The Information about Ireland Site Newsletter
The Newsletter for people interested in Ireland
Now received by over 50,000 people worldwide
Copyright (C) 2008
IN THIS ISSUE
=== News Snaps from Ireland
=== New free resources at the site
=== Play the Irish Lotto
=== Democracy is the Real Loser by Dawn Hayden
=== A Paraffin Oil Table Lamp by Pat Watson
=== Family Research by Rod Humphries
=== The Death of Kevin Barry
=== Gaelic Phrases of the Month
=== Shamrock Site of the Month: Celticattic.com
=== Monthly free competition result
Ireland has recently voted down the latest
European treaty amid despair from its politicians.
As Leonard Cohen said during his recent concert
in Dublin: 'Ireland - still bewildering the world!'
See the opinion article in this months edition
Many thanks to Pat Watson for another of his
'lyrical yarns' - why dont YOU send us in an
article, poem or story for inclusion in the
Until next month,
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
IRISH ECONOMY CONTINUES TO SUFFER
High oil and food prices, the slowdown in the
property market, increasing unemployment and the
credit crunch have all combined to halt the
Irish economy in its tracks. Some economists are
even forecasting a recession although a slowdown to
growth of 1% seems more likely over the next year.
The sight of dozens of young people actually
queueing up for jobs in the Stephens Green Centre
is something that has not been seen for years.
Many young people in Ireland have only really
known the 'boom' times and have no memory of the
economic wasteland that was the 1980s. They are in
for a shock.
Sales of new cars are a good indicator of consumer
appetite but with sales down by 50% over the last
12 months it is clear that spending is being
Government funds are also being spectacularly hit,
mainly because of the severe downturn in the
property market. Rising inflation is also a problem
with much of this being imported in the form of
higher oil and food prices. Unemployment is now
at 207,300 - the highest rate since June 1999, and
is expected to top 7%.
Unlike the 1980s however, Ireland is much better
equipped to deal with the downturn. Some
economists are predicting that, if a sensible
national pay deal can be extracted from the
ongoing negotiations between employers, the
government and trade unions, then a return to
decent levels of growth can be anticipated even
within a couple of years.
IRELAND REJECTS THE LISBON TREATY
Ireland has voted to reject the Lisbon treaty
by 53.4% to 46.6. The consequences of this
decision are as yet unclear although there
remains the possibility that the Irish Government
will try to hold a second referendum to get the
See the opinion article below for more information
about the Irish vote on Lisbon.
TARA CAMPAIGNERS MAY GO TO COURT AGAIN
Campaigners who are trying to prevent the
completion of the new motorway that runs adjacent
to the Hill of Tara are seeking to have a High
Court ruling struck out. The High Court ruled
in 2005 that the 38 cited areas near the
construction work are not national monuments
and that work could thus continue.
Those groups opposing the motorway are concerned
that the construction work will destroy historical
artifacts and damage the area. Those in favour of
the motorway point out that the new road is
actually further away from the Hill of Tara itself
than the original road it will replace.
AIRLINE SURVEY BAD NEWS FOR RYANAIR
A survey by 'Which?' magazine has listed Aer
Lingus as the 9th best short-haul airline.
Ryanair was placed 33rd. UK airline Palmair
was rated number 1.
LEARNER DRIVERS TO BE CURTAILED
New regulations have been introduced that will
make it compulsory for learner drivers to have
a fully qualified driver in their car with them
at all times. This will apply to learners who
are on their second or subsequent provisional
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: Short, Shields
View the Gallery here:
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PLAY THE IRISH LOTTERY
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PLAY THE EUROPEAN LOTTERY
The first jackpot was worth 15 M.illion Euros.
The highest has been over 183,000,000 euros,
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Weekly Euro M.illions draws will be made in Paris
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DEMOCRACY IS THE REAL LOSER AS IRISH REJECT LISBON
by Dawn Hayden
The Lisbon Treaty is an agreement carved out by
the Governments of the European Union. It is
primarily concerned with the organisation of
the EU itself and made certain claims regarding
improved accountability by the EU to its citizens.
So far 19 of the 27 EU members have ratified
the treaty by parliamentary majorities. Ireland
is the only country to have had a referendum
despite demands from some other EU states that
their governments hold a vote.
Ireland rejected the treaty by 53.4% to 46.6.
Only 10 of 46 constituencies voted in favour of
the new agreement.
The reasons why Ireland voted no have been the
subject of much analysis in the media and among
politicians within Ireland and the EU.
Those who wanted a yes vote (including over 90%
of members of the Irish parliament and all of
the main political parties except Sinn Fein) have
criticized the 'no' campaign and their tactics.
The victorious anti-Lisbon campaigners have
similarly accused the 'yes' side of telling lies
and of compromising Ireland's neutrality by
proposing acceptance of the treaty.
