The Information about Ireland Site Newsletter
The Newsletter for people interested in Ireland
Now received by over 50,000 people worldwide
Copyright (C) 2007
IN THIS ISSUE
=== News Snaps from Ireland
=== New free resources at the site
=== Symbols of Ireland: The Shamrock
=== The Homecoming by Mary Wilkinson
=== The Irish in Argentina
=== Gaelic Phrases of the Month
=== Shamrock Site of the Month: celticattic.com
=== Monthly free competition result
An early 'Happy Saint Patrick's day' to you all.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the Saint Patrick's
day edition of the newsletter. You should also
check out our free resources section below, where
you can access some simple kids games to teach
them about Ireland!
until the 17th,
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
OPINION POLLS ARE BAD NEWS FOR CURRENT GOVERNMENT
A recent boost in support for the Fianna Fail and
PD coalition government has been negated by the most
recent opinion polls which show the alternative
'rainbow' coalition of Fine Gael, Labour and the
Greens ahead in the opinion stakes. The General
Election is expected to be held in May.
Fianna Fail seem to have been out-manoeuvred by
their partners in government with regard to the
thorny issue of stamp duty, the exorbitant rates
of which are levied on house and land purchases.
The PDs raised the issue before the December
budget but Fianna Fail would not make any changes
to the stamp duty regime. This allowed the PDs as
well as the opposition parties to make promises to
reduce the rates of stamp duty if they are
elected to government.
The reduction of stamp duty would be a very
popular measure with the electorate but Fianna
Fail have scored an 'own goal' by allowing their
election rivals to steal a march on the issue,
especially when they had (and still have) an
opportunity to reform the penal stamp duty rates
while they are still in government.
PROPERTY MARKET LOOKS SET TO STALL
The ongoing uncertainty about the huge rates of
stamp duty which are levied on house and land
deals has caused a real slowdown in activity in
the housing market. By waiting until after the
general election a prospective buyer could save
tens of thousands of Euro if the stamp duty
rates are reformed. A 'wait and see' game has thus
developed which has reduced the number of sales
that would normally be expected at this time of
year. Those who are attempting to sell are still
seeking 'boom prices' so it seems likely that the
property market could stagnate for some months.
While demands continues to exceed supply it is
unlikely that there will be any housing market
crash. The real winners in this round of
'cat and mouse' are those companies selling
foreign property investments. Business has never
been so good.
RUGBY & SOCCER IN CROKE PARK FOR FIRST TIME
Over 82,000 rugby fans were packed into Croke
Park for the historic visit of England to see
the home side triumph by 43 to 13. Ireland had
previously been beaten by France in the first
ever game played at Gaelic sports sacred ground.
The England game had been a sore point with some
hard-line republicans and GAA members who are
still unhappy with 'foreign' sports being played
at Croke Park. A small protest outside the ground
on the big day attracted little support however.
Next up is the Irish soccer team who will play
Wales and Slovakia in the huge venue in March.
IRISH WEDDINGS IN CROATIA TO BE CURBED
Church Officials in Croatia have sent a letter
of complaint to a Archbishop of Armagh in Ireland
regarding the behaviour of Irish people who
married in that country.
The Diocese of Dubrovnik is disturbed at the
'inappropriate' dress of some of the attendees at
the wedding services as well as the lack of
awareness of participants in the ceremony of the
rules for receiving communion and Catholic
theology in general.
The Irish Church has responded by stating that
'touristic' weddings should be discouraged.
RURAL TRANSPORT SCHEME IS NOT JUST TO AID PUBS
The Minister for Rural Affairs has announced a
pilot scheme that will facilitate greater
transport accessibility in rural areas. The
Minister has insisted however that the scheme is
not just to assist pub-goers who would otherwise
drive their cars while intoxicated but is also
to help elderly and isolated people have access
to State services.
Publicans have long argued that the lack of
rural transport is one of the main reasons why
so many smaller Irish pubs have closed down in
Voice your opinion on these news issues here:
NEW FREE RESOURCES AT THE SITE
FREE KIDS GAMES TO PRINT:
Go here to print off some simple games to teach
kids about Ireland:
FIND OUT ABOUT SAINT PATRICK HERE:
NEW COATS OF ARMS ADDED TO THE GALLERY:
The following 6 coats of arms images and family
history details have been added to the Gallery:
G: McGadey, Gaffney
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:
SYMBOLS OF IRELAND: THE SHAMROCK
by Bridget Haggerty
According to the Concise Columbia Encyclopedia,
the identity of the true shamrock has long been
debated, but the plants most often designated as
the emblem of Ireland are the white clover, the
small hop clover, and the wood sorrel, or oxalis.
It's likely that some or all of this information
was provided by the botanist, Nathaniel Colgan,
who endeavored to identify 'the real shamrock'
at the turn of the 20th century.
