The Information about Ireland Site Newsletter
The Newsletter for people interested in Ireland
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Copyright (C) 2006
IN THIS ISSUE
=== News Snaps from Ireland
=== New free resources at the site
=== Ancient Ireland #1: The Milesians
=== The Traditional Irish Wedding by Bridget Haggerty
=== Irish Signs
=== Gaelic Phrases of the Month
=== Monthly free competition result
The warmest Irish Summer in recent years was
capped with the hottest day in a decade! Of
course the Irish complained all the way through
the recent heatwave. Ahhh for some rain!
We have included a 15% discount voucher for your
use when buying some of our new Irish signs
- see below- the voucher is valid until the
end of August.
Please DO send us in your stories, poems or
articles about Ireland for the next edition
- we love including reader contributions,
until next month,
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
ECONOMY CONTINUES TO BOOM DESPITE GLOOMY FORECASTS
The new worth of Irish citizens has been estimated
at EURO 150,000 per head, which puts Ireland near
the top of the international 'wealth league table',
second only to Japan. The economic boom of the last
decade has created over 30,000 m-illionaires, with
net worth increasing by over 350% in the last 10
years. The recent report by Bank of Ireland which
published the new data alludes to the willingness
of Irish people to take risks as one of the reasons
why so many people have done so well.
All is not so rosy in the property market however.
Despite the sustained growth in house prices in
recent years the willingness of banks to offer 100%
mortgages, interest-free mortgages and 35 and 40
year terms on loans is creating a possible future
crisis in the Irish economy. It is now estimated
that as many as 40% of all new mortgage loans are
100% loans, often to investors. 35-year terms are
now considered the norm.
Despite the warnings house prices continue to
forge upwards. Should the property market take a
big hit then the construction boom that has
fuelled the economy would suffer a severe
GDP grew by 5.5% in 2005 and this figure is
expected to be matched in 2006. Inflation at 3.9%
continues to be a worrying concern. The release
of over 15 B-illion Euro into the economy in the
first half of 2007 is expected to create jobs on
the one hand, but also to drive price inflation
up, which will result in employee pay demands
which will reduce competitiveness. There is an
overall consensus among economists that, once the
construction boom slows down then there will be
a serious and perhaps sudden reduction in
FOREIGN WORKERS FLOCK INTO IRISH ECONOMY
The number of workers from outside Ireland, mostly
from eastern Europe, has reached record levels.
Over 65,000 workers from Poland and the other new
EU states were registered in the first half of
2006. Of the near quarter million who have boosted
the workforce in the last 2 and a half years only
2000 are claiming unemployment benefits.
GOVERNMENT MAY PUBLISH EXAM RESULT LEAGUE TABLES
Despite opposition from the Teacher Unions the
Irish Government may copy the UK example and
publish exam 'league tables' that show which
are the best performing schools. The Irish
Department of Education is opposed to the idea
and has thus far successfully managed to block
such publication of exam results.
It is argued that the release of the information
would highlight schools who are under-resourced.
SALE OF AER LINGUS IS APPROVED
The autumn sale of Aer Lingus has been approved
with the Government set to retain a controlling
stake in the national airline. Staff unions are
gearing up for a fight having warned the
government that any public flotation will not
take place without their approval.
UK SET TO BUILD NEW NUCLEAR POWER STATIONS
The UK government has decided to greatly expand
the number o nuclear power stations with plans
for 12 new facilities expected to be announced
shortly. The Irish government is already engaged
in legal action to try to get Sellafield closed.
The proximity of the controversial power station
to the Irish coastline has always been a bone of
contention between the two countries.
The British Ambassador to Ireland has been
informed in no uncertain terms of the number of
concerns that the Irish government has in relation
to nuclear energy on the British mainland. Irish
Taoiseach Bertie Ahearn has previously described
Sellafield as the single biggest threat to Ireland.
