Nollaig Shona and Blessings to all,
Tis two days before Christmas and all through the mall the loudspeakers are blaring spend it all, spend it all. Well, let's hope that's not where you are. Instead, we'd like to imagine that you're safe at home, cup of tea or a pint in hand and spending a wee bit of R & R with us; all the shopping finished, all the presents wrapped and everyone looking forward to a happy Christmas Day. God willing, may it be so.
In the meantime, a warm welcome back to all of you and a special hello to all of our new subscribers. If this is your first edition, we hope you enjoy  our musings and meanderings - and please feel free to share them with your family and friends.
We also hope this issue finds you and yours in good health, good spirits and good company. As for ourselves, it's been a very festive week, beginning with our Black Swap party last Sunday which was the usual hoot - totally useless presents well worthy of a Reginald Perrin Grot Shop! (If you’ve never seen the BBC series, you might want to look it up because if you’re in need of a laugh, it’s hilarious!)
The down side of too much merry-making, however, is that it can really scupper the schedules and thus, we’re late with the newsletter, sending out the CDs to the winners of our Three Tenors drawing, and a slew of other things we meant to get done and haven’t. Sigh. And just one batch of cookies baked to boot! However, instead of letting “The Silly Season” as Himself calls it totally stress Herself out, four minor miracles took place that have served to help put things in perspective. The first happened while we were working on the daily news headlines. It’s still dark when we do it and one morning earlier this week, all of a sudden the motion light went on. The computer faces the backyard window and for a brief moment, it looked like four tiny angels were flying down to our back patio; Bridget quickly got up to check it out - the “angels” were  mourning doves who are regular vistors arriving for their breakfast. We had seen just their white underside and their tailfeathers in the light.  Not an hour later, we saw a twelve-point stag amble across the grass. Keep in mind we live in a city. Then, on the wayback from an errand, we spotted a huge gaggle of geese on the side of the road - no water around anywhere. We think they may have been migrating south and were stopped for a rest. Herelf loves geese, especially in the air and we thought we’d seen the last of them until next spring. While these three previous anecdotes can be easily explained, the fourth is still a magical mystery. Herself has a music box collection that includes a statue of Our Lady; it belonged to Russ’ grandmother and when she left us (RIP) , more than forty years ago it was given to us. It worked at first, but then it was accidentally over-wound and stopped. Suddenly, it began playing - and played for a long, long time...”Immaculate Mary Our Hearts are on fire That title so wondrous Fills all our desire, Ave, ave, Ave Maria...”
We both listened to it in total wonder. The stress lifted from our shoulders and all was calm. All was bright. At least for a little while. 
Thanks to author Robert Sullivan who has donated five copies of his latest book - “Every Goose Thinks His Wife is a Duck: The Irish Case for Laughing, Crying and Drinking Through Life.”  to five lucky readers. No strings attached - just send us an email 
to with Book Drawing in the subject line. The drawing will be held on New Year’s Day. And speaking of books, we have had just a few entries into our Know Your Writers quiz, so we’re extending your opportunity to enter and will bring this feature back in the next newsletter 
Enough of the blitherin - on with the update:
SPONSOR: Help support this newsletter and our web site by visiting our friends at The Celtic Attic:
Especially now when you can take advantage of their massive post holiday sale! And, exclusively for Irish Culture and Customs readers, take 10% off your order and get FREE shipping on orders over $50!   The discount will be removed AFTER you place your order.  Just put the code IC01 in the ‘add a gift card’ section! 
Contact the Celtic Attic on line or by phone - and tell them Bridget & Russ said hello!
Tel: 1-360-286-2307
On line:
Quips, Quotes, Proverbs & Toasts
A Bit of the Wit
Joke of The Week
Did You Know
The week That Is
Leave 'em Laughing
Give Up Yer Aul Sins: The Birth of Jesus
This is episode three of an award winning series by Brown Bag Productions. The episodes based on the 1960s recordings in Dublin of young children telling Bible stories in a classroom to their schoolteacher. We can almost guarantee that once you’ve seen one, you’ll want to see them all. Enjoy!
