The Information about Ireland Site Newsletter
November 1999


The Newsletter for people interested in Ireland
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Copyright (C) 1999

    
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    			IN THIS ISSUE
    ~~~~~ Foreword
    ~~~~~ Support us for free
    ~~~~~ New free resources at the site
    ~~~~~ News Snaps from Ireland
    ~~~~~ Irish Christmas Traditions
    ~~~~~ The Children of Lir - An Irish Legend
    ~~~~~ Readers Article: An American Irish Talker in Kerry
    ~~~~~ Shamrock Site of the Month: Brehon Law Project
    ~~~~~ Searcher Site of the Month: The National Archives
    ~~~~~ Readers NoticeBoard
    ~~~~~ Monthly free competition result
    
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    FOREWORD
    ~~~~~~~~
    
    Hi again from Ireland,
    
    In this months issue we have a wonderful Celtic myth - The
    Children of Lir (and how four children were turned into
    magical swans).
    
    I am pleased to finally announce that our new Penpal Service
    is now live - be sure to give it a visit (see below).
    
    If you are loooking for quality Irish gifts this Christmas
    then be sure to visit Artshapes at:
    
    
    http://www.ireland-information.com/artshapes.htm
    
    Got something to say? Don't keep it to yourself!
    Why don't you submit an article for inclusion
    in the next edition? Email to:
    	
    
    newsletterarticle@ireland-information.com
    
    This newsletter is available on-line at:
    
    
    http://www.ireland-information.com/dec99.htm
    
    PLEASE DO: Feel free to forward this newsletter in its
    entirety to anyone you think might be interested. Drop me
    a line if you have any queries - I love getting feedback.
    
    The only way that you could have been subscribed to this
    newsletter is by filling out a subscription form at the site
    whereupon a confirmation notice would have been issued.
    
    If you wish to unsubscribe then go here:
    
    
    http://www.ireland-information.com/newsletter.htm
    
    ......but you'll be missing out!
    
    and finally:
    
    HAVE A GREAT CHRISTMAS AND A PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!
    
    best regards from Ireland,
    
    Michael.
    
    
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    SUPPORT US FOR FREE
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    
    Want to support us, keep us alive? Well you can and it
    won't cost you a penny! 
    
    Do the 1,2,......
    
    1. VISIT ARTSHAPES
    
    
    http://www.ireland-information.com/artshapes.htm
    
    
    2. VISIT THE LINK BELOW AND SIGN UP FOR MORE
       GREAT INFO, (ITS FREE!):
    
    
    http://www.ireland-information.com/cgi-bin/list.html
    
    
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    NEW FREE RESOURCES AT THE SITE
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    
    CARA: THE IRISH PENPAL SERVICE LAUNCHED
    
    Our new penpal service is now fully active and free for you
    to make some new friends.
    
    Visit at:
    
    http://www.irishpenpals.com
    
    NEW COATS OF ARMS ADDED TO THE GALLERY:
    
    The following coats of arms images and family history details
    have been added to the gallery:
    
    Barrett Bowen McBride Broderick
    Canavan Carson Coleman Condon Cooney Considine McCulllough
    Davis Donegan O'Donoghue McDowell
    Ennis
    Fanning Ferris Fitzgerald Fitzpatrick Foy
    Gaffney Glennon Guilfoyle
    Hannon Hickey Hogan Horan
    McInerney
    Keanrs King Kirwan McKean
    Leahy Leonard
    Mooney Moran
    McNamara
    Payne
    Rochford Redmond O'Riordan
    Sharkey O'Shaughnessy
    Taylor Traynor
    Wolfe Woulfe
    
    View them at:
    
    
    http://www.ireland-information.com/heraldichall/gm.htm
    
    Get the screensaver featuring YOUR family name (or send it
    to a friend or relative as a gift) at:
    
    
    http://www.ireland-information.com/irishnamescreensavers.htm
    
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    NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    
    HISTORIC DEVELOPMENTS IN IRISH PEACE TALKS:
    
    The conclusion of the review fo the Good Friday agreement
     by US Senator George Mitchell has concluded and directly
    paved the way for the formation of the new Northern
    Ireland Executive.
    
