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A belated Happy New Year from Ireland where the country is showing signs of life!
A sense of optimism is slowly enveloping the population with renewed hope that the economics of 'austerity' are nearly at an end.
People are spending more, Unemployment is slowly creeping downwards and there are even some construction jobs underway around the country - a historical sign that things are improving.
Many thanks to all who have offered words of support for our newsletter and to those who have helped by visiting our gift shop at irishnation.com
Until next time,
UNEMPLOYMENT IN IRELAND FALLS TO 12.4%
In normal times an unemployment rate of 12.4% would be regarded as a near disaster but these are not ordinary times in Ireland.
At one stage the jobless rate threatened to spiral upwards through 15 and even 16%. But a combination of improved optimism from those employers that have survived and the 'safety valve' of emigration have driven the rate back from the mid-teens with the trajectory very much downwards. The most recent fall in unemployment is the 18th successive month that the numbers have headed southwards.
Irish leader Enda Kenny said that more than 1,000 new jobs were being created each week in the Irish economy and that there were 'positive signs that business confidence is rising'.
The numbers released by the Central Statistics Office also show that the numbers of those in 'long-term unemployment fell by 8.9% to 7.6%, a significant decline in this most important of metrics.
Richard Bruton is the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation:
'Private sector adding 1,200 jobs a week. Very encouraging. Testament to Irish workforce and entrepreneurial spirit. Real base to build on'
Joan Burton is the Minister for Social Protection:
'More than 1,000 people a week are returning to work, proof that the measures taken by the Government to stabilise the economy and address the unemployment crisis which we inherited are paying off'
Critics of the policies of the Irish Government are very quick to point out that the huge level of emigration that have decimated countless towns and communities around Ireland is the real reason for the fall in unemployment.
IRELAND FACING AN OBESITY DISASTER
A recent report by the OECD makes grim reading for Irish health officials.
Despite acknowledging that the epidemic has slowed down worldwide over the last few years the report also notes that in those countries at the top of the obesity list the numbers are actually increasing.
In 1980 fewer than 1 in 10 people within the OECD were classified as obese. Since then the numbers have doubled or even tripled in some countries.
USA 34% of the population are classifed as obese
New Zealand 27%
By Comparison Korea and Japan have obesity rates of 3.8 and 3.9% respectively. Switzerland at 8.1% is the best placed European country.
CANADIAN ASTRONAUT SERENADES MAYOR OF DUBLIN
Colonel Chris Hadfield is the Canadian Astronaut who tweeted some marvellous images of Ireland when serving aboard the International Space Station. Now retired from active service he was the first Canadian to walk in space.
He visited Ireland recently as a 'tourism ambassador' and regaled the Lord Mayor of Dublin with his version of 'Ride On', performed before a packed hall at the Mansion House, the Mayor's residence in the city. He is especially admired in Ireland for sending the first tweet from space in the Irish language:
Tá Éire fíorálainn! Land of green hills dark beer. With Dublin glowing in the Irish night.
He commented later that he particularly kept on eye on Ireland from space as his daughter is attending College in Dublin.
SEVERE STORMS ARE GREAT NEWS FOR IRISH SURFERS
With most of the Irish population left to count the cost of the damage caused by recent ferocious storms there are at least some for whom the bad weather has been a great bonus.
Surfers from all around the world have been flocking to the Irish coastline to catch some of the biggest waves yet seen. Visitors from as far as South Africa, Australia and the US have travelled to Donegal and Clare to catch the huge 60 foot waves. The unexpected boost to the cold Winter tourism has been warmly welcomed by Government officials and local service providers alike.
NORTH KOREA HYSTERIA AKIN TO IRISH DEVOTION TO POPE
Irish Journalist and Broadcaster Matt Cooper has reported that the way the North Korean people responded to the appearance of their leader Kim Jong-un reminded him of the way the Irish people responded to the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979.
