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
If, for any reason, you wish to unsubscribe, instructions are at the end - but we do hope you'll stay with us.
Greetings and blessings to all,

Biscuits baked? Pressies purchased? Cards posted? Christmas making you crackers? Make yourself a nice cuppa (or something a wee bit stronger!) and come sit with us a while; hopefully, there'll be a few bits and pieces here that will make you smile or at the very least, ease some of that some of that holly daze.

We're very late with this edition, but we hope it's worth the wait. The holidays are playing their usual havoc with our schedules - not that our schedules were ever that precise! It's been another whirlwind week in the Haggerty household, between Russ trying to keep us warm (hauling in and stacking more firewood) and Bridget prepping for our Black Swap Party. The "Polar Express hit with a vengeance a few days back and we even have a light dusting of snow which is very pretty but, we're getting to that age when we'd rather sweat than shiver.

The Black Swap went well and we enjoyed lots of laughs as each "gift" was opened. However, even a youth size athletic supporter or a ceramic Easter bunny with 'luck o' the Irish' written on it could not surpass the Stretch Armstrong doll dressed in drag which someone received a year or so ago. Many of the gifts come back the following year, but that one has never re-appeared. We shudder to think who might have it and where it might be displayed; it can't be anywhere Father O'Malley would approve of! Before we forget to mention it, Karin, one of our subscribers, was kind enough to bring to our attention that a Black Swap is very similar to a New England custom called a Yankee Swap. Perhaps it was brought over by Irish immigrants?

Speaking of subscribers, we are a whisker away from 2200. Bridget would love to see 2500 by New Years. That's just a couple of weeks away, but with your help, we can do it. First of all, many thanks to all of you who subscribed since last we wrote and please feel free to share our musings and meanderings with your family and friends. Now...if every current reader recruited just one more subscriber.....
Enough about us and what Bridget wants for Christmas (or New Years!)
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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, winnings are tax-free and checks are mailed within 48 hours. Do you have the luck of the Irish? Play the Irish lottery and find out! You can't win it if you're not in it. Please click here for full details:
In news from Ireland:

General - Family hand-me-downs a thing of the past
Couples are having smaller families but are spending more on nursery equipment than their parents did in the 60s and 70s, according to research by Babylo, an Irish nursery equipment company.

Farmers Journal' Ends Lonely Hearts Column
A change of lifestyle in rural Ireland and a decline in the art of writing love letters has brought an end to the The "Getting in Touch" personal ads column. It has been running for the past 40 years and was once so popular that you could expect a wait of up to six weeks to place your ad. A new electronic texting service is being introduced to replace the column.

Carlow - Hacketstown girl for Crufts
Georgina Alford from Christate, Clonmore in Hacketstown, a member of the Bigstone Canine Club in Rathvilly, has been selected to represent Ireland at Crufts 2005 in London. The twelve-year-old took part in the qualifying show at the National Show Centre in Dublin with her Bichon Frise, Rosie.

Cavan - Cavan: Spotless town once again
A litter survey carried out by An Taisce on behalf of the Irish Business Against Litter alliance has again named Cavan as the cleanest town in the country. The town took the award in 2003 also and this year scored ninety-seven points out of a possible one hundred.

Clare - Estuary island on the market
Quay Island, close to Bunratty in the Shannon estuary, is up for sale. The twenty-six acre island is less than three quarters of a mile from the main landing jetty at Shannon harbour and only five minutes from Bunratty Castle at high water.

Kildare - Waterways memorial opened
The Athy branch of the Civil Defence is behind the recent opening of a memorial garden in memory of those who have lost their lives in Irish waterways. The Garden of Remembrance is located at the Barrow Bridge at Levitstown on the Athy to Carlow road.

Meath - New roof for Donore cottage
A seventeenth century thatched cottage in Donore has just received a new roof, courtesy of the Leonard family from Co. Longford. Boyne Valley Cottage, a tourist favourite, is one of the last in the country dating from that era and Joe Leonard and his sons Marvyn and Ken have thatched the cottage in the traditional way using oaten straw.

