IN THIS ISSUE
Popular Articles from Recent Newsletters:
- News from Ireland
- Saint Valentine was from Ireland. No, Really!
- 5 Words you will only hear in Ireland
- 'The Scythe-Stone is not the thing' by Mattie Lennon
- Gaelic Phrases of the Month
- Monthly Free Competition Result
Welcome back to Ireland where we have plenty for you to read this month including our annual 'State of the Irish Nation' review.
We also feature an article about the Irish-ness of Saint Valentine(!), explain five words you will only ever hear in Ireland and finish off with another fine tale of old Ireland from Mattie Lennon.
If you have a story or article you would like to contribute please do send it in!
Until next time,
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NEWS FROM IRELAND
STATE OF THE IRISH NATION 2017
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GALLERY OF IRISH COATS OF ARMS
SAINT VALENTINE WAS FROM IRELAND.
Ok, he was not really Irish but in the true Irish tradition of claiming association to just about anything that is good we Irish are claiming the Saint as our own.
We do have some grounds for this assertion - bear with me.
Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin is the unlikely resting place for the relics of Saint Valentine. That's right! While desperate men the world over rush to their nearest Garage fore-court to buy half-battered bunches of red roses in the hope that it will get them out of jail, the knowledge that there is an Irish connection to Saint Valentine still escapes the masses.
Pope Gregory XVI presented the remains of Saint Valentine to an Irish Carmelite named John Spratt in the year 1835. He had been visiting Rome and preaching at the famous Jesuit Church there to much acclaim. In 1836 the remains were received by Archbishop Murray of Dublin and have remained in Whitefriar Street Church ever since. An Altar and Shrine were installed in the 1950's depicting the Saint as a martyr. An inscription on the Altar reads:
This shrine contains the sacred body of Saint Valentinus the Martyr, together with a small vessel tinged with his blood.
The annual mass on February 14th includes a ceremony to bless wedding rings of those betrothed, in the hope that such a blessing will help secure a successful union.
There may have even been two Saints named Valentine. Valentine of Rome died about the year 269 during the persecution of Claudius the Goth. The other Valentine was allegedly Bishop of Terni. It is possible that the two memories are in fact of the same person.
There are several legends regarding his martyrdom. The first suggests that he was beheaded for illegally marrying young Christians in opposition to Roman rules. Another suggests that Valentine was imprisoned for helping a young blind girl named Julia, again contrary to Roman law. Knowing he was about to die he wrote a final note to the young girl and signed it 'From Your Valentine'. The note contained a crocus flower and upon opening it for the first time the young girl's sight was restored. In the year 496 Pope Gelasius I named February 14th as Saint Valentine's Day and ever since that day has been associated with flowers, note-giving and all things romantic.
So there you have it - Saint Valentine was Irish. Ok, it is not an open and shut case but we do posses his relics and that is good enough for us. Did you know that Saint Nicholas (Santa!) is buried in Kilkenny?
More about that in December.
Gorgeous Valentine's Day Gifts from Ireland
find out more
5 WORDS YOU WILL ONLY HEAR IN IRELAND
Irish people are known for having their own unique way of expressing themselves. One visitor from the US remarked that listening to the Irish speak was like being on a different planet! Here are a few beauties to demonstrate.
The sixteenth century saw a fierce rivalry develop
between the Butlers and Fitzgeralds. Violent
clashes between the two groups were commonplace
with once such melee occurring in 1492. Butler, the
Earl of Ormond retreated and was forced to take
refuge in Saint Patrick's Cathedral.
himself behind a stout wooden door and refused to
leave until he got assurances for his safety. After
some negotiation a deal was struck. In order to
seal the deal a hole was hacked through the wooden
door and Fitzgerald offered his hand. This was risky
indeed as a large axe could easily have removed the
limb. Harmony broke out however and the standoff
It is thought that the modern expression 'chancing
your arm' originated from this event. From that
time on a 'chancer' was someone who took a risk
or a gamble. The hole in the door can still be
seen to this day with the door known as the
'Door of Reconciliation'.
An oft-heard and seldom questioned word that is
uttered throughout Ireland is banjaxed. It not
only sounds great but can be applied to a number
of situations! It essentially means broken,
beyond repair, in a bad way. It is speculated that
the word originated in Victorian Ireland and
England although it now seems to be almost
exclusively used in Ireland. The word can apply
to people, places, things and situations.
I'm banjaxed after last night! (after a few pints)
This country is banjaxed
My car is completely banjaxed
How's the leg? Banjaxed!
