Welcome to the Irish Culture & Customs newsletter which is published every week or so and sent out to nearly 3,700 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:
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Greetings and Blessings to all,

Athbhlian faoi mhaise! Happy New Year! - pronounced Ah-vleen fwee wash-eh. A warm welcome to everyone and we hope this edition finds you and yours on the pig's back and fit as a fiddle. The same goes for our new subscribers. Many thanks for joining us and if you enjoy this first issue, please feel free to share it with family and friends.

So here we are then, in the middle of the 12 Days of Christmas and on the verge of a brand new year. No wonder there are those of us who can't contain themselves with all of the excitement. Of course, doesn't that really only appy to children who are being allowed to stay up until the stroke of 12?

If you're like us, you may have a difficult time staying awake until then. But we're resolved to give it a try. And true to Bridget's die-hard adherence to Irish custom, we'll go to sleep with a stocked larder, freshly-laundered linens on the bed, and a fairly clean house; we can't ever claim spotless - not in this old tomb. That's asking the impossible. But Bridget still believes as her mother did, that how your home is on new Year's Day will be the way it is for the entire year. Now think on that for a minute - can cleaning up the shrapnel from noisemakers after a wonderful party be such a bad thing? Years ago, we used to make a game of counting the empty bottles of champagne (every guest had to bring one). There were years when there 20 or more. But we weren't irresponsible. All invitees had to agree to stay over and Bridget cooked up a full Irish breakfast on New Year's Day. Those lovely times are long gone. Friends now married stay home with their children and our numbers have dwindled for other reasons. But we do have so many wonderful memories to look back on.

Meanwhile, how has the season been for you and yours so far? Overall, we have been blessed, despite having to miss several parties and dinners we dearly wanted to attend. There's always so much going on at this time of year that many of us tend to get over-tired, stressed out and exhausted. We ended up having just our immediate family and a few very close friends to dinner on Christmas day. It was fun to watch our grandchildren open their gifts from "Nana & Bumpa" and we still have the adult gift exchange to look forward to on Epiphany. Even that has become very low key as we each pull a name and have just one person to shop for. And we can take advantage of all the sales!

One element we did miss this year was snow. While the folks in Denver and surrounding areas have been deluged, it's been unseasonably warm and rainy in the Ohio Valley. But it makes for easier traveling, so that's a good thing. But enough of of he blither and blather - on with the update....
SPONSOR. If you would like to help keep our newsletter going, please support our once a year dollar drive.

Many of you send us wonderful messages telling us how much you enjoy our musings and meanderings. And we are truly appreciative of your kind comments. But we also need about a dollar to go with the compliments.
We truly dislike asking - but if every subscriber sent a a small donation, it would help us cover the out of pocket expenses associated with sending out the newsletter and maintaining the web site.
As usual, we will run this appeal for the month of January and we thank you in advance for any help you can give us. Donations can be made safely and securely via PayPal at:
and to this account:
or by snail mail to:
Bridget & Russ Haggerty
5670 Meryton Place
Cincinnati, OH 45224.

Go raibh maith agat in advance and, as always, Bridget imagines lines of postmen coming up the driveway with sacks of mail! We'll take pictures if it happens!
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/was
Leave 'em Laughing
Archbishop of Armagh and Church of Ireland Primate of All Ireland, Robin Eames, is to retire today at the age of 69. His successor will be elected from the 11 remaining Church of Ireland bishops in a ballot involving only themselves. The announcement is expected to be made in Dublin on January 10.

US tourist figures reach five-year high
The number of US tourists visiting Ireland has returned to the level of before the 11 September attacks five years ago. Figures from the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation show there's been an 11% increase in visitors from the United States this year.

Ulsterman needs your Shipyard stories
The role of ships from Northern Ireland in conflicts around the world is to be examined as part of a new series of documentaries. And researchers are asking those who helped design and build or served on the ships to share their experiences.
"We're currently researching for three documentaries about Harland and Wolff ships that were involved in the First and Second World Wars as well as the Falklands War in 1982," said Co Londonderry author John McCann. " People from Northern Ireland often don't realise just how important some of the ships built in Belfast were to the conflicts." John, who wrote the book Passing Through which recounts the experiences of American troops based in Ulster during the war, has scoured servicemen's clubs and other organisations across NI to find those who might be able to share stories. The ships John is particularly interested in include HMS Glorious, HMS Belfast, HMS Black Prince, HMS Fearless and TS Canberra. "I'm trying to find ex-shipyard workers and naval personnel who served on those ships or who built them," he said. "I'm also looking for their families, especially those from east Belfast who might have an association with shipbuilding or naval conflict." These include the families of ex-Harland and Wolff staff who may have worked on the Titanic when she was at the shipyard. To share your stories, contact John McCann by e-mail at jpmccann82d@yahoo.com or by phone on (028) 86747029 or 07885 731 202.

