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-Edmund Burke

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Garden GateFáilte
Welcome to Irish Culture and Customs, a labor of love we began several years ago. What started as a surprise milestone birthday trip to Ireland became the beginning of a journey through time. A 2,000-year voyage on a quest to learn as much as we can about everything Irish. So here's where we are so far - more than 700 pages that range from Irish poetry, superstitions , Kids Stories and recipes to specific Irish calendar celebrations such as St. Patrick's Day , Beltane, Samhain and the Feast of St. Brigid. Whether it's an Irish symbol such as the shillelagh, the Shamrock and the Book of Kells or an Irish craft like Aran Isle knitting, you'll discover a wide range of topics in our index. We hope you find the little bit of Ireland you may be looking for and we encourage you to share what you discover with your loved ones on your family website, blog, or social network.

Today's Irish headlines
We comb the newspapers and web sites to find news to start your day with a positive spin. In this section you will also find links to stories from the past two weeks as well as links to the major Irish newspapers, the current time in Ireland and a link to the weather forecast.

The Ould Lammas Fair
by Bridget Haggerty

The Ould Lammas Fair takes place in Ballycastle, Co. Antrim on the last Monday and Tuesday in August. It's one of the oldest fairs in Ireland and has been held without interruption for more than three centuries.

It once took place at Dunanyie Head, now known as Castle Point. Some say that it started out as a sheep market, others that it originated when Sorley Boy MacDonnell ordered a celebration for his nephew. Either way it grew and migrated to Ballycastle. Whether or not today's event is because Sorley Boy ordered it up, Lammastide celebrations have a long history in Ireland.


The Galway International Oyster Festival - a joyous celebration of a native aristocrat
by Bridget Haggerty

Co. Galway is very fortunate to have the best oyster beds in Ireland. In the unpolluted waters of Brady Bay and Clarenbridge, the oysters lie waiting to be harvested at the beginning of the oyster season on September 1st.

This aristocrat of the sea is generally about three years old, and has been maturing and fattening - ready for its first - and last - encounter with the locals and tourists. Paired up with homemade brown bread and washed down with pints of Guinness, Galway oysters are a gourmet treat not to be missed - especially during the annual festivals in Clarenbridge and Galway City.


The Clarenbridge Oyster Festival
by Bridget Haggerty

Co. Galway has the best oyster beds in Ireland. In the unpolluted waters of Brady Bay and Clarenbridge, the oysters lie waiting to be harvested at the beginning of the oyster season on September 1st.

This aristocrat of the sea is generally about three years old, and has been maturing and fattening - ready for its first - and last - encounter with the locals and tourists. Paired up with homemade brown bread and washed down with pints of Guinness, Galway oysters are a gourmet treat not to be missed - especially during the annual festivals in Clarenbridge and Galway City.


Emblems of Ireland:The Book of Kells
by Michael Carroll

Almost as synonymous with the Emerald Isle as St. Patrick and the Shamrock, The Book of Kells is probably the most famous example of medieval illumination and calligraphy still in existence. Guest author, Michael Carroll, has uncovered some fascinating facts about this national treasure. For example, did you know that the book was written and decorated not by one hand, but several?
Scholars have detected the work of at least three different artists, who may or may not have been the calligraphers as well. Subtle variation in the lettering reveals something of the personality of each individual scribe. One seems to have preferred rounded letterforms written in a dignified hand, while another left evidence of his extroverted nature in his use of brilliant red ink and flamboyant pen flourishes.


A Taste of Ireland: Guinness - For Strength!
by Bridget Haggerty

Peter O’ Toole was once asked what was his favorite Irish food: “My number one choice is Guinness. My number two choice would be Guinness. My number three choice would have to be Guinness.” While there are other stouts brewed in Ireland, including Beamish and Murphys, Mr. O’Toole’s choice is shared by seven out of ten Irish drinkers — and probably an equivalent ratio of stout drinkers throughout the world.

Who could have anticipated how important it was to become when, in 1759, Arthur Guinness took over the lease of an abandoned brewery just outside the city walls of Dublin at St. James’ Gate. Arthur followed the fashion of the times and started out by brewing malty, reddish ales. But, within a decade, he introduced a different kind of beer which would eventually win over the taste of his countrymen and eclipse the dark beers of England.


Making a Match in Lisdoonvarna

Matchmaking is one of Ireland's oldest traditions and, for the last couple of hundred years, a good deal of it has taken place in Lisdoonvarna during September and early October.

The name Lisdoonvarna comes from 'Lios Duin Bhearna', which means the lios or enclosure of the fort in the gap. The town developed into a tourist centre as early as the middle of the 18th-century when a top Limerick surgeon discovered the beneficial effects of its mineral waters. People travelled from near and far to bathe in, and drink, the mineral waters. Rich in iron, sulphur and magnesium, the waters gave relief from the symptoms of certain diseases including rheumatism and glandular fever.


The Irish Kitchen: Irishh Oyster Recipes
Contributed by Hartson Dowd

In honour of the annual Oyster Festivals in Galway, our Irish Kitchen offers tempting recipes contributed by our resident recipe collector, Hartson Dowd. We like our oysters raw on the half-shell with a dash of lemon and hot sauce - but we are equally as fond of these tender mollusks fried, sautéed, or simmered in stews.
Photo Credit: Old Recipe Book


Basic Irish: - Back to School.
It is that time of the year once more. When the parents are eager for school to begin and the children would rather not, thank you very much. This lesson focuses on words and phrases related to education and which now includes additions and modifications.


