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

It's lovely to be back and even able to consider sending out a newsletter. Our cable connection was severed by the snow and ice and we were without access to the internet or e-mails for quite a while. Definitely.the weather outside was frightful but we still had a delightful Christmas with family and friends. Mind you, Russ spent two entire days just shoveling so we would have room in the driveway for cars. You can see how deep the snow was if you click on the following link:

While it may not seem like a big deal to those who are used to this kind of weather, for our area, it was a major headache; many people lost power and as you might have heard about our airport, thousands were stranded. Trucks trying to bring in more de-icer got stuck on the highways and so the airport ran out. Hence all the cancelled flights. And then there was Comair's computer meltdown. What a fiasco all round!

We hope your Christmas was as nice as ours - especially your dinner. Our long-time friend Jane is an excellent cook and she took over Bridget's kitchen for starters of spicy skewered shrimp and a side dish of red onions roasted in a balsamic vinegar sauce. Absolutely perfect with the standing rib and the rest of the meal. Dessert was totally decadent - a chocolate trifle made with Bushnill's Irish Cream liqueur. The recipe is in our kitchen section, except that it calls for Baileys. The Bushmills just came out this year and we decided to give it a try - it was fantastic.

The day after Christmas, we began hearing about the catastrophe in south-east Asia. One of the Irish papers has since called it the biggest natural disaster of modern times. The statistics are staggering and it's terribly difficult to grasp the enormity of the situation. . It seems so inadequate, but about all most of us can do is hope and pray that the suffering will be relieved as quickly possible and that our tangible donations of water, food and money will help the survivors rebuild their lives.

As we look back over the past year, what immediately becomes the main focal point for us is Bridget's illness. We know without a doubt that your prayers and support were instrumental in her miraculous recovery and we are filled with enormous gratitude to have such friends. We'd also like to take this opportunity to publicly thank our wonderful columnists who have had their own health concerns this year. Go raibh maith agat to Aideen for her Basic Irish Lessons, to Grainne for her children's stories, and Hartson for sharing his recipes. We'd also like to thank our advertisers and sponsors as well as all of you who have made purchases either through the newsletter or the website. All of those small commissions really add up and help out!
Enough about us...
Help us keep this newsletter free by visiting our good friends at The Irish Lottery. There Are 42 Shades of Green - All you need are 6 to hit the Irish Millions!
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:

Up to 100 people a day are still calling to the Central Bank to exchange old Irish notes and coins three years after the euro was introduced. (Has it really been three years?)

First white Christmas since the early 1950s
It was officially a white Christmas with snow on the ground in most counties including Antrim, Cork, Donegal, Mayo and Sligo.

Irish animation company nominated for major international award
Dublin-based Barley Films has been nominated for an Annie Award, one of the most prestigious global plaudits in the animation sector.

Irish Actors Chosen For Gaelic Version Of Ford Movie
The Quiet Man Movie Club plans to dub the John Ford classic into Irish. The Club has lined up Irish actors to speak the lines of John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. The classic has already been translated into 12 languages including French, German, Russian and Japanese. A spokesman for the Club, Mr. Des McHale, said: "If John Wayne can speak in German and Japanese, then why not Irish also?"

Putting a cork in alcohol adverts
The Government is expected to ban the daytime broadcasting of TV adverts for alcohol under new legislation aimed at controlling alcohol advertising and sponsorship.

From Dublin to Wales in just over an hour?
A futuristic vision of a rail tunnel under the Irish Sea, linking West Wales and Ireland, has been unveiled by a group of engineers. The Irish Academy of Engineers envisages a 50-mile link under the sea, with a journey time from Dublin to Pembrokeshire of one hour 10 minutes.The vision proposed by the public body includes a tunnel link connecting Rosslare to Fishguard in Pembrokeshire across St George's Channel - the route of current ferry crossings. High-speed trains travelling at up to 150mph are predicted.

Separating the singer from the song
RTE has announced a major change to the way in which its song for the Eurovision Song Contest is chosen next year. Although the popular talent show 'You're A Star' will decide on the performer, a separate show will pick the song.

Irish Language Making a Comeback
Once seen as a drudge, study of the Irish is now the cool trend on the Emerald Isle..Over the last 20 years, the number of schools in which Irish is the language of instruction has multiplied tenfold, and some of the schools are far beyond the Irish-speaking enclaves on the country's periphery. In Dublin, it's become a kind of yuppie totem to send your kid to one.

Cork - City Debuts As Cultural Capital
The Cultural Capital year kicks off with what's billed as the largest street party in the history of the Emerald Isle.

Cork - UCC buys O Ríada archive
A grant of 500k euros from the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism has enabled University College to acquire the Seán O Ríada Archive comprising documents, correspondence and personal artefacts of the Cúil Aodha musician.

