Hello again from Ireland where this month we learn about the fastest man in Ireland - so fast in fact that he could traverse the entirety of Ireland in but a few moments!
2017 is the 90th anniversary of the founding of the ESB and so John B. McCabe's tale of the electrification of the Irish countryside is particularly apt.
If you have an article or story you would like to share then please do send it in.
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NEWS FROM IRELAND
AMAZING DISCOVERY AT 4000 YEAR OLD TOMB
BOOST FOR MAINSTREAM PARTIES IN LATEST OPINION POLLS
Fine Gael and Fianna Fail were the big winners in the latest round of opinion polls, with the Government Party up to 32% and Fianna Fail on 29%. Sinn Fein on 14% are the nearest left-leaning Party to the leading group with the Labour Party on 5% and Independents on 12%.
The poll also revealed that as many as 76% of the electorate would like to see Michael D. Higgins return for a second term in the largely ceremonial role as President.
MASSIVE 17K JUMP IN HOUSE PRICES IN 3 MONTHS
The surge in the cost of housing in Ireland continues to accelerate with the average cost of a 2-bedrooom semi-detached property in Dublin rising by as much as 17,000 Euro in the third quarter of the year. A typical property of this kind now costs 431,500 Euro in Dublin (approx 513,000 US$). House price inflation in Dublin is running at over 15% over the last year. This is an incredible and unsustainable level of increase.
As Ireland continues to march along the 13-Step Plan for Ruination it seems that the lessons of the past are being largely ignored by the body politic in favor of short term opinion polls and the pursuit of narrow self-serving agendas.
The crisis in the rental sector has played a large part in the massive price increases and it is clear that until the supply of housing is increased that the 'Celtic-Tiger' era price hikes will continue.
90 YEARS SINCE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE ESB
The Electricity Supply Board (ESB) in Ireland was set up in 1927 and installed the first fully integrated national electricity network in the world. Two of the major component of the network were the 'Rural Electrification Scheme' and the 'Shannon Scheme', both of which played a major part in providing electricity to the remoter parts of Ireland.
View the Old News Coverage of the Rural Electrification of Ireland:
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FIND YOUR NAME IN OUR GALLERY OF IRISH COATS OF ARMS
Caílte MacRónáin was a nephew of the mighty Fionn MacCumhail and was one of the most famous members of the Fianna, the greatest band of warriors in Irish mythology.
He was renowned for his incredible speed. So fast was Caílte in fact, that he could traverse the entire island of Ireland in a matter of moments. He was also one of the most important characters to survive the mythological age to such an extent that he even related stories of old Ireland to Saint Patrick in the fifth century.
One story of Caílte tells how the Fianna were accosted by a hag when traveling the countryside. The old hag threatened them, refused to let them pass and demanded that they race her, further warning that if she defeated them then they would pay with the lives.
Clearly this was a job for Caílte MacRónáin!
Despite the hag possessing fantastic speed in her own right, she was no match for Caílte who defeated her in the race and separated her head from her shoulders for her impudence.
But this was not the only occasion that Caílte came to the aid of his uncle, the mighty Fionn MacCumhail.
When he heard that Fionn had been taken hostage by a King in order to prevent a rebellion by the Fianna he was furious. He rampaged throughout the countryside, destroying dwellings, burning fields and separating families, such was his rage.
When he approached the Kings castle at Tara he disguised himself as a servant and again used his speed to replace the Kings sword with his own sword, that was by now nearly useless and worn as thin as a blade of grass due to his recent furious combat.
When he revealed himself to the King he demanded that Fionn be released. The King thought for a moment for a way that he may buy some time, to allow for the looming rebellion to fizzle out.
So he set Caílte a task. He demanded that Caílte gather a male and female of every type of living animal in Ireland, and that they be presented to the King in a single drove. Only then would Fionn be released.
Such a task was utterly impossible for all but the fastest man in Ireland. Caílte sped around the countryside at lightning speed, assembling the animals into a group, circling them repeatedly so they could not escape. But escape they did with Caílte having tremendous difficulty keeping the birds and land animals in the same place.
It took him the full day but he arrived back at Tara and presented the animals to the King. Still seeking more time the King ordered that the animals be housed in a hut that had nine doors and that he would inspect them the following morning.
The animals were even more agitated with being confined in such a small place so again Caílte used his incredible speed to circle the hut for the entire night, keeping the animals in place despite their attempts to escape.
When morning arrived the animals were again put before the King. Such was the noise generated by the captive creatures that the assembly became known as 'Caílte's Rabble'.
The King released Fionn immediately at which point the animals scattered again to the corners of Ireland.
Another tale tells of a King of Ireland and how he insisted that a handful of sand from the four corners of Ireland be brought to him every morning. He would then smell the sand and know if foreign invaders had landed.
There were three who offered to complete the task. The first man said that he could complete the task as quickly as a leaf falls from a tree. The second as quickly as a cat sneaks between dwellings.
But Caílte had the right answer. He said that he could complete the task as quickly as a woman changed her mind!
The King laughed heartily and was so impressed with this answer that he immediately granted the task to Caílte.
Caílte smiled back at the King and held out his hand. He then set four piles of sand onto a table. While the King had been laughing Caílte had already completed the task, such was his incredible speed!
In his older years Caílte and Oisin both travelled Ireland with the newly arrived Saint Patrick.
They regaled Patrick with tales of Fionn MacCumhail and of the other fantastic characters of old Ireland. These were among the moments when the new world of Christian Ireland would overtake the age of the legends and myths of heroes and villains.
It was said that Caílte and Oisin became very bitter about the passing of this era, with the glories of the past fading away.
In the poem 'The Lamentation of Oisin after the Fenians' their feeling are laid bare:
I am without mirth, without the chase, without music,
Amidst the monks and clerics.
Ever groaning and tearfully weeping,
Begging the shelter of the mean clergy...
Oft have I seen one feast alone
In the dwelling of the King of the Fenians,
Better than all that Patrick ever had
Or the whole body of the psalm-clerics.
And so it was that Caílte MacRónáin lived to see the very end days of the Irish mythic era. But not before his legendary speed had marked him as the fastest man in all Ireland.
by John B. McCabe
Dear Michael, Enclosed find new article for your newsletter.
In America the Electricity has been around for a
long time. We owe it to the great inventor Thomas
Alva Edison. In Ireland we have harnessed the
waterways and have caught up with the rest of the
However in the 1950's many parts of the country
had no electricity. The 'Rural Electrification
Scheme' was initiated in the late nineteen
fifties. Our home was connected in 1959. The
enclosed article recounts the excitement of that
Hope this article evokes many memories for your
Some moments are burned into the soul and remain
as permanent reference points for a life time.
They are as great watersheds between distinct
periods of evolution where nothing will ever be
the same again. Such was the summer of nineteen
fifty nine which saw the arrival of the rural
electrification scheme to south Monaghan.
debates were held about the advantages and costs
involved in being connected up and many an
argument raged among the townlands about whether
or not to 'take the electricity'. My father who
lived with a terrible fear of penury, a nervous
disposition which left him indecisive and prone
to forebodings of imminent disasters, advised
against it. The expense was too much and he
firmly believed that once people were lured into
acceptance by the initial low cost attraction
the price would soar and 'drive us out of house
Mammy was more optimistic and her determination
and pride which would not allow us to be 'behind
the times' won the day. She took the matter into
her own hands and rode her bicycle all the way to
Ballybay where she engaged an electrician to wire
the house and be ready for connection when the
power lines were switched on.
It was a scorching summer and longer than any I
had ever remembered. Meteorological records can
easily prove otherwise but for me it was the first
summer of real awareness, of excitement, of new
beginnings and so much was happening that year
that it seemed like I had never been alive before
or else had stepped over an unseen border into a
more vibrant world.
Men came and put down marking pegs along the
roadside verges and at intervals across the fields
to indicate where holes were to be dug for the
poles. Soon the countryside was littered with
mounds of clay as if enormous rabbits had scooped
out giant burrows in the night.
All was not throbbing with the pulse of progress.
