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
=== Tourist Tip #4: Using Taxis in Ireland
=== Whispers by Pat Watson
=== Isle of Mist by Carole Kenney
=== Brian Boru - the Last High King of Ireland
=== Gaelic Phrases of the Month
=== Monthly free competition result
Hello again from Ireland where the new Government
under Brian Cowen is still in its infancy. There
were amazing scenes at Leinster House when the
new Taoiseach left to receive his seal of office
(see the news-snaps below).
If you have an article or story about Ireland then
please do send it in,
Until next month,
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
BRIAN COWEN IS NEW TAOISEACH
The new leader of Ireland is Brain Cowen who hails
from County Offaly. Amidst triumphant scenes
outside Leinster House (where the Irish parliament
is seated) the new Fianna Fail leader made his way
to the Phoenix Park where he received his seal of
office from President Mary McAleese at Aras an
Uachtarain (residence of the Irish President)
His first order of business was a cabinet
reshuffle where he took the opportunity to promote
Mary Coughlan to Tanaiste. Brian Lenihan was
appointed Minister for Finance. Reform of the
Public Service and improvements in the Health
Service were cited by Brian Cowen as his
BERTIE AHERN ADDRESSES US CONGRESS
One of his last acts as Taoiseach of Ireland was
for Bertie Ahern to address the US Joint Houses
of Congress. The speech delivered by the
long-serving Dubliner was very well received in
both the US and in Ireland. Directing his words
to Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of
Representatives, Bertie Ahern remarked
'I am so proud, Madam Speaker, to be the first
Irish leader to inform the United States'
Congress: Ireland is at peace.'
Senator Ted Kennedy was among the first to
'It was a magnificent speech. It was
extraordinarily well received'.
View the full speech here:
POPULATION GROWTH TO CONTINUE
The rapid increase in the population of Ireland is
set to increase over the coming decades. The
Central Statistics Office has revealed that the
population could top 7 M.illion people by 2050.
Improvements in healthcare will prolong average
longevity with the number of pensioners likely to
triple in number by 2041, causing a major pensions
payment headache. At this rate of increase the
population of the country will exceed that during
pre-famine times well before the end of the
The government is very concerned with the lack of
response to its repeated warnings regarding
pensions. 1 in every 4 worker in Ireland has no
pension in place and will have to rely on the
state pension as their only means of support. The
prospect of compulsory pensions remains a
HOUSING DOWNTURN CONTINUES
Registrations for new houses to be built in 2009
continue to lag way behind those for previous
years and unless there is a sharp upturn in
registrations in the second half of the year
then the construction industry will continue to
be depressed for some time yet. Registrations
are down by 62% for the first third of 2008
compared to 2007.
Predictions of the completion of 40,000 housing
units in 2008 compared to 75,000 completed in
2007 fully illustrates the decline in building
activity. Economic growth for the Irish economy
for 2008 and 2009 varies between 1% and 3%,
depending on who you listen to. In the longer
term though the outlook for the Irish construction
industry continues to be bright, especially given
the expected increase in population that is
expected and the huge government infrastructure
projects that are already underway.
16 IRISH SITES AMONG WORLDS MOST HISTORIC
A recent book that lists the 1001 most important
historic sites worldwide has included 16 sites
in Ireland. Among the 16 are:
The Guinness Brewery, Blarney Castle, Hill of Tara,
Clonmacnoise, Derry town walls, Dublin Castle,
The GPO, Kilmainham Gaol, Newgrange and The Rock
Amazingly, Scellig Michael and The Giants Causeway
did not make the list!
HISTORIC BAN ON CLUSTER BOMBS AGREED IN DUBLIN
Diplomats from 109 countries have signed up to
a treaty that will ban the use of deadly 'cluster
bombs'. The conference to thrash out the treaty
was held in Dublin and promoted by outgoing
Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern. British
Premier Gordon Brown intervened late in the
process to throw British support behind the
treaty in what was seen as a major boost, despite
the reservations of his own military advisers.
Amnesty International heaped broad praise on the
Irish Government for its active involvement
making the treaty a reality. The worlds largest
users and manufacturers of these bombs all
opposed the treaty (United States, India, China,
Pakistan, Israel and Russia).
The treaty is expected to be ratified in December
with the weapons being completely banned and
remaining stockpiles destroyed within 8 years.
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:
K: Keller, Kilbane
S: Stonem, Stroud
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:
TOURIST TIP #4: USING TAXIS IN IRELAND
Different countries have different protocols when
hailing a taxi. Some countries adopt a 'free for
all' where punters nearly fight each other for
their ride home. Some other countries are a bit
more restrained! Ireland would be in the mid-range
of these two experiences and with the recent
de-regulation of the taxi industry it is a lot
easier to get a taxi than it used to be.
