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Greetings and blessings to all,

A warm welcome back to everyone - especially to the more than 20 new readers who signed up this past week. Thank you - and please feel free to pass our musings and meanderings along to your family and friends.

We hope this edition finds you in fine fettle. As for ourselves, touch wood and God willing, we think we're getting back to normal. Bridget's still getting as much rest as possible and St. Russ has fingers and toes crossed that he'll be deserving of a little pampering as soon as Herself is, ahem, herself, again!

It was a whirlwind week on the website as you'll see from all of the new additions. We're now gearing up for St. Valentine's Day and then St. Patrick's, so do visit the site often - especially to see what might be new on offer in the shops. Your purchases through Irish Culture and Customs help support our efforts and keep both the site and the newsletter free. Go raibh maith agat. Enough about us...

In news from Ireland:
Turas Teanga RTÉ - First Ever Irish Language Multimedia Course
Turas Teanga, a new contemporary Irish language programme presented by
Sharon Ní Bheoláin, will be broadcast weekly on RTÉ One at 7.30pm from 30th January 2004. Minister Dermot Ahern, TD, will launch the series on Wednesday 28 January at The Royal Irish Academy. Check out the web site:

A new report from the EU's statistics office Eurostat reveals that Ireland has a higher proportion of science graduates than any other member state.

The controversial Mel Gibson film, The Passion of the Christ, is set to open at more than 50 Irish cinemas on March 12th . Did the Pope endorse it? He's quoted as saying after he watched it, "It is as it was." What's your opinion?

Antrim: This past week, the Sisters of Mercy have been marking the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the order's arrival in Belfast.

Armagh: The Oriel Restaurant in Gilford has been awarded a Michelin Star - the only new establishment in the list of Irish restaurants.

Clare Island: Readers were wondering what flower seeds might be available from the rare flower project we mentioned recently. Eileen O'Duill in Dublin kindly sent us the following: There are 22 wild flowers which could form the basis of the project. These include creeping cinquefoil, slender speedwell, sea sandworth, wood anemone, wood sorrel, dog violet, primrose, royal fern, birdsfoot trefoil and daisy bellis perennis. The first Clare Island wildflower seed should be from next summer's harvest and be packaged and ready for sale by autumn 2004.

Significant underwater erosion is threatening the foundations of
Dún Laoghaire harbour's east and west piers. The erosion, identified in an underwater survey commissioned by the Harbour Board last year, is expected to cost up to 13 million euros and take several years to repair.
The first stone of the harbour was ceremonially laid by Lord
Lieutenant Whitworth on May 31st, 1817, and when completed the
harbour encompassed 251 statute acres.

Dublin: A flight in a Russian MiG fighter which will allow him to travel at 82,000 feet and see the curvature of the earth will cost a Dublin accountant almost $20,000. This week Conor O'Kelly from Skerries, who works with Hewlett Packard, is in Star City outside Moscow, and he will take off from the Zhukovsky airbase on the forty-minute flight which he describes as being "as close as you can get to space without being an astronaut"

Dublin: Dublin Tourism Photographic Calendar Competition
Win €1000 & have your photo featured on the cover of the official Dublin Calendar for 2005! Dublin Tourism is looking for all those budding photographers out there! The theme of the calendar is Dubliners & Dublin Landscape. The competition is open to everyone, both residents and visitors. For details or to enter, click

Galway: Major win for Ballinasloe woman
The biggest single payout from Paddy Power's bookmakers has been given to a Ballinasloe woman who selected all the winners in the seven races at Fairyhouse last weekend. Catherine Egan's bet cost her just €10 and initially the phone call from Paddy Power told her she'd won €200,000. However the following day she had a phone call at work to say that the total amount of her winnings was €424,710! Asked what she and the family might do with some of her winnings: "We're going to Disneyworld!"

Meath: Convent sold by Sisters of Sion.
The eighteenth century Bellinter House near Navan, once the home of the Briscoes and Prestons, is to become a forty-bedroomed country house hotel complete with swimming pool and a gym. The fourteen-acre estate includes its own salmon fishing on the River Boyne and is adjacent to the Royal Tara Golf Club. The new owners are targeting young executives and people in the arts and music worlds.

In news from all over:
The Twilight Hour - recently, we reviewed this book by Simon Marsden, which features haunted Irish castles and other locations. There is now a film documentary, based on the book, which will be aired on the Discovery Channel in February. The movie is also scheduled to be shown at the Real Artways Cinema in Hartford, CT, from the 12th-19th March and also at the Metro Cinema in Derby England in June.

