IN THIS ISSUE
~~~ Keep us Free!
~~~ News Snaps from Ireland
~~~ New Free Resources at the Site
~~~ Retiring in Ireland
~~~ Pub Raffle failure leads to 5 Million Euro win!
~~~ Cara Irish Penpals News
~~~ From New Zealand to Ireland by Nancy Hawks
~~~ Famous Irish Songs: The Fields of Athenry
~~~ Gaelic Phrases of the Month
~~~ Monthly free competition result
Hello again from Ireland where the sunshine has
finally broken through to give us hope of an
In this month's edition we have an article that
will get you started if you wish to retire to
You can also find out how the failure by the
Fitzgerald to win a hamper in a local pub raffle
may have contributed to their winning over 5
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
CUTBACKS RATHER THAN TAX INCREASES ARE ON THE WAY
The worsening state of the countries finances are
to be remedied by paring back expensive projects
that are planned by Government Departments rather
than by increasing taxes. The slowdown in the US
economy and the increase of the value of the EURO
relative to the US Dollar has made Irish exports
more expensive, resulting in a slowdown in job
creation with a resultant decrease in consumer
spending and a follow-on reduction in Government
tax yields. The lingering effects of the foot
and mouth disease outbreaks and the troubles
experienced by Airlines worldwide have hit the
tourism industry badly which has also reduced
Reductions in major road building schemes and
other projects such as the National Sports
Stadium may therefore have to happen sooner
rather than later. The emphasis of the Government
is very much improving the Health Service which
is still recovering fomr the major cutbacks that
occurred during the 1980's. The current
administration plans to completely eradicate
waiting lists for operations within 12 months but
this will be a very difficult target to achieve
in the current economic climate.
Despite the current troubles in the economy the
full extent of the recent boom is evidenced by the
long-term unemployment figures which have fallen
from 128,000 in 1994 to 20,330 in 2001.
PLASTIC BAG TAX HAILED A SUCCESS
The tax on plastic bags that was imposed by the
Irish Government has been hailed a great success
and a worldwide 'first'. Already there have been
high-level enquires from England about the
scheme which has seen the use of disposable
plastic bags cut by 90%. This represents a
reduction of millions of bags that would otherwise
have ended up in refuse landfills. Shoppers who
continue to use plastic bags to carry their
shopping are charged 15 cents which is passed onto
the Government. EURO 10 million is expected to be
raised by the plastic bag tax in 2002 and this is
already earmarked for the establishment of an
Office for Environmental Enforcement. A new
project to enable the correct disposal of fridges
and freezers will also be funded by the levy.
IRISH LANGUAGE GAELTACHT AREAS MAY DIE OUT
The Irish speaking areas of Ireland known as 'the
Gaeltacht' and mostly located along the Western
seaboard, have greatly declined in recent years
as non-Irish speaking families and workers move
out of cities and into the countryside. Amid fears
that these Gaeltacht areas could die out
completely the Government is promising an action
plan to include Irish-speaking creches, schools
and college places as well as sporting and
cultural activities that will be run using the
While Irish is spoken by more people in Dublin
than in the rest of the country, the all-Irish
Radio station, 'Radio na Gaeltachta' as well as
the Irish Television station, TG4, make the
language available to the whole country.
NATIONAL SPORTS STADIUM MAY BE POSTPONED
The slowdown in the economy could have the effect
of scuppering Ireland's bid to co-host the 2008
European Soccer Championship finals with Scotland.
A September 16th inspection by UEFA officials will
tell a lot about the commitment of the Government
to complete the EURO 600 Million project which
has always been a source of great criticism for
the opposition parties.
USE OF MOBILE PHONES IN CARS IS BANNED
The use of hand-held mobile telephones in motor
vehicles has been banned in Ireland with offenders
facing fines of EURO 190, EURO 435 and possible
imprisonment for successive offences. Hand-free
kits are not covered by the legislation which
will be enforced by the Gardai.
The development is part of the Government's
continuing efforts to reduce the number of people
killed or injured on Irish roads. A 'points' system
is due to be implemented later this year which will
assign points to offenders who will be fined or
disqualified depending on the number of points they
accumulate over a set period of time.
