Welcome to the Irish Culture & Customs newsletter which is published every fortnight or so and sent out to over 4200 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:
If, for any reason, you wish to unsubscribe, instructions are at the very end - but we do hope you'll stay with us. And if you need to update your info' or change your email address, you can do that at the end, too.

Greetings and Blessings to all,

Surprise, surprise - here we are back again ! Besides thoroughly enjoying ourselves writing to you, there's also a practical reason we're writing sooner than usual of late: we pay for two or three newsletters to be sent each month and thus far, we've managed just the one. We can't carry over unused mailings and we can't stand the idea that our costs for November would exceed any income rom ads. So, if you don't mind, here's some more of our musings and meanderings to close out the month.

We hope this edition finds you on the pig's back and fit as a fiddle. We also hope that all of our readers in the USA enjoyed a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday. As for ourselves, we had a lovely time with most of our children and grandchildren at our daughter's and NO, we didn't stay over so we could hit the sales in the wee hours of Friday morning. Instead, we lolled about at home and allowed our digestive systems to recover from the vittles and libation overload!

Since then, it's been back to the unpacking and ever so slowly but surely, we're settling in to Tadpole Cottage. Good thing too, as this coming week we'll be on to the Christmas decorating. Traditionally, we try to have everything ready so we can switch the lights on in time for December 6th - the feast of St. Nicholas. Complicating things this year is that Toad Hall - the old house - remains unsold; so we've decided to put candles in the windows there as well. We're also going to place a wreath on the front door and put up a tree so you can see the lights from the street. Toad Hall has always looked beautiful at Christmas - just may be it will attract a buyer. Please say a prayer that it does.

Enough of the blitherin' - on with the update:

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From the mailbag
Quips, Quotes, Proverbs & Toasts
A Bit of the Wit
Joke of The Week
Did You Know
Know Your Writers
The week That Is
Leave 'em Laughing
What follows are news clips from around the counties and the world. Links for more news stories can be found on our web site here
And more county news can be found here:

West Coast wins awards
Two attractions on Ireland's west coast have emerged triumphant in the 2007 Interpret Britain and Ireland Awards. The Atlantic Edge Exhibition at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, Co. Clare, and Foynes Flying Boat Museum, C. Limerick, were described as 'magnificent' and 'fascinating' in the prestigious award scheme run by the Association for Heritage Interpretation .

Antrim: Fossil comes back to Larne
A fossil found in Larne eight years ago, which has been on loan to the Ulster Museum, is now part of an exhibition at Larne Tourist Information Centre. The ichthyosaur fossil, which is in two parts, was found behind the promenade in Larne in 1999 and is believed to be one of the best examples of the marine reptile to be found in this country.

Cavan: Ella Byrne leaves Main Street
Ella Byrne, who has run a confectionary and grocery shop on Main Street in Bailieborough for some forty years has sold her business to her next door neighbour, Peter Murtagh. Ella was widowed when the oldest of her seven children was just twelve and reared her family while continuing in the shop seven days a week. She is moving to a house on the outskirts of the town and, while she will not miss the constant work, she says she will miss the customers who have become her friends over the years.

Clare: Churning back The hands Of time in Kilmaley
The clocks were turned back in Kilmaley recently when residents of the local day care centre provided a hands on demonstration of butter making. Using an authentic butter churn the, residents of Kilmaley Day Care Centre relived an age-old practice much to the delight of students from Kilmaley National School. The demonstration was organised by Clare Museum as part of its outreach work in communities across the county.

