Welcome to the Irish Culture & Customs newsletter which is published every fortnight or so and sent out to going on 4700 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 & Blessings to all,

Pinch, punch, first day of the month, white rabbit! Happy St. Brigid's Day & Happy Imbolc - the first day of spring in the Celtic Calendar. We hope this edition finds you and yours in good health, good spirits and good company. And if this is your first issue, many thanks for joining us. We hope you will enjoy our musings and meanderings and if so, please feel free to share them with your family and friends.

Onwards. If you think the weather in Ireland is bad, try living in Australia where they are enduring heat waves and bush fires, or how about the US where it's been exactly the opposite with ice storms and heavy snow falls in many areas? Doesn't sound much like the beginning of spring, does it?

Here in our Ohio Valley, we went through a winter "sandwich" - several inches of snow followed by an inch or two of ice and then more snow on top of that. We were lucky though. While many around us lost heat and power, ours stayed on and we also didn't have to go anywhere. We hope and pray that all of our readers all over the world are surviving the extremes of both summer and winter!

Since last we wrote, our Aussie friends celebrated Australia Day, the Chinese saw in the Year of the Ox, and our Celtic cousins, the Scots, did their annual tribute to Robert Burns with haggis, kilts, pipes an a' that." We hope a good time was had by all!

Also, since the last time we were in touch, we were happy to receive a helping hand from several readers. Once a year, we humbly ask for a small donation to keep things running here at Irish Culture & Customs. Wait! Before you run off to unsubscribe from the list thinking, "I thought they said it was free!!!" let us reassure you: There is no obligation to pay for either the web site or our mailings. It does cost money to run things and If we do a good job, some people will be willing to donate a dollar or two, and if we keep our costs down, it will be enough.

We only ask for one dollar, or may be even the price of a pint, because we feel it's not too much to ask, and just about everyone should be able to handle it. However, if you can't afford it, don't worry about it! We'll continue the best we can.

There are rewards:
For every donation over $5.00 we will send you an Irish Blessing lucky coin. And, for ALL contributors of even just a dollar, we'll be putting your names in a drawing to win one of ten copies of the brand new novel - "Galway Bay" by Mary Pat Kelly and generously donated by her publisher. There are more details here:

As in past years, we will run our appeal for a month or so 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
5814 Blue Spruce Lane
Cincinnati, OH 45224.

Go raibh maith agat! As always, Bridget imagines lines of postmen coming up the driveway with sacks of mail! We'll take pictures if it happens!

Enough of the blitherin'...on with the update:
SPONSOR: Please help us keep your newsletter coming - visit our good
friends at Lollysmith:
Special days on the Irish calendar are just around the corner - St. Brigid's Day and the feast of St. Patrick! At Lollysmith, they offer appropriate gifts, including St. Brigid's Crosses, and St. Patrick rosaries. And for year round gift-giving, you'll find a wide array of fine Irish merchandise, from Hanna Hats & Caps to genuine Blackthorn Walking sticks, Connemara blankets and much, much more more. We're told a brand new shipment of walking sticks is due in any day; they're all different and what makes the Lollysmith site even more enjoyable is the name and description they give each stick!
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 elsewhere. Links for more news stories can be found on our web site where we post the latest headlines from Ireland every morning and we keep two week's of previous news: http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/01News/Home.html
And more county news can be found here:

Donegal: Change of ownership secures future of ancient stones
With the handing over of a site in Raphoe by the Department of Agriculture to the Office of Public Works, the future of the Beltany stone circle has been secured. The five-thousand-year-old stone circle, with sixty-four of eighty stones still standing, originally surrounded an ancient tomb and the site has a similar feature to Newgrange. On December 21 each year the sun shines over Croghan Hill and then its rays enter the stone circle and shine at its centre.

Fermanagh: Joan makes a champion breakfast
Joan Foster from Enniskillen has been named as the 2009 Breakfast Champion for Northern Ireland. The competition was part of the Farmhouse Breakfast Week celebrations. Joan runs Willowbank House at Bellvue Road with her husband Tom, and their breakfast was commended by the judge particularly for its use of locally sourced ingredients.

Limerick: New housing development reveals ancient kitchen
Excavations being carried out in relation to a new housing development in Mungret have revealed three domestic cooking sites close to some abbey ruins and the old Mungret cemetery. Also discovered at the site were two ringed ditches, indicating the possible presence of a settlement. The cooking sites date from the Bronze Age and are located just opposite the entrance to the old Mungret College.

