The Information about Ireland Site Newsletter
The Newsletter for people interested in Ireland
Now received by over 50,000 people worldwide
Copyright (C) 2007
IN THIS ISSUE
=== News Snaps from Ireland
=== New free resources at the site
=== The Legend of Fionn MacCumhaill
=== On the Modernisation of Ireland
=== The Irish in the American Civil War
=== CARA Penpals Success Story
=== Gaelic Phrases of the Month
=== Monthly free competition result
Hi again from Ireland where the rain has finally
relented in what has turned out to be one of the
wettest Summers in history.
In this months issue we have an article about
Fionn MacCumhaill, the ancient Gaelic warrior
for you to enjoy. Why dont YOU pick an Irish
subject from history and send us in an article
for publication and be immortalized forever
at our website!
Until next time, very best from Ireland
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
STUDENTS SPURN UNIVERSITY FOR BRICKLAYING
The idea of attending University is turning out
to be a big turn-off for some of Ireland's
brightest young school-leavers. Recent research
has highlighted the huge benefits available to
trade workers, plumbers, carpenters, craftsmen
and skilled persons in a variety of employments.
The average industrial wage of EURO 600 per
week is dwarfed by the EURO 932 earned by workers
engaged in a trade. Some bricklayers earn over
EURO 1300 per week. It is estimated that nearly
two thirds of apprentices in the various trades
are educated up to Leaving Certificate standard,
which is traditionally seen as the springboard
to third level education.
HUGE ROW OVER AER LINGUS DECISION TO AXE SHANNON
A major row has developed over the sudden decision
by Aer Lingus to axe its services from Shannon
Airport in the west of Ireland to London Heathrow
The airline, which is now a private company, has
decided to develop its Belfast routes to London
and has announced that it will be shortly ceasing
all travel from the County Clare airport. The
response from local business interests and
politicians in the West was swift with pressure
being applied to the Government to use its
stake in the airline to prevent the axing of the
Shannon routes going ahead. Ryanair have joined
in the mix also by upping its stake in the airline
to just under 30%, the most it is legally allowed
to own under EU law.
The Government is now in a very difficult
position. If it backs the decision of Aer Lingus
management at an upcoming EGM then it will incur
the wrath of the West, who view the decision as
being disastrous to the local economy and job
creation prospects. If the Government abstains
then there is every possibility that Ryanair or
the staff shareholding could defeat the management
team who would surely have to resign.
Should the airline get its way and abandon Shannon
then it is likely that an alternative airline may
step into the breach although which airline it will
be remains to be seen.
PROPERTY PRICE DECLINE CONTINUES
The prospect of an end to the increases in
interest rates by the ECB has provided some cheer
to the Irish property market which has had a very
bad 2007. Nationally the average price of a house
has dropped by over EURO 8000 in the first half of
the year. This is the first real decline since 2001
and is set to continue while the exuberance of
recent years is tempered by more realistic growth
There are still some commentators in the market
however, who feel that the fundamentals for strong
growth in the Irish property market still exist.
The fact that Ireland has a young population, that
inward migration continues to grow and that the
Government National Development Plan will pump
B-illions of Euro into the construction sector
continues to mean that demand for housing will be
high. It is speculated that recent hysteria in the
stock markets lend credence to the belief that
we may be near the end of the interest rate cycle
and that rates may start to decline in 2008.
Those opposed to such a view point out that there
is already an over-supply of accommodation in some
sectors and that continuing higher interest rates
will prevent many from getting onto or maintaining
a position on the property ladder.
The Government has long hoped for a 'soft-landing'
in the property market but it remains to be seen
if it gets its wish.
UNEMPLOYMENT REACHES 3-YEAR HIGH
The contraction in the construction industry as well
as global pressure from cheaper labour markets have
resulted in an increase in unemployment to 163,000
people. The average rate of unemployment now stands
at 4.6% which, despite the recent increase, still
compares very favourably with Ireland's EU
BRITISH MILITARY WITHDRAW FROM NORTHERN IRELAND
Yet another historic milestone in the development
of Northern Ireland as a peaceful democratic
society has been reached with the withdrawal of
British troops from the Province. The troops
arrived in 1969 as part of 'Operation Banner', the
longest running operation in British military
history. Over 300,00 British troops served in
Ulster with 763 killed in action.
JULY WAS WETTEST IN HISTORY
The relentless rain that occurred during July
has marked that month as the wettest on record.
