Welcome to the Irish Culture & Customs newsletter which is published every week or so and sent out to more than 3,600 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:
If, for any reason, you wish to unsubscribe, instructions are at the very end - but we do hope you'll stay with us. And  if you need to update your info' or change your Email address, you can do that at the end too.
Greetings and Blessings to all,

We hope this edition finds you in good health, good spirits and good company. If this is your first issue, many thanks for signing up and please feel free to share our musings and meanderings with your family and friends.

From goblins to gobblings - at least that's what it seemed like as almost overnight we went from the tricks and treats of Hallowe'en to the tryptophan induced naps of Thanksgiving.

For those of us living in the USA, it's the official beginning of what Russ likes to call the "Silly Season." It's most aptly named, especially when you observe the (fr)antics of Freaky Friday (the day after Turkey Thursday). We chose do do what we always do - watch it on the news. After a beautiful thanksgiving hosted by our daughter, the last place we would want to be is lining up to be mauled in a shopping mall! And besides, we're sticking to a tradition we began several years ago. We don't exchange gifts until Epiphany. What's good enough for the baby Jesus is good enough for us. That gives us the opportunity to enjoy a peaceful run up to Christmas day without the stress of shopping and wrapping. We can then take our time - and also take advantage of the after-Christmas sales. The one exception to all of this is if you're buying from shops in Ireland and you live in another country. If that's your plan, here are important dates to keep in mind as they're coming up fast:

Christmas Shipping Times from Ireland
International Air to the USA/Canada, Australia/New Zealand, Asia
Tuesday 5th December
International Air to UK & Europe - Monday 18th December
FedEx to all countries - Tuesday 19th December

Anyway, we hope that all of our friends in the USA enjoyed a safe and happy Thanksgiving and we also wish everyone everywhere the same for the entire holiday season.
Enough of of the blitherin'- on with the update....
Help us keep this newsletter free by visiting our good good friends at The Irish Lottery:
There was NO winner in Saturday's, which means the jackpot for Wednesday will be at least € 5 Million Euro. 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!
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

Chill out on city ice rink
Dubliners slipped, slid and skated their way into festive mood with former Miss World Rosanna Davison at the opening of the city's largest open-air ice rink. Back for its fifth year, organisers have created a miniature winter wonderland with a Christmas market and Victorian carnival. Smithfield on Ice is open until January 7th.

Just 802 hours are spent in class each year
Irish 15-year-olds get less teaching than students in most other countries. According to the 2006 OECD Education at a Glance report, the average number of hours per year of total compulsory instruction time in member states is 910 but in Ireland's case it's 802. The number of hours ranges from a low of 741 hours a year in Sweden to a massive 1,089 in Greece. Half a dozen countries have over 1,000 hours of compulsory instruction.

An estimated 100,000 Irish people will do their Christmas shopping in NYC this year.
That number may go even higher as the Euro gains strength and the dollar weakens. But perhaps there's another reason to shop in the Big Apple. Have you heard about the Potty Palace in Times Square? Provided by loo roll giant Charmin', the glitzy loo is free and features a royal blue waiting room complete with flat-screen TVs, a fireplace and plush white sofas.

Antrim: Centenarians celebrate centenary
Among those who have been helping to celebrate the centenary of Belfast City Hall were seventeen centenarians who helped plant trees, dedicated to the four seasons, at the four corners of Donegall Square last week. There are at present fifty centenarians living in the city and their names are engraved on stone at the appropriate corner, depending on their date of birth. Each of the centenarians also received a plaque commemorating the event

Carlow: Instant success for Rathloe artist
Although teacher Pat Maher was initially hesitant about showing his work at the Art Ireland show in the RDS in Dublin, his decision to participate paid dividends when he sold all thirty of his paintings within ten minutes of the show opening. More than one hundred and eighty artists exhibited at the show and Pat, who teaches at the VEC and in Borris, was also approached by art dealer Gareth O'Connor. The dealer has commissioned two paintings a month from Pat, whose works include still life, portraits and landscapes, and his paintings will appear in art galleries all over the country.

Clare: Department favours tradition over progress in Ennis
A proposal to construct a new one and a half kilometre road in Ennis faces opposition from the Department of the Environment since its route lies close to two historical areas. The link to the Ennis bypass would open up sixty acres of land for redevelopment and could possibly provide access to a new stadium, but the proposed route also passes within thirty metres of the Augustian Clare Abbey, which dates from the twelfth century. It also, according to the department, passes through the site of an important battle which took place in the thirteenth century.

