Welcome to the Irish Culture & Customs newsletter which is published every fortnight or so and sent out to nearly 4300 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,

Phrase: Happy New Year
Irish: Athbhlian faoi mhaise
Pronunciation: Ah-vleen fwee wash-eh!

Christmas has come and gone - that is, the day itself. But hopefully the spirit of the season is still with you and yours and will be until Epiphany and thoughout the coming year.

As we write this, we are listening to a lovely track from the CD A Real Irish Christmas. Nowadays, it' s hard to know what that might be anymore. We like to think it's celebrated in accordance with the old customs and traditions - family and friends stopping by, the candle in the window, a sprig of holly over pictures in the living room, the aroma of mince pies, the smile of a woman looking at Christmas dinner just before it goes in the oven. Turkey, goose. ham or beef, it matters not - it's a look we've seen on the faces of our mothers, proud that they are to put such a treasure on the table. A look that takes us back and makes us wish the clock might also reverse its hands and put us in the midst of the Irish Christmas we once knew.

Onwards. Christmas Day 2007 for the Haggertys was indeed a joyous event. The move from a huge house aka Toad Hall to a tiny place now christened Tadpole Cottage was very tiring and time-consuming. But it all went well and by Christmas Day we were ready to welcome our children, grandchildren and friends.

Truly, the new place was bursting at the seams as we greeted and welcomed loved ones. And our daughter said it best just in case anyone was sad about Toad Hall. It isn't the place - it's the people. Maeve Binchcy wrote a Christmas story called Next Year it will be Different. Well. Christmas this year was different - and wasn't. And if this is as different as it gets, may it never be otherwise.

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:

Tourism boom
A record 7.8 million overseas visitors came to Ireland this year, pumping €4 billion into the economy, according to the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation report for 2007.

Antrim: A bird that prefers a temperate climate
While the rest of his flock take their winter holidays in Mexico or the southern states of the US, one Ring Billed Gull has decided he prefers the more temperate climate of Antrim, and regularly arrives at Whitehouse Lagoon. Birdwatchers believe that the gull spotted at the lagoon on the shores of Belfast Lough is the same one that was first noted back in 1983 and which has returned each year since then. Its other haunt in the North is the car park at Tesco's in Newtownabbey, where it scavenges for food with a number of other gulls.

Armagh: Statue of Olympic medallist for Portadown
Sculptor John Sherlock has been commissioned to create a statue of Mary Peters, the Olympic pentathlon gold medallist, to be erected in Portadown, where she attended Portadown College; she held the position of Head Girl at the college exactly fifty years ago.

Cork: New sculpture for Newmarket
The town of Newmarket can now boast a new statue, following the unveiling of a likeness of writer Alice Taylor in New Street. The bronze statue was unveiled by Sister Consilio, founder of Cuan Mhuire, in a project initiated by the Tidy Towns Committee. The likeness of Ms Taylor, created by Bandon sculptor Don Cronin, is seated on a limestone slab, and an adjacent slab carries the words of her poem "Come Sit a While". This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Ms Taylor's memoir, "To School Through The Fields", the biggest best seller in Irish history.

Derry: A new community for Derry city
Plans are due to be finalised soon for a new community in the Skeoge and Buncrana Roads area on the outskirts of Derry city which will house a population of some twenty-five thousand. The project will comprise some seven thousand houses with at least three hundred on the Skeoge lands designated as social housing.

Down: New transport system pleases Annie
A new transport scheme introduced to Downpatrick has found particular favour with one-hundred-year-old Anne McKeathing, known as Annie. The ex-matron, who nursed during the Second World War, says that the Door-2-Door Transport Scheme will mean that she will be able to get to the shops, and to her doctor's more easily. The bus has been supplied by the Regional Development Department and Annie was welcomed as a member of the scheme by Minister Conor Murphy when he visited the St Patrick Centre in Downpatrick. According to Annie's niece Isobelle Rooney, herself a nurse, her aunt attributes her health and long life to a combination of garlic, gin and getting out and about.

Dublin: Another development to be delayed by monument
The discovery of an ancient series of megalithic tombs in Fingal could cause a delay in the development of a new port facility in the locality. According to local historian Paddy Boyle, the artist's impression for the new port shows no evidence of the complex of cairns, and even has the terminal located on the exact site. He believes that, were excavation to be carried out, it would emerge that the site is on a par with Newgrange and Loughcrew, and almost certainly the oldest in Fingal. He has suggested that the developers cordon off that particular section of the headland.

