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Greetings and blessings to all,

It's lovely to be back and we're sorry we're so late; to paraphrase Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol, we are behind our time because we were making rather merry yesterday. The event was our annual Black Swap - and for our newer subscribers, if you don't know what that is, it's an old Irish custom where one person trades something he or she doesn't want for something another person doesn't want - and then they have a "hooley" to celebrate the transaction. It's not strictly a Christmas tradition, but we've adopted it as such, and from all accounts, it's very popular with family and friends.

We awoke to the first snowfall of the season which made the outside of the house look picture-postcard perfect as the white stuff hid all of the weeds and dead flowers we haven't had time to clean up. About a dozen of us gathered around noon for a pub lunch; Bridget put on her usual sausage rolls with Branston pickle and Colman's mustard, as well as a platter of cold cuts and breads for sandwiches. These were augmented with some lovely snacks from our guests including rumaki, hot cheese puffs and more. Not to be left out of the culinary efforts, Russ made his hot punch which was kept steaming over our wood stove in the family room. A bottle of spiced rum was on hand to liven up the libation, if so desired. It was quite a spread!

While there were lots of laughs over the "gifts", we didn't have the shockers of past years (e.g. a Hulk Hogan doll dressed as a drag queen!), but we did have some real groaners - a lace-trimmed floral shower cap, a bag of wish bones (real ones), a cookie jar that plays the theme from Gilligan's Island when you open it, and many other equally useless items nobody wants. It's all in good fun and terrible taste! In any event, it was a long day and we were just too shattered after the clean-up to do anything else but fall into bed, happily exhausted.

So, here we are, just ten days before Christmas, Has panic set in yet? Never mind - pour yourself a nice cup of tea or a pint and settle back with us for a few minutes or so. Just maybe by the time you're finished with our latest edition, you'll be feeling more relaxed. Or, at least, more in the mood to handle the merry madness! Enough about us:

In news from Ireland
Co. Offaly - The Government has bought Durrow Abbey and its accompanying 6th century monastic site. The purchase of the sixth century site, founded by St Columcille, and part of the historic Durrow Abbey estate, is designed to protect the Abbey and heritage elements from proposed commercial development on the lands.

Dublin - A sculpture commemorating the volunteers from last summer's Special Olympics has been unveiled in the gardens behind Dublin Castle. The sculpture is a reinterpretation of the Special Olympics logo, surrounded by the names of 30,000 volunteers engraved on bronze plaques.

Derry - All those who receive skateboards as Christmas presents will have a new venue to practise their skills following a decision by the City Council. A total of fifty-one skateboarding sessions are being arranged at the Templemore Sports Complex where the main hall will be set up with ramps.

Lough Foyle - one of Ireland's largest Christmas trees stands nearly 100 feet high, comprises over 3,000 individual components and lights up the night sky for miles. It's located outside Mary's Bar on the main Derry-Moville Road.

Kells, Co, Meath - Two rare volumes of poetry signed by William Butler Yeats are to be auctioned at Oliver Usher's Action Rooms this coming week; they are estimated to sell at between 1,000 and 1,200 euros each. The Variorum Edition of Poems was printed in a limited edition and pre-signed by the author before his death in 1939. Because of wartime paper restrictions, it was not published until the 1950s.

Bits & Pieces
Adam's Irish Art Sale - A Jack Yeat's painting from 1920 entitled Thraw Bawn, which depicts a kelp gatherer, made the top price at 300,000 euros - almost double the estimate

Turf club gets money from Aga Khan to buy hotel. The Aga Khan has presented the Irish Turf Club with the money to buy a hotel with an estimated value of almost €15 million.

A survey by the Central Statistics Office has found that the number of Irish households connected to the Internet has jumped upwards by 75% in the past three years, with almost 10% of the population now using the Internet daily.

A newly-discovered and previously unrecorded copy of the original Proclamation of Independence of the Irish Republic sold for £69,600 at a Sotheby's auction - twice as much as expected. It was bought by a private collector.

From the mailbag
Bridget was delighted to sell two of her wedding books - thank you Olga and Karen! We now have only a handful of books left ourselves and the title is no longer available on amazon; supplies are also dwindling rapidly at other books stores and when they run out completely, the book will most likely go out of print. Whether or not a second, revised edition will be produced is still unknown. So, if you're planning an Irish wedding and would like a first edition signed and inscribed by Bridget, please let us know asap.

