IN THIS ISSUE
~~~~~ Keep us Free!
~~~~~ New Free resources at the site
~~~~~ News Snaps from Ireland
~~~~~ The Changes in Ireland by Betty Iannone
~~~~~ Irish Film Review: The Snapper by Dawn Hayden
~~~~~ Irish Quotations of the Month
~~~~~ The Problem with 'Angela's Ashes' by Brian Kelly
~~~~~ Gaelic Phrases of the Month
~~~~~ Shamrock Site of the Month: Working/Marrying in Ireland
~~~~~ Monthly free competition result
Hi from Dublin!
Hope your Summer is giving you some sun because that is
certainly not the case here in Ireland. If you have ever
thought of visiting Ireland then prepare for rain because
it can happen any time and at any place.
Thee is good news about the Foot and Mouth outbreak which
seems to have abated. The single case that occurred in
County Louth caused a near national panic but the
reintroduction of animals into those farms that suffered
most is a sure sign that that war is nearly over.
On the Internet front Ireland is suffering as much as
anywhere and was rocked by the collapse in the share price
of Baltimore Securities and the recent news that the Local
Ireland business is to be sold off or possibly closed down.
At one stage Local Ireland had nearly 30 people working on
their web sites!
We have two contrasting reader articles this month. Why not
pen a few paragraphs about your favourite Irish subject and
send it in for the next newsletter.
BEST WISHES FROM IRELAND!
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
NORTHERN IRELAND PEACE PROCESS IN CRISIS
The resignation of David Trimble as the First Minister of
the Northern Ireland Assembly has prompted a meeting of
all of the pro-agreement parties in Shropshire. The
agreement is in crisis over the failure of the IRA and the
other paramilitary parties to decommission their weapons.
Trimble resigned on the basis that there had been no
significant progress on this issue and it is now likely
that the Northern Assembly will be suspended and direct
rule reimposed from London. Sinn Fein maintain that the
guns are silent and have been for some considerable time.
The loyalist marching season kicked off with the annual
stand-off at Drumcree. The Orange Order were again banned
from marching down the predominantly Catholic Garvaghy
Road near Drumcree in Portadown. The resultant protest
passed off with significant incident.
GOVERNMENT FORCED TO RETREAT FROM BANNING OPINION POLLS
The recent influence that opinion polls had on the Irish
electorate in the recent European referenda are seen as
just one of the reason why Bertie Ahearn's government
tried to have the publication of polls banned for the
week preceding the vote.
A loophole in the proposed law meant that it would be
illegal to publish the polls for the preceding week but
that the publication of opinion polls on the actual day
of the voting would be allowed!
It is very likely that revised legislation will be
introduced in the Autumn despite the claims by media groups
that the legislation amounts to nothing more than censorship.
EU TO INTRODUCE 'GREEN CARD' TO TACKLE ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION
The EU is to introduce a 'green card' system to allow for
legal immigration of workers and to try to prevent the ever
increasing problem of 'human trafficking'. The proposal
allows for a common immigration policy across the 15 member
states although the total number of immigrants allowed into
a country will still be at the behest of the individual
Ireland issued 18,000 work permits last year and allows
anyone within the EU or from Iceland or Norway to work in
Ireland without a permit. Other European workers are
generally given a work permit once they have a definite
offer of employment.
IRISH DOT-COM CHIEF RESIGNS
The founder and CEO of the Irish darling of the NASDAQ,
Baltimore Securities, has resigned amid pressure from
shareholders over the collapse of the stock price. Fran
Rooney founded the Internet security firm but the collapse
of confidence in the Internet sector has hit those companies
that supply Internet technologies to other Companies the
Over 250 employees were made redundant recently while the
share price has fallen by 96% since last January. A 'rights'
issue of shares is expected as the company tries to raise
new funds. Microsoft and RSA Securitues are said to be
waiting in the wings for the right moment to pounce with
MORE COMPETITION FOR RYANAIR
The success of Ryanair as a no-frills airline has prompted
English based rival GO to enter the Irish market. Ryanair
announced that it will establish a new route from Dublin to
Edinburgh in direct competition with GO.
RE-DRAFT OF UNPUBLISHED 'ULYSSES' CHAPTER FETCHES IR£1.2M
Ulysses, the definitive work by Irish author James Joyce
continues to amaze! A heavily reworked and previously
unpublished chapter from the book has fetched IR£1.2 Million
at auction in Sotheby's in London. Penned in Paris sometime
between 1916 and 1920 the manuscript contains Joyce's usual
scrawls and annotations and looks set to further confound
and delight Joycean scholars.
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THE CHANGES IN IRELAND by Betty Iannone
I recently returned from County Leitrim, the home of my 88
year old mother, Mary Agnes Drugan Christensen. My mother
had been talking about one more trip home for about a year
and since I had made the trip once before with her over 15
years ago I decided to take the trip with her. I was anxious
for the opportunity to make a dream come true for my mother
and to see for myself what many friends and family were
saying about the changes in Ireland.
