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PROPERTY TAX PROBLEMS CONTINUE
The disastrous introduction of the 'household charge' of 100 euro is to be followed by a full-blown property tax with estimates of average payments of between 1000 and 2000 euro annually. The new tax is being vehemently opposed by at least half of the population, not least because homeowners have already paid tens of thousands of euros in 'stamp duty' tax when they bought their property. There is no escaping the fact that this is a double taxation but the strategy of the Fine Gael and Labour Party government is to simply blame the troika (the ECB, EU and IMF who financed the recent bailout loans).
This is very dangerous ground for the government. Currently about half of those citizens who are required to register for the household tax have refused to do so. The implementation of any law or regulation is only possible if the majority of the citizenry agree to it and this is patently not the case in Ireland. What is also amazing is that the Labour Party are backing this move. The grass-roots of the Labour Party are the same people who are marching and protesting against the new tax. Several T.D's (members of the Irish parliament) have already stated that they are willing to go to jail rather than pay the tax. A big showdown is imminent.
SHOWDOWN BETWEEN UNIONS AND GOVERNMENT ON THE CARDS
The fact that the Fine Gael party are in coalition with the Labour Party is likely to cause some serious problems for Taoiseach Enda Kenny as his government attempts to find yet more budget cuts. The 'Croke Park Argeement' provides for greater flexibility and productivity from public servants while maintaining their current levels of pay. Now it seems that the pay element of the agreement is to be tackled and especially in the health service. The current Minister for Health has claimed that 70% of his department's budget is spent on pay and that his officials have already squeezed the other 30% as much as they can. Pay is next in the firing line in what is certain to be a bitter battle.
Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore will not be at all happy about the plans to cut public service pay and the first real division among the government parties is beginning to emerge.
UNLUCKY 13 CAR REGISTRATIONS TO BE AVOIDED
1987 saw the introduction of a generally successful new car registration scheme in Ireland. From that year all car registrations were obliged to display the year of the vehicles manufacture, as well as the County it was registered in. Thus, the Lord Mayors car would be registered as 87-D-1 (87 being the year, D being County Dublin and 1 indicating that it was the very first car registered that year). The scheme was designed to assist with the identification of vehicles and also to provide a degree of transparency when vehicles were sold.
Unfortunately the year 2013 is nearly upon us and the hard-hit motor industry are very concerned that car sales will be severely hit if drivers shy away from having a car registration with the unlucky number 13 on it. Car dealers have also complained that because of the registration scheme the majority of their car sales occur in January, February and March, slowing to a trickle throughout the rest of the year.
Both problems look set to be solved with the proposal to be implemented at the start of the new year. Cars bought in the first half of 2013 (and any subsequent years) will have their year indicated as 131 while cars registered after July 1st will have 132. Unlucky 13 avoided!
LEGENDARY CHARITY BOSS JOHN O'SHEA RETIRES
The founder of the Irish charity GOAL, John O'Shea has stepped down as chief executive after 35 years at the helm. The Irish charity that provides humanitarian aid in a wide variety of troubled countries around the world was famously started in the kitchen of John O'Shea's home
In its 35 years GOAL has delivered over 720 Million Euro in aid and humanitarian programs, saving countless lives and improving the lives of perhaps millions of people.
SUCCESS FOR IRISH AT OLYMPICS
The Irish Olympic team have celebrated their most successful Olympic games for nearly 60 years.
One gold, one silver and three bronze medals were brought back to Ireland thanks mostly to the amazing success of the Irish boxing team. Katie Taylor led the way with her outstanding gold medal in the women's lightweight boxing final. Boxers John Joe Nevin, Michael Conlan and Paddy Barnes also won medals in an astonishing display of success for the Irish boxing program.