He asked people all over Ireland to send him
living, rooted specimens which he carefully
planted and labeled. When the plants matured and
blossomed, he was able to identify four different
types - the three already mentioned and one called
Black Medick. Compared to the American plant,
which is oxalis, the leaves on the sprigs from
Ireland were tiny and featured a dark stain on the
green. Undoubtedly, whatever the botanists call it,
this was, and still is, the shamrock that the
majority of Irish people wear in their lapels on
Saint Patrick's Day.
So how did the shamrock become a symbol of
Ireland? It may surprise many readers to learn
that the plant's international association with
the Emerald Isle is relatively recent.
It wasn't until the seventeenth century that it
became the custom to wear the shamrock on the
feast of Ireland's patron saint. Until then, the
Irish wore a special St. Patrick's cross, made
just for the occasion. Then, in the late
eighteenth century, the shamrock was adopted as
a symbol by the Volunteers of 1777. But it didn't
really become widely popular until the nineteenth
century, when the emerging nationalist movements
took the shamrock, along with the harp, as their
Viewed as an act of rebellion in Victorian
England, Irish regiments were forbidden to display
it. This one single act may have done more to
establish the shamrock as Ireland's national
symbol than anything else. It was also the
catalyst for the creation of the famous ballad
that became known as 'The Wearin' O' The Green':
'Oh Paddy dear, and did ye hear the news
that's going round?
The shamrock is forbid by law to grow
on Irish ground!
No more St. Patrick's Day we'll keep,
his color can't be seen,
For there's a cruel law agin'
the wearing o' the Green!'
While the lyrics may have stirred the souls and
hearts of rebellious Irishmen, there are a couple
of strange contradictions in this verse: it's very
likely that Saint Patrick wore vestments of blue,
not green and since the plant wasn't cultivated
but grew wild, there was no way the Crown could
have successfully banned its growth!
As for Saint Patrick using it to teach us the
mystery of the Holy Trinity, it was never
mentioned in any of his writings. So, that of
itself, remains a mystery. On the other hand,
Triads, or groups of three, were of major
significance in ancient Ireland so it is quite
possible that the shamrock may have been used by
early Christian teachers because, not only could
it instantly illustrate and explain an important
belief, it would also have been symbolically
But that was then.
Today, the shamrock is firmly established as the
most instantly recognizable symbol of Ireland.
For good luck, it's usually included in the
bouquet of an Irish bride, and also in the
boutonniere of the groom. It's the symbol of a
quality B & B that's earned the right to display
it. It's part of the Aer Lingus logo, as well as
those of many other companies, sports teams and
organizations. It is also an integral part of an
old tradition called 'drowning the shamrock'.
This takes place on Saint Patrick's Day, when the
shamrock that has been worn in the hat or lapel
is removed and put into the last drink of the
evening. A toast is proposed and then, when the
toast has been honored, the shamrock is taken
from the bottom of the glass and thrown over the
About the Author: Bridget Haggerty is the author
of 'The Traditional Irish Wedding' - see here:
THE HOMECOMING by Mary Wilkinson
Mine was a passionate pilgrimage
To quench the thirst of my Celtic soul,
And to satisfy my hunger for Heritage.
Like Saint Brendan the Navigator so long ago
I braved the challenge of 'The Great Unknown',
And returned to mystical ancient Ireland,
My brave and troubled ancestral home,
Which yearns yet for Freedom and for Peace.
Erin's place names drip from the tongue
Like intoxicating, fragrant, honeyed mead:
Kildare. Killarney. Kingdom of Kerry.
Connemara. Galway. Donegal. Tipperary,
Waterford. Wexford. Mayo. Meath.
Each gave a loving benediction
to the Pilgrim's feet.
Each provided nourishment for the Seeker's soul
Each shared her songs and stories generously.
Limerick offered a timeless treasured gift,
Deeper knowledge of my family's history.
While green and gracious Glendalough
Provided still a peaceful, perfect sanctuary.
Dear old Dublin teased and tempted,
Shoved and shouted, a strange and busy place.
Newgrange, Nowth and Tara made my heart soar,
While Blarney bestowed its own special grace.
Lovely Clare alone knew and remembered me.
Flinging wide her strong, comforting arms
She gave this Prodigal a hearty welcoming.
There in the golden glory of East Clare
Where the Shannon hurries down to the Sea,
There where my ancestors lived and loved,
Worshipped and worked, struggled and starved,
My Pilgrimage was satisfied. I found an Epiphany.
Now, like the poet Yeats, I can truly say,
'When I am old and gray and nod by the fire',
I will remember and cherish my Pilgrimage,
And share with those nearest and dearest to me
The places I've been and the things I have seen.
I will tell them that when the internal ache
what is needed is a Homecoming
To the bountiful blessings
of 'Sweet County Clare'.
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
THE IRISH IN ARGENTINA
by Santiago Boland / Bahia Blanca
16th January, 1875, The Southern Cross published
'In no other region of the world is the Irishman
more respected and esteemed than in the Province
of Buenos Aires. And in no other part of this
planet have the Irish immigrants prospered with
such good fortune...'