SAFE HOME (yes we know it is a phrase and not a word)
There are of course many ways of bidding farewell
other than the standard 'goodbye'. Irish people can
be heard to say 'all the best', 'be seeing you',
'take it handy' or 'good luck'. Perhaps one of
the most elegant means of departure is to say
'safe home', meaning 'be safe on your way to your
home', offered as a gesture of care and a wish for
good fortune rather than as a description of any
Like many countries the Irish have several ways
of describing a person who is intoxicated. These
include hammered, scuttered, flutered, plastered,
mouldy, ossified, stocious, manky-drunk, wasted,
locked and mashed. Or, if in conversation with an
official of the law: drunk!
The Irish have been having great craic for
years - honest! Before we continue it
should be established that we are not referring
to the illegal cocaine narcotic but to another
word that although pronounced as 'crack', seems
very peculiar to the Irish.
'having the craic'
'we had a great craic'
'what was the craic like?'
'the craic was ninety'
These are all very commonly heard examples of
the word 'craic' in use in Ireland. It basically
means 'a good time' or 'fun'. It can also mean
'situation' or 'story' as in 'thats the craic'.
SOUND TOOL (yes we know!)
If a Dub were to call
you a 'sound tool' it would mean that, although
you are a decent person (sound) you are also
a bit of an idiot (a tool).
Homer Simpson, Michael Scott (The Office), Dumb & Dumber. All Sound.
'THE SCYTHE-STONE IS NOT THE THING'
by Mattie Lennon
Templeboden cemetery is a couple of hundred yards from my humble abode. It is not, however, our family burial ground due to marriage arrangements some generations ago the details of which I won't bore you with. By listening to the assembled mourners at numerous funerals at the graveyard gate, I as a young lad, added to my already dubious store of knowledge.
One could even pick up information on one's pedigree of which one had been previously unaware. Shameen from Ballinastockan was a static quantity at such a gathering. The oldest person in the area couldn't recall Shameen ever having missed a wake or funeral.
As one rhymester put it:
Not a wake or a funeral for five miles around
But you're sure to find Shameen in there with the crowd.
And at every funeral he could nearly always be relied on to come up with a unique if not philosophical statement. Like the day that the discussion came up about the construction of Templeboden Bridge (or 'Tompleboordin Brudge' as we locals call it) which took place during the 1840s.
We are a proud people and we always like to emphasize that there was no local died from hunger during the Potato Famine. Likewise it is always stated that the bridge was built through local contributions but was not a relief scheme although such schemes were in operation in the area.
One day, when the project was being discussed, a man said:
'All the same, the relief schemes were a great help to the people of this area.'
'Be God they were', replied Shameen,
'They would have died with the hunger around here on'y for the famine.'
Then there was the day when a visiting historian, who was obviously well versed in the part played by the pike-carrying United Irishmen of Wicklow in the 1798 rebellion.
He gazed on the rows of weathered granite tombstones, many off-parallel with the perpendicular and resembling the oral cavity of a septuagenarian rustic who hadn't ever graced a dentist's surgery, he commented:
I'd say there are 'ninety-eight' men buried in there.'
'Be God there is', said Shameen, 'Or there could be over a hundred in it.'
There were two identical twin brothers in the area and even in old age nobody could tell them apart. Eventually one of them died at an advanced age and the surviving brother was, of course, the chief mourner. He was approached, at the graveyard gate by Shameen who asked:
'Was it yourself or your brother that died?'
Shameen's chosen apparel was, at all times, wellingtons, dungarees and a hat that had seen better days. Even by the standards of the day personal hygiene wasn't high on his list of priorities but he did shave... infrequently... with the open or cut-throat-razor.
Among the many skills which he lacked was the ability to put a keen edge on the razor. One night at a wake the subject of whetting came up for discussion among the assembled males (some barely of shaving age).
Many suggestions were put forward by those who considered themselves knowledgeable in that field. Everything from: 'finish it off on your forearm' to 'give it a rub around the outside of a two-pound jam-pot' was put forward as the recipe for a fine edge.
Shameen listened attentively and took on board one piece of advice in particular.
Next day when he arrived at the funeral his face was a sight... it was in bits... It would have been a hematologists Paradise. His opening line, as he gingerly touched one jaw, was:
'I don't give a **** what ye say lads, the scythe-stone is not the thing for the razor'.
GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
||Nil aon leigheas ar an ngra ach posadh
||neel ain laygus air on grah ock pus-idd
||The only cure for love is marriage
||An rud a lionas an tsuil lionann se an croi
||on rud ah lean-uss on sewell lean-onn shay on kree
||What fills the eye fills the heart
||Giorraionn beirt bothar
||gurr-on bert boh-hurr
||Two shorten the road
View the Archive of Irish Phrases here:
The winner was: Dilloncorrine@gmail.com
who will receive the following:
A Single Family Crest Print (US$24.99 value)
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.
by Michael Green,
The Information about Ireland Site.
(C) Copyright - The Information about Ireland Site, 2016
P.O. Box 9142, Blackrock, County Dublin, Ireland Tel: 353 1 2893860
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