SONIA O'SULLIVAN GRABS TWO SILVERS
Top Irish athlete Sonia O'Sullivan achieved two
silver medals in the recent European Championships
in Munich in the 5,000 and 10,000 Metres. She was
well beaten in the longer distance but was defeated
on the line in the final stride having looked set
to clinch the 5,000 race. Ireland's greatest ever
female athlete now has her sites set on the World
Championships and on the Olympics in 2 years time.
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F: Fogarty, Foxall
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RETIRING IN IRELAND
It is a well known fact that if you ask an Irish
man or woman where they are from, they will tell
you where they were born! The fact that they
haven't lived in that place for most of their
lives, indeed the fact that they haven't lived
in Ireland for most of their lives is, to them,
irrelevant. They seem to have mastered the art
of 'living in two places at once' as the Irish
psychologist Maureen Gaffney says. And it was the
fervent wish of every Irish emigrant to return
to live in Ireland.
An ever increasing number of people are opting to
spend their retirement in Ireland, and not all of
them have any family connections here. They may
give many reasons for this - the relaxed pace of
life in many parts of this country (particularly
away from the cities and large towns), the low
crime rate in the more rural areas, and the fact
that it is cheaper to live in Ireland with a
fixed income for many of them.
These are valid and prudent considerations when
contemplating a move to retire to Ireland, but
there are other important considerations which
must be taken into account as well. Most people
who work outside the home have up to 80% of
their acquaintances there and on retirement these
will disappear - a fact that may cause us great
joy! The other 20% are family, close friends and
the people we interact with in our social life.
Before you move permanently, ask yourself the
* How often will you see family again?
* Will you miss too many of the great family
* Will your grandchildren have children of their
own by the time you return or meet them again?
* How good are you at making friends? We Irish
have a reputation for being friendly, but
there's a big difference in being friendly and
* Do you know anyone in Ireland - other than
If you hesitate about the answers to any of these
questions, you must be careful about making a
permanent move. TRY IT OUT FOR SIX MONTHS FIRST.
Then if everything is working out, make the move
permanent, if not, think again. Many people who
transfer to Ireland do so for the better months
- April to October - and change to warmer
climates for winter months.
Here are some important considerations you have
to take account of in making your decision:
As far as the Irish government is concerned, you
can hold dual citizenship if you wish. However,
your own government may take a different view so
it is vital that you check with them before you
do anything to start the process of taking out
Irish Citizenship. You would not want to lose
your own citizenship in the process.
What are the benefits of taking out Irish
* You can vote in all Irish elections and
Referenda, i.e. Presidential elections, various
referenda, elections to the Dail - the Irish
parliament - to the European parliament and in
local government elections.
* You have all the privileges enshrined in the
Constitution and all the duties of citizens
listed there and in law.
* You can have virtually unrestricted travel to
any part of the world - the Irish government
places no obstacles in the travel plans of its
citizens so much so that you will probably bump
into an Irish person in the most unlikely places.
No one likes paying taxes, but just like the
weather they are always with us. Details of the
treatment of people residing in Ireland and their
tax liability are covered in 'Leaflet RES 1' from
the Revenue Commissioners, at +353 1 8780100.
The following conditions apply to you if you set
up residence permanently in Ireland:
* All income arising from sources in Ireland
except for certain exempt government stocks is
liable to Irish income tax.
* No part of a visitor's income from sources
outside Ireland is subject to income tax unless
that person is deemed to be resident in Ireland,
i.e. they spend 183 days in the State in a tax
year or 280 days in the State, combining the
number of days in the current tax year and the
preceding tax year. The tax year starts on 1st
January each year.
* You would do well to consult an accountant or
a lawyer versed in tax law if you feel you might
have problems with this. This would be
particularly important in the area of inheritance
* Ireland operates a double taxation agreement
with many countries and you will receive a tax
credit on the tax paid in your country of origin
when calculating your tax liability in Ireland.
You should have proof of the tax deducted from
your country of origin.
Most of us will live on pensions of one sort or
another when we reach retirement age. Most
countries allow their citizens to transfer their
pensions to where they are living. Company
pensions can normally be paid into a bank and
transferred to you without any trouble.
Social Security pensions from the USA will suffer
a 15% withholding tax from the IRS, but can be
paid outside the USA. Just give three to six
months' notice of your intention to move.
If you are entitled to a Social Security pension
from Australia, you can have it paid in Ireland.