Longford: Granard baker celebrates inauguration
Granard-based bakery Pat the Baker came up with a novel way to celebrate the inauguration of President Barack Obama - a special brack called Barack's Brack. A tray load of the special edition loaf was delivered to the American Embassy; the company received requests for the brack from all over the country, and also featured on the front page of an Irish American publication in New York.

Mayo: Dubliner to repopulate Duvillaun
For the first time in over a hundred years Duvillaun Island off the southern tip of the Mullet might soon have an inhabitant. Dubliner Michael Harnett has been granted planning permission for the reinstatement of a dwelling and outhouses on the island. The permission comes, however, with a number of conditions including a ban on the use of colour on the house, the use of indigenous stone and the use of blue black roof slates or tiles. The island, well known as a wild life haven, comprises one hundred and seventy-seven acres.

Monaghan: Killanny is looking for village status
With a church, a community centre, a football ground and a shop, the parish of Killanny believes that the time has come for it to be awarded village status. A motion to examine the possibility was proposed by Councillor Padraig McNalley and passed by Monaghan County Council. The situation is complicated somewhat by the fact that the south Monaghan community lies partly in the neighbouring county of Louth and any move towards declaring it a village has to be carried out in conjunction with Louth County Council. Eight new houses built in Killanny also straddle the Co. Louth border.

Offaly: Council earmarks Moneygall site for heritage centre
A one-acre site in the centre of Moneygall, on the market for the past two years to be used as social housing, has now been withdrawn from sale. Councillor Peter Ormond proposed that the site, known up to recent times as Kearney's Gardens, be earmarked for a centre to celebrate the new US President Barack Obama's link to the area; the site derived its name from the family of Obama's ancestor Fulmouth Kearney. The council bought the site thirty years ago from the father of Henry Healy, a distant cousin of the new president. A committee is to be set up by Canon Stephen O'Neill to foster the presidential connection with Moneygall.

Sligo: Grange student wins "What I Love About My Place" competition
Fourteen-year-old Paul Leonard was the youngest among the ten national finalists and was selected as the winner for his sixty-second video clip. It portrayed areas around Co. Sligo including Ben Bulben. With his €4,000 winnings from the Credit Union Paul plans to invest in his first camera. The competition was run in conjunction with SpunOut.ie to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Credit Union in Ireland.

Tipperary: Developers asked to integrate steamship
Developers of a proposed €60m marina at Ballina have been asked by North Tipperary County Council to examine the possibility of raising the steamship Lady Lansdowne and preserving it as a feature of the site. The council fears the wreck, which is protected under the National Monuments Act, may be compromised by the new marina, and have asked Eclipse Developments to consult with the National Monuments Service as to the best way of raising it from the bed of the Shannon. The vessel, one of the oldest steamships, served the area until the mid-nineteenth century.

Waterford: Change of use for Dungarvan site
Meetings have taken place between personnel from Mercyhurst College of Erie, Pennsylvania and the Office of Public Work in relation to the site at Shandon in Dungarvan town centre. The site had been earmarked for decentralisation, a plan now postponed for two years, and the college has expressed an interest in developing a purpose-built campus. This will be its only European campus for its students, who are at present using buildings leased by Mercyhurst. If the campus plan proceeds the Park Hotel will provide student accommodation in townhouses.
SPONSOR: Please help us keep our newsletter coming - visit our friends at the Celtic Attic:
Valentine's Day is right around the corner. Say Tá cion agam ort (I love you) with a gift from Celtic Attic. And now through February 7th receive a $5.00 gift card with every order and a FREE GIFT with every order.So come take a look at what's on offer and during your visit, stock up for next Christmas or buy early for St. Patrick's Day. All our Christmas items are 5% off and that discount will be taken off After your order is placed. We have a special Valentine's Day drawing, so enter the FREE GIVEAWAY 
now for a chance to win a Tea & Candy gift tin for Valentine's Day! 
This is in addition to our normal free giveaway. Order on line or by phone - and tell them Bridget & Russ said hello!
Order by phone: Tel: 360-765-0186
Order on line:

George Trainor writes:
Hello my Irish Heritage friends:I hope you had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I'm still kicking around. Still missing all of you from the old Irish Heritage E-mail Group days. My new job is working for the Irish American Unity Conference now. I was wondering, if you would be interested in helping out the Irish American Unity Conference with a raffle being held in March? All money raised will go to the IAUC national treasury. The prize is a 21 piece vintage Belleek china tea set. Service for six. Tickets will be $1.00 (one dollar) The drawing will be held at the IAUC's  5th & 9th chapter's Spring Brunch, March 29, 2009. Need not be present to win. For complete details and to see a picture of the prize, please click
ED. NOTE: Scroll down when you reach the site until you see the photo.

