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Greetings and Blessings to all,

In the midst and muddle of all the hustle and bustle, might we suggest you pour yourself a nice cup of tea or a pint and linger with us a while? Certainly we hope our latest epistle will give you a few enjoyable minutes away from the merry mayhem of it all.

A warm welcome back to everyone - and a very special hello to all of our new readers. Thanks for joining us. We hope you will enjoy our musings and meanderings - and please feel free to share them with family and friends.

In the meantime, God willing, this edition will find you in fine fettle and fit as a fiddle. As for ourselves, it's been a very busy week, what with shopping, decorating and getting ready for our Black Swap Pub Lunch this Sunday. If you don't know what that is, it's an old Irish custom - not necessarily associated with Christmas - where people exchange something they don't want - wrapped, of course, so the recipient doesn't know what they're getting. We've bent the rule a bit so we're allowed to swap what we open with one of the other guests. In past years, the "gifts" have been an hilarious assortment of unmentionables and unusables. It's always a good laugh and a great opportunity to see family and friends we may not otherwise.

But enough about us - how about bah humbug in Harrow? While this isn't Irish, it is representative of what's happening in many countries. Parents of students at Grimsdyke First and Middle School in the exclusive borough of Harrow are demanding the return of the Nativity play which was cancelled in favour of a "seasonal celebration." Just 1 in 4 students is Christian. So the school decided to recognize the other three leading faiths: the Moslem Eid ul Fitr which commemorates the end of the month of Ramadan, Hannuhkah which remembers the miracle of the Menorah lights continuing to stay illuminated for eight days even though they should have been out of oil, and the Hindu Diwali,which is also a festival of light commemorating the return from exile of the divine king Rama.

Since all of these events take place at the same time of year and we now live in multi-cultural societies, it's understandable that we can't have "just Happy Christmas" anymore. That said, if you're annoyed by people wishing you Happy Holidays, simply wish them a Happy Christmas - or whatever - including the ever so politically correct Compliments of the Season Or bah, humbug ( which is probably said more times than anything else during Eid, Kwanza. Diwali, et al). Onwards.

Help us keep our newsletter coming to your mailbox. Please visit our good friends at the Celtic Attic:
We want to invite our Loyal Customers, Newsletter Readers and Visitors to participate in the First Annual Celtic Attic Gift Basket Friendship Christmas Giveaway. We did this for Thanksgiving and the responses and stories were amazing. Some brought tears to our eyes. So we decided to do this for Christmas as well. All you have to do is Fill out the Free Monthly Giveaway or Gift Basket Giveaway forms and in the Comments Section nominate someone you feel is in need of one our Fantastic Celtic Gift Basket. Please tell us why you feel they deserve this prize. If your entry is chosen, you as the nominator will receive a Free Celtic Cross Pendant and your nominee will receive the Gift Basket. One Grand prize winner for the Gift Basket will be chosen on Christmas Eve by the Celtic Attic Staff. We will also pick 5 Runner Up's and each will receive a $5.00 Gift Card good for any purchase at the Celtic Attic. It never expires and will be mailed out to each runner up. The 5 nominators will also receive a Free Christmas Ornament for their participation. The links to the Free Giveaway sections are below. We hope to hear from as many of you as possible.Help make someone's Holiday Season Grand and send in your Nominees!
From the Mailbag
Special Christmas Links
Quips, quotes, proverbs & toasts
Joke of The Week
Did You Know
The Week That Was & The Week that Will be, God Willing
Leave 'Em Laughing

We're happy in a winter wonderland
Contrary to other news reports, forget the bling! The traditional Victorian-style Christmas is back in vogue, Inspired in part by the winter wonderland scenes depicted in cinema blockbusters Narnia and Harry Potter, traditional Christmas decor with old-fashioned wreaths, holly and ribbons are all the rage in Ireland. - unlike the fibre-optic Santa scaling the chimney or strobe lights which are being been relegated to the bin. However, decking out the house both inside and out remains a growing trend in Ireland, with the average household expected to spend up to 300 Euro this year to update their decorations. And while more and more of us are adopting the American trend of dressing up our front gardens with lights and outdoor ornaments, so far and in general, the Irish have resisted the Las-Vegas/theme park approach that transforms many American neighbourhoods into neon nightmares.