ED. NOTE: We tried to find a full screen version on You Tube and while they have several episodes, we couldn’t find this one. Here’s a link to what we did find:
Joy to the World - Joe McPartland
It’s with great pleasure that we share this particular link with you. Joe and his lovely wife Peggy have been faithful and supportive readers of our newsletter for many years. Here, Joe is accompanied by a Chorale and full orchestra - it’s well worth a listen:
ED. NOTE: We had hoped to do an article on the McPartland’s this past year - sigh. God willing, we’ll succeed in 2012!
Jingle Bells sung in Irish by children
A lovely Christmas card for you to forward to family and friends from This should put you in the spirit!
Fiddle Tree
One of our all-time favorite greetings - and joy, oh joy, it's still available:
Have an Irish Christmas
Make sure you have your speakers turned on.
The Irish Page - Christmas Carols in Irish
Jack & Vivian Hennessy of The irish Page have put together Christmas carols in Irish - as Jack says, the most of any web site on the internet. Go raibh maith agat, Jack! There are 10 different Christmas Carols in Irish and English each with music. Phonetics have been added to about half of the carols. You rest your mouse cursor on the shamrock and the phonetics for the stanza pop up. Click here for Carúil na Nollag - Irish Christmas Carols:
An Irish Night Before Christmas
An enchanting reading of the classic tale cleverly adapted by Sarah Kirwan Blazek.
A Christmas Celtic Sojourn
Brian O'Donovan, host and producer of "A Christmas Celtic Sojourn" speaks about the program along with clips from the DVD shot in High Definition, live in Boston
NORAD Tracks Santa
For the 56th consecutive year, the men and women of the North American Aerospace Defense Command are preparing to track Santa. The site went live on December 3rd  and features holiday games and activities that change daily. 
A toast for Christmas Eve: 
Where is the star that dances in the east?
Son of Ghost and Virgin forgive our meagre welcome.
Busy in the inns we feast
your arrival cribbed between ox and ass.
O give us our innocence, all green and eager.
To the God of renewal. I raise this glass. 
Micheal O' Siadhail
This one was sent in by Pete McDonald several years ago and well worth repeating. 
Maggie Kelly was off to Dublin to do her Christmas shopping. "Be careful," says Mary McGee. "Those Dublin shops charge far more than you'd pay here in Sligo. They always double the price. So when you get there only offer them half." "I will", says Maggie, and indeed she does. "The green dress in the window," she says, "It's priced at £40. That's much too dear!" "Madam", says the clerk, "believe me it is a very reasonable price." "Get on with ye" says Maggie loudly. "Everyone knows that in Dublin you pay twice as much. I'll give you £20 and not a penny more." "Madam", says the clerk “I don't want a scene. If you calm down, I'll let you have the dress for £20.” "In that case," retorts Maggie "I'll give you £10 for it." "Madam, please!" begs the clerk, "I don't want to sully our reputation. If it'll make you go away you can have it for £10." "In that case I'll give you £5", says Maggie. At her wits end, the clerk says, "Madam, just to get rid of you, please take the dress for nothing." In that case', says Maggie triumphantly, "I'll be wanting two."
ED. NOTE: Peter McDonald is a popular Irish balladeer in the New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York areas. For his performance schedule and other info’, please  click 
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
SPONSOR: Please help us keep your newsletter coming - visit our good friends at the Irish Lottery:
In operation since 1988, it's one of the oldest online sites in the world. With subscribers in 89 countries it is also among the most reliable. Jackpots are never lower than US $1,500,000 and are frequently worth in excess of US $5,000,000 Here's the best part - you don't have to live in Ireland to play and all winnings are Tax Free! It’s always been a fantasy of ours that one of readers would scoop the big prize, but you can’t win it if you’re not in it. Play from the comfort of home here:
1. In the old days, a boiled ox head was a favorite Christmas favorite dish in Armagh, Tyrone, and Monaghan?
2. According to Irish folklore, it's bad luck to take the Christmas decorations down before January 6?
3. The Pogues & Shane MacGowan's classic "Fairytale of New York" with Kristy MacColl (RIP)  is the most widely played song on Irish radio every Christmas?