Antrim: The last of the North Street last
Pat McKernan, whose workshop in lower North Street has provided handcrafted leather shoes for some two centuries, has decided to call it a day. Pat's great-grandfather started making shoes in Omagh in the early years of the nineteenth century and he was followed into the business by his son James, who moved to Belfast. Pat's father, also Patrick, was the next in line when the business was in Donegall Street, and Pat himself started work when he was fourteen.

Cavan: Government funding for Turbet Island development
The Government is to grant €135,000 in funding to provide a new footbridge to Turbet Island, to develop walkways on the island and to provide seating areas and appropriate signposting.

Derry: Restored organ rings out for Christmas
The organ at St Columb's has recently undergone a £500,000 restoration which not only increased its size but also saw the organ acquiring a new console; the instrument now sits in a purpose-built gallery in the cathedral. Under the direction of organist and choirmaster Ian Mills, the Carol Service and Nine Lessons included a performance of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah.

Dublin: Presidential glasshouses to be restored
Three Peach Houses at Áras an Uachtaráin designed by Richard Turner and built in 1835 are to be restored by the Office of Public Works. Plastic panes inserted in the metalwork of the glasshouses have blown out over the past few years and part of the work involved is the replacement of large glass panes.

Kerry: Pilgrimage by sea and on foot
Camino Chorca Dhuibhne is an organisation formed to revive a Dingle tradition which saw the Church of St James on Main Street as the starting point of a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Kevin Flannery and Colm Bambury came up with the idea of the revival and now a pilgrimage is being arranged during which twenty-eight pilgrims will sail from Dingle in May on the Jeanie Johnston to La Coruna, from where the journey will continue on foot. Special stamps commemorating the event will be added to the prilgrims' passports by permission of the Archbishop of Santiago.

Limerick: Redemptorists to stay in city
The Redemptorist order is guaranteed a permanent presence in Limerick city following its decision to develop a twelve-acre site at the South Circular Road. The order, whose members have recently left both Galway and Belfast, are proposing to construct an apartment complex and to refurbish the existing monastery. In addition, they will be building a new school to replace St Clement's College.

Mayo: Special visitor to Davitt exhibition
The Michael Davitt exhibition running at present at the National Museum of Ireland at Turlough Park, Castlebar had an important visitor recently when Father Tom Davitt called to the museum. Father Tom is a grandson of Michael Davitt, though he says the Land Leaguer is the only one of his grandparents that he didn't meet. However he has spent considerable time reading about him and listening to his father's stories of him in order to build up a mental picture of his grandfather; he also likes to visit places associated with him.

Meath Crowds Gather For Winter Solstice at Newgrange
Thousands applied for permission to witness the first rays of light creep through the ancient monument at Newgrange, but only a handful were lucky enough to have access to the structure's main chamber. Many more gathered nearby to mark the shortest day of the year at the world famous monument which is believed to date from around 3200 BBC, making it 500 years older than the Great Pyramid of Gina in Egypt and a thousand years older than England's Stonehenge.

Monaghan: High hopes for Clones stadium
The County Board is in the process of putting together a development package for St Trench's Park in Clones which, they hope, will then be the venue for future Ulster football finals. Due to limited capacity and traffic problems when large crowds converge on the town the final has been played in CrokePark for the past three years. Now the Government has agreed to provide funding towards the venture on condition that the Ulster Council undertakes to stage the provincial final at the ground. At present having a capacity of 35,000, this would rise to 50,000 if the €30m development is given the go-ahead from the Ulster Council.

Westmeath: Two Westmeath men reach South Pole
Among a group of people who took part in a twenty-six day trip to the South Pole were William Cleary from Sonna, Ballynacargy, at twenty-two the youngest member of the expedition, and Enda Wright from Tyrellspass. The expedition, led by Cork man Pat Falvey, traced the route taken by Ernest Shackleton and Tom Crean in 1916 and travelled from Ireland to Argentina and on to South Georgia, where they had to scale the Trident peaks, the most physically demanding part of the expedition according to William.

Theatre and dance acts are invading far-flung places all over the globe as part of a bid to promote Irish culture. A host of artists have been provided with funding to bring their performances to diverse places, including Rio de Janeiro, United Nations Refugee Agency camps in Kathmandu and Nepal, Mexico, Slovenia, Romania and Beijing. Culture Ireland chairman Micheal O Suilleabhain said the national agency had supported over 400 events across all the continents since it was set up in 2005. "There isn't anywhere on the planet that is safe from us nor should be," he said.