The rabbits had bred like wildfire in the previous
months and populated the area in plague
proportions, destroying crops, cratering the
fields and fouling the pastures with millions of
Myxomatosis was introduced to eradicate the rabbit
population with devastating consequences. The
disease caused horrible swelling in the head and
eyes of these animals and they wandered stupidly
to their death, sometimes killed in their hundreds
on the road way. We watched these pitiable
creatures with their gigantic death laden eyes
huddled in their dying thousands in every field
and country laneway.
The electricity board had delivered supplies of
pylons, stacked in groups of five or six at
strategic intervals along the road. The scorching
sun raised blisters of oozing tar from their pores.
Nineteen fifty nine forever in my mind recalls the
smell of melting tar and the feted stench of
decomposing rabbits on the road.
A new craze took hold of every boy in our area that
year. The magic of digging holes, erecting pylons,
coupled with the giddy adventure of being an
overhead linesman caught the imagination.
Everywhere on farms holes were dug, strings strung
from tree to tree and old lids and polish boxes
improvised as switches.
My mother was none too pleased when my brother and
I paused from our exertions of digging yet another
great hole and tore our vests so we could more
accurately mimic the sweating workers with their
manly chests exposed to the sun.
When at last the power was switched on we were
high with excitement and my father warned us of
the dangers of electrocution. 'It's no toy to be
tampered with', he said, as we argued which of us
should switch on the light. Eventually we took it
in turns to do so, night about, until it had lost
I have always been amazed at how important changes
within ourselves happen so unconsciously that we
are never aware of the small day to day
developments. Growing up, growing old, growing
tall or growing fat - these are not observed in
the gradual daily progress which is too small to
measure but in relation to other objects, people
or environments. The phenomenological reference for
my growing up pertains to that simple exercise of
putting on the light. Initially I had to stand on
a chair, later on tip-toes and later again it was
but a hand stretch away. I have much cause to
wonder at the many other changes which have
happened to me as imperceptibly but equally
dramatically as the process of growing up.
The following year the Shankill power lines were
begun. This was a new development linking two
generating stations and brought new drama to my
Huge steel giants strode across the hills,
towering over the tallest trees, marching through
swamps and straddling ditches. They carried heavy
power lines that hissed and sizzled in the frost.
I had broken my wrist that year and I remember
standing outside the back of our house watching
these pylons being erected. They were planted in
a concrete base and built piece by piece until the
two great arms branched out to carry the top
section. The one in our field was nearly eighty
feet tall and it stood there begging to be
climbed. And climbed it was! My brother did it -
I only went up as far as the arms. He had a better
head for heights than me and up he went until he
was a small dark speck - ten years old and
dangling his feet from the triangular corner with
nothing beneath him but the certainty of death.
He got down safely and I have nightmares to this
day to prove it happened.
One Sunday we conquered a smaller pylon on
Trainor's Hill and my uncle bellowed from half a
mile away to 'come down ou'are that before yiz get
kilt'. His grammar was off but his concern was
The giants are still standing and hissing at the
sky - ugly and un-magical, monuments to a blind
progress which so disfigures the beauty of the
'Battle of Saunders' Fort' - the eviction of Thomas Saunders, one of Lord Clanricarde's tenants, Woodford, Galway, August 1886.
Four tenants on the Clanricarde estate were evicted in August 1886 for failure to pay rent.
Thomas Saunders, who had built his house at a cost of 200 pounds, barricaded his property, locals tore up the roads and bridges, felled trees across the roads so the military would have difficulty passing. Tenants fought with sticks, stones, gaffs, lime, boiling water and bee hives. Saunders assisted by 22 men held out for two days. The sheriff retreated but returned a week later with scaling ladders and a force of 200 (or 500) men. Twenty two men were arrested.
'To evict these four men the whole available forces of the Crown in Galway were employed from Thursday the 19th of August to Friday the 27th. Seven hundred policemen and soldiers were present to protect the emergency men who carried out the evictions, and sixty peasants were taken to Galway gaol.
The winner was: Hmoconnell71@yahoo.com
who will receive the following:
A Single Family Crest Print (usually US$24.99)
Send us an email to claim your print, and well done!
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I hope that you have enjoyed this issue!
by Michael Green,
The Information about Ireland Site.
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