Regardless of the rights and wrongs of both sides
arguments it is fair to say that the reaction to
this democratic decision by the Irish people has
been nothing short of staggering.
Before the vote tallies had even been completed
some Irish politicians were suggesting that the
Irish parliament could simply legislate certain
parts of the treaty into effect, despite the
impending rejection by the electorate.
Across Europe various political leaders
repeatedly stated that this is now an 'Irish
problem' and one that Ireland must solve! EU law
provides that all EU treaties must be ratified by
all of the 27 countries or they cannot come
into effect. Despite this the EU is pressing ahead
with the ratification of the treaty in the other
It is quite clear that they expect the Irish
government to hold a second referendum and to
force the treaty over the finishing line. No such
demand was made of France and The Netherlands when
they both rejected the original EU constitution
(the fore-runner of the Lisbon treaty) in 2005.
The treaty is a very complicated document without
any clear 'selling point'. The Irish Taoiseach
admitted that he had not even read the entire text
of the treaty. The full implications of the
various complicated measures it would have brought
into law would only have become clear once these
measures were tested in the EU courts. The 'no'
side maintain this would involve the creation of
an EU army with possible conscription and a
negation of Irish neutrality. The 'yes' side
Some EU commentators have described Ireland as
being 'ungrateful'. Ireland is still very
pro-Europe and has benefitted from EU membership.
Ireland has also given a huge amount back to the
EU especially in recent years when citizens of
some of the poorest countries in Europe were
allowed free access to employment opportunities
in this country (something not allowed by France
or Germany). A large proportion of the money
they earned here flowed back into the economies
of Slovakia, Poland, Latvia and the rest.
The suggestion that Ireland should have simply
rubber-stamped the treaty that the Irish Taioseach
had not even read and whose measures were at best,
unclear, out of some sense of gratitude to the EU
is, frankly, utterly preposterous. It is also
deeply insulting to an independent sovereign
nation whose electorate have made a democratic
Th consequences of this vote for Irish leader
Brian Cowen are huge. If he attempts to hold a
second referendum there is a very real possibility
that it will be again rejected which could
facilitate a huge backlash against his ruling
Fianna Fail party. It could also provide an
opportunity for the opposition parties to oppose
the government on the basis that it is ignoring
the democratic will of the Irish people.
What is the point of having a vote if the
government will simply have another vote until
it gets the decision it wants? What kind of
democracy exists in the European Union when
the citizens of Ireland are the only ones allowed
to actually cast a vote? Why should Ireland allow
itself to be bullied by the bigger nations of
Regardless of the rights or wrongs of Ireland's
vote, if the Irish are bullied, their will
ignored and this decision is overturned, then it
is democracy that will be the real loser.
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
A PARAFFIN OIL TABLE LAMP
by Pat Watson
'Please to help me Herr Mister, my bicycle she is
punctured.' Willie Killion was mesmerised. During
the war forty-year-old west of Ireland farmers'
sons seldom met film-star types in distress while
cycling to town.
In her little saddlebag she had a full repair kit
including two little tyre levers. Willie had
always used spoons to remove tyres. The levers
were much better, even if he was a bit addled by
the strange fragrance. Perfume was rare in the
west. She was talkative with the face and gait of
a young girl - the body of a woman and a neck
just like his mother. Judging by her hair she was
a dab hand with the rack (comb). By the time the
bicycle was back on its wheels he was enchanted.
She had just arrived in Ireland to escape the war.
She was renting Carter's vacant house just here.
She had lost everything, including her family.
'Would he like some tea? The kettle was on the
boil'. He stood in the sitting room holding his
cap in his hand while she talked from the
kitchen. 'You to join me on the chaise longue'
she said as she placed the tray on a little table.
He had been looking at the sofa with only one end.
'So that's what it's called!' She sat on the
reclining end while he gingerly sat on the other
end. The tray had two cups and a plate with two
little long loaves, split down the middle with
sausages in the centre. Frankfurters, she called
them. They were like rubber sausages, took a lot
of chewing. He was on his way to town to buy the
makings of a new suit. She would go with him.
As they cycled he forgot Mary, with her farm and
her aging parents. For years she had been his
best hope as his older brother was the heir
apparent to the home farm. Not that he had got
any farther than thinking of Mary but this foreign
lady stirred his fancy in a way totally new to
him. She had said her name was Brigitte. He
supposed that was a mispronounced Bridget. Sure
Bridget was his mother's name. The parish church
was St Bridget's - they even had a St Bridget's
holy well. Was it a sign?
They parked their bicycles in the alley between
the drapers and the hardware shop.
'Isn't zat lamp ze most beautiful lamp you ever
saw!' she said, looking in the window.
'It would ve just perfect on my sitting room
table! No? Ve had one just like it before ve
lost everything. It would make life in this
strange country just like ze Fatherland, but of
course I can never have it, I am too poor now.'