Just one query this time around. Barbara Neville writes:
Do you know of a place where I can purchase a doorbell that plays Irish tunes for a US residence?
ED. NOTE: We think it's a great idea for any residence! Any leads would be greatly appreciated!
SPONSOR: Help us keep your  newsletter free when you visit our our at Lollysmith:
Happy new year to all! Many thanks for shopping with us in 2006 and we look forward to serving you again in 2007. Now that the Christmas shopping is over, it's time to turn our attention to Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day. Come browse our pages for a wide variety of gifts imported directly from Ireland, including Jewelry, Shamrock & Wildflower Seeds, Connemara Marble, Tin Whistles, Bodhráns, Hanna Hats of Donegal and much more. Please click

A New Years Greeting for our readers
We went to our favorite place for e-cards, irish Corner - and came up with a greeting just for you and yours. Please be patient. At this time of year, they are very busy so it may a while to load:

Fairy Tale of New York
Still the most popular Irish Christmas song ever. We wish we could have had this link for you last week - but never mind; here it is now. While it ends a bit abruptly, it's still as good as ever. But it's also a bitter-sweet reminder of losing Kirsty MacColl so tragically in December, 2000. RIP. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JMmkacR768

The lights of Dublin
This was sent in by "the Irish woman your mother warned you about!" While the photos aren't for the 2006 Christmas season, they're still brilliant all the same. Thanks, Pamela!

Sunrise on the Wicklow Hills
Mattie Lennon introduces By The Banks of Avonmore, one of the audio tracks from a new DVD produced to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Co. Wicklow - the last county to be created in Ireland. To hear the song and view some of the footage, please click
or go here to learn more:

The Snowman
A family favorite for nearly 30 years, this is the official sitte featuring fun and games, a synopsis of the story and much, much more.

An awesome love story
Do you have about ten minutes to spare? That's about how long it will take you to learn all about a beautiful romance between two cockatoos. This was sent to us by Audrey in California and it's just delightful. Thanks AG!

You'd never see this on TV today
More's the pity. This is hilarious and totally politically incorrect. Many thanks to "Leo" for sharing it with us:

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:

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:
New Year's Toasts:
Stir the eggnog, lift the toddy,
Happy New Year, everybody! Phyllis McGinley

"Here's to the bright New Year, and a fond farewell to the old; here's to the things that are yet to come, and to the memories that we hold." Unattributed.
Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.  Oscar Wilde
Have you resolved to lose weight in the new year? You might want to consider the Purina Diet. This is supposed to be a true story and was sent in by Barbra Goins of the Celtic Shamrock. Thanks, Barbara!

I have a Labrador Retriever and I was buying a large bag of Purina at Wal-Mart and was in line to check out. A woman behind me asked if I had a dog? (Duh?!) On impulse, I told her that no, I didn't have a dog, and that I was starting The Purina Diet again. Although I probably shouldn't, because I'd ended up in the hospital last time, but that I'd lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms. I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and that the way that it works is to load your pants pockets with Purina nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry and that the food is nutritionally complete so I was going to try it again. I have to mention here that practically everyone in the line was by now enthralled with my tale. Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care because the dog food poisoned me. I told her no; I stepped off a curb to sniff an Irish Setter's bottom and a car hit us both. I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack, he was laughing so hard!
1. On January 1st, 1892, Ellis Island became the reception center for new immigrants and the first immigrant through the gates was Annie Moore of Co. Cork?
2. The song title "Auld Lang Syne" translates into "old long since?" First published in 1796 by Robert Burns, the tradition of playing it on New Year's Eve was launched in 1929 by Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians dance band, who performed it in New York City.
3. Radio Éireann's television service began transmission on New Year's Eve, 1961?
Since we've had just one entry so far, we're extending the current quiz until our next edition. Now's your chance to get your name and your favorite web site listed with our other literary sleuths. Hint: all titles can be found on the Kennys books and art gallery web site.

Who wrote:
1. Irish Tales of Mystery & Magic
2. Christmas Tales of Galway
3. Islandman

Send in your answers and if you get two out of three correct, we'll list your name and web site (or your favorite Irish web site) in our next newsletter.

ED. NOTE: Helen Dowd is one of our regular entrants and she is also the owner of a great site which is now ranked third in the list of top Christian pages As of this writing, she needs 8,722 to move into second place. If you'd like to vote for her, the URL is
Help us keep this newsletter free by visiting our good friends at The Irish Lottery:
There was ONE winner in Saturday's drawing! Was it you? This was the biggest jackpot of 2006 with one lucky ticket holder entitled to a whopping € 7,452,671.00 Euro. What a way to kick off the new year and our fantasy is that one of our readers will win the big one. But you can't win it if you're not in it. So enter now for next Wednesday's draw. 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! Please click here for full details including a compilation of stats based on previous draws which could improve your chances of winning!
To begin with, the answer to our last hair-puller which was in 4 different parts:
Q. Why does Santa like to go down chimneys?
A. Because it soots him
Q. But isn't he afraid he'll get stuck?
A. Yes - because he's Santa Claustrophobic!
Q. Won't all that soot make him sick?
A. No. He's had his flue shot.
Q. What if there's a fire in the fireplace?
A. Sadly, that's when Santa becomes Krisp Kringle!