Ballina born and now living in sunny Sarasota, FL, John Jude O'Callaghan writes:
Free on request to all your readers: "17 Terrific Tips on How to Recession-Proof Yourself in 2009." Tells you how to start a home-based business on a shoe-string. Well - at least $100 Write to:
Please put in the subject line "17 Tips."

How to make a St. Brigid's Cross
The demonstration shows the authentic Co. Sligo way:

St. Brigid & the Celtic Church
A very short but well done video:

Hymn to St. Brigid
An all too short and sweet hymn sung sean nos:

The relics of St. Brigid in Portugal
Fascinating piece on how back in the Midddle Ages, three knights transported the skull of St. Brigid to Lumiar near Lisbon:

Irish Saints
Inspiring video that touches upon all of the major Irish saints including St. Brigid. Powerful music from Michael Card:

John Martyn, RIP
We were saddened to hear that the renowned Scottish singer-songwriter had passed away. For the last number of years, he lived in Kilkenny and was famous for fusing folk and jazz styles. He will be sorely missed. To see and hear him perform one of his most popular songs, please click

Roger Cummiskey limited edition Obama drawing
Exclusively for readers of the irish Culture and Customs newsletter, a signed and numbered print of Barack Obama rendered in charcoal. For complete details, please click:

Videos from the 90-year history of Dáil Éireann
Included are Michael Collins passing out bonds to a number of prominent republicans as part of a fund-raising effort for the Dáil and John Fitzgerald Kennedy's address to a joint sitting of both Houses of the Oireachtas. Fascinating!

Irish Page from Jack & Vivian Hennessey
This time around, it's a joke bout a bank robbery in Dublin: It is in Irish and English as is usual:

Free Irish language classes on line
You arre invited to free, on-line Irish language classes in Scoil Chumann Carad na Gaeilge / The Philo-Celtic Society School at:
The new semester begins February 1, 2009.  For more information about Cumann Carad na Gaeilge / The Philo-Celtic Society, please visit:
http://www.philo-celtic.com .

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:
ED. NOTE: Maria Eryaatz advises that free mammograms are also available in all states via the VNA (visiting nurses association).
Click on 'Find A VNA' for the your nearest location.

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:
SPONSOR: Please help us keep your newsletter coming - visit our good
friends at the irish Lottery:
In operation since 1988, it's one of the oldest online sites in the world. With subscribers in 89 countries it is also among the most reliable. Jackpots are never lower than US $1,500,000 and are frequently worth in excess of US$5,000,000 Here's the best part - you don't have to live in Ireland to play and all winnings are Tax Free!

It's always been our fantasy that one of our readers will scoop the jackpot; but, as they say in Ireland, you can't win it if you're not in it. To play on line, please click


A couple of hours into her visit the irish mother noticed her son
hadn't once lit up a cigarette. "Are you trying to give up the smoking?" she asked.

"No," her son replied. "I have a cold, and I don't smoke when I'm
not feeling well."

"You know," she observed, "you'd probably live longer if you
were sick more often."
Curran said to Father O'Leary, the wittiest priest of his day, "I wish you were St. Peter." "Why?" asked O'Leary. "Because," said Curran, "you would have the keys of heaven, and could let me in." "It would be better for you," said O'Leary, "that I had the keys of the other place, for then I could let you out."
From W.R. LeFanu's "70 Years of Irish Life," 1896

The teacher came up with a good problem. "Suppose," she asked the class of seven-year olds," "there were a dozen sheep and six of them jumped over a fence. How many would be left?" "None," answered little Sean. "None? Sean, you don't know your arithmetic." "Teacher, you don't know your sheep. When one goes, they all go!"

1. St. Brigid is the patron saint of New Zealand?
2. Imbolc is traditionally a time of weather prognostication? The old custom of watching to see if badgers came from their winter dens is considered a possible precursor to the North American Groundhog Day.
3. In Irish, Imbolc (pronounced im'olk) from the Old Irish, meaning "in the belly" (i mbolg), referring to the pregnancy of ewes? In old Ireland, this was most definitely a harbinger of spring!