Don Pedro de Mendoza's fleet arrived at e Rio de
la Plata in 1535, and founded the city of Buenos
Aires. Among its crew members were two men of
obvious Irish origin Juan and Tomas Farrell.
Three years later other Irishman arrived, Juan
Gordon, along with Royal Inspector Cabrera. When
Buenos Aires was destroyed, they moved to
Asuncion, and a couple of years later their
descendants, Rafael Farrell and Diego Gordon,
participated in the foundation of Corrientes
by Don Juan Torres de Vera y Aragon.
When Henry VIII separated the Church of England
from the Roman Catholic Church (due to the Pope's
denial to his request to Catalina of Aragon) a
religious persecution began in Ireland, which
had remained faithful to Rome. These persecutions
were much worse under Elizabeth 1, his daughter,
and Cromwell took them to the extreme. It was not
surprising, therefore, that Irishmen would serve
the Catholic royalty after fleeing to Spain or
The first Irish to settle in the Rio de la Plata
were Fathers Thomas Field, from Limerick, and
Thomas Falkner, son of an Irishman. They were
followed by many, some who kept their original
family name - such as the names Lynch and
O'Gorman - and others who adopted a Spanish
version of their names, as was the case
of Kennefick, who translated it into Reinafe.
Although it may seem an irony of fate, the coming
into existence of the Irish-Argentine community
begun with the British Invasions. In 1806 a fleet,
under the command of Commodore Popham, came to
shore at Quilmes and marched into the city of
Buenos Aires. General Beresford was in charge of
the fleet and infantry.
The city was taken with no resistance, no proper
defenses or forces being available. During the
occupation, many of the Irish soldiers, forced
to fight for the English, felt a much deeper
bond with the local population than with the
invading forces and therefore decided to switch
sides and fight alongside the improvised domestic
troops. Beresford found himself obliged to
threaten with martial law measures for any person
encouraging his soldiers to desert. One, by the
name of Skennon, who joined Pueyrredon' s army in
Perdriel, did not cease to fire his cannon until
the moment he was captured and taken prisoner.
His fate was not a happy one: he was publicly
executed in the Plaza de Mayo, after receiving
the holy sacraments from the Bishop of Buenos
On August 12th, Beresford surrendered to Santiago
de Liniers and the defeated soldiers, many
Irishmen among them, were sent inland to
different cities of the viceroyalty. In July,
1807, twelve thousand men, under the command of
John Whitelocke, tried once again to take
possession of Buenos Aires; but this time the
local forces massacred them with hot oil strewn
from the roofs. The Basilica of the Virgin of the
Rosary still treasures the captured British flags
that were offered as a sign of surrender.
The capitulation established a definite withdrawal
date for the British military and an exchange of
prisoners, since many refused to rejoin the English
army, because they had already decided to settle
in the country. They swore allegiance to the King
of Spain, and raised their families and even
adopted Spanish surnames such as Perez, Garcia or
Sanchez. These Irish soldiers may very well have
been in the British battalion that were part of
the Army that crossed the Andes.
Thus, a small community was formed, and it grew
in size with the addition of other immigrants
who arrived here for trading purposes or who
landed here by mere chance as was the case of
The language differences and the special functions
of priests in Irish society, were the basis of a
request for priests to be sent from Ireland.
Burke (a Dominican), Father Moran, who passed
away a year after his arrival, and Father Patricio
O'Gorman as from 1831, were successively the Irish
chaplains in Buenos Aires. Father Antonio Fahy
arrived in 1844 to help Father O'Gorman in his
The existence of a small community, the tragic
situation of Ireland during those days, the
expansion of sheep rearing under General Rosas
and the unwavering work of Father Fahy were the
main factors behind an increase in the number
of people arriving from Ireland until 1860.
Aware of the possibilities offered by the
Province of Buenos Aires and mostly having
their passage paid by a countryman who had
arrived before, they were received by the local
Irish and then went to work in the rural areas,
where they were periodically visited by the
Chaplain. This country was a very alluring
perspective for our ancestors, and here we
The rest of this history is ours. This Irish
community is the largest in any non-English
speaking country in the world, and we still try
to keep up the inherited traditions and to
rescue those that have been lost.
Santiago Boland / Bahia Blanca
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GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
PHRASE: Beannachtai na Feile Padraig
PRONOUNCED: bann/ockt/tee nih fail/eh pawd/rig
MEANING: Happy Saint Patrick's Day
PHRASE: Siochan leat
PRONOUNCED: shee/oh/con lat
MEANING: Peace be with you
PHRASE: Slán agus beannacht leat
PRONOUNCED: slawn og/us ban/ockt lat
MEANING: Goodbye and blessings on you
View the archive of phrases here:
SHAMROCK SITE OF THE MONTH: CELTICATTIC.COM
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FEBRUARY 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 month,
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