Derry: Derry needs you on December 9
The city of Derry is going into battle against Liverpool, the current holders, and Las Vegas to gain the record for having the greatest number of Santas in one place. The "Biggest Santa Gathering" bid was launched recently by organiser Martin Mullan, and already both the Bogside Residents Group and The Apprentice Boys have lent their support. The Gathering needs at least ten thousand Santas to congregate at the Guildhall on the morning of December 9, and anyone who pays ten pounds will be allocated a number and a Santa suit at the Foyle. All the money raised will be given to four local charities and Derry just might find itself a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

Fermanagh: Old tradition to be revived in Enniskillen
With the major revamp taking place in Dunnes Stores Fairgreen store in Enniskillen, the management have decided to revive a tradition which benefited the older members of the community. For a long period the store held a special shopping night for pensioners and for those resident in nursing homes, and they are to reinstate this practice. According to Stephen Clawson, manager of the store's grocery department, the first such night will probably take place during the first week in December, and it will provide an opportunity for people to get to know the new layout.

Kerry: Postmistress undertakes a first for Killorglin
Nora O'Sullivan-Looney, the postmistress in Killorglin, has decided to provide something not previously seen in the town in living memory, as a fundraising measure. Nora is to produce a calendar of faces and places around Killorglin; the venture was launched during the week in Sol y Sombre by local historian Patrick Houlihan.

Louth: Dundalk remembers an unsung hero
To mark the centenary of his death, an exhibition on Sir Francis Leopold McClintock was officially opened by the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, Patrick Binns, last weekend. The exhibition at the County Museum is entitled "On the Trail of the Arctic Fox" and details McClintock's exploits in the Canadian Arctic, where he mapped more than seven thousand miles of coastline during four expeditions. He is best remembered for uncovering the fate of the missing expedition of John Franklin, which had been trying to locate the Northwest Passage.

Mayo: No takers for Attymass post office
Despite it having been advertised by An Post since October, there have been no applicants for the postal agency in the village of Attymass, making the closure of its post office inevitable. For the past almost fifty years the post office has been run by Ted Hughes and his wife Beattie, and to mark the end of their tenure they held open house for all their customers, serving tea and sandwiches to the approximately one hundred who came to wish them well. For those who used the post office on a regular basis, including pensioners, the future holds a journey of five miles to the next village.

Meath: Kells to Colmcille tourist trail
The town councillors in Kells have agreed to set up a committee to promote St Colmcille's Trail and to link up with Iona, Derry and Donegal, all places associated with the saint. Some links are already in place, with a delegation having travelled to Oban during the summer to present a replica of the Book of Kells to the district council. A further link will be forged when Gaeil Colmcille travel to Oban next year to meet a shinty team. The members agreed to a suggestion from Councillor Bryan Reilly that a special meeting be held in December to discuss the business and tourism potential of the Colmcille culture.

Waterford: Youngest casualty remembered in Ballybricken
The youngest casualty of the First World War has been commemorated by the unveiling of a plaque at Wheelbarrow Lane in Ballybricken. Private John Condon, who was killed in action in May 1915, was just fourteen years of age and has been officially recognised as the youngest soldier to be killed during the war. The plaque marks the place where he once lived in Jenkins Lane, and its unveiling took place after a Remembrance Day Mass in Ballybricken Church. The young soldier's story was uncovered by Dr Jim Stacy of Dungarvan, who was instrumental in having the plaque put in place.

Westmeath: Television crew traces Mullingar company's day
A television crew took up residence at Kelly's Organic Dairy Products recently to make a programme about the organic enterprise. The crew filmed the whole process from the cows in the field to Mary Kelly taking the produce to local shops such as Day to Day at Ballinea, O'Brien's on the Tullamore Road and Buckley's and Marshall's. The Kellys are no strangers to celebrity, since their cheese took the gold, silver and bronze awards in the Soft Cheese category of the National Farmhouse Cheese competition.
SPONSOR: Please help us keep our newsletter coming - visit our friends at the Celtic Attic:
The Christmas Season is here! Shop now and avoid the holiday rush, plus keep in mind that orders can be delayed as we get closer to the big day.  So avoid disappointment - start your shopping as soon as you can and save! Plus, we have free shipping on orders over $125.00 and every order will get a free gift during November.  And just when you think we were totally crazy for all the goodies we are offering, you can get a FREE PDF copy of the Celtic Attic Cookbook with each $50.00 order placed.  Finally, if you order something from our new Going Green pages, you will get a free Christmas Ornament.  Remember, the more you buy the more free goodies you get! Order on line or by phone - and tell them Bridget & Russ said hello!
Order by phone: Tel: 360-765-0186
Or on line:

