Welcome to the Irish Culture & Customs newsletter which is published every week and sent out to nearly 2200 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: http://www.yourmailinglistprovider.com/pubarchive.php?Herself
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Greetings and blessings to all,

As always, it's lovely to be back, even though we're later than we'd hoped to be. The plan was to get the newsletter out on Tuesday, but Mother Nature intervened. We're now in the midst of a snow emergency - possibly an historic snowstorm of epic proportions for this area. As soon as we found out that the storm was coming, we headed for the stores and last minute Christmas shopping. As is always the case in our city, whenever there's a hint of bad weather, the local supermarket was mobbed with panic-stricken shoppers filling their carts with the usual must have items - beer, bread, milk and toilet paper!

Seriously, the snow has been coming down at a rate of one to two inches an hour and is supposed to continue into tomorrow. It's a huge storm and the weather people are saying it could easily surpass the previous record of 13" set back in 1978. We know that for many readers, that may not sound like much, especially those of you who live in the snow-belts; but here in the Ohio Valley, we're just not used to it. The best news is that we now have what we need for Christmas dinner and the stockings. Our big gift exchange doesn't happen until Epiphany; we began doing that several years ago and it has some great advantages. We can enjoy a relatively stress-free run up to Christmas Day; the day itself is like Thanksgiving with lots of food and fun with family and friends, and then, after Christmas, we can shop for bargains at the sales!

In any event, we hope that wherever you are, this edition finds you on the pig's back and ready for the big celebration. We know a lot of people are still out and about desperately looking for the most wanted gifts - things like i-pods and Bratz dolls which are incredibly scarce. Russ and I were talking about our most memorable gifts and life was so much simpler when we were kids. For Russ it was the box of carbon paper he got from his grandmother Haggerty, an Audubon bird-whistle and an official Boy Scout compass. For Bridget, it was the Cinderella watch that came in a "glass" slipper. And, when she was quite a bit older it was her first pair of "high" heels (1/4"!) Oh well, those were the days when even the word electronic hadn't been invented.

Enough about us...
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In news from Ireland:

Carlow: Return of the Wrens
The old tradition of the Wren Boys going out on St Stephen's Day is to be revived this year by Glór na Gael, and the Carlow Wren/Dredilín Cheatharlach who will gather at the fountain in Plas na Saoirse on Sunday afternoon, from where they will visit a number of housing estates.

Cavan: Christmas swim tradition continues
For the thirty-seventh year in succession the members of the Cavan Icebreakers will be undertaking their Christmas Morning swim, this year in aid of the Spina Bifida/Hydrocephalus Cavan/Monaghan branch.

Dublin Cafe Culture Still Buzzing In city
Last week's closure of Bewley's two remaining cafes in Dublin appears to be no more than a blip in a thriving 250m euro industry. While Bewley's managed to rack up losses of 4m euro in recent years, Cafe Java, a chain established by Kieran Mulligan in 1992, is planning to double its number of outlets in the capital to eight within two years as part of a 1m euro expansion programme.

Dublin: Mass to remember pioneering archbishop
Papal Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto and US ambassador in Ireland James Kenny attended a Mass in Terenure College's Chapel this past Sunday to remember the 25th Anniversary of the death of Archbishop Fulton Sheen. A campaign is now being spearheaded in Ireland and the US to persuade the Vatican to declare the archbishop a saint.

Kildare: We provide the tree - you provide the decorations
The county's tallest tree has been erected in front of the Town Hall in Newbridge and it will be decorated in a novel way which will depend on the generosity of local residents. The Enable Ireland Appeal was launched last week by Councillor Seamie Finn, mayor of Newbridge, and for every donation made to the charity, a gold ribbon will be added to the tree, which came from Coillte in Donadea.

Laois: Following King Wenceslas
A group of people will be following in the steps of King Wenceslas when they set out on the twelfth annual Mountain Walk "on the feast of Stephen". The walkers will set off from the Community Centre in Clonaslee and will walk for three to four hours, taking in the valley of Glendineoregan and crossing the River Gorragh by the timber footbridge recently installed by Coillte; a shorter walk will take the Brittas Lake route.

Monaghan: Castle setting for book launch
It was fitting that Elizabeth Kehoe's book, "Fortune's Daughters" had its official launch at Castle Leslie in Glaslough, as the book features the three Jerome sisters, two of whom came from America and made advantageous marriages. Leonie Jerome married into the Leslie family, she was the grandmother of Sir Jack Leslie who was host for the occasion. Another Jerome sister, Jenny, married Randolph Churchill and became the mother of Sir Winston Churchill while the third, Clara, married American Moreton Frewin.