She whimpered. As he looked at her sad face, she
flashed her very long eyelashes. He never saw
eyelashes that long before. The poor girl was
distraught. The lamp was thirty-seven shillings
and six pence. He had fifty shillings for the
makings of the suit. If he bought her the lamp it
would make her happy, she would smile again, it
would make her forget her troubles and her
loneliness, she would be very pleased and
grateful, maybe very, very grateful. To hell with
the suit, he would buy her the lamp.
They packed it in a wooden box, filling the
inside of the globe with newspaper and packing
the whole thing in fine sawdust. They even
included a bottle of paraffin oil for fuel. Wasn't
he the proud man cycling home with the luxury
lamp on the carrier and the beautiful lady beside
him. He wouldn't call the Queen his aunt. It
didn't bother him that she spoke friendly to an
He unpacked the lamp, placed it on the table and
when he fitted the globe it was magnificent.
'Vell Herr Villy Villian you are vonderful' she
said and throwing out her arms, she caught him by
the ears and kissed him lightly on the lips. His
heart went mad. He was transfixed with a hideous
grin. He had never been kissed before.
'Thank you velly, velly much Herr Villy,' she
said as she ushered him out the door.
'You must visit again, but now I have some letters
to write' He jumped on the bike, emitting little
yahoo's - sure he nearly did himself an injury
jumping on the saddle. Night had fallen but with
light in his heart he scarcely noticed. He could
still feel where her lips met his. He could still
smell the perfume. His ears would never be the
same again. He pulled up suddenly. A thought had
just struck him.
Why did she usher him out?
Had she expected him to respond to the kiss?
Maybe she was disappointed. He should have
'You're a fool,' he told himself.
'You waited a lifetime for this and now you're
cycling away when you should be making hay'.
He turned back. He would return and take up where
they left off. He was sure that's what she wanted.
What excuse would he give for coming back?
The box! He would say he wanted the box for a
clucking hen, to set a clutch of eggs for
hatching, that sounded plausible. Anyhow she
would probably fly into his arms and words
would be superfluous. After that he could play it
by ear. He was very excited. Wasn't this his
'It's night you idiot, day or night what matter?
Go man go.'
When he got to her house the blind was pulled and
there was a man's bicycle outside. He went down
on one knee and peeped in under the blind. Bridget
was reclining in the chaise longue. The army
fellow was reclining with her. He had his head
left on her chest looking up at her. She was
holding a frankfurter in her mouth and he was
trying to bite it. He couldn't because she was
holding his ears. He rapped on the door. She
opened it. He brushed past her, took the lamp in
both hands and walked out, his anger carrying him
'But Herr Villy ve vill have no light!'
'Ye won't need light for what you're at!'
Writing letters, my foot! to whom? Wasn't all
belonging to her dead? 'Moryagh'
She was probably a German spy. She was using her
sausage to get information out of the army fellow.
He hoped she'd get caught. They might even shoot
her. She would roast in hell. It would be the
price of her for meddling with the makings of a
Half a mile down the road he came to Mary's house.
He marched up the path still holding the lighted
lamp. Mary looked out the window.
'Daddy! There's an apparition coming up the
garden' The father looked out.
'Come Nancy,' he said to his wife,
'Out the back door, this is a man on a mission,
leave him to Mary'. Mary opened the door. Willie
marched in and put the lamp on the table. Mary
held out her arms in awe. Before she could catch
his ears he bear hugged her. She was agreeably
surprised. She had been a little concerned about
his masculinity, she need not have worried, he
was all man. Even the old couple peeping in the
window squeezed hands.
Did they all live happily ever after?
Why wouldn't they?
Hadn't they the best-lit Parlour in the parish.
'A Paraffin Oil Table Lamp'
is one of sixty lyrical yarns from
'Original Irish Stories' by Pat Watson,
Creagh, Bealnamulla, Athlone, Ireland.
First published in March 2006.
Get your copy from here:
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
by Rod Humphries
I am an Australian who lives in Texas. I am an
author who also writes for magazines and I was
doing a typical Irish tongue-in-cheek
advertisement about my family and the original
Humphries (Patrick) in Australia who was an Irish
convict - sent to the harsh new colony for seven
years in 1793 for stealing copper off the roofs
of houses in County Wicklow. I decided to upgrade
today's family image by referring to it as
'The House of Humphries' and then had the bright
idea to track down something in a heraldic crest
that would help even further in this fun piece.
I had a genealogical expert in Great Britain
delving into my family history and she came back
with British Army discharge papers of Patrick
Humphries in Sydney, Australia, after 26 years
as a private. She was ecstatic that she had found
it. I wrote back and said:
'26 years as a private! Either he was the
dumbest guy who ever walked ...or he had a
Turns out he was sent there for seven years for
stealing copper and signed up for the Army in
1800 after doing his time!
