================================================= The Information about Ireland Site Newsletter January 2009 The Newsletter for people interested in Ireland Now received by over 50,000 people worldwide http://www.ireland-information.com http://www.irishnation.com Copyright (C) 2009 ================================================= IN THIS ISSUE === News Snaps from Ireland === New free resources at the site === Irish Sea Kayak Trip by Nathan Kingerlee === Three Famous Irish Painters === 'The Woman on the High-Nellie Bike' by Pat Watson === Michael Collins - a biography === Gaelic Phrases of the Month === Monthly free competition result ================================================= FOREWORD ======== Hello again from Ireland where the economy is of course dominating the collective conversation, just like everywhere else! Those of us old enough to remember the 1980s recession are perhaps better-prepared than the younger generation for the imminent period of austerity that is predicted to befall us. Ireland suffered more than most countries in the 80s with emigration and unemployment rampant. Maybe things will look a bit rosier this time next year! We are continuing to work on our house-swap program and will email all those who have registered an interest once it goes live - see below. Until next month, Michael Help keep this newsletter alive at www.irishnation.com WE NEED YOUR HELP! PLEASE - send this newsletter on to your friends or relatives who you think are interested in Ireland. By doing this you are helping to keep us 'free'. Got something to say? Don't keep it to yourself! Why don't you submit an article for inclusion in the next edition? Go here for more information: http://www.ireland-information.com/newsletter.htm Do you have access to a website? You can help to keep this newsletter alive by adding a link to any of our websites below: http://www.irishnation.com http://www.irishsurnames.com http://www.ireland-information.com http://www.allfamilycrests.com http://www.irishpenpals.com If you have an AOL or HOTMAIL account then you will get much better results by viewing this newsletter online here: http://www.ireland-information.com/jan09.htm 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 ======================= NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND ======================= SHOWDOWN TALKS AIMED AT SAVING THE ECONOMY The poor state of the Irish economy continues to dominate the Irish political scene as government representatives meet with employer and union officials in an attempt to reach a consensus about the best way forward. The government is insisting that 2 BN euro in savings must be eked from the public service which is seen as being overstaffed and overpaid. Initial opposition by Unions to any form of pay cut seems to be softening somewhat especially after Taoiseach Brian Cowen outlined the dire circumstances. The government provided both sides with its road map to economic recovery and predicted that: * At least 120,000 more job will be lost by the end of 2010 * Income will fall by at least 10% * Government tax deficits will increase to 8 BN by end of 2009 * Unemployment could reach 10% It seems likely that the pain will be shared across the economy as the government appointed 'Commission on Taxation' is likely to recommend a whole raft of new taxes, possibly including some form of property tax but almost certainly to include an increase in the rates of direct income tax. A central part of the plan however includes legislative protection for those home-owners who run into difficulty with their mortgage repayments. Given the huge amount of state aid being lavished on the banks the banking sector is unlikely to rock the boat by objecting. The slowdown in the economy is having all sorts of economic effects as the deathknell of the 'Celtic Tiger' is sounded. Pub trade has picked up while restaurant trade has declined. The luxury goods and services sector is taking a big hit with prestige golf club memberships, spa resorts, gourmet food suppliers and car sales all declining rapidly (15,000 new car sales in January 2009 compared with 48,000 new cars sold in January 2008). Sales in discount grocery stores have increased. Journeys across the border to Newry have also increased dramatically as Sterling continues its fall relative to the Euro. Border towns like Dundalk are already feeling the pressure with stores closing due to the loss of trade. BLOODSHED IN THE IRISH BANKING SECTOR Anglos Irish bank has been nationalised by the Government, effectively wiping out the value of shareholders stake. The bank was one of the bright lights of the economic boom of recent years and specialised in financing extravagant property schemes. The severe downturn in the construction sector hit Anglo harder than most other banks as it was so heavily invested in new construction. The government had planned a recapitalization but instead took over the entire bank rather than see it collapse. Following hot on the heels of Anglos shame came the news that First Active Bank is to be integrated into Ulster Bank with the loss of 60 bank branches and 750 jobs. First Active was one of Ireland's oldest building societies and achieved notoriety by offering 100% mortgages at the height of the property boom. It is unlikely to be the last big banking brand to disappear as a result of the current financial crisis. 