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°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø 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 °´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø 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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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. °´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø 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 °´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø 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 °´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø 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 IR£110 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 IR£34,000 per annum (but workers are now taxed indivisually. The higher threshold for a single income family is IR£56,000, some IR£12,000 below that of individual workers in a family where there are two earners. * Subsidies for Creches: An IR£40 million package has been announced to encourage the building of more child-care facilities. * Travel tax cut: The IR£5 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. °´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø 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! °´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø 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!' 'I’m 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. °´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø 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 °´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø 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 °´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø 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/ °´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø 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 California’s annual St. Patrick’s 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 °´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø SUPPORT THE INFORMATION ABOUT IRELAND SITE HELP US TO CONTINUE TO PROVIDE FREE RESOURCES BY TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THESE SPECIAL OFFERS * Get YOUR Irish family name Screensaver: Kelly, Murphy, Sullivan.... over 750 names now available Only US$10 with free bonuses To order visit here: http://www.ireland-information.com/irishnamescreensavers.htm * Report: How to start the search for your Irish roots, Only US$9 To order visit here: http://www.ireland-information.com/heraldichall/irishgenealogyguide.htm * Tourist Report: Ireland, 100 Places to See, 500 Places to Stay. Only US$9 To order visit here: http://www.ireland-information.com/irishtourismdownload.htm or visit our Gift Shop at: http://www.ireland-information.com/artshapes.htm °´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø DECEMBER COMPETITION RESULT ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The winner was: email@example.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. °´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø,¸¸,ø*°´°*ø 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/ firstname.lastname@example.org