    The following historic events took place:
    
    * Power was ceded by the English Government in Westminister
      by the repeal of the Northern Ireland Act
    * The New Northern Ireland Assembly was formed in Ulster
    * A new cabinet was formed consisiting of members from Sinn
      Fein, the Ulster Unionists, the SDLP and the DUP (who did
      not take their place)
    * The Irish Government removed their territorial claim to
      the North of in the Constitution of Ireland
      (Articles 2 & 3)
    * The IRA made contact with the decommissioning body to
      appoint a liaison
    
    The main stumbling point for the future remains the
    decommissioning of weapons by the IRA who are annoyed with
    the timetables being imposed on them by the Ulster
    Unionists. The entire peace process, the assembly and David
    Thrimble's position as leader of the UUP rest on the
    successful decommissioning of the weapons.
    
    As David Thrimble the Ulster Unionist leader put it:
    'We've jumped. Now Mr. Adams - it's over to you'.
    
    900M POUND TAX CUTS IN LATEST GOVERNMENT BUDGET:
    
    The Irish Fiannce Minister, Charlie McCreevy, has announced
    tax cutbacks amounting to over 900 million punds but has
    still met with fierce criticism from many quarters about
    some of the new measures he introduced:
    
    * Tax Table raised: It is now possible for workers to earn
      IR110 before they enter the lower tax rate of 22%
    
    * Tax Rates cut: Both the lower and higher tax rates have
      been cut by 2%, to 22% and 44% respectively.
    
    * Tax bands widened: Workers will now enter the higher tax
      rate after earning up to IR34,000 per annum (but workers
      are now taxed indivisually. The higher threshold for a
      single income family is IR56,000, some IR12,000 below
      that of individual workers in a family where there are two
      earners.
    
    * Subsidies for Creches: An IR40 million package has been
      announced to encourage the building of more child-care
      facilities.
    
    * Travel tax cut: The IR5 travel tax on all tourists
      leaving the country will be abolished from January 1st.
    
    * Cigarettes: An extra levy of 50 pence per package of
      twenty takes effect immediately.
    
    It is the different treatment of families with only 1 worker
    as opposed to 2 that has led to claims that this budget is
    'anti-family, anti-women and probably unconstitutional'.
    
    IRISH SOCCER TEAM GET TOUGH WORLD CUP QUALIFYING GROUP
    
    In an example of things going from bad to worse for the
    Irish soccer team manager Mick McCarthy, his charges have
    landed one of the toughest qualifying groups for World
    Cup 2002 in Japan/Korea.
    
    It is bad enough that the Irish team failed in yet another
    play-off against Turkey recently (for Euro 2000) but it
    now looks as if second place (and a playoff against an Asian
    opponent) is the best he can hope for as Ireland were
    matched against Holland, Portugal, Estonia, Andorra and
    Cyprus in Group 2.
    
    The Irish have a reasonably good record against the in-form
    Portugese team but have a very poor recent history when
    combatting the Dutch. Whilst Andorra and Cyprus should
    provide little resistance it is unlikely that even the
    most avid fan would back Mick McCarthys men to beat Estonia
    both home and away.
    
    Qualifying starts next year but not before Irish soccer fans
    have to look on in envy as Turkey compete in Euro 2000,
    knowing that they were only 30 seconds away (in the game
    against Macedonia) from being automatic qualifiers
    themselves.
    
    BOXER STEVE COLLINS CONTEMPLATES A COMEBACK
    
    Former Irish middleweight champion Steve Colins is planning
    a comeback for financial reasons. It remains to be seen if
    a license is granted by the boxing authorities.
    
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    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 supressed and it is
    perhaps because of that 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 an 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 not allowed.
    
    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 welcome.
    
    THE WREN BOY PROCESSION
    
    During Penal Times there was once a plot in a vilage 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 of Christmas.
    
    DECORATIONS:
    
    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 dwellings.
    
    All decorations are traditionally taken down on Little
    Christmas (January 6th.) and it is considered to be bad luck
    to take them down beforehand.
    
    TRADITIONAL GAELIC SALUTATION
    
    The Gaelic greeting for 'Merry Christmas' is:
    'Nollaig Shona Duit'
    ......which is pronounced as 'null-ig hun-a dit'.
    
    HAPPY CHRISTMAS!
    
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    THE CHILDREN OF LIR: AN IRISH LEGEND
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    
    There was a time in ancient Ireland when the people believed
    in magic and in druids and spells. These were the days of
    the Tuatha De Danann tribe, the Goddess Danu and of Lir, the
    lord of the sea.
    
