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 Harp
=== Two wishes of Ireland
=== A Song for Dublin by James Rogers
=== Whose Guilt is this? by Delamary Wilkinson
=== Gaelic Phrases of the Month
=== Monthly free competition result
A belated happy new year to all our readers. I
hope that this first edition of 2007 finds you
all in good form!
We have a poetic feel to the newsletter this month.
Many thanks again to all of our contributors,
until next time,
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
NEW NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN ANNOUNCED
The 184 B'illion Euro National Development Plan
has been announced by Government. The plan will run
from 2007 to 2013 and will involve the single biggest
investment in the infrastructure of the State in
Irish history. 33.6 B'illion has been allocated for
social infrastructure including hospitals, old-age
care facilities, social housing and sports
facilities. 50 B'illion was allocated for childcare,
education, community care. There are already huge
infrastructure projects under way including the
widening of the M50 ring-road and plans to run a rail
system from Dublin City Centre to Dublin Airport.
NORTHERN IRELAND ELECTIONS MAY BE CALLED IN SPRING
A special meeting of Sinn Fein approved a
proposal to fully engage and support the Police
Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). This issue
has been a source of controversy and division
within Sinn Fein, some members of which view the
PSNI as little more than a new incarnation of the
hated RUC. It is expected that new elections to
the Northern Ireland Assembly will be called on
foot of the historic decision which should pave
the way for the re-establishment of the currently
IMMIGRATION LIKELY TO BE A KEY ELECTION ISSUE
Although the exact date of the General Election
has not yet been set, all of the political parties
have started their campaigns in earnest.
Immigration is likely to be a big issue.
Latest Central Statistics Office figures show that
the Irish population is expanding at an
unprecedented rate and that approximately 1 in 10
people living in the Republic are now of
'non-national' origin. This number is likely to
increase given the widespread optimistic outlook
that exists for an already booming economy.
There were opening shots in this battle recently
with Fine Gael's Enda Kenny attempting to label the
Irish nation as a 'Celtic and Christian people'.
PD Leader Michael McDowell accused Fine Gael of
'playing the race card' while at the same time
announcing new laws which will allow for the
immediate detention of asylum seekers with a view
to fact-tracking their claims to stay in the
country. It is widely accepted that most claims for
asylum are false and that the applicants are in
fact 'economic migrants'.
Recent opinion polls would seem to indicate that
Fianna Fail will definitely retain power after
the election. Whether it is with the PDs or the
Labour party, (who are already making noises that
they will do business with Fianna Fail), remains
to be seen.
OPTIMISTIC HOUSE PRICE OUTLOOK CONTINUES
The Irish love affair with property and
house-purchase continues unabated. Despite several
recent increases in interest rates but the
European Central Bank, house prices are expected
to increase by anywhere from 5 to 10% in 2007,
depending on who you talk to!
Not content with buying in Ireland the Irish are
streets ahead of their EU counterparts when it
comes to buying property abroad. Special trips to
Bulgaria, Romania, Estonia and even Cape Verde
(off the African coast), are advertised on a
weekly basis in national newspapers and there
are no shortage of takers.
The Economist Magazine, The European Central Bank,
The OECD and several other august bodies have
annually confidently predicted a rapid decrease
in the cost of Irish housing. Eventually they are
bound to be right but not until the fundamental
principle of economics is observed. Supply must
exceed demand in order for prices to drop. This
is basic stuff. You don't need to be an economic
genius to understand that.
Despite huge activity in the construction sector
there is no sign of enough housing units being
made available especially in an Ireland that has
woken from its slumber of the 50s through 80s and
is straining to cope with the sheer volume of
immigrants who want to work here.
Certainly if the economy goes bust and the
immigrants leave then there will certainly be a
problem for those who are mortgaged to the hilt,
but until that happens.....
Voice your opinion on these news issues here:
NEW FREE RESOURCES AT THE SITE
NEW COATS OF ARMS ADDED TO THE GALLERY:
The following 7 coats of arms images and family
history details have been added to the Gallery:
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:
SYMBOLS OF IRELAND: THE HARP by Bridget Haggerty
It once graced the flag of the Republic, it still
appears on official government documents as well
as the Presidential flag, and it is displayed on
Irish coins. For centuries, the harp has been a
beloved emblem of Ireland. In fact, it is said
that the Irish concentrated so much of their
musical ability into playing the harp, that for
many years, the development of music in Ireland
was brought to a relative standstill.
Folklore says that the first harp was owned by
Dagda, a chief among the Tuatha De Danaan. The
De Danaan were at war with the Fomorians and the
harp was taken from Dagda by the gods of cold and
darkness. Two other gods, Lugh representing
light, and Ogma representing art, penetrated the
Fomorian fortress, recovered the harp and restored
it to Dagda. The gods in returning the harp to
him, pronounced two secret names for the
instrument and, at the same time, called forth
summer and winter. From that point on, when Dagda
played, he could produce a melody so poignant, it
would make his audience weep, an air so jubilant
it would make everyone smile, or a sound so
tranquil, it would lull all who listened to sleep.
Thus, with its secret or magical names, the
instrument became the dispenser of Sorrow,
Gladness and Rest.
Whichever way the harp became Ireland's own unique
instrument, and subsequently, its national emblem,
history tells us that the people who played it were
highly trained professionals who usually performed
for the nobility. They were held in very high
regard and were often asked to accompany a bardic
poet who was giving a reading. However, with the
emigration of Ireland's leading families in the
17th and early 18th century, there was a steep
decline in the harping tradition and the last
traditionally-trained harpist died in the
mid-19th century. Interestingly, these
superb musicians played with their fingernails
and not with the flesh of the fingertips as is
done today. It's also interesting to note that new
families of English descent were hospitable to
well-known harpists such as O'Carolan, and it was
a man from the north, Dr. Michael MacDonnell,
and an Englishman, Edward Bunting, who assembled
the last harpers in Belfast in 1792. Even though
very generous fees were offered, they were able
to attract only 11 players from the whole country.
