Welcome to the Irish Culture & Customs newsletter which is published every fortnight or so and sent out to nearly 4600 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.
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Greetings & Blessings to all,

Did you put your freshly polished shoes by the fireplace on December 5th in anticipation of a visit from St. Nicholas? For Bridget, this heralds the real beginning of the Christmas season. Next day, on the feast of St. Nicholas itself - December 6th - that 's when Russ is under marching orders to have a candle in every window, and a wreath on the front door. What used to take a couple of days at Toad Hall - our old three-story behemoth of a house -took all of about two hours at Tadpole Cottage. Further proof that we should have down-sized twenty years ago!

Onwards. A very belated pinch punch, first day of the month, white rabbit! We hope this edition finds you in fine fettle and on the pig's back and if this is your first issue, thank you for joining us. We also hope that if you enjoy our musings and meanderings, you will pass them along to your family and friends.

Since last we wrote, our friends in the USA celebrated Thanksgiving. We hope and pray that for a few hours at least, you and yours were able to cast away the burdens of the gloomy economic prospects and enjoy a happy and safe holiday. As for ourselves, Bridget cooked the feast this year because our daughter is still recovering from her car accident and wasn't quite up to all the preparations. It was a grand day with all of the children and grandchildren in attendance except for our youngest son and his family. Ben owns a bar and Thanksgiving Day/weekend is his busiest time of the year, what with husbands being chased out of the house by frazzled wives in the kitchen as well as adult family in from out of town meeting friends for some festive holiday cheer.

Other things happened since we were last in touch; we lit the first Advent candle, posted our first totally Christmas home page and we made a drastic change in our Shopping department. All too often when we promoted a specific item, it would run out of stock or not be available any longer. That was aggravating for us and frustrating for our visitors. So, we did away with hot links to specific items and focused on the shops themselves - sort of a window shopping approach. Take a look and tell us if you like what we did - or not!
And keep in mind that December 8th is the traditional Christmas shopping day in Ireland. At least, it used to be.

That's the feast of the Immaculate Conception when Catholic schools would be closed and families started their Christmas shopping in earnest. Even special trains were put on to take the hordes of shoppers into Dublin for the day. Nowadays it is more likely that people will shop locally, since there are malls and large out of town stores throughout the country, but it is still one of the busiest shopping days in the run up to Christmas. Why not commemorate this old custom and shop with us on line? We make a small commission on every purchase which goes a long way toward supporting our efforts on your behalf. Go raibh maith agat in advance for your kindness.

Something else happened after we sent out the last newsletter. It's often been said that in any social setting, one should avoid discussing politics, sex and religion. We like to think that when we write to you, we're all sitting around with a wee dram to drink in hand and having a friendly chat by the fireside. Well, for a few of our readers, we upset the apple cart with some political comments you didn't agree with. Since our objective is to bring you a bit of old Ireland and the Irish in every issue, we're resolved to stay more focused and stick to the reason we began doing this in the first place. So, mea culpa and Erin go Bragh!
Onwards to the first of our two Christmas issues.
SPONSOR: Please help us keep your newsletter coming - visit our good
friends at Lollysmith:
The Silly Season is upon us! Come take a look at what's in store - you'll be glad you did. For example, they have Jacob's Chocolates, genuine Blackthorn Walking Sticks, Hanna Hats & Caps, Connemara blankets and many other great Irish gifts for everyone on your list!
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:

Armagh: Georgian Day in the city
Recently, Armagh City celebrated its annual Georgian Day, which featured traditional mulled wine and mince pies as well as people in Georgian dress mingling with the crowds. And this year, it wasn't only the gentry on show - dozens of actors played the role of street urchins up to all sorts of tricks including begging and trying to pick a few pockets!

Cavan: Bethlehem comes to Cootehill
The scene at Bethlehem is coming to life at Dernakesh, close to Cootehill at the pet farm owned by Carmel Shalvey. The show will feature all the animals, including camels, which have been imported by Finbar Moore. Mary and Joseph will arrive on a donkey after meeting the innkeeper on the way. The production is a family affair since all fourteen members of the Moore family are taking part, accompanied by all their children.