Last time we wrote, we mentioned a message from Harry Keogh about Charles E. Cassidy Phila Police Officer Badge #2342 who was mortally wounded in the line of duty on 10.31.07. Harry sent us a follow up:
Thank you for including the notice of Officer Cassidy's passing in the most recent Newsletter. I was with the family on a beautiful Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day to view the parade and as Chuck' wife Judy gave me a hug -she immediately asked how my 88 year old mother was doing-her gracious question, thereby relieved me of a perfunctory "happy thanksgiving day greeting" The wound to her heart is still too painful, yet brave she is- carrying on for her family.
Harry then included a link to a very moving report on Officer Cassidy's funeral - Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam:

Lily wants to share her Grandmother's Three Kings superstition.
She was born in Derry in the late 1800's - and it can't really be an "old" superstition since I don't think they sent or exchanged Christmas cards too far back - especially on the farms. At any rate, it short and simple: "If the first Christmas card you receive during the season is of the Three Kings, it is a sign of prosperity in the coming year. Also, after the Christmas season has passed (naturally, after January 6) - you select the best Three Kings card you received and affix it over the entry door of the house; you leave it there for the entire year - until next year when a new card will replace it. Modern day problem is there are very few Three Kings Cards out there! But naturally, if you are sending such cards yourself, you really have an obligation to send them early enough so that someone on your list will have prosperity in the coming year.
ED. NOTE: We are familiar with this custom; that said, another reader wrote in to ask about a special verse that goes with it. We aren't familiar with that. Does anyone know of it? And if you'd like to read about more Irish Christmas superstitions, please take a look at our article:

An Irish Christmas - Song by Frank Simon
This is an unabashedly sentimental offering that transported Bridget back to her family home during the 1950s. While Frank probably won't win any major musical awards, the arrangement evoked a wistful nostalgia that made her happy to discover his song. You can listen to it while reading how it was put together here:

Let's Say Thanks
One of our subscribers, Tom Haggerty, brought this link to our attention last year. We checked, and we're very pleased to report that Xerox is still extending the opportunity to send free printed postcards to US military personal stationed all over the world to show your support and appreciation for their service.

Christmas in Ireland
Wonderful web site chock full of information about Yuletide on the Emerald Isle:

Irish Fireside Gift Guide
The folks at IrishFireside.com, home of the top-rated Irish travel podcast, have again put together a list of their favorite Irish and Ireland-related gifts. They asked subscribers to nominate their favorites and they've come with some exciting new finds - something for everyone on your list! Take a look:
ED. NOTE: We love this idea and it's inspired is to create our own list of favourites for Christmas. We hope to have it posted on our web site next week.

Celtic Christmas Music
Several readers have sent us the link to AccuRadio which features an all Celtic channel for Christmas music. After you click on the main URL. scroll down the menu to see what's on offer. And go raibh maith agat to all of you who sent in this link!
ED. NOTE: Last time, we called it holiday music. AccuRadio calls it that, too; but since the recordings are mostly focused on Christmas, we think it's the right thing to do. In our humble opinion, there's just too much elimination of "the reason for the season" going on as it is.

Christmas Games for the Children
Arrange a Nativity Set, Decorate a Christmas tree, Build a Snowman and more!