Dreaming of a Green Christmas?
More than 23,000 tonnes of paper and packaging waste will be generated this Christmas - the equivalent of 4,000 grown elephants. South Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Councils will have recycling centres open until 1pm on Christmas Eve, reopening on St Stephen's Day. Galway County Council will have centres at Clifden, Ballinasloe and Tuam while Limerick City Council also offer services. Further details are available at http://www.raceagainstwaste.ie, lo-call 1890 667 639, or www.repak.ie.

Unimaginative Pressies - "Tat" for short
On Christmas morning we will unwrap an astonishing 5.84m unwanted gifts with old favourites like socks, hankies and ties among the top ten most unimaginative "pressies". According to Oxfam Ireland, shoppers will spend an average of €48 per person on last minute panic Christmas purchases . But according to its survey of 2,000 shoppers, more than three quarters of the population (83pc) claim they will receive at least one gift they don't want at Christmas. The survey's top ten of "tat" or unimaginative gifts was: Socks, Handkerchiefs, CD or book tokens, Toiletries, Ties, Calendars and diaries, Sweets and chocs, Slippers, Underwear and Kitchen appliances.

From around the country:
Carlow sweeps to victory at environmental awards
Carlow has overtaken Cavan as the cleanest town in Ireland. But Cavan - which won the title for the last two years - still comes in as runner-up with Fermoy in Co Cork finishing off the top three.

Cork: Thousands of people gathered on the streets of Cork last week to witness a spectacle of light, music and dance to mark the official end of its role as the European Capital of Culture.

Donegal: Unique distinction for Gartan
Gartan National School is now the only school in the county to have just one teacher, following the allocation of extra staff to the schools at Doaghbeg in Fanad and Meenamara near Dungloe. Unfortunately Gartan has only eleven pupils, one too few to achieve the limit set by the Department of Education.

Mayo - Achill looks set for 4m Euro bridge
Plans have been unveiled for a new €4m bridge, linking Mayo's Achill Island with the mainland. The swinging mechanism on the existing bridge - built in
1886 - often fails, resulting in a roundtrip of up to 10 hours for boatmen.

Monaghan: Plans in place for hardy swimmers
The Carrick Emmets Christmas Day Swim will take place at noon on Creevy Lake. This is the twenty-fifth year of the annual event. Over one hundred swimmers and thousands of spectators are expected at the lake.

Waterford: No appeals, so marina goes ahead
The plan for a marina in Dunmore East s now set to go ahead. A new harbour is to be developed outside the existing one, and it will be used for smaller boats and pleasure craft.


Help us keep your newsletter free. Please visit our good friends at Lollysmith:
Cap off your Christmas shopping gift list with authentic Irish caps from Hanna Hats of Donegal! Just in! See these and many more gifts imported directly from Ireland, including Jewelry and Shamrock Seeds, Connemara Marble, Tin Whistles, Bodhráns, and much more. So, stop by soon. Lollysmith is always open and they also offer Celtic themed gifts from American companies such as Russ Berrie Angel Cheeks, Silver Moon Jewelry, and Dorfman Pacific Hats. And definitely take a look at their genuine Irish Blackthorn and Hazel Walking Sticks! Please click:


Paula Barrett writes: Our County Childcare committee along with thirteen others are producing a manual of traditional Irish games, songs and rhymes. The manual will be a great resource for parents and anyone working with children. The project is a collaborative action by fourteen county childcare committees from Cavan, Donegal, Galway, Laois, Leitrim, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Westmeath, as well as The Border Counties Childcare Network, IPPA-The Early Childhood Organisation, The National Children‚s Nurseries Association, Forbairt Naoinrai Teo and Childminding Ireland. This Project is funded by The National Development Plan and EU Structural Funds. So if you can remember the games you played growing up, the songs you sang with your friends and the rhymes from your childhood, then make sure you get in touch so that we can all work together to keep these traditions alive. You can contribute by sending your description of a game, with a drawing to explain how it is played, or a copy of your favorite old songs or rhymes. Alternatively you can contact the researchers by phone. You can send as many games, songs or rhymes as you can remember. All are appreciated. Contributions can be in Irish or English. The contact details are:
email: traditionalgames@hotmail.com
Tel: 074 9123873
Paula Barrett,
Cothrom Community Consultancy
27 Whitethorn Grove

Mary Ellen writes: I'm looking for a saying (on a T-shirt) that goes something like this:
"Everybody talks about how much I drink…but nobody asks (knows?) how thirsty I am." My fiancé saw a T-shirt with this printed on it a while back and I can't seem to find it anywhere. Do you have any suggestions?

