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

The warmest of welcomes to everyone and a very special hello to all of our new subscribers. We're delighted to have you with us and if you enjoy our musings and meanderings, please feel free to share them with your family and friends.

What with the arrival of a third grandchild, we know we were really distracted the last time we wrote; but we were totally bowled over when we saw all of the mistakes in our most recent edition. Mea Culpa! What happened was that we pasted the uncorrected version into our newsletter host template.

Bridget writes. Russ proofs. Usually, it works out pretty well. We won't say which one of us pastes, but the guilty party has been properly chided.
Now chastened, we move on.

One of the important things we left out last week was the wedding verse for the month:

If you wed in bleak November
Only joy will come, remember.

A lovely prediction indeed. We wish we could say that about our very unpredictable climate of late! Tornados in November are rare and if you live in the vicinity of the one that hit North Carolina, we hope and pray you and your family are safe. The same goes for those of you living in areas hit by fires, floods and snow storms. It seems as if we've had a bit of everything the past week or so. Whatever the weather where you are, we hope all is now calm and that you are warm and comfy - whether that's sitting on the beach in the southern hemisphere, or in front of a cozy fireside in the north!

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

THATCHED COTTAGES: The traditional thatched cottage, a symbol of Ireland, is fast becoming a thing of the past. There are only about 2,150 thatched cottages left in Ireland with 150 of those in Northern Ireland. In the1950s, there were 40,000 thatched cottages in Northern Ireland alone.

GUINNESS BARGES: Until 1961 when the company switched to road haulage, Guinness barges carried wooden barrels of stout from St James's Gate brewery up the Liffey to Dublin Port for export around the world. Now the barges are being retrofitted and a charter service will use them to carry tourists up and down the Liffey. One barge will have a timber and brass interior reminiscent of the 1920s, while the others will be designed in modern, art deco and Georgian style.

LORD OF THE DANCE: Michael has been released from the hospital and is now resting at Castlehyde. He said he is on the mend and looking forward to being back on the road.

Artist Pauline Bewick donates works worth €3m to State
One of Ireland's best-known artists, Pauline Bewick, has donated over 600 of her works to the State in what President Mary McAleese has described as "one of the loveliest acts of generosity ever given to our nation".

HUGH LEONARD TURNS 80: Actors, playwrights, critics and directors were among the large crowd who turned out this past Sunday to pay tribute to "one of Ireland's great writers." He celebrated his 80th birthday on November 11. Leonard received the Tony Award in 1977 for the play "Da", a supernatural comedy based in large measure on his own youth and his adoptive father. When he retired from writing his Curmudgeon column in the Sunday Independent, he was asked in an interview by Brendan O'Connor if he was upset that Gay Byrne was now writing the column. His reply was, " I'd be more upset if he was any good at it."

Derry: Covered market breaks record
What has been called the city's largest covered market in a century took place recently. The Walled City Continental Market featured traders from a number of European countries including Poland, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Holland and Spain.

Dublin: Hotel gears up for reopening
The hotel, established in the early years of the nineteenth century and the scene of the drafting of the country's first Constitution in 1922, has had a €40m makeover and will now have two hundred and sixty-five bedrooms as well as nineteen suites; eleven of these will be named after famous people who have stayed in the hotel over the years.

New owners promise to bring back 'former glory'
The landmark Bewley's Cafe on Westmoreland Street, Dublin, which has been closed for almost two years, has been sold to a three-party consortium for about €25 million. We'll keep you posted on progress.

Galway: Train due at Ballglunin - in five years
Ballyglunin railway station, which featured in the film "The Quiet Man", is being restored under a Rural Social Scheme with a view to having trains running again to Galway by 2011.

Kilkenny: Conker title stays in the county
Recently, Freshford hosted the seventh annual Irish Conker Championships with 380 competitors from around the world participating in a frantic series of matches overseen by 16 referees. The overall winner was Danny Webster from Gathabawn. He overcame the challenge of Michael Early who was endeavouring to retain the title he won in 2005.
For information on the game, visit

Laois: Minister visits Dunamaise to mark completion of work
Minister of State Tom Parlon last week visited Dunamaise Castle four miles from Portlaoise to mark the completion of the archaeological dig and the restoration work, the latter carried out after the extensive excavations of the mid-1990s. During these more than five thousand artefacts were uncovered, including ten skulls which are said to be the result of beheadings.