100,00 NON-NATIONALS LEAVE IRELAND Anecdotal evidence of the departure of the many Polish and eastern European workers from Ireland has been backed up by a government estimate that 100,000 have left the country. Nearly one fifth of the current unemployed are non-nationals who overall represent 12% of the population and 15% of the workforce. This disparity can be explained by the fact that many non-nationals were employed in service industry work that many native Irish shunned. That trend is now being reversed with queues for these jobs now the norm. CONGESTION CHARGE LIKELY FOR DUBLIN CITY The groundwork is being laid for a traffic congestion charge to be imposed on motorists who enter Dublin City centre. A similar scheme has already been in operation in London since 2003 and while Dublin is a much smaller city the traffic-jams can be just as bad. The plan may coincide with the proposal to have a directly elected Mayor for Dublin, who would have control over the city's dire traffic problems. THE (ALMOST) NAKED COWBOY FROM NY CITY ARRIVES The singing cowboy who wears only his underwear, hat and boots and is among the most visited attractions in New York City has arrived in Dublin to give the citizenry a boost. Robert Burck, who has a degree in political science and a Masters in Business, has earned and estimated US$8 M.illion singing his way to fame and fortune in Times Square in the New York. He is in Ireland to promote a competition run by Irish Entrepreneur Magazine cites his own unlikely success as inspiration for any budding new Irish businesses. Voice your opinion on these news issues here: http://www.ireland-information.com/newsletterboard/wwwboard.html ============================== NEW FREE RESOURCES AT THE SITE ============================== IRELAND HOUSE-SWAP LISTING We are working on the online program to allow you to freely add and view details of other people who are interested in this service. You can add your home-swap details to our new free listing service at: http://www.ireland-information.com/irelandhouseswap.htm IRISH HOLIDAY AND TOURIST BOARD Post a question about holidaying in Ireland and we guarantee an answer will be posted on the board. http://www.ireland-information.com/irishholidays-irishtourist/irishtouristboard.html 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: F: Finucane G: Golden, McGrady N: Norton, McNulty View the Gallery here: http://www.irishsurnames.com/coatsofarms/gm.htm 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: http://www.irishnation.com/familycrestgifts.htm ================================================= YOU CAN HELP TO KEEP THIS FREE NEWSLETTER ALIVE! Visit: http://www.irishnation.com where you can get great Irish gifts, prints, claddagh jewellery, engraved glassware and much more. Anne MacDonald ordered a family crest plaque: Hello, Michael, Received my plaque, carefully wrapped, in good order. It is splendid! I am thrilled, and I know that my dad, for whose 81st birthday this was ordered, will love it. I would like to order another one! Everyone who has seen the plaque has been really impressed, even those who, as my daughter says are 'not into ancestor worship!' Again, my hearty thanks for this first-class product. Best wishes for happy holiday season. Sincerely, Anne MacDonald THE PERFECT WEDDING OR ANNIVERSARY GIFT! View family crest plaques here: http://www.irishnation.com/familycrestplaques.htm ==================== IRISH SEA KAYAK TRIP by Nathan Kingerlee ==================== After a busy summer I decided to take three days off, pack a fifteen foot sea kayak with food and drink and explore the south west coast. My plans happened to coincide with what was probably the summer's best weather. I paddled out from Snave Strand, at the head of Bantry Bay, on a beautiful sunny afternoon. The gentle southerly breeze barely stirring the water. For the entire afternoon I couldn't wipe the grin from my face as the coastline of the Beara Peninsula unveiled itself, in all of its rocky rugged beauty. With my heavily laden kayak a little tippy to begin with, until I became accustomed to it, I hugged the coastline. Past Whiddy Island Oil Refinery and Glengarrif Harbour. After a couple of hours paddling my stomach began to let me know it was past lunchtime, so spying a huge black rock protruding from the water I made for it. Leaving my kayak tightly wedged between slippery rocks I scrambled to the summit, passing numerous orderly piles of twigs spread across the flat top, which on closer inspection turned out to be abandoned gannet nests. Invigorated after a lunch of freshly baked bread, slightly warm goat cheese and tomatoes I hit the water knowing I needed to make it to Bere Island to be assured of a good camping spot that night. This was a long paddle - head down - long deep strokes for three hours, cutting down the middle of Bantry Bay to take the most direct line. Roancarrigmore, a tiny island with a lonely lighthouse perched on it, was my first target. Once I reached this little island I knew Bere Island was only 2km further. Slowly, but eventually, my destination became closer and closer. With the wind increasing, the temperature dropping and the sun setting I was eager to land and set up camp. Hugging the outside of the island I paddled into a calm natural bay called Lonehort Harbour. Landing my kayak on a white sandy beach, I pitched my Vango tent in dusky twilight, fixed a line between two gorse bushes to dry my kayaking gear and climbed into my tent. After the compulsory 'I'm still safe' text messages I set down to the serious job of cooking dinner, making several cups of tea and attempting to open a bottle of red wine with a penknife! The next morning dawned clear and cool, with the promise of a scorching day to come. After sausages and bacon, cooked on my powerful gas stove, I packed my kayak and while squeezing