The Information about Ireland Site Newsletter
The Newsletter for people interested in Ireland
Now received by over 50,000 people worldwide
Copyright (C) 2006
IN THIS ISSUE
=== News Snaps from Ireland
=== New free resources at the site
=== Last-Minute Christmas Gifts
=== Irish Christmas Traditions
=== Hillside by Tom Shea
=== CARA Penpals Success Story
=== The Loneliest Angel By Bree T. Donovan
=== Gaelic Phrases of the Month
=== Monthly free competition result
A very happy Christmas and New Year to all of
our readers! Be sure to have a read of our article
about Irish Christmas Traditions in this months
issue. Why not try to incorporate at least one of
these traditions into your household this year?
Don't forget you can send a free 'Dancing Irish
Santa' Christmas Card by email here:
Please DO send us in your stories, poems or
articles about Ireland for the next edition
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
BUDGET 2006 IS ANNOUNCED
Finance Minister Brian Cowen has unveiled a
wide-ranging budget that will benefit many
sectors of Irish society and is sure to do the
ruling Fianna Fail and PD coalition no harm when
the general election is called in a few months
The main measures announced include:
* reduction of top income tax rate by 1% to 41%
* widening of tax bands so less income tax is paid
* mortgage interest relief extended to assist
* old-age pensions increased to over 200 euro per
week for the first time
* maternity leave extended by 4 weeks to 26 weeks
* child benefit increased to 160 euro per month
Economic growth of 5.5% for 2007 is forecast by
the government with unemployment at 4.4% and
inflation of 2.6%.
DUBLIN PORT TUNNEL OPENS
The long awaited tunnel that extends from Dublin
Port out to the Northside of the city and onto
the M50 motorway has finally opened. The 750
M'illion Euro project was dogged by delays but
now provides a means of removing thousands of
truck journeys from Dublin city centre every week.
From February of 2007 it will be compulsory for
all large trucks to use the tunnel.
BUPA HEALTH INSURER TO ABANDON IRELAND
The Health Insurance industry in Ireland was thrown
into chaos after BUPA announced it would be
leaving the market. BUPA is the main competitor to
the long-standing VHI but recent government rules
on 'risk equalisation' look set to drive BUPA from
the market and return VHI to its original monopoly
VHI have long complained that as the age-profile
of their members is older than that of new
arrivals BUPA that it is being unfairly penalised
for insuring older people. VHI claim that since
BUPA have subscribers who are of a much younger
profile that they are unfairly able to profit
from the better health of their members. The
Government agreed and introduced 'risk
equalisation' which essentially forces BUPA to
pay VHI 160 M'illion euro in compensation.
BUPA has stated that it intends to appeal the
Government decision to the Supreme Court. In the
meantime it is not taking on any new members and
has notified its staff that their jobs are at risk
should the current regulatory framework not be
FURTHER EVIDENCE THAT HOUSING MARKET IS COOLING
The recent levelling off of price increases in
certain categories of houses as well as the actual
drop in the cost of new homes has added fuel to
the speculation that the housing boom may be
approaching its end. Irish Bank EBS has recently
restricted the 100% mortgage option that was
introduced by financial institutions at the very
zenith of the price-rises. EBS will now only
offer the 100% mortgage to professionals such as
doctors and civil servants.
Voice your opinion on these news issues here:
NEW FREE RESOURCES AT THE SITE
FREE CHRISTMAS CARD BY EMAIL
Send a free 'Dancing Irish Santa' Christmas Card
by email here:
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: Gaven, Garagan
M: Muldoon, McMeekin
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,
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your name at:
LAST MINUTE CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS
Stuck for a good Christmas present? Try these:
Gift Certificates from irishnation.com
Send a Family Crest Screensaver by email:
You can print a gift notification card for any
of the items below. We will then forward the gift
to your chosen recipient on your behalf:
Family Crest Ring:
Irish Claddagh Ring:
Herladic Plaque or Shield:
Family Crest Cuff-Links:
All are available at:
IRISH CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS
Ireland, like most countries, has a number of
Christmas traditions that are all of its own. Many
of these customs have their root in the time when
the Gaelic culture and religion of the country
were being suppressed and it is perhaps because of
this they have survived into modern times.
THE CANDLE IN THE WINDOW
The placing of a lighted candle in the window of a
house on Christmas eve is still practised today. It
has a number of purposes but primarily it was a
symbol of welcome to Mary and Joseph as they
travelled looking for shelter.