Arriving in Dublin we took a train ride for three stops from
the Mt. Herbert Hotel to the city, where we had arranged,
via email to meet the son of a fireman, Jimmy O'Mara, who was
on the job with my husband John. Jimmy speaks some Gaelic but
his brogue is a thing of beauty. We toured Trinity College
and visited the Book of Kells exhibition. We shopped of
course, and felt like we were in New York City. Except for
the width of the sidewalks and the height of the buildings
there was very little difference.
But the glorious changes in Ireland were so apparent. Like
New York City, we saw no street beggars, no little urchins
at the tourist stops to beg or steal you purse. The city
looked cleaner and most prosperous. And like New York the
streets and shops were full of people from all over the
world. Some were just visitors, but many were living and
working in Ireland now. In our hotel there were young people
working there from France, Spain, Germany and the Orient.
I had rented a car at Dublin airport and was psyching myself
up for the experience of once again driving on the wrong
side of the road, which of course I did on more than one
My friend Jimmy said he could make the trip from Dublin to
Sligo in about and hour and a half, but he gave me directions
to avoid going back through Dublin city and therefore making
the drive much easier for the two Yanks. The trip took us four
hours to reach Drumkeerin and our first stop was the Beauty
Shop of my cousin, Mary McHugh. She of course had dinner
waiting for us.
We traveled daily from Drumkeerin visiting relatives and
neighboring towns and cities. We went to Dromahair to visit
an old friend Winnie McKeon. Winnie and her husband Phil
moved back to Ireland after Phil retired 20 years ago.
Winnie remained in their beautifully landscaped home after
Phil's death several years ago. This is a town that is on
the verge of some very big changes but it still remains a
perfect spot for a movie or for those picture perfect
postcards. If my mother wins the lottery this is where she
will buy her dream home, with six bedrooms so the entire
family can come to Ireland for Christmas.
Sligo was booming and driving through those very narrow
downtown streets was a nightmare. On our first trip, I
parked in Dunne's supermarket carpark on the far end of
town and walked about a mile back into the city to shop to
have lunch. The signs of progress and prosperity were
everywhere. The dress shops, boutiques, the internet cafes,
and like Dublin there were people from all over the world in
Sligo, I know because I stopped every one of them looking
for directions back to my car! This was not the Sligo of 15
years ago. But real changes in Ireland can be seen in the
lives of it's young people.
I must say that although Drumkeerin had not changed much in
15 years, probably not much in the past 50 years, the
changes were very apparent in my family that lived there
and worked nearby.
The last time I saw my cousin Thomas Drugan, he was a skinny
little kid sitting on top of his father's tractor, thinking
he would probably spend the rest of his life much as his
father and mother, Paddy and Mary Drugan did, trying to farm
and raise cows on some very poor, rocky farm land. But today
Thomas is married and has two beautiful children he has a
supervisory position in a plant nearby and lives just below
the house he was raised in. His two year old home would rival
any new model home built in America. It is equipped with
every modern feature, has three large sunny bedrooms, a grand
kitchen and beautiful dining room. Tommy's sister Mary
Bridget, married Sean Rooney from Ballenlatrallick and they
are very successful at their sheep ranch near the beautiful
Ben Bulben Mountain. The rest of the McHugh side of the
family is also doing very well.
We left Ireland very sad to say goodbye to friends and
family but we were also saying goodbye to the Ireland I grew
up hearing about. A poor country with many of the brightest
young people coming to America to make a decent living never
Today Ireland is an economic success and a success on it's
own. I'm sure this has much to do with the peace talks in
the North. Young and old alike are doing well. The United
States could take a lesson on how to take care of the
elderly with love and respect. The care I saw first hand,
from the poorest of poor, able to live with dignity in their
own home, with telephone and electricity provided for them
by the county, to the charity nursing facilities that would
far exceed the personal attention and care given at any of
the very costly nursing homes in America.....
Ireland will never be the same and some of its natural
beauty may be lost but do hurry there to be witness to this
extraordinary transformation. For me it was like seeing
history in the making. Erin Go Braugh!
IRISH MOVIE REVIEW: THE SNAPPER by Dawn Hayden
Let's get straight to the point: not everyone will like
'The Snapper'. Based on one of Roddy Doyle's trilogy of
'Barrytown' books (the other two being 'The Commitments'
and 'The Van'), unless you can tolerate heavy Dublin accents
and the bleak Northside view of the city then you might be
better off renting 'Three men and a baby'!
Having said that 'The Snapper' is something of a cult
classic among Dubliners and among Northside Dubliners in
The film is based around Sharon Kerley and her family who
live in a working class housing estate. These people are not
the upper or middle class, they are the lower class, the
people that Roddy Doyle writes best about. Sharon has a
one-night-stand with a middle-aged neighbour and of course
gets pregnant as a result.
Determined to keep the identity of the man who 'did the
damage' secret she tells her parents who, after an initial
shock, take the news in their stride. 'A man needs a pint
after dat!' declares the father played by Colm Meaney
(Star Trek, Into the West, Con Air).