Cork: Skibbereen launches Christmas Market
Abbeystrewry Hall was the venue last weekend for the launch of the province's first open air Christmas Food and Crafts Market. Modelled on the traditional markets held in Germany, some of which were visited by members of the Skibbereen Business Association and West Cork Leader last December, the market will run on nine days in December and will feature twelve wooden huts decorated with garlands and Christmas lights. In addition to food and crafts, visitors will be able to enjoy carol singing, a live crib and an enactment of the Nativity, as well as having the opportunity for a trip around the town in a horse and trap.

Galway: Eyre Square to have Mervue rival
A major development for the Mervue area of Galway city is to include a public piazza bigger than Eyre Square which will play host to the Mervue Festival, an outdoor market and will also provide a performance area. The new €450m development on the former Crown Control site in Mervue is to be carried out by Stephen Harris, Walter King and Bernard McKown, who say it could be completed within eighteen months. Apartments, retail units, a motor showroom, supermarket and garden centre are also to feature in the development of the almost thirteen-acre site

Leitrim: Campaign to save Killegar
A campaign has been initiated to renovate Killegar House near Carrigallen, the ancestral home of Lord Kilbracken, with Godley family members and local people joining forces to find funding for the restoration of the early eighteenth century house. The "Save Killegar House" Campaign was established after a well-attended meeting last month at which county librarian Sean O Suilleabhain gave a talk on the history of the house. Lady Sue Kilbracken and her son Sean, who still live in the house, would like to see it become a focal point in the community for heritage, environment, tourism and the arts.

Mayo: Two family businesses sold in Ballyhaunis
The three-storey building on the Square in Ballyhaunis, owned by the Dillon family for the past one hundred years, has been sold and John Dillon and his travel agency have moved to a new premises opposite Ballyhaunis church. The travel agency, which was opened by his grandfather, has been sold to a Galway businessman. Meanwhile the old cinema on Clare Street has also changed hands. Owned by the McGarry family since it was built in 1948, the last film was shown there four years ago. It is believed to have been bought by a local businessman for conversion into offices.

Tipperary: Walking weekend boosted by funding news
The recent Upperchurch Walking Weekend was boosted with the announcement of funding valued at more than €15,000 for the provision of another new walking trail. The new Upperchurch walk, which will feature directional signs, some twenty stiles, and map boards, will continue for eight kilometres and should take the average walker about two and a half hours to complete. The walk covers a circular route beginning and ending in Upperchurch village, and is expected to become part of the O Suiolleabhan Beara trail from West Cork to Leitrim which is at present being developed.

Tyrone: St Eugene's launches first CD
St Eugene's band, based in Omagh, is celebrating the one hundred and twenty years since its establishment by releasing an inaugural CD and book entitled "St Eugene's Band". The band's first patron is former member Philip Turbett, whose father was at one time the conductor. Philip is now a professor at Trinity College of Music in London and also manages the orchestra of the English National Opera in London. Other former members went on to play in some of Ireland's famous showbands. The CD and book are due to be launched in Omagh Library on Saturday of this week.

Waterford: Another win for Waterford photographer
Gerry O'Carroll, the Waterford-based photographer whose work appears regularly in The Munster Express, was the recipient of the "Overseas Landscapes and Travel" award at the 2006 British Professional Photography Awards held recently in Coventry. Gerry's photograph, "Portrait of Waterford", was an early morning study of the quays in Waterford which featured the emigrant ship, the Dunbrody, and won out over more than three thousand entries from leading photographers worldwide.

Tony from Blackpool, Lancashire writes: does anyone know of a poem or song dealing with the ten townlands of omeath?

Cindy asks: I am looking for a book or information on a black dog, chosen as a puppy, that "would only be good for one thing". At the end of the story, the dog saves the master's life (that being the one thing he was good at). Do you know where I can find this story?