Cian O'Connor collected a bronze medal in the Show-jumping and only missed out on a jump-off for the gold medal by 0.02 seconds. This triumph for O'Connor marks a remarkable comeback for the rider who won a gold medal in the Athens Olympics only to be stripped of the medal when it was found that his horse tested positive for an illegal drug. O'Connor was cleared of any wrong-doing in the unfortunate affair. He was not even confirmed as an Irish competitor in the London games until a month before the games commenced and was only a reserve for the final round of jumps, gaining his place when a Swedish competitor withdrew. The Dublin rider certainly made the most of this unlikely alignment of circumstances, coming so close to a gold medal but still clearly delighted with his Bronze.
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FREE ATTRACTION #3: NATURAL MUSEUM OF IRELAND - ARCHAEOLOGY, DUBLIN
The Archaeology Museum in Dublin is one of several national museums operated by the Irish State and is free to visit. The Museum is situated among a number of visitor attractions and is located on Kildare Street in the very heart of Dublin City. The National Parliament (Dail Eireann) is only a matter of a few steps away. The museum boasts a number of collections with perhaps the most famous being the Treasury Collection.
Here you can view the famous Ardagh Chalice, the Tara Brooch and the Derrynaflan Hoard, as well as the Faddan More Psalter exhibition. Other collections include the 'Kingship and Sacrifice' collection and an important collection of Irish gold artifacts. The Viking collection is also one of the highlights of any visit to the museum. Audio Guides are available at the reception desk and are a great way to enhance your visit. If you prefer you can also download the guided tour to your own MP3 player or smartphone. The museum hosts talks and tours that are free to attend and you can even book a place online - its free!
Visits to museums such as this are not to everyone's taste and the sheer multitude of the collections in the museum can be overwhelming. However, to anyone with even a passing interest in history then this is not to be missed. Be sure to take the audio tour if you do visit! Afterwards you can easily stroll to St. Stephens Green or Trinity College or any of the multitude of other visitor attractions that are located nearby. The surrounding streets have plenty of cafes and restaurants to cater for every taste. The Luas (light-rail trams) stop only a few hundred yards away while the DART stations at Pearse Street or even Connolly Station are just a brief walk away. A fantastic way to spend a few hours exploring Ireland's history.
Audio Guide Download: http://www.museum.ie/en/exhibition/list/treasury-audioguide.aspx
Free Museum Poster (PDF - at bottom of this web-page): http://www.museum.ie/en/exhibition/treasury.aspx
FEE-PAYING ATTRACTION #3: NATIONAL AQUATIC CENTRE, DUBLIN
The first thing to be said about the National Aquatic Centre from a tourist perspective is that it is very off the beaten track. The centre is located at Abbotstown which is in the Dublin Suburbs near Blanchardstown, near to the junction of the N3 and the M50 Motorway that encircles the city. You can drive (we dont recommend that visitors drive in Dublin City!) or catch a bus from the city centre to Snugborough Road (where the centre is located). There is no easily accessible rail link. A taxi ride from the city centre would be expensive enough so if you intend to visit the Aquatic Centre then you really need to organise your transport in advance.
The Centre was opened in 2003 and successfully hosted the swimming events of the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games, the first time this event was held outside of the United States. The centre is one of the largest indoor water centres in the world boasting marvelous facilities including:
* An international standard swimming pool
* An international standard diving pool
* Extensive leisure waters in the AquaZone including adventure water rides, children's play and wave pools
By far the most popular reason for visiting the centre is the Aquazone. Here adults and children can experience the Flow Rider, Wave Pool, the Pirate Ship and the Flumes. You can view quick videos of the rides here: http://www.aquazone.ie/flow-rider.html
A visit to the Aquatic centre certainly makes for a great family day out. If you visit in the morning then you could spend the afternoon or early evening at nearby Blanchardstown Shopping Centre which is the largest shopping centre in Ireland! Apart from a huge variety of shops there is a Leisureplex (more kids entertainment), a cinema and a theatre.
If a day at the pool appeals to you then the Aquatic Centre is the best in the country and will give you a great experience.
The famous Irish song 'An Irish Lullaby' (also known as 'Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral') was originally written in 1914 by the composer James Royce Shannon (1881–1946). The song was popularised by Bing Crosby who famously sang it in the 1941 film 'Going My Way'.