Offaly: Last call for time at Daingean pub
A public house dating from the early years of the nineteenth century has closed its doors for the last time. Smilers Inn on Main Street in Daingean, which first began serving the public in 1820, has been a popular venue for weddings over the years. It has been used as a venue by a number of entertainers including Bridie Gallagher and Patrick O'Hagan, and has also been home to productions by the local Drama and Variety group. Now the proprietors, Peter and Josie Sheeran, have decided to move on and a town landmark will be no more.

From all over
USA - U2 joining legends in Hall of Fame
U2, The Pretenders, The O'Jays, Buddy Guy and Percy Sledge are to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next March.

From the mailbag:
Last week we posted a verse from H who wondered what its origin might be. We haven't received an answer, but we did get a couple of other verses from Roger Cummiskey, the Dublin artist who so generously sponsors prizes in our Trivia Contest:
Roger writes:
A client asked me to do a painting using the words that his 90 year father used to say to him and his brothers and sisters when they were small children down on the small holding in Co Waterford fado, fado. At the time the eggman used to call regularly and was quite a local feature.

This eggman was Mikie Grainnie.

The famous Mikie Grainnie
He's known as Mick the eggs
He tries to dance a hornpipe with a pair of crooked legs
He gathers eggs around the country from you and from me
And the famous Mikie Grainnie is a son to Mickie Bui.

And my own Granddad, Tom Carroll, from Kilmore, Co Roscommon had his own gems. Here is one but maybe everybody already knows it!
Good mornin' John
Yer sheep are gone.
Yer cocks 'ill crew no more
You went to bed ya sleepy head
And forgot to shut the duer!

Pat M writes: I have been on the internet for the longest while trying to find the exact quote that I saw (long ago). It was a picture of a very old, decrepit and worn farmer and under the picture was a quote that went something like this: Take a long look at me now, 'cause you will never see the likes of me again.
Do you know where I can find this exact quote and/or picture?

In response to Rae's query about the name Matchett, Amy L writes:
I looked in the index of the Griffith's valuation (1848-1864) and there were quite a few Matchet/Matchett's listed in the Northern counties of Armagh, Down, Antrim and Tyrone and some in Cavan. Rae states that her ancestor, William Matchett, left Ireland in 1815, which was a very early period of Irish immigration. Ships passenger lists were not required to be kept at that point in time. My suggestion would be for her to find out what religion her ancestor was and write to the different Heritage Societies in those counties. They may be able to provide her with baptismal certificates, etc. A good place to start is: http://www.irish-roots.net/. It lists all the counties on the left side of the page and links to their Heritage Societies.

Links of the week:
This is from Dan & Kaye - and we agree - this is one of the most unique Christmas cards we have ever seen - you click on one of the lighted items and it jumps into another wonderful seasonal vignette; it goes from page 1 to page 13 and each page is better than the previous page. Enjoy!

We can always depend on Hartson & Helen for fun links - this one is no exception - Dress a Snowman

Subscriber website spotlight
Peter McDonald is a popular performer in the New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York areas. His 25 years as an Irish balladeer keep him a favorite among locals who enjoy Celtic music from classic ballads to traditional folk songs to raucous bar room tunes. Pete also writes a terrific monthly newsletter:

Tony Cuckson offers Irish Blessings, an inspirational site aimed at uplifting the heart and bringing peace of mind. It gives insight for living and ways to find inner beauty, inner peace and inner healing:

