IN THIS ISSUE|
- News Snaps from Ireland
- Dechtire: Charioteer to the King of Ulster
- 'Garumna Island - The Day a Chef was Born' by Brian DeVon
- Gaelic Phrases of the Month
- Monthly Free Competition Result
Popular Articles from Recent Newsletters:
Hello again from Ireland where no sooner have the anniversary commemorations for the 1916 Easter Rising taken place that a new battle has begun near the GPO.
The fight to preserve the buildings in nearby Moore Street where the rebels retreated to is ongoing - see the news article below.
This month we also find out about a mysterious character from Irish mythology - the fabulous Dechtire, mother of Cuchulainn.
Until next time,
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NEWS FROM IRELAND
STILL NO GOVERNMENT AFTER IRISH GENERAL ELECTION
It is looking like a second General Electing in Ireland is inevitable as acting-Taoiseach Enda Kenny is struggling to form a new coalition Government.
The numbers simply do not add up for Fine Gael who lost a massive 28 seats in the recent poll. Together with their coalition partners, the Labour Party, the last Government has been reduced in size from a combined total of 115 seats to 57! This is well below the number required for a majority Government (79 seats) and has prompted endless rounds of negotiations with independent T.D's (members of the Irish Parliament) and the various smaller Parties.
Of course Fianna Fail could offer to support a minority Fine Gael Government while still remaining outside of it. They could employ a tactic of keeping a weakened Fine Gael in office, albeit on 'life support', and in the meantime hope that the dissatisfaction with Fine Gael in general and Enda Kenny in particular continues to grow.
A risky strategy, yet the most likely one. The idea that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael will merge or alternatively enter into a grand coalition has all but diminished now, especially given the way that Fianna Fail and their Party leader Michael Martin continue to grow in popularity.
An amazing turnaround by any standard.
One of the main issues that Fianna Fail seem to be focusing on is the water charge. Many smaller left-wing parties made great progress through their campaign to have the hated water charges abolished. But now it seems that Fianna Fail are set to steal their thunder by being the actual Political Party that removes the charge.
Should Fianna Fail make it a pre-condition of any co-operation with Fine Gael that the water charges be scrapped then it will put Fine Gael in a very difficult position. They may indeed hang onto power as a result of allowing the water charges to be scrapped but would have been seriously weakened politically, while their main rivals take all of the credit.
Fine Gael 50 (lost 28 seats)
Labour Party 7 (lost 30 seats)
Fianna Fail 44 (gained 24 seats)
Sinn Fein 23 (gained 9 seats
Other Parties 16
BATTLE FOR MOORE STREET CONTINUES
Moore Street in Dublin city centre is just yards from the General Post Office where Padraig Pearse read the Proclamation in 1916 that was to change Irish history forever.
The rebellion was defeated and much of the city centre destroyed. Initially the Irish public were against the rebels but after the British started to execute the leaders the tide of opinion changed and the die was cast, leading Ireland down a revolutionary road that would eventually lead to full independence.
Moore Street was the location of the final refuge of the fighters from the GPO. It was in Number 16 on this modest, now heavily commercialized street, that the leaders decided to surrender.
Plans by the current Irish Government to demolish certain buildings on the street and then to create a new interpretive centre and exhibition might at first examination appear to be reasonable and even desirable. But the protesters who have waged a campaign for the best part of two decades are not at all impressed.
Although buildings number 14 to 17 have been designated as National Monuments the protesters want buildings 13, 18 and 19 and even more buildings on the street so declared and protected.
One of the protesters is Brona Uí Loing whose grandfather was Gerry Boland, a former justice minister who fought in the Rising along with his brothers Ned and Harry and his sister Kathleen:
'Moore Street is very close to my heart because it is the only place in its original state, so people can see what it looked like in 1916. I would love to be able to bring my two grandchildren to see it and show them where their relatives ran through the building. I want to show them that those men ran through the rooms here to come out the other side and face a barrage of fire.'
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE CONTINUES TO FALL IN IRELAND
The recovery in the Irish economy continues unabated with the news that unemployment has fallen to 8.6%, down from 9.8% in March 2015 and down from over 15% in 2011.
While this statistic represents a quite stunning recovery in terms of those who have regained employment in the Irish economy, it should be tempered by the realization that massive emigration has taken place from Ireland over the last five years.
HUGE GROWTH IN SALES OF IRISH WHISKEY
Such is the popularity of new and established brands of Irish Whiskey that sales have risen by an incredible 200% over the last decade. The recent 'Global Non-Scotch Whiskies Insights Report' has revealed that Irish Whiskey was the fastest-growing spirits category globally between 2009 and 2014.
NEW WORLD RECORD FOR IRELAND: SHEEP-SHEARING
A man from County Donegal has set a new world record for the time it takes to shear a sheep. So prodigious is Ivan Scott in removing the fleece from a sheep that one surprised animal found itself exposed to the Donegal elements within a brisk 37.9 seconds.
Ivan Scott is no stranger to glory in the sheep-shearing world. He has won the all-Ireland championships on no less than eighth occasions! The Guinness Book of Records adjudicator at the record-breaking attempt was Glenn Polard:
'He is clearly a very skilled practitioner and well worth his brand new Guinness World Records title.'
You can view the Video of Ivan in action here:
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DECHTIRE: CHARIOTEER TO THE KING OF ULSTER
Dechtire was the charioteer to her brother, King Concobhar MacNessa of Ulster and is one of those few creatures of Irish mythology who could walk between the Mortal and 'Other' Worlds. She could manage a chariot with great skill on behalf of the King while in battle against his enemies. She was a very powerful and formidable woman.
One day Dechtire assembled fifty maidens and left Ulster without telling the King. The men of Ulster searched for three years but could not find the missing maidens. It was said that the women often took the form of a flock of birds and stripped the land of all vegetation. Dechtire and her companions found a new home for themselves in the land of the faeries. Legend has it that Dechtire was sitting alone one day, drinking from a great goblet, when a tiny fly settled on the rim. She swallowed the fly with her drink, an event that was to have far-reaching consequences!
That night she dreamt that a tall and beautiful man came to her and said that she would bear a son who was to be called Setanta. This vision was of the Sun-God Lugh and since that time it is said that he became the divine father of the mighty Cuchulainn.
The men of Ulster though, had not given up their pursuit and had finally drawn near to the first stronghold where the women were staying. A faery lord, with Dechtire by his side, welcomed them and asked them why they had traveled there. They answered that they were missing fifty maidens for whom they had been searching for three years. Dechtire offered them hospitality while the faery lord invited them in, saying that they would find the missing women inside.
King Concobhar MacNessa immediately claimed his right as the ruling King of Ulster to sleep with his host's woman and so instructed that Dechtire be sent to him in the night, without realizing that she was in fact his very own sister. Dechtire asked for a night's respite, since she was in labor and so Concobhar agreed to sleep alone. In the morning, the infant was found in the folds of his cloak. Dechtire realized it was time to leave the faery lands and returned to Ulster with her brother.
He gave her the charge of bringing up the boy who was named Setanta. He was well trained and educated, and later became known as Cuchulainn, a name he acquired from his boyhood deeds.
Dechtire was an incredible and fearless woman of Irish mythology. Her independence, strength and daring nature were characteristics that were ably demonstrated by her most famous son Cuchulainn, the greatest warrior in the history of Ireland. She fearlessly moved between the mortal realm and that of the Otherworld, and thus had a magical quality that was so great that she attracted no less than the Sun-God Lugh.
GARUMNA ISLAND - THE DAY A CHEF WAS BORN
by Brian DeVon
Connemara has a strange magnetic force about it. When you're there it's hard to summon the energy to leave and when you leave it calls to you and draws you back. Life in Connemara is not an easy ride, it appears to be a barren unforgiving place but its natural wealth is in is super natural life force. A land that should beat you down, elevates you're spirit, lifts your soul and embeds itself in your being like no other place.
Trivia lives on city streets, like a jack in the box popping up its garish painted head to taunt you with the false promises, places where real life takes place confront you with unspoken meaning at every turn. Connemara is just such a place where time spent on life's deeper meaning is not time at all.
My return trip brought me to Garumna Island, one of a group of three small island on Galways coast. It is connected to the mainland by Beal an Daingin Bridge and is some 30 miles from Galway.
Ost na n'Oilean was the bed and breakfast pub that offered us accommodation. It was a very pleasant modern B & B and offered us a true welcome making us feel immediately at home. My BMW motorcycle caused somewhat of a stir with the local kids, who wanted to be photographed sitting aboard and wondered what you'd do with all that power.
'It must go like a rocket Mister' one little character commented. I gave some of them a short spin up and down the coast road, a simple gesture that one of life's highlights for them, thus far!
Having settled in our nice bright cheery room we stopped for a quick beer in the pub. The evening menu was on the bar and we booked in for dinner. There's no such thing as 'one' pint in Ireland of course. So, only to please the barman of course, we had another pint or so.
During the course of the afternoon some altercation took place between the Chef and the owner causing the Chef to throw in his apron and storm off into the sunset, leaving the restaurant chef-less.... he must have been French, is all I can think, they're a temperamental bunch!!
In many a restaurant this would have spelled disaster but not among the resilient folk of Garumna. A local girl who had been helping in the kitchen and with serving came to the rescue and offered to cook the evening meal. A quick simplification of the menu and she was ready to fill the chef's role with style and confidence.
We took our place with a handful of other guests at dinner and were rewarded with a wonderful feast of baked fresh salmon, with local new spuds and vegetables. The girl who cooked, at a mere 16 years old, knew the secret of all fine chefs.... it the quality of the food that makes the meal. She scored a direct hit with her evenings fare and everyone was delighted and impressed by her efforts..... not least the girl herself who basked in the praise 'till evenings end.
Evenings end was a while off by the way, for it would be a mortal sins to deny the barman use of his long honed crafts. We indulged in several fine Irish whiskies and tried to elicit a source of genuine Poitin. Poitin was the local illegal 'moonshine' of Ireland and was reputed to be particularly good in this area.
All knowledge of its making were denied entirely by the barman and other locals we spoke to. 'Sure it's just a legend' was the unanimous view, 'never seen or heard of it in these parts.' We gave up having hit a brick wall. It was indeed late when we made our wobbled way to dreamland.
The following evening, after a day wandering the island, we were treated to another fresh culinary experience from the now resident young chef. A very well presented and flavorful sea food stew with loads of fresh baked brown soda bread. The owner of the B & B and his brothers farmed mussels on the island, so no fresher sea food could be had.
The following morning we eventually rose, once again somewhat fazed, to a beautifully sunny day. Travelling by motorcycle requires you to fine-tune your packing skills, so we quickly gathered our simple supplies and headed down for a hum-dinger of an Irish breakfast. Our young chef was at it again and equaled the success of the previous evening.
Regretfully we set out to load up our saddlebags. When I unsnapped the first one, what was sitting there, wrapped in yesterdays local paper.... a bottle of Poitin!!
What a grand people the Irish are.
Brian DeVon is author of the 'Flavour of Ireland' website at: http://www.flavorofireland.com
GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
||Mo seanathair agus seanmathair
||muh sean-ah-hirr ogg-us shan-wah-hirr
||My Grandfather and Grandmother
||Dearthair, deirfiur, aintín, uncail
||dre-harr, dre-furrh, on-teen, un-kol
||Brother, sister, auntie, uncle
||Mathair, athair, mac, inin
||wah-hirr, ah-hirr, mack, ineen
||Mother, father, son, daughter
View the archive of Irish Phrases here:
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