Among the many other emails we received, we heard from Teresa Townsell: "Hello! I was just browsing through websites and came across your main page with the write-up that included information about Father Hartigan a.k.a. John O'Brien. I really enjoyed reading your narrative. Father Hartigan is a relative of mine. His mother was first cousin to my great-great-grandfather."
Small world, Teresa! If you'd like to read about Father Hartigan, here's the URL:

Links of the week:
Fed and watered - what schools are providing for lunch. The award-winning website skool.ie takes a look at five Irish schools and what they provide for snacks and meals. To read this item, please click

Looking for a phone number or address in Northern Ireland? Go to http://www.bt.com/directory-enquiries/dq_home.jsp
and fill in the surname and town; this will give you all the surnames of the one you filled in for Belfast or whatever town you choose; click on "go" and this will then give you their phone number and address with the area code; now click on "View this Location" and up pops the map; this is the website for British Telecom white pages; you can put in 10 names before they cut you off.

Recycle your greeting cards and help the children at St. Jude's Ranch. People from all over the world send in the fronts of their old cards (from Christmas, as well as other occasions) and the kids turn them into new cards for sale. For details on this terrific program, please click

Lots of Christmas activities here:

A bit of stress relief: Get Scrooge!

And last but definitely not least - especially for 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!

Enough of the blither and blather...on with the update:
Please help us keep this newsletter free and visit the Celtic Attic:
There is still time to place your order for Holiday Delivery. We are shipping daily during this most busiest of seasons. We are also offering Gift Wrapping. Simply place your order and put in the Comments Section that you would like your package Gift Wrapped. There is NO Additional Charge for this! And don't forget to enter the Free Giveaway for December. It's a grand one this time: a Picnic Basket filled with Tea's, Cookies, Sweets and more. http://www.celticattic.com/contact_us/free_giveaway.htm
NOTE: If you place an order, please mention the special code IC46 in the comments section. Himself and Herself will earn a small commission. Many thanks!

A Bit of The Wit
Joke of The Week
Did You Know?
Quotes & Quips
Know Your Irish Writers & Books?
New This Week
The Week Ahead
A BIT O' THE WIT (it's a repeat - but it is the season!)
A turkey never voted for an early Christmas
Edited and adapted from one sent in by Hartson - thanks!
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. In 1171, King Henry II took Christmas festivities to Ireland? He went there to get the Irish chiefs to swear allegiance to the English Crown, and on finding them very agreeable, so history tells us, he had a huge hall built, in traditional Irish style, in a village near Dublin, called Hogges. There he laid on a sumptuous feast, introducing the Irish to the customs of tournaments, Christmas plays, and mumming.
2. It was on Christmas Eve in 1601 that the Irish and Spanish armies were defeated in the Battle of Kinsale?
3. Long before Christianity came to Ireland, it was customary to place holly leaves and branches around the home during winter? This was intended as a kindly and hospitable gesture as it was believed that the good people who inhabited the forests would come into the home and use the holly as shelter against the cold. This may actually have had some basis in fact, as holly growing in the wild is often used as shelter and protection from predators by small animals and insects.
Here's a lovely toast that would be perfect for any special occasion:
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!
First off, the answers to last week's quiz:

1. The Man Who Was Marked By Winter - Paula Meehan
2. Winter in Meath - John F. Dean
3. Winter Work - Peter Fallon

Even in this busiest of seasons, our literary sleuths made time to send in their answers. So, many thanks and congrats to:

Helen Dowd
I invite you to visit my website: http://www.occupytillicom.com
In the "Literary" section you will find new Christmas poems and stories, just in. Check all categories. Please don't forget to sign the guest book.

Hartson Dowd
Check out a series of sites which promote and protect country sports and their environments - from angling to hawking and falconry.
ED. NOTE: Fascinating collection!

Patricia Edwards
My really favourite site is (of course) http://www.irishcultureandcustoms, (thanks, Patricia!) but here is a good site for those e-cards that we send from time to time:

Ellen Parodi
Namely Gifts at http://namelygifts.com
Personalized Name Keepsakes and Gifts
Something for every name on your holiday gift list!