Dublin - Renowned Claremorris Sculptor Exhibit opens
Born in the Mayo town in 1930, Edward Delaney is best known for his public commissions for the Irish Government which include the Wolfe Tone Memorial in St Stephen's Green, the Thomas Davis Memorial and a significant famine memorial. His works will be on display at The Royal Hibernian Academy until January 9.

Dublin - Abbey turns 100
Old stagers gathered to recollect the glory days of the Abbey which celebrated its 100th birthday on December 27. Street performers, children's story tellers and a special performance of the play "Sound of the Gong" also marked the anniversary.

Kerry - Annual Wren Boy Parade in Tralee
Dressed in motley clothing and straw masks, more than 200 Wrenboys congregated outside O'Flaherty's pub before embarking on the traditional parade through the town.The Wrenboys have been parading in Tralee for more than 200 years.

Offaly - New Group Aims To Wipe Out Grey Squirrels
An organisation which has pledged to wipe out grey squirrels to protect the native red squirrel has been established in Ireland. Mr Charles Dutton, a director of the European Squirrel Initiative, told a forestry conference in Tullamore, Co Offaly, that grey squirrels cause devastation to forests and woodland.

From the mailbag
Did you enjoy watching the slide show link we mentioned last week? Several people have asked for the lyrics to the hymn the choir was singing. It's called "Homeward Bound" and Alexis from Texas anticipated we might get requests for the words. She found them here:

Links of the week:

Catch the Balloons - a fun New Year's game

Go raibh maith agat! to Jack & Vivian of The Irish Page who sent sent us a link to an Irish poem by Carolan called Máire Brún (Mary Browne)

The End is Near - The end of the year, that is. Fun site sent in by Hartson. Thanks!

Hartson also sent us a link to a particularly pretty Christmas card. If you have kids around, let them do the clicking. The choir at the end is lovely, just don't forget the last click on the Christmas tree.:

Barry in the Bahamas sent us a barmy game called "Sober Santa" - have fun!

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:

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
Our last toast for the holiday season and one that would be appropriate for New Year's:

In the New Year, may your be blessings be many and your troubles be few and may worry and want be a stranger to you - Sláinte!
The trouble with her is that she lacks the power of conversation but not the power of speech. George Bernard Shaw
OUR FAVORITE JOKE OF THE WEEK This is adapted from one sent in by Hartson. Thank you, Me. D!
It was the day after Christmas. In a small village in Ireland; the parish priest was looking over the manger scene when he noticed that the baby Jesus was missing from among the figures. Puzzled, he looked around and then went outside. He saw little Liam McCarthy with a red wagon walking towards him. As the boy drew near, the priest spotted the figure of the baby Jesus in the wagon. "Well, Liam, me fine friend, and where did you get Him?" "In the church." Liam replied. "And why, might I ask, did you take Him?" inquired the priest. "Well, Father," the boy said, "about a week before Christmas I prayed to the little Lord Jesus and I told him if he would bring me a red wagon for Christmas I would give him a ride up and down the road in it."

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. The current Times Square New Year's Eve Ball was designed and made by Waterford Crystal?
2. According to old Irish folklore, if the tail of a herring is rubbed across the eyes of a child, it will give immunity against disease for the rest of the year?
3. "Saturday's flitting, a short sitting?" In other words, nobody moved house on a Saturday, got married on a Saturday, or embarked on a big project the day before the Sabbath, Also, overnight travel was never undertaken
To start off, the answers to our last quiz:
1. Irish Christmas Book - John Killen
2. Christmas Wonder: From Ireland for Children - Sean C. O'Leary
3. When Patrick got back: An Irish pantomime - Grace Keith Samuelson

A round of applause and pints for our literary sleuths:
Hart & Helen Dowd
Please Visit my website at:

Déirdre McKiernan Hetzler
"Glorious Ireland in May." To preview May 25 - June 8, 2005.view this year's itinerary, please visit

Mary Sigrist
An Irish Fairy Tale for All Ages: Kick back and visit The Kingdom of the Bald Ferns in Old Ireland. Meet a group of young Irish cousins and their flying dragon, Flash. 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. Visit and sign my guest book to hear from FLASH: http://www.geocities.com/flashandschnootz

Patricia Edwards
I know it's not Halloween anymore, but I found this site quite interesting - it's called Ghosts & Other Haunts and is found at http://www.nzghosts.co.nz

Want to see your name on next week's list? Try finding the following - we assure you, it's really easy! Who wrote:

1. The Princes of Ireland: he Dublin Saga
2. Round Ireland With a Fridge
3. Somewhere in Ireland, a Village is Missing an Idiot

