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

Shop til you drop. it's December 8th! In America they have Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving. In Ireland, it's traditional to bring home the Christmas on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Catholic kids have the day off from school, but whatever the spiritual leanings, many families will make a day of visiting Dublin or other large Irish city to take in the sights, buy gifts, have pictures taken with "Santy" and marvel at all the lights when it gets dark.

Speaking of festive illuminations, the lunacy of lights took place at the Haggerty household this past Tuesday in time to honour St. Nicholas on his feast day, December 6th. Russ did what he has done for the last couple of decades or more and placed a candle in every window - 45 of 'em - basement not included! If you've ever seen A Christmas Story with Darren McGavin and his struggles with various cords, plugs and other related electrical gizmos, you'll recognizethe following: "In the heat of battle, Russ wove a tapestry of profanity which as far as we know is still hanging in the air over the Ohio River. " All the same, it does look lovely.

Next on the agenda for our Silly Season celebrations is the Black Swap & Pub Lunch this Sunday. The party is based on the old Irish custom of wrapping and exchanging something you don't want for something not wanted by someone else. Every year, the "gifts" get even more outrageous and unmentionable - think along the lines of a Stretch Armstrong Doll dressed in drag. It's always a load of fun and puts everyone in a merry mood; if they weren't ready to celebrate before, they surely will be as they exit the door well nourished and still laughing over this year's array of potty as in barmy pressies.

Enough of of the blather- on with the update....
You can help keep our newsletter coming for free by visiting our good friends at the Celtic Attic:

Give your home a Celtic twist for Christmas! Ornaments, Nativity sets, figurines, stockings, wreaths and too many other wonderful treats ton many to list here. Here's the best part: for the month of December, you'll get free shipping on any order over $100.00. Take a look at literally pages and pages of Celtic-themed seasonal gifts for family, friends, yourself, your decor and more. Please click:
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

Down: Number one for Pier 36
Pier 36, a family owned pub in Donaghadee, has been named as the overall winner of a Pub of the Year competition which recognises excellence of the pub trade. in Northern Ireland.

Fermanagh: Back to the Christmas basics at Castle Archdale
The Environment and Heritage Service has organised a Green Christmas event at Castle Archdale this Sunday as an antidote to all the frenzy of shopping and preparations. Entertainment will be provided by a group of mummers, a silver band and a local choir, the latter singing under a Christmas tree which has been decorated with natural products. Even the presents being made in Santa's workshop are natural, bird feeders, bat boxes and net boxes, and people will have a chance to make some of the items themselves. A cookery demonstration of international Christmas fare and storytelling around a log fire will precede an evening of music and dancing.

Kerry: No safety rope for Skellig
A proposal by the county council for a safety rope to be installed on Skellig Michael has been vetoed by Tom Parlon, Minister for Public Works, on the grounds that it would diminish the site's heritage status and would also offer a false sense of security to visitors. The seventh century monastic site, situated some twelve kilometers from the Kerry coast, was designated a UNESCO world heritage site ten years ago and it is Mr Parlon's belief that the provision of a rope railing would impinge on the authenticity for which the site was granted its heritage status.

Kilkenny: Yet another record attempt
The people of Ireland do seem to have a particular knack of getting themselves into the Guinness Book of Records and another attempt is to be made at Nowlan Park on December 17. KCLR 06FM, in conjunction with the Kilkenny People, is hoping to persuade people to attend a massive carol singing event on that day to break a record for the largest ever carol service; the present record is held in Medford, Massachusetts where 3,837 people gathered two years ago. Choirs, bands and the general populace are asked to gather in Nowlan Park on the day, and representatives from the Guinness Book of Records will be on hand to verify the record attempt, which will also raise money for local charities.

Limerick: From a candle in the window to 14,000 lights
John Lyons, who lives at Cragaune in Raheen, Limerick with his wife Carmel and their three children, maintains that he is continuing the tradition of his family home in Kerry where a candle was placed in the window each Christmas. But John has gone more than one better with the use of over fourteen thousand Christmas lights which decorate his home and which are switched on each evening at five o'clock. For the past six years John has been gradually increasing the number of decorations at the house, and each year they have been switched on in the last week in November. It has taken ten working days to assemble the display, which will remain in place until January 2.

Mayo: Clarke archive reveals more gems
The donation of the collection belonging to the late Jackie Clarke to the library in Ballina has now, according to curator Sinead McCoole, placed the library on a par with Marsh's Library in Dublin or the Linenhall in Belfast. This follows the discovery among the papers of one of the oldest known newspapers in these islands, a copy of the Oxford Gazette dating from 1665. The paper was discovered among a number of newspapers stored in a shed, according to Jackie's son Peter Clarke, who said the new cache had come as a total surprise to members of the family.

