The Information about Ireland Site Newsletter
The Newsletter for people interested in Ireland
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Copyright (C) 2009
IN THIS ISSUE
=== News Snaps from Ireland
=== New free resources at the site
=== The Ancient Ogham Language
=== Great Irish Families: Kelly
=== The Legend of Fionn MacCumhaill
=== Shy Man by Pat Watson
=== The Irish Coins Proof Set
=== Gaelic Phrases of the Month
=== Shamrock site of the month:
=== Monthly free competition result
Hello from Ireland where all the talk is of the
governments plan to create a 'bad bank' - will
this be enough to end the banking crisis?
If you have an article, poem or story about
Ireland or the Irish do send it in - we would
love to receive it!
Until next month
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
FORMER IRISH PRESIDENT AWARDED US MEDAL OF FREEDOM
Former Irish president Mary Robinson has been
awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by US
President Barrack Obama. The award is the highest
US civilian honour. Mary Robinson was the United
Nations high commissioner for human rights from
1997 to 2002. There has been some opposition to
this award from within the US, particularly from
the powerful Jewish lobby who accuse her of having
'a long public record of hostility and one-sided
bias against' Israel - a charge which she denies.
The White House was quick to point out that Mary
Robinson was being honoured for her prominence in
promoting women's rights around the world.
EUROPE STARTING TO EMERGE FROM RECESSION
There have been further signs of a recovery in
the economic fortunes of European countries with
the news that both Germany and France emerged
from recession in the second quarter of this
year, after 5 quarters of decline. News from
Ireland is also more hopeful than it had been
with a recent report detailing that retail sales
are showing signs of recovery. June was the best
month for sales since the recession began. Car
sales continue to drag however and, just as
elsewhere, this industry is in big trouble.
The Irish economy has other problems. The
continuing banking crisis is being tackled head-on
with the proposed establishment of a 'bad bank'
to take the toxic loans off the books of the
major retail banks at a discounted rate. There is
no guarantee that the government will be able to
proceed on this basis and should their coalition
partners, the Greens, decide that the new bad-loan
bank (NAMA) is not the way to proceed then there
is a very real possibility of the government
collapsing and a general election being held. It
remains to be seen if the Greens do commit
political suicide as, if they withdraw from
government on the NAMA issue they still remain
certain to be crucified by an electorate already
reeling from big tax increases implemented by a
government of which they are an integral part.
The property market is another problem. There
still remains a big number of properties unsold,
despite big discounts. Commentators still think
the Irish property market has some way to fall
although the more moderate observers think the
bottom is in sight. If the property market gets
moving again, allowing the construction industry
to recover somewhat, then Ireland may well emerge
from this recession relatively unscathed.
This optimistic scenario seems unlikely however,
as persistent government chatter about a new
property tax is likely to encourage undecided
buyers to wait even longer to make a purchase.
Would you pay 30,000 euro in stamp duty for a
house if you thought that the stamp duty tax was
likely to be scrapped in the near future, to be
replaced with an annual tax imposed on all
IRISH TEENAGERS AMONG EARLIEST TO START SMOKING
Heavy taxation of cigarettes and tobacco products
has not deterred the youth of Ireland from taking
up the smoking habit. A survey by 'Tobacco Atlas'
has placed Ireland in the second worst tier where
between 16% and 30% of teenagers have started
smoking. In Europe only Germany, the Baltic
countries, Belarus and Bulgaria are worse.
Scandinavian countries fare much better with less
than 7% of teenagers smoking, with Greece,
Switzerland and the US also at the healthier end
of the smoking scale, if there is any such thing.
HIGH HOPES FOR IRISH MEDALS IN OLYMPICS
Despite the London Olympics still being three
years away the hopes of Irish success have
improved with the announcement that female boxing
is to be admitted to the sporting showcase for
the first time. Boxing had been the only Olympic
sport from which women were barred. Katie Taylor
from County Wicklow is the current European
and world boxing champion having won 60
of her previous 61 bouts and if she can remain
injury free will surely be in with a shout of a
medal. A further boost to Irish chances of Olympic
honour came with the news that both Golf and Rugby
are to be considered for inclusion in the 2016
games. Ireland's long tradition of producing top
golfers as well as success in rugby 'sevens'
competitions augurs well for future Olympic glory.
Voice your opinion on these news issues here:
NEW FREE RESOURCES AT THE SITE
IRELAND HOUSE-SWAP LISTING
We are working on the online program to allow you
to freely add and view details of other people who
are interested in this service.
