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Hi from Ireland where the month of July was recorded as being the hottest on record. Visiting tourists and locals alike could not believe it when the temperatures in Dublin and Cork exceeded those in the Canary Islands and Tuscany. It was a lovely change from the usual rainy-sunshine we get in Summer although some of the crimes against fashion committed by some Irish sun-worshipers will live long in the memory and hopefully will never be repeated.
Do you have a story, anecdote, poem or article about Ireland? If so please do send it to us as we would love to include it in this newsletter.
Until next month,
LABOUR PARTY EXILE MAY FORM NEW POLITICAL PARTY
Speculation is mounting that a new left-wing political Party may be formed in Ireland. The Labour Party are currently in a Coalition Government with Fine Gael that has effectively continued the policies of the Fianna Fail Party that it ousted at the last election. It is this position that has seen support for the Labour Party plummet in recent opinion polls.
Labour is supposed to be the Party representative of the working classes and yet has supported the imposition of a property tax as well as the never-ending austerity measures. Against this backdrop the possibility of a new Party with a socialist backbone is very much alive.
Roisin Shortall was a Junior Minister in the Government but resigned her position after further cuts to the Irish Health Service were implemented. She is very much a thorn in the side of the Labour Party leadership at the moment and could align with similar left-of-centre independent T.D.'s to form a new Party that would directly challenge her former colleagues.
GOVERNMENT SET TO CLAIM VICTORY IN PROPERTY TAX SHOWDOWN
The battle against the property tax that has been imposed in Ireland has been lost. Or won. Depending on your point of view. The tax was implemented by the Fine Gael and Labour Party Government who claimed that they had no choice and that 'the troika made us do it' (a reference to the EU/ECB/IMF troika who have funded Ireland's loans over recent years).
At one stage it seemed possible that there would be big protests against the tax. In reality, the protests never really got going. There were no massive rallies, no violent demonstrations. In the end the power of the State successfully overwhelmed the wishes of its citizens who were alternately cajoled and then threatened into submission.
The few remaining dissenters now face the prospect of having the tax deducted at source from their pay-packets with their Employers being press-ganged into service as tax collectors on behalf of the Government. Game over.
OUTRAGE AS SEANAD POLITICIANS REVEAL THEIR TRUE WORTH
The prospect of losing their priveleged and unelected positions as members of the Irish Seanad has become too much for some members of that body in recent weeks. Bluster and reasoning have been replaced with savage insult and raw emotion as the debate on the abolition of the Seanad House gathers pace.
A referendum to abolish the Seanad will be held on October 4th. Opinion polls suggest the vote will be carried and the Seanad abolished but the result is by no means certain. Any kind of a protest vote against other Government policies might be enough to save the Seanad in what would be a bitter political blow to Fine Gael and its leader Enda Kenny.
Historians, disgruntled politicians and even the Fianna Fail Party have lined out against the proposal suggesting that the Irish nation actually does require a second house of parliament to act as a counter-balance to the power of the main national parliament. The Government disagrees. Richard Bruton is the director of elections for the campaign:
'Abolishing the Seanad will reduce the number of national politicians by 30%, bring us into line with best practice in other small countries in Europe and save tens of millions of euro which could be better spent on other public services.'
The campaign is well and truly under way with both sides certain to actively pursue their agenda. If the language and behaviour of some of those currently sitting in the Seanad House continues as it has over recent weeks then the Seanad is surely doomed.
HOPES FOR FURTHER GAS FINDS OFF IRISH COASTLINE
The longest gas pipeline in Europe at 4.5km is currently being built by Shell off the Mayo coast in the west of Ireland. It is estimated that the pipe will supply as much as two thirds of Ireland's gas requirements when it is fully operational. Against a backdrop of vociferous local opposition to the project there is no disputing the fact that the gas discovery has created both revenue for the Government (estimated at 5BN euro value to Irish GDP so far) and jobs for Irish people, some 1400 according to Shell.
If further exploration can uncover similar reserves of gas then the boost to the Irish economy would be immeasurable.
TOURISTS CAN RENT A CAR BY THE HOUR IN DUBLIN
In what could be another great success for the Irish tourist industry the go-ahead has been given to allow cars to be rented 'by the hour'.
The 'car club' initiative allows members to rent cars on a pay-as-you-go basis and is already proving popular in the US and several European cities. 50 cars are now ready for rental at 31 locations around Dublin. The cars are also allowed free parking at some of the parking facilities provided by the local Councils. The logic being applied is that fewer cars will need to be brought into the city if there is a pool of rentable cars available to both locals and tourists alike. The GoCar scheme offers cars for rent at just under 5 euro per hour during the day and half of that amount at night.
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FREE ATTRACTION #13: THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF IRELAND - COUNTRY LIFE, MAYO
Turlough Park in Castlebar, County Mayo is home to one of the National Museums of Ireland. The impressive buildings offer views of Irish history from a 'country life' and rural perspective focusing on the 100 years between 1850 and 1950.
Video and interactive presentations are offered in conjunction with a huge array of artifacts and exhibits including wickerwork, spinning wheels, boats, traditional clothing, a variety of hand-operated machinery and a blacksmith's forge. The main Collections in the Museum include:
* Folklife and Folklore
* The Times , putting the collections into a historical context
* Natural Environment, and how living in the countryside was influenced by the physical environment
* Activities, including building,m crafting and working on a farm
* Working on Land and Water
* Community Life, the importance of religion and ceremony in rural locations
The Museum is located four miles east of Castlebar so you will need a car or a tour bus to get there. Admission is free and there s cafe on-site. Guided tours are available for a modest fee.
If visiting with children it may be worthwhile checking the calendar of events as you may be able to time your visit to coincide with a kid-friendly activity. The grounds and gardens of Turlough Park stretch to 80 acres and offer a great location for a stroll after being indoors in the Museum. The grounds are home to a lake, a greenhouse, and an ancient Round Tower.
The Museum is certainly worth a visit and could make a great full-day or half-day out. Castlebar is located in County Mayo which is also home to much of Connemara, and is north of Galway city. Castlebar is also home to the Linenhall Arts Centre, Lake Lannagh Hiking Trails and the Mayo Memorial Peace Park.
Find out more here: http://www.museum.ie/en/info/find-us-national-museum-ireland-country-life.aspx
FEE-PAYING ATTRACTION #12: OLD JAMESON DISTILLERY, DUBLIN
The Old Jameson Distillery is located on Bow Street in the heart of the Smithfield district of Dublin City Centre. It is a little bit off the beaten track in Dublin City taking perhaps 20 minutes to walk from O'Connell Street. The site is well served by buses while the Luas tram system stops very close by.
The Distillery is home to one of Ireland's most famous whiskey brands - Jameson. Visitors can learn about the life of John Jameson as well as the secrets that go into making the famous Irish whiskey. The audio visual presentation is followed by a guided walk through the building. The tour concludes with some whiskey tasting that always proves popular. A fine restaurant, bar and gift-shop complete the experience.
Find out more here:
by Pat Watson
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YOUTUBE VIDEOS OF IRISH INTEREST
You can view our archive of Videos of Irish interest here:
Country Life Museum, Mayo
Old Jameson Distillery, Dublin
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