Bunting attempted to write down as much of the
music as he could and his collection is incredibly
important because it contains the only remaining
remnants of what the ancient tradition must have
So, while this oldest emblem of Ireland is still
very much apparent - even to appearing on the
Guinness label - most of the ancient airs and
melodies it once produced are long gone. Perhaps
the first verse of a famous poem by Thomas Moore
says it best:
The harp that once through Tara's halls
The soul of music shed,
Now hangs as mute on Tara's walls,
as if that soul were fled.
So sleeps the pride of former days,
So glory's thrill is o'er,
And hearts that once beat high for praise,
Now feel that pulse no more.
About the Author: Bridget Haggerty is the author
of 'The Traditional Irish Wedding' - see here:
TWO WISHES OF IRELAND
Back in the Seventies, when I was in my twenties,
I journeyed to County Galway with my mother. We
were going to visit with my friend who lived
there, and also go visit her aunt in London. We
had round trip tickets that would give us two
weeks of adventure!
Unfortunately, our luggage went on to Dublin
without us, and I became sick by the second day
there. It turned out I had mononucleosis and we
wound up returning home to the U.S. by the 4th
However... what I saw of Ireland was absolutely
beautiful, and I loved the friendly nature of the
people, just as I expected I would. In those days,
I used to go with that same friend, Carmel, to
the Red Mill in The Bronx, New York, to dance to
the Irish music. Carmel had been here in the U.S.
on a visitor's visa for a while.
Anyway, I still hope, one day, to return to
Ireland and finish up my visit!
I grew up in a Mill Village here in the US that
took it's name sake from Ireland. The name of the
village was Newry. The man that named the village
was William Ashmead Courtney. He also had a
mansion called 'Innisfallen' after his childhood
home in Ireland.
Also, in 1993 we had our Centinnel celebration
and the Mayor from Ireland came for a visit. It
was held all week long but the Mayor only got to
come for a day as he was busy doing other things
too. But, it was enjoyable and I did get to shake
hands with a true Irishman!
My husband is of Irish decent, on both his
mother's and father's sides of the family. So
maybe one day I'll get to visit the beautiful
and historical land of Ireland!
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
A SONG FOR DUBLIN By James Rogers
I wrote and recorded a song about Dublin, I was on
holidays there in Sep/Oct after 37 years overseas.
The old girl looked beautiful in places. I'd forgot
how much I loved the place.
Spent a few nights in the Aussie pub in Parnell
Street, hated the traffic gridlock, you end up
paying twice the taxi fare, city centre to
Finglas, 22 euro? Airport to Finglas 24 euro, a
I spied Bertie's tower of Babylon,
reaching up to the sky, standing at the base,
I did lend an ear,
but not one Dublin accent, did I hear!
So there I was, standing on the ha'penny
bridge and clinging to the rail,
people passing to and fro,
their eyes could not see me,
I was just an invisible tourist
from a land far across the sea.
I stood outside 78 Dorset Street,
my mind wandered back to the forties,
I thought, if these steps were a time machine,
they could take me back today,
to the Dublin of my childhood and
the games I use to play.
The meros gone and so is me youth,
they blew down the pillar, I tell you the truth.
Dublin you're my day and night,
you nourished me in my early life,
you're the memories that haunt my aging soul,
your distant voice calls me back to stay,
but i always say wait one more day and
I'll return to walk your streets again.
WHOSE GUILT IS THIS? by Delamary Wilkinson
The verdict was given. The sentence passed.
Seven children, some sobbing,
Some with spirits broken,
but most defiant, stoic, calm.
With hatred in their hearts,
Dragged down the narrow steps
To the prison yard below.
Tied one by one to the whipping stand
Scourged by twenty brutal lashes.
Then in chains herded into the gaol
For one month of hard labour.
There was no justice, no pity, no compassion.
They were children! Starving children!
The youngest barely ten,
the oldest just sixteen.
What horrible crime was theirs?
'Rooting for potatoes!'
In those terrible Irish Famine Times,
the Autumn of 1849.
Barefoot, ragged, haunted eyes.
Skeletons like starving crows.
It is rightly said:
'Justice is a fickle thing.
One law for the common man.
One law for the king!'
Whose is the guilt? Whose is the pain?
Whose is the blame? Whose is the shame?
Where was Justice that day?
In God's name!
They were children!
(Based on an article in the 1996 issue of the
yearly 'Leitrim Guardian' citing the records
for Carrick-on-Shannon Gaol,
(C) M.W. May 17, 2006.)
YOU CAN HELP TO KEEP THIS FREE NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
where you can get great Irish gifts, prints,
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GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
PHRASE: Eist moran agus can beagan!
PRONOUNCED: aisht more-on og-us con byug-on
MEANING: Hear much and say little!
PHRASE: De reir a cheile a thogtar na caisleain!
PRONOUNCED: deh rare ah kay-lee a hug-tar nah cosh-lawn
MEANING: It takes time to build castles!
PHRASE: Is minic a gheibhean beal oscailt diog dunta!
PRONOUNCED: iss minick ah gav-awnn bail os-kuly dee-ug doon-ta
MEANING: An open mouth often catches a closed fist!
View the archive of phrases here:
JANUARY 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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