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IN THIS ISSUE
=== News Snaps from Ireland
=== 'In Ireland even the Dog is involved in Religion', by Brian DeVon
=== An Goban Saor - Craftsman to the Tuatha de Danann
=== Gaelic Phrases of the Month
=== Monthly Free Competition Result
Popular Articles from Recent Newsletters:
Conan and the Great March of O'Sullivan Beare - A Conan Story
'Conan Pays His Debts' - a story
Inventions You Never Knew Were Irish
Irish Mythology is very much the subject of the hour here at The Information About Ireland Site.
I hope you are enjoying our series of stories about famous characters from the legends of Ireland!
I am sure you may have heard of Cuchulain and Fionn McCumhail but perhaps you have never heard of
Dechtire or Breas or Macha or Cesair before!
All will be explored in the weeks and months to follow.
Do you have a story, poem or anecdote you would like to share? If so please do send it in to us.
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NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND
HUGE PROPERTY PRICE INCREASES IN SMALLER IRISH CITIES
The latest property report by Irish Website Daft has revealed some huge increases in the value of properties outside of Dublin. In the months from July to September of this year prices have risen by as much as 11.4 percent in Kilkenny, 7.2 percent in Waterford, 7.7 percent in Limerick and 7.2 percent in Galway. And that is in the space of 3 months!
Prices in Dublin have stagnated or even fallen back slightly. The Daft recording of drops ranging from 0.6 percent to 1.7 percent across the various divisions of Dublin are within an expected margin of error. Effectively, Dublin house prices are now stagnant having risen by a huge amount over the last two years.
Recently introduced regulations by the Central Bank are being credited/blamed for the severe slowdown in price inflation in Dublin. One result of this is that prices have increased outside of the capital city.
Another consequence is that rental prices in Dublin have surged, which is a sure indication that there is a paucity of supply in certain areas of the city and county.
Nationally, the asking price for an Irish property is 205,000 Euro, up from 190,000 Euro a year ago and up from 164,000 at the trough of the recession in 2013. A massive 25 percent increase in the space of less than 3 years.
VOTE-BUYING COMMENCES IN PRE-ELECTION FREE-FOR-ALL
'You get the Politicians you deserve' is an often used commentary on the reasons why people the world over despair at the behavior of their Politicians, only to re-vote them back into office at the first opportunity.
Ireland is no different. With all of the Political Parties on an election footing the usual pre-election game of hand-outs by the Government of the day has begun.
Typically the routine is that the annual budget is announced in October, then there are some complaints by vested interests and lobby groups. Then the budget measures are either watered-down or pumped-up, depending on the situation, and finally a general election is called with the sitting Government having essentially bribed large swathes of the electorate with their own money.
To be fair to Fine Gael this is the way things have operated for decades. Fianna Fail were the masters of these dark arts with a compliant Irish people happy to play along.
Except when things went wrong. It was then they cried 'foul' and bitterly turfed Fianna Fail out of office, blaming them for all of their problems. Fine Gael were elected and duly implemented the Fianna Fail policies that were so criticized. Then they claimed that they had saved the country while also berating Fianna Fail from near-destroying it.
It is quite the sleight of hand that Fine Gael are attempting. On the one hand the are saying that they had no choice but to implement the tough economic polices demanded by the EU/ECB/IMF in return for loans to keep the country running. On the other hand they consistently blame Fianna Fail for these policies, while then taking credit for their relative success (depending on your viewpoint).
It is hardly a surprise that independent candidates and smaller political parties now occupy such a large part of the Irish political landscape.
And so to the spending spree.
27 Billion Euro has been announced in construction projects to be implemented over the next six years including:
* A new National Maternity Hospital
* Upgrade to the N7 Motorway
* New Garda IT System and station refurbishments
* A flood-defense system to be implemented over 10 years
* A new rail link from Dublin city centre to Dublin Airport
* Major funding for school refurbishment and the digital strategy
The plans suggest that as many as 45,000 jobs will be created on foot of the investments that, many of which, if similar to announcements from previous Governments, are unlikely to be ever implemented.
For example, the fact that a major European capital city such as Dublin does not have a direct rail link from the city airport to the city centre after the tens (hundreds?) of billions that have been spent over the last three decades is a national disgrace. And an international embarrassment. Such a rail-link has been promised by successive Governments for decades.
Never mind. There are more giveaways on the way.
Already the soon to be extinct Labour Party are demanding a re-establishment of the full 'Christmas bonus' for pensioners and welfare recipients. And this despite the fact that economically, pensioners are among the most cosseted and well looked after sections of Irish society. The Labour Party forced through the initial 25 percent re-establishment of the bonus payment in the last budget, despite huge objections from other Government departments.
Obviously the Party that co-sponsored the Property tax and the Water tax despite being elected on a platform of looking after the poorer sections of Irish society are looking for a flagship give-back to trumpet.
Some people never learn. Or perhaps they just dont care. But it is easy to be flamboyant with taxpayers money when you are facing political annihilation.