    Lir's wife, Eva, had given him four beautiful children. The
    two eldest, Fionnuala and Aodh, went swimming in a small
    lake. But these were no ordinary swimmers! They possessed
    gills for breathing and webbed feet as they were, after all,
    the offspring of 'the ruler of the land beneath the waves'.
    
    They met a messenger who told them that they were wanted by
    their father. They went home immediately only to find their
    father disturbed.
    
    'What is wrong father?' they enquired
    'Your mother has given birth to twins....' he replied
    '....and has gone off to rest'
    'What do you mean father?' they asked
    
    Lir explained that this was what humans called 'death' but
     that since they were immortal that their mother had gone
    to recover, possibly for a thousand years or more. The
    children were to look after the new brothers, Fiachra and
    Conn.
    
    The children kissed their mother for the last time and
    then left.
    
    As the children grew Lir's spirits declined until one day he
    met Aiofe, the sister of his wife. Aoife was possessed of
    magical powers and soon enough it was known that she and Lir
    would marry. The new family thrived under the influence of
    their new mother but not for long as guilt and jealousy
    about the childresn real mother took its toll on Aoifes
    health. She fell into sickness for a year but recovered only
    to start to become old before here time.
    
    Aoife was a changed woman now and one day suggested that she
    and the children should visit their grandfather. On the
    journey they stopped by a lake and she encouraged the
    children to go for a swim. The four children played happily
    in the water, not noticing that their stepmother was now
    standing at the waters edge wearing her fathers magic cloak.
    
    'For too long you children have stood between your father and
    I, but not for much longer!'
    she cried
    
    'We cannot be killed by you...' Aodh replied,
    '...we are the Children of Lir and if you harm us our ghosts
    will haunt you!'
    
    'Im not going to kill you.....' she shouted
    '......but I am going to change you!'
    
    
    At this she bowed her head and started an inacntation. The
    children looked at each other in fear as they saw a red and
    gold circle envelope them on the water. They saw Aoife open
    up her cloak from which the great light of a fireball emerged
    and hurtled towards them, burning all in its wake.
    
    The fireball hit the water and caused masses of steam to
    rise about the children and they soon lost all feeling in
    their legs, arms, shoulders and head. They soon regained
    their sight only to see Aoife laughing at them. Aodh tried
    to attack her and flailed his arms about furiously but
    nothing happened except the splashing of water. He turned to
    look at his brothers and sister only to see that they had
    all been turned intot the most beautiful swans ever seen.
    
    Aoife scowled at them again and told them that they were to
    spend nine hundred years as swans, three hundred on Lough
    Derravaragh, three hundred on the Straits of Moyle and three
    hundred on the Isle of Inish Glora. To end the spell they
    would have to hear the bell of the new God. 
    
    'I leave you with your voice however, and the most beautiful
    singing ever heard' she said.
    
    Lir searched for his children that day, but Aoife told him
    that they had been attacked and killed by wild boars.
    Fionnuala, now in swan form, approached her father and told
    him what Aoife had done. Lir was furious and banished Aoife
    into exile as an evil demon of the air.
    
    Lir faithfully visited his children and the power of his
    love ensured that their timeon the lake was one fo bliss. He
    knew thousgh that the 300 years of the first phase had passed
    and that the next phase of the spell was about to begin. The
    swans left for the Straits of Moyle, never to see their
    father again.
    
    Their time on the Northern Straits of Moyle were not so
    joyous, with frequent storms separating them, only for they
    to join up again. Another 300 years passed but they had
    survived together.
    
    They departed the cold straits and made their way towards
    Lough Derravaragh. They flew over th land, hoping to find
    their father's fort, but it was now nothing more than ruins.
    They wept because they knew the time of the
    Tuatha De Danann was gone.
    
    They travelled West to the waters of Inish Glora and found
    refuge on a small saltwater lake where time passed solowly.
    One day an old man named Mochua visited the lake and the
    children enquired of hiim if he was a follower of the new
    God. The startled man asked if they were the children of Lir
    and they told him that they were.
    
    'Are you a holy man?' asked Fiacra.
    'I am...' came the reply '
    
    The children knew that to break the spell that they would
    have to hear the bell of a new God toll in their own land.
    