Clare: Conference on boats in Ennis
A conference on traditional boats and currachs, has taken place in Ennis. It was the first such conference in Ireland. "Boats, Place, People" included presentations from a number of maritime experts including Richard Collins of the West Clare Currach Club and TG4 presenter Pádraig Ó Duinnín.

Cork: Rossmore business fills the recession gap
The fact that people are staying in more and looking for home entertainment is what has led to an increase in business for Tailten Games which has seen exports rise by one hundred and fifty per cent over last year, and expects the demand to rise by three hundred per cent in the coming year. The company makes a number of games and puzzles, with the latest being Pluck the Peacock, an interactive matching game for small children. Tailten is also on the web:

Donegal: Contents of Newmills shop under the hammer
One of the country's last spirits shops, Gallaghers, was run by Carrie Gallagher and the building itself, including the horseshoe-shaped bar, has already been sold. But what remains gives a picture of life in Ireland over the last century or more, with Wellington boots, cutters for plug tobacco, butter spades and oil lamps all up for auction. Of particular interest to the social historian are the ledgers which detail the day to day business of Donegal life.

Donegal: Buncrana playwright speaks at exhibition
Playwright Frank McGuinness spoke at the launch of "Remnant" - an exhibition on the tradition of shirt-making, which is taking place in the Saldhana Suite of Fort Dunree. McGuinness' play "The Factory Girls" was based on stories from his mother and aunts, all of whom worked in the textile industry. Also taking part in the opening ceremony was John McCarter, chairperson of Fort Dunree Military Museum who is a former director of McCarter's shirt factory.

Down: Newry pensioner turns postman
When one Newry pensioner was told it would cost him £21 to ensure a next-day delivery of a birthday card for his daughter, who lives in Navan, Co. Meath, he decided to take the matter into his own hands. Tony Carroll used his Senior Smartpass to get on a bus to Navan. There, he stopped for a cup of tea before boarding a local bus to his daughter's house where he delivered the card personally. After spending some time with his daughter he went back into town and had time for a pint before catching the bus back home to Newry. The entire day cost him just £7.

Dublin: Unique music outlet closes
The downturn in the economy has led to the closure of a shop that has been selling music, especially to DJs, for the past twenty-five years. Abbey Discs in Liffey Street is owned by Billy Murray, who said he had hoped to keep going until Christmas but had found it impossible. However he has not yet given up hope of staying in the business and, after a few weeks' rest, he is contemplating opening a store in the Temple Bar area which will specialise in supplying rare vinyls. Since it is the availability of downloads from the internet which has caused the shop's closure, Billy is happy to return to selling music unavailable on the web.

Fermanagh: Betty saw the beginning and end of 11-plus
For Betty Emo from Killesher the final sitting of the 11-plus examination had a special poignancy, as she was among the pupils who sat the very first such exam exactly sixty years ago. She attended school in Magheraveely but went to the test centre at Lisnaskea where she was one of five candidates. After a long teaching career in schools in Aughdrumsee, Florencecourt and Stragowna, Betty maintained her association with the exam in the role of invigilator, and so she can claim to have been in at the beginning and end of the transfer test.

Galway: Landmark oil tanks are on the move
The oil tanks located at Galway Harbour are to be moved to a new location in the new year. One of the reasons for the move is to allow further development of the docks area, as the Galway Harbour Company is to seek planning permission to redevelop the area. However another motive for moving the oil tanks is to facilitate the construction of a Race Village in time for the visit of the participants in the Volvo Ocean Race, who are due to spend two weeks in Galway in May of next year.

Kilkenny: Salmon return to the Nore
Despite misgivings about the new rockpool fish pass at the Lacken Weir in Kilkenny city, built as part of the flood relief scheme, chairman of the South East Salmon Federation Luke Boyle has reported that salmon numbers are up by forty per cent on last year. It was felt that the new fish pass was preventing the fish from gaining the upper reaches of the Nore and its tributaries, but the 12,430 fish that came up stream have proved the fears groundless. The success is being put down to the catch and release policy operated by the Southern Regional Fisheries Board.

