"People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors."
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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.
And last, but not least, once a month, we gather bits and bobs from all 32 counties. The current edition of the Regional County News is for May 2013.
Trivia Think you're Irish? This is our monthly trivia contest which is designed to test your knowledge of Irish history, legends, superstitions, arts, politics and more.
The contest for May is posted! Spring is here (or, at least, not far away) Have fun!
Just want entertaining facts about Ireland?
Then click here for Did you Know?
The Book: Potion, Pope & Perfidy
by R. Eoghan Haggerty
All right, why is this on Irish Culture and Customs? It's not about Ireland and it's not about the Irish. Well, it is Irish-ish; there's an Irish detective visiting his Irish sister in Cincinnati, Ohio and there's an Irish monk and his Irish cat but in the monk's day he lived in Hibernia.
Then, it is a good story and anyone with even a little Irish blood loves a good story.
Beside all that, I wrote it and since I'm the webmaster for Irish Culture and Customs I think I should get some