Greetings & Blessings to all,

Happy St Valentine's Day!
Beannachtaí na Fhéle Vailintín!
(Pronunciation: Ban-ochth-thee na Fay-leh val-in-theen)
Literally, Blessings of St. Valentine
Welcome to our St. Valentine’s Day special edition; we hope it finds you in good health, good company. and good spirits. If this is your first  newsletter from Irish Culture and Customs, many thanks for signing up and we hope you enjoy our musings and meanderings. And please feel free to share them with your family and friends.
As this isn’t our regular monthly edition,  there are  omissions - but not to worry, they will all return. Thus, if you haven’t tried your hand at our writer’s quiz or the riddle, now’s your chance. The most recent  newsletter is archived here:
So...what are your plans for the day that’s in it? Years ago,  we used to throw caution to the budgetary wind and book ourselves into a favourite local hotel for a couple of days. There was an amazing steakhouse within the hotel complex and we just totally indulged ourselves. What lovely memories to look back on - and whatever your circumstances in 2012, we hope that God willing, you and yours might also have the pleasure of sweet recollections from past St.  Valentine’s celebrations that we do. 
Alas, being on a very stringent budget, we can no longer afford to be so cavalier with the income - but that doesn’t mean we won’t celebrate; Russ always reads to Herself  from the Rubyiat by Omar Khyam translated by  Edward FitzGerald, and even though we’ve pretty much given up eating beef for health reasons as well as financial, we will make an exception and fix what we hope will be an awesome  steak dinner.  And there will be a Champagne toast!  To be sure, it won’t be Dom Perignon, but since we’ve never had the pleasure of tasting that, we won’t care!
As of this writing, we’ve had less than twenty donations. We know times are very difficult for many people and we do understand if you can’t afford to help us with even just a euro, dollar, pound or whatever your currency might be.  However, to sweeten the pot, we had a great suggestion from one of our most loyal readers and supporters, Mr. Bill Deegan: have another drawing for books, CDs or movies and for every five dollars, get 50 - yes,  FIFTY - entries into all the drawings we have year round. Double that five and get 100 entries - and so on!  We are going to try it and see what happens.  Up for grabs this time around is a copy of Anam Cara by John O’Donahue, The Quiet man movie,  and the CD Celtic Harp by the Chieftains. Drawing for this selection of prizes will be held on St. Patrick’s Day. We’ve always said that if every subscriber sent a dollar, we would far exceed what we need. So, if that’s all you can afford, please don’t be shy about sending it. And again many thanks in advance for your kindness.
Contributions can be made via PayPal at this address:
Or by snail mail to:
Bridget & Russ Haggerty
5814 Blue Spruce 
Ohio 45224
Enough of the blitherin, on with the Valentine’s Day special edition.
Sponsor: This Valentine’s Day bulletin is brought to you by our friends at the Celtic Attic
Only a few more shopping weeks until St. Patrick's Day! We have hats, sunglasses, tee shirts and a wide variety of fun products plus a ton of great products for your shopping pleasure. Take 10% off your order now at the Celtic Attic and order $50.00 or more and your shipping is FREE. The discount will be removed AFTER you place your order. We will be processing all credit cards in the store so that we can take make any price adjustments. Plus get a candy bag and a FREE gift with each and every order.
Did You Know
Web Site Update
LeaveThemEm Laughing
Grace by Jim McCann
The first time we heard this, we were in Blarney Woolen Mills and Herself had to have it. The CD simply called Love Songs  is one of our all time favourites. It’s in our library and still available on amazon.
I wish my love was a red, red rose by Tim Dennehy
Gra Mo Chroi - The Love of My Heart
Sung in Irish - but with subtitles. The photos of Ireland are breath-taking
Air - You’re The One - duet by Maire Brennan & Shane McGowan
Our daughter’s bridesmaids walked down the aisle to the instrumental version of this song as arranged by The Chieftains. If it sounds familiar, it’s from the movie Circle of Friends
This was the only free version we could find; the photos of Tuscany are lovely, but might we suggest you close your eyes and imagine you’re in Ireland? 
Are Irish People Romantic?
Lauren from Gaelic Girls TV  asks the question of a  wide variety of Irish people
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:
“If you send out goodness from yourself, or if you share that which is happy or good within you, it will all come back to you multiplied ten thousand times. In the kingdom of love there is no competition; there is no possessiveness or control. The more love you give away, the more love you will have.” 
John O'Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
May the sons of your sons smile up in your face
This one is adapted from one sent in by Barry at Kellys in the Bahamas - thank you!
Mike wakes up at home with a huge hangover. He forces himself to open his eyes, and the first thing he sees are a couple of aspirins and a glass of water on the bedside table. He sits up in bed and sees his clothing in front of him, all clean and ironed. He looks around the room and sees that it is in perfect order, spotless. He takes the aspirins and sees a note on the table which says "Breakfast is on the stove, dear. I left early to go shopping. Love you!" He goes to the kitchen and sure enough, there's a hot breakfast waiting for him, and also the morning newspaper. His son is sitting at the table, eating. Really curious by now, Mike asks, "Son, what happened last night?" His son says, "Well, Mam said you came home after 3 a.m, you stumbled in the door, threw up in the hallway, and passed out half-way up the stairs. Confused, Mike asks, "So, why is everything in order and so clean, and breakfast is on the table waiting for me?" His son replies, "Oh, that! Mam dragged you to the bedroom, and when she tried to take your trousers off, you yelled "Leave me alone woman, I'm a married man"
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.
1. The crocus, which flowers about this time in Ireland, is St Valentine's Flower?
2. W. B Yeats dedicated most of his love poetry to Maude Gonne?
3. According to irish custom, A man should always be the first to wish joy to a bride - never a woman?
1. Article: The Irish Link to St. Valentine
2. Article: The Irish in Love
3. Article: The Irish in Love - Part II
4.Article: The Irish in Love - Still Waters Run Deep
5. Article: Shrovetide - The Marrying Season
6. Article: What if you were still single by Ash Wednesday?
7. Article: Shrove Tuesday Pancakes

 8. Irish Kitchen: A Romantic Irish Menu fo Valentine’s Day
9. Basic Irish: The Language of Love - in Irish
10. Kids Ireland: Sean & The Selkie
So there you have it until we send out our regular February edition toward the end of the month. Meanwhile, the snowdrops are up, the countdown to St. Patrick’s Day has  begun, and even though  it’s snowing out our office window, we can feel this lovely anticipation  of spring in the wings. May that delightful  sensation be yours wherever you are! We’ll take our leave with this lovely blessing for the day that’s in it:
May the saint of romance
intercede on your behalf
and God grant you
the love and affection
of a true Irish heart.
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 know 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!
This one came in from Penny R. Thanks, Penny!
Mrs. O'Reilly returned home from a vacation to France where she had taken a cooking class. She tells her husband Paddy she is going to prepare him a special meal for St. Valentine’s Day and he is to go down to Sean's Market and buy two dozen escargot, which she explains to Paddy are snails. Mrs. O'Reilly admonishes Paddy to come right home and no stops at the pub. Paddy buys the snails and is on his way home but alas, his route takes him right by his favorite pub. Just one he tells himself. Well, perhaps another he says after having the first pint. The company is good, the tales are tall, and Paddy finds himself having three or four. As Paddy heads home he realizes it has become dark and knows his lovely wife will be waiting and sharpening her tongue for him. As Paddy opens the gate to home the porch light comes on and he hears the door begin to open. Paddy empties the bag of escargot on the ground and says in a loud voice "Come on now lads! You're almost there."
Image Credit: Heart & Shamrocks:  Zazzle