Louth: No more delph on the shelf in Dundalk
After one hundred and thirty years of trading in Dundalk, Boyle's shop is closing. The present owner, John Boyle cites competition from high street retailers as the reason for the closure of the Clanbrassil Street store which retains much of its original furnishings. Boyle's was established in Church Street by John's great-grandfather, Michael Boyle, and was subsequently run by John's grandfather, also Michael, and his father Anthony.

Mayo: Petition to be organised over church pews
The news that the Abbey Partnership in Ballyhaunis has plans to remove timber pews from the Augustinian friary in the town and replace them with tiered seating for concerts has prompted the establishment of an action group to oppose the plan. Volunteers are to gather signatures for a petition requesting that the friary and its adjacent grounds and graveyard be preserved in its present state. The six-hundred-year-old church has been leased to the Abbey Partnership but local people are seeking assurances that it will continue to be used for Mass and other religious services.

Tipperary: Some Irish traditions live on
In times gone by when the pig, "the gentleman who pays the rent" played an important part in Irish life, it was not unusual to find the animal living with the family inside the house. You don't see that hardly at all today, but one Garrykennedy couple have given houseroom to a black Vietnamese potbelly pig who stretches out in front of the fire on cold evenings. Simon and Josie Ryan have a good number of animals, and also feed the sixty or so ducks in a wild duck sanctuary, but pride of place in their house goes to eighteen-month-old Lucy, who is totally house trained and lives in relative harmony with the two dogs and two cats who share the bungalow on the shores of Lough Derg.

Sidney, Australia: Lily Claro RIP
The World of irish Dancing is still in shock and mourning after the tragic death of five times consecutive NSW state and Australian Irish dance champion, Elizabeth Claro who passed away at home on October 19th. She was just 18 years old. To learn more. please visit:

Jim Gaffey writes:
Dear Friends, I write to inform you of a unique project to which hundreds of Irish men and women, from the booming construction trades in Ireland, have dedicatedthemselves to. Ireland, which for years has been on the receiving end, is now in the position to give back. I am pleased to be invited to join 350 construction trades people from throughout Ireland along with 50 international volunteers who will work to turn cardboard and tin shacks into solid three room homes in the Townships around Cape Town, South Africa. To date this effort has built over 400 of these comfortable and well built homes dramatically changing the lives of hundreds of people in the Townships. Junctioning in during a business trip I will be pleased to participate in this focused effort of the Irish people as we now give back to others. If you would like to know more about this gathering effort please let me know.

The Potato Riddle - is it Irish?
Anne Fahey wrote that she was familiar with the riddle when she was growing up in Ireland. But wasn't sure if it originated there. Bridget remembers her dad referring to potatoes in their jackets - and thinks it was just him and other Irish people using that word for a potato skin. We've also seen the riddle in a couple of Irish folklore books. Since we haven't heard of any other source, we're taking the position that the riddle is irish - unless we hear otherwise.

Steve asks: Where can I get a copy of Night before Christmas as gaeilge? Indeed, we would like to know ourselves!

And here's one that has even our native Irish speaker scratching her head and saying it's all Double Dutch to her...and us: Has anyone heard this toast spoken and do you know how to write it inGaeilge? "Aucka backa, shin a hish, negar a ma punsh"
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

Countdown to Christmas
Now you can countdown the seconds, minutes, hours and days until the big day on the Christmas in Killarney Festival page. Take a look:

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

Celtic Spirit - Irish Cultural Holidays on Inishmore
In 1974 artist Elizabeth Zollinger moved from Switzerland to Inishmore. She has developed an intimate relationship with the Island, its people and its culture. It is this intimacy and her excellent relations with the local islanders that inspired her to develop the Celtic Spirit Project in 1996, a series of Cultural Weeks which aim to preserve and retain the true culture and heritage of Inishmore while developing and promoting a sustainable tourism for the island. The programme has been updated for 2007. Find out more here:

Free games for thanksgiving
Some of these games will require Flash®, and will play online, while others will need to be printed. So make your selection, and enjoy!