Over in Killarney
Many years ago,
Me Mither sang a song to me
In tones so sweet and low.
Just a simple little ditty,
In her good ould Irish way,
And I'd give the world if she could sing
That song to me this day.
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, hush now, don't you cry!
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, that's an Irish lullaby.
Oft in dreams I wander
To that cot again,
I feel her arms a-huggin' me
As when she held me then.
And I hear her voice a-hummin'
To me as in days of yore,
When she used to rock me fast asleep
Outside the cabin door.
Listen to the tune to this and other famous Irish
by James E.McCarthy
As Carol and I rose to leave the dining room of the Bread and Breakfast, Ed asked,
'Have you checked on the train connections, Jim?'
Almost simultaneously, he deftly speared another sausage and a piece of bacon from the serving platter. With a single motion he transferred some of each to his mouth, adding a bite of soda bread with the other hand.
'Yeah,' I replied, and added, 'I have the tickets for the four of us, Limerick to Killarney, leaving Limerick Station on the 10:00 o'clock train.'
'But, it's already 9:00,' he said, as he reached for another piece of soda bread to sop up the remnants of the egg on his plate.
'Yes,' Carol chimed in, 'You and Ceil better finish up and check out of here. We're ready. We'll wait for you in the front hall.'
Ceil answered, 'I just have to close up one suitcase. As soon as Ed can finish off the rest of the stuff on the platter we'll be with you.'
'I'll call for a taxi,' I said over my shoulder as I turned into the hall, trying to convey a sense of urgency with tone and timing.
'Yes, we better get a move on,' Carol added, as she picked up one of our bags and fell in behind me.
Ed yelled, 'I'll pay you for our tickets when we get on the train, Jim.'
'Say, this Irish Rail's not too bad,' Ed said as he settled into the plush seat beside Ceil.
'I wonder if they have any food on board?' he added, probably forgetting that in just a few miles, at Limerick Junction, we would change trains for Killarney, or we would end up in Cork.
'Limerick Junction. Limerick Junction. Change for Killarney,' the Conductor shouted from the sliding door to the entryway.
'Limerick Junction. Change for Killarney.'
I remembered the station agent's advice when I picked up the tickets.
'You'll be on track 1 at the Junction. Be ready to cross the platform to track 2 for immediate departure to Killarney.'
The Conductor slammed the door, proceeding to the next car. 'Let's get ready,' I urged. Carol and I started getting our bags down from the overhead rack. Ed was following suit, but Ceil was intently gazing out the car window onto the platform side. The train came to a stop with a little squeal and a jerk as the three of us readied to move.
'Oh, Carol,' Ceil gushed. 'Look at those darling children out there.'
Carol responded with a brief glance, but quickly said, 'Ceil, I can't look. We have to get over to that other track right now. Hurry!'
'Charge!' Ed roared. With bags hung over his shoulders and others in his hands, he pushed down the aisle, through the entry and down to the platform. Carol and I were right behind him.
'Ed,' I called,' there must be seats in that car forward.' I had noticed that most passengers were headed toward the car directly opposite us.
'Right,' he answered, as he half-ran to the next car. He climbed up to the entry and moved into the car. We scurried to grab facing seats with a table in between, hoisted our baggage overhead and dropped into the seats with the hope that our heart rates would soon subside and stabilize.
Then, the thought hit us all.
'Where's Ceil?' Ed shouted, looking frantically around the car. Just then the train started a smooth, silent movement out of the station. Our three pair of eyes darted about in search of Ceil. We found her, still on the platform, gazing placidly at the departing train.
'There she is,' Ed yelled, loud enough and urgently enough to make us the center of attention in most of the car.
'Where's the Conductor?' he continued. 'Stop the train,' he ordered loudly to the world at large as if sufficient volume would have that affect.
On cue, it seemed, the Conductor banged through the entry door. His long Irish countenance expressing concern for the little ruckus being created on his train.