From the Irish Page
This time around, Jack & Vivian sent us a link to the well known song Forty Shades of Green by Johnny Cash who was so taken in by his visit to the Emerald Isle in 1961 that he penned a whole album in celebration of Ireland. The Hennesys accidentally came upon a translation by  Diarmaid Ó Tuama into the Irish Language. "Ó Tuama does a fine job especially when translating one language to another while keeping the meter and rhyme faithful to the original."  To read the lyrics in the irish as well as English while listening to the tune, please click

November/December News from Jim Crotty
Jim is a subscriber and one of the generous sponsors of our Trivia Contest. He is a renowned award-winning photographer who is passionate about nature, landscapes, and wildlife. Prints of his images can be viewed and purchased at the following link:

Free Mammograms
Many women can't afford the test, but here's how you can help: Go to the Breast Cancer site and click on their free mammogram link; if the site gets 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:

Free Pet Food!
Last but certainly not least - our ongoing 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!

Free People Food!
It only takes a second to feed hungry people, too:
Here's a great toast for when you're drinking a pint or two with friends:
That the tap may be open when it rusts!
From the Catholic Dictionary:
Relics: People who have been going to Mass for so long, they actually know when to sit, kneel, and stand.
This is a reprise of a favourite from previous years. We hope you agree that it's well worth reading again:
An old man in Dublin calls his son in New York right before Christmas and says, "Son, I 'm sorry, but I have to tell you that after 45 years of misery, your mother and I are busting up. " "Da, what are you talking about?" the son yells in disbelief. "We can't stand the sight of each other any longer," the father says. "We're sick of each other, and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Chicago and tell her." Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. "No way they're leaving each other!" she shouts, "I'll take care of this." She calls Dublin immediately and screams at her father, "You are not splitting up. Don't do a single thing until I get there. I'm calling my brother back, and we'll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don't do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?" and hangs up. The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. "Well then," he says, "they're coming home for Christmas and paying their own way!"
1. The popular song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" was written by Bob Geldof?
2. "Christmas in Killarney" was written by singer-songwriter John Redmond of Burditt Hill, in Clinton, Massachusetts?
3.The carol "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night" was written by poet-laureate of England, Dublin-born Nahum Tate?
SPONSOR: Please help us keep your newsletter coming - visit our good friends at Lollysmith:
Bring home the Christmas with one stop at one of the best Irish shops on the internet! That's because Lolly and her family rely on only the best suppliers in Ireland for unique products like genuine blackthorn walking sticks, Guinness gear and glassware, Connemara marble, tin whistles and more. Plus, they've built an international reputation for fast delivery and friendly service. But don't take our word for it - take a look:
To begin with, the answers to our last quiz:

1. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead: Irish Blessings, Toasts and Curses  by Padraic O'Farrell

2. Irish Blessings and Prayers for All Occasions by Pat Fairon,Joanna Martin

3. 'Tis a Blessing to be Irish by Sharon McCullough,Rosemary Purdy.

Well done to our latest list of Irish bibliophiles:

Rita Roche, Baltimore, MD
I don't have a favorite Irish site but I just love looking around at all!

Hartson Dowd
Hartson nominates The Irish Rugby Union web site. Dublin University, founded in 1854, was the first organised Rugby Football Club in Ireland. Students at the University had first learnt the game while at English Public Schools. For more compete details, please click

Helen Dowd
I would be happy if you would visit my website at:

Patricia Edwards
When we visited Ireland, we went down Ailwee Cave in The Burren, Co. Clare & really enjoyed the atmosphere there, so I recommend this group: http://www.aillweecave.ie/index.php.
Mary Ruggiero
I invite you to visit my Irish Pride site which is dedicated to the rich cultural heritage of Ireland and I hope you will sign my guest book.