Tony & Colette remind us that Ireland is one of several Celtic Nations:

Great news! Hartson is going home for Christmas! For those of you who don't know, Hartson Dowd is our "resident Irish recipe collector and contributor to the Irish Kitchen on the web site; we just received a very touching thank you from him for simply sending a card. Unbelievably, he is sending a thank you to each person who sent a get well greeting - and they come from all over the world. We also thank you for sending him a card - it means so much to him and his wonderful wife Helen. You can still send a card if you'd like - he will be going back to the hospital after Christmas Day.
Hartson update letters to all who sent cards

Fraser Canyon Hospital
1275 7th Ave.
Hope, British Columbia, Canada
V0X 1L4
NOTE: no room number is necessary, as it is a very small hospital, and they all know who Hart Dowd is!

Jennie wrote that she was looking for authentic Irish bainin yarn. We received two sources from Nicole:
There are quite a few sites online that sell AUTHENTIC Irish Bainin Yarn; but one I've found to be "top notch" and very pleasant is O'Maille's site:
Hope this helps Jennie and whoever else may need it!

Nicole also sent us:
Go raibh maith agat, Nicole!

Jack was looking for the Mass in irish. Donal writes:
If Jack tries http://www.rte.ie/rnag/ he will hear the Mass at 10.30 a.m. GMT or he can select Éist/Listen and select Aifreann an Lae from the menu and listen to it at a more convenient time. If he wants Mass in English he can use
http://www.rte.ie/rnag//radio1 .

Marc writes:
The Celtic MP3s Music Magazine and the Irish & Celtic Music Podcast are compiling a list of the Best Celtic Music Groups of 2005. I need your vote. From now until January 31, 2006, you can vote for your favorite Celtic Music Group. The top voted bands will be featured in my Irish & Celtic Music Podcast in March.If there's a band that you would like to see featured, cast your vote now at http://www.celticmp3s.com/submit/vote.shtml
Please tell yourfellow Celtic music lovers to vote, too. Thank you!

Veronica from Australia writes:
I was wondering if your readers have ever heard this saying?
I banged me ankle against me uncle and broke the heel of me sore toe.
My mother, a Cork born beautiful woman now deceased, used to say this for a laugh. What I would like to know is, is this an old Irish saying or a figment of my Mum's imagination? Either way, I'm still trying to figure it out!

A lovely tribute to what it's all about

More of the same
This link is from Big Mama. With a handle like that, are we going to say this is politically incorrect? You disagree? We'll forward your message. Don't say we didn't earm you.

The Third Sunday in Advent
Jack & Vivian of the Irish Page have been sending us links to the progression of Advent. On the third Sunday, Joseph enters the story with a dream he has, which allays his worst fears.

Fiddle Tree
For those of you who haven't seen this greeting which we published last year, we're happy to report it's still available. Enjoy!

Irish Christmas Carols
The history and lyrics of traditional Irish Christmas carols. - and you can listen to them, too.

The most unique Christmas card on the internet?
That's what our friend AG says. You click on one of the lighted items and it jumps into another wonderful scene; it goes from page to page and each page is better than the previous page. Turn on your sound - each page has different music.. Give it time to download.

Snowball game
This link was sent in by Judith from up north (Ohio that is!) And Sue Haddad. Turn up the volume - DON'T hit Santa - He will swear at you.Move mouse onto the people who are not Santa, click and enjoy. But remember - Don't hit Santa!

What's your Elf name?
Sent to us by our feline fanatic friend in England - Pauline Dewbery of The Daily Mews
Work out what your Anta's Helper name would be:

Have an Irish Christmas
In all of the searching for this and that, we came across this. At least, we think so. If you sent it in, please forgive us for not giving you credit: http://www.fionasplace.net/Christmas/Have_an_Irish_Christmas.html

A beautiful tribute to the season
With many thanks to the reader who sent this in:

Free mammograms
Do you know of a woman who can't afford a mammogram? Here's how you can help. Go to the Breast Cancer site and click on their free mammogram link; if they get 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:

Last but certainly not least - 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:


It's that time of the year when we hope for peace on earth and good will toward men. So we particularly liked this quote someone sent to us. We don't know the author - if you do, please let us know.
If wars were fought with words, the Irish would rule the world.