Roscommon: On the water, not in it
While many groups around the country take a Christmas Day plunge, the people of North Roscommon go one better and hold an annual Christmas Day Ski on Kilglass Lake. In the past nine years the event, organised by the Kilglass-Scramogue branch, has raised more than €130,000 for the Roscommon Association of the Mentally Handicapped.

Waterford: From railway to walkway
The old Dungarvan to Waterford rail line is to become a thirty-mile long walkway which will also cater for cyclists, ponies and horses, and work is expected to begin early next year. Although the purchase of some of the adjacent land from Ianrod Éireann has not yet been finalised, the sale has been agreed and the four-year project will soon be underway.

Wexford: Beekeepers' farewell
Four associations of beekeepers, from Gorey, New Ross, South Wexford and County Wexford, met together in the Riverside Park Hotel in Enniscorthy last week to say goodbye and pay tribute to the retiring Teagasc official Patsy Bennett. Patsy has worked for Teagasc for forty years and ran the Teagasc apiary, and his support was especially appreciated by the beekeepers, who are concerned that there has been no one appointed to take his place. However they are also looking forward to next year in Dublin when Apimondia 2005, a world apicultural event, takes place in the RDS.

Links of the week:
Jack of The irish Page has put together Christmas carols in irish - as Jack says, the most of any web site on the internet. Go raibh maith agat, Jack! There are 10 different Christmas Carols in Irish and English each with music. Phonetics have been added to about half of the carols. You rest your mouse cursor on the shamrock and the phonetics for the stanza pop up. Click here for Carúil na Nollag - Irish Christmas Carols:

For our military families and their heroes (ours,too). This link was sent in by Leo and is one of the most moving slide shows we have ever watched. The music is a hymn called Homeward Bound from an album called The Road Home. It is just beautiful:

In last week's edition, we had a news item about an island in the Shannon estuary being up for sale. George Ryan was very curious and found all the details which he shared with us. Go raibh maith agat, George!

For those of you who haven't seen this greeting which we published last year, we're happy to report it's still available. Enjoy!

AG sent us a challenging memory puzzle related to Christmas symbols. See how well you do (According to the test results, Bridget's memory is like Swiss cheese - full of holes!Thanks Audrey!

Penny R sent us a link to the Christmas pages on the irish Times web site. We had mistakenly thought that one had to pay for this content. We were wrong. Thanks Penny!

If you have them, turn on your speakers to hear a lovely instrumental version of The First Noel
And get your toes tapping with this download of Christmas in Killarney. This was sent to us by Sue H. Thanks, Sue!

A photographer friend, Laura Jean Zito is exhibiting photographs of Ireland here: http://www.imaginestation.net/zito/frame.html
She's in Ireland at the moment to take more of her great photos and also to attend an exhibit of local artists at the Roscommon Artist's Centre.

Last but certainly not least - our on-going 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!

It only takes a second to feed hungry people, too:

Enough of the blither and blather - on with the update....

Quips, quotes, proverbs & toasts
A bit of the wit
Joke of The Week
Did You Know
Writer's Quiz
New This Week
The Week Ahead
Getting together with the relatives for Christmas dinner? Here's a toast that will endear you and put you in their good graces.
Irish families are...
one of God's greatest treasures;
One of life's nicest pleasures.
A refuge in good times and bad...
A place of peace that you're happy to have.
Its members are always there,
With unconditional love to share.
So I raise a glass to this clan;
Long life, great love and good health
To each child, woman and man. Sláinte!
Adapted from an Irish-American blessing in Irish Wedding Traditions by Shannon McMahon Lichte
How to handle all of those holiday invitations from people you really don't like or don't even know that well? Take a leaf out of GBS's book:
He once received an invitation from a celebrity hound:
Lady Tillingham-Swarthmore will be at home Thursday between four and six. GBS returned the card. Underneath her message, he had scrawled: Mr. George Bernard Shaw likewise.
As always, the true stories are the funniest:
Searching through row upon row of Christmas trees, a husband and wife finally found one they liked. Then the wife noticed the one being held by a woman nearby - "the" perfect tree. The wife watched as the woman carried the tree around the lot and couldn't believe her eyes when she set it aside. The wife quickly ditched the one she and her husband had picked out and ran over to grab the coveted tree. "Aren't we lucky?" she said to the husband. "I do feel a little guilty, though, for taking it before she could change her mind." "Don't worry," he replied. "She just ran over and snatched ours."
Please help us keep this newsletter free - visit our good friend, Molly's Irish Imports:
Bring joy and delight tat Christmas or any time of year with a gift from your Irish heart. Find truly unique and beautiful gifts with meaning at Molly's Irish Imports. "Lovely things from Celtic lands", including finely crafted jewelry, luxurious woolen capes and scarves, tweed caps, and a wide variety of gift items, from Irish dancer dolls and shamrock rosaries to tasty Irish treats. All items are personally selected for their artistry and authentic Celtic origin and each is guaranteed to bring delight or your money back; also, your credit card purchases are absolutely secure. Shop with confidence and pleasure at Molly's Irish Imports Please click http://www.irishmollys.com
1. The Wexford Carol dates back to the 12th century?
2 "Once in Royal David's City" was written by Irish poet Cecil Frances Humphreys Alexander? She also wrote "All things Bright and Beautiful".
3. Christmas in Killarney was written by the Tin-Pan Alley song-writing trio John Redmond, James Cavanaugh and Frank Weldon?
To begin with, the answers to our last quiz:
1. This Year It Will Be Different by Maeve Binchy
2. The Fires of Yule by Montague Whitsel
3. A Dublin Carol by Conor McPherson
A special round of pints and applause for this week' Irish bibliophiles who took time out of what is one of the year's busiest weeks to send in the answers:

Mary Sigrist
An Irish Fairy Tale for All Ages: Kick back and visit The Kingdom of the Bald Ferns in Old Ireland. Meet a group of young Irish cousins and their flying dragon, Flash. Trips to a fairy village called Oolagilbie; a dragon wedding; and a near escape from the trolls and ogres are just a few of the adventures of Flash and his friends.

Déirdre McKiernan Hetzler
"Glorious Ireland in May" May 25 - June 8, 2005
view this year's itinerary:
http://www.irishbook.com/tours.htm Deirde

Patricia Edwards
know it's not Halloween anymore, but I found this site quite interesting; it's called Ghosts & Other Haunts and is found at:
Want to see your name on next week's list? Try finding the following - we assure you, it's really easy! Who wrote:
1. Irish Christmas Book
2. Christmas Wonder: From Ireland for Children
3. When Patrick got back: An Irish pantomime

HINT: All three titles can be found here;
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 - preferably Irish. 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: bhaggerty@irishcultureandcustoms.com ==================================================================
Help us keep this newsletter free by visiting our good friends at The Irish Lottery. There Are 42 Shades of Green - All you need are 6 to hit the Irish Millions!
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, 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! You can't win it if you're not in it. Please click here for full details:
To begin with, the answer to last week's merry mind mangler:
Q. Why is Christmas much like a day at the office?
A. You do all the work and the old fat man in the suit gets all the credit. Congrats to Brian who was the only reader who sent in the correct answer. Well done! And now for this week's Christmas cranium cramper:
How do you make "one" disappear?
1. Article: An Irish Christmas - Food for the Feast
2. Article: An Irish Christmas Then and Now
3. Article: Burying the Baby Jesus
4. Article: Rowing to Christmas Mass
5. Article: An Irish Christmas - Ding Dong Merrily on High
6. Article: Beannachtaí an tSéasúir - Season's Greetings
7. Music Review: The Bells of Dublin - The Chieftains
8. Article: An Advent Memory
9. Basic Irish: Advent & Christmas
10. Kids' Ireland - Midnight Visitors
11. On-going - Circle of Prayer: Our fourth Novena in this cycle ends December 19 and our fifth Novena continues through December 28. Please join us in prayer or meditation for Mollie's dad who is very ill, and for the family of Margaret M (Aideen's mother) who just passed away RIP. Also, please pray for Mollie's son Casey, Mary from NY, Pauline recovering from surgery, Michael Davitt in Houston, Hartson & Helen, Graine, Barbara G's mom who just had a stroke, Cheryl, little Sebastian, Matt Maupin who is still held hostage in Iraq, the sons of personal friends Paul and Ashley, who are serving in Iraq, and all military personnel stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and all over the world. We have experienced first-hand the power of prayer and know that God listens and will answer.
12. Time's running out for the December Trivia Contest. All entries must be in by midnight, December 31st, whichever time-zone you're in.

THE WEEK THAT IS AND WILL BE - GOD WILLING In the run up to Christmas, we'll be re-publishing two of Bridget's Christmas essays - An Irish Christmas, The Day Before and Memories of Christmas Eve Past. We'll also feature another essay from No Shoes in Summer: White-Washed Walls and An East Cork Christmas. If you need a recipe for left-over ham and turkey, how about St. Stephen's Day Stew? We'll try to get that posted before Christmas Day! As always, we have a new blessing (posted on Sunday), a new quote posted on Wednesday and we'll update the news and history pages daily.
For news, please click:
And we keep a week's worth of history here:

So there's the long and the short of it for another week. Celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other special event between now and next time? We hope it's a joyous occasion for you and your loved ones! In the meantime, here's a link to a lovely Christmas message sent to us by Sherry K. Thanks, Sherry.