Want to see your name and favorite web site in our next newsletter?
Who wrote:
1. Christmas Wonder: From Ireland for Children
2. An Irish Country Christmas
3. Irish Christmas Stories
SPONSOR: Please help us keep our newsletter coming - visit our friends at the Celtic Attic:
The Christmas Season is here! Shop now and avoid the holiday rush, plus keep in mind that orders can be delayed as we get closer to the big day.  So avoid disappointment - start your shopping as soon as you can and save! Plus, we have free shipping on orders over $125.00 and every order will get a free gift during November.  And just when you think we were totally crazy for all the goodies we are offering, you can get a FREE PDF copy of the Celtic Attic Cookbook with each $50.00 order placed.  Finally, if you order something from our new Going Green pages, you will get a free Christmas Ornament.  Remember, the more you buy the more free goodies you get! Order on line or by phone - and tell them Bridget & Russ said hello!
Order by phone: Tel: 360-765-0186
Or on line:

First off, the answer to our last mind mangler:
The two toed turkey towed twelve times ten talking turtles.
Q. How many talking turtles did the two toed turkey tow?
A. 120
For all of you who thought we ought to be tarred and feathered for that turkey, we agree. And we were pleasantly surprised to actually get responses! A feather in the cap for Barry Heywood who was first in.
And now for our next silly season poser:
What do you get if you cross Father Christmas with a detective ?
1. Article: An Advent Memory
2. Article: A Cold Day in Hell
3. Poets Corner: Derek Mahon
4. Article: Oscar Wilde Remembered
5. Article: Preparing the Puddings
6. Irish Kitchen: Homeland Christmas Cake
7. Basic Irish: An Post - Mailing & Shipping
8. Kids Ireland: The White Trout
9. CD Review: The music of Seán Tyrell by William Ramatour
10. Circle of prayer - The seventh Novena in this cycle began on November 29 and continues through December 8. This past week, Hartson and Helen Dowd lost their faithful canine companion Rocky to a severe illness. All of us who have pets know how difficult it can be to cope when we lose one. Whatever your spiritual leanings, please keep Helen and Hartson in your prayers or meditations: also, Rory Miggins, Kristin's new friend Dave, a terminally ill high school German teacher, Benjamin H, C.J, George, Jim Magee, Simon Shepherd, Bette & Bill, Thelma & Leo, little Bradley., Aunt Maisie, Aunt Anne, Celeste. Bobby's wife Pat, 4-year old CJ, little Dominic & Siobhan, Aunt Anne, cousin Michael, Miriam's friend, Aunt Sally, baby Joseph, RoseAnn, baby Maggie, Michael Shea and his family, Liadan, Penny, Pauline, Heather and so many others who need our prayers or meditations, especially our men and women in the military serving their country all over the world. Please God, they will all be home safe and sound soon.
12. Trivia Contest for November. It's almost over. All entries must be in by midnight tonight -November 30 , whatever time zone you're in:

So there's the long and the short of it until we write again, which God willing will be in just a week or so. If you're celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other important event between now and then, we hope it's an occasion filled with joy and happiness. And if this is your first edition, many thanks for joining us; we hope you enjoyed our ramblings and if so, please feel free to pass them along to family and friends.

In the meantime, Pinch punch, first day of the month, white rabbit for the first of December. And before we forget, the last time we wrote, we left you with a lovely "old Irish blessing" which turned out to be a relatively new one sent to us by Veronica Cressey in Australia. We were remiss in not giving her credit - mea culpa, Veronica.

Here's one we know for sure isn't new: May God hold you and yours in the palm of His hand and not close His fist too tight on you. 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!
Please check with the Wild Geese - they have a huge listing of events and we don't want to duplicate their efforts:
If we receive a unique event not mentioned there, we will be happy to list it here.

Limerick City - December 13-16
The Dagdha Dance Company presents Gravity & Grace - international dance festival. Free admission. St. Johns Church, Johns Square
For complete details, please visit:

Dublin - January 23-27
For five days and nights, Temple Bar in the heart of the city, will come alive to the sound of jigs and reels from the many pubs and cultural centres in the area. With live music concerts, pub sessions, workshops, children's events, festival club and much much more, prepare for a barrage of flutes, accordions, bodhráns, mighty sessions and great craic! For complete details, please visit:

This one is from Big Mama and has actually been in the files for a couple of years. It's time to share it with you:

The recent announcement that Donner and Blitzen have elected to take the early reindeer retirement package has triggered a good deal of concern about whether they will be replaced, and about other restructuring decisions at the North Pole.