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:

In honour of the Thanksgiving holiday this coming week, here is a traditional Irish grace before dinner:
Bless, O Lord, this food we are about to eat; and we pray You, O God, that it may be good for our body and soul; and if there be any poor creature hungry or thirsty walking along the road, send them into us that we can share the food with them, just as You share your gifts with us all.
May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your beans be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!

And an extra helping:
Ode to the national birds of the USA -the American Eagle and the Thanksgiving Turkey:
May one give us peace in all of our states
And the other a piece on all of our plates.
1. Renvyle Lough in Galway is the sole recorded habitat of a rare water plant, Hydrilla Verticillat, which is extinct in Britain and unrecorded elsewhere in Ireland?
2. The tallest twins on record are the Knipe brothers (b. 1761) of Magherafelt, Derry, who measured 7ft 2inches?
3. The world's oldest known manuscript of the New Testament is in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin?
First off, the answers to our last quiz:
1. Irish Voices from the Great War by Myles Dungan
2. A Long, Long Way by Sebastian Barry
3. They Shall Grow Not Old by Laurence Binyon

Hats off to our brilliant Irish bibliophiles:

Cathleen Toft
Southsea, Hants
The website I suggest is St Laurence O'Toole whose feast day is on November 14.

Karin Nystrom
Karin didn't nominate a site, but she does have this interesting comment:
"All of the books are about the role of Ireland's participation in the Great War. A very interesting topic, overall, as prior to about 1980, very little had been researched or written about it. Thank you for making these selections for this week's quiz. How very appropriate for Veteran's Day."
ED. NOTE: Thanks Karin. Fair warning - we don't have a theme for this week's quiz!

Hartson Dowd
An enjoyable Irish Website: About Arainn Myhor - a beautiful island located off West Donegal and an Irish speaking part of Ireland.
ED. NOTE: Hartson also sent us an interesting commentary on Ireland's role in World War I. It's too lengthy for the newsletter, so we'll make an effort to post it in an appropriate place on the web site.

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.

And now for our next quiz. Who wrote:
1. Irish Oddities
2. Parley with Me: A Compendium of Fairground Speech
3. There Might Be a Drop of Rain Yet
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.
To begin with, the solution to our last brain bruiser:

Soldiers line up spaced with pride,
Two long rows lined side by side.
One sole unit can decide,
If the rows will unite or divide.
Tell me, tell me, scream it out.
Q. What's the thing I talk about?
A. Zipper

As always, we had an avalanche of correct answers from our brilliant Riddle People. But it was John Cassidy from Canada who was first in! Well done. An honourable mention also goes out to Clara Byrne from Newfoundland who sent us "Tongue" and to Bahareh who sent us teeth. And now for our next mind mangler:
What does a turkey like to eat on Thanksgiving?
1. Article: Remembering Larry O'Rourke - and why I stopped using stage Irish
2. Article: Sure and begone and begorrah to Oirish Greeting Cards
3. Article: Irish Superstitions for Christmas
4. Article: Aran Isle Sweaters - How a dropped stitch gave rise to a popular myth
5. Article: An essential guide for the first time traveler to Ireland
6. Irish Kitchen: Preparing the Puddings
7. Basic irish: Autumn in Ireland - The aroma of fresh-baked apple pie, the crunchy sound of leaves underfoot; a bit of a chill in the air; trees and bushes turning from green to gold, red and russet. It's Autumn in Ireland!
8. Kids' Ireland - Old Whiskers Wins a Wife and Aine Learns a Lesson
King Laoghaire's daughter, Aine, was of an age to be married. But, she was being very stubborn about the possible husbands her father presented to her.
9. Circle of prayer - We have begun a new cycle of Novenas and the dates for each one have been posted. Hard to believe we'll be well into the new year when this next cycle is completed. No new prayers this week, but in the spirit of the holiday season just getting underway, we ask that you keep all those away from home in your prayers and meditations, especially the men and women in the military serving their county all over the world.
10. Christmas is coming and the goose is looking worried. We're starting to feel a shift in mood. Merriment is imminent! In the run up to the big day, we'll be adding new products to our shopping pages. This week, we are featuring the Celtic Women Christmas Celebration CD on our homepage margin. Click here and scroll down until you see the gorgeous blonde wearing the Santa hat! (And don't miss the gorgeous doggie in the Santa Hat who's begging for contributions to the Limerick animal shelter!)
Help us keep this newsletter free by visiting our good good friends at The Irish Lottery:
Was there a winner in Saturday'sdrawing? Was it you? Our fantasy is that one of our readers will win the big one. Drawings are held every Wednesday and Saturday, so enter now. The jackpot is never lower than US$1,500,000 and is frequently worth in excess of US$5,000,000. It can rise to $12,000,000 and more.  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!
So that's the long and the short of it until we write again - which will most likely be after we recover from what Russ likes to call the National Day of Gluttony! Until then, we wish everyone in the USA a safe and happy holiday and if you're celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other special event, we hope it's filled with fun and frivolity.