The candle also indicated a safe place for priests
to perform mass as, during Penal Times this was
A further element of the tradition is that the
candle should be lit by the youngest member of
the household and only be extinguished by a girl
bearing the name 'Mary'.
THE LADEN TABLE
After evening meal on Christmas eve the kitchen
table was again set and on it were placed a loaf
of bread filled with caraway seeds and raisins,
a pitcher of milk and a large lit candle. The door
to the house was left unlatched so that Mary and
Joseph, or any wandering traveller, could avail of
THE WREN BOY PROCESSION
During Penal Times there was once a plot in a
village against the local soldiers. They were
surrounded and were about to be ambushed when a
group of wrens pecked on their drums and
awakened the soldiers. The plot failed and the
wren became known as 'The Devil's bird'.
On St. Stephens day a procession takes place where
a pole with a holly bush is carried from house to
house and families dress up in old clothes and with
blackened faces.In olden times an actual wren would
be killed and placed on top of the pole.
This custom has to a large degree disappeared but
the tradition of visiting from house to house on
St. Stephens Day has survived and is very much part
The placing of a ring of Holly on doors originated
in Ireland as Holly was one of the main plants
that flourished at Christmas time and which gave
the poor ample means with which to decorate their
All decorations are traditionally taken down on
Little Christmas (January 6th.) and it is
considered to be bad luck to take them down
TRADITIONAL GAELIC SALUTATION
The Gaelic greeting for 'Merry Christmas' is:
'Nollaig Shona Duit'
......which is pronounced as 'null-ig hun-a dwit'.
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
A-O-L USERS GO HERE
HILLSIDE by Tom Shea
There's a hillside back in Erin,
Stretching high above the bay,
Where the sunset turns the heather
Into gold at close of day.
Peace is there when twilight lingers
And the valley down below
Seems a far off faerie playland
With the cottage lamps aglow.
Comes the moon through heaven's curtain
Sailing high and clear and bright,
With a host of stars aglitter,
Bringing beauty to the night ,
And the ancient ivied castle
Seems as full of life as yore
With the moon exchanging shadows
For her partners on the floor.
There the cares of life are little
On the hillside o'er the bay,
There the soul of man is grateful,
At the closing of a day
For the peace that comes too seldom.
It is there that I would be,
And if I should fly tomorrow
I would take you both with me!
THE LONELIEST ANGEL by Bree T. Donovan
Silent night, starry night
He thinks of Van Gough and Galileo.
Surveying the endless, December sky,
Through the lens of his telescope
His breath mingles with the vapors of this
The most mysterious of hours.
A second, like the single beat of a heart
When every man has vowed peace
All in the name of a Holy child
Time coils around itself
The past is now
There is no tomorrow
Every soul believing in a fresh start.
But he knows the darkest side of the moon
The space where wretched secrets lie
They gather dust deep inside creators
Rising up, biting with the winter wind
Settling on innocent lives.
Shadows waylay the light
The cold reality of life
Too many children are victims
Too many lives are taken
While men with guns hide their faces
Baring bombs for tidings
Instead of gold and spices.
The angels still sing on high
Seraphim and Cherubim
Too busy with the matters of heaven
Their songs so mighty and refined
They assign the business of keeping the peace
To earth bound spirits considered the least
Likely to inherit their kingdom.
But the venerable child
Some call Savior
Some say only infamous ghost
Whispers a prayer from His own quiet corner of the unknown.
Blessed be those who are bruised and broken
Your hearts are more gentle than most.
His tears fall upon the loneliest angel
Keeping a solitary vigil
Touching his head as the first flakes of Christmas snow.
YOU CAN HELP TO KEEP THIS FREE NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
where you can get great Irish gifts, prints,
claddagh jewellery, engraved glassware and
Wendy Walker of Columbia, Missouri got a
family crest signet ring with the Donnelly family
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I received by registered mail today the ring I
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THE PERFECT WEDDING, ANNIVERSARY OR BIRTHDAY GIFT!
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GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
PHRASE: Nollaig faoi shean is faoi mhaise duit!
PRONOUNCED: Nullig fwee yan iss fwee mway/shih dwit
MEANING: A prosperous and enjoyable Christmas!
PHRASE: Nollaig Shona duit
PRONOUNCED: nullig hunna dwit
MEANING: Happy Christmas to you
PHRASE: Athblian shona duit
PRONOUNCED: ought/bleen hunna dwit
MEANING: Happy new year to you
View the archive of phrases here:
DECEMBER COMPETITION RESULT
The winner was: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 time,
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