Laois: An unusual service for emigrant Laois people
A new service launched following the recent reopening of St Peter and Paul's church in Portlaoise will offer an unusual service to those who have emigrated from the county. The webcam available from the parish church will be of particular benefit to those in the USA who are undocumented and are unable to return to Ireland for family funerals. According to parish priest Father John Byrne, he has already received reports back from former parishioners who have seen parish Masses broadcast on the web. The service, which will also broadcast weddings, can be accessed at http://www.portlaoiseparish.ie

Limerick: Corrigans sign major record deal
The three brothers from Limerick who, under the name Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys, recorded a song celebrating the Irish roots of president elect Barack Obama, have just signed a record deal with Universal. Ger, Brian and Donnacha Corrigan, from Castletroy, recorded "There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama" last April and it quickly became a hit on both sides of the Atlantic; they performed it in a Monegall, Co. Offaly pub on the night of the election.

Longford: Colmcille woman involved in immigrants' DVD
Chrissie Scott, originally from Colmcille and now assistant treasurer of the Irish American Society of Nassau, Suffolk & Queens, is one of those featured on a new DVD launched by the Aisling Irish Community Centre in New York. "Memory Brings Us Back: Irish Stories of Farewells and Fortunes" is a follow-on from the successful book, "Memory Brings Us Back Again" which featured stories from thirty-five immigrants from Ireland. Chrissie is one of ten people who arrived in America between the 1920s and the 1960s and who have recorded their memories.

Louth: Cooley has the best whiskey in the world
The brewery which revived the peat smoking technique in distilling whiskey has been recognised as making the best whiskey in the world in the International Wine and Spirit Competition. The distillery opened in Riverstown twenty-one years ago and is the first Irish company to win the prestigious award. It is housed in an old industrial alcohol plant on the Cooney peninsula and, according to managing director David Hynes, their success is due to a focus on new products and quality in addition to the reintroduction of the concept of peated malt.

Mayo: Reek record attempt is a success
The recent attempt to establish the longest chain of bras on Croagh Patrick is deemed a success. Despite the November mists, some three hundred volunteers hooked together approximately five thousand bras and created a chain two thousand one hundred and fifty feet long.

Meath: Kells to have its famous book back, in replica
The town council in Kells has paid €3,000 for one of the five hundred copies of the 1951 reproduction of the Book of Kells, by Graf-verlag of Bern, Switzerland. The book, with vellum binding, is in two volumes and it is to go on display in the council offices.

Offaly: Tullamore horse is India-bound
What is believed to be the first export of a Clydesdale horse from either Britain or Ireland to India is due to take place this month. Claddagh King Bruce, a yearling Clydesdale, is owned by Owen Casey and is in quarantine at Ballinagar. The Clydesdale Horse Society of Ireland was approached to find a suitable animal and Owen Casey's horse was chosen from the twenty to thirty in the country.

Roscommon: Prison governor plays down paranormal reports
Reports of paranormal occurrences taking place at Castlerea Prison have been played down by the prison governor, Dan Scannell. A number of sightings had been reported over the past six months of the ghost of a man, believed to have killed himself when the building was still a psychiatric hospital. The sightings began after the blessing of a previously unconsecrated burial ground near the prison. Also reported were lights turning on for no reason, but Mr Scannell has denied that a visit by Bishop Jones included an exorcism; in fact Bishop Jones pays regular visits to the prisoners.

Sligo: New jetty will open up Sligo docks
A new pontoon jetty that was officially launched last week in Sligo will, it is hoped, encourage tourist boats to the town. At present the tidal situation makes it difficult for small boats to navigate in and out of the harbour, but the new jetty, which will rise and fall with the tide, will allow them better access to the town.

Tipperary: Peter is Fisherman of the Year
Peter Ahern has been named as Fisherman of the Year at the Garrykennedy Fishing club, narrowly beating John Malone and Tommy Moloney, the latter having held the title for the last six years. Peter also received the award for the Heaviest Trout of the Year, with a catch of almost sixteen pounds. In the last ten minutes of daylight on a recent Sunday, John Kennedy managed to reel in a pike weighing twenty-five pounds, making him the undoubted winner of the Heaviest Pike of the Year award. The catch also landed him first place in that day's competition with a total catch of sixty-three pounds.