ED. NOTE: If you would like to see them performing it  please click :
But first the answer to our last brain bruiser:
Q You have 10 trees you need to make 5 rows of 4. How do you do it?
A. Plant them in a five-pointed star shape
As always, we had an avalanche of correct solutions, but first in was Ruth Craig  of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Congratulations Ruth! Honorable mention also goes to Jack Doherty in Oakland, NJ who suggested placing two rows of five in front of a large mirror! Very clever and good for a giggle, ut not the solution we were looking for.
And now for our next head banger: 
So now for our next hair-puller which is in several different parts:
1.Why does Santa like to go down chimneys?
2. But isn't he afraid he'll get stuck?
3. Won't all that soot make him sick?
4. what if there's a fire in the fireplace?
Hint: Ask the kids if you’re stumped!
 Please send your answers to Bridget and put Riddle in the subject line. Thanks!
1. Shopping Section: Naturally, we hope you and yours will do all of  your shopping through the Irish Culture & Customs and and the advertisers in our newsletter - not just at the holidays - but all year round. For every sale, we make a small commission which goes a long way toward helping us cover the expenses of maintaining the website and sending the newsletter. Many thanks in advance for your kindness! 
 2. County News: The bits and bobs that used to come by mail are now on line here:
We’ve been slugging away at it for several weeks now and we do hope you’re enjoying the results of our efforts. 
3. National News: We keep two week’s worth of headlines and links here: And we try to keep it all positive.
4. Trivia Contest:  All entries for the December Contest must be in by midnight on December 31st, whatever time zone you live in.
November’s winner was  Michele Baron USA who chose for her prize the Celtic Warrior Pendant shown here and so generiusly provided by the Celtic Attic: 
5. Article:  An Irish Christmas - The Day Before
6. Article: Memories of Christmas Eve Past
7. Article: An Irish Christmas - Ding Dong Merrily on High
8.Article: An Irish Christmas, Then and Now
9. Article:  Beannachtaí an tSéasúir - Season's Greetings 
10.Article: Rowing to Midnight Mass
11. Article: Burying the Baby Jesus 
12. Article: White-Washed Walls
13. Article: St. Stephens to New Years
14. The Irish Kitchen - Food for the Feast
15. Basic Irish: Words & Phrases for the Holiday Season
16. Kids’ Ireland: Midnight Visitors
17. Music Review: Home for Christmas - The Irish Tenors
ED. NOTE: This is the 2007 recording.
18. Circle of Prayer. The 9th and last Novena in this cycle began on December18th and continues  throughDecember 26. Since last we wrote we lost a dear friend Bette Keating; it will be bitter sweet making her Snickerdoodles this year as it’s her recipe Bridget has relied on for decades of Christmas baking; she will be missed very much by us and especially her family. Also, we were shocked to learn of the sudden passing of Ken Franke, a neighbor we’ve known for a long time. He was just 52. Whatever your spiritual leanings, please keep his wife Caryl and the families of all those mourning  in your prayers or meditations; also our good friend Hartson Dowd who was just diagnosed with severe diabetes. He says he’s ready to see his maker, but his wife Helen says she’s not ready to do without him  YET! We heartily agree.  Please also remember the family and friends of the McTiernans,  County Gort’s mother,  and so many others who are going through so much economic stress and strain. And last, but certainly not least, please ask God to watch over our men and women in the military; that He will keep them safe and bring them home to their families soon.
SPONSOR: Please help us keep your newsletter coming - visit our good friends at Lollysmith who would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your patronage  in 2011 year and wish you a very happy, health and prosperous New Year. And don’t forget - whatever the occasion,  birthdays, graduations, weddings or anniversaries, you’re sure to find the perfect present at  Lollysmith!  Stop by soon and tell them Bridget & Russ said hello.