Last year, Theresa asked about a book - and we're not sure if we ever received an answer. here's her query:

I am searching for a specific Christmas ballad/poem/story that has been read in my family on every Christmas night for several (three or more!) generations. Unfortunately, we have no record of the origin of the story and I thought I'd put out a feeler to see if anyone else had heard or it. The story is lovely and touching piece about the gift of a horse from breeder to trainer. I do not know the author and I'm not quite sure of the title, however, it is definitely Irish verse and quite lengthy. We know the title as, "What Christmas Gave To Jim".
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

30 million click throughs and still counting
"Singing Turkey" is one of the funniest cards we've ever see. And since most Irish households will be serving it on Christmas, we think it appropriate to include it here:http://www.americangreetings.com/display.pd?path=25200&prodnum=3081495

Castle Garden - an incredible link for genealogists
With many thanks to Hartson who sent us this remarkable link. Click through to get free access to an amazing database of immigrants who arrived in New York between 1830 and 1892, the year Ellis Island opened. Over 73 million Americans can trace their ancestors to this early immigration period:

Irish Christmas Carols
The history and lyrics of traditional Irish Christmas carols as well as a brief midi of the melody:

Living in Season
The School of the Seasons is open to anyone who is weary of the frantic pace of modern life, who wants to slow down, connect with the natural world, and live a life filled with heart and meaning. Each season has its own flavor, captured in the folklore of seasonal holidays, preserved in rituals and recipes, ceremonies and songs.

Attack of the Sprouts Game
Use your left and right cursor keys to defend your Christmas dinner from the attacking sprouts. This is just too funny!

Horse rescue in the Netherlands
This one will warm the heart of every animal lover:http://video.google.nl/videoplay?docid=-4584913278289860160

Be a Santa Paws
Claire Hegarty, a loyal subscriber who owns a dog-walking service in Dublin told us about the plight of an animal rescue and shelter in Limerick. Animal abuse is widespread, but it seems that Limerick has more than its fair share. They need donations or perhaps you could help them by organizing a fund drive or purchasing one of their gifts? For more details, please click

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:
"You can preach a better sermon with you life than with your lips."
Oliver Goldsmith
This one was sent in by Clara Byrne - Go raibh maith agat!
A woman, standing nude, looks in the bedroom mirror and says to her husband, "I feel horrible, I look fat and ugly. Pay me a compliment." 
The husband replies, "Your eyesight's darn near perfect."
He never heard the shot.
1. One of the 19th-century's greatest writers, Anthony Trollope, was Postmaster at Drumsna, Co. Leitrim? As well as using his experiences in the postal service in Ireland in many of his novels, Trollope also became famous for a rather non-literary achievement & he invented the post box!
2. The Carne golf course in Belmullt, Co. Mayo was built by 27 local farmers, for the most part with hand spades and rakes? The land for it was bought from farmers in the 1980's and the great Eddie Hackett was brought in to design the course. He was so taken by the natural beauty of this land that he announced: "It took nature thousands of years to create this land, we must not let the bulldozer destroy it. The farmers started the work in 1987 and finished in 1993.
3. Famed Hollywood movie director John Ford was born Sean O'Feeney in 1894, in Spiddal, County Galway.
To begin with, the answers to our last quiz:

1. Irish Oddities by Allen Foster
2. Parley with Me: A Compendium of Fairground Speech by Micheal O Haodha
3. There Might Be a Drop of Rain Yet by Brendan D. Lynch

A round of pints and applause to the following literary sleuths

Helen Dowd
I would appreciate it if you had a look at my sister's website: India For Christ. On December 4th she is taking off for India, for three months, and would appreciate your prayers, for all of you who think of her. Thank you.

ED. NOTE: Also, don't forget to check out Helen's site and vote for her. She is less than 9,000 votes away from moving into the #2 spot on the top Christian sites list:

Hartson Dowd
As always, Hartson gives us far more than the authors and we really appreciate his extra effort, including finding excellent information on the 2006 irish Book Awards:

Rita Roche - Baltimore, MD
Rita didn't give us an irish link, so we selected one for her:

Cathleen Toft
In honour of Patrick Kavanagh, Here are some bits and pieces from The Complete Poems:

And now for our next quiz. Who wrote:
1. Connemara: Listening to the Wind
2. How the irish Won the West
3. Things You Should Know: A Memoir
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.
But first off, the answer to our last mind mangler:
A: What does a turkey like to eat on Thanksgiving?
B: Nothing - it's already stuffed!

This one was far too easy as evidenced by a flock of correct solutions. However, our good friend Hartson was first in. Well done!
Also, an honorable mention goes to MKC Yeager who brilliantly suggested "anything" since it was so happy it could!!

And now for our next cranium cruncher which was sent to us earlier this year by Jim Turley, our North Bend Notre Dame fan:
What number comes next in this sequence: 1, 4, 3, 11, 15. 13 ?