Sligo: Book features three Sligo emigrants
A book produced by the Aisling Irish Center in New York on emigrants from Ireland includes features on three Sligo people. "When Memory Brings Us Back Again" carries the story of Bill Burke from Tubbercurry who went to the US in 1960 and eventually became president of the Manhattan branch of the Bank of Ireland; he also led the 226th St Patrick's Day Parade as Grand Marshall. The story of Thomas McCarrick of Carnaleck is also told. He left Ireland in 1948 and spent a lifetime driving buses in the US. The third Sligo person featured among the thirty-five stories is Mary Judge from Geevagh, who arrived in the US almost fifty years ago.

Resource: The irish Emigrant:

Washington DC: Congratulations to our own Jim Crotty, loyal subscriber and sponsor of our Trivia contest who has won a National Wildlife Magazine competition and who will also have his work exhibited in the Smithsonian. Read all the details here:

Marge Rafferty writes:
My husband and I are both of Irish descent. Our grandmothers are now deceased and they had pictures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in their kitchens and in every Irish B&B we stayed in, on our visits we found this to be the norm. I have purchased pictures of the Sacred Heart for each of our children's families and would love to attached the story or custom attached. This is to be a Christmas gift, I hope you can help or tell me where I can find the info.

Patrick Hennessy writes: Do you happen to know where I might purchase a straight razor made in Ireland.

And David Wood is looking for Donegal tweed trousers.

ED. NOTE: You'd think these would be easy items to find - but we've had no luck so far. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
SPONSOR: Help us keep your  newsletter free when you visit our our good friends at Lollysmith:
Here's a delightful gift idea if you like to take walks with your children or grandchildren - give them their very own walking stick! This idea came from a customer who said her six-year old grandson was always telling her he needed one. Imagine your child or grandchild sporting their very own tweed caps - and now their own walking sticks as well! These are authentic traditionally handcrafted walking sticks and are faithful in every way to the full sized; all of the same hardwoods were used to produce them. To take a look at Wee Folk Walking Sticks for children and see our Hanna caps as well, please click: http://www.lollysmith.com/weefowast.html

Celtic Christmas Music
AccuHolidays is the world's leading multichannel, all-Christmas-music radio station, featuring over two dozen channels of traditional and contemporary holiday tunes - rock, pop, jazz, country, R&B, classical, and more - including a channel devoted to just Celtic offerings:

Christmas Tea Delight
In the midst of all the mayhem and madness, take a few minutes to sit back, relax and enjoy this sweet little seasonal poem:

Reindeer Round-Up Game
Seasonal fun for kids of all ages: The reindeer have gotten out of their stalls and they're wrecking Santa's workshop. Help tranquilize them before time runs out!

Toy Safety
For those of us buying toys for the kiddies, Big Mama sent us this important link which has important info' on items that could be dangerous.

Gifts from Amazon
If you enjoy shopping on line, especially through amazon, you'd be helping us out if you click one of through the following links and then go wherever you want on the amazon site - we still get a small commission for any purchases! Just copy and paste the link into your browser if it isn't hot:




Unusual source for genealogists
Frank sent us this link to an 1880 census listing for a convent boys' boarding school in St. Louis. When the page comes up, you'll see that all of the nuns are Irish and the majority of the children born of irish parents. At the end, they also list three women and a man from ireland who are servants. It's fascinating to look through all the names and could be of great value if you're tracing relatives who might gave settled in this region. The link is long, but it does work.

From Vivian and Jack of the Irish Page:
This is Advent and Christmas is around the corner. Advent celebrates the Coming of  the Redeemer. The article this week is called The Fall of Man.  It's the story of the Original sin which made necessary the coming of Christ on Christmas When you get to the article, please rest your mouse arrow on the Irish text.  While doing this you should see the translation and phonetics pop up for each word. We need to hear from each and every person in an email. Just press REPLY and then in the subject line write I SAW IT  or I DIDN'T.  This will help me and the others doing the phonetics work.

Is it Fake or Foto?
We received this link from several people. Test your powers of observation by trying to distinguish the real photo from a computer generated image. Fair warning - it's tough!

Play Santa Paws!
Animal neglect is widespread, and Ireland is sadly no different from other countries. The following shelters are in desperate need of help:
Dublin: http://www.dogsaid.ie Limerick http://www.limerickanimalwelfare.com/law/fundraising.htm

Click for cans!
Vote for your favourite American football team between now and December 15 and the team with the most votes wins a donation from Campbell's Soup for your local food bank. You can vote once a day:

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:
There is a remarkable breakdown of taste and intelligence at Christmastime. Mature, responsible grown men wear neckties made of holly leaves and drink alcoholic beverages with raw egg yolks in them.
P. J. O'Rourke
Did you notice that we were "witless" last time we wrote? Too much taste-testing the punch, perhaps! Herewith two bits o' the wit to make up for the omission and also in view of the terrible storms lashing the land of late:

The irish climate is wonderful but the weather ruins it.