ON THE STREET: Taxis can be hailed virtually
anywhere and at any time simply by raising your
hand, waving or otherwise getting the attention
of the driver (if you can whistle then that will
When hailing a taxi in this fashion try to
position yourself at a part of a road or street
where any available taxi will have a certain
amount of space to drive into and stop, without
causing too much inconvenience to traffic behind.
Bus stops are often good places to hail taxis
from as there is often a lay-by cut into the
pathways for busses to veer into when collecting
passengers. Taxi-drivers are also well used to
picking up passengers from near bus-stops.
You can hail a taxi going in the opposite
direction that you want to go but unless the
driver can make a U-turn then you will have to
cross over to the other side of the road.
Taxis are supposed to have their yellow
roof-signs lit brightly to indicate that they
are available but this is not always done and
it is common practice to hail a taxi even if
the roof-light is off.
AT A TAXI-RANK: Most cities and towns have
taxi-ranks that are well serviced by cars.
Depending on the time of the day (or how late at
night it is) there may be significant queues. At
least by queueing you are guaranteed to get a
car, the alternative being to wander around hoping
to grab a taxi on the street (not an experience to
be recommended in Dublin City in the small hours).
At Dublin airport the only effective way to get
a taxi is at the taxi rank so use it!
BY TELEPHONE: Taxis can be ordered by telephone
and this can be very useful when planning your
trip to the airport or other important
destination. Often Hotels or B&Bs will order a
car for you if requested. Bear in mind that this
will be a bit more expensive than the other
methods described of getting a car but when you
absolutely have to have a taxi then this is the
surest option. Ordering a car at peak times
however can result in big delays and some
taxi-services may even decline your order if they
are too busy (ordering well in advance can prevent
When you order a taxi by telephone don't be
surprised if you receive an unmarked car rather
than an obvious taxi. Many operators use 'hackney
cabs' for their telephone business and this is
perfectly legal and in order. Hackney licences do
not allow the driver to pick up fares from a taxi
rank or from off the street.
DISABLED AND GROUP TAXIS: The quality of vehicles
being used by taxi companies has improved greatly
in recent years. Vehicles that are wheelchair
friendly are readily available but you will need
to book them in advance. Similarly it is possible
to book a 10-seater taxi if you have a group of
friends travelling to an event.
DECORUM: Most taxi-drivers are decent people
simply trying to make a living and will be glad
to offer you advice on where to go or stay. It
helps though to have a very good idea of where
your destination is (the exact address) as many
of the newer drivers will not be overly familiar
with all of the locations and will use their
Sat-Nav to guide them. You are entitled to decide
on the route you wish to take.
Tipping is commonplace - giving a driver a twenty
euro note for a fare of 18 euro would be typical,
The very first thing you do when you get into a
taxi or cab is to note the drivers name and
number (this is good advice for any country).
If no I.D. is immediately obvious then do not
take the ride as such a car may be manned by
an uninsured driver.
Most taxis will only accept 4 passengers (unless
their vehicle is otherwise capable), which is 1
in the front and 3 in the back maximum.
If you have a complaint or have left property in
the taxi then you can contact the taxi service
you used or the Irish taxi regulator at
www.taxiregulator.ie (you do have the driver name,
I.D. or registration number don't you?)
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
by Pat Watson
Having just qualified as a national teacher, Jimmy
applied for a number of jobs, permanent and
temporary. In the nineteen thirties jobs were
scarce and all he got was a temporary post in a
two-teacher country school. The Master, who was
also the principle, had got a heart attack. The
aging female assistant taught the infant classes
so he took third, fourth, fifth and sixth classes,
six to thirteen-year-olds. The mixed school
worried him a bit as he had only ever attended
all boys schools.
The management board, which consisted of the
Old Parish Priest, assured him that good digs
had been booked for him adjacent to the school.
On the Sunday evening, having taken himself, his
luggage and his bicycle off the Dublin train at
Athlone, he cycled the ten miles to Coolmore
parochial house that was beside the school.
'Just a mile up the byroad there,' the Parish
Priest said after he showed him the school. The
Widow Malone's house is the one with the slated
room. The poor woman's husband died last year
and she needs the money and of course she has
the slated room. At that time whenever a legacy
came from America people who lived in thatched
houses would build a two-story-slated room on
to the end of the house.
Having cycled for a few miles he arrived for the
evening meal. The widow, a buxom woman in her
forties introduced him to her seven daughters,
all striking redheads ranging in ages from nine
to nineteen. Starting with the youngest she gave
their names as, Mary, Third Class, Meabh, Fourth
Class, Mina, Fifth Class, Maureen, Sixth Class,
Nance, Delia and Lorna who worked in the local
pub. She had auburn hair, huge brown eyes and
the most dazzling smile he had ever seen.