Wicklow: Bride surprises groom - with a tractor
When Karyn Finnegan from Greystones was organising her wedding to Glen of the Downs man Dr Aidan Leek, she decided to surprise him with an unusual means of arriving at the church. Knowing his fascination with tractors, since his days of driving a tractor for a farmer in Newtownmountkennedy, Karyn contacted the owner of the venue for their wedding in Herefordshire who put her in touch with a local garage. The garage arranged for a John Deere 7430 to be put at the disposal of the couple for the entire weekend, and Aidan made his way to the wedding venue at the wheel of the tractor, while also wearing a kilt.

One of our subscribers found herself on youtube. Anna Maria writes
Please go to youtube and look at this:
 It's our small community of Pietralunga with their own nicknames. Not sure if in Ireland is common but in this town, people are much known for their nicknames than for the real names. have my own nickname. It's Lilli like our most famous anchor-woman, Lilli Gruber!
ED. NOT: We had fun trying to figure out

We also received a lovely letter from a dear reader in Vermont who reminded us of what Thanksgiving and the holidays are all about. We hope you enjoy reading her letter as much as we did:

Dear Bridget & Russ,
Don't usually bother busy people like you with my blather...but had to write at this time of Thanksgiving to express my gratitude for your wonderful newsletter and to tell you have thoroughly "blessed" I am.
You see, I no longer have any  family. I am an 79 year old retired school teacher and have outlived all family. But I am not sad.  I loved the times when we were all together and have many memories of those wonderful gatherings of food and camaraderie and for those memories I am blessed.
And now, I am again blessed with my current situation, because I no longer have my Thanksgiving occupied with family and friends so I am able to spend the day volunteering serving meals to the homeless and/or those others with no where else to go and no one to share it with.  It also means that I can figure up what it cost me when I was having big family Thanksgivings and take that money and donate to the local food shelf and buy gift certificates at  the local super market for other families feeling the stress of the times with lay-offs and other worries.
And even after Thanksgiving, my blessings from God continue to grow, because I can figure out how much I would have spent on family and friends for gifts and a big dinner in the past and use that money to adopt and anonymously provide the makings of a full Christmas Dinner plus gifts from Santa for another family going through hard times. Then I will spend a joyous Christmas day again serving meals at a local center providing a free meal for any that are all alone.
When I lost my mother and my husband within a few months of each other and found my self totally alone without even distant relatives left I felt depressed and frightfully abandoned until I prayed to God to help me understand and bear up to my "new" life.  I know that God will never give you more than you can handle..but he instead gave me wondrous opportunities to share my new lifestyle with others by what I am doing. So now my life is full and I am joyously happy during the holiday seasons (maybe even a little more so than when I was so wrapped up in just the confines of my family).
Right now, I'm stretching my finances with the above activities, but after the New Year I would like to send a small donation to you for your wonderful work.   
Happy Holidays to you and yours and God Bless you as he has me.

ED. NOTE: It's we who are blessed to have such a kind and generous reader - and we have a good many of them.

Irish Page : Magnificat - Mary's Song
This time around, Jack & Vivian Hennessy offer a lovely page devoted to Mary's Song - her response when Elizabeth greeted her and said said "Blessed are you among women." http://www.irishpage.com/bible/marysong.htm

Send a US soldier a Christmas Card
Here's your chance to say Merry Christmas and thank you to a soldier who will be spending the holidays far from home. You can't pick out who gets your card but thanks to the generosity of Xerox, you can be sure it will go to someone who will appreciate the thought:

Celtic Holiday Music
Several readers have sent us the link to AccuRadio which features an all Celtic channel for holiday music. After you click on the main URL. scroll down the menu to see what's on offer. And go raibh maith agat to all of you who sent in this link!

Irish Christmas Cards for Charity

Irish Christmas cards - in Irish!
Smaointe is an Irish Language Business, which specialises in design and production of Irish Language greeting cards and with English translation. The cards are suitable for the Irish speaker, the learner or those interested in 'things Irish'. What better way is there to send that special Irish greeting to those close to you!

Christmas in the Garden of Ireland - Co. Wicklow

Georgina Campbell's Christmas Feast

Hanna Hats Video
Richard, one of our readers was looking for a hand-made Donegal tweed cap and came across this video. It's fascinating. (Thanks, Richard!)

