IN THIS ISSUE
~~~~~ Keep us Free!
~~~~~ New free resources at the site
~~~~~ The Origin of Irish Names and Coats of Arms
~~~~~ My Irish Wedding by Sheila McMahon
~~~~~ Gaelic Phrases of the Month
~~~~~ Readers Noticeboard
~~~~~ Shamrock Site of the Month: Lipstick Ireland
~~~~~ Searcher Site of the Month: Genealogy Search Portal
~~~~~ Monthly free competition result
Well it is nearly our second birthday and I hope to be able
to offer you a great freebie next month that will enable you
to show off your Irish allegiance.
Our offer to create some Irish web sites for free was taken
up with gusto last month and we should have the proud owners
showing off their creations by the next issue.
We are off on our Summer vacation this week but please do send
in your questions and comments as usual. We will take care of
them when we get back from New York and Pennsylvania
(especially looking forward to viewing the Irish Civil War
memorial at Gettysburg).
PLEASE - send this newsletter on to your friends or relatives
who you think are interested in Ireland. By doing this you
are helping to keep us 'free'.
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very best wishes from Ireland,
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NEW FREE RESOURCES AT THE SITE
THE 100 MOST POPULAR BOYS AND GIRLS NAMES AND THEIR MEANING
Looking for an Irish first name? Why not consider the most
popular Irish names.
Connor is the most popular Irish boys name, taken from the
Gaelic word Concobar, meaning 'hound lover'.
Aoife is the second most popular girls name. It is the
Irish form of Eve. Aoife was a daughter of King Dermot of
Leinster who married the Norman invader Strongbow.
View the top 100 and their meaning here:
NEW COATS OF ARMS ADDED TO THE GALLERY:
The following 33 coats of arms images and family history
details have been added to the Gallery:
B: Burns, O'Bryant
C: Clark, Coyne, Cramer, McCrea
D: McDaniels, O'Dell
G: Geraghty, Glynn, McGaffin
H: Hall, Haney, Hanly, Harris, Houston
K: Knowles, Knox,
L: Lang, Lynott, O'Loughlin
S: Sampson, Stanton
W: Warren, Whittington
View all 650 Irish family name coats of arms at:
Get the Screensaver, Watch or Claddagh Ring featuring the
Coat of Arms or Crest for YOUR family name (or send it to a
friend or relative as a gift):
NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
OIL PRICES SOAR DESPITE DEMONSTRATIONS
Chaos was caused on Irish roads when countrywide blockades
were organised by truckers and lorry-drivers who were
protesting at the price of motor fuel. The cost of Diesel
and petrol has risen by over 60% since the start of the year
and prices are expected to go higher before they start to
The Government has promised to set up a top level
committee to investigate the issue but are not expected
to deal with the matter until the December budget. The
current price of 1 litre of petrol is 75 pence making 1
gallon cost IR£3.41 or nearly 4 US Dollars. Government
tax accounts for nearly 75% of this cost.
The hauliers association have stated that further
blockades and protests can be expected if the tax on
oil and diesel is not reduced.
EIRCOM SHARE PRICE HITS A NEW LOW
The first AGM of Eircom, the former state telecommunication
company was a stormy affair with over 700 angry
shareholders packing into a Dublin conference centre to
vent their anger at the poor performance of the share
price. It has fallen by over one third of its original
IRISH ECONOMY FIFTH MOST COMPETITIVE IN THE WORLD
The booming Irish economy received a further boost when a
report by the World Economic Forum of Geneva indicated
that the Irish economy is the fifth most competitive in
the world, behind the USA, Singapore, Luxembourg and
Holland. Canada, Hong Kong and Britain follow next.
A Eurostat report has shown that the Irish are spending
more on food, clothing and household goods than any of its
neighbours with an overall volume increase of 10% in the
last year. The average European increase was 1.8%.
TEENAGE DRINKING ON THE INCREASE
A study of lifestyles by the European Institute of Women's
Health has shown that 73% of Irish teenagers (13 to 17
years old) drink alcohol every week. 6 in every 10 teenage
smokers are female with up to 85% smoking 10 cigarettes
The study concluded that cigarettes and alcohol are very
easy to get and that the current generation did not
appreciate or care about the long term effects of the use
of alcohol and cigarettes.