Limerick: Franciscans transform Delmege Park
The Franciscan friars who moved into a house in Delmege Park in Moyross in August to minister to local residents prepared a special Christmas present for the community and everyone from the city. The five friars created a live crib which began with a parade from Corpus Christi Church, with a local new-born baby called James taking the part of the baby Jesus. The Holy Family then entered a stable constructed by Brother Martin with the help of council workers and local men. Also in the stable were a bullock and a donkey, while some sixty local children played the part of angels.

Louth: Knockbridge man to lead New York parade
The New York St Patrick's Day Parade of 2008 will be led by a Louth man. Tommy Smyth from Knockbridge, well known to television viewers in America as a broadcaster on ESPN, has been chosen as Grand Marshal for the 248th parade. Tommy emigrated more than forty years ago and still has brothers and sisters Brendan, Harry, Sheila, Marian and Patsy living in Knockbridge. As Grand Marshal Tommy will host a preliminary breakfast, ring the bell that starts the day's trading on the New York Stock Exchange and then lead the three hundred thousand marchers up Fifth Avenue.

Tipperary: Museum to honour Cloughjordan patriot
The Cloughjordan Community Development Committee is seeking permission from the county council to establish a museum to honour Thomas McDonagh, one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising. The group hopes to be granted permission to redevelop the house on the main street which is believed to be the birthplace of the patriot.

Westmeath: Architects group credited with saving hall
Following the recent decision by the county council to retain Fr Matthew Hall in Athlone and transform it into an art gallery, Councillor Michael O'Connell has praised the commitment of the Athlone Architectural Group who managed to collect almost four thousand signatures in support of the hall being retained, a fact which the councillor believes had a significant influence on the final decision.

SPONSOR: Please help us keep our newsletter coming - visit our friends at the Celtic Attic:
We hope you all had a wonderful and joyous Christmas Season and we send our blessings for the New Year!  Starting December 29th to January 4th, 2008 we are having a HUGE STOREWIDE SALE.  We are completely revamping our inventory in January., so we are getting rid of hundreds of products and adding new items.  Sales pages are jammed packed and all items are 75% the listed price.  In addition, there is FREE Shipping on orders over $45.00 that have at least 1 sales item.  Receive Free Shipping on all orders over $100.00 without any Sales item purchase.  FREE GIFT with each and every order and a FREE COPY of the CELTIC ATTIC COOKBOOK with each order!  So stock up for next Christmas or Shop early for St. Patrick's Day!
Order on line or by phone - and tell them Bridget & Russ said hello!
Order by phone: Tel: 360-765-0186
Order on line:

In response to Ellen McCarry Hopps message about the McNulty family and the Little Irish Showboat, Bill Ashe wrote:
Check out Rego Records and you can find the McNaulty's records there. Or Check out Copley records. Coply has songs by Connie Foley from that time also.
Thanks Bill! 

In response to Desteni who asked about the cost of living in Ireland,
Déirdre McKiernan Hetzler writes
It is the most expensive country in the EU. Wonderful place to live, but costly. I suggest she spend a month or two there and decide for herself. Thanks Déirdre.
Cliff had asked a question about sending out Christmas cards if a family member had passed away recently. Does anyone know of an Irish custom where you don't send out greeting cards but you wait until the following Christmas and send out a memorial card. We don't know of this custom, but that doesn't mean it might not exist in some parts of Ireland. One tradition Bridget's family always followed was to set a place at the Christmas dinner table for a family member who was absent or who had died that year.

Judy is looking for an Irish blessing for a nephew. Can anyone help?

Arlington Cemetary at Christmas
It began 1992 with a trailer load of wreaths donated by the Morrill Worcester Wreath Company in Maine. With each passing year, more and more volunteers have shown up to assist in the annual laying of the wreaths on every grave. It's quite a story and you can see what happened this year here:
ED. NOTE: With many thanks to Joe McTiernan for bring this to our attention.

The Irish Twelve Days of Christmas
An interesting if not always entirely accurate day by day compilation of information about the festive season in Ireland:

Christmas as it used to be
The iPod generation might learn a valuable lesson from some grand Irish ladies who recently gathered to share memories of Christmases past in Ireland.