In Ireland when the weather forecast is bad, it's invariably correct; when it's good, it's invariably wrong.
Resource: Irish Wit compiled by Des MacHale, associate professor of mathematics at University College in Cork.

A mother and her son Liam are in the shopping centre and they pass by a toy store. Liam stops and points excitedly at a big red sports car in the window and says, "That's it Mum, that's what I want for Christmas!" His mother responds, "Well. Jimmy, why don't' you ask Santa Claus. Liam thinks for a minute and then says, Nah, I'll ask me granny, she's faster.

NOTE: we heard this one on Midwest irish Radio which starts playing Christmas music today. Click on the link below and send in a request. They have listeners all over the world and it's a great way to send a greeting to loved ones near and far.

Before we go on, we have a correction to one of our last entries: Jack Donahue alerted us to the fact that John Ford was born in Maine - not Ireland. Many thanks Jack - and our apologies to all for the mistake; our source was confused between the father and the son.

1. Did you know folk singer Burl Ives was of Scots-Irish descent and a big drinking buddy of Limerick native Richard Harris? In fact, he owned a house in the area and was a long-time member of the Limerick Yacht Club where he often entertained the crowd with hit tunes which at this time of year would no doubt include classics like Holly Jolly Christmas.

2. Mince pies weren't always round? At one time, they were an oblong cradle shape with a place for the Christ Child to be placed on top. The baby was removed by the children and the manger (pie) was eaten in celebration. These pies were not very large, and it was thought lucky to eat one mince pie on each of the twelve days of Christmas ending with Epiphany, the 6th of January It was was also important to add three spices - cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg - for the three gifts given to the Christ child by the Magi.

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 by small animals and insects.
To begin with, the answers to our last quiz:

1. Connemara: Listening to the Wind by Tim Robinson
2. How the Irish Won the West by Myles Dungan
3. Things You Should Know: A Memoir by ohn MacKenna

Please clap your feet for our Irish bibliophiles:

Déirdre McKiernan Hetzler
"Glorious Ireland"
May 24 - June 7, 2007 watch forthis year's itinerary: http://www.tours2ireland.com

Helen Dowd
Please visit my site at
ED. NOTE: And, if you enjoy your visit, which we are certain you will, please vote for Helen's site She is less than 10,000 votes away from being #2 on the Best Christian sites list. Go raibh maith agat!

Ludwig Hoffman
Of course, you are my favorite Irish website, but my daughter visits Cillian Murphy's website frequently
ED. NOTE: Many thanks for the nice comments that accompanied your entry - makes all the hard work worth the effort.

Cathie Toft
As its nearly Christmas, might I suggest readers take a look at your website about Paddy Kavanagh "A Christmas Childhood". Its a lovely poem especially at this time of year:
ED. NOTE: Thanks, Cathie. Cathie has also said that in the new year, she will fill us in on her recent visit to the annual Kavanagh weekend.

And now for our next quiz. Who wrote:
1. An Irish Night Before Christmas
2. Irish Christmas Stories
3. A Simply Delicious irish Christmas
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.

Help us keep this newsletter free by visiting our good good friends at The Irish Lottery:
There was ONE winner of Wednesday's drawing and the jackpot was a whopping € 6,548,759.00. Was it you? 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. 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!
Before we get on to our next brain bruiser, here's the answer to our last cranium cruncher:
Q: What number comes next in this sequence: 1, 4, 3, 11, 15. 13 ?
A: 17
Explanation: The question relates to the smallest number with 3 letters, 4 letters, etc.

Three letters = one
Four letters = four
Five letters = three
Six letters = eleven
Seven letters = fifteen
Eight letters = thirteen
Nine letters = seventeen
Until a day or so ago, we had not received a correct answer, but finally, Bill Ryan in California sent in the solution we were looking for. Many thanks once again to Jim Turley for providing a really good challenge.
And now for our bext one:
Three-fourths of a cross and a circle complete,
Two semi-circles with a pependicular meet.
Then add a triangle that stands on 2 feet,
Two semi-cicles and a circle complete.
What am I?
Clue: Think politically incorrect.