And so it is business as usual in the Irish political fraternity. Get the hard cuts done early. Blame everyone else. When the economy recovers a bit then give hand-outs to everyone you can and then take credit for everything good, while blaming every one else for what went wrong.
Business as usual.
When Enda Kenny and his Fine Gael Party were elected in 2011 they promised a new style of politics. Never before had a Government been given such an opportunity to change fundamentally they way the Irish people are actually governed. It is a terribly sad indictment of that Party that no such landmark reforms have been implemented.
It is also a sad indictment of the Irish people that we expect, accept and vote for the same old thing again and again.
DEATH OF BRIAN FRIEL
The death has occurred of the legendary Irish playwright Brian Friel.
His best known works include 'Philadelphia Here I Come' and 'Dancing at Lughnasa'. He was renowned for providing a remarkable insight into Ireland of the mid-twentieth century. He was known as 'the Irish Chekhov' with his works favorably compared with other literary giants such as Samuel Backett and Arthur Miller.
Brian Friel's works have been performed on stage around the world with 'Lughnasa' being adapted for the big screen, starring Meryl Streep. The stage version won the Tyrone man several Tony Awards, including Best Play, as well as the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Play and the well-regarded New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play.
IRISH SOCCER HOPES IN THE BALANCE
The surprise defeat of Scotland by Georgia has handed an unexpected boost to the hopes of the Irish soccer team in their attempts to qualify for the Euro Championships to be held in France next year.
Having drawn 1-1 in Dublin the Scots looked very well placed to gain at least a play-off spot by finishing third in the group qualifying that includes Poland and world champions Germany.
But the 1-0 defeat in Tbilisi was a big dent to Scottish hopes and opened the door for Martin O'Neill's Irish team who gladly made the most of the chance given them by defeating Georgia by a single goal in Dublin, having also beaten Gibraltar 4-0 a few days earlier.
Ireland v Germany
Poland v Ireland
Scotland v Poland
Scotland v Gibraltar
With the Scots likely to hammer Gibraltar easily the key match in the list above is their encounter with Poland. If the Scots can beat Poland then they will be back in the driving seat. A defeat by the Poles would potentially allow the Irish team to qualify for a third-place play-off spot even if they lost their remaining two games (which is a real possibility). If that game is drawn then the Irish must pick up at least one point in their final two matches.
All to play for with two games to go!
Germany 19 points
Poland 17 points
Republic of Ireland 15 points
Scotland 11 points
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IN IRELAND EVEN THE DOG IS INVOLVED IN RELIGION
by Brian DeVon
Religion was at the core of my mothers life, a fact that created many disappointments for her. When the guidelines of your life are set in stone and life itself is not, conflict will abound.
It all seems very simple, here's the book of rules, follow them and everything will work out, but it doesn't work that way.
The book of rules doesn't take account of humans, nor are dogs well represented. Humans are best at screwing the rules up completely, all the best laid plans of church and state fall victim to the vagaries of human nature and in an odd or maybe planned twist of fate, it's the very failings and frailties of the human condition that most profit the rule makers. For it's the makers of rules that benefit most from the breaking of rules. The courts of society would not find a ready income without the transgressions of the inhabitants of society. There's slim pickin's to be found among the law abiding. They can't be fined for being obeyers of rules and are therefore of no use or interest to the judicial system.
Our dog Jeff knew the ways of the world and of humans better than most. Being the only canine representative in our family stood him both well and ill. He presided over his dog kingdom, our neighborhood, in the days before political correctness had drowned common sense in a sea of regulations with unintended consequences. He had no dog license, no collar, no microchip, no rules and no regulations. He did however figure out his place in life, which included service to our family in small and endearing ways.
I was the youngest child by some 14 years. I was what they used call a surprise baby. The reason to mention this is that Jeff had been around in the family some years before I was aware of his peculiar services. I have no idea who trained him, if anyone, or whether he took it upon him self to fulfill his duties.
One of those duties was to head off to the newsagent about a block and a half away at 4 o'clock each day and return around 5 o'clock with the Evening Press carried in his teeth and drop it on the front doorstep. What he was up to in that hour was a mystery, but every house in the neighborhood had a dog that looked remarkably similar to Jeff and a homeowner who seemed to resent his presence.
When Dad got home and pulled up the drawbridge of his castle at days end he would retrieve the paper delivered personally by Jeff and sit down to discover the events of the world and as would happen every day curse the 'bloody dog' because some of the headlines would have been dissolved in dog drool and key facts would be missing. Jeff, however, would be sitting on the front porch enjoying the influence he had on world events.
His religious views manifested themselves in some peculiar ways.
As I said my mother was a woman guided by her religion and as such, was a daily church goer, penitent and confessor of her, no doubt, grievous housewifely sins on a regular basis.
She attended the local church, entirely funded by the community, with the heavy participation of my father, to make her confession on a regular basis. All the family followed this tradition, as they say religiously, except me the black sheep, I would only perform under duress.