Calm Photos
Jim Crotty is one of our generous sponsors for the Trivia contest. His prize is a gorgeous close-up of a shamrock. You can see more of his incredibly beautiful works here:

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 our newsletter coming - visit our friends at the Celtic Attic:
'Tis the season for our Yearly Gift Basket Giveaway Do you know someone who can use a little Irish Cheer? Register for our Free Giveaway during the month of December and tell us in the note section of the registration form why your friend or loved one needs some Irish Cheer. This year we will pick 3 winners and send them a FREE Gift Basket filled with teas and cookies and candies.. And for honoring this person, we will send you off a special gift as well. So spread that holiday cheer - no purchase necessary.
As for the shopping: Now throughout December, get Free or 1/2 off shipping with each and every order - parcel or first class shipping. Priority or Express shipping is regular price - so get those orders in now and take advantage of this great offer. Plus you'll receive a Complimentary GIFT and a FREE COPY of the CELTIC ATTIC COOKBOOK PDF with each order! In addition we will be adding a $5.00 off gift card to each other placed. You can use it yourself or in the spirit of the season, pass it onto a friend. Come take a look at our wide range of gifts and especially shop our sales pages where items are up to 80% off!
Order on line or by phone - and tell them Bridget & Russ said hello!
Order by phone: Tel: 360-765-0186
Order on line:
This one was sent on my our friend , Hartson:

Nuair a bhíos an braon istigh bíonn an chiall amuigh -
When the drop is inside the sense is outside.
There are some people who want to throw their arms round you just because it's Christmas, there are other people who want to strangle you just because its Christmas.
Robert Lynd
The teacher asked the class to draw pictures of their favorite Christmas stories. She was puzzled by Kyle's picture, which showed four people on an airplane, so she asked him which story it was meant to represent. "The flight to Egypt," said Kyle. "I see. And that must be Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus," Ms. Terri said. "But who's the fourth person?"
"Oh, that's Pontius - the Pilot.

Okay, so it's a bit of a groaner; it might seem funnier after a couple of pints!
In the the interest of getting this tome out to you in a timely fashion, we're doing a bit of recycling:
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.

First off, the answers to our last quiz:

A round of pints and applause to the following Irish literary sleuths:

Helen Dowd
My favorite Irish site? What else but...
ED. NOTE: You're making us blush. In kind, and only fair, we nominate one of OUR favorites :

Hartson Dowd
Hartson nominate's Helen's site and hopes that you will vote for her. Thank you!

Patricia Edwards
This is a really beautiful island that we visited a few years ago now - I would recommend staying there if ever you get the chance.

Cathy Knapp
My favorite site? Well...YOURS of course!  I love getting your newsletters, not only is it informative but gives you that hint of 'personal' news - like we're one big Irish family! Thank you for your hard work ; I sincerely appreciate it.
ED: Our blushes are getting more frequent by the second. That said, it's always nice to receive positive feedback. Go raibh maith agat. Cathy!

John Beatty
John didn't nominate a site so we found one we thought he might like - you too:
In Ireland, the surname Beatty is principally found in Ulster. The name in Irish is Betagh (Biadhtach). For more details, please click

Want to see your name and favorite web site in our next newsletter? Who wrote:
1 All Silver and No Brass
2. Dublin Carol
3. The Fires of Yule

Hint: You'll find these books and many others in the library on our site:
It also helps support our efforts if you see anything you like, click through and make a purchase. We make a small commission. Go raibh maith agat, in advance!

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 head banger:
Susan has invited her family to Thanksgiving Dinner. As her plates are not the best, Susan wants to buy new plates. There'll be a grandfather, a grandmother, two fathers, two mothers, four children, three grandchildren, one brother, two sisters, two sons, two daughters, one father-in-law, one mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law.
Q. How many plates does Susan need to buy?
A. Seven plates - one each for a for a son , his wife, their 3 children, and his parents.

This one proved to be a bit if a challenge for our brilliant Riddle People. That said, we had a good many correct answers, However, a tip of the hat to Brenda Lindsay who was first in. Well done!