You can add your home-swap details to our new free
listing service at:
IRISH HOLIDAY AND TOURIST BOARD
Post a question about holidaying in Ireland
and we guarantee an answer will be posted on
NEW COATS OF ARMS ADDED TO THE GALLERY:
The following 5 coats of arms images and family
history details have been added to the Gallery:
G: Gaynor, Gallen
View the Gallery here:
THE PERFECT WEDDING, ANNIVERSARY OR BIRTHDAY GIFT!
We now have over 100,000 worldwide names available.
Get the Coat of Arms Print, Claddagh Ring,
Screensaver, Watch, T-Shirt Transfer or Clock for
your name at:
YOU CAN HELP TO KEEP THIS FREE NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
where you can get great Irish gifts, prints,
claddagh jewellery, engraved glassware and
Anne MacDonald ordered a family crest plaque:
Received my plaque, carefully wrapped,
in good order. It is splendid! I am
thrilled, and I know that my dad, for whose
81st birthday this was ordered, will love
it. I would like to order another one!
Everyone who has seen the plaque has been
really impressed, even those who, as my
daughter says are 'not into ancestor
Again, my hearty thanks for this
Best wishes for happy holiday season.
Sincerely, Anne MacDonald
THE PERFECT WEDDING OR ANNIVERSARY GIFT!
View family crest plaques here:
THE ANCIENT OGHAM LANGUAGE
The ancient Ogham script (pronounced 'oh-am') is
most often found on Ogham stones that date back
to the third century. Most examples of the writing
is found on Ogham stones of which there are over
350 found mostly in southern Ireland as well as
in Scotland, the Isle of Man, Cornwall and Wales.
The transition to the use of the Roman alphabet
took place about the sixth century. Most examples
of Ogham writing confer the name of person that
they represent, thus the stones are often memorial
symbols. When carved on stones the first letter
was at the base and the inscription read from the
bottom up. Ogham is occasionally called the
'Celtic Tree alphabet' as many of the letters of
Ogham refer to trees. The origin of Ogham is
unclear with some scholars suggesting that the
language was invented to allow the native Irish
communicate in code that the Roman Britons would
not understand. Other scholars contend that the
language is of Christian origin and exists as a
means of religious communication.
View the Ogham alphabet, a picture of an Ogham
stone in Kerry as well as Ogham jewellery here:
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GREAT IRISH FAMILIES: KELLY
The ancient families of Kelly rank as the
second most numerous in Ireland, Murphy being
the most numerous. The re-use of the prefixes
O and Mac have widely occurred with this name to
the extent that as many as 1 in 20 born in modern
times now use either of these prefixes. It
must be remembered that after the Gaelic order was
destroyed most Irish names were crudely anglicized
with the Mac and O prefix being dropped. After the
Gaelic revival of the late nineteenth century the
pointed re-use of these prefixes was successful to
widely varying degrees across the many hundreds of
Although the most important sept of Kelly was
that of Ui Maine the name actually originated
independently in a number of different locations
* O'Kelly of Ui Maine
(Counties Galway and Roscommon)
* O'Kelly of Breagh (in County Meath)
* O'Kelly of Cinel Eachrach
(Counties Antrim and Derry)
* O'Kelly of Leix (County Laoise)
* Kelly of Templeboy (Sligo)
* Kelly of Wicklow
* MacKelly of Connaught Province
The ancestor of these independent septs was
Ceallach from which the Gaelic form of the name is
derived, O'Ceallaigh. Ceallach is a first name
that is likely translated as meaning 'strife'. The
Kellys of Kilkenny are from O'Caollaidhe however,
which is also been anglicized as Kealy and Queally.
The most prominent of all of these septs was
O'Kelly of Ui Maine (also called Hy Many).
The ancient documents 'The Annals of the Four
Masters' make many references to these families.
Four of the sept were Bishops of Clonfert. In 1518
the O'Kellys were named by Galway Corporation as
one of the 'dangerous septs'.
History is replete with famous bearers of the
name. Father Malachy Kelly (died in 1684) founded
the Irish College in Paris. Dennis O'Kelly
(1720-1787) was part owner of the famous
racehorse 'Eclipse' and became a colonel. James
O'Kelly (1845-1916) was a war correspondent of
renown. The playwright Seamus O'Kelly (1881-1918)
supported Parnell when he became an M.P. William
Kelly (1811-188) was an inventor who created a
method of converting pig iron directly into
inexpensive steel. Colonel Patrick Kelly
(1822-1864) was the commander of the Irish Brigade
at Gettysburg. Ned Kelly( 1854-1880) was the famous
Australian bushranger who defied the authorities.
Grace Kelly (1928-1982) was the famous Hollywood
actress who became Princess of Monaco. Gene Kelly
(1912-1996), was the Academy Award-winning
American dancer, actor and singer. Sean T. O'Kelly
(1882-1966) was the second President of Ireland.