1. At festive times such as Christmas, Irish men would hold a "join?". Each man in the locality would contribute a small sum toward liquid refreshments and have a pleasant evening of talk,song, and storytelling.

2.Boiled Ox head was the favorite Christmas dinner in Armagh,Tyrone, Monaghan and other places in the north?

3. According to old Irish folklore, no prayer will go unanswered when said on Christmas eve?

Several men are in the locker room at the golf club. A cell phone on a bench rings and a man engages the hands free speaker-function and begins to talk. Everyone else in the room stops to listen.
MAN: "Hello"
WOMAN: "Dear, it's me. Are you at the club?"
MAN: "Yes"
WOMAN: "I'm out Christmas shopping and I found this beautiful leather coat. It's only 1,000 euros. Alright if I buy it?"
MAN: "Go ahead, if you like it that much."
WOMAN: "I also stopped by the BMW dealership; the 2005 models are in. I saw one I really liked."
MAN: "How much?"
WOMAN: "80,000 euros.
MAN: "OK, but for that price I want it with all the options."
WOMAN: "Grand - just grand. ! Oh, and one more thing, love - the house we wanted last year is back on the market. They're asking 950,000"
MAN: "Well, then go ahead and give them an offer, but make it for only 900,000."
WOMAN: ""You're the best! I'll see you later! I love you!"
MAN: "Toodles, I love you, too."
The man hangs up. The other men in the locker room are looking at him in astonishment.
Then he asks: "Anyone know who this phone belongs to?"

Please help keep our newsletter coming to your mailbox - visit our good friends at the Irish Lottery:
There was NO winner of Wednesday's drawing which means Saturday's jackpot will be € 6 Million Euro or more!Wouldn't that be nice to have for Christmas? So play now. You don't have to live in Ireland to enter, 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! I Please click here for full details - and best of Irish luck to you!

But first off, the answers to our previous quiz:

1. They Put the Flag A Flyin' by Kathleen Hegarty Thorne
2. Islands of Connaught by Wallace Clarke
3. Irish Blood, English Heart, Ulster Fry by Annie Caulfield

Hats off to our latest literary sleuths:
Déirdre McKiernan Hetzler
"Glorious Ireland in May" - from May 25 to June 8, 2005. To view this year's itinerary, please click:
http:// www.tours2ireland.com

Helen Dowd
Please visit my site and if you like it, please vote for me in the Top Chrstian Sites listing. Thanks to all if you who have voted for me, I am now in fifth place.

Mindy Grazulis

Rita Roche
do like to go to the www.blarney.com website as I have purchased Waterford crystal and other Irish ware from them.
ED. NOTE: We wish they had an affiliate program! Better yet, we wish we were in Co. Cork so we could buy from them directly!

Jamie Dossie
I would like to nominate the following site:

Want to see your name in our next newsletter? Send us the names of the authors who wrote the following:

1. Christmas Wonder: From Ireland for Children
2. The Irish Christmas Book
3. The Wexford Carols

ED. NOTE: Many books have the same title; please keep in mind that we are looking for Irish authors or Irish-related books.
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!)
NOTE: It would be very helpful if you would send your entries to: bhaggerty@irishcultureandcustoms.com
Love the aroma of a turf fire? Experience the next best thing with Irish Incense, the peaceful, nostalgic scent that will transport you back in time and place. The perfect gift for Christmas or any other occasion, order now. And when you mention that you heard about Irish incense in the Irish Culture and Customs newsletter, you'll receive an extra pack of incense for FREE (plus your newsletter writers will receive a nice commission which will help keep us going). Please click

We thought our last our last one was particularly tough, but within minutes, of the newsletter going out, Joseph M. Clifford of Rancho Palos Verdes, CA was in with the solution. Good work, Joseph. And well done to all of our Riddle People who sent in the correct answer. And here it is:
Q: A girl is twice as old as her brother and half as old as her father. In 22 years, her brother will be half as old as his father. How old is the daughter now?