Plans for a nuclear power plant in Wexford were
scuppered in the late 1970s. It is unclear how the
Irish public would react today to any new plan to
install a nuclear power plant in Ireland, given the
global concerns over climate change. Those in
favour of nuclear power in Ireland point out that
Ireland already uses some nuclear-generated
electricity by way of the inter-connect to the
British power grid.
PRAYER BOOK FOUND IN BOG
The ancient prayerbook that has been recovered
from an Irish bog is being hailed as one of the
greatest archeological discoveries ever made in
The Psalter, or Book of Psalms, was found in a
Midlands bog where peat was being milled. It has
been described by the National Museum of Ireland as
the Irish equivalent of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The
1200 year old manuscript is written in Latin on
calf-skin 'pages' and will take up to 3 years to
Voice your opinion on these news issues here:
NEW FREE RESOURCES AT THE SITE
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:
S: Squiers, Stafford
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:
ANCIENT IRELAND #1: THE MILESIANS
The 'Leabhar Gabhala' or 'book of invasions' is
a manuscript that records the ancient history of
Ireland. It was written in the eleventh
century and gives a vital account of the invasion
by the Gaels, the 'Sons of Mil', the Milesians.
The story of the Milesians begins in Scythia in
the very south-eastern part of Europe in the
millennium before Christ. These were a nomadic
people famed for their prowess with horses. They
were ruled by King Fenius who had a grandson
named Gaedhuil, or 'green gael'. Having been
bitten by a snake the boy was taken by his
father to Moses, who cured him with his staff.
Moses told the boy that he would travel to a land
without snakes, an island to the west, where his
descendants would remain.
The boy travelled throughout Europe and settled
in Spain where he was known as Milesius and became
King. His brother, Ith, discovered the island that
Moses had told him about, but was killed by the
Tuatha de Danaan, the people of the Goddess Danu.
By this time Milesius had also died but his wife,
Scota, and his sons, swore vengeance on the Tuatha
de Danaan and set off for Ireland. Victory was
theirs despite Scota being a casualty of the war.
The sons of Milesius, Eber and Eremon, became
rulers of Ireland, the land without snakes. The
two rulers divided the country between them with
Eber ruling the North and Eremon the South.
Needless to say, the peace of the land was
short-lived with a battle ensuing to claim the
hill of Tara. Eremon prevailed, and became King
Academic scholars are unsure of when exactly the
Milesian invasion occurred. Some estimate it at
1000 bc, others as early as 3500 bc. Despite the
difficulty with verifying traditions and legends
there is good evidence to prove the existence of
the Milesians as a Celtic race of people. The
descendants of the Milesians include 'Niall of
the Nine Hostages' (from whom all O'Neills are
descended), Conn of the Hundred Battles, and
Ugani Mor. It is based on this pedigree that the
Milesians are regarded as the true fathers of the
YOU CAN HELP TO KEEP THIS FREE NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
where you can get great Irish gifts, prints,
claddagh jewellery, engraved glassware and
Wendy Walker of Columbia, Missouri got a
family crest signet ring with the Donnelly family
crest engraved on it for her son
I received by registered mail today the ring I
ordered for my son with the Donnelly family crest.
I am very impressed and thrilled with the ring.
It is beautiful and the service I received
throughout the whole process of ordering and
receiving this unique gift has been superb. Thank
you for all your assistance and prompt responses
to my questions.
I will most certainly order other items from you
and will highly recommend you.
THE PERFECT WEDDING, ANNIVERSARY OR BIRTHDAY GIFT!
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THE TRADITIONAL IRISH WEDDING by Bridget Haggerty
There is one wedding Irish tradition that states:
'Marry in May and Rue The Day' while another
states: 'Marry in April if you can, joy for
maiden and for man'.
When I told my daughter about this Irish
superstition, she changed her wedding date so that
she'd be married in April!
What began as a search for Irish traditions and
customs that she could incorporate into her
celebration ended up as an incredible pile of
notes that eventually took on a life of its own.
Long after her wedding, I was still obsessed
with delving into history and folklore, looking
for everything I could find on how weddings were
celebrated in Ireland long ago.