While we had a slew of correct answers, Fr. Denis McGowan of Ikeda, Japan was first in. He's a lovely man who nourishes the spiritual needs of the children at St. Mary's Kindergarten. He's also very busy at this time of year playing Santa to various groups. If you'd like to see a photo of him please click
As busy as he is, he took time out to send us our next riddle, God bless him! See if you can solve this mind-mangler:
Translate the following:

1. Article: President's Christmas message

2. Article: An Irish Christmas - St. Stephen's to New Year's Day

3. Article: New year's Day to Epiphany

4. Article: Mumming - A Yuletide Tradition

5. Article: Burying the baby Jesus

6. Article: Rowing to Midnight mass

7. Kids' Ireland: Midnight Visitors

8. Irish Kitchen: Spiced Beef

9. Basic Irish: Advent & Christmas

10. Circle of prayer - Our sixth Novena began on December 29th and continues through January 6. So many families are in need of our spiritual support. Please keep the Murphys, Driscolls and Edwards' in your prayers and meditations. Also Hartson Dowd, Helen Dowd's sister who just returned to her missionary work in India, Emma Josephine, Fiona Mary's mother, Pauline Dewberry, Heather, baby Joseph, Jane Fitz., Scott H, and so many others facing both health and financial hurdles. We also ask that you keep in mind our service men and women in the military serving their country all over the world, especially in Afghanistan where the weather has become particularly brutal. God willing, they will all be home safe and sound soon.
ED. NOTE: Our friend Audrey sent us a great link to a page where you can send a note of thanks and a holiday greeting to American troops:
11.Trivia Contest. This is the last day! All entries must be in by midnight tonight. no matter which time zone you are in.

So that's the long and the short of it for this edition. If you're celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion before we write again, we hope it's a joyous event. In the meantime, pinch punch, first day of the month, white rabbit. And if you were married in January, here's the old Irish verse:
Marry when the year is new,
Always loving, kind and true.

We'd also like to leave you with one more New Year's toast:
May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions, may the Good Shepherd of us all enfold you and yours in the mantle of His gentle protection 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.

Donegal, Ireland - December 27-Jan 2
The Frankie Kennedy Winter School takes place in Gaoth Dobhair . Classes will be held in flute, fiddle, uilleann pipes, tin whistle, bodhrán, button accordion, sean-nós singing, house dancing and accompaniment (guitar/bouzouki). For details, please click
Dublin, Ireland - December 30 through January 6
A Picture of Me Presented by The Ark, A Cultural Centre for Children in association with Solstice Arts Centre. For more details or bookings, please click

Philadelphia, January 7
Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 51 - Fishtown and the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 51 - Cumann na mBan are pleased to announce the 4th annual Communion Breakfast after the 10:30 am Mass at the Holy Name of Jesus Church, Gaul & Berks Streets
For more details or tickets, please contact
F Jay & Cheryl McCarrie
215-425-5810 / jmccarrie@verizon.net
Phil & Marian Bowdren
215-426-2772 / philbowdren.aoh51@verizon.net

Limerick, Ireland - January 11
For more details and/pre bookings, please click

Managuan - January 14
Vol. Feargal O'Hanlon 50th Anniversary Commemoration.
Anyone wishing to attend are asked to assemble at St Macartan's Cathedral, Managuan at 2pm for parade to the graveside in
Latlurcan cemetery. All are Welcome. For more details, please visit:

Actually Said By Soccer Commentators...
1. Well, it's Liverpool two, Ipswich nil, and if the score stays this way, I've got to fancy Liverpool for the win.

2. He had an eternity to play that ball, but took too long.

3. And so they have not been able to improve on their 100% record.

4. With the last kick of the game, he scored with a header.

5. Well, it's a fabulous kaleidoscope of colour: almost all the Brazilians are wearing yellow shirts.

6. If that had gone on, it would definitely have been a goal.

7. Their manager, Howard Wilkinson, isn't here today, which strongly suggests that he may be elsewhere.

8. I am a firm believer that if one team scores a goal, the other need to score two to win.

9. If a team scores early on, it often takes an early lead.

10. You cannot possibly have counted the number of passes made, but there were eight.

Anyone for tennis?