From the mailbag:
We do get some very strange requests: Anyone want a rooster? Musician needs to find his pet a home. Comes with a hutch, and naturally, the bird crows in 4/4 time and can keep a beat!

Links of the week
Malahide Castle, set on 250 acres of park land in the pretty seaside town of Malahide, was both a fortress and a private home for nearly eight hundred years.

Who can resist puppies?

Are you normal?

To hear Roma Downey recite a beautiful blessing, accompanied by Phil Coulter, please click

And last but definitely 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!

Enough of the blatherin'...on with the update:
Please help us to keep this newsletter free - visit our good friends, LollySmith: Welcome to our Irish Gift Shop where the countdown to St. Patrick's Day has begun! Plant our shamrock seeds now and you'll have good-sized plants by March 17th. You will also find what you need to look the part - and party! Caps, shirts, walking sticks, Guinness gear and glasses, lapel pins and more! Stock up now before the rush begins and enjoy great prices, quick shipping, and friendly, personalized service
A Bit of The Wit
Joke of The Week
Did You Know?
Quotes & Quips
Know Your Irish Writers & Books?
New This Week
The Week Ahead
I'm always suspicious of games where you're the only ones that play it.
Jack Charlton on hurling
Adapted from one sent in by Kathy W. Thank you!
Sean calls home to his wife and says, "Aiofe, I have been asked to go fishing on Lough Ree with my boss and several of his friends. We'll be gone for a week. This is a good opportunity for me to get that promotion I've been wanting so would you please pack me enough clothes for a week and set out my rod and tackle box. We're leaving from the office and I'll stop by the house to pick them up. Oh, and, please pack my new blue silk pajamas."

Aiofe thinks this all sounds a little fishy but being a good wife she does exactly what her husband asked. The following weekend he comes home a little tired but otherwise looking good. The wife welcomes him home and asks if he caught many fish? He says, "Yes! Lot's of trout, some salmon, and a few pike. But why didn't you pack my new blue silk pajamas like I asked you to do?"

"I did, Sean; they're in your tackle box."
1. Ned Kelly - Australia's most famous outlaw, was born to Irish parents in Victoria in 1854?
2. Robert Barton of Co. Fermanagh composed the tune to the unofficial anthem of Australia - Waltzing Matilda?
3. The largest farm ever, covered over four million acres (bigger than the whole of Northern Ireland) of Australia's Northern Territory, and was owned by Ulsterman Samuel McCaughey until his death in 1909?
Show your support for Irish Culture and Customs. A dollar doesn't go far these days, but if you multiply it by a few hundred readers, it could make all the difference to our survival. Please send whatever you can to:
5670 Meryton Place, Cincinnati, OH, 45224.
Donations can also be made via http:///www.paypal.com.
Many thanks in advance for your kindness.
Many thanks to Bill Reynolds for the following exchange of correspondence between a customer and Irish Rail:

I have been riding trains daily for the last two years, and the service on your line seems to be getting worse every day. I am tired of standing in the aisle all the time on a 14 mile trip. I think the transportation system is worse than that enjoyed by people 2000 years ago.
Yours truly,
A Commuter

Dear Sir,
We received your letter with reference to the shortcomings of our service
and believe your are somewhat confused in your history. The only mode of
transportation 2000 years ago was by foot.
Iarnrod Eireann

I am in receipt of your letter, and I think you are the ones who are confused in your history. If you will refer to the Bible, Book of David, 9th Chapter, you will find that Balaam rode to town on his ass. That, gentlemen, is something I have not been able to do on your train in the last two years.
Yours truly,
A Commuter
First off, the answers to last week's quiz:

1. Space and the Irish Cultural Imagination by Gerry Smyth
2. Dublin Tenement Life: An Oral History by Kevin Corrigan Kearns (Editor)
3. In Search of Ireland-a Cultural Geography by Brian Graham

Congrats to this week's literary sleuths:

This site is filled with beautiful pics and interesting info about some
of the very special places in Ireland:

Hartson Dowd
Interesting historical notes and general information on this part of Ireland so beautiful in sight and serenity. There are over 300 good quality photographs, many of which can be emailed with greetings to friends:

Helen Dowd
For stories of relaxation, I invite you to visit:
Especially see the "Odds 'n Ends" section: http://www.occupytillicome.com/articles and stories: http://www.occupytillicome.com/stories

Déirdre McKiernan Hetzler
"Glorious Ireland in May" May 25 - June 8, 2004
To request a brochure or see the itinerary, please visit us at: http://www.irishbook.com/tours.htm

Linda Yermoslaev
My favorite site is:

Ellen Parodi
Namely Gifts at
Now featuring personalized Name Keepsakes and Gifts for your Valentine!
Something for every name on your gift list!