'My wife missed the train,' Ed explained. 'She's still on the platform. Stop the train.'
'We can't do that,' the conductor said. 'We're not alone on this track.' A suspicion of a little grin quivered at the corners of his mouth as he continued, 'But not to worry, my good man. We'll take care of her.'
She doesn't have her ticket, her passport or even any money with her,' Ed informed the Conductor, with rising inflection. 'She doesn't have anything with her!' he emphasized.
'No matter. No matter,' the Conductor soothed. 'I'll telegraph back to the Station Master from the next stop. He'll see that your wife gets on the next train, in about 3 hours. She'll be taken care of, no need to worry. You can get off at the next station, yourself, and wait for her to come through.'
With a few more comforting murmurs, he moved on to take care of his train.
'Ed,' I said, but without the conductor's liquid brogue, 'She'll be OK. You get off at the next stop. Carol and I will go on to Killarney, locate a Bed and Breakfast and meet you at the station when you come in.'
'I wonder if there'll be someplace to eat where I get off,' Ed wondered. 'Lunch time is coming up.'
I assured him that there is at least one Pub in every Irish town and hamlet of more than half a dozen people. With that, Ed appeared comforted and settled down, prepared to meet the task at hand, after a Pub lunch in the next town.
Meanwhile, back at Limerick Junction, Ceil had reported her predicament to the Station Master. He offered the same solution as the Conductor.
'Sure, I'm sorry for your inconvenience, Ma'am,' he said,' but please make yourself comfortable here in the station. I'll see you get on the next train to Killarney.'
An older Irish woman approached Ceil hesitantly. With a big open smile she said,
'Madam, I couldn't help but overhear. I'm waiting myself, so I wonder if you'd care to sit with me and share my lunch. I have more than enough for both of us. We could take ourselves outside to one of those benches in the sun.'
So, there you have it, two different exposures to the Irish culture; two lunches with pleasant conversation, one on a railroad station bench in the warm sun, the other in the cool shadows of a friendly Pub.
A missed connection resulted in two new relationships with the world we were there to meet, revealing more of the Irish psyche than days of casual sightseeing.
This day's worry became the highlight of the week.
James E. McCarthy
In the brief account below, the story is told of how a clan chief (indicated by prefix 'Cor' before his surname) was able to organize the people of early Ireland to confront, repel, and finally defeat the underground people who had, since time untold, been coming up to the surface via 'sibhe mounds' (visually similar to drumlins here in the U.S.) which were long known to be the gateways to and from the underground for all its evil beings.
In this account, the war against the creatures of the night is won by tricking all the beasts of the night to attack the People who had intentionally backed away to the highest parts of each kingdom, there spending each day polishing their shields and sharpening their broadswords and pikes in preparation for what they hoped would be one final and decisive battle. The pivotal and decisive moment of that battle was to occur when all of the brave warriors of Eire would follow a plan set out by Cor Coran, a great chief of his own clan and recognized leader in the war against the beasts from below.
By break of dawn at the end of that battle, each army of the People knew to fight just poorly enough, as if in fearful retreat, to draw the beasts further and further up the mountain and away from the Sibhe mound entrances, preventing their retreat and escape, so that the People would be in position to cast the final killing blows of sunlight and sharp blade.
Best read in your finest Gaelic accent, even if you are 'reading it silently'. Also, some punctuation has been added just to make you slow down or come to complete stops during your reading. I think that adds to the effect of the reading, as it gives the listeners time to create their own visual imagery. When reading aloud to children, your own creative artistry can only improve the impact.
Firbolg = 'fear-bowlg'
Milisians = 'mill-eezhans'
Aelis = 'ay-lis (long 'a' as in the word 'way' )'
Sidbe = 'sheathe' ('th' as in 'this', rather than as in 'think')
Cluth = 'clooth' , like 'tooth'
Bru na Boinne = 'brew na boin-nya'
All music, verse and poetry is created to be shared and enjoyed. Please do.