And now for our next Noggin' Nagger:
What flies when it's born, lies when it alive, and runs when
it's dead?
Please send your answers to:
It would be helpful if you put riddle answer in the subject line.
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!

There was NO winner in Saturday's drawing which means Wednesday's top prize will be nearly seven million euro. 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


NEW SHOPPING SECTION NOW OPEN! Please come visit some of the best Irish and Celtic shops on the internet or anywhere else:

1. Article: An Advent Memory
2. Article: An Irish Christmas - Waiting for St. Nicholas
3. Article: Time at This Point of the Year
4. Article: Irish Superstitions for the Christmas Season
5. Article: Many Years Ago
6. Article: Who was behind the doors of Dublin?
ED. NOTE: We continue to leave this article on the home page to draw your attention to a very generous offer by Bob Fearon, the man behind the original poster officially sanctioned by Bord Fáilte - Bob will donate 50% of all profits from the sales of the posters and puzzles to Irish Culture and Customs. We're about to receive another a nice commission check from Bob - go raibh maith agat to him and to those of you who purchased either the poster or the puzzle.
7. Irish Kitchen: Homeland Christmas Cake - the real recipe, not the tongue in cheek piece we published last time!
8. Basic Irish: Advent & Christmas
9. Kids' Ireland: The Little Red Bird
10. Music Review: Our resident reviewer William Ramoutar reviews
the haunting voice of Patricia Scanlon on her two latest CDs
11. Trivia Contest. The December contest is posted. All entries must be in by midnight December 31 no matter what time zone you live in. http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/TriviaContest.html
November's winner: Congratulations to Sharron Newman USA who selected the Tin Whistle set generously provided by our sponsor Lollysmith.
12. Circle of Prayer: The third Novena in this cycle began on December 2 and will continue through December 10. These continue to be very difficult times for so many people, especially those who have lost their jobs. Whatever your spiritual leanings, please keep all those looking for work in your prayers or meditations. We also have a new name to add to the list - Gina Mulvihill who has been trying to carry a child to full term. She and her husband are blessed with one daughter but would like to have another. After 4 miscarriages, they are willing to try one more time. Please also remember the Dowd's missionary friends in India, Christy Banik, Joe Colum, Patricia's daughter Heather , the family and friends of the McTiernans, Pauline Dewberry, our daughter Catherine, Cyndi, Mickey, Hartson, 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.
13. New Kids' Culture Corner : Christmas Crackers
14. New Letter of the Month for November: A nice note from a reader who will be moving to Ireland next year

So there you have it until we write again. If you're celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other important event between now and next time we hope it's an occasion filled with joy and happiness. And if you were married in December or will tie the knot this month, here's your special verse:
When December's showers fall fast
marry and true love will last.

We leave you with the same blessing as last time - well, almost the same. We had said it was an old Irish blessing. Well, the lady who wrote it may have Irish connections, but she isn't old! We didn't give credit to Veronica O'Neill Cresse who allowed us to publish her poem called The Homecoming. We liked it so much we put it on our blessings page. We also didn't publish it in the last newsletter exactly as she wrote it. So, with apologies and to make amends, here is the original:

The Homecoming.
May the spirits of peace
and tranquility call
To reside in your home
Every room, every wall.
May four Angels protect eaves
North South East and West.
May God's spirit of love
Reassure you are blessed.
May each guest you receive feel
They've answered your call
May you dwell in their presence
To welcome them all.

...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!
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.

Santa Monica, CA- December 17 & 18
O'Brien's Irish Pub & Restaurant annual Toy Drive & Holiday Party
For complete details, please visit:

Marbella, Spain - through January 6
Expo Arte Featuring Dublin artist Roger Cummiskey
The Gallery, 24, Calle Marquez,(between Picasso Square & Hotel Pirámides). For more details, please click

Winston-Salem, North Carolina - Through January 30
Reflection: Politics and Religion in Art -  an invitational exhibit featuring works by 16 women artists including two of Amy Funderburk's paintings: Mother and Child and Well of the Creatrix
For more details, please visit:   

Hollywood, Florida - Irish American Ceili Club
We meet monthly (September - May) at the American Legion Hall - Post 92, Hollywood, to enjoy the food, music, singing & dancing of Ireland.  Every month, we offer good food & great Irish music & fun! To learn more, please visit us at

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

Eastern Caribbean Irish Genealogy Seminar Cruise - January 09
The Irish Ancestral Research Association is organizing an Irish genealogy cruise in January 2009 on Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas. Speakers include our friends Eileen & Sean O'Duill from Dublin. For complete details, please click

This came in from " Big Mama" several years ago. In view of today's tough times, we we hope this will evoke a giggle or two.