The pensions are distributed from England to
addresses all over Europe and are posted on a
If you are entitled to a pension from Veterans
Affairs it must be paid into an Australian bank
first, and then transferred. PAYE ('Pay As You
Earn tax') will be deducted at source on all
Ireland has reciprocal agreements with several
countries including Austria, Canada, Australia
and the United States. These agreements protect
the pension entitlements of Irish people who go
to work in these countries and they protect people
from those countries who work in Ireland. They
cover pensions only, i.e., Old Age Contributory
Pension, Retirement Pension, Invalidity Pension
and the Widowed Person's Contributory Pensions.
They allow periods of insurance and or residence
which were completed in one country to be taken
into account by the other country so that the
worker may qualify for a pension. It is even
possible for some people to qualify for payments
from both countries at the same time.
The good news is that if you do qualify for a
payment under any of these Social Security schemes,
you may also qualify for the following free
benefits in Ireland from the Irish Department
of Social, Community and Family Affairs when
the pensioner reaches age 66:
* Free electricity allowance (1500 units per year)
or you can opt for an equivalent Natural Gas
Allowance or a Bottled Gas Refill allowance
* Free Television licence
* Telephone Rental Allowance
* Fuel Allowance
* Free Travel (open to everyone resident in
Ireland...see explanation below)
For these you must be residing permanently in
Ireland and fulfil the conditions. For further
information and to see if you would qualify write
to: International Operations Section, Department
of Social, Community & Family Affairs, Floor 1,
O'Connell Bridge House, D'Olier Street, Dublin 1,
Telephone: ++353 1 874 8444
Free travel: Everyone residing in Ireland is
entitled to Free Travel within the state if they
are over the age of 66. It entitles you to travel,
without charge, on all the trains and buses of
the state transport companies. Some private bus
operators are also involved in the scheme. There
are some restrictions. You must use the commuter
buses and trains outside rush hour times and
during specific hours. One downside - if you live
in a remote area there may be no bus/train
available to you. Application forms are available
from post offices or local Social Welfare Services
offices. One other benefit of the Free Travel Pass
is that you can use it for reduced entry charges
to race meetings, cinemas and theatres on
specified occasions. Always ask!
REGISTERING WITH THE ALIENS OFFICE
If you are a citizen of Ireland you do not have
to register. If you were able to obtain Irish
Citizenship because either you, one of your
parents, or one of your grandparents was born on
the island of Ireland before 1921, or in the
Republic of Ireland if born after 1921,
(great-grandparents no longer count since the law
was changed in 1984), but your spouse does not
qualify, then it will take your spouse some years,
before he or she can apply to become a citizen.
If you are not an Irish citizen then you must
register during office hours with the Aliens
Office, Harcourt Square, Dublin 2, if you are
living in Dublin. If you are living outside
Dublin you must register with the local Garda
Station. You must register after three months
to seek permission to stay longer, then on a
Can I hire a car in Ireland? Yes, if you are
under 75 years of age. If you are older you will
not be able to buy car insurance and will be
unable to drive legally. Remember to bring an
International Driving licence with you.
Can I bring my dog or other pet with me? Yes, but
it will be subject to six months quarantine at
your expense). There are no exceptions and if you
arrive without the necessary arrangements made,
you will be sent back at your own expense.
Recently a lady made arrangements to set up a
private quarantine kennel near her own home for
her dog, but it was costly. You must contact the
Department of Agriculture, Kildare Street, Dublin 2
before you arrive, to find out the necessary
requirements and obtain a licence to bring the
animal into the country. The reason for the
strictness on pets is that Ireland and the
United Kingdom are free of rabies. The U.K. has
introduced a Pet Passport scheme but there is no
such scheme in Ireland currently.
Can I get free medical attention in Ireland? The
short answer is yes. Emergency treatment is free
after payment of an initial hospital charge of
EURO 30 in all hospitals; however, non emergency
treatment could mean a very long wait, sometimes
months. Private medical insurance is a virtual
If you have medical insurance now, check if you
can transfer it to one of the health care insurers
in Ireland (VHI or BUPA). VHI (the Voluntary Health
Insurance board - a semi-state company) will
continue to give you medical cover after the age of
65 (there is no upper age limit for EXISTING
subscribers), but will not take on NEW members if
they are aged 65 or over. BUPA International - the
other main medical insurer operating in Ireland -
has similar conditions.
