many of em' frivolous, but some serious. This feature will return soon. Promise! Celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other special event between now and when we return? We hope it's a joyous occasion for you and your loved ones! In the meantime, may you and yours be abundantly blessed and may He who loves each of us us keep you from all harm. But do help Him out a bit - 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
PS: A special hello to all the new subscribers. If you enjoy our musings and meanderings, please feel free to share them with family and friends.
Are you a loyal reader of our newsletter? Your voluntary donation will help us keep sending it around the world each week. Please send a dollar or more to Russ and Bridget, 5670 Meryton Place, Cincinnati, OH, 45224. Donations can also be made via PayPal at
Our email address there is bhaggerty@irishcultureandcustoms.com
FREE shamrock seeds for any donation over $25! Many thanks in advance for your kindness.
Events & Classifieds
To avoid duplication, we list only those events not already mentioned in the Irish Heritage Newsletter or on the Wild Geese website. In fact, the Irish Heritage email group and the Wild Geese have joined forces to bring you a massive listing of Irish events all over the world! To subscribe to the list, send your e-mail address to group moderator George Trainor, at george@thewildgeese.com. The group's postings go out every other Friday and Saturday, in five separate e-mails, covering Irish history, myths and legends, news, jokes, Irish (Gaeilge) lessons, recipes, and more. Organizations, please alert us about your upcoming events, e-mail events@thewildgeese.com, fax: 208-978-9998. Deadline: The third Wednesday of the month for the following month's edition.

If you're in Ireland, or lucky enough to be visiting, you can see what's on offer here:

Hollywood, Florida - Saturday, December 11
The Irish-American Caeli Club presents its annual Christmas Caeli
For full details, visit us online @

Philadelphia - January 9th
2nd Annual A.O.H./L.O.H. Division 51 Communion Breakfast
Holy Name of Jesus Chirch. For tickets or more information, please contact Jay & Cheryl McCarrie at 215-425-5810 or Phil and Marian Bowdren at 215-426-2772

Hollywood, Florida - January 15
The Irish-American Club presents a New Year's Celebration:
For full details, visit us online @

Know of a church in need of a vestments cabinet? Russ has totally restored one he rescued from a Cincinnati church that was being demolished. If you're interested in learning more about it and seeing a photo, please send us an email - bhaggerty@irishcultureandcustoms.com


This was sent in several times. Thanks to Judith, Hartson and Audrey.
Holiday Eating Tips
1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-aholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple.! Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mince meat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention.

Reread tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, champagne in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"
Send an email to: bhaggerty@irishcultureandcustoms.com
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