Where were they all going to sleep? Not to worry,
Upstairs in the slated room was his. It was en
suite, that is, it had a wooden washstand,
complete with basin, ewer full of water and
waste bucket. The privy was out behind the
cowshed. As well as underwear she would wash
three shirts and seven collars weekly for him.
Shirt collars were held on with studs in those
days. Jimmy had grown up in Dublin with all
modern conveniences, electricity, running water
and proper bathroom. He and his younger brother
had their own rooms. He had been thrown in at
the deep end a week before his twenty-first
School went grand even though he had four children
with whom he lived. As they sat down for the
evening meal, Mary announced that the turkey was
lying. From the glances that ran round the table
he felt he should say something.
'Is she sick?' Peels of laughter followed. He
felt his face redden.
'Stud' said Delia from under the laughter.
'Did she swallow a stud'?
This time the laughter went totally out of
'Is that how they do it in Dublin?' followed by
'Leave the poor man alone,' said the widow.
'He's from Dublin and doesn't understand those
At this time every rural village had a strong
farmers wife who held a turkey cock at stud.
Noticing his extreme embarrassment, Lorna tried
to smother the laughter. For five years now she
had been ogled by beer swilling, bar stool
boors, none of whom enhanced her view of men.
Now she had her very own tall, tame, tanned,
teetotal teacher living in her house, she was
not about to let him escape. She was sure she
would have the support of her mother and sisters,
except perhaps, Nance and Delia who might fancy
their own chances. She would ask her mothers
'Take him to the whispering arch at Seven
Churches' her mother said but 'Don't tell him
anything about it, just start a little whispering
and take it from there.' Seven Churches was the
local name for Clonmacnoise.
In the fifteenth century Dean Odo Malone of
Clonmacnoise commissioned a great sculptor to
carve and fit a new stone door surround on the
north side of the cathedral. Into this surround
he cut several half pipes going right over the
top and down both sides. If words are whispered
into one of those half pipes on one side, a
listener with an ear to the other side can pick
up the whisper clearly. However a voice will not
carry in the pipes. The speaker has to face the
wall but the listener has a rear view of the
whisperer. A conversation between a young couple
is much more romantic when whispered through
ancient stone pipes even if one party didn't
realise that the chat was meant to be romantic
in the first place.
They would cycle there after school. He always
wanted to visit Saint Kieran's holy city.
The ruins of the cathedral that was burned down
by the British hundreds of years ago stand in the
middle of a walled graveyard. There are the
various superstitions that have grown since.
That's why the mother advised the special visit.
When he had climbed to the four steps to the top
of the stile he turned and took her outstretched
hand to help her up. As there was very little
space on the top step and she was afraid of
heights he had to hold on to her as he helped her
down. She giggled and he blushed. As the ground
was uneven across the graves they had to hold
hands for balance. There was nobody about only
old Mary Martin down in the new graveyard tending
her husband's grave. By the time they reached the
doorway Lorna thought she had a midge in her eye.
While bending over her upturned face he thought
he removed it with his handkerchief. Again she
giggled and again he blushed.
Jimmy was enthralled by the complete round tower
and even more so by the incomplete round tower.
'Why is it incomplete' he asked.
'Put your ear to the wall and you'll hear what
When he did he heard her whispered reply,
'A lovers tiff, when his lover jilted him for the
builder he climbed up and started knocking the
tower. All efforts to stop him failed until the
lover promised to come back to him but then the
builder refused to repair the damage and so it
remains to this day.'
'Is this true?'
'Many people round Seven Churches think so.'
'Do you believe it?'
'It's a good romantic story and I love romance.'
'Have you much experience?'
'Very little, where would it come from in a
place like this, but sure we live in hope, what
'Totally lacking experience but now that I'm
working I might make up for lost time.' Every
time he turned his head to listen and watch, she
became more desirable. Little did he know that
her mind was made up since Sunday evening when
first she set eyes on him? Then again, hadn't
he been completely bowled over by her beauty
from the start?
That was how their conversation continued over
the next half hour, each whispering their piece
to the wall then watching the back of the others
head while listening to the reply.
They didn't notice old Mary approaching from
'It's grand to see young lovers using the arch',
'Fifty seven years ago my Paddy whispered his
proposal and I whispered my yes. Fifty seven
years of love and contentment we've had, thank
you Dean Odo' she said looking up at the arch.
'How long is he dead now?'
'He went with the daffodils, he's making a straw
sugan chair for me in heaven, he'll have it ready
for me for Christmas.' She then turned to Jimmy,
placed a bony hand on his arm and with the
slanting September sun from Connaught shining on
her face, she looked him straight in the eye and
'This is the most important day in your life,
don't let it slip away.' This time they both
blushed. After she left Jimmy found himself saying
to the stone, 'Give me a kiss!' as he turned to
seek reaction instead of answering she was smiling
up at him in gorgeous, glowing, glorious
Before she rounded the corner of the cathedral
old Mary looked back at the embracing couple,
smiled a wrinkly smile, turned and shuffled off
'Whispers' 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!