First off, the answers to our last quiz:

1. The Clatter of Forks & Spoons by Richard Corrigan   
2. From Tide to Table by Georgina Campbell.
3. Celebrity Kitchen: Recipes and Stories from Famous Irish People by Fiona Brophy (compiler)

A tip of the cap and a pat on the back to the following Irish bibliophiles:
Irish literary sleuths:

Helen Dowd
A favorite Irish site is:
ED. NOTE: As always, we like to reciprocate - and Helen would love for you to visit her site and cast a vote for it as one of the best Christian sites on the web - which indeed it is:

Cathleen Toft
ED. NOTE: Cathleen didn't nominate a site; instead she sent this message:
Its nice to be back on my computer as I had no computer for nearly 12 months.  Still working on my family tree and at the moment looking up Patrick Kavanagh and his family.  I am related to him.

Hartson Dowd
An Irish website I am looking at: Links to Coat of Arms. This heraldry database of over 500 sites is provided to help you find Internet web sites with coat of arms information about the surnames you are researching.

Sheila Wise
Favorite Irish site:

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

1. Ireland’'s High Places: From the Mountains to the Sea
2. Where Clare Leads
3. Remembering Mayo’'s Fallen Heroes

Send your answers to Bridget:
Don't forget to nominate a favorite Irish site and it would be helpful if you put "Know Your Writers" in the subject line of your email. Thanks!
To start off, the answer to our previous cranium Ceuncher:

Behead an animal and leave a grain
Behead a dance and leave a fish
Behead a gulf and leave a cave
Behead part of the neck and leave an animal
Behead a useful article and leave a beam.
Q. The beheaded letters will form the surname of what famous American general?

As always, our "Riddle People" didn't let us down and we had a slew of correct answers. But first in were Gary and Cheryl Jensen of
Santa Barbara, CA. Well done!

And now for our next Thinker Stinker:
Q: If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter 'A'?
Please send your answers to:
It would be helpful if you put riddle answer in the subject line.

SHOPPING SECTION: Looking for Valentine's Day gifts? Visit some of the best Irish and Celtic shops on the internet or anywhere else:
ED. NOTE: Every purchase through our shop links, helps support our efforts. Many thanks in advance.

1. Article: Making St. Brigid's Crosses
2. Article: St. Brigid - the Giveaway
3. Article: Celebrating a Name Day in Old Ireland
4. Article: Brigid of the Songs
5. Article: Celebrating Candlemas in Old Ireland
6. Article: The Holy Wells of Ireland
7. Article: In Tribute to W. B. Yeats
8.The Irish Kitchen: St. Brigid's Oatcakes
9. Basic irish - St. Brigid & Spring
10. Kids Ireland - The Nightingale and the Rose
11. Music Review: Whiskers in the Jar. If you're a cat lover and you like Irish trad, this parody of famous songs is a must have!
12. January Trivia Contest. All entries must be in by midnight January 31 no matter what time zone you live in.
13. Circle of Prayer: The ninth and last Novena in this cycle began on January 25th and ends on February 2nd. It seems fitting that we start a new cycle as the Celtic calendar marks Imbolc - the beginning of spring. This is traditionally a time of hope and renewal and perhaps an inspiration to those who are so much in need of our spiritual support. There are far too many to list here - families who have lost loved ones, people looking for work, those suffering with serious illnesses. Whatever your spiritual leanings, please keep the following in your prayers and meditations: Bill Smith's friend Karl; Irish Mary; Hartson; Mickey; the Mulvihills; the Dowd's missionary friends in India; Christy Banik, Joe Colum, Patricia's daughter Heather, the family and friends of the McTiernans, the prayer circle of Sassycat, Pauline Dewberry, our daughter Catherine, Cyndi, Laureena Blankenship, Sierra Mitchell, Michelle Lester, Katie Lacinak and so many others including all military personnel serving their countries all over the world. Dear Heavenly Father, please keep them safe and bring them home soon.
14. Fancy a flutter on the SuperBowl - or anything else? We're happy to welcome PaddyPower as one of our affiliate partners: You'll see their link in the right-hand margin on our home page:
ED. NOTE: Sad to say, they are not licensed to accept bets from residents of the USA.

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 and happiness. And if you were married in February or plan to tie the knot this coming month, here is your special verse:
When February birds do mate,
You may wed, nor dread your fate.