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

Help us keep this newsletter free by visiting our good friends at The Irish Lottery. There Are 42 Shades of Green - All you need are 6 to hit the Irish Millions!
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:
To begin with, the answer to last week's cranium cramper:
Q. How do you make "one" disappear?
A. You can add a g to make gone or an n to make none. Well done, Jim Turley from the hoosier State who was first in with not just one answer but three! He cleverly came up with adding the prefix beg to make begone! And now for this week's head banger:
Two girls were born the same day, at just about the same time, in the same hospital, the same year, and they have the same parents. How is it possible that they aren't twins?
1. Article: An East Cork Christmas
2. Christmas message from President Mary McAleese
3. Article: White-Washed Walls
4. Article: An Irish Christmas - Then and Now
5. The Irish Kitchen - St. Stephen's Day Stew
6. Article: An Irish Christmas - The Day Before
7. Article: Memories of Christmas Eve Past
8.Burying the Baby Jesus
9. Article: Rowing to Christmas Mass
10. Basic Irish: Advent & Christmas
11. Article: An Irish Christmas - St. Stephen's to New Year's Eve
12. Article: Irish Superstitions for the Christmas Season
13. Kids' Ireland - Midnight Visitors
14. On-going - Circle of Prayer: Our fifth Novena in this cycle continues through December 28 and our sixth one begins on Tuesday, December 29. Please join us in prayer or meditation for the families of Molly and Aideen. Molly lost her father (RIP) on Christmas night and Aideen lost her mother (RIP) the week before Also, please pray for Mollie's son Casey, Mary from NY, Pauline recovering from surgery, Michael Davitt in Houston, Hartson & Helen, Graine, Barbara G's mom who just had a stroke, Cheryl, little Sebastian, Matt Maupin who is still held hostage in Iraq, 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 personally experienced first-hand the power of prayer and know that God listens and will answer.
15. There's still time to enter the December Trivia Contest - but hurry - all entries must be in by midnight, December 31st, whichever time-zone you live in.

In the works, the January trivia Contest and we're pleased to announce that the Celtic Attic is sponsoring a prize that would be perfect for Valentine's Day. We also hope to have a new basic Irish lesson, a new children's story, and a new recipe. And we'll be re-publishing articles appropriate to the time of year - New Year's to Epiphany and The Big Wind - a true story about a horrific hurricane in Ireland. As always, we have a new blessing (posted on Sunday), a new quote posted on Wednesday and we'll update the news and history pages daily.
For news, please click:
And we keep a week's worth of history here:
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.
So there you have it for another week, except to say we hope Santa was good to you and that you enjoyed a safe and festive holiday season. And we can't forget Pinch punch, first day of the month, white rabbit! Were you married in January or planning to tie the knot in the next few weeks?? The Irish verse is:
Marry when the year is new,
always loving, kind and true.
And if you're celebrating a birthday or other special event between now and next time? We hope it's a joyous occasion!

Until we "meet again" may the Good Shepherd of us all keep you and yours in the palm of His hand but not close His fist too tight on you. And as they say in Ireland, mind yourself!

Athbhlian faoi mhaise! (Happy New Year! (pronunciation: Ah-vleen fwee wash-eh)

and Slan agus beannacht!

Bridget & Russ
Get down on your knees and thank God you're still on your feet
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 and any 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 them 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:

London, England - January 3
The NUI Galway London Alumni will be having a New Year's party on Thursday January 13 from 6.00pm in The Porterhouse, 21-22 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, WC2. Participating alumni include NUI Galway, UCD, TCD, UU, QUB, UL, UCC, DCU and Sligo IT are all welcome.

Houston, Texas - 3rd Annual Houston New Year's Feis - January 8th, 2005 - 8:00 AM Start Followed by: Steppin' in the New Year Ceili at 8:00 PM Wyndham Greenspoint Hotel Need More Feis Information? Email: feis@irishdancehouston.com
Phone: Jean Rubbo, 936-273-6308

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 @

Texas - February 24-27 -UST Hosts The American Conference for Irish Studies
Southern Regional Conference. The first major event in 2005 for the Center for Irish Studies. The conference features nearly 100 presentations by Irish Studies scholars, students, and interested persons from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Canada and throughout the United States on Irish Studies topics, including literature, history, politics, art, culture music, and immigration. For more information or to register, please visit

Galway City - March 5
The sixth NUI Galway Gala Banquet http://www.nuigalway.ie/news/main_press.php?p_id=190 , to be held in the Radisson SAS Hotel in Galway, will have as its theme the university's mission in international education. At the banquet the annual Alumni Awards will be presented, the winners to be announced in the next issue of Alumni Links.

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


'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 Christmasy 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.
-- Author Unknown