The Information about Ireland Site Newsletter
The Newsletter for people interested in Ireland
Now received by over 50,000 people worldwide
Copyright (C) 2010
IN THIS ISSUE
=== News Snaps from Ireland
=== New free resources at the site
=== W.T. Cosgrave - a biography
=== My Finest Hour by Pat Watson
=== Ireland Tourist Tip: Camper-Van & Caravan Touring
=== Irish Festival & Clan Gathering Noticeboard
=== Gaelic Phrases of the Month
=== Monthly free competition result
The economic malaise continues in Ireland with the
body politic well exercised in accusations and
defence - business as usual then. There is now a
general acceptance that although things are
improving and that perhaps the bottom has been
reached that any recovery will takes several
years at the least. Let us press on then....
This months edition includes a biography of
perhaps one of recent Ireland's least appreciated
leaders: W. T. Cosgrave.
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
HUGE TRANSPORT PROJECTS TO GO AHEAD
A revision of the national development plan has
spared two major projects which will now go ahead
despite the financial squeeze on government
spending. The part-underground Metro-North scheme
will eventually link Stephens Green in the very
heart of Dublin City centre with Dublin airport
and will be 18km long. The Dublin underground Dart
scheme will also proceed and will involve the
construction of several underground rail links in
the city and will essentially link up the coastal
Dart service with the inter-city railway service.
When completed these two huge projects will
transform the transportation infrastructure of
Dublin and are expected to greatly improve
accessibility for the local citizenry, businesses
and tourists alike.
BOTTOM REACHED IN IRISH PROPERTY CRASH?
The recent Permanent TSB and the ESRI house price
survey has revealed that the value of Irish
property has fallen back to 2002 levels. Despite
evidence of actual price increases in certain
sections of the market overall prices fell in the
second quarter of this year by 1.7% which is the
lowest quarterly fall since the bust began. Prices
are down 6.4% in 2010 and 35% down from the peak
reached in 2006. The average price of a house is
now 201,364 euro compared to 311,078 euro in 2006.
The human cost of these statistics is mounting.
Repossessions by banks of houses from owners unable
to pay mortgages are at an all-time high which has
promoted the government to intervene. New
legislation was introduced to allow further
breathing space for mortgage-holders in arrears.
Banks have also been prevented from moving
clients who are on 'tracker mortgages' onto
variable mortgages (more expensive) should they
need to refinance.
Newspapers, radio and television are filled with
accounts of people who bought apartments and
houses for huge sums (perhaps 400,00 euro) and
are now in negative equity as the value of their
home has plummeted (often by half to 200,000 euro).
To add to the despair of these home-owners they
have had to watch on helplessly while the builder
who sold them their apartment for 400,000 euro
slashes the purchase price of any remaining
properties in the development in an attempt to
recoup his investment.
Worse still is when an apartment or housing scheme
is left only partly finished, with a scattering of
occupiers living among a building site that is
never likely to be finished. A program of
widescale demolition of housing developments
attached to rural towns is expected to be
instigated as demand for these homes falls back
ICONIC DUBLIN STORE TAKEN OVER BY BANKS
Any visitor to Dublin city centre will be familiar
with the famous Arnotts department store located
on Henry Street. Together with Clerys and Roches
Stores (now gone) the three stores were the
absolute center of retailing at the O'Connell
street part of Dublin city centre. Staff and
shoppers alike were amazed to learn that the
company has now been taken over by the banks who
obviously fear that the 300M euro debts run up by
Arnotts are in peril of not being repaid. Arnotts
continues to be a profitable business but its
ambitious scheme to develop a large part of its
Henry Street store and to back onto Abbey street
into a 'Northern Quarter' has severely damaged its
bottom line. The banks plan to continue to operate
Arnotts with a view to selling it once market
conditions improve so there is still good hope
that the 160-year-old store will survive.