Jeff felt the need to participate and would follow my mother to church, dare I say again religiously, and sit beside her during mass. Just far enough away from her to be outside striking range, for she was mortified by his presence but close enough that everyone knew he was with her.
When she entered the confessional he would move in for the kill and lie down against the door to the confessional and fall into a deep sleep. When the sainted mother had been relieved of guilt for her transgressions and rose to leave the confessional she would find the door blocked by Jeff. It was almost as though he felt more penitence was needed before he would allow an escape from the confessional.
Pushing and shoving at the door, and making far more noise than was appropriate in the holy church, the now mortified mother would eventually escape when Jeff felt his role had been served and he would be off like a rocket lest he feel the mothers shoe of justice in the area of his behind.
By the time she got home she would have forgiven him for she was a kindly woman and forgave easily.
On her next trip to the confessional she would lock Jeff in the back yard to be free of mortification. She never knew how but sure enough when she tried to leave the confessional there he'd be against the door snoring as usual. I had absolutely nothing to do with it .....honest!
Brian DeVon is author of the 'Flavour of Irleand' website at:
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STORIES FROM IRISH MYTHOLOGY
AN GOBAN SAOR
CRAFTSMAN TO THE TUATHA DE DANANN
The Goban Saor was a famous craftsman of Irish legend, being a rather more homely version of the smith god Giobhnu. He was as famous for his quick witted responses as he was for his great skill. He had no airs or graces about himself, always creating objects of beauty and craftsmanship, no matter how little the person was able to pay him for the work, and he hated any sign of meanness.
Many of the stories of The Goban are about outwitting people who try to cheat him out of a fair payment. As a craftsman he had such skill, finesse, deftness and accuracy that he could hammer a nail into a high beam by tossing both nail and hammer into the air. He could fashion a throwing spear while the recipient counted to five, and shape a spearhead with three strokes of a hammer.
Once, while building a monastery the monks demanded that he lower his price. To force him to agree they removed the ladder from the tower he was working on, trapping him. The Goban started to remove stones from the structure and toss them on the ground, jovially saying that it was as good a way to reach the ground as any. The monks swiftly returned the ladder, and paid him in full.
On another occasion The Goban and his son built a fort for a foreign King that was of such exquisite quality that this King grew jealous and devious and decided to kill The Goban lest he replicate his work elsewhere. In this manner his fort would go unrivalled.
But the Goban was astute. He took but a solitary look at the King and realized his intention. He told the King that he could not complete the work without his 'crooked and more crooked', a tool that he had left at home. Unwilling to let him leave, the King sent his son to fetch it, not realizing that the name of this implement was actually a coded message for Goban's wife who immediately held the King's son hostage, and ransomed him for her own husband and son.
On their way home they came across a group of carpenters who were desperately trying to figure out how to build a bridge without pegs, dowels or nails, as had been demanded by their King.
The Goban helped at once and proceeded to build a sturdy bridge, cleverly using its own weight as a means of holding it together, so it became stronger the more weight was put on it. The carpenters were impressed, but grumbled a bit that he was more able than they at their own trade.
The group stopped at a house where there lived two sisters. The Goban set them a riddle and advised the sisters to keep the head of an old lady by the hob, and also to warm themselves with their work in the morning, and finally to take a sheepskin to the market and come home with the skin and its worth!
Not to be outdone by these riddles the sisters set about their tasks. One of them dug up a skull, then burnt her carded wool to keep herself warm, but then made a fool of herself by asking for the price of the sheepskin without handing it over.
The other sister had more success. She fetched in an old destitute lady to sit by her fire thus fulfilling the first task. She the warmed herself by her industriousness, and sold the wool from the sheepskin, while keeping the skin as the Goban commanded.
The Goban was so impressed by her wit and cleverness that he asked her to marry his son.
Helpful, jovial and always generous. The trait the Goban found hardest to forgive was meanness, and the trait he liked best was to see the same quickness of wit he had himself. This smartness gave him an air of brightness and an irrepressible twinkle in his eye.
Such was his immense popularity in Irish folklore that a saint was canonized with his name in the seventh century, Saint Gobain. The line between myth and reality blurred forever.
WHICH IRISH MYTHOLOGICAL CHARACTER ARE YOU??
Do you dare to take our Irish Mythology Archetype Test to find out?
Are you like the Shaman Fintan or the Goddess Danu?
Or perhaps you are like the beautiful Emer, wife to the mighty Cuchulainn.
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GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
||Bhi an aimsir fliuch agus gaofar ar maidin
||vee onn eyeim-shur fluck ogg-uss gwefarr air mod-djin
||The weather was wet and windy this morning
||Ta se ag cur baisti
||taw shay egg curr bosh-tee
||It is raining
||Ta an aimsir go halainn inniu
||taw an eyeim-shur guh haul-inn inn-you
||The weather is beautiful today|
View the archive of phrases here:
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I hope that you have enjoyed this issue.
by Michael Green,
The Information about Ireland Site.
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