The father is a central figure in this little drama as
the way that he first copes with the news and then shuns
his daughter after the real identity of the baby's father
becomes known is crucial to the compelling nature of the
story. He eventually relents of course and stands by his
daughter despite the jeers of friends and neighbours.
This is gentle stuff but it IS funny - the father asking
his wife 'Are ya on for it' and she replying 'just let
me finish my knitting first!' - Sharon getting sick into
her friend's handbag at the Disco - the youngest daughter
parading around in her American marching band outfit.
The humour will not be to everyone's taste, but if you
have ever been to Dublin then you will surely be able to
relate to some of the character's and you will certainly
end up with sympathy for them all.
Give it a go - this really IS what a lot of Dubliners are
THE PROBLEM WITH 'ANGELA'S ASHES' by Brian Kelly
My name is Brian Kelly. I was born and raised in Long
Island (NY), but have moved many times since, now living in
Georgia. I am second generation American, my grandparents
coming from Galway and Limerick.
I try to constantly uncover more information about my
grandparents lives in Ireland, their individual treks to the
US, and their lives here in America. With it, comes the
collateral and related information of their 'population' as
I am filled with clear and stirring memories of countless
days, nights and weekends spent at their home..... the great
stories of family, relatives and friends experiences as they
settled and grew into their new home, America. The voices of
their friends, their neighbors ... and yet more relatives...
the great love and respect they showed for each other...
their love and undefeatable faith in God... their incredible
work ethic... and yes, the oft times presence of 'drink'
during the visits.... no one got drunk, no one got sick, no
one got loud or abusive, no one drank to any excess or
embarrassed themselves or their family. A 'beer and a ball'
was not an unusual thing to see. That being said, it didn't
define the get-togethers, the alcohol wasn't the strong
underlying theme, the environment wasn't one of disorder or
disrespect... the stories got thicker as the night grew on,
as did their brogues... but also as did their freely
demonstrated emotions... their love for their homeland, and
clearly their love for their new home, America.
I've never been one to wear my feelings on my sleeve, to
force my opinions on others, or to boast arrogantly of my
Irish heritage (of which I am filled and deeply moved with
pride). I say this in an effort to cut short any such
reaction to what I am about to comment upon.
My issue is with the book Angela's Ashes.
In short, my concern is for the vast and overwhelming number
of people who I hear talk about this book, how absolutely
wonderful it was, how the Irish have such a way with
language and emotion, and how the author tells such a
touching story about the Irish.
My God! That book is as much a book about 'The Irish' as
those cheap green plastic hats and dyed beer on Saint
Patrick's day! In fact, it does at least as much benefit
(harm) to educating those seeking knowledge, and those
interested in their heritage and the core essence of who
they are and who their ancestors were..... as those hats
and green beer!
Angela's Ashes is not a story of Ireland, the Irish people,
the Irish American experience, or even of Limerick! It is
the story of an extremely dysfunctional family, a
particularly irresponsible and drunkard of a man who
happened to be Irish, and the sorrowful impact such a poor
excuse of an Irishman had upon his family and their trek in
Is 'drink' a mainstay of the Irish? Yes, but it does not
My grandparents came to the US from Ireland in the early
20th century. They came with thousands upon thousands of
others. It was the incredible faith in God, faith in
mankind, individual morality, character, leadership,
dedication, determination, ingenuity, love and ethics
(among countless other virtues and characteristics that are
too many to mention) that marks the greatness of the Irish
people, of the Irish-American experience, of the Irish
contribution to the USA... It is THOSE qualities that
define the Irish!
I have never written a book, though I do confess to enjoy
the written word... That being said, I am so aggravated,
so offended, by the perception that is afforded by
'Angela's Ashes' that I am motivated and on the very edge of
writing a book of my own.... one that will have the reader
laughing, even singing... thinking back to their own
relatives... and yes, finding themselves in tears as well.
THAT, is the reality of who the Irish were and are... and
who the Irish Americans were and are.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Do you agree with this article or do you
think that Frank McCourt's book is an outstanding example
of historical literature. Let us know!
Any volunteers to write next month's article:
'In defence of Angela's Ashes' ?
IRISH QUOTATIONS OF THE MONTH
When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I
managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a
miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly
worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable
childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse
yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.
Frank McCourt: Angela's Ashes, 1996
I have seen the Indian in his forests and the negro
in his irons, and I believed, in pitying their
plight, that I saw the lowest ebb of human misery;
but I did not then know the degree of poverty to be
found in Ireland.
Gustave de Beaumont:
L'Irlande sociale, politique et religieuse, 1839
Mother realised, to her great astonishment, that
Betty was a Protestant as well. Nobody had ever
explained to her that Protestants could also be poor.
Frank O'Connor: An Only Child, 1961
GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
PHRASE: Na dean sin!
PRONOUNCED: naw dane shin
MEANING: Don't do that!
PHRASE: Bi samhach!
PRONOUNCED: bee zoww/ock
MEANING: Be Quiet!
PHRASE: Duin an doras!
PRONOUNCED: doon on dur/oss
MEANING: Shut the Door!
View the archive of phrases here:
SHAMROCK SITE OF THE MONTH
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