ALEX 'HURRICANE' HIGGINS DIES
The death has occurred of former world snooker
champion Alex Higgins who was aged 61 years. The
mercurial Belfast man was as much famed for his
prowess on the green baize as for his antics off
the snooker table. He was twice world champion,
in 1972 and 1982 and, along with Steve Davis, is
credited with bringing the game of snooker into
the modern era, transforming its image from that
of the smoky back-street snooker halls to the
very pinnacle of sporting fame during the 1980s.
He had long suffered with alcoholism and drug
abuse and was struggling with cancer. His legacy
as a supreme showman and ridiculously talented
player is assured both in the snooker fraternity
and also the wider sporting world.
EASY PICKINGS AMONG THE RUBBISH DRY UP
Pensioner John Putt has been picking up litter in
his home town of Moville in County Donegal daily
for the last three years. Asserting that it keeps
him fit the 72-year-old is the very model of
public service and was even able to scoop up as
much as ten or twenty euro from the pavement while
on his daily duty. His biggest daily haul was 86
euro but those days are gone now. 'Yesterday I
found one cent!' he remarked ruefully.
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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:
IRISH HOLIDAY AND TOURIST BOARD
Post a question about holidaying in Ireland
and we guarantee an answer will be posted on
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:
G: Gallen, Gaynor
P: Pigott, Pumphrey
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:
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:
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W.T. COSGRAVE - CHAMPION OF THE FREE STATE
W. T. Cosgrave was born in Dublin 1880. He joined
the Irish Volunteers in 1913, fought in Dublin
in the 1916 Easter Rising, and was captured and
condemned to death by the English. His sentence
was commuted to life in prison but he was released
and promptly won a parliamentary seat in a 1917
by-election for Sinn Fein. He repeated this
success in the 1918 General election.
January 21st 1919 is one of the most important
dates in Irish history as it was on that day that
Sinn Fein gathered in the Mansion House in Dublin
city centre and formed an 'Assembly of Ireland,
a parliament, which declared Ireland a republic
and independent from English rule. Cosgrave was
appointed by deValera as Minister for Local
Government in the now hunted government with the
job of organising non-cooperation with the British
authorities and establishing an alternative system
The ensuing war of Independence ended with the
1921 Treaty and the subsequent split within the
nationalist movement. On one side were those
who followed deValera who refused to recognise
the partition of Ireland and the abandonment of
Ulster to the northern loyalists. On the other
side was those who supported Michael Collins who
viewed the Treaty as a stepping stone to full
independence. A bloody civil war ensued
culminating in the death of Collins and the
defeat of the deValera faction by the Free State
army. Cosgrave sided with Collins in opposing
deValera and assumed the leadership of the Free
State upon Collins death. He was now formally
the President of the Executive Council of the
Irish Free State.
In 1923 he founded the pro-Treaty party Cumann
na nGaedheal. He was regarded as being effective
and efficient rather than flamboyant or
charismatic. He oversaw the formal establishment
of the structures of the state during this most
turbulent and crucial time in Irish history.
Many new European countries that formed in the
aftermath of the first world war shifted into
dicatatorship or even fascism. Cosgrave was
determined that Ireland should remain wholly
democratic. Nevertheless he oversaw a government
that ruthlessly executed without trial many of
his political and military opponents.
His determination to maintain the Free State as
a democratic institution is perhaps best
demonstrated by his overseeing of the peaceful
transition of power to deValera in 1932 after
the new Fianna Fail party had won the general
election of 1932. This was a pivotal moment in
Irish history. The same soldiers and politicians
who has created a Free State after winning the
bitter Civil war only a few short years earlier
now peacefully handed the reins of power over to
the same people they had been fighting. It is to
Cosgrave's credit that he did not entertain the
rumblings of a military coup that circulated
among the army at the time.
Cumann na nGaedheal was eventually transformed
into Fine Gael in 1933 with Cosgrave assuming
leadership of the party in 1935, remaining in
that role until 1944 when he retired. He died in
1965 and was awarded the honour of a State funeral
by his former nemesis Eamon deValera.
It can be argued that the Free State managed by
Cosgrave was far more secular than the
Cathiolic-church dominated republic led by
deValera in later years. His establishment of
the framework of nationhood during his tenure
in charge was later acknowledged by deValera but
is perhaps not as well regarded or acknowledged
by recent generations.