Kids' Ireland: The Salmon of Knowledge
by Grainne Rowlan

"I got him! I got the Salmon of Knowledge!" yelled Finegas, dancing up and down for joy.

Finn came running when he heard his master shout. The Salmon of Knowledge! Finegas had been fishing in the Boyne River for years and years. His only dream had been to catch this well-known fish. Whoever ate THIS salmon would gain all the knowledge in the world! Finn knew now that old Finegas could die happily.


Music Review: Ronan Browne - Truly an artist for all time
by William Ramoutar
It’s been a while, but do you remember where you were when you heard the Eurovision interlude put together for the 1994 contest to advertise Dublin and of course the rest of Ireland? Do you remember? Well I have to say it blew this lad off his feet. The phenomenon was of course Riverdance. That was the name of the tune and it grew from a seven minute showcase of the country into three shows travelling the world and but for a few things that have happened since, it has left the world stage. But in my estimation, that is only temporary. They will be back.
You remember it started off with the wonderful a cappella group Anúna with ethereal voices washing over you, then the drums, well at that time tom toms, but shortly after of course it was a few lads with drums that had been designed for the show. Of course then the uilleann pipes opened up and the remarkable Ronan Browne played them with such fire and passion that they were catapulted into the limelight like they never had been before.


We receive many lovely letters from visitors to our web site and subscribers to our newsletter. As we’re fond of saying, your feedback helps to make all of the time and effort worth while. While we have a Readers Write Page where we post comments from time to time, we’ve decided to also select a Letter - one that, for whatever reason, tickled our fancy.

This past spring I went to Ireland with my son and his wife & her family. What a wonderful experience - way too short a time. I would have loved to sit and plan my days in a much more leisurely fashion but what we saw was all too wonderful This was my first time there - did a bit of checking on my grandmother's birth place: Roscommon. I would so love to return.

Thank you for this opportunity to be a part of your wonderful home page. Thank you, too, for "Irish Culture & Customs" - it gives us the chance to know more about Ireland and its people.

Bonnie Hirschler
Photo Caption: This is Bonnie and her son Michael Hirschler at the Cliffs of Moher.

ED. NOTE: When we asked Bonnie to send us a photo, she very kindly sent us two. We choose the one of her and her son at the Cliffs of Moher because it is such an iconic image of Ireland and one that is immediately recognizable. Standing more than 500 feet at the highest point and ranging for for nerly five miles over the Atlantic Ocean, on a clear day one can see the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, as well as The Twelve Pins, the Maum Turk Mountains in Connemara and Loop Head to the South. The cliffs take their name from a ruined promontory fort “Mothar” which was demolished during the Napoleonic wars to make room for a signal tower

Live Music from Mayo

A link to the internet service from Midwest Radio out of Mayo. Broadcasting from their state of the art studios; Midwest Irish Radio plays nothing but the best Irish music. No matter where you are in the world, you are never too far from Ireland when you listen in.
Click here for: Irish Midwest radio.

Shop for the best of Irish products from the comfort of your home

We combed the internet to find reliable resources for the most popular Irish products: Aran Isle sweaters, Guinness glasses, Waterford Crystal, genuine blackthorn walking sticks, the flag of the Republic and more. Some of these shops have become friends; others we trust from their reputations and some offer products that are completely unique. We hope you enjoy browsing through what's on offer and we are confident you will find gifts for any occasion or person, all with an Irish flair.


Did you get your Newsletter?

We try to send one out once or twice a month. If you aren't receiving it, something is wrong. Let us know and we'll try to solve the problem. Note: subscribers are automatically deleted from the data base if the newsletter bounces back multiple times. Full or disabled mailboxes will also cause a subscription to be cancelled. If you have any questions, please contact Bridget.


Fri, Aug 28, 2015

The Islands

There are hundreds of islands around the Irish coast. Achill is the biggest, the Arans the most romantic; Skellig Michael the most dramatic and Tory the most menacing - at least in legend. The Blaskets offer the most fertile ground for literature and Clare island is the most meticulously studied. But, whichever island you may visit, you can be sure each of them has its own superlative. For example, Little Skellig off St. Finian's Bay in Co. Kerry, is known for its gigantic colony of white seabirds called gannets.
Content edited and adapted from the book "Ireland - Atmosphere & Impressions" by Dr. Christopher Moriarty.
Photo Credits:
Gannets from Skellig Experience
Skellig Archway from Travel Publishing

Click for More Culture Corner.

Sunday Blessing

A Back to School Blessing

May all your answers be always right.
May all your teachers be the best.
May too much homework not spoil your night.
May you score a hundred on every test.
May you study hard and learn a lot.
May you grow in wisdom, yet learn to rest.
For while the days pass slowly when you're young,
In no time at all, it will be summer again.
Adapted and edited from an original blessing by Fr. Andrew M. Greeley
Photo Credit: Hey, We're In Ireland

Weekly Quote

Your little brother came home from school yesterday crying. All the boys at his school got new suits, but we can't afford to buy him one. Instead we're going to buy him a new hat and just let him look out the window.
(Excerpted from an Irish mother's letter to her son)
Photo Credit: FilmSquish

This new set is USA & Canada playable and includes a bonus 4-disc stand up collection. Includes all 7 parts and bonus material. These are specially formatted discs and are compatible for "All Regions". Free shipping! For more details, please click Mrs Brown's Boys


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March 4, 2011
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