I am convinced that if couples make the effort,
they can have a totally Irish celebration from
beginning to end - even to the pre-wedding
parties. There's one quaint custom where the groom
was invited to the bride's house right before the
wedding and they cooked a goose in his honor.
It was called Aitin' the gander — it has to be
where we get the expression 'his goose is cooked!'
We threw one of these dinner parties for my
daughter and everyone had a great time (the
apple-potato stuffing has become a family
There are so many other traditions, customs and
just an incredible amount of folklore to draw
upon, that it would be remiss to be of Irish
descent and not take advantage of all the
possibilities. Here are just a few ideas culled
from what eventually has become a 200-plus page
book called 'The Traditional Irish Wedding' and
it is now available from bookstores.
As complete as I could make it, the book covers
attire, decor, menus, recipes, music, toasts,
vows, and perhaps of most value, a resource
listing that will help you find everything from
Irish wedding gowns and tiaras to sheet
music for a Celtic Mass.
Here are some more:
* Bunratty Meade is a honey wine that's served at
the Bunratty Castle medieval banquet. It's from a
recipe based on the oldest drink in Ireland and if
you've never tasted it, it's well worth trying. In
the old days, it was consumed at weddings because
it was thought that it promoted virility (if a
baby was born nine months after the wedding,
it was attributed to the mead!). Couples also
drank it from special goblets for a full month
following the wedding, which is supposedly where
we get the word honeymoon. This was to protect
the couple from the fairies coming to spirit
the bride away.
* Lucky horseshoe. Irish brides used to carry a
real horseshoe for good luck. (Turned up so the
luck won't run out). You can get porcelain
horseshoes which most Irish brides carry these
days, or one made of fabric which is worn on the
* Magic Hanky. This charming custom involves
having the bride carry a special hanky that with
a few stitches can be turned into a christening
bonnet for the first baby. With a couple of snips
it can be turned back into a hanky that
your child can carry on his/her wedding day.
* Make-up bells. The chime of bells is thought to
keep evil spirits away, restore harmony if a couple
is fighting, and also remind a couple of their
wedding vows. Giving a bell as a gift has become an
Irish tradition. You could also have your greeters
hand out tiny bells to your guests to ring as you
progress (you might want to let them know when
they're supposed to be rung - perhaps mention it
in your program along with an explanation of the
custom). Guests could also ring their little bells
at the reception in lieu of clinking glasses.
* Irish Dancers. Consider hiring a group of Irish
dancers to hand out your programs before the
ceremony. Dressed in their full regalia, it would
add a wonderful touch of pageantry and color.
They could also dance at the reception later. We
did this at my daughter's reception and it was a
* Music. There's so much wonderful Irish music
available, you'll have no problems in finding
appropriate selections for both the ceremony and
the reception. The difficulty will be in deciding
which pieces to play!
* Readings: My daughter had the following Irish
wedding vow on the front of her program:
By the power that Christ brought from heaven,
mayst thou love me.
As the sun follows its course,
mayst thou follow me.
As light to the eye, as bread to the hungry,
as joy to the heart,
may thy presence be with me,
oh one that I love,
'til death comes to part us asunder.
On the back of the program, she had this old Irish
Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead.
Walk beside me and just be my friend.
* The Irish Wedding Song. Very popular at
contemporary Irish weddings. We had two friends sing
this at my daughter's reception while the newlyweds
cut the cake (afterwards I thought we should have had
the lyrics typed up and placed on the tables so that
everyone could join in).
* Flowers. In the old days, many Irish brides wore
a wreath of wildflowers in their hair; they also
carried them in bouquets. For my daughter's wedding,
our florist designed gorgeous bouquets that included
a flower called Bells of Ireland. In Wales, brides
carried live myrtle and gave a sprig to each
bridesmaid which they planted. If it grew, the
bridesmaid would marry within the year. If you're
planning a more general Celtic celebration, this
might be worth considering.