1. Article: An Advent Memory
2. Article: A Cold Day in Hell
3. Article: Wairing for St. Nicholas
4. Article: Yes Kelsey & Maddie O'Flaherty 0 There is a Santa Clause
5. Article: Ding Dong Merrily on High
http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/ACalend/XmasDingDong.html6. Musci Review: The Bells of Dublin/Chieftains
7. Poetry Corner - Patrick Kavanagh
8. Article: Irish Superstitions for the Christmas season
http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/ACustom/XmasSprtitions.html9. 9. Kids' Ireland: The Nightingale & The Rose
10. Irish Kitchen: Homeland Irish Christmas Cake
11. Basic Irish: Advent & Christmas
12. Circle of prayer - Our third Novena in this cycle began on December 3rd and continues through December 11. This past week we heard that Emma Josephine, the granddaughter of long-time loyal subscriber Jim Turley is critically ill and in the ICU. Please keep her and the Monger family in your prayers and mediations. Also, our dear Hartson Dowd fell and hurt his right arm. This is on top of an infection in his right knee which has troubled him for a very long time. As you can imagine, he and his wife Helen definitely need our spiritual support. Also, Pauline and Heather in Egland who are going through chemo, and baby Joseph God love him who is still fighting an uphill battle. We also ask that you keep in mind our service men and women in the military serving their country all over the world. 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. The new quiz for December is posted. All entries must be in by midnight on December 31st, no matter which time zone you are in.
November's Winner: Congrats to Lou Harris in Florida!
12. Christmas Shopping. We feature many great gift ideas on our Shopping pages - especially the Christmas one which even has Taytos on offer! Take a look:

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

Meanwhile, we leave you with this toast: To you and yours all the best and may your Christmas season be well blest: 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!
We are thankful for whatever you can send; whether it's a penny, a dime or a dollar, every penny does make a difference. Our snail mail address is
Bridget & Russ Haggerty
5670 Meryton Place,
Cincinnati OH 45224.
Or you can send a donation via PayPal. The URL is
and our email address is:
Many thanks in advance for your kindness.
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.

USA - Grainne Hambly Tour Now through December 31st
Her dad Michael is a lovely man who runs the Out of Mayo web site which many of you probably know about. His daughter Grainne is an incredibly accomplished traditional harpist. She is now touring the USA and fingers crossed, she may be playing at a venue near you! For tour details, please click

Portland, Maine - December 1-December 10
Aire - the American Irish Repertory Ensemble presents the world premiere of "A Christmas in Kerry" based on the Christmas Stories and Letters of a Country Postman by John B. Keane. For more details, please click

Thomas More College, Crestview Hill KY -December 9
THE IRISH -.and How They Got That Way. Written by Pulitzer Prize winning author Frank McCourt and performed by the Irish American Theater Company, this is a moving, uplifting, eye-opening musical celebration of all things Irish.
Tickets and information: 513-225-6915 IrishAmericanTheaterCo@fuse.net

Albany, New York - December 12
The Irish American Heritage Museum will host a benefit concert, "Irish Christmas in America" at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12, at The Egg, Empire State Plaza, Albany.
For more details, please click

Lewisburg, West Virginia-December 16 & 17
Official Grand Opening of Patrick O'Flaherty's Irish Pub on Washington Street. Saturday: Noon & 1:00 AM Ribbon Cutting with the Mayor Free Cups and Beads Bagpipes Patrick O'Flaherty.
Sunday: 2:00 & 5:00 PM: John Douglas Hall, 18th century gentleman balladeer and humorist will provide music and commentary. $15.00 includes entertainment, bangers & mash, drink and all the important news from 1776. Seating is limited…get your tickets now!!!
5:00 - 8:00 PM: Introduction to an Irish Sesiun!Come and share your favorite song, tune, joke, or poem! For more details, please click

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

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

Dublin, Ireland - January 25-January 28
Temple Bar Trad, Music & Culture Festival. A lively four day celebration of traditional Irish music and culture,featuring live performances from some of Ireland's top musicians, including the world renowned bands Dervish and Lúnasa. Other festival events include workshops, photo exhibitions, Irish dance, story-telling, street theatre,children's events and a folk/trad music session trail throughout many of the bars and pubs in the area. For more details, please click

The Deadbeat Navvie

A lazy bum on the dole goes to the office assistance office for his monthly check. He marches straight up to the counter and says, "You know, I  just HATE coming in here drawing the dole month after month. I'd really much rather have a job."

The man behind the counter says, "Your timing is brilliant. We just got an opening from a very wealthy old man who wants a  chauffeur / bodyguard for his daughter. You'll have to drive around in his Limousine, but he'll supply all of your clothes. Because of the long hours, meals will be provided. In addition, you'll be expected to Escort her on her overseas holiday trips. You'll also have a two-bedroom apartment above the garage. The starting salary is 200,000 year.

The bum looks astonished and says, "You must be joking!

The man behind the counter replies, "Yeah, well, you started it"