everything into the two watertight compartments had a revelation! For most of the previous day my kayak had wanted to veer to starboard, especially later in the day when the breeze increased. This had meant that every third stroke was a sweep stroke on the right to correct myself, which was hard work! Anyway my revelation was that my nine litres of drinking water plus three bottles of wine weren't distributed properly inside the storage compartments, meaning my boat was slightly lopsided, just enough to effect the steering of it through the water.... Paddling along the outside of Bere Island was impressive, with the British gun batteries and bunkers disappearing slowly under an unstoppable tide of nettles and gorse. A Martello Tower from the Napoleonic Wars thrust bluntly into the blue sky, while nearby nestled a Megalithic Burial Site and a romantic looking promontory fort, probably Iron Age or earlier. Bere Island has a rich history and played an important part in World War 1, only being returned to the Irish in 1938. I left Bere Island, crossing the mouth of Castletown Bere Harbour and passing a solitary fishing trawler which threw up a lazy wash behind it. It was now I began to feel I was sea kayaking for real. Bantry Bay widened before me, miles of open water, the Beara Peninsula on my right, steadily increasing cliffs, headland after headland curving out of sight. While on my left the Sheep's Head Peninsula slowly tapered to a finish, exposing open sea beyond it. Deciding to land for lunch is a decision that has to be well planned, as even in the gentle swell I was encountering, it's no mean feat to land safely. Locate a section of rocky shoreline which doesn't look too slippery, judge the swell as it surges upwards against the black rocks and rushes back down, sucking and gurgling. When a calming in the incoming swell seems imminent paddle alongside the rocks, timing it with the upward surge of salty water, pull off the neoprene spray deck, slide out of the boat onto the rocks and as the water begins to rush back downwards grab the handle and heave the boat onto the rocks, while all the time keeping the paddle securely in one hand! This article is continued in the online edition of this newsletter: http://www.ireland-information.com/jan09.htm#article Nathan Kingerlee runs an outdoor adventure company, Outdoors Ireland, based in Killarney, Kerry. Specialising in guided trips, from a half-day to a week, activities include hiking, hill walking, canoeing and rock climbing. You can contact Nathan at http://www.outdoorsireland.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or +353 (0) 86 860 45 63.
Feat successfully completed, I looked around my picnic spot. I had landed in a narrow inlet, which was basically a cleft in the cliffs. There was just enough space to drag my kayak onto the warm boulders which made up the floor. On one side was the water, now appearing docile. On the other three sides were vertical sandstone cliffs which towered overhead and thrust most of this inlet into shade. At the very back of the cleft were the scattered ancient remains of a Massey Ferguson tractor, which I guessed a weary farmer had pushed (or driven) over the edge. I sincerely hoped that with the progress of REPS and environmental awareness there would be no more dumping while I sat there enjoying my lunch.
Technically launching from the shore after lunch should have been easier. A case of sitting into my kayak on the rocks, gripping my paddle tightly and when the right sized surge of water rose upwards seal launch myself into the swell and paddle away. Not the case! I ended up with the bow of my kayak in the water and my stern still perched on the rocks. Because of the sharp narrow shape to the kayak's hull as the swell rushed downwards I capsized and then slithered the rest of the way into the water upside down. After the initial shock and realisation of how cold the water actually was I Eskimo rolled upright, shook the water out of my ears and vowed to find easier picnic spots in future!
My intended destination that evening was Garnish, a 21km paddle away from lunch. The security of the mainland was left behind as I cut straight towards Crow Head, avoiding the many indented bays and inlets. Crow Head was the furthest into the Atlantic Ocean I strayed. As far as I know it's the most south westerly point of mainland Ireland. And it felt it… Medium, choppy swell rolled under my kayak from random directions, making me constantly adjust my balance; my face stung from two days of sun and sea salt; gannets on the lookout for mackerel soared and cried overhead, before diving in unison; the water roared and boomed against the cliffs on my right; no one else by sea or land for miles and miles. At one stage I stopped paddling and simply sat still, bobbing in the edge of the Atlantic, savouring the peace and tranquillity.
To save time and for a little more excitement I wanted to paddle through a narrow, tight passage between Crow Head and Crow Island. The passage, or channel, was three hundred metres long and at it's narrowest I doubt I would have had the width to turn my kayak around. Carefully entering into it was like paddling into darkness, such was the difference between the dazzling sunlight and the gloomy shade. I emerged into a large calm bay with Dursey Island and Dursey Sound in front of me. The difference between one side of the three hundred metre channel and the other side was like stepping from a storm into a swimming pool! The sun was beginning to dip towards the horizon line and thinking about pasta and tomato sauce and warm red wine I put my foot down.