The name Kelly has been dispersed to every corner
of the globe and in modern times is of particular
prominence in both Australia and America.
View the Kelly family crest here:
Get the Kelly plaque, print, signet ring and
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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
threw 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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SHY MAN by Pat Watson
Even though he was seven years her senior, Paddy
had been admiring Mary from a distance for many
years. Not that it did him any good because he
lacked the courage to do anything about it. Oh he
had plenty of courage on the football field or
handling livestock but with girls it was
different. He often started out determined to
carry through but always chickened out at the
last minute. Whenever he practised a few sentences
in front of the mirror they sounded great but he
could never repeat the words when faced with Mary,
her half smile, her feminine gait, her air of
serenity, her gentleness just melted his heart and
tied his tongue. With a mumbled hello his jellied
legs always scuttled him away.
Now it was different, his Mother had died six
long months ago last spring, the loneliness was
unbearable, Mary was always on his mind and he
would turn forty before Christmas. He just had to
kick himself into action. He thought of a plan.
Mary lived with her brother Tom who played cards
in the village every Tuesday night.
At that time the carbide lamp was the latest
status symbol of dashing young men. It was a
sophisticated piece of equipment. It had a bottom
chamber for white carbide powder, a higher chamber
with water that dripped on to the powder, forming
a flammable gas, a jet protruding into the light
chamber where the gas would be lit by a match and
finally a little glass door to protect the flame.
There was a screw tap to accurately control the
water flow as too little or too much yielded no
gas. There was also a built-in pump to keep the
gas pressed through the jet at the right speed to
create a perfect blue flame. The mirror type
reflector then threw the light onto the road
ahead when the whole contraption was clipped on
to the bicycle. In the event of power failure, it
would be necessary to call to the nearest house
for a light to reset the whole thing.
Now for the plan, he would call to Mary's house
on Tuesday night to regulate his carbide lamp.
He would call with the lamp in his hand, then
even if his voice failed him, she would know
what he wanted and she would invite him into the
light. Then as he dazzled her with his dexterity,
technical wizardry and ultra-modern equipment,
speech would surely come. She might even offer
him tea. He would look at her, admire her, and
just be beside her. She would smile at him - oh
that smile! No, no, this was too good to be true.
Something would go wrong. Don't be negative, what
can go wrong? There will be only the two of us
and after a while his courage would come.
He knocked at the door. Mary opened it. He held
up the lamp. 'Paddy, you want to regulate your
lamp? come into the light, Lorna's girls are here
visiting. They came to say goodbye, Meg and Peg
are for America tomorrow.'
The kitchen was full of big redhead girls, four
of them, all late teens. They were nieces, her
older sister - Lorna had married Big Red Hanrahan
from the mountain over twenty years ago. They had
wild sons who emigrated but not before they had
made a name for themselves fighting at football
matches and dances. He hoped the girls would be
more agreeable. They weren't.
'Did your little blue light go out?'
'Was it ever lit?' More laughter.
'Is your carbide dry?'
'No his pump is faulty'
'I think it's his little jet'
Hysterical laughter. They had certainly taken
after their father, with a loud brash manner,
roaring red hair, big noses and little beady
eyes. Mary had disappeared.
He ran from the house, clasping his lamp, a broken
man, distraught, humiliated, broken-hearted with
the salt-tears of anger, frustration and failure
burning his eyes, the coarse, squealing, mocking
laughter ringing in his ears. Talk about bold,
bawdy, brazen lady-dogs, those were they. Nothing
could go wrong, like always, nothing went right.
He had really blown all his chances with Mary now.
He would never live it down. He would have to
emigrate. He would have to live his whole life
without love or companionship, without Mary. The
thought was unbearable. He was definitely a case
for the foreign legion, without hope.
When he reached his bike, Mary was there. She left
her hand on his and smiling said
'Yes is my answer to your question'.
They needed no light after that.
is one of sixty lyrical yarns from
'Original Irish Stories' by Pat Watson,
Creagh, Bealnamulla, Athlone, Ireland.
First published in May 2006.
To get your copy email the author here:
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THE IRISH COINS PROOF SET
The recent limited edition proof set of Irish
coins produced by the Irish government is now
available. We have a very small supply of these
fantastic items which you can get from here:
GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
PHRASE: Ni lia duine na tuairim
PRONOUNCED: nee lee-ah dinnah nah toor-im
MEANING: Everyone has their own opinion
PHRASE: Ni lia tir na nos
PRONOUNCED: nee lee-ah tear no-iss
MEANING: every country has it's own customs
PHRASE: Is leir don saol e an firinne
PRONOUNCED: iss lair dun sail a on firr-inyeh
(a as in a,b,c)
MEANING: everybody knows the truth
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,
The Information about Ireland Site.