Normally you pay for all visits to your doctor,
and for all prescribed drugs. But if your total
income is modest, and you are residing permanently
in Ireland, then you may qualify for a medical
card which will entitle you to free medical
treatment in Ireland. This means you would not have
to pay for any prescribed drug, visit to a doctor
on the medical card panel, or a consultant's public
hospital clinic. Contact the Health Board in your
area to learn the current earnings limits and for
an application form. If you come to Ireland from
another European Union (EU) country, and have a
Social Security pension from that country, you
will receive a medical card as of right.
Perhaps the greatest challenge you will encounter
when considering your retirement in Ireland is where
to live! The huge increases in the cost of property
over the last decade has been well documented with
most properties more than doubling in value over
that time. Some have trebled or even more in value.
If you intend to live in a city, especially Dublin,
then be prepared to pay at least EURO 250,000 for
a 3 bedroom house. Prices decrease and value for
money increases greatly the further into the
countryside you are willing to travel. It is still
possible to buy 'fixer-upper' bungalows and cottages
for EURO 100,000 or less.
The poor performance of the EURO versus the US
Dollar and other currencies has recently been of
great advantage to foreign people wanting to buy
property in Ireland. This trend has been bucked in
recent times with the EURO enjoying parity with
the US Dollar. The exchange rate changes on a
daily basis and by the time you do decide to move
the pendulum may have swung back the other way! One
advantage of the EURO is that it can be used in
France, Germany, Spain and other European countries
without having to visit a bank first and pay those
annoying Bureau de Change charges!
If you intend to rent accommodation then stick to
your budget. Renting a modest 3-bedroom house in
Dublin can cost EURO 1200 per month or more
depending on the area. Renting the same house but
1 hour outside the city can cost EURO 450 or less!
This article has been adapted from an article
written by Hilary Shannon for the 'Inside Ireland'
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CARA IRISH PENPALS NEWS
We have added a new feature that enables you to
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The following CARA Irish Penpals are among those
who upgraded their membership this month:
Name: Mark (full name available at the website)
City, Country: Ireland
Interests: Music, comedy, travelling and reading.
Message: Hey guy's, I'm interested in meeting some
cool people from Australia or Nevada.
Name: James (full name available at the website)
City, Country: Dublin, Ireland
Interests: Ireland, travelling the world, freedom
& friendships, cooking, watersports, Latin & rock
music, u2, my dog!
Message: HELLO :) I'm James ,Ireland is my
birthplace and home...send me a mail? :)
Name: Micheline (full name available at the website)
City, Country: Hampton, USA
Interests: the Celtic people, mystery/sci-fi
reading and writing, gardening, archery, eclectic
Message: Hi, I am looking for penpals that would
share mythology and cultural history, everyday
life, or whatever you would like, maybe a
Name: Caitríona (full name available at the website)
City, Country: London, England
Interests: Irish language, G&L community,
gardening, theatre, reading good books by good
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From New Zealand to Ireland by Nancy Hawks
I have just returned to New Zealand after that
long awaited trip to Ireland to find my 'roots'.
I grew up hearing stories from my father about
Roscommon where his mother was born, and to visit
the beautiful little town of Keadue was a
highlight of my trip.
I found a very distant relative (I reckon about 25
times removed if I stretch things a little) but
sadly no family headstones in the cemetery of the
Catholic Church. They may have been there but so
many were broken, indeciferable and covered with
weeds that I couldn't find anything that resembled
my Benison family name. I felt as though I was
walking all over my ancestors as I fought my way
through the prickles. Whose responsibility is it
to take care of these precious old cemeteries?
The Famine Museum in Roscommon was a sobering
experience, the numbers that died, 1.5 million, is
rather mind-numbing and to see that a million
emigrated as well must have had a huge impact on
a small country. I walked around the museum and
thought of what my grandmother and her 6 siblings
went through as children when they chose to leave
their parents and emigrate to New Zealand. A
journey that took months on those old ships,
knowing that they would never be able to return.
My 23 hours of flying was nothing in comparison.