Cutting through the bay towards the Sound, a couple of dolphins suddenly appeared and began accompanying me. Then there were six of them! Streaking through the water in pairs, jumping high into the air alongside me and carving in circles around my kayak. Most spectacular of all was when they dive bombed towards me from deep underwater. From the depths they would race straight upwards aiming directly at my kayak, I could see their pale stomachs as they sped at me, then at what seemed like the very last minute they would veer sharply off and avoid me. The twenty minutes I spent paddling towards Dursey Sound accompanied by six friendly dolphins was the high point of my trip.
I had heard worrying reports from friends about tricky sea conditions in Dursey Sound; however it was calm and gentle as I paddled through it, with soft swell slowly rolling in. Two carefully perched fishermen waved at me from the rocks. The fantastic little cable car (Ireland's only cable car) was trundling across the Sound, hanging from taut cables, high over my head. Judging from the many ruined cottages, crumbling church and overgrown graveyard on the island I would guess that at least a hundred people lived there once. Now only six remain… I left the Sound, passing Mealaun Point on my left, and veered sharp right, heading towards Garnish Point and safe harbour. Although the swell wasn't huge it was the largest I had encountered so far. It rolled slowly under my boat, then seemed to accelerate towards the vast overhanging black cliffs, which glistened wetly in the sinking sun. The waves crashed in great echoing booms sending spray high into the air, where it seemed to hang in slow motion. The rolling hillside above the cliffs seemed hazy with mist which, on looking closer, was actually spray blown high into the air.
I couldn't see the water my boat was moving through! I was paddling through a thick carpet of dirty white foam which covered the water's surface all around me, absorbing noise. Every time I did a forward stroke my paddle blade and sometimes my hand disappeared into the foam, which had a bit of a surreal feeling to it. Leaving the foam and echoing booms behind me I circled Garnish Point, surfed through a narrow gap between Garnish Island and a smaller unnamed island and landed on the rocky beach of Long Island. It felt good to stand up and stretch. That night, propped against a comfortable rock in my trusty sleeping bag, I watched the moon rise, sparkling on the still waters of Allihies Bay; and later slept under the stars beside my driftwood fire. Dazzling sunshine woke me the next morning and the sounds of local lobster fishermen preparing for their day's work. After a lazy start I paddled to meet a friend who was joining me at Allihies Beach for my final day's kayaking. We circumnavigated Cod's Head and headed across the wide open expanse of Coulagh Bay, aiming for three small islands huddled off the tip of Kilcatherine Point. As Noel and myself paddled and chatted I heard a snorting noise from my left and glancing over saw, ten or fifteen metres away, the crest of a big, big dark-bluish back rising out of the water. It was a large whale, less than fifteen metres away! Only the crest of its back was breaking the water, and that was big, so I can only guess how big the entire whale was! Ignoring us (or oblivious to us) it sank below the water heading towards Lamb's Head, on the Iveragh Peninsula. Later in the day we caught one or two more sightings of probably the same whale, far in the distance; cruising the deepening waters of Kenmare Bay, in no hurry to be anywhere.
Having the safety of another person with me gave me the confidence to really explore the caves and strange rock formations eroded into the three small islands; Bridaun, Bridaun Beg and Inishfarnard. We landed in a little narrow inlet on Inishfarnard for lunch and stretched out on warm soft grass to enjoy sandwiches, grapes and chocolate chip cookies, while wondering how the sheep had managed to land on these rugged shores. Paddling along the coastline of Kilcatherine Point towards Ardgroom I could feel the excitement of the exposed bays, high cliffs and Atlantic swell diminishing behind me and it was with regret that I pulled out my soggy map to navigate to our finish point. The coast was still really interesting, with all kinds of undercut inlets, little arches and strange choppy waves, but we continued past them, all for another day<.br>
We were finishing at Bird Point, but continued a kilometre past it as according to our map there were caves there worth exploring. We weren't disappointed! Slightly overhanging cliffs beckoned us into a high cathedral-like entrance, which protected two vast caves. Despite the summer temperatures outside, in the caves our breath condensed and hung in the air before us. The slightest noise we made echoed eerily under the high roof, while my Tikka head torch only dimly illuminated our path. The slick damp walls of the caves glistened and eventually the walls and ceiling tapered to a tight finish thirty metres back. Ancient tombs, Viking rendezvous points, smugglers dens, wreckers hideouts; the possible histories seemed to clamour through the empty space.
All I can say is what a trip!
Nathan Kingerlee runs an outdoor adventure company, Outdoors Ireland,
based in Killarney, Kerry. Specialising in guided trips, from a
half-day to a week, activities include hiking, hill walking, canoeing
and rock climbing. You can contact Nathan on www.outdoorsireland.com
email@example.com or +353 (0) 86 860 45 63.