Pat Murphy
Biddy McGraw's the Pacific Northwest's only authentic Irish pub and the home 'O the "perfect" pint':

Want to see your name and favorite site on our list? Try to find the following authors - we assure you, it's really easy! Who wrote:
1. Brigid of the Gael - A complete collection of primary resources
2. Brigid's Cloak - An ancient Irish story
3. Brigid and the Mountain

Hint: You'll find all the titles here - and with Candlemas coming up in just a week, this could be a handy book to have on hand:
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. 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 the The Irish Lottery:
Remember the Irish Hospital Sweepstakes? It was replaced by the Irish Lotto in 1988. Since then it has become 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 and all winnings are tax-free. Do you have the luck of the Irish? Play the Irish lottery and find out! Please click here for full details:
Congratulations to Linda Yermoslaev for being first with the correct answer to our last one:
I dig out tiny caves, and store gold and silver in them.
I also build bridges of silver and make crowns of gold.
They are the smallest you could imagine.
Sooner or later everybody needs my help,
yet many people are afraid to let me help them.
Q: Who am I?
A: A dentist
Now for our newest head-banger - not so easy this time:
A man on his deathbed informs his three sons that he will leave them his horses. To the eldest son he leaves half of his horses. To his second son he leaves one third of them, and to his youngest, he leaves one ninth. After he passes away, the three sons went to get their horses, but discovered there were 17 animals. They did not want to sell or kill any of the horses, and they could not think of a way to divide the horses exactly as their father wished. Just then their next door neighbor came riding along on his horse and listened to their problem. Immediately the neighbor thought of a way to divide the horses just as their father had wished.
Q. What was his easy solution?
1. Home Page - See what's new at a glance:
2. New - Article: St. Ita - Foster-mother to the saints of Ireland
3. New - Kids' Ireland: Finn's Hounds
4. New - Music Review: What's Wrong With This Picture by Van Morrison
5. New - Basic Irish: Planning a Party
6. New - The Irish Kitchen: Cheese Tart
7. New - Culture Corner: The Blennerville Windmill
8. New - Culture Corner, Kids: Fota Wild Life Park
9. Featured - Article: The Irish Wolfhound - a brief history
10. Featured - Article: Making St. Brigid's Crosses
11. Featured - Article: Emblems of Ireland - The Shamrock
12. Featured - Article: Driving in Ireland, Part II
13. On-going - Circle of Prayer: Our 4th Novena in this cycle began on January 21 and continues though January 29. Our 5th one will begin on Friday, 1/30. As always, we ask for your prayers and meditations on behalf of our military all over the world, especially Iraq. We also ask that you continue to pray for Eileen's brother Bob, her son Christopher, Maggie's family and friends, Bob and Kathy in Utah, Debbie's friend Bertha, Rita, Lindsea, Dianne, Claire, C.J., baby Christopher, Sam, Steven & Margaret, and the Mulligans. Whatever your spiritual leanings, we hope you will join us each day:
14. On-Going - Trivia Quiz: The entries continue to pour in - quite a showing this month. Just one week left - All entries must be received by midnight, January 31, no matter which time zone you live in.
15. On-going - Irish News: Headlines for the past week
16. On-going -This month in Irish History:

We'll have a new blessing on Sunday, a new quote on Wednesday, another recipe, plus we're putting together a St. Patrick's Day Party page. Bridget's also eyeing the wedding section to see what we can do to freshen that up a bit - perhaps an article associated with superstitions? In any event, we'll do what ever we can to keep you coming back - and don't forget, the news and history are updated every day.

So that does it for another week, except for these critically important dates from our wild and wacky calendar: Today is National Peanut Butter Day and Alacitas in Bolivia. The 25th is Burns Night in Scotland, Auckland Day in New Zealand, Observe the Weather Day, National Irish Coffee Day. The 26th is Australia Day, National Peanut Brittle Day and Burns Day in Scotland. The 27th is National Chocolate Cake Day. On the 28th, we celebrate Bald Eagle Day & National Blueberry Pancake Day. The 29th is Carnation Day and National Puzzle Day, and last but not least, the 30th is National Croissant Day. If you're celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other special event this week, we hope it's a joyous occasion for you and yours!