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
THE DEATH OF KEVIN BARRY
Kevin Barry was 18 years old when he was hanged
in Mountjoy Jail on November 1st 1920.
His death at such a young age is possibly the
most poignant in recent Irish history.
He was born in 1902 in Dublin and grew up both
in the capital and in County Carlow. He enrolled
in Belvedere College in 1916 and joined the Irish
Volunteers, a nationalist organisation. In 1919
he enrolled in Dublin University to study
medicine. The Michael Collins led War of
Independence was developing and Barry, as Section
Commander, played his part in various raids
around Dublin city.
On September 20th 1920 he took part in one such
raid that went badly wrong. A street gun battle
ensued and three British soldiers were killed.
This was very significant in that these were the
first British soldier deaths in Ireland since the
1916 Easter Rising led by Pearse and Connolly.
Barry hid under a truck as the British searched
for him but was discovered when a passer-by,
concerned for his safety underneath the huge
vehicle, inadvertently warned the soldiers of
Reports of his torture in Mountjoy Jail soon
circulated but Barry refused to name his comrades.
He was given a death sentence but it was widely
believed that this sentence would be commuted, and
that the British authorities would not dare to
execute an eighteen year-old.
As the deadline approached it became clear that
Kevin Barry would be executed. A planned rescue
by Michael Collins came to nothing when
reinforcements from Dublin Castle were ordered to
the prison because of the large crowds that had
gathered outside. It was reported that Barry had
requested to be shot by firing squad rather than
hanged, which he viewed as a death not befitting
a soldier. The hangman, Ellis, had to be brought
into the country from England, as no-one in
Ireland could be found for the job. The calmness
and bravery the young Barry showed in the hours
leading up to his execution has become the
stuff of legends. Despite protestations from
clerics and politicians alike he was hanged in
Mountjoy Jail on November 1st, 1920.
Just as in the aftermath of the 1916 Easter Rising
the British military in Ireland had badly
misjudged the situation. Had they simply
imprisoned the leaders of 1916 it is likely that
the huge upsurge in support for Irish nationalism
would not have taken place. By executing someone
as young as Kevin Barry in 1920 they handed the
Irish Republican Army a huge propaganda victory.
Young recruits flocked to join the IRA in the War
of Independence, which in turn led to the Treaty,
The partition of Ireland, the Civil War,
Independence and all that has occurred since.
It was reported that, for the rest of his life,
Michael Collins bitterly regretted not being able
to save the young soldier.
The famous song 'Kevin Barry' was penned shortly
after his death and is still revived in ballad
sessions in Ireland to this very day:
In Mountjoy jail one Monday morning
High upon the gallows tree,
Kevin Barry gave his young life
For the cause of liberty.
But a lad of eighteen summers,
Still there's no one can deny,
As he walked to death that morning,
He proudly held his head on high.
2. Just before he faced the hangman,
In his dreary prison cell,
The Black and Tans tortured Barry,
Just because he wouldn't tell.
The names of his brave comrades,
And other things they wished to know.
'Turn informer and we'll free you'
Kevin Barry answered, 'No'.
3. 'Shoot me like a soldier.
Do not hang me like a dog,
For I fought to free old Ireland
On that still September morn.
'All around the little bakery
Where we fought them hand to hand,
Shoot me like a brave soldier,
For I fought for Ireland.'
4. 'Kevin Barry, do not leave us,
On the scaffold you must die!'
Cried his broken-hearted mother
As she bade her son good-bye.
Kevin turned to her in silence
Saying, 'Mother, do not weep,
For it's all for dear old Ireland
And it's all for freedom's sake.'
5. Calmly standing to attention
While he bade his last farewell
To his broken hearted mother
Whose grief no one can tell.
For the cause he proudly cherished
This sad parting had to be
Then to death walked softly smiling
That old Ireland might be free.
6. Another martyr for old Ireland,
Another murder for the crown,
Whose brutal laws to crush the Irish,
Could not keep their spirit down.
Lads like Barry are no cowards.
From the foe they will not fly.
Lads like Barry will free Ireland,
For her sake they'll live and die.
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
PHRASE: Ni ceart go cur le cheile
PRONOUNCED: knee keart guh kurr leh kail-eh
MEANING: There is no strength without unity
PHRASE: Is maith an scathan suil charad
PRONOUNCED: iss mot on scah-hawn sewell karr-add
MEANING: A friends eye is a good mirror
PHRASE: Ni hespa go dith carad
PRONOUNCED: knee hes-pah guf dee karr-add
MEANING: There is no need like the lack of a friend
View the archive of phrases here:
SHAMROCK SITE OF THE MONTH CELTICATTIC.COM
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JUNE COMPETITION RESULT
The winner was: SJParker@hughes.net
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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