 So that’s the long and the short of it until we  write again. Until then , pinch punch first day of the month white rabbit! If you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other special event between now and the next edition, we hope it's an occasion filled with joy and happiness. And if you were married in January  or plan to tie the knot in the coming month, here is your special verse:
 Marry when the year is new,
Always loving, kind and true.
We’ll take our leave with  this timely  toast Bridget’s dad used to propose on New Year’s Eve:  
 May your nets always be full,
Your pockets never empty,
Your horse not cast a shoe,
Nor the devil look at you
In the coming year.
And also this blessing
May God grant you lightness in your step, a smile on every face you meet;
Loved ones gathered at your hearth, and at your door, good folk to greet;
A holy hymn upon your lips, a window candle burning bright,
And may the Good Lord bless your heart and come to dwell there Christmas night.
 And, as they say in Ireland, mind yourself. 
Slan agus beannachtái

Bridget & Russ
Get down on your knees and thank God you’re still on your feet. 
Téigh ar do ghlúine is bí buíoch le Dia go bhfuil tú fós ar do chosa.
ED. NOTE: We put the Irish back in per a request by Mary in New York - but we’re not sure it’s grammatically correct. We knoiw we have several Irish speakers out there,  so please check it and let us know if we need to make any changes. Go raibh maith agat!
Irish Abroad publishes a list of events  here: 
The Wild Geese also publishes events on its Facebook page:
If you would like us to promote an event, please send details to Bridget and mention event in the subject line:
Tis the season to be jolly and The National Chamber Choir of Ireland’s winter program Christmas Tidings conjures a magnificent selection of seasonal carols, directed by leading Irish conductor of his generation, David Brophy. The choir performs two concerts at Monkstown Parish Church, Co Dublin & The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin. For more details, please click
Irish Heritage Center of Cincinnati
For details on upcoming events and other activities, please click
Celtic Spirit Culture Weeks are very carefully and sensitively designed to share with you a true and authentic Irish Celtic Experience, with most activities guided by the islanders themselves. To learn more, please click:
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
First Friday of the month Céilís and ongoing 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

This one came in from our good friend Audrey. It's been around before, but it's so good, it's worth another read - out loud, even!
Twas the night before Christmas at Rock-Away Rest,
And all of us seniors were looking our best.
Our glasses, how sparkly, our wrinkles, how merry;
Our punch bowl held prune juice plus three drops of sherry.
A bedsock was taped to each walker, in hope
That Santa would bring us soft candy and soap.
We surely were lucky to be there with friends,
Secure in this residence and in our Depends.
Our grandkids had sent us some Christmassy crafts,
Like angels in snowsuits and penguins on rafts.
The dental assistant had borrowed our teeth,
And from them she'd crafted a holiday wreath.
The bed pans, so shiny, all stood in a row,
Reflecting our candle's magnificent glow.
Our supper so festive -- the joy wouldn't stop --
Was creamy warm oatmeal with sprinkles on top.
Our salad was Jell-O, so jiggly and great,
Then puree of fruitcake was spooned on each plate.
The social director then had us play games,
Like "Where Are You Living?" And "What Are Your Names?"
Old Grandfather Looper was feeling his oats,
Proclaiming that reindeer were nothing but goats.
Our resident wand'rer was tied to her chair,
In hopes that at bedtime she still would be there.
Security lights on the new fallen snow
Made outdoors seem noon to the old folks below.
Then out on the porch there arose quite a clatter
(But we are so deaf that it just didn't matter).
A strange little fellow flew in through the door,
Then tripped on the sill and fell flat on the floor.
'Twas just our director, all togged out in red.
He jiggled and chuckled and patted each head.
We knew from the way that he strutted and jived,
Our social-security checks had arrived.
We sang -- how we sang -- in our monotone croak,
Till the clock tinkled out its soft eight-p.m. stroke.
And soon we were snuggling deep in our beds.
While nurses distributed nocturnal meds.
And so ends our Christmas at Rock-Away Rest.
'fore long you'll be with us, We wish you the best.