    Mochua told them all about his new God and all about Saint
    Patrick who had brought his faith to their country.
    
    The children became excited as they knew that this was the
    new god their stepmother had told them of. They stayed with
    Mochua for many years who gave them sanctuary in a small
    chapel which he had built. He intended to make a bell and
    collected old swords, shileds and other metal to make it.
    The bell was now completed and was about to be rung when
    another disaster occurred.
    
    A Warrior dressed in armour entered the chapel. He had come
    for the children who were famed for their wonderful singing.
    
    'I am Liargren, King of Connaught' he shouted,
    'My wife desires those swans and I will have them...
    ...give them here or I wil tear this building down.'
    
    Fionnuala looked at Mochua and then siad that they would
    agree to go away with this King. Liargen was amazed to hear
    her speak but soon composed himself and ordered his men to
    take the children away. They were being loaded onto a carraige
    when suddenly, the church bell tolled loudly.
    
    Time seemd to stand still, but in another instant a great
    white mist had been blown off the nearby lake and enveloped
    the children as it had done 900 years before. The mist
    changed into all of the colours of the rainbow before a great
    wind gusted it away.
    
    The children had at last been transformed back into human
    form.
    
    Liagren fled immediately, never to return. Mochua baptized
    the beautiful children who had begun to age rapidly  and so
    it was that the children of Lir, the last of the
    Tuatha De Danann died soon afterwards, their legend to live
    on forever.
    
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    AN AMERICAN IRISH TALKER IN KERRY
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    
    Dia dhuit,
      
    My wife and I, with my brother and his wife, went back
    'home' to Ireland last September. While in Killarney in a
    pub (naturally), I was overheard talking Irish to the
    bartender by a newspaperman.
    
    He was astounded that a Yank could speak the 'Language of
    Kings'. I gave him an interview and he was just amazed!
    Although I speak with the Donegal accent, nevertheless he
    thought that it was amazing that Irish was spoken in America.
    
    Not too hard to understand. I grew up in the rural farming
    community of Newry Township, where all our neighbors were
    Irish. Our Catholic Parish was St. Mary's, and we usually
    had very Irish priests there.  At wakes and weddings we all
    spoke the Irish.  My wife is Irish too. I cherish that
    tradition and am very proud to be an Irishman.
    
    Slan,
    
    Stan and Ann (McGee) Coughlin
    
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    SHAMROCK SITE OF THE MONTH
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    
    BREHON LAW PROJECT:
    
    'Irish law is the oldest, most original, and most extensive
    of mediaeval European legal systems. It is a unique legal
    inheritance, an independent indigenous system of advanced
    jurisprudence that was fully evolved by the eighth century.
    It is also far less well known than it deserves.'
    
    Put that right with a visit:
     
    
    http://www.brehon.org
    
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    SEARCHER SITE OF THE MONTH
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    
    THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF IRELAND:
    
    The National Archives of Ireland is one of the most
    significant resources for genealogists, professional and
    amateur alike, in researching their family history.
    
    Visit at:
    
    
    http://www.nationalarchives.ie/
    
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    READERS NOTICEBOARD:
    
    The Irish Center of Southern California is a non-profit
    organization dedicated to promoting Irish culture in our
    local community. We are collecting donations for The Irish
    Center of Southern Californias annual St. Patricks Day
    fundraiser and are counting on your support for our
    March 11, 2000 silent auction.
    
    Visit here for more: http://www.irishcenter.org
    
    Eileen Donovan
    Irish Center of Southern California
    1931 W. Glenoaks Blvd.
    Glendale, CA 91201
    
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    SUPPORT THE INFORMATION ABOUT IRELAND SITE
    HELP US TO CONTINUE TO PROVIDE FREE RESOURCES BY TAKING
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    DECEMBER COMPETITION RESULT
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    
    The winner was: leannmurphy@hotmail.com
    who will receive the following:
    
    Our 6-Pack of Irish Screensavers (US$42 value)
    
    Well Done! Remember that all subscribers to this newsletter
    are automatically entered into the competition every time. 
    
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    I hope that you have enjoyed this issue.
    Please keep the feedback coming!
    
    Until the next time,
    
    HAVE A GREAT CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!
    
    Michael Green,
    Editor,
    The Information about Ireland Site.
    
    http://www.ireland-information.com/
    
    
    michael@ireland-information.com
    

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