ISLE OF MIST
by Carole Kenney
I'm enclosing a poem I wrote about Ireland upon
return from a trip there to visit my cousins near
Bunratty Castle. Hope you like it!
Isle of Mist
All the shades of lavender and gray
Drift in water color - run
Down purple slopes, and offer up to day
Young maidens formed from mist,
Their veils afloat, their hair undone,
Rising ghostly and by heather kissed.
These virgins who have never seen the sun
Gather tufts of purple, sprigs of gold
Within their gauzy robes- do not delay
To gather so much more than they can hold,
They stumble, roll down hills and on the way,
Let fall some dabs of gold and purple flame,
And who could blame these wood nymphs
for their zeal
In hiding from the eye, that we might feel.
KEEP THIS NEWSLETTER ALIVE!
BRIAN BORU - THE LAST HIGH KING OF IRELAND
The line between Irish Legend and Irish Myth
have often been blurred, especially as the
retelling of heroic deeds has been passed on
Brian Boru was no legend although his life deeds
were legendary. He was very much a real man and
was in fact the last great High King of Ireland
and perhaps the greatest military leader the
country has ever known.
Brian Boru was born Brian Mac Cennetig. He mother
was sister to the mother of Conor, the King of
His brother, Mahon, had become King of Munster in
951, upon the death of their father, Cennetig.
Together they fought against the invading Norsemen,
who had imposed taxes in Munster. This struggle
eventually led to the murder of Mahon in 975 Mahon
by the Ostermen (Norse). Brian avenged his
brother's death by killing the King of the
Ostermen of Limerick, King Imar.
From this point onwards Brian held Munster as his
own, including the pivotal trade-centre of
Limerick. He marched into Connaught and Leinster
and joined forces with Mael Sechnaill II in 997.
Together they divided Ireland between them.
The Norse settlers in Dublin especially ranged
against Brian but were defeated at Glen Mama
where the King of Leinster was captured. The
King of Dublin, Sitric Silkenbeard, was soon
In 1002 Brian demanded of his comrade Mael
Sechnaill that he recognize him as King of
Ireland. Mael agreed, partially because many of
his own people viewed Brian as a hero who had
restored Ireland to greatness after the Viking
invasions. The rule of the UiNeill's was thus
at an end as a non-O'Neill was proclaimed as
King. The O'Neill's had been rulers for over
He earned his name as 'Brian of the Tributes'
(Brian Boru) by collecting tributes from the
minor rulers of Ireland and used the monies
raised to restore monasteries and libraries
that had been destroyed during the invasions.
The Norsemen were not done yet however, and
once more waged war on Brian Boru and his
followers at Clontarf in Dublin in 1014. The
King of Connaught, Tadhg O'Conor refused to
ally with Brian against the Ostermen although
Ui Fiachrach Aidne and Ui Maine did join with
Despite the lack of backing from the men of
Connaught, the Munstermen won the day but
lost Brian Boru in the battle. This battle was
a major turning point as it finally subjugated
the Norse presence in Ireland who were
henceforth considered subordinate to the
Kingships of Ireland. Their military threat
had been ended and they retreated to the urban
centres of Dublin, Waterford, Limerick, Wexford,
and Cork. They eventually became completely
hibernicized and integrated into Gaelic culture.
After his death and the death of one of his sons,
his remaining sons, Tadg and Donnchad, were
unable to assume the kingship which was assumed
by Mael Sechnaill. He died in 1022 after which
the role of High King of Ireland became more of
a position in name only, rather than that of a
Perhaps the best that should be said of Brian
Boru therefore, is that he was the last great
High King of Ireland.
You can get more Ireland Travel Information here:
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GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
PHRASE: Ta athas/bron/fearg/ocras/tart orm
PRONOUNCED: taw aw-iss/broin/farg/ock-ros/tart urr-im
MEANING: I am happy/sorry/angry/hungry/thirsty
PHRASE: Ta tu mall/go luath/go halainn/ard/go tapaidh
PRONOUNCED: taw two moll/guh loo-ah/guh hall-inn/ard/guh top-igg
MEANING: You are late/early/beautful/tall/fast
PHRASE: Ta se te/fuar/fliuch/tirim amach
PRONOUNCED: taw shay teh/fuirr/fluch/tirrim amock
MEANING: It is hot/cold/wet/dry outside
View the archive of phrases here:
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A Single Family Crest Print (decorative)
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I hope that you have enjoyed this issue.
Until next time,
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