Working for an English documentary crew who were reporting on the unusual friendship between US Basketball star Dennis Rodman and the North Korean Dictator he told his own Irish Radio Show that the Korean people were brainwashed with a cult-like devotion to their leader.
The staging of a basketball game with 40,000 people in attendance was clearly surreal for the popular broadcaster:
It was an extraordinary atmosphere in the sense that before the game it was almost deathly quiet and then Kim arrived with his wife, and even that was significant because there had been rumours that she may have been purged as well. But she was very much alive and there at the game.
And the crowd erupted in a way that you would rarely see. It was spontaneous and there was an outpouring of emotion. It was quiet extraordinary to see the enthusiasm with which they cheered and clapped.
That said, it reminded me almost of... when Pope John Paul II came to Ireland in 1979.
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BRIDIE KEARNS' FIRST JOB
by Josephine Doherty McTague
In 1933 at the age of 14, Bridie Kearns got her first paying job in the town of Balla, in County Mayo, Ireland. It was early summer and the McEllin's daughter, Mrs. O'Grady was home from County Clare with her husband and their three young children. They were in great need of a nanny.
The McEllin Family owned the largest shop in town. It was a one-stop shopping store in those days and you could buy all your necessities under one roof. The McEllin's were the 'big shots' in the town. They were the upper crust of the Balla society, the high and mighty city folk who wanted a simple country girl to take care of their grandkids.
Well, young Bridie got the position but the McEllin's and O'Grady's got much more. Bridie, being the oldest daughter and the second oldest of the 13 Kearns kids had a wide array of skills. She could sew, knit, clean, cook, bake, organize activities and take great care of these new children. Her job was to mind these children twenty four hours a day seven days a week.
Bridie proved to be an excellent nanny. That being said, she never forgot her mother and father and her siblings back up at Fargureens. At every chance, she would squirrel away an orange or an apple at mealtime to pass on to her brothers or sisters as they came into town. If she didn't see them coming in the Balla Road, they would toss a pebble up to her bedroom window at the McEllin Residence. Bridie would come to the window and drop down the fruit and some pennies which were received with great delight. A penny went far in those days. It got the lucky recipient a handful of sweets at the nearby store.
Bridie was away from her home but was always thinking of her mom and finding ways to help. On her spare time, she started knitting for her mother. Underclothes, socks and long-johns were all knitted in those days. Ouch! Well, soon after getting the job Bridie's boss discovered her knitting talents. They supplied her with wool and requested her to knit outfits for the children under her care, thus putting a stop to her family's needs.
Bridie as I said before had many skills and 'slight of hand' was one of her secret talents. Unbeknownst to the McEllin's, Bridie kept knitting for her own family. When in the eye of the McEllin's or the O'Grady's, she would knit for them but as soon as she was out of their scrutinizing view, she would retrieve her own knitting project from under the mattress of the baby pram and resume knitting. (Ah, what a trooper!)
At the end of the summer Bridie was so well liked that the O'Grady family asked her to return with them to County Clare and continue her duty as the nanny. Bridie sadly accepted. Having a job and being able to help support her family was of utmost importance. Bridie had to leave the familiar surroundings of Balla, Mayo and move to Clare. Although miles away, Bridie sent her meager salary home to her mother each week in the mail. Bridie knew so well that her parents had many a mouth to feed and that they all were depending on her to help. Fortunately for Bridie, the O'Grady Family returned to Balla each Christmas and spent the summers there as well. Bridie worked for this family for three years and during that time was able to visit with her family on their trips to Balla.
Bridie enjoyed her job as nanny. But as we know life has many bumps and turns. Bridie had to move on. She kept in touch with the O'Grady's for many years. Bridie Kearns' next position would lead her across the Atlantic to New York....... but that is another story to tell.
This story was told to me by my mother, Bridie Kearns Doherty many years ago.
GRACE O'MALLEY - GAELIC PIRATE QUEEN OF IRELAND
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