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 blitherin' 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
==================================================================Please help support our efforts and visit our sponsor - our good friends at The Celtic Attic
Christmas is almost here! Just a few more days to shop. There is still time to get your order via Priority Mail service, but we are recommending using Express Shipping to guarantee delivery. $3.00 off your Express Shipping Order- offer good Thursday Dec 16th - Tuesday Dec 21st, so last minute shoppers don't worry! Order now and receive a free gift with all orders over $50.00. Get all your shopping done this week at the Celtic Attic and don't forget to enter our Holiday Giveaway - We will be giving away a Basket filled with Coffee Cup, Tea, Christmas decor and much more Value of this Gift is $30.00. Please click: https://secure26.prohosting.com/a0018922/merchant/merchant.mvc?Screen=SFNT&Store_Code=CA&Affiliate=Bridget
Whether you're the guest or the host, here's another Irish toast:
May you never lie, steal, cheat or drink. But if you must lie, lie in your loved one's arms. If you must steal, steal kisses. If you must cheat, cheat death. And if you must drink, drink with us, your friends. Sláinte!
Have you heard about the Irish boomerang?
It doesn't come back, it just sings sad songs about how much it wants to. 
Four men were bragging about how smart their dogs were. One man was an engineer, the second man was an accountant, the third man was a chemist, and the fourth was a government worker. To show off, the engineer called to his dog. "T-square,do your stuff." T-square trotted over to a desk, took out some paper and a pen, and promptly drew a circle, a square, and a triangle. Everyone agreed that that was quite clever. The accountant said that his dog could do better. He called to his dog and said, "Spreadsheet, do your stuff." Spreadsheet went out into the kitchen and returned with a dozen cookies. He divided them into four equal piles of three cookies each. Everyone agreed that that was good. The chemist said that his dog could do better still. He called to his dog and said, "Measure, do your stuff."Measure got up, walked over to the fridge, took out quart of milk, got a ten-ounce glass from the cupboard,and poured exactly eight ounces without spilling a drop. Everyone agreed that that was very impressive.Then the three men turned to the government worker and said, "What can your dog do?" The government worker called to his dog and said, "Coffee Break, do your stuff." Coffee Break jumped to his feet, ate the cookies, drank the milk, claimed he had injured his back while doing so, filed a grievance report for unsafe working conditions, put in for workers' compensation, and went home for the rest of the day on sick leave. They all agreed that that was brilliant!
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. Finding a holly bush loaded with berries was thought to be very lucky?
2. One should drink three sips of salted water before Christmas dinner for good health? But on the second day after Christmas, you should abstain from meat to prevent fever.
3. Shoes placed side by side on Christmas Eve will prevent a quarrel? __________________________________________________________
To begin with, the answers to our last quiz:
An Irish Christmas Feast (the Best of J.B.Keane): John B. Keane
Christmas in Ireland: Colin Morrison
Rover Saves Christmas: Roddy Doyle, Brian Ajhar

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

Patricia Edwards
I think I nominated this site before, but in case I didn't I find it fun to go through all these folk songs - most of which I'm sure (like me) you learnt at school.

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

Want to see your name on next week's list? Try finding the following - we assure you, it's really easy!
1. This Year It Will Be Different
2. The Fires of Yule
3. A Dublin Carol
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 - 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 ==================================================================
There's still time to get authentic Irish Gifts! from the Irish Shop!
Using FedEx for a flat fee of only $20 (from Ireland!) you can order as much as you want and have it before Christmas. Shipping time is 2-3 business days. Click here:
For starters, the answer to last week's grinchy groaner:
Q. Why was Santa's helper so depressed?
A. He had low elf-esteem. As usual, we had a slew of correct answers - what a brilliant group w are! However, Susan was first in. Well done. Honorable mention also goes to "Irish Royal" for the answer: Because he was a Subordinate Clause!
And now for this week's merry mind mangler:
Why is Christmas much like a day at the office?
1. Article: An Irish Christmas - Ding Dong Merrily on High
2. Article: Beannachtaí an tSéasúir - Season's Greetings
3. Article: An Irish Christmas - Waiting for St. Nicholas
4. Article: Yes, Kelsey & Maddie O'Flaherty, there is a Santa Claus
5. Book Review: An Irish Christmas by John Keane
6. Article: An Advent Memory
7. The Irish Kitchen: Spiced Beef http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/2Kitch/rBeef.html#SpicedBeef
8. Basic Irish - Advent & Christmas
9. Kids' Ireland - Midnight Visitors
10. On-going - Circle of Prayer: Our third Novena in this cycle ended last Friday. Our 4th one began on December 10 and continues through December 19. 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, Chad who was injured fighting in Fallujah, 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.
11. The December Trivia Contest has been posted. All entries must be in by midnight, December 31st, whichever time-zone you're in.
12. Still need gift ideas? Check out The Fires of Yule in our collection of Christmas books