A) 12
B) 16
C) 17
D) 21
E) None of the above

1. Poetry Corner: Patrick Kavanagh
2. Article: Sean-nós: The music of what happens
3. Article: Bit of the Blather
4. Article: Sleabhac: Manna from the Seashore
5. Article: Irish Superstitions for Christmas
6. Kids' Ireland: The Nightingale & The Rose
7. Irish Kitchen: Irish Christmas Cakes
8. Basic irish: Autumn in Ireland
9. Circle of prayer - Our second Novena in this cycle began on November 24 and ends on December 2. This past week we heard that Pauline, one of our subscribers has begun her chemo for leukemia - you may also know of her as the editor of the popular "Mewsletter). Please keep Pauline in your prayers or meditations as well as a dear friend, Bob Kelly who was hospitalized for bacterial pneumonia; he's back home and appears to be on the mend - but your spiritual support is still needed for him as well as Heather in England, baby Joseph still fighting a very tough battle, God love him, and so many others who seem to have way more than their fair share of troubles. We also ask that you keep in mind our service men and women in the military serving their country allover 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 to American troops:
10 Merriment is imminent and the goose has gone into hiding. In the run up to the big day, we'll be adding new products to our shopping pages. Irish gifts for everyone on your list! . Check out all of our shopping pages - especially the Christmas ones:
11.. Trivia Contest. Time is running out! All entries must be in by midnight on November 30th. Check out the choice of great prizes, including the most wanted fashion item on the planet - a Midwest Irish Radio T-shirt; they've also sweetened the pot this time around and added a popular Andy Cooney CD. Take a look and enter today!

So there you have it until next time. Until then, if you're celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion, we hope it's a joyous event. Meanwhile, may the Good Shepherd of us all enfold you in the mantle of His love and protect you and yours from all harm. 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.

Competa, Spain - Now through December 5
The Andalusian International Artists (including our own Roger Cummiskey) present Casa de la Cultura. For more details, please visit:

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

Dublin. Ireland - November 27-December 9
Coisceim Dance Theatre presents Threads - a season of dance events, including Out of harm's Way and Hanging on by a Thread. For complete details, please visit:

NYC, NY - November 29
Patrick O'Flaherty will be performing as part of the Take Note series.
A talented multi-instrumentalist, he began playing the harmonica as a young boy. Raised on the Rugged West Coast of Ireland, he is part of a select group of people whose native language is Irish. Today he is acknowledged as one of the truly fine practitioners of Irish mandolin and harmonica. For more details, please click

Lewisburg, WV - November 29-December 2
Patrick O'Flaherty's Irish Pub on Eashington Street: welcomes Guest Musician Justin Murphy who has appeared with the Poor Clares and their world-wide tours and will be conducting workshops in Irish music while he is here. Stop by for details or click here:

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

NYC, NY - December 2
COYOTE RUN are performing a Christmas Show Fundraiser for the New York Irish Center on December 2nd at 7:00 PM and December 3rd at 2:00 PM. For more details, please visit:

Thomas More College, Crestview Hill KY -December 8 & 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

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 detective was testing 3 blondes who were in training to join the force. To examine their skills in recognizing a suspect, he shows the first blonde a picture for 5 seconds and then hides it. 
"This is your suspect, how would you recognize him?" 

The first blonde answers, "That's easy, we'll catch him quickly because  he only has one eye!" 

The detective says, "Well... uh... that's because the picture shows his profile." 

Slightly flustered by this response, he flashes the picture for 5 seconds at the second blonde and asks her, "This is your suspect, how would you recognize him?"

The second blonde giggles, flips her hair and says, "Ha! He'd be too easy to catch because he only has one ear!" 
The detective angrily responds, "What's the matter with you two?Of course only one eye and one ear are showing because it's a picture of his profile!

Extremely frustrated at this point, he shows the picture to the third blonde and in a very testy voice asks, "This is your suspect, how would you recognize him? He quickly adds, "Think hard before you answer" 

The blonde looks at the picture intently for a moment and says, "The suspect wears contact lenses."

The detective is taken aback because he really doesn't know himself if the suspect wears contacts or not. "Well, that's an  interesting answer. Wait here for a minute while I check his file and I'll get back to you on that." He leaves the room and goes to his office, checks the suspect's file in his computer, and comes back with a beaming smile on his face. "Brilliant!! I can't believe it. It's TRUE! The suspect does in fact wear contact lenses. Good work! How were you able to make such an astute observation?"

That's easy," the blonde replies. "He can't wear glasses because he only has one eye and one ear."