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
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 2nd - November 18
The world premiere of This Is Not A Life written by Alex Johnston and directed by Jimmy Fay Project Arts Centre.
For more details, please click

Cincinnati, OH - November 3 through November 30
Christ Churc h Cathedral - The Perfect Anomaly: an exhibit of over 40 original oil paintings which focuses on the versatility of artist Cindy Matyi. For additional information and directions to the Cathedral, call 513/621-1817 or visit http://www.christchurchcincinnati.org/

New York - November 15
NYC screening of BLACK IRISH at 12th annual Avignon/New York Film Festival, Kaye Playhouse. Directed by Brad Gann this is a gripping work of powerful emotions and unspoken needs. For more 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:

Dublin, Ireland - November 18-November 28
Gaiety Theatre, South King Street. Dublin 2. Opera ireland Winter Season 2006. This season, Opera Ireland stage a very unique duo of productions, combining the new - Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire - and the old with Puccini's resonating and popular La Bohème. For more dteails, please click

Iniskeen, Co. Monaghan. Ireland - Nov-24 through November 26
Patrick Kavanagh Weekend. This was sent in by our loyal subscriber Cathie Toft who says If you are into poetry, songs and storytelling, you'll have a good time there! She also mentions that she goes home for this event every year - lucky girl! For more details, please click

Ardee, Co. Louth - November 24- Novemeber 26
Ardee barque - Ireland's newest music festival will be taking place in the pitch perfect period buildings of Ardee and Collon, Co. Louth. Castles and churches will be filled with the rich and sonorous music of 300 years ago thanks to Louth County Council and the Irish Baroque Orchestra. For more details, please click

Edinburgh, Scotland - November 24 and November 25
Celtic Spirituality Conference.
St George's West Church, 58 Shandwick Place.
For more details, please contact Neill Walker:
0131 331 4469.

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

Manasquan, NJ - March 9 & March 10
Algonquin Arts presents "Flying Flutes from Ireland" For more details, please click


The majority of our readers are in the USA. So in deference to them and the Thanksgiving Holiday, here's a poem we hope all will enjoy. There's also a link at the end to more of the same:
No Thanksgiving Dinner
Tis the night before Thanksgiving and all through our house
No turkey is baking; I feel like a louse,
For I am all nestled, so snug in my bed;
I'm not gettin' up and I'm not bakin' bread.
No pies in my oven, no cranberry sauce
Cuz I give the orders, and I am the boss.
When out in the kitchen, there arose such a clatter
I almost got up to see what was the matter.
As I drew in my head and was tossing around
To the bed came my husband, he grimaced, he frowned.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
He scared me to death and I thought, "Here he goes!"
He spoke not a word as he threw back my quilt
And the look that he gave was intended to wilt.
So up to the ceiling my pillows he threw
I knew I had had it, his face had turned blue.
"You prancer, you dodger, you're lazy, you vixen
Out yonder in kitchen, Thanksgiving you're fixin."
But he heard me explain, with my face in a pout:
"I'm just plain too tired and we're eating out!"
Contributed by:  Mariane Holbrook