Streamlining is due to the North Pole's loss of dominance of this season's gift distribution business. Home shopping channels, the Internet, and mail order catalogs have diminished Santa's market share. He could not sit idly by and permit further erosion of the profit picture.

The reindeer downsizing was made possible through the purchase of a late model Japanese sled for the CEO's annual trip. Improved productivity from Dasher and Dancer--who will retrain at the Harvard Business School--is anticipated. Reduction in reindeer will also lessen airborne environmental emissions for which the North Pole has received unfavorable press.

I am pleased to inform you that Rudolph's role will not be disturbed. Tradition still counts for something at the North Pole. Management denies, in the strongest possible language, the earlier leak that Rudolph's nose got that way, not from the cold, but from substance abuse. Calling Rudolph "a lush who was into the sauce and never did pull his share of the load" was an unfortunate comment, made by one of Santa's helpers and taken out of context at a time of year when he is known to be under executive stress.

Today's global challenges require the North Pole to continue to look for better, more competitive steps. Effective immediately, the following economic measures are to take place in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" subsidiary:

The partridge will be retained, but the pear tree never turned out to be the cash crop forecasted. It will be replaced by a plastic hanging plant, providing considerable savings in maintenance.

The two turtle doves represent a redundancy that is simply not cost-effective. In addition, their romance during working hours could not be condoned. The positions are therefore eliminated.

The three French hens will remain intact. After all, everyone loves the French.

The four calling birds were replaced by an automated voice mail system, with a call-waiting option. An analysis is underway to determine who the birds have been calling, how often and how long they talked.

The five golden rings have been put on hold by the Board of Directors. Maintaining a portfolio based on one commodity could have negative implications for institutional investors. Diversification into other precious metals as well as a mix of T-Bills and high technology stocks appear to be in order.

The six geese-a-laying constitutes a luxury which can no longer be afforded. It has long been felt that the production rate of one egg per goose per day is an example of the decline in productivity. Three geese will be let go, and an upgrading in the selection procedure by personnel will assure management that from now on every goose it obtains will be more productive.

The seven swans-a-swimming is obviously a number chosen in better times. Their function is primarily decorative. Mechanical swans are on order. The current swans will be retrained to learn some new strokes and therefore enhance their outplacement.

As you know, the eight maids-a-milking concept has been under heavy scrutiny by the EEOC. A male/female balance in the workforce is being sought. The more militant maids consider this a dead-end job with no upward mobility. Automation of the process may permit the maids to try a-mending, a-mentoring, or a-mulching.

Nine ladies dancing has always been an odd number. This function will be phased out as these individuals grow older and can no longer do the steps.

Ten Lords-a-leaping is overkill. The high cost of Lords plus the expense of international air travel prompted the Compensation Committee to suggest replacing this group with ten out-of-work Congresspersons. While leaping ability may be somewhat sacrificed, the savings are significant because we expect an oversupply of unemployed Congresspersonsnext year.

Eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming is a simple case of the band getting too big. A substitution with a string quartet, a cutback on new music, and no uniforms will produce savings which will drop right down to the bottom line.

We can expect a substantial reduction in assorted people, fowl, animals and other expenses. Though incomplete, studies indicate that stretching deliveries over twelve days is inefficient. If we can drop ship in one day, service levels will be improved.

Regarding the lawsuit filed by the attorney's association seeking expansion to include the legal profession ("thirteen lawyers-a-suing"), action is pending.

Lastly, it is not beyond consideration that deeper cuts may be necessary in the future to stay competitive. Should that happen, the Board will request management to scrutinize the Snow White Division to see if seven dwarfs is the most efficient number.