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MY FINEST HOUR
by Pat Watson
In the nineteen-forties cutting the turf was one
of the most important tasks of the year for most
families. Without turf there would be no cooking
or heating in the homes of Ireland. Considerable
planning went into the week on the bog as this
usually involved all hands, that is the entire
family, from the baby in the horses collar to the
daddy on the 'slane'. In between were the little
girls for looking after the fire, the cooking and
the baby, the middle boy for catching the sods
and filling the barrows, the older boy and the
mother for wheeling the barrow loads out the bog.
The bogs were divided in stripes about fifty
yards wide so there were several families within
sight of each other. Whatever anybody did,
In the Shannon valley, Roscommon, Westmeath,
Offaly, when the 'slanesman' threw up the sods
a boy caught them and placed them on the barrow
in well ordered symmetric double rows. Each row
had twelve sods and weighed nearly a hundred
weight. Barrow-men usually complained if more
than two rows were loaded on the barrow, as the
terrain was rough with clumps of caoibh and
heather. In other parts of the country, the
'slanesman' just threw the sods up on the bank
and somebody loaded the barrow with a pitchfork
in a somewhat higgledy-piggledy fashion. This
was how we found things east of the Sliabh Bloom
Mountains near Mountrath at the end of the
My uncle had bought a farm there and come April
he employed a barrow-man and brought me as the
turf catcher. When I started catching the sods,
work ceased on every bank and a crowd gathered.
'Could I try that?' said a much older boy but
the sods slipped from his grasp. You could not
be up to the Connaught men, was the general
This was my finest hour. Imagine a ten-year-old
boy being the envy of the whole bog.
Could things ever get better?
'My Finest Hour '
is one of sixty lyrical yarns from
'Original Irish Stories' by Pat Watson,
Creagh, Bealnamulla, Athlone, Ireland.
First published in May 2006.
or you can email the author here:
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IRELAND TOURIST TIP: CAMPER-VAN & CARAVAN TOURING
You wont see many Winnebagos cruising the roads
of Ireland and perhaps that is just as well
considering the small scale not just of the
country but of the secondary and regional roads.
The inter-city roads are greatly improved in
recent years which have allowed for a great
increase in the popularity of camper-van and
caravan touring. The Irish Caravan & Camping
Council operate a very useful website with links
to all of the major camping van parks. The site
also lists businesses who specialise in hiring
out camper vans and equipment.
So now you can tour the country without having
to keep to a hotel schedule!
IRISH FESTIVAL & CLAN GATHERING NOTICEBOARD
OTTAWA CELEBRATES ANGLO-CELTIC ROOTS
Ireland (north and south) is the focus of the
16th annual conference of the British Isles
Family History Society of Greater Ottawa
(BIFHSGO), and includes some presentations
marking 2010 Year of the British Home Child.
The three day genealogy conference (10-12 Sep.)
in Ottawa, Canada's beautiful capital, offers:
lectures by experts, educational events, access
to experienced researchers and data bases,
and a marketplace of related products and
Visit for more: http://www.bifhsgo.ca
If you have an Irish festival or
event or a clan gathering notice
you would like included in the
newsletter do contact us:
GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
PHRASE: Ta se a haon/do/tri a chlog
PRONOUNCED: taw shay a hane/doh/tree ah clug
MEANING: It is one/two/three o'clock
PHRASE: Ta se a ceithir/cuig/se a chlog
PRONOUNCED: taw shay a kerr-ihh/koo-igg/shay a clug
MEANING: It is four/five/six o'clock
PHRASE: Ta se a seacht/ocht/naoi a chlog
PRONOUNCED: taw shay shocked/ucked/knee a clug
MEANING: It is seven/eight/nine o'clock
PHRASE: Ta se a deich/aon deag/do deag a chlog
PRONOUNCED: taw shay deh/ain djug/doh djug
MEANING: It is ten/eleven/twelve o'clock
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 month,
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