Examination of 170 years of records has shown that
over 3 times the amount of rain hit Dublin during
that month than is usually expected.
Voice your opinion on these news issues here:
NEW FREE RESOURCES AT THE SITE
FREE KIDS GAMES TO PRINT:
Go here to print off some simple games to teach
kids about Ireland:
NEW COATS OF ARMS ADDED TO THE GALLERY:
The following 6 coats of arms images and family
history details have been added to the Gallery:
K: Kavanaugh, O'Keefe
M: Matthews, Murtagh
View the Gallery here:
THE PERFECT WEDDING, ANNIVERSARY OR BIRTHDAY GIFT!
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Screensaver, Watch, T-Shirt Transfer or Clock for
your name at:
THE LEGEND OF FIONN MacCUMHAILL
Fionn MacCumhaill was a mythical Irish warrior.
His name has a number of different spellings and
anglicized forms including Finn McCool and Fionn
MacUmaill. The name Fionn is taken from the
Gaelic word that translates as 'fair' likely
referring to lightly coloured hair. Fionn was
the son of Cumhaill who leader of the ancient
Fianna, a band of mercenary warriors who lived
apart from the rest of Gaelic society.
Hi mother was Muirne, who was daughter to
Tadg mac Nuadat, a druid. Cumhaill kidnapped
Muirne when her father refused him permission
to wed. Outlawed by the High King of the time,
Conn of the Hundred Battles, the subsequent
battle of Cnucha resulted in the demise of
Cumhaill by Goll MacMorna, who assumed leadership
of the Fianna.
The now pregnant Muirne was exiled and was
placed under the care of Fiacal MacConchinn,
Cumhaills brother-in-law. After bearing her
child Muirne left him in the care of his new
family and a warrior woman named Liath Luachra,
who was responsible for teaching him the ways of
war and the Fianna. He was also tutored by
Finnegas, the druid poet who had spent years
searching for the 'salmon of knowledge', a
mythical create that could endow all of the
knowledge of the world. Eventually he caught the
fish and instructed the young Fionn to cook it
for him. While cooking the fish over the fire
he scalded his thumb on the hot flesh and
instinctively put the thumb to his mouth,
instantly gaining the wisdom long sought after
As an adult Fionn traveled to Tara, seat of the
High Kings of Ireland. For 23 years the fairy
Aillen razed the site to the ground every Samhain
having first lulled its guards into slumber with
her music. Fionn managed to defeat Aileen however,
by keeping himself awake by piercing his own skin
with the point of his spear. His nobility was
recognised and Goll MacMorna, who was still leader
of thr Fianna, stepped aside to allow Fionn assume
his rightful place. Gol even gave Fionn his home
at the Hill of Almu as recompense for the death of
His most famous wife was Sadbh who had been turned
into a deer by the druid Fer Doirich. While out
hunting, the hounds of Fionn, Bran and Sceolang,
recognised the deer as a once-human form, since
they too had once been human. Fionn did not kill
the deer who was immediately transformed into his
beautiful wife. She bore him a son, Oisin, who
later became one of the greatest of all of the
Fianna. The druid Fer Doirich returned however and
re-cast Sadbh as a deer who then vanished into the
Later in his life the reigning High King, Cormac
mac Airt, promised Fionn the hand of his daughter
Grainne. It was not be however as Grainne and
Diarmuid Ua Duibhne, another of the Fianna, eloped
with Fionn in pursuit. The mater was resolved when
Fionn allowed the lovers to be together, only for
him to take revenge in later life by not using his
powers to heal Diarmuid and prevent his death,
after he had been gored by a boar.
Fionn is credited with creating the Giants
Causeway as stepping stones from the North of
Ireland to Scotland. Another legend tells how he
a large piece of the land into the sea at an
enemy, that piece of land becoming the Isle of
Man. The hole left behind by the clump of land
he threw became Lough Neagh.
The death of Fionn MacCumhaill is shrouded in
mystery. One legend suggests that he is not dead
but merely sleeping in a cave under Dublin, ready
to strike back against Ireland's enemies.
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THE MODERNISATION OF IRELAND - ONE MANS OPINION!
Mr. Beazley's article in the July issue
was eloquent and astute, (he must be at least part
Irish!). I'm an Irish-American and have been an
organic farmer in Hawaii for the last 25 years.