NURSING CRISIS DEEPENS
There is a severe shortage of nursing staff in Ireland as
it emerged that one Cork hospital has over 100 vacancies
whilst Dublin hospitals are short by 1200. Beaumont
hospital in Dublin has indicated that it has a large amount
of its wage bill unspent because of the staff shortages
and is hoping to bring in nurses from the Philippines in
the coming months.
The Government has responded to the shortfall of workers
in the economy by increasing the number of work visas
available to non-nationals by 100%. A delegation has also
been assembled to travel to Pakistan and India to try to
recruit trainee doctors.
IRISH MONOPOLY CHAMPION GETS A NAME CHANGE
Ekumdayo Badmus is a trainee accountant living in Dublin
but he is also the best monopoly player in the country
and will represent Ireland at the upcoming world
championships to be held in Canada.
Born in Nigeria but working in Ireland for 2 years the
games fanatic has changed his name to Ekumdayo O'Badmus in
an attempt to sound more Irish. He will also be bringing 2
sods of Irish grass with him so that he can have Irish
soil beneath his feet when he competes!
THE ORIGIN OF IRISH SURNAMES AND COATS OF ARMS
To explore the development of Irish surnames is to explore
the history of Ireland, for it is largely due to major
historical occurrences that the variety of Irish surnames
that we are familiar with today have come into existence.
Ancient Gaelic Tradition
Hereditary names have existed in Ireland for over a thousand
years. This is a practice that developed in various countries
in Europe at more or less the same time. Individuals were
known by single names but this became unsuitable as the
population grew so the appendage of a nickname or other
hereditary indicator became fashionable. In Ireland names
were prefixed with Mac or O to indicate that the bearer was
the 'son of' or 'grandson of' their namesake. O'Conchobhair
means 'grandson of Connor', anglicized as O'Connor.
The fathers occupation was frequently added to a name also,
for example, Mac an Bhaird (the son of the Bard) which became
anglicized as Ward or MacWard. Personal characteristics of
the bearer were frequently favoured as well. For example,
the Gaelic word Fionn means 'fair' and is found in several
names including O'Fionnallain (Fenlon).
Gaelic language and culture was brought to Scotland by
settler families from Ireland who established themselves in
their new homeland giving rise to names which have since
become known as purely 'Scottish'. The name MacDonald is an
example. A more Scottish name could hardly be imagined and
yet it was brought to that country by Irish settlers. This
is significant when you consider that many Scottish families
were to settle back into Ireland (and especially in Ulster)
during the seventeenth century.
The word Scotus is the Latin word for Irishman. Scotland
derived its name from the immigrant Gaelic settlers.
Mac and Mc are the same prefixes. Their use does not indicate
that the bearer is from either Scotland or Ireland. One is
merely an abbreviation of the other and in this regard the
names MacDermott and McDermott can be regarded as one and
The Norse Vikings
The invasions by the Norsemen from the eight century onwards
introduced a new wave of surnames into the country. The name
Doyle for example is taken from the Gaelic words 'dubh ghaill'
meaning 'dark foreigner'. It is not surprising that many of
the invaders were viewed as being dark! Brian Boru defeated
the Vikings at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 but the
Anglo-Norman conquest of the country in the twelfth century
saw the introduction of another variety of surnames.
Names such as Burke (de Burca), Power (de Poer) and
Fitzgerald (Mac Gerailt) are of Norman origin and yet these
settlers established their families along native Gaelic
lines, forming 'Septs' and integrating fully into Gaelic
society. Although these names became established in Ireland
long after the native Gaelic O'Neils, Bolands and Flanagans,
you would have a very hard time convincing a Burke that s/he
is not Irish!
The Plantation Schemes
The widespread colonisation of Ireland was accelerated during
the 1600s. Thousands of settler families arrived into Ulster
especially, bringing with them a new variety of surnames as
well as many that were of original Gaelic origin.
During this time it was a great disadvantage for a family to
have a Gaelic sounding name. This was an organised attempt
to completely eradicate the Gaelic culture which resulted in
a number of cultural casualties, especially the decline of
the Gaelic language. It was during this time that the
'anglicization' of many native Gaelic names took place. Thus,
the Mac Bradaigh Sept changed their name to Brady, Mac An
Gabhann to Smith and MacGowan, Breathnach to Walsh
(Breathnach means Welshman in Gaelic).
Clearly this causes a problem when trying to trace a
particular surname. Take the name Smith as an example. Of
course this name is derived from the native Gaelic Mac An
Gabhann Sept and its descendants but it is also derived
from the numerous settlers who brought the name from England.
The mis-translation of Gaelic words to try to assimilate an
Anglo sounding name as well as the problem of variant
spellings further clouds the issue.
The Gaelic Revival
The resurgence of the Gaelic culture during the late stages
of the 19th and early stages of the 20th centuries was due
to a number of historical events that can be traced back as
far as the American War of Independence (which encouraged
Irish nationalism), the 1798 Wolfe Tone Rebellion, Catholic
Emancipation achieved by Daniel O'Connell, the Great Famine
of 1845-49 and the Land agitation organised by Davitt and
Parnell. This revival was to have a great impact on Irish
surnames as many Irish families reclaimed the Gaelic form of
their name or, in many case, re-adopted the Mac or O prefix
that was previously missing from their name. Thus the name
O'Sullivan began to greatly outnumber the name Sullivan.
Previously the name Sullivan had been very much in the
Not all names were thus treated. The O prefix was not
greatly re-attached to the names Kelly and Boland for
example. This 'Gaelicization' of names was a direct response
to the 'Anglicization' of names that had occurred over the
previous centuries. It is easy to see how the root genuine
form of certain names became lost or blurred after these
Emigration to various parts of the new world, America,
Canada and Australia in particular, caused a further wave
of spelling variations of surnames. The name Kavanagh
includes the variant spellings Kavanaugh, Cavanaugh and
Cavanagh to cite but a few but all of which are derived
from the Gaelic Caomhanach Sept who were a branch of the
Coats of Arms
The English and Scottish heraldic tradition is somewhat
different from that which exists in Ireland. When settlers
arrived from England they brought more than their name,
they also brought their family coat of arms. Consequently it
has been a source of irritation to many Scottish and English
heraldists that people of obvious Irish extraction should lay
claim to the right to bear these coats of arms! The fact that
many of the native Gaelic families registered their own family
coat of arms with the 'Ulster Office' (which was actually
located in Dublin) and then allowed their Sept members to bear
the coat of arms is also at odds with the Anglo tradition.
The English system of assigning arms is based on individual
hereditary but the native Gaelic culture has always
exemplified the rights of the group (the Sept) rather than
It has long been accepted in Ireland that it is the right of
all bearers of the name O'Connor, Smith, Fitzpatrick,
Campbell or whatever name you have, to bear the coat of arms
for that name. The Office of the Chief Herald in Ireland will
even register you a new coat of arms for a fee of about 3000
Irish pounds. Of course, if you are named Smith you would need
a detailed genealogical investigation to establish if your
coat of arms is of the English or Irish (Mac Gowan) variety.
Names like Kelly and Murphy are much more clearcut!
You can view over 650 Irish family coats of arms and brief
family details here:
GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
PHRASE: Is fear rith maith ná drochsheasamh.
PRONOUNCED: is far rit mot nah druck/shass/ubh
MEANING: A good run is better than a bad stand
PHRASE: Más é do thoil é
PRONOUNCED: Mawsh a duh hull a ('a'as in 'bay')
MEANING: If you please
PHRASE: Saol fada chugat
PRONOUNCED: Sail fod/ah cu/gut
MEANING: Long life to you
View the archive of phrases here:
MY IRISH WEDDING by Sheila McMahon
'Marry in May and Rue the Day.....' If you are born Irish
then you are automatically born superstitious. It seems the
Irish have superstitions regarding every single facet of
life so of course they would have certain 'rules' regarding
So when my husband and I decided to get married (yes, that
is how it happened, no bending down on one knee, no ring in
my champagne glass at a nice restaurant...) in Ireland, I
started researching the various customs & traditions,
legalities & particulars of getting married in Ireland.
The first thing necessary was to pick out a church over
there and contact the Parish Priest at least three months
in advance. It seems this is a law in Ireland now, I guess
to stop fast, rushed marriages that will end up in divorce
or separation in just a few short months. And, being
Catholic, we then began pre-marriage counseling to clarify
the fact that my future husband and I did indeed want to
take this huge step in our lives. We had to dig out our
baptismal, first communion, and confirmation records and
have our local Parish priest send all these documents to
the priest in Ireland to do what ever legal things he
needed to do.
Our next step in planning our Irish wedding was to do such
things as reserve & purchase our plane tickets, buy our
wedding clothing (my dress and his tux/suit) and get our
wedding rings. These were pretty simple & straightforward
things to handle, but I would like to say a word about our
wedding bands. We decided to do something really special
and buy Celtic wedding bands so that everyone who meets us
would know our Celtic heritage. They made our day really
special and people comment on them so often. It reminds us
often about our Irish wedding & was a very special touch
that I would recommend to all.
So that handled the work on this side of the ocean but you
must be sure that the following things are reserved on 'the
· Menu/Location for Reception
· Entertainment for Reception
· Wedding Transportation/Car
· Meeting with the Parish Priest to review your ceremony
I had an advantage because my mom & dad live in Ireland
and were able to get most of these things lined up for me.
So I arrived an extra few days before the wedding to tie up
loose ends & make sure everything would go perfect. And by
the time my husband arrived, the night before the wedding,
the only thing left to do was meet with the Parish priest
to go over the ceremony.
We had been at the pub most of the afternoon meeting with old
friends who of course had to buy us pint after pint to toast
our future together. So, before we knew it, it was 9pm and
we had to go down to the parish rectory to rehearse. Both of
us were slightly nervous because of the fact that we were
fairly smashed, but the first words out of The Father's mouth
were 'Welcome home Michael, will ye share a whiskey with me?'
Needless to say, the ice was broken and we proceeded on merrily.
And after that we headed back to the pub, me for my 'Hen Party'
and my future husband for his. We had a long, fun night and
stumbled home at the wee hours.
The next morning, of course I awoke 'bright eyed and bushy
tailed' and ready for a beautiful day. The photographer
arrived about an hour before the mass and we proceeded to
take picture after picture after picture.....
My father and I rode to the church in a '47 Rolls-Bentley,
our quaint chauffer-driven wedding car. The Priest was
shocked and I believe a little peeved that we arrived when
we did. It seems that the bride is always supposed to be
late!! Oh well…
We proceeded on with the ceremony and it went much as an
American ceremony would, with just a few unique parts.
When we exchanged vows & rings, my husband took my left
hand, touched my thumb with the ring and said, 'In the
name of the Father'. Then he touched my index finger next
and said, 'In the name of the Son.' Then he touched my
middle finger and said, 'And the Holy Spirit' and at
'Amen' he placed the ring on my ring finger. I did the
same procedure to him.
Then the Priest handed my husband an ancient polished
coin. He then handed it to me and said these words, 'I
give you this gold and silver, tokens of all I possess.'
It was a beautiful touch that I had never heard of before.
After the ceremony, we proceeded outside for more pictures
& merriment. Rice was thrown with sweet abandon & we really
whooped it up! Then my husband and I got in the wedding car
and proceeded to the reception, a nice 20-mile drive away
through the gorgeous countryside of Westmeath. As we passed
through each town everyone waved and honked at us to help
celebrate our happy day.
At the reception of course we had MORE pictures and then a
really nice meal. Then the real fun began with our
entertainment, a one-man band who played lots of traditional
Irish music. I think my favorite part was when each member
of my family got up, one at a time, gave us a toast and
then either sang a special song or recited a special poem.
It was the perfect ending to a perfect day!
My Irish wedding was so enjoyable and special. I went back
to my Irish roots and celebrated my heritage. If you have
the chance, do it! You will truly cherish it "all the days
of your lives...."
My Irish Wedding by Sheila McMahon
copyright 2000 A Bit O' Blarney, Inc.
FREE ANCESTRAL MAP OF IRELAND OFFER
Our Ancestral Map of Ireland contains the name and location
of hundreds of Irish families and is perfect for framing.
It's big too!
It is offered at the site for US$29 but is now FREE with all
orders for our new Claddagh and Family Crest Rings supplied by
Irish jeweler Darren Ward.
See here for more details:
AMERICAN MARATHONERS DESCEND!!
Once again the United States will be sending a truck load of
marathoners to Ireland for the Dublin marathon in October.
Many of us have raised $4000 for the Arthritis Foundation
here in the States in order to qualify for the trip!
My contingency from Washington State hopes to find some fun
loving Irish men and women with which to enjoy traditional
Irish music. I was in Dublin last year for the marathon and
had the time of my life. If you can tolerate some middle-aged
American athletes who would like to party with the locals,
give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org We don't bite, I promise
(well, not very hard!), and we've all been watching
Ballykissangel, so we now speak the language! (The author's
feeble attempt at humor.)
Looking forward to hearing from you!
SHAMROCK SITE OF THE MONTH
Miriam Krafzick's site offers articles on beauty, lifestyle,
fitness, health, and relationship advice, aswell as everything
else you'd expect from a top-notch magazine website. This is
the site for all women, women living in Ireland & abroad and
especially for women that love to look at a new and fresh site.
SEARCHER SITE OF THE MONTH
Internet Genealogy Portals -- Your Window To The Family Web
by Steve Lacy
Nearly everyone would agree that premier search engines are
the standard for navigating the internet. And what a great
paradigm, indeed. Anyone enabled by a PC (personal computer)
and an active ISP (internet service provider) account, can
type in a word or phrase. Then with a click, almost
instantaneously transport themselves into a vast web of
One issue a user may face in their research on the web, is
the number of results obtained for any given search. To
highlight this concern, your writer went to one of the top
5 premier search engines and typed in the keyword, genealogy.
The search results were: 5,684,813 pages found.
Another challenge with internet searches is the amount time
required to effectively assess and process all of the
information found on-line. Even by refining and targeting
keywords, time is an issue. The number of actual searches
required to locate specific information sought by users, may
also be increasing. While the current state of information
processing combined with internet access has given us
information immediacy, it has also provided an information
glut. Sorting through search results to locate what one wants
can become an acquired skill for the truly inspired, but
still require a bit of luck.
"Search portals" are also search engines. Although smaller
and less well known than the top-5, they are nevertheless
usually associated with a useful single-subject database. A
bonus with search portals is that content is frequently more
streamlined and customized. This may mean performing fewer
searches to achieve needed results and consequently, less time
is required. An increasing number of family tree search portals
is now available. The results for genealogy searches can have
real pay-off, fast. Genealogy portals offer searches of large
genealogy web sites and some individual family or surname home
pages. For aspiring genealogists, the good news then is fewer
but more specific results are obtained.
GenealogySearch.com is probably the best place to find
genealogy search portals. Users will find a number of family
tree portals there covering a wide range of genealogy based
subjects. For family seekers and specially for beginners, there
is value in performing "surname searches." To do this, simply
type in your surname and then click to find instances of your
family names in the various genealogy web site databases. Click
on a surname link and you are there. You can thank me later.
Happy hunting everyone!
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The winner was: email@example.com
who will receive the following:
Irish Name Screensaver of their choice (from our 1800 names)
Our 6-Pack of Irish Screensavers (US$42 value)
AND our Irish Genealogy Report (US$9 value)
Well Done! Remember that all subscribers to this newsletter
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I hope that you have enjoyed this issue.
Please keep the feedback coming!
Until the next time,
THE VERY BEST FROM IRELAND!
The Information about Ireland Site.