I am a keen collector of fridge magnets and always
try to get one as a keepsake of places I have
visited on my travels. I did my usual hunt at the
Famine Museum and was horrified to see the magnets
that they had on display, 'Been there, done that,
enjoyed it, the Famine Museum"'. Needless to say I
didn't purchase one, whoever designed that
particular magnet certainly showed no sensitivity
and the thought ran through my mind that it would
be like someone saying about visiting the Jewish
death camps of the holocaust - 'Been there, done
that, enjoyed it'.
I loved just about every minute of my all too
brief visit to Ireland, from Ballymena where one
set of grandparents came from, (grandfather was
Northern Irish Presbyterian) to Roscommon where
my Southern Irish Catholic grandmother came from,
(they met and married in NZ).
I loved the accents, the lady looking for the
1,2,3 bus. The friendliness and good humour of the
people, the young lady who stopped in the street
of Dublin to ask us if we were lost and then
directed us to the train station. The hour and a
half trying to drive out of Dublin and the
directions that we given to get out of Enniskerry.
Each person we asked contradicted the previous
person, and an hour later we were on our way to
Bray after trying each street in turn. The parking
attendant who said that we could park our car in
the street for half an hour and then added 'But
don't hurry back, it's nearly lunchtime'. The B&Bs,
who all wanted to be paid in cash. The bus trip
around Dublin and listening to the Tour operator
with his stories of Molly Malone, the 'tart with
I'm glad I've finally had the opportunity to find
my heritage. I'm waiting now for all my films to
be developed so that I can share my memories with
the rest of my family. We're proud of our Irish
ancestry and I know that I'll be back again if
ever our dollar improves and the bank isn't so
quick at sending out the credit card statements!
Nancy Hawks, Auckland, New Zealand
FAMOUS IRISH SONGS: THE FIELDS OF ATHENRY
Pete St. John is attributed with being the author
of this song but the lyrics date back to a ballad
published in the 1880's. The song is based on the
true story of a young couple during the Irish
Famine (1845-1849). Lord Trevelyan had brought a
supply of corn to Ireland but it was of little use
as it was 'Indian' corn and was not easily milled.
The desperate plight of the native Irish people of
the time however, did not prevent them from
attempting to break into the stores where the corn
was held. Many were arrested and some were deported
to Australia (Botany Bay) as criminals.
The Fields of Athenry
By a lonely prison wall
I heard a sweet voice calling,
'Danny, they have taken you away.
For you stole Travelian's corn,
That your babes might see the morn,
Now a prison ship lies waiting in the bay.'
Low lie the fields of Athenry
Where once we watched the small freebirds fly.
Our love grew with the spring,
We had dreams and songs to sing
As we wandered through the fields of Athenry.
By a lonely prison wall
I heard a young man calling
'Nothing matters, Jenny, when you're free
Against the famine and the crown,
I rebelled, they ran me down,
Now you must raise our children without me'.
On the windswept harbour wall,
She watched the last star rising
As the prison ship sailed out across the sky
But she'll watch and hope and pray,
For her love in Botany Bay
Whilst she is lonely in the fields of Athenry.
Whilst she is lonely in the fields of Athenry.
Listen to the tune to this and other famous Irish
The following CD collections of Irish songs are
available from http://www.irishnation.com/irishmusicds.htm
* All-Time Irish Favourites - 3 CD Set
* The Magic of Ireland - 4 CD Set
* 101 Beautiful Irish Ballads - 4 CD Set
* Essential Irish Pub Songs Collection - 3 CD Set
.......and many more!
GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
PHRASE: eistigi liom!
PRONOUNCED: eish-tig-ee lum
MEANING: listen to me!
PHRASE: Dún do bheal!
PRONOUNCED: shut your mouth!
MEANING: duin duh vale!
PHRASE: gabh mo leithscéal!
PRONOUNCED: guh muh lesh/kale
MEANING: pardon me!
View the archive of phrases here:
SHAMROCK SITE OF THE MONTH: THE IAVI
Looking for a house or property in Ireland? The
IAVI website lets you search their database of
houses and apartments.
AUGUST COMPETITION RESULT
The winner was: email@example.com
who will receive the following:
A Single Family Crest Print (decorative)
Send us an email to claim your prize, and well
done! Remember that all subscribers to this
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competition every time.
I hope that you have enjoyed this issue.
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Until the next time,
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