I've seen the same sort of problems outlined by
Mr. Beazley with one or two additional problem
not mentioned. First, property prices and values.
When I first moved to Hawaii in 1974 property
prices in my area were such that a person could
buy a 'cane shack' for well under $100,000,
oftentimes 60-70,000. Now, due to tourism and
the desire for vacation homes there, the prices
have grown to $300,000+ for these same 'shacks'.
This has resulted in a great boon for those who
had lived there and owned for many years who
sold and made a killing. However, now, the
situation is such that unless one is very
wealthy, one cannot afford to purchase
property there, much less be able to make a
living farming it.
As I approach retirement age I am looking to
come 'home' to Ireland to 'retire' on a small
homestead which I can farm to augment my
social security. Recently, I found an old list
of properties for sale in Ireland on the
internet, (dated 1999-2000). Thinking these
prices quite reasonable, I inquired as to
the availability of these properties and
was surprised at the current prices (and
lack of inventory), compared with the older
list. It appears Ireland is heading toward
the same fate that has befallen the Hawaiian
islands, with regard to price and availability.
I do not know the answers to this or many other
problems which Hawaii shares with Ireland. I
know many of us are concerned about these
problems but without a major shift in the
thinking of the people and government, I see
no solution. As I am new to this site and
newsletter, this problem has probably been
outlined in other issues I have not read,
(and perhaps solutions as well). I can only
hope that Ireland will somehow not meet this
same fate, where farmers and the elderly
can no longer afford to live and farm.
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR by Ed McManus
When Abraham Lincoln was elected president, some
Americans of that time thought that with his
presidency certain rights they were holding onto
would be threatened. Their main right was slavery,
and it would be this that would tear this country
apart. With his election states seceded from
the United States, the first being South Carolina.
Ten states would follow, totaling eleven in all.
On April 12, 1861, the Army of the Confederacy
fired shots on Fort Sumpter, South Carolina in
the harbor of Charleston. Lincoln ordered up the
military of the day. He asked for 75,000
volunteers for a period of ninety days. His guess
was that the war would be short lived. The Civil
War would lead to many battles and subsequent
deaths, and it would end four years almost to the
day with the death of our great American
President, Abraham Lincoln.
Shortly after Sumpter, surnames unfamiliar at the
time would begin to emerge, such as McClellan,
Reynolds, Meade, McPherson, Shaw and Meagher, at
places from Bull Run to Appomattox. These were
the commanders. Many of these men would go on into
the history of their new chosen country, America,
as winners of our highest medal awarded for
bravery. The Irish would earn a major portion of
the Congressional Medals of Honor issued for their
moments of bravery as they fought on to places
that also would have very unfamiliar names.
Ireland's boys traveled throughout the war
visiting places with names we as Americans hold
dear such as Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg,
The Wilderness, Cold Harbor and others. These
would be the towns that they would fight and
die for and earn the love and respect of a fellow
soldier. They would die on the field of battle.
Many would face the hell of Andersonville Prison
Camp miles from Ireland where they or their
parents once fled oppression and hunger.
Soldiers such as Thomas Meagher of County
Waterford, Ireland, the son of a Mayor, was
charged with sedition. Faced with being hanged,
drawn and quartered a reduced sentence for his
charges was now to be shipped to Tasmania by the
English. While on board ship and off the coast
of Australia, he escaped and found his way to
America. He organized the famed Irish Brigade and
led its 63rd, 69th and 88th Regiments into battle.
These military units were all New York based. The
deadly gunfire at Antietam in 1862 would cost
Meagher a sixty per cent casualty rate. He later
won the Congressional Medal of Honor.
John Reynolds, honor graduate of West Point was a
young soldier in the Mexican war of 1847. His
First Corps was first on the scene to assist
General John Buford whose cavalry was
in danger of being crippled by an early advance
of southern troops at the initial staging at
Gettysburg on July 1, 1863. He died shortly after
his arrival there, leading his men in a charge.
The Iron Brigade with Meagher leading his Brigade
was riding right behind Reynolds.
George B. McClellan was the soldier's general. His
nickname, Little Mac was given him by his troops.
Considered too slow to act by Lincoln, his
strategy often confused the enemy confederates.
He would go on to run for the presidency
against Lincoln in 1865.