THE WEEK THAT IS AND WILL BE - GOD WILLING A new lesson is posted; also a new Culture Corner and two Christmas Memories from "No Shoes in Summer." We are indebted to Merlin Press in Dublin for giving us permission to publish excerpts from this wonderful book which was originally published by Wolfhound Press.
As always, we have a new blessing (posted on Sunday) and a new quote posted 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 there you have it except for the "essential" goings-on in our crazy calendar - many of em' frivolous, but some serious. This feature will return in the new year. Celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other special event between now and next week? ? We hope it's a joyous occasion for you and your loved ones! In the meantime, may your hearth be warm, your holidays grand and your heart held gently in the Good Lord's Hand - 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
PS: Go raibh maith agat to all of you who have been doing your Christmas shopping through our site; we'd also like to thank several of you who have sent us a donation. Every penny is important and helps to keep us going (and keep this newsletter free).
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:

Loveland, OH, Sunday, December 19
A Celtic Christmas in The Oratory at Grailville with music by Silver Arm, 2:30 to 4:30 pm. For Information Call 513-683-2340

Houston, TX, Saturday, December 25
IRISH AIRES is going to host a Christmas Party for listeners & friends. We figured that since we had to be at the studio that evening to do our show, why didn't YOU need to be there too! From 6:00PM until 8:00PM, Pete, myself, Bertha, Peg & other volunteers (too numerous to mention) will host a party at KPFT-FM - (419 Lovett Blvd, Houston, Texas 77006) see a map at:
The number at the station is 713-526-5738. My cell number is 713- 828-8743. Saint Arnolds Brewing Company (http://www.saintarnold.com/) has volunteered some liquid refreshments. There will big hams there (other than Pete & I). AND, if you can, bring a covered dish (preferable with something to eat in it). Come by and lift some food & drink in toast to KPFT. No NEED to, but if you want to RSVP, send me back an email at rdooling@swbell.net

Philadelphia, PA - 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. We've used it over the years to store posters other art work and flat files. (Ad agencies and architectural firms could also put it to similar use). If you're interested in learning more about it and seeing a photo, please send us an email - bhaggerty@irishcultureandcustoms.com

The following came in from Ken Malohn - Thank you!
Why Men Are Just Happier People
Your last name stays put.
The garage is all yours.
Wedding plans take care of themselves.
Chocolate is just another snack.
You can be president.
You can never be pregnant.
You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park.
You can wear NO T-shirt to a water park.
Car mechanics tell you the truth.
The world is your urinal.
You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one
is just too icky.
You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut.
Same work, more pay.
Wrinkles add character.
Wedding dress $5000. Tux rental -- $100.
People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them.
The occasional well-rendered belch is practically expected.
New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet.
One mood -- all the time.
Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.

You know stuff about tanks.
A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase.
You can open all your own jars.
You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.
If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend.
Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack.
Three pairs of shoes are more than enough.
You almost never have strap problems in public.
You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes.
Everything on your face stays its original color.
The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.
You only have to shave your face and neck.
You can play with toys all your life.
Your belly usually hides your big hips.
One wallet and one pair of shoes one color for all seasons.
You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look.
You can "do" your nails with a pocketknife.
You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache.
You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25

No wonder men are happier!