How to celebrate New Year's Eve, Irish Style
If you'll be in ireland over the next few days, here's how you can ring in the new year:

Countdown to New Year - Dublin Time

New Year's Eve on Achill Ireland
Discover how one of the most westerly points in Europe celebrates the last day of the year - and other important dates, too:

Campaign to leave car behind for New Year Resolution
Motorists have been urged to make a new year's resolution to leave their cars at home in 2008 and to walk, cycle or use public transport instead. Wonder how long they're expecting that one to last?

New Year's , 2007 - Ireland
Brynwindle shares a New Year's Eve in Kerry. The music drags a bit, but other than that, it's fun to watch.

Auld Lang Syne
With the traditional tune playing in the background, here you will find a bit of the history and the lyrics:

Cell Phone/Mobile with features we can all appreciate
This hilarious video was sent to us by our good friend Audrey in California. Great for a giggle!

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:
While we always try to find something new, it's not always possible to top what we've already published. So we hope you don't mind more reprises from our toasts, wit and jokes departments:

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.
The proper behavior all through the holiday season is to be drunk.  This drunkenness culminates on New Year's Eve, when you get so drunk you kiss the person you're married to.  ~P.J. O'Rourke
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 1, 1892 Ellis Island in New York became the reception center for new immigrants and he first immigrant through the gates was Annie Moore from Co. Cork?

2. On January 1, 1999, the world's oldest priest, the Venerable Archdeacon Patrick Lyons, passed away at Limerick Regional hospital, just two months before his 106th birthday?

3. If a tall dark and handsome man passes over your threshold on the stroke of midnight, New Year's Eve, it's said to bring good luck - but if it it's a young red haired girl, she'll bring nothing nothing but hardship and grief? So keep those redheads away from your door!
SPONSOR: Please help us keep your newsletter coming - visit our good friends at Lollysmith:
Happy Christmas and our very best in the new year from all of us at Lollysmith. We'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who shopped with us in 2007 and hope you'll be back again in 2008. On the heels of the holidays sees us getting ready for the next big event - St. Patrick's Day! And you can be certain we'll have everything you need to do it up right - from Guinness gear, authentic walking sticks, hats, caps and more! Come explore:
To begin with, the answers to our last quiz:

1. Follow Me Down to Dublin by Deirdre Purcell
2. Vanishing Ireland by Edna O'Brien
3. The Laughter of Mothers by Paul Durcan 
A round of pints and applause to all of our Irish bibliophiles:

Déirdre McKiernan Hetzler "Glorious Ireland" 22 May - 3 June, 2008: view itinerary at

Rita Roche, Md
I don't have a favourite Irish site - I love everything Irish!

Hartson Dowd
Hartson didn't nominate a site, but he did give us nice write-ups on each of the books. Thanks Hartson.
Once again, we're putting in Helen's site as we're sure that's what you would want:

Helen Dowd
Check out a couple of new entries in the Guest Authors, Devotional & Pet sections of:

Christi Caughey Broersma.
ED. NOTE: We lost Christi's name for the last newsletter, so we're making sure it's here now.

Want to see your name and favorite web site in our next newsletter?
Who wrote:

1. Heart and Soul
2. The Tain
3. Are Ye The Band?

Hint: They are all best sellers in Ireland
First off, the answer to our last Silly Season Poser:
Q. What kind of candle burns longer - a red candle or a green candle?
A. Neither. They both burn shorter. Groan!

As you might imagine, we had an avalanche of correct answers, but first in Mr. Heywood. Well done!
Also, Jim Turley gets an honourable mention for "the taller one!"

And now for a New Year Skull Scrambler:

Q. What starts with a J, ends with an R and contains the number 31622400?
1. Article: Memories of Christmas Eve Past
2. An article: An Irish Christmas - the Day Before
3. Chridtmas Greetings from President Mary McAleese
4. Article: An Irish Christmas - St. Stephen's Day to New Year's Eve
5. Article: Rowingto Christmas Mass
6. Article: Irish Superstitions for the Christmas Season
7. Recipe: St. Stephen's Day Stew
8. Recipe: Spiced Beef
9. Basic Irish - Season's Greetings
10. Kids' Ireland - Midnight Visitors
11. Circle of prayer - The first Novena in this cycle began on December 26 and continues through January 3. Since last we wrote, we've had an update on baby Isabella who is responding well to very aggressive treatment for a rare form of bone marrow cancer. Our good friend Jane sent us a link to the Care Pages of Children's Hospital where you can register to monitor Isabella's progress and perhaps leave a message of encouragement. The link is:
Whatever your spiritual leanings, we ask that you remember her in your prayers or meditations as well as so many others: Tommy Murphy of WMR Radio; Heather whose tumor has returned; George who just had his spleen removed; the family of Rory Miggins RIP, Kristin's friend Dave; a terminally ill high school German teacher; Benjamin H, Simon Shepherd, Bette & Bill, Thelma & Leo, little Bradley, Aunt Maisie, Aunt Anne, Celeste. Bobby's wife Pat, 4-year old CJ, little Dominic & Siobhan, cousin Michael, Miriam's friend, Aunt Sally, baby Joseph, RoseAnn, baby Maggie, Michael Shea and his family, Liadan, Penny, Pauline, and so many others who need our spiritual support 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.
ED. NOTE: Our prayer list is getting very long; if you have updates and a person's name can be taken off, please let us know - especially if our prayers have been answered. Thank you.
12. The Trivia Contest for December is almost over. All entries must be in by midnight tonight -December 31st., whatever time zone you're in:

ED. NOTE: William Ramoutar's* Music Review column will return to the home page next week. If you'd like to read his latest offering, please click
*We apologise to William for mispelling his name in the last edition. It wouldn't be so bad if we didn't keep doing it to the point where he's considering changing his name. Mea culpa, William.

So that's the long and the short of it until we write again. If you're celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other important event between now and then, we hope it's an occasion filled with joy.

Meanwhile, we take our leave of you with this lovely Irish blessing, and as they say in ireland, mind yourself.

In the New Year,
May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours.

At the last minute, just before we were ready to send you the letter, we also received a blessing we had to share with you sent in by our dear friend AG. Just click on this link and enjoy:

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.

Hollywood, Florida - January 19
The Irish-American Ceili Club wishes all of our Members & Visitors
the blessings of this holy season. May 2008 be kind to you! We also hope one of your New Year's resolutions is to have more fun in 2008. at the IRISH-AMERICAN CEILI CLUB! Join us on Saturday, January 19, 7pm-11pm when legendary Irish stars, TOMMY GOODWIN [accordion] &
SHARON O'MEARA [vocals & guitar] take the stage at the American Legion Hall 211 North 21 Avenue, Hollywood. For complete details, please visit us on line:

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:

These have made the rounds before, but they are well worth reading again. Nothing like kids to make you feel good - and make you giggle.

A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales. The teacher: said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was very small. The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. Irritated, the teacher: reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible. The little girl: said, "When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah". The teacher: asked, " What if Jonah went to hell?" The little girl replied, "Then you ask him".

A Kindergarten teacher: was observing her classroom of children while they were drawing. She would occasionally walk around to see each child's work. As she got to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was. The girl: replied, "I'm drawing God." The teacher: paused and said, "But no one knows what God looks like." Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing, the girl: replied, They will in a minute."

A Sunday school teacher: was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds. After explaining the commandment to "honor" thy Father and thy Mother, she asked, "Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?" Without missing a beat one little boy: (the oldest of a family) answered, "Thou shall not kill."

One day a little girl was sitting and watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly noticed that her mother had several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast on her brunette head. She looked at her mother and inquisitively asked, "Why are some of your hairs white, Mom?" Her mother replied, " Well, every time that you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white." The little girl thought about this revelation for a while and then said, "Momma, how come ALL of grandma's hairs are white?"

The children had all been photographed, and the teacher was trying to persuade them each to buy a copy of the group picture. "Just think how nice it will be to look at it when you are all grown up and say, 'There's Jennifer, she's a lawyer,' or 'That's Michael, He's a doctor.' A small voice at the back of the room rang out, "And there's the teacher, She's dead. "

A teacher was giving a lesson on the circulation of the blood. Trying to make the matter clearer, she said, "Now, class, if I stood on my head, the blood, as you know, would run into it, and I would turn red in the face." "Yes," the class said. "Then why is it that while I am standing upright in the ordinary position the blood doesn't run into my feet?" A little fellow shouted, "Cause your feet ain't empty."

The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school
for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The nun made a note, and posted on the apple tray:
"Take only ONE. God is watching."
Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was
a large pile of chocolate chip cookies.
A child had written a note, "Take all you want. God is watching the apples.