The recent announcement that Donner and Blitzen have elected to take the early reindeer retirement package has triggered a good deal of concern about whether they will be replaced, and about other restructuring decisions at the North Pole.

Streamlining is due to the North Pole's loss of dominance of this season's gift distribution business. Home shopping channels, the Internet, and mail order catalogs have diminished Santa's market share. He could not sit idly by and permit further erosion of the profit picture.

The reindeer downsizing was made possible through the purchase of a late model Japanese sled for the CEO's annual trip. Improved productivity from Dasher and Dancer--who will retrain at the Harvard Business School--is anticipated. Reduction in reindeer will also lessen airborne environmental emissions for which the North Pole has received unfavorable press.

I am pleased to inform you that Rudolph's role will not be disturbed. Tradition still counts for something at the North Pole. Management denies, in the strongest possible language, the earlier leak that Rudolph's nose got that way, not from the cold, but from substance abuse. Calling Rudolph "a lush who was into the sauce and never did pull his share of the load" was an unfortunate comment, made by one of Santa's helpers and taken out of context at a time of year when he is known to be under executive stress.

Today's global challenges require the North Pole to continue to look for better, more competitive steps. Effective immediately, the following economic measures are to take place in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" subsidiary:

The partridge will be retained, but the pear tree never turned out to be the cash crop forecasted. It will be replaced by a plastic hanging plant, providing considerable savings in maintenance.

The two turtle doves represent a redundancy that is simply not cost-effective. In addition, their romance during working hours could not be condoned. The positions are therefore eliminated.

The three French hens will remain intact. After all, everyone loves the French.

The four calling birds were replaced by an automated voice mail system, with a call-waiting option. An analysis is underway to determine who the birds have been calling, how often and how long they talked.

The five golden rings have been put on hold by the Board of Directors. Maintaining a portfolio based on one commodity could have negative implications for institutional investors. Diversification into other precious metals as well as a mix of T-Bills and high technology stocks appear to be in order.

The six geese-a-laying constitutes a luxury which can no longer be afforded. It has long been felt that the production rate of one egg per goose per day is an example of the decline in productivity. Three geese will be let go, and an upgrading in the selection procedure by personnel will assure management that from now on every goose it obtains will be more productive.

The seven swans-a-swimming is obviously a number chosen in better times. Their function is primarily decorative. Mechanical swans are on order. The current swans will be retrained to learn some new strokes and therefore enhance their outplacement.

As you know, the eight maids-a-milking concept has been under heavy scrutiny by the EEOC. A male/female balance in the workforce is being sought. The more militant maids consider this a dead-end job with no upward mobility. Automation of the process may permit the maids to try a-mending, a-mentoring, or a-mulching.

Nine ladies dancing has always been an odd number. This function will be phased out as these individuals grow older and can no longer do the steps.

Ten Lords-a-leaping is overkill. The high cost of Lords plus the expense of international air travel prompted the Compensation Committee to suggest replacing this group with ten out-of-work politicians. While leaping ability may be somewhat sacrificed, the savings are significant because we expect an oversupply of unemployed politicians this year.

Eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming is a simple case of the band getting too big. A substitution with a string quartet, a cutback on new music, and no uniforms will produce savings which will drop right down to the bottom line.

We can expect a substantial reduction in assorted people, fowl, animals and other expenses. Though incomplete, studies indicate that stretching deliveries over twelve days is inefficient. If we can drop ship in one day, service levels will be improved.

Regarding the lawsuit filed by the attorney's association seeking expansion to include the legal profession ("thirteen lawyers-a-suing"), action is pending.

Lastly, it is not beyond consideration that deeper cuts may be necessary in the future to stay competitive. Should that happen, the Board will request management to scrutinize the Snow White Division to see if seven dwarfs is the most efficient number.