Déirdre McKiernan Hetzler
"Glorious Ireland in May"
May 25 - June 8, 2004
View last year's itinerary:

Want to see your name and favorite site on our list? Try to find the following authors - we assure you, it's really easy! This week, what with all the lovely aromas coming out of the kitchen, our theme is Irish Cookery. Who wrote:

1. New Irish Cooking
2. Irish Cooking - Classic and Modern
3. Poolbeg Book of Traditional Irish Cooking
Hint: All three titles can be found here - and this would make a great Christmas gift for anyone who loves to "cook Irish!"

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. 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:
Help us keep this newsletter free by visiting the The Irish Lottery:
Stuffing a stocking? Put a ticket in it! If you remember the Irish Hospital Sweepstakes, it was replaced by the Irish Lotto in 1988. Since then it has become 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 and all winnings are tax-free. Do you have the luck of the Irish? Play the Irish lottery and find out! Please click here for full details:
Last week's mind-bender created by Jonathan Swift was quickly solved by none other than our own resident recipe collector, joke provider and faithful supporter, Hartson Dowd. Full marks!
We are little airy creatures,
All of different voice and features;
One of us in glass is set,
One of us you'll find in jet.
T'other you will see in tin
And the fourth a box within.
If the fifth you should pursue,
It can never fly from you.
What are we?
Answer: The five vowels
If that one stumped you, here's another that might be a wee bit easier:

The beginning of eternity
The end of time and space
The beginning of every end
The end of every place.
What is it?
We'll try to get the home-page updated as early in the week as we can - please be patient with us:
1. Home Page - See what's new at a glance:
2. New - Article: Time at This Point of the Year by Cormac MacConnell
3. Basic Irish: This week's lesson focuses on shopping
4. New - The Irish Kitchen: Irish Winter Pudding
5. Featured - Article: An Irish Christmas - Ding Dong Merrily on High
6. Featured - An Irish Christmas, Then and Now
7. Featured - An Irish Christmas, Food for the Feast. And nary the mention of Brussell Sprouts!
8. Ongoing - Circle of Prayer: Our eighth Novena in this cycle ends on December 15 and our ninth one begins on Tuesday. This past week we heard from Maggie who asks that you pray for her family and friends. Also, please continue to remember Bob and Kathy in Utah, Eileen's brother Bob, her son Christopher, Debbie's friend Bertha, Rita, Lindsea, Dianne, Claire, C.J., baby Christopher, Sam, Steven & Margaret, and the Mulligan family. We also ask that you keep all of our military personnel in your prayers or meditations, especially those stationed in Iraq. Whatever your spiritual leanings, we hope you will join us each day
9. On-going: Have you entered our December Trivia quiz yet? All entries must be in by December 31, no matter which time zone you live in.
10. On-going - Irish News: Headlines for the past week
11. On-going -This month in Irish History:
12. On-going - Looking for the perfect Irish gift? We've re-checked our product links and corrected a few that weren't working. We've also added quite a few new items. So, come browse and buy - but hurry, after tomorrow, if you're ordering from a shop in Ireland, there's no guarantee your gifts will arrive in time for Christmas unless you pay for delivery through the nose.

Bridget is still busy researching the old Christmas custom of Mumming. Hopefully she'll have it done before New Years. After the 16th, we'll be replacing the holiday mail/post alert with a new Culture Corner for the home page as well as a different one for the children. The blessing for the week is posted, a new quote will go up on Wednesday and toward the end of the week, we'll have a new recipe from Hartson's wonderful collection. Many thanks to all of you who stop by the site every day - close to 1100 and still going up! This makes our advertisers VERY happy!

So, that about wraps it up for another week except to say we hope this edition finds you all on the pig's back. We'd also like to say a special hello to our new subscribers. Thanks for signing up and please feel free to forward our musings and meanderings to family and friends.

Before we take our leave, here's the celebratory reminders from our often wild and whacky calendar: the 14th is National Bouillabaisse Day in the US and something called Yuletide Lads in Iceland; the 15th is National Lemon Cupcake Day, the 16th begins the Nine Days of Posada in Mexico; it's also National Chocolate Covered Anything Day! The 17th is St. Lazarus' Day - the patron of housewives, lepers, and sextons. The 18th is Misa de Aguinaldo - originating in the Philippines, it's a novena of Masses leading up to Christmas Day and is usually accompanied by festive singing and refreshments. The 19th is National Oatmeal Muffin Day and the 20th is the Chinese Feast of Winter Solstice. If you'd like to look ahead, our source is: http://www.web-holidays.com
So there you have it and our very best wishes if you're celebrating a birthday, anniversary or special event yourselves this week.