Robert G. Shaw of Massachusetts would be the only
white officer given command of all black troops by
Lincoln. His love of his men and their cause lead
him to victory as he attacked Fort Wagner off the
coast of Charleston, North Carolina. He died at
Fort Wagner along with half of his men, with a
bullet in the heart. Shaw won the medal
George G. Meade would command the Union Army at
Gettysburg. For three days his army would see more
than 55,000 men on both sides perish, almost the
total of American servicemen in eleven years in
George McPherson, a dear friend to all who knew
him, died on his horse after riding into
Confederate troops, vowing never to surrender.
A hero of Vicksburg and Atlanta. He too
was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
The war ended on April 14, 1865. It seems so odd
to some people that while Lincoln's election
caused the start of the war, Abraham Lincoln would
later die from an assassin's bullet the same month
the war ended. The descendants of the
Irish who fought in the Civil War would go on to
lead America through many other wars in foreign
lands. Because of the love they share of
freedom, America remains free.
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CARA PENPALS SUCCESS STORY
In 2005 I received an e mail through the Cara
Penpals site at http://www.irishpenpals.com
It was from a Patrick Williams of Pennsylvania
who was trying to trace his grandfather's roots.
Well, armed only with his grandfather's birth
certificate, I happily took on the job. I searched
through the birth, marriage and death records
available at the Public Library at Pearse Street,
and managed to locate some birth and death
certificates, but the marriage certificates were
another story. This entailed contacting churchs
to see their records. Michael's (the grandfather's)
birth certificate had his father's place of
residence as Ballyboggan, North Dublin and, would
you believe, I had spent most of my life living
near this place. It is actually called
Ballyboggan Road and runs between Finglas and
Glasnevin. So I headed to the local Church and
found that Michael's parents, Thomas and Jane,
had married there.
From this I also found that Thomas had worked
at the Cardiffsbridge Ironworks making shovels.
I then took off with my camera to see if any of
the sites were still visible and did manage to
get a photo of the last gateway leading into
the Finglaswood Estate, where Michael's mother
died, the Finglaswood Bridge over the Tolka River,
and also of the Cardiff bridge, where the Iron
Works was located.
I located Michael's mother's death certificate
and from that traced the family burial plot in
Glasnevin cemetery. Michael's maternal grandfather
bought the plot for 110 Pounds (which would have
been a lot of money back then) so I have surmised
that he was a man of some substance. The only
lead I have as to his occupation is that of a
'car man' and again, all I can find in relation
to this occupation is that it was like an early
I am still on the trail of relatives who stayed
behind in Ireland. The last known postal address
I have for the family is 83 Manor Street in
Dublin and I know Michael's baptism sponsor
lived at the 5th Lough also known as Reilly's
Bridge at Cabra.
Patrick went on to write a book about his
grandfather, and he very kindly sent me a copy
for editing....I was sorry to have to blow the
couple of myths that his grandfather had
cultivated, but this was taken in good spirits
and Patrick went on to publish his book.
In the early days of our writing, Patrick
mentioned that he had always yearned to visit
Ireland and walk in the footsteps of his
grandfather...so early in the year I invited
him to come and stay with me and visit all the
places mentioned in his book.
Well, Patrick, his wife Cathy and youngest
daughter, Grace (11) arrived on 15th July
this year, and it was as though I had known
them all my life.
We spent a very intensive week travelling from
Ennis, to Mayo (Knock, of course), Sligo,
Leitrim, Dublin and back to Ennis via Clonmacnoise,
and, believe it or not, it did not rain on us
once! Each time we went outdoors, the rain
stopped and the sun shone (and we have the
photos to prove it).
I made some really nice friends through the
Cara site and hope I continue to meet and write
to many more over the years.
CARA Free Irish penpals service can be found at
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where you can get great Irish gifts, prints,
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Wendy Walker of Columbia, Missouri got a
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I received by registered mail today the ring I
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GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
PHRASE: Gabh mo leithscaal
PRONOUNCED: govh muh leh-skayle
MEANING: Excuse me
PHRASE: Nil Gaeilge maith agam
PRONOUNCED: kneel gale-geh mot ah-gum
MEANING: I cannot speak Irish very well
PHRASE: An Bhfuil Bearla/Gaeilge agat
PRONOUNCED: on will bear-lah/gale-geh ah-gut
MEANING: Do you speak English/Irish
View the archive of phrases here:
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 print, and well
done! Remember that all subscribers to this
newsletter are automatically entered into the
competition every time.
I hope that you have enjoyed this issue.
Until next month,
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