And in honour of St. Brigid's Day, we'll leave you with this lovely old blessing:
May Brigid bless the house where you dwell,
every fireside door and every wall;
every heart that beats beneath its roof,
every hand that toils to bring it joy,
every foot that walks its portals through.
may Brigid bless the house that shelters you.

And, as they say in Ireland, mind yoursel.

Slan agus beannacht,

Bridget & Russ
Get down on your knees and thank God you're still on your feet!
Celtic Blessing - sung by the St. Coca's Choir, from Kilcock, Co. Kildare

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 - February 21
The IRISH-AMERICAN CEILI  CLUB presents SHARON O'MEARA & TOMMY GOODWIN at the American Legion Hall 211 North 21 Avenue, Holywood-FL Saturday, February 21, 7pm-11pm. Admission $12 members & $14 guests. Call 954-522-4948 for more info or Email Patrick:  irish32@aol.com
For details about the club, please click

Zürich, Switzerland - March 20 - 22
15 Years Setdancing in Zürich with Séamus O Méaloid (advanced) and
Tony Ryan (beginners) and the Fodhla Céiliband from Dublin. On Friday night we will celebrate with music, dance, food, drink and fun. It is worth coming to Zürich for this big Event. The flights are cheap if you book early and I will help with accommodation. Our dancers from Zürich
or around Zürich will offer free beds but I can also offer advice on Hotels. Interested? I can send you more information. Elizabeth Zollinger:

Zürich, Switzerland - April 4-5
Sean nós Workshop with Treasa Ní Mhiolláin of Inishmore, Aran Isl. In this workshop you can learn some of the old gaelic and some songs In English in the traditional way from the very fine sean-nós singer Treasa who is specially coming to Zürich for this workshop. For more details, please contact Elizabeth Zollinger:

Los Alamitos, California -1st Tuesday of every month
Friends of Ireland of Southern California Monthly Breakfast. Events are held on the 1st Tuesday of the month. Please call in RSVP to one of the contacts below one day in advance so we can accommodate you.
Barbara Walsh (714) 739-4195 Kathy Wisdom (714) 572-8277
Tom Kennedy (562) 425-2636 Jim O'Dea (626) 965-0307

Portland, oregon - 1st Friday of the month
Ceili of the Valley Society - First Friday of the month Céilís and on-going Tuesday night Céilí and Sean Nós dance classes. Our season runs from October through June and next season we may be moving the dances to Saturday rather than Friday nights. For more details, please click

Inishmore, Aran Isles - 2009
House to rent. Because of my “time out” I won’t spend so much time in my house this year. So there are more dates available for renting, also in the summer. Available weeks in March, May and from end of July 09 on. Rent: 280-430 Euro/week. More Information on my website: www.irish-culture.ch/
Or ph.: 0041 (0)44 2520918
Or email:


.. Or may be gnashing our teeth!, The following is a letter written in 2007 to England's Secretary of State. It might explain some of the reasons global economies are in the toilet. The names have been deleted to protect the cheeky:

Rt Hon David Miliband MP
Secretary of State,
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA),
Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR

16 May 2007

Dear Secretary of State,

My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs. I would now like to join the "not rearing pigs" business.

In your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is the best breed of pigs not to rear? I want to be sure I approach this endeavour in keeping with all government policies, as dictated by the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy.

I would prefer not to rear bacon pigs, but if this is not the type you want not rearing, I will just as gladly not rear porkers. Are there any advantages in not rearing rare breeds such as Saddlebacks or Gloucester Old Spots, or are there too many people already not rearing these?

As I see it, the hardest part of this programme will be keeping an accurate record of how many pigs I haven't reared. Are there any Government or Local Authority courses on this?

My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968. That is - until this year, when he received a cheque for not rearing any.

If I get £3,000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6,000 for not rearing 100?

I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year. As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps increasing to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4 million from your department. Incidentally, I wonder if I would be eligible to receive tradable carbon credits for all these pigs not producing harmful and polluting methane gases?

Another point: These pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2,000 tonnes of cereals. I understand that you also pay farmers for not growing crops. Will I qualify for payments for not growing cereals to not feed the pigs I don't rear?

I am also considering the "not milking cows" business, so please send any information you have on that too. Please could you also include the current Defra advice on set aside fields? Can this be done on an e-commerce basis with virtual fields (of which I seem to have several thousand hectares)?

In view of the above you will realise that I will be totally unemployed, and will therefore qualify for unemployment benefits.

I shall of course be voting for your party at the next general election.

Yours faithfully,