Until next time, may the Good Shepherd of us all shelter you and yours in the gentle mantle of his love and shower you with an abundance of blessings. And, as they say in Ireland, mind yourself!

Bridget & Russ
Get down on your knees and thank God you're still on your feet
Events & Classifieds
Note: To avoid duplication, we list only those events not mentioned in the comprehensive listing put together by The Wild Geese. To check their Events Page, please click: http://www.thewildgeese.com/pages/events.html
The Irish Heritage Newsletter also lists events - if you'd like to subscribe, just send a note to George at Steeler059@aol.com
And, if you're in Ireland, or lucky enough to be visiting, you can see what's on offer here:

New Orleans - Tonight!
Revivival of the Heart CD launch - Betsy McGovern performs at a CD release party tonight at 8 p.m. at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans (5212 S. Claiborne Ave. at the corner of Jefferson Avenue). Admission is $10 or $8 for students.

Cultural Holidays on Inis Mór
The new programme with the dates for 2004 is uploaded now on our homepage:
Book Now! You will get 5% off if you book before the end of January.

Hollywood, Florida
Irish American Ceili Club Annual Picnic - Sunday, February 8
T.Y. Park - Pavilion # 7 - Sheridan Street - Hollywood; Club Chaplain, Father Pat O'Shea will celebrate Mass for all our deceased Members & Friends @ 12 noon. Feast on Chicken Wings, Italian Sausage, Hamburgers, Hot-dogs Beer - Wine - Soda. Free to Club Members. Guests $10
For details on this and other events, contact Patrick: Irish32@aol.com
or visit their website:

Texas Dulcimer Cruise - February 5-9
Galveston to Cozumel on the Carnival Celebration. There will be workshops, jam sessions, talent show and more. These spots will go fast, so book early! Inside cabins are $430.80 pp, double occupancy and oceanview cabins are $480.80 pp, double occupancy. Ask for Marcy: 281-535-5703 or e-mail marcy@delesandri.com

Saturday March 6 & Sunday March 7
North Texas Irish Festival, Fair Park Dallas.
This is the largest Celtic Festival in the Southwest, at which the
finest of World and Regional Celtic Bands will be featured on 4 stages. There will be vendors galore, Celtic Assoc. and Clan booths and the best Irish food around. For more details, visit the website at www.ntif.org.

March 13-14
Sean-nós work-shop with Treasa Ní Mhiolláin from Inis Mór, Aran Islands.
For more details, please contact Elizabeth: info@irish-culture.ch

Galveston, Texas - March 28,
Galveston 1894 Grand Opera House - James Galway, flautist. More details coming.

Zurich - Irish Set Dancing Workshop
April 3 & 4 with Pat Murphy (Westport) and Tony Ryan (Galway)
For more information, please click

Day of Welcomes from 19/04/2004 to 01/05/2004
The 'Day of Welcomes' on Saturday 1st May marks the historic day when 10 new countries join the 15 current member states of the E.U. For more details, click

ReJoyce Dublin 2004
celebrates the centenary of Bloomsday, the day on which James Joyce's masterpiece "Ulysses" is set. Ireland is planning a world-class, five-month festival lasting from 1 April 2004 to 31 August 2004. For more details, click

Calling all Gurteen past pupils for a reunion, May 2
Past pupils of Clonkeenkerrill, Shanballard, and Tample national schools are invited to recall their school days at a reunion taking place in Loughrea. Tickets for the event cost € 30, and can be purchased from Breda Noone at (090) 9675912; John Corbett at (090) 9677825; Oliver King at (087) 2975132; or any committee member. Tickets must be purchased before Sunday February 1

Nova Scotia, Canada - May 26-29
Cais Conference/Reunion, Saint Mary's University, Halifax. The theme is "Mother Tongues: The Languages of Ireland." For details, please click

6th Int'l McManus Clan Association Gathering May 25th through May 31st
For full details please visit our website at:
or contact Phil McManus at Manus@aol.com

7th Clann McKenna Rally - June 25th through Sunday June 27th
For details, please write plunkettmckenna@eircom.net
or click on the following link:
Send an email to: bhaggerty@irishcultureandcustoms.com
OR click on this link: