County Donegal image from free public domain photos of Ireland
IN THIS ISSUE
Popular Articles from Recent Newsletters:
- News from Ireland
- Labhraidh Loingseach - The King with Horse's Ears
- 'Picking The Potatoes' by Marie O'Byrne
- 'The Horned Wome'n by Lady Wilde
- Old Lady's Cruel Treatment - Irish Newspapers Revisited
- O'Mahony Clan 64th Gathering
- Gaelic Phrases of the Month
- Monthly Free Competition Result
Hello again from Ireland where the issue of homelessness and the surge in property prices continues to dominate the national conversation. Truly the legacy of the economic crash of a decade ago is still being felt in Ireland with a shortage of housing certain to put the entire economy at risk once again.
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NEWS FROM IRELAND
IRISH PROPERTY MADNESS CONTINUES
A report detailing the prospects for the Irish economy has suggested that property prices in Ireland will rise by as mush as 10% in 2019.
Hopeful buyers camp out days in advance to buy a house
The incredible increases in recent years show no sign of abating and are a reminder of the years of the 'Celtic Tiger' prior to the disastrous economic crash of 2008-2009. The lack of supply and the consequent price increases have had the knock-on effect of exacerbating the number of people forced into homelessness. Other luckier individuals and even entire families have been housed in temporary accommodation and even in hotels, a situation that is untenable long-term.
Jim Power of Friends First Assurance is the author of the report:
'Ireland needs to increase housing supply as a matter of urgency. That is the only real solution.'
Mr. Power suggested that the lack of housing supply is a serious national challenge and threat and is 'undoubtedly the biggest economic and social issue' facing the country.
'Against a background of limited supply and strong demand, house prices and private rents are rising strongly. National average house prices look set to rise by at least 10% in 2019.'
'Not surprisingly, the debate has started again about the bubble-like properties of the market. The argument about whether it is a bubble or not, is not really the point. The crunch for any market comes when it is hit by a shock, such as the sub-prime crisis back in 2008. If rising house prices have pushed debt levels higher, which is now happening, then the whole market and the economy becomes very vulnerable as was found out a decade ago. Ireland needs to increase housing supply as a matter of urgency.'
NO SIGN OF ANY CHANGE IN OBESITY ATTITUDES
A report by Safefood Ireland has revealed that Irish families spend an average of 7 Euro per week on vegetables but as much as 19 euro per week on sweets, crisps and treats.
Dr. Cliodhna Foley-Nolan pointed out that these numbers are probably on the conservative side as they account for supermarket purchases only and do not include visits to local shops.
'About a fifth of children are getting no fruit and vegetables a day. I think it's got to with the marketing, I think it's got to do with the habits that are being formed, the pretend convenience of a packet of crisps versus a banana. Their systems just can't cope with the over-consumption of this stuff and the under-consumption of proper food.'
A separate study by 'The Lancet' publication showed that one fifth of the world's obese adults live in Ireland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US.
DONEGAL AIRPORT VOTED WORLD'S MOST SCENIC LANDING
Donegal Airport in the very north-western part of Ireland would not be a main transport hub for the thousands of visitors to the country every year. Shannon and Dublin airports ferry in the bulk of travelers while the smaller local airports are most often used for inter-county travel or short hops to the UK.
Views of the Approach to Donegal Airport
Which is a shame really as the small airport in Donegal has just been voted as having the world's most scenic landing! The poll was run by the private jet booking service PrivateFly with Donegal topping the field of 112 airports.
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GALLERY OF IRISH COATS OF ARMS
LABHRAIDH LOINGSEACH - THE KING WITH HORSE'S EARS
note: Labhraidh Loingseach is pronounced 'lao-ree linn-shock'.
Labhraidh Loingseach was a famous High King of Ireland and was the ancestor of the people of Laighin, from whom the Province of Leinster took its name. He was revered as a 'God among the Gods' in early poetry as is most remembered as the King who had horse's ears.
His grandfather was King Lóegaire Lorc who was treacherously killed by his brother Cobthach Cóel Breg, as was his own father Ailill Áine. Such was the incredible nature of the means of shaming in ancient Ireland that the young son who had survived was forced to eat a piece of his own father's and grandfather's hearts, and also to swallow a mouse!
Needless to say, the young child was traumatized by this treatment and became a mute instantly, known thereafter as 'Móen Ollom', meaning 'the mute scholar'. When older he was engaged in a game of hurling when he was injured. He cried out 'I am hurt' and from that time became known as 'Labhraid', meaning 'he speaks'.
The ancient 'Lebor Gabála' recalls that after being exiled for thrifty years Labhraidh Loingseach returned and took his revenge on Cobthach. After a bloody war he hatched a plan and invited Cobhtach to attend his newly built fort at Dind Ríg.
But this was no ordinary fort. It had been specially constructed from iron and had taken years to complete.
Cobthach was suspicious and insisted that Labhraidh's own mother should also enter the great building at the same time that he did, effectively as a hostage.
The trap was set and when the banquet had been consumed the iron fort was shackled with an enormous chain. Escape was impossible.
Piles of trees were stacked against the iron walls. Using 150 huge bellows the iron fort was set alight in a terrible all-consuming flame. Cobtach and all within perished, including Labhraidh's mother, who had implored her son to continue with the plan, sacrificing herself in order to take her own revenge on her husband's murderer.
Labhraidh Loingseach was now the High King of Ireland and became famed for his hospitality and wisdom.
But he still kept a close secret, one that could yet topple his reign. For a King to have any kind of physical impairment in ancient Ireland would surely exclude him from keeping his crown. Incredibly, under his mass of hair he possessed two large horse's ears!
Labhraidh was extremely careful to keep his secret. Every year he would summon a barber to cut and groom his hair and then that barber would be put to death. So it was that those of that profession lived in constant fear of being called to the Court, lest they too should suffer the purpose of a sword.
A widow whose only son was a barber was distraught to learn that her son had been ordered to visit to King for his annual haircut. She begged Labhraidh to spare her son and he was so moved by her impassioned pleas that he agreed that her son would be spared, on strict condition that he kept the royal secret forever.
The deal was struck and the young man carried out his duties, overcame his amazement at finding horse's ears growing from the royal head and gratefully left for home once his duty had been done.
But this was a terrible burden to bear. The young man was deeply troubled by what he had learned and yearned to be free of his obligation. Such was his distress that he fell very ill. A Druid was summoned.
The Druid advised him to go out into a forest, and to find a fine tree and to utter his secret in its fullness to the tree, at which moment he would recover.
If there is one thing Druid's know abut then it is trees so the barber arrived at a forest, selected a fine Willow tree and revealed his amazing tale in that quiet place.
Instantly he felt better. The weight pressing down on his entire body was lifted, his mind cleared and the foggy haze that had clouded his brain was lifted. He gleefully returned home to his mother.
Soon after this time the Harper at the court of King Labhraidh, named Craiftine, was in need of a new Harp. He traveled though every nearby forest until he finally found a tree suitable for his purpose. He had found the same Willow the young barber had told his tale to and from it took a perfect piece of wood he needed.
Over the weeks and months that followed he fashioned the wood into the precise shape he required. Polishing the beautiful Willow again and again he finally affixed the strings to complete the Harp, completing the beautiful instrument in time for a banquet to be held at the Court.
The King summoned Craiftine and ordered him to play. He did as instructed and soon the beautiful musical notes filled the chamber. But there was more than just music emanating from the Harp. There was a repeated phrase being uttered. An incredible and unmistakable chant over and over again:
'Labraid Loingseach has horse's ears. Labraid Loingseach has horse's ears. Labraid Loingseach has horse's ears.'
The Court was dumbstuck. There was silence in anticipation of the Kings response. Craiftine feared the worst, certain that he would be put to death for such an insult.
But even High Kings are mortal, and occasionally humble.
The guilt of murdering a succession of barbers in order to conceal his own secret had weighed heavily on Labhraidh. He parted his hair to reveal the truth. That he did indeed have horses ears! And just as the young barber he had spared was freed from his burden so too was the High King of Ireland freed from his terrible guilt and shame.
He waited for the ridicule and for the laughter to begin. But to his amazement the assembled crowd in the court neither laughed nor jeered. Instead they stood dumbstruck in observance of their King, who was now all the more amazing to them for the fact that he bore horse's ears!
From that time on Labhraidh Loingseach wore his ears in full view. By revealing his true self he had instantly felt better and swore that he would never again repeat his mistake.
And from that time on the barbers of the kingdom could sleep a lot easier. No longer were they afraid of the King with horse's ears.
Read more amazing stories of Irish legends and mythology.
PICKING THE POTATOES
by Marie O'Byrne
Every year in late October we picked potatoes at the Massey farm in Greystones Co. Wicklow, across the road from our home. My four older brothers were of course a very big help in this strenuous and difficult job but my sisters and I rolled up our sleeves and went along too. None of us had to go but I remember the fun and the anticipation of looking forward to this yearly ritual. It was the first job I ever had and I think I started gathering potatoes at the age of about seven. It was without doubt the most repetitive, back breaking work I ever did in my entire life but I loved every minute of it.
We left our small cozy cottage early in the morning after having a big bowl of porridge with hot tea and toast; our mother stayed behind to care for baby John and Deirdre and to prepare the daily meals as usual. We needed gloves to protect our hands while we rummaged in the cold, damp soil to search for the potatoes but we never had any spare gloves in our house. Instead, our mother made sure we all had a pair of old, well worn socks to keep our hands warm. Even though some of the socks had lots of holes in them it was still far better than having no protection at all. If the socks were full of hole's we would just double up by placing another pair on top of the first ones and hope that the holes did not line up and that our fingers were mostly covered.
Before the morning sun came up we closed the back door behind us and walked across the dew covered fields, a few pairs of old socks stuffed in our pockets. We chatted together along the way; our warm breaths left misty patterns in the cold morning air while underfoot the ground felt tough and hard. The brave little wrens and robins on their morning flight chirped away happily as they hungrily scanned the cold ground for breakfast. We arrived in the busy farm-yard and waited for our instructions from old Mr. Massey and his son David.
David usually drove the big blue tractor out to the potato fields and we all sat in the empty wagon at the back on top of a pile of big brown sacks. The fields with their long, evenly tilled rows always had that strong smell of freshly up-turned soil. We were instructed to walk and space ourselves out, two by two, in the rows along the edge of the field with baskets in our hands. Then the day's work began. Bending, crouching and searching in the soil with our hands, shaking off the excess dirt before placing the potatoes into the baskets, no chopped up ones or soft rotten ones were allowed in. At the end of the rows were the big sacks where we all had to empty our pickings.
One day, I remember my brother Paddy who was working the row behind me, could not resist the target that my bottom had presented and he hurled a large, soft rotting potato right in the middle of my rear end making a big squishy sound. The force of this unexpected explosion knocked me over, head first into the dirt and I began to cry as my pants were now all wet and dripping with mushy, rotting potato and my hair was covered with dirt. I couldn't go home to change as it would have taken too much time and I became quite upset. David reprimanded my brother in a loud, serious tone but he had a sneaky grin on his face as he did so. I'm sure it did look quite funny from the back to see me falling over so fast and so ungracefully head first into the dirt.
Sorting, stooping, and picking, sorting, stooping and picking. Hour after hour, row after row, we continued for the rest of the day. Up one row and down the other. Thankfully, we had two breaks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
It was such a pleasure to see Mrs. Massey's head move along by the top of the hedge as she arrived in the field with a large jug of lemonade and a wicker-basket full of her delicious coconut chocolate bars. She always had a flask of hot tea for Mr. Massey in the basket too. She put a cloth down by the edge of the field under the shade of a tall oak tree and began to pour out cups of lemonade for each of us; sweet, chilled homemade lemonade. Combined with her homemade coconut chocolate bars this was a very welcomed, scrumptious treat for us. To this day I still remember the lovely rich taste of the chocolate in those homemade bars. It immediately lifted our spirits and our energy levels; we now felt like we could keep on going.
We did go home for a quick lunch. Mom had soup and bread ready for us out on the table and after a short rest we walked back to the fields, usually by two o'clock. It was a lot warmer during the afternoon shift and the nice cool sea breeze that blew in from the ocean was very welcomed. We were beginning to feel weary and it was getting more difficult but we all managed to make it through until darkness neared.
It was such a good feeling to look out by the edge of the rows and see all the big, brown sacks full to the brim of freshly picked potatoes. The boys lifted the heavy sacks down the field and lined them all up, like short fat soldiers waiting to go to battle. David started up the tractor and they began to lift the full, heavy sacks up onto the wagon and he drove them down to the farm yard for storing. Once we saw the tractor going back and forth we knew our job was almost done. There was a light at the end of the tunnel, or dare I say field!
As we were all leaving the fields for the day, old Mr. Massey would bend down and pick up one last potato. He would turn to us and with a loud voice say "Ah, that's the one I was looking for!" as he held it up in the air and waved it.
Just before it got too dark we all headed back to the farmyard on the back of the tractor to wait for Mr. Massey to come out of the farmhouse with our pay. While we waited for him, I loved to go around and feed the hens and look for eggs hidden in unusual places that might have been missed by Mrs. Massey. Many times I found a stash of cold eggs hidden under a bush or behind a rock and it was so exciting to be able to run in and tell her that I needed the egg basket. The cows were in for milking and my brothers had lifted all the sacks of potatoes up into the loft. Our job was done and the best part of the day was now upon us. Our pay was carefully counted out and placed into our eager little hands, an honest day's pay for an honest day's work.
As the sun was setting behind the Sugar Loaf Mountain, we walked slowly down the back road to our house, feeling completely jaded and covered in dust and dirt from head to toe. Every bone in our young bodies ached. The welcoming lights from the cottage and the smell of the cooked dinner greeted us as we approached the gate. Our dirt covered shoes and socks had to be left outside the back door on the steps as my mother ushered us in and instructed us to wash our hands first in the basin, using the nail brush and the big bar of Carbolic soap. Then we happily changed out of our dirty clothes and sat at the dinner table by the blazing fire.
The part that I remember most though, was what happened next. Each of us, without a second thought, happily gave up all the money we had toiled long and hard all day for, to our mother. She never asked us for the money but with gratitude she accepted it and thanked us and said it would be put away for good use later. Usually she gave us back a penny or two to buy a Flash Bar or a comic book at the local shop but the feeling of accomplishment was immeasurable. We had been able to help her out and that thrilling, good feeling far outweighed the pain and stiffness we felt in our bones and our backs.
As I grew older and wiser I found out that some of that money was put away towards the purchase of Christmas toys for us as buying presents for eleven children was no easy task back then.
We also got to appreciate first hand the back breaking work that our local farmers do each and every day of the year out on their farms providing food for us all.
Marie O'Byrne is author of three Irish Novels available from www.marieobyrne.com.
THE HORNED WOMEN
by Lady Wilde
A rich woman sat up late one night carding and preparing wool, while all the family and servants were asleep. Suddenly a knock was given at the door, and a voice called--'Open! open!'
'Who is there?' said the woman of the house.
'I am the Witch of the one Horn,' was answered.
The mistress, supposing that one of her neighbours had called and required assistance, opened the door, and a woman entered, having in her hand a pair of wool carders, and bearing a horn on her forehead, as if growing there. She sat down by the fire in silence, and began to card the wool with violent haste. Suddenly she paused, and said aloud: 'Where are the women? they delay too long.'
Then a second knock came to the door, and a voice called as before, 'Open! open!'
The mistress felt herself constrained to rise and open to the call, and immediately a second witch entered, having two horns on her forehead, and in her hand a wheel for spinning wool.
'Give me place,' she said, 'I am the Witch of the two Horns,' and she began to spin as quick as lightning.
And so the knocks went on, and the call was heard, and the witches entered, until at last twelve women sat round the fire--the first with one horn, the last with twelve horns.
And they carded the thread, and turned their spinning wheels, and wound and wove.
All singing together an ancient rhyme, but no word did they speak to the mistress of the house. Strange to hear, and frightful to look upon, were these twelve women, with their horns and their wheels; and the mistress felt near to death, and she tried to rise that she might call for help, but she could not move, nor could she utter a word or a cry, for the spell of the witches was upon her.
Then one of them called to her in Irish, and said:
'Rise, woman, and make us a cake.'
Then the mistress searched for a vessel to bring water from the well that she might mix the meal and make the cake, but she could find none.
And they said to her, 'Take a sieve and bring water in it.'
And she took the sieve and went to the well; but the water poured from it, and she could fetch none for the cake, and she sat down by the well and wept.
Then a voice came by her and said, 'Take yellow clay and moss, and bind them together, and plaster the sieve so that it will hold.'
This she did, and the sieve held water for the cake; and the voice said again--
'Return, and when thou comest to the north angle of the house, cry aloud three times and say, 'The mountain of the Fenian women and the sky over it is all on fire'.'
And she did so.
When the witches inside heard the call, a great and terrible cry broke from their lips, and they rushed forth with wild lamentations and shrieks, and fled away to Slievenamon, 1 where was their chief abode. But the Spirit of the Well bade the mistress of the house to enter and prepare her home against the enchantments of witches if they returned again.
And first, to break their spells, she sprinkled the water in which she had washed her child's feet (the feet-water) outside the door on the threshold; secondly, she took the cake which the witches had made in her absence of meal mixed with the blood drawn from the sleeping family, and she broke the cake in bits, and placed a bit in the mouth of each sleeper, and they were restored; and she took the cloth they had woven and placed it half in and half out of the chest with the padlock; and lastly, she secured the door with a great crossbeam fastened in the jambs, so that they could not enter, and having done these things she waited.
Not long were the witches in coming back, and they raged and called for vengeance.
'Open! open!' they screamed, 'open, feet-water!'
'I cannot,' said the feet-water, 'I am scattered on the ground, and my path is down to the Lough.'
'Open, open, wood and trees and beam!' they cried to the door.
'I cannot,' said the door, 'for the beam is fixed in the jambs and I have no power to move.'
'Open, open, cake that we have made and mingled with blood!' they cried again.
'I cannot,' said the cake, 'for I am broken and bruised, and my blood is on the lips of the sleeping children.'
Then the witches rushed through the air with great cries, and fled back to Slievenamon, uttering strange curses on the Spirit of the Well, who had wished their ruin; but the woman and the house were left in peace, and a mantle dropped by one of the witches in her flight was kept hung up by the mistress as a sign of the night's awful contest; and this mantle was in possession of the same family from generation to generation for five hundred years after.
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IRISH NEWSPAPERS REVISITED
note: The Irish War of Independence, 1919-1921 was a guerilla war fought
between the Irish Republican Army and the British occupying forces.
Raids to steal weapons were commonplace.
OLD LADY'S CRUEL TREATMENT
The Irish Times, 22 November 1919
At a special Crimes Court, held in Nenagh on Friday, before Mr. Hume E. Jones, R.M., Adare (presiding) and Major Brodin, R.M., Birr, Denis Cleary, Timothy Kelly, Patrick Grace, Martin Loughnane, John Aherne, William Herbert, Martin Barry, and John Carroll were charged with raiding the residence of of Miss Minnett, Annaghbeg, County Tipperary, for the purpose of obtaining arms and ammunition.
On the arrival of the prisoners, the crowd surged around the motor lorry, several charges were made by the police, who used the butt end of their carbines and batons freely on the crowd, amongst whom were a number of women and children. When in the dock the accused lit cigarettes, which had been passed to them by friends, and only with reluctance did they desist from smoking.
Miss Anna Minnett stated that on the evening of the 21st October she was at home, and the other resident in the house was Humphrey Dwyer, her nephew ; the two were in the diningroom ; that was about nine o'clock.
She heard a rush of feet into the hall from the front door, which was always open. After they rushed into the room, one man said 'Hands up!'
She was sitting at the fire, and her nephew at the table ; the men ranged themselves around the table. The men then levelled revolvers at them, and demanded rifles ; she said: 'I cannot give you arms.'
Two men then proceeded to tie up Mr. Dyer [sic], who was covered with a revolver all the time. They also tied her up. She was suffering at the time, and was still, from rheumatism, and after being tied she could not even sit down. Her arms were tied down to her side. She told them that that they were silly to tie up and old woman of 73, who was lame. She said that she was tired and wanted to sit down, and to untie her, which they did.
She had one double-barreled gun and a small rook rifle in the house before the men came in. After they left she found that these were missing, as were also a number of rounds of ammunition from the rook rifle. The latter was on a table with the gun in a room. Timothy Heffernan gave evidence to having been instructed by William Herbert to be at Miss Minnett's gate at a certain hour. Witness gave details of the raid, and to seeing Timothy Kelly bring out two guns.
The accused were sentenced to six months' each, the Chairman remarking that that was the maximum sentence that they could inflict, and that they did not see their way to make any difference between the accused.
The accused cheered and sang songs on the sentence being announced, and a baton charge took place outside the court.
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O'MAHONY CLAN 64TH GATHERING
The O'Mahony Clan, a powerful Irish sept whose Chieftains were often regarded as Princes, will gather from Friday 22 June to Monday 25 June 2018.
A Meet and Greet on Friday evening at Coolcower House, Macroom, Co Cork is followed on Saturday morning with Genealogy and DNA sessions for all.
Since 1955 this clan has held an Annual Gathering in Ireland on the Sunday in June, closest to the Summer Solstice, at one of their traditional clan sites. This year the O’Mahony Gathering on Sunday 24 June at 3pm will be at Ringfort Rath Rathleann (Gurranes, Templemartin) near Bandon, Co Cork.
A BYO picnic starting at 1.30pm will precede Sunday's gathering. The Kanturk 'Wildboar Warriors' will entertain with a Medieval battle display, a demonstration of swordplay and archery, and varieties of birds of prey for viewing.
Apart from the Annual Gathering in Ireland the clan diaspora in Australia and the USA will hold Get-Togethers this year to also celebrate their clan and its proud Irish Heritage:
Sunday 3 June 2018 in East Fremantle, WA, Australia
Friday 5 October – Sunday 7 October 2018 in Manassas, Virginia, USA
O'Mahonys and All are invited to be part of these Clan events. See omahonysociety.com for full details.
GAELIC PHRASES OF THE MONTH
||Líon mé. Níor líon mé.
||leen may. neer leen may.
||I filled. I didn't fill.
||Rug mé. Níor rug mé.
||rug may. neer rug may.
||I caught. I didn't catch.
||Rinne mé. Ní dhearna mé.
||rinn-ih may. nee yarna may.
||I made. I didn't make.
View the Archive of Irish 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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