A. The girl is now 22. In 22 years she will be 44.
The brother is now 11. In 22 years he will be 33.
The father is now 44. In 22 years he will b 66.
Ready for the next puzzle? While we do our best to find difficult posers, in the spirit of the season and what's in it, we're letting you off lightly this time around:
Q. What do you call children who are afraid of Santa Claus?
1. Special Christmas Page: Nollaig Shona & Happy Shopping
http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/Shop/1Xmas1.html1. Article: An Irish 2. 2. 2. Article: Christmas - Then and Now
3..Article: Yes, Kelsey & Maddie O'Flaherty - There is a Santa Claus
4. Article: Rowing to Christmas Mass
5. Article: Time at This Point of the Year
6. Article: An Irish Christmas - Ding Dong Merrily on High
7. The Irish Kitchen: Grandma' Irish Shortbread
8. Article - Beannachtaí an tSéasúir - Season's Greetings
9. Kids' Ireland: Little Red Bird
10. Circle of Prayer: Our eighth Novena in this series began on December 9th and ends on December 17th It's that time of year in the northern hemisphere when slippery roads can cause skids and crashes, and ice-covered steps or pavements can cause even the most cautious among us to take a tumble. This week, we ask you to pray or meditate for our friend Jane who is slowly recovering from a fall, and Samantha, the niece of another friend who also fell on the ice. We also heard from Owen at Lollysmith. Please pray for his wife Candy. Also, Joe McTiernan that his test results will be good news! Others we ask you to remember are Hartson, Mally Keelan's family, and for our military personnel all over the world, especially those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Whatever your spiritual leanings, please visit our Novena page:
11. Trivia Contest. We have a winner for November. Congratulations to Jack Mishler, USA!: To join our winner's circle, take a look at the page - and the prizes - all very nice choices. All entries must be in by midnight December 31st, whichever time zone you're in:
12. Letter of the Month for November: This one came in from Simon Martin Healy from Paraguay. It never ceases to amaze us how far our website and newsletters travel. Please scroll almost to the end of our homepage:

Bridget has found some lovely Christmas stories to share with you. We'll also be dipping into previously posted tales of the season. As always, we'll have a new blessing and quote (already published) and a favorite recipe from newsletters past. And don't forget to take a look at our daily headlines and history for the date. In these times of what seems like all bad news, we do our best to bring you glad tidings. So there you go then until we write again. If all goes well, it will be next week sometime - and definitely before Christmas! Meanwhile we leave you with this lovely wish:
May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through! 

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
This past week, we were delighted to receive a generous donation from Eileen & Joe McTiernan. Go raibh maith agat!
If you like our newsletter and the website, please help support our efforts and send whatever you can to Bridget or Russ Haggerty, 5670 Meryton Place, Cincinnati OH 45224. Or you can send a donation via PayPal. The URL is:
and our email address is this one:
Many thanks in advance for your kindness
Studio City, CA - December 2-December 23
Christmas O'Carol Adapted by Dan Conroy and Michael Sean McGuinness from Dickens' Christmas Carol.The Celtic Arts Center. For complete details, please click

Atlanta, Georgia - Saturday, December 17 and Sunday, December 18
Celtic Christmas Concert with James Flannery, director and host. One of Atlanta's most popular holiday traditions celebrates Christmas with the mystical beauty and heartfelt warmth of Celtic and Appalachian music, dance, poetry, song, and story. This year's concert features the talents of two Grammy Award-winning artists: Celtic and bluegrass banjo virtuoso Alison Brown and Bill Whelan, composer of Riverdance. For more details, please click
The Irish Diet & Exercise program.

It's that time of year when we're all tempted to indulge and imbibe But you can help overcome the inevitable extra bulges by doing the following:

1. Peel your potatoes before cooking.As everyone knows, the skins are the good part, so you probably won't want to eat as many spuds as usual.
2. Store your Guinness and Taytos with the neighbours. The walk will do you good and they'll probably consume the lot. This, too will help cut down on the calories.
3.Get rid of any extra flab under the arms, as well as build muscle strength with this simple exercise regime:
s) Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room at each side. With a 5-lb. potato sack in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can. Try to reach a full minute, then relax. Each day, you'll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer.
b) After a couple of weeks, move up to 10-lb. potato sacks, then 50-lb. potato sacks, and eventually try to get to where you can lift a 100-lb. potato sack in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute.
3. After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each of the sacks; but be careful!