We leave you with Nollaig Shona to you and yours and this lovely Irish blessing:

M ay God grant you lightness in your step, a smile on every face you meet;
Loved ones gathered at your hearth, and at your door, good folk to greet;
A holy hymn upon your lips, a window candle burning bright,
And may the Good Lord bless your heart and come to dwell there Christmas night.

And they say in Ireland, mind yourself!

Nollaig Shona and Slan agus beannacht!

Bridget & Russ
Get down on your knees and thank God you're still on your feet
PS: A special hello to all the new subscribers. If you enjoy our musings and meanderings, please feel free to share them with family and friends.
Are you a loyal reader of our newsletter? Your voluntary donation will help us keep sending it around the world each week. Please send a dollar or more to Russ and Bridget, 5670 Meryton Place, Cincinnati, OH, 45224. Donations can also be made via PayPal at
Our email address there is bhaggerty@irishcultureandcustoms.com
FREE shamrock seeds for any donation over $25! Many thanks in advance for your kindness.
Events & Classifieds
To avoid duplication, we list only those events not already mentioned in the Irish Heritage Newsletter or on the Wild Geese website. In fact, the Irish Heritage email group and the Wild Geese have joined forces to bring you a massive listing of Irish events all over the world! To subscribe to the list, send your e-mail address to group moderator George Trainor, at george@thewildgeese.com. The group's postings go out every other Friday and Saturday, in five separate e-mails, covering Irish history, myths and legends, news, jokes, Irish (Gaeilge) lessons, recipes, and more. Organizations, please alert us about your upcoming events, e-mail events@thewildgeese.com, fax: 208-978-9998. Deadline: The third Wednesday of the month for the following month's edition.

If you're in Ireland, or lucky enough to be visiting, you can see what's on offer here:

Houston, TX, Saturday, December 25
IRISH AIRES is going to host a Christmas Party for listeners
& friends. We figured that since we had to be at the studio that evening to do our show, why didn't YOU need to be there too! From 6:00PM until 8:00PM, Pete, myself, Bertha, Peg & other volunteers (too numerous to mention) will host a party at KPFT-FM - (419 Lovett Blvd, Houston, Texas 77006 ˆ see a map at:
The number at the station is 713-526-5738. My cell number is 713- 828-8743. Saint Arnolds Brewing Company (http://www.saintarnold.com/) has volunteered some liquid refreshments. There will big hams there (other than Pete & I). AND, if you can, bring a covered dish (preferable with something to eat in it). Come by and lift some food & drink in toast to KPFT. No NEED to, but if you want to RSVP, send me back an email at rdooling@swbell.net

Philadelphia, PA - January 9th
2nd Annual A.O.H./L.O.H. Division 51 Communion Breakfast
Holy Name of Jesus Chirch. For tickets or more information, please contact Jay & Cheryl McCarrie at 215-425-5810 or Phil and Marian Bowdren at 215-426-2772

Hollywood, Florida - January 15
The Irish-American Club presents a New Year's Celebration:
For full details, visit us online @

Know of a church in need of a vestments cabinet? Russ has totally restored one he rescued from a Cincinnati church that was being demolished. We've used it over the years to store posters other art work and flat files. (Ad agencies and architectural firms could also put it to similar use). If you're interested in learning more about it and seeing a photo, please send us an email - bhaggerty@irishcultureandcustoms.com


It was the beginning of December. The trip had gone reasonably well, and he was ready to go back. The airport on the other hand had turned a tacky red and green, and loudspeakers blared annoying elevator renditions of cherished Christmas carols. Being someone who took Christmas very seriously, and being slightly tired, he was not in a particularly good mood. Going to check in his luggage (which, for some reason, had become one suitcase with entirely new clothes), he saw hanging mistletoe. Not real mistletoe, but very cheap plastic with red paint on some of the rounder parts and green paint on some of the flatter and "pointier" parts, that could be taken for mistletoe only in a very Picasso sort of way. With a considerable degree of irritation and nowhere else to vent it, he said to the lady attendant, "Even if I were not married, I would not want to kiss you under such a ghastly mockery of mistletoe." "Sir, look more closely at where the mistletoe is." (pause) "Ok, I see that it's above the luggage scale, which is the place you'd have to step forward for a kiss." "That's not why it's there." (pause) "Ok, I give up. Why is it there?" "It's there so you can kiss your luggage goodbye."