Until next time, may God grant you and yours an abundance of blessings, may He keep you from all harm, and, as they say in Ireland, mind yourself.

Bridget & Russ
Get down on your knees and thank God you're still on your feet
Please help us to keep this newsletter free - visit our good friends, LollySmith!
The LollySmith elves are putting in the overtime to ensure that they'll have the perfect Irish gift for everyone on your list! In stock now, our always popular teas, coffees and foods from Bewleys of Dublin, authentic blackthorn walking sticks, hats 'n caps, tin whistles, and...drum roll please, for Russ Berrie Angel Cheeks - not Irish, but amazingly, a huge seller with our Irish customers. We look forward to your visit and from all of us at LollySmith, Nollaig Shona Duit - Happy Christmas!
Did you enjoy reading this edition of our newsletter? Voluntary donations to help keep us going are always welcome and can be sent to us via http://www.paypal.com
Our email address there is bnhaggerty@cinci.rr.com. Many thanks in advance for your kindness!
Events & Classifieds
Note: To avoid duplication, we list only those events not mentioned in the comprehensive listing put together by The Wild Geese. To check their Events Page, please click: http://www.thewildgeese.com/pages/events.html
The Irish Heritage Newsletter also lists events - if you'd like to subscribe, just send a note to George at Steeler059@aol.com
And, if you're in Ireland, or lucky enough to be visiting, you can see what's on offer here:

Trinity College Dublin - Christmas Homecoming in the Dining Hall
Monday, December 22 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. Admission is by ticket only, and each graduate may be accompanied by one guest only. To reserve your place, contact Norah Kelso, Alumni Relations Officer, Trinity Foundation, East Chapel, Trinity College, Dublin 2 or mailto:nkelso@tcd.ie
Include your full name, student number (if known), degree, year of graduation and address to which your ticket can be sent. Please reserve your place before Friday, 12 December.

DCU Business School 2001 reunion - December 29
A reunion for 2001 Dublin City University graduates from BBS/BSI4/IML/IBL will take place at the Sugar Club on Leeson Street on Monday, December 29. Entertainment will include a band, DJ and a late bar. Admission will be EU8 before 9.00pm. Graduates wishing to attend may contact Nicola Riordan at mailto:buzinessdcu01@yahoo.com with a "Yes" in the Subject field of the email.

The Chieftains are coming January 13! Sponsored by the Society for
Performing Arts. Details to be announced.

Irish-American Ceili Club - Hwd Broward, Florida
32nd Anniversary Dinner Dance - January 17, 2004
American Legion Hall - Post 92. Hwd Broward's Oldest Steak House, Tropical Acres is preparing prime rib or salmon (your choice); Noel Kingston is on the band stand. Tickets @ $20 are selling like hotcakes! Don't wait a moment longer! Call Maureen at 954-432-8292 or Dorothy at 954-920-4583

Texas Dulcimer Cruise - February 5-9, 2004
Galveston to Cozumel on the Carnival Celebration. There will be workshops, jam sessions, talent show and more. These spots will go fast, so book early! Inside cabins are $430.80 pp, double occupancy and oceanview cabins are $480.80 pp, double occupancy. Ask for Marcy: 281-535-5703 or e-mail marcy@delesandri.com

Galveston, Texas
March 28, 03
Galveston 1894 Grand Opera House - James Galway, flautist Sunday March 28, 2004 3pm

Cais Conference/Reunion - May 26-29, 2004
Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
The theme is "Mother Tongues: The Languages of Ireland." For details, please click

6th Int'l McManus Clan Association Gathering May 25th through May 31st, 2004
For full details please visit our website at:
or contact Phil McManus at Manus@aol.com

7th Clann McKenna Rally - June 25th through Sunday June 27th 2004
For details, please write plunkettmckenna@eircom.net
or click on the following link:
Send an email to: bhaggerty@irishcultureandcustoms.com
OR click on this link: