The Information about Ireland Site Newsletter
The Newsletter for people interested in Ireland
Now received by over 50,000 people worldwide
Copyright (C) 2009
IN THIS ISSUE
=== News Snaps from Ireland
=== New free resources at the site
=== Great Irish Families: Walsh
=== There's a Road by Kathleen Walker
=== Dermot and Strongbow, and the Invasion of Ireland
=== The Mission by Pat Watson
=== The Irish Coins Proof Set
=== Gaelic Phrases of the Month
=== Shamrock site of the month: celticattic.com
=== Monthly free competition result
Hi again from Dublin in Ireland where the second
vote on the Lisbon Treaty is about to be held.
The stakes are very high for Brian Cowen and the
Fianna Fail government. A second rejection of the
Treaty would send shockwaves throughout Europe
and almost certainly force the current Taoiseach
to resign. Opinion polls are in his favour and
predicting a comfortable victory, but you never
If you have an article, poem or story about
Ireland or the Irish do send it in - we would
love to receive it!
Until next month
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
SECOND VOTE ON LISBON TREATY IMMINENT
A second referendum to decide the fate of the
Lisbon Treaty is to be held on October 2nd.
Recent opinion polls have pointed towards a
fairly comfortable victory for the 'yes' campaign
with the government and opposition parties all
calling for the Treaty to be ratified. Those
advocating a ratification of the Treaty however
will not be getting complacent. In the first
referendum it was the final few days of the
campaign when sentiment moved to the 'no' side.
It would appear that the massive effort put into
this campaign will likely secure a victory for
the government especially when the backdrop of
a recession and increased unemployment is
brought into focus.
Perhaps the greatest chance the 'no' side has
of pulling off what now seems like and unlikely
victory is if there is a mass-realisation among
the electorate that this is the exact same Treaty
that was voted on only 2 years ago and rejected.
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE INCREASES AS RECESSION BITES
The rate of unemployment has increased to 11.6%
from 10.1% in the first quarter of the year.
While the rate of the increase has declined
sharply the figures do not make good reading for
the Irish government who will have to provide
welfare payments for an increasing number of
people and from a dwindling tax income. The number
of people unemployed has doubled over the last year
to 264,600. Employment in the construction industry
fell by 35%.
The response of the government over the last year
to the recession has been primarily to raise taxes
significantly. It now plans to tackle overspending
in the public sector with wage cuts being the
order for the day. Resistance from government
employees however is likely to be strong with
strikes inevitable. It has been noted that the
government has held off with its plans to reduce
public sector pay until after the second referendum
on the Lisbon Treaty, afraid that any unpopular
pay cuts would result in more support for rejection
of the Treaty.
The government has also published the legislation
for the creation of the so-called 'bad bank', NAMA,
which will take the bad loans from the main Irish
banks at a big discount in order to facilitate
those banks to lend more to business and consumers,
thus boosting economic activity.
POPULATION FALLS FIRST TIME SINCE 1995
The population of Ireland has decreased in size
for the first time since 1995. The Irish Central
Statistics Office has recorded a 40% growth in
emigration in the month of April with 65,100
people leaving the country in that month, compared
to 45,300 the previous year. With the rate of
immigration declining from nearly 84,000 people to
just over 57,000 there was an overall net decline
of over 8000. Most of the emigrants were of
eastern European origin, although a significant
number of Irish also left.
IRELAND IS FIFTH MOST DEVELOPED SOCIETY IN THE WORLD
The latest edition of the Economist's 'Pocket
World in Figures' book has revealed some
interesting statistics about Ireland. Ireland is
the fifth most developed society in the world and
the fourth freest economy.
The average age is 34.3 years. Dublin is
the 25th best city to live in in terms of quality
of life, ahead of Paris and London. Ireland is
the 16th least corrupt country and ranks second in
terms of press freedom (the US is not in the top
30). Cost of living is 10th highest in the world
- no surprise to those living here! Ireland ranks
14th in alcohol consumption. Mobile phone
ownership lists Ireland in 22nd place. Ireland has
the worlds 32nd biggest economy so if there is
ever a meeting of the G32 instead of the G8 or
G10 then the Irish may get a seat at the table.
GDP per head of population is the seventh highest
at 41,590 euro.
A big indicator of just how much the economy of
the country has changed over the last 20 years is
that only 1.7% of total wealth is based on the
agricultural industry, a huge reversal from the
1960s and 1970s. Ireland is the eighth highest
donor of foreign humanitarian aid in terms of GDP.
IMPROVEMENTS IN THE IRISH HEALTH SERVICE
The latest league table of health services in the
European Union has put Ireland in 13th place
overall, a big improvement on 28th place in 2006
and 15th place in 2008. Problems are identified
however in certain areas such as speedy access
to treatment, value for money, and provision
of cancer treatment services.
The Netherlands ranked best in the survey with
Denmark, Iceland, Austria, Switzerland, Germany,
France, Sweden, Luxembourg, Norway, Belgium and
Finland all ahead of Ireland.
TED KENNEDY REMEMBERED IN DUNGANSTOWN
The ancestral home of the Kennedy clan was the
center of a tribute to US Senator Ted Kennedy
who died recently. President Mary McAleese and
US ambassador Dan Rooney attended a mass at nearby
New Ross in County Wexford where the legacy of the
Senator was revisited. Among the gifts laid on
the altar was a painting completed by the Senator
himself of his family's ancestral homestead.
Voice your opinion on these news issues here:
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:
C: Callinan, Carlyle
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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GREAT IRISH FAMILIES: WALSH
The ancient name Walsh is found throughout Ireland
and is especially prominent in Counties Mayo,
Galway, Cork, Wexford and Kilkenny. The Walsh
Mountains are located in County Kilkenny and there
are as many as 24 placenames associated with the
Walshs throughout the country.
This is one of a number of names that have their
origin in the Anlo-Norman invasion of the twelfth
century, led by the famous Strongbow. The name
Walsh means 'welshman' and is rendered as
'breathnach' in Gaelic. Thus it is easy to see how
a number of variants of the name have come into
existence including Walshe, Welch, Welsh, Brannach,
An original bearer of the name was Haylen Brenach
who was the son of 'Philip the Welshman', and who
was one of the first invaders of 1172. This
individual was not the only originator of the name
however with several other of the new arrivals
being labelled 'the welshman' after they arrived
and settled in the country. No prominent Gaelic
sept was formed which is somewhat unusual as most
of the invading families eventually integrated into
Irish society and formed septs along Gaelic lines.
The families descended from 'Philip the Welshman'
settled at Castlehowel in Kilkenny and at
Ballykileavan in Leix, as well as at Bray and
Dublin. The County Mayo Walshs are derived from
Walynus who arrived from Wales in the year 1169.
Famous bearers of the name include Rev. Peter
Walsh (1618-1688), author of 'The Loyal
Romonstrance' for which he was excommunicated.
Rev. William John Walsh (1841-1921) was an
Archbishop of Dublin. The descendants of the
Walshs have for long been associated with the
Church and religious matters. The actress Blanch
Walshe (1873-1915) was well regarded as an
inventor. Henry Walsh (1863-1927) was a famous
explorer and first president of the 'New York
View the Walsh family crest here:
Get the Walsh plaque, print, signet ring and
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THERE'S A ROAD by Kathleen Walker
When I was 56 years old, after waiting for a
lifetime, I was finally able to come back to
the home of my ancestors: Ireland. It was only
for a few weeks, but it has changed me forever.
There was a poem that I found about five years
prior to my trip and I believe it was this poem
that really gave me the ultimate push to venture
forward. The author is unknown:
There's a Road
There's a road with only enough room for one car.
If you meet another, you must stop, get out,
And discuss who saw the last wide spot.
On this small road is a church with a graveyard,
The bones in some quarters piled up
Of families on families.
The others left this country of peat fires
and oiled wool and sweet music
When the potatoes turned black
as they were pulled from the ground
and the good food was shipped to England.
They went on creaking ships,
they crammed on and hoped.
They dreamed of clouds of deep cream,
beds of down, and grandchildren
Who would have grandchildren,
Who would someday drive down that narrow road
Of a green, green country.....
Trying to find what had been left behind.
I was one of those grandchildren's grandchildren.
Sandy, Utah, USA
DERMOT AND STRONGBOW, AND THE INVASION OF IRELAND
Dermot MacMurrough was the King of Leinster during
the twelfth century and is most remembered as the
man who invited the English into Ireland.
He was born circa 1100 and succeeded to the throne
of his father, Enna, in 1126. He was a ruthless
leader and demonstrated the ferocity of the times
by killing or blinding 17 rivals in 1141. He became
involved in a dispute with the King of Breffney,
Tiernan O'Ruark, whose wife he kidnapped in 1153.
O'Ruark formed an alliance with Rory O'Connor who
was the recognised High King of Ireland at the
time. In 1166 this long-running and bitter feud
resulted in MacMurrough being driven into exile
by the Gaelic Chieftains. He fled to France.
Dermot MacMurrough was a deeply ambitious man who
refused to accept his exile. He made his way to
the Court of Henry II of England and offered to
become a vassal to the King in return for military
aid in retaking his kingdom. The king did not
directly provide assistance but allowed MacMurrough
to petition the Anglo-Norman lords. It was at this
time that the Earl of Pembroke, Richard de Clare,
later known as 'Strongbow', agreed to lead an army
to Ireland. MacMurrough brought an advance party
of adventurers back to Ireland in 1167,
recaptured Wexford, and waited for Strongbow to
From his base in Wales Strongbow launched an
offensive in 1170, capturing Waterford and Dublin,
taking control of the East coast, much to the
dismay of the Gaelic Chieftains and O'Connor. To
cement the alliance, MacMurrough married his
daughter Aoife to Strongbow, in Christchurch
Cathedral in Dublin 1170.
The Irish Chieftains did not allow the invaders
to settle however and they were continually
attacked and harassed. At one stage it seemed
likely that they would be driven from the country
if it were not for the support given by Henry II,
who had become concerned with the amount of power
and influence that Strongbow was amassing across
the Irish sea. It is speculated that Henry II
feared that Ireland might be used as a base by
the Saxons to launch an offensive back into England
in the wake of their defeat at Hastings in 1066.
The subsequent domination of South Wales by the
Normans was a result of the need to keep supply
lines into Eastern Ireland open.
Dermot MacMurrough died in 1170 leaving Strongbow
to declare himself King of Leinster. His later
support for Henry II in France led to his being
named Governor of Ireland. He died in 1176
suffering an infection during a raid by Irish
Much of Ireland was still under local influence
and it only was the East coast, known as 'the Pale',
that remained in Norman control. Henry granted
these lands to his son 'Jean Sans-terre' (or John
Lackland) in 1185 creating the 'Lordship of
Ireland'. It seemed likely that Ireland would
remain a minor Kingdom except that fate intervened.
The death of his elder brothers allowed Jean
Sans-terre to succeed to the English throne,
becoming King John of England and the Pale
becoming part of English dominated territories.
Demot MacMurrough has for centuries been blamed
as the man who caused, or at least facilitated
the invasion and subsequent subjugation of Ireland
by outsiders. Recent revision of this history
however, have been less critical of his actions.
It is likely that the island would have eventually
been dominated by its larger neighbour even
without Dermot MacMurroughs prompting. The
unwillingness of the Gaelic Chiefs to form a
Kingship with defined rights of succession
certainly made invasion and domination easier. It
was also not uncommon of the times for Gaelic
Chiefs to seek help from foreigners in combatting
their local enemies.
Despite this more generous interpretation of his
actions, it will always be Dermot MacMurroughs
lust for power, bringing the English into Ireland,
for which he will be most remembered.
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THE MISSION by Pat Watson
Since our voices were beginning to break, we were
ordered to the men's mission. The annual parish
mission ran Sunday-to-Sunday inclusive, one week
for the men and the following week for the women.
The sermon on this, the Wednesday night, was on
'Company Keeping'. This, the most important sermon
of the week was given by the old man. The young
man gave gentle sermons about prayer and devotion
- the middle-aged man who was big, burly and gruff
gave more robust sermons about rowdiness,
drunkenness, honesty and easy things like that.
We knew absolutely nothing about company keeping
but we were highly motivated and keen to learn.
In fact we hoped to start practical trials as
soon as possible and any tips or guidelines would
be greatly appreciated. That's why we had looked
forward to this night as we expected to gain
valuable information while being told what 'not
to do'. We assumed that the louder and more
thunderous the exhortations, the more informative
it might be. We did fear hell and the wrath of
God but we expected to live long lives in which
to repent and now our needs were pressing.
'The quiet road, the lonely road, is the broad
road to destruction,' that's how he started off.
It sounded promising. The only worse den of
iniquity is the cinema. The only time we had
been to the pictures was a matinee about
'The Song of Bernadette'. We saw no iniquity
there. We had no idea what iniquity meant but
from the sound of things it must have something
to do with forbidden pleasure. Dens were resting
places in long grass for certain wild animals,
hares and the like. Maybe if you went company
keeping in such a place that would be iniquity.
Or it might lead to iniquity. We were anxious
to hear more. We sure did hear more!
'In those dens of iniquity you have titillation
on the screen and temptation in the stalls' he
thundered. 'Wow' there was a word and a half.
What did it mean? How did it work? It sounded
exciting. Did you do it yourself or with someone
else or to someone else, or did someone do it to
you? Its possibilities were endless. Talk about
entertaining bad thoughts! This was beyond our
wildest dreams. We had a whole parlour full of
bad thoughts here. We would need to live to a
hundred years to get over all these thoughts.
Our minds were so over-worked that we sailed
into a sort of trance and totally lost track
of the sermon or the holy man delivering it.
That's what happened me anyway and I suppose it
was the same for my pals Algie and Jimmy. They
sat on my right, beside the centre aisle while
on my left was an austere old gentleman who had
hung his walking stick on the back of the seat
in front of us. He was antagonistic from the
start, when sash-wearing ushers made him move in
to make room for us; he scowled but held his
peace. We were barely on time and grinning as we
shuffled in beside him, if looks could kill?
Dreaming through my thoughts, I was dimly aware
of the preacher telling of some old mystic who
had a vision of a great sinner's conscience, right
throughout his totally unrepentant life. He was
disobedient as a child and showed no remorse he
droned. Immediately in front of us was a dark
haired young man who had just got a haircut, short
back and sides. This was obvious as his neck was
weather beaten except for a half inch white line
bordering his hair. He had probably been on the
bog all week. Just then I spotted a head-louse
emerging from under his collar and heading for the
new neat hairline. I elbowed Algie and pointed out
the creeper with my eyes.
'A penny says he gets scratched off before he
reaches the hairline,' I said out of the side of
my mouth. Without reply he covered the penny I
had placed on the seat between us. The old man
threw a sidelong dirty look. We tried to look
rapturously engrossed in the sermon. We did
listen a bit and by now the unrepentant scoundrel
was defiling young girls and still no remorse. The
louse was now more than half way across the open
space and my penny was sweating. At that time
there were lice in every house, except ours! As
the louse reached his target and Algie reached
for the pennies,
'Doubles or quits he doesn't reach cover' said I
as I put down another two pennies. There was a
small chink, another dirty look and more angelic
stares. This looked a good option for me as the
louse was struggling in the new stubble and the
cover was a good two inches away. By now the
scoundrel in the sermon was stealing from his
employer and going on drunken orgies and still,
no remorse. Instead of scratching, the man with
the louse began to nod off and his head tilted
forward making the going easier for the insect
and further endangering my bet.
Having smashed all of the Ten Commandments with
total defiance and no trace of remorse the
scoundrel was now dead and lying in his coffin at
his own wake. People were supping drinks and
trying with great difficulty, to recall something
good to say about him, when suddenly the corpse
'I am damned.' This brought everyone in the church
to attention. Our nodding louse-man sat bolt
upright, twitching his stubble neck and sending
the louse soaring in the air. I had won my bet.
My joy was short lived. The louse landed right in
the fly of Algie's trousers. There were no zips
in those days. He gave an almighty 'bunnogue'
(an awkward panic-stricken sideways lurch) putting
the pennies and the old mans stick clattering on
to the floor. Anybody would think that it was a
lion, not a louse that was threatening his prized
possessions. I just could not contain the belly
laugh. The problem was I had just gained control
of my new big voice but the laugh was only half
there. It started off falsetto, going very deep
and back falsetto, altogether like a demonic sneer
of unearthly origins. There was a great turning of
heads and general rustle. Oh God help me I was in
deep trouble. I urged Algie and Jimmy to make a
run for it. By now the old man had recovered his
stick and was poking me behind and hissing about
sacrilegious young blackguards who needed the
devil beaten out of them.
The preacher continued, pretending not to notice
the commotion but the young missioner was heading
down in our direction and the middle-aged man,
coming from the rear, cut off our retreat. I was
facing the death penalty, or at least
excommunication. I decided to blame the louse!
Now I knew how Eve must have felt when blaming
'What is the meaning of this?' The big man
'It all started when he shouted, I am damned'
I stuttered. He looked down at Algie, still
clutching his valuables.
'My goodness' he said,
'Was he frightened into an accident?'
'Take him out,' he said, in a much more
conciliatory tone. As we shuffled down the aisle,
'Oh thank you God, you really did come to save
sinners.' Algie was petrified, Jimmy was
mortified, and I was satisfied, having my
sentence commuted to a fourpenny fine and a
sore behind. And the louse! He just married
locally and lived happily ever after.
is one of sixty lyrical yarns from
'Original Irish Stories' by Pat Watson,
Creagh, Bealnamulla, Athlone, Ireland.
First published in May 2006.
To get your copy email the author here:
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THE IRISH COINS PROOF SET
The recent limited edition proof set of Irish
coins produced by the Irish government is now
available. We have a very small supply of these
fantastic items which you can get from here:
GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
PHRASE: Ni neart go cur le cheile.
PRONOUNCED: nee hyart guh curr leh kay-lah
MEANING: there is no strength without unity
PHRASE: Nil aon tintean mar do thintean fein.
PRONOUNCED: neel ain tintin marr duh hin-tin fane
MEANING: there is no hearth like your own hearth
PHRASE: Is folamh fuar e teach gan bean.
PRONOUNCED: iss full-ivv foor a cock gon ban
(a as in a,b,c)
MEANING: it is a cold house without a woman
View the archive of phrases here:
SHAMROCK SITE OF THE MONTH: CELTICATTIC.COM
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SEPTEMBER COMPETITION RESULT
The winner was: email@example.com
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,
The Information about Ireland Site.