* Ancient custom: In the old days, couples ate
salt and oatmeal at the beginning of their
reception: Each of them took three mouthfuls as a
protection against the power of the evil eye. Also,
when a couple is dancing, the bride can't take both
feet off the floor because the fairies will get the
upper hand. Fairies love beautiful things and
one of their favorites is a bride. There's many an
Irish legend about brides being spirited away by
the little people! For the same reason, it's bad
luck for a bride to wear green. I've also heard
that it's bad luck for anyone to wear green at an
Irish wedding - but I think it really only
applies to the bride. It's also bad luck for a
bride or the groom to sing at their own wedding.
Portents and omens:
* A fine day meant good luck, especially if the
sun shone on the bride. If you're a Roman
Catholic, one way to make certain that it won't
rain is to put a statue of the Infant of Prague
outside the church before your ceremony.
* It was unlucky to marry on a Saturday.
* Those who married in harvest would spend all
their lives gathering
* A man should always be the first to wish joy to
the bride, never a woman
*It was lucky to hear a cuckoo on the wedding
morning, or to see three magpies
* To meet a funeral on the road meant bad luck and
if there was a funeral procession planned for that
day, the wedding party always took a different
* The wedding party should always take the longest
road home from the church
* It was bad luck if a glass or cup were broken on
the wedding day
*A bride and groom should never wash their hands in
the same sink at the same time — it's courting
disaster if they do
* It was said to be lucky if you married during a
'growing moon and a flowing tide'
* When leaving the church, someone must throw an
old shoe over the bride's head so she will have
* If the bride's mother-in-law breaks a piece of
wedding cake on the bride's head as she enters the
house after the ceremony, they will be friends for
Many other customs are interspersed throughout the
book, e.g. (from the reception section) the top
tier of your wedding cake should be an Irish
whiskey cake which is saved for the christening
of your first baby. I've also heard of another
custom which just came to my attention and will
be included in the next edition: a bottle of
champagne is saved from the reception so that it
can be used to 'wet the baby's head' at the
In finally making this book a reality, my hope is
that when he says to you 'would you like to be
buried with my people', or you say to him 'would
you like to hang your washing next to mine',
you'll say yes, and then use the suggestions to
help you plan an Irish celebration reflective of
your roots and as romantic as your heritage.
And for all engaged couples and their families in
the midst of pre-wedding chaos, I raise a parting
glass: May all your joys be pure joy and all your
You can get this book here:
YOU CAN HELP TO KEEP THIS FREE NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
where you can get great Irish gifts, prints,
claddagh jewellery, engraved glassware and
Anne MacDonald ordered a family crest plaque:
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
Again, my hearty thanks for this
Best wishes for happy holiday season.
Sincerely, Anne MacDonald
THE PERFECT WEDDING OR ANNIVERSARY GIFT!
View family crest plaques here:
We are delighted to announce the availability of
new hand-crafted and personalised Irish signs.
Get 15% off by entering the code NL07 in the
'extra instructions' part of the order form.
Our Wood Signs are based upon late 19th century
designs when use of text oriented trade and pub
signs were at their height. While the signs are
brand new, they conform in shape and lettering
style to that of old time signs. To complete the
look, all of the signs are given a hand rubbed
stain to 'age' the sign appropriately.
Some of our popular designs include the following:
My Irish Angel:
I have an Irish Angel,
She keeps me free of Strife,
I'll lifelong love this Angel,
Sure she also is me wife!
God created liquor to keep the
Irish from conquering the world
An Irish Toast:
May you be in heave for two hours
before the Devil knows you're dead
Don't wait until Christmas week to order!
GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
The following Gaelic phrases are engraved on our
new Irish rings - see here:
PHRASE: Mo anam cara
PRONOUNCED: muh ann-imm karrah
MEANING: My soulmate
PHRASE: Gra, Dilseacht, Cairdeas
PRONOUNCED: graw, deel-shockt, korr-djass
MEANING: Love, Loyalty, Friendship
PHRASE: Gra Go Deo
PRONOUNCED: graw guh djoe
MEANING: Love forever
View the archive of phrases here:
JULY 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 time,
The Information about Ireland Site.
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