Tom Corcoran-August 18, 2012
CORAN'S WAR - THE TAKING BACK OF THE NIGHT
by Tom Corcoran - 2012
Here, just here, have we come, my son,
As I came with my sires before,
For to learn of the fearful story, lad
Known as 'Cor Coran's War'.
To the self same spot where Milisians lived
And the Firbolg did abide,
Have I brought you child, that you might see
Where the beasts and the banshees died.
The Old Ones knew, as theirs before,
The legend long time held,
Of the story of that hellish war
And why brass Aelis knelled.
Then, in that near-forgotten time,
The war was strong in rage,
And the Coran battle book was writ
With their blood on every page.
The beasts below had found their way
Through the sidbe mounds out of ground.
In darkness then, they walked the earth
And throughout the isle were found.
No Gaelish woman, child, nor man
Was safe in his own home,
So long as the beasts and banshees lived,
Or evil folk could roam.
Men strode their ways with pike or sword
Each day till darkness fell,
And once fell night, who left his home
Was surely bound to Hell.
Many was the battle fought
When brave souls spent their might,
In bloody frays against foul beasts
To wrest from them, the night.
From Cluth and Toome, from Bru Na Boinne,
And far off Benwee Head,
The stories came of battles vain,
Of injured, maimed and dead.
But too, came there from South and West,
Tales to fill the heart.
Of how Clan Coran's men did fight
And tore foul beasts apart.
T'was them, tis' told, 'Chucullains' Arm',
'The Bravest and the Best'
Were in the van of every fray
Where a Coran stood the test.
Then each new tale of skirmish won
Buoyed up the Gaelish soul,
For knew they well that Eire could be,
One soon day, be whole.
Til' finally, one St. Swithin‘s Eve,
A ploy was keenly wrought
To gather all the beasts as one
And slay them on the spot.
Cor Coran had his stout young lads
Hone swords and shields sae bright,
Mere candle flames shone back from them
Made day from darkest night.
He cached each lad upon the ridge
Of hillocks by the glens,
And bade them hide till morning-tide
As the sun should rise again.
That eve, full cunning as the best,
Coran lured the beasts along.....
He'd spread the word across the land
Tae cast a siren song.
'Fight well enough, me lads,' said he,
'To make the beasties think----
They've turned the tide of battle
And success is on their brink.
Back away near dawn, to West'ard then,
For to lure them tae a glen,
Where e're the earth dips half to Hell
Then rises up again.
And when you hear sweet Aelis knell
Then each must fight his best,
Till the sun should rise above the beasts,
Behind them o'er the crest.
Then we'll use our shields and swords, me lads,
Tae catch the killing light.
To burn their hearts and sear their souls
And take back beloved night.
We'll bend it down upon each beast
That battles there below.
God's fiery Sun will be the pike
That slays our ancient foe'.....
Sae when the sun did crest the hills
And caught the beasts beneath,
Did Erin's men across the land
Then cast the fatal wreath.
Each massive wave of vile-breathed beast
That crashed upon them girt
By God's own sun and Celtic blade,
Was beaten tae the dirt.....
Yea, sweetly then, did Aelis' ring
When break of day full fell,
That ev'ry bell across the land
Re-pealed her joyful knell.
In praise of how Cor Coran's men
Did fight and win that morn,
To give the People back the night
And the joy of every dawn.....
Remember, lad, this tale I've told
Of the saving of the sod.
By the strength of Coran heart and steel
And the grace full hand of God.
Across the Isle all men that night,
As one, came to believe,
Tis' when men balk, and cow, and faint,
Bairn cry and women greive.
But when they stand full firm in force,
And when resolve is fast,
Nae beast, nor wraith, nor ghostly fear,
Can long before them last.
So yearly now, on Hallows' E'en,
We stop and call to mind,
Those beasts that once did plague the earth
And terrorized mankind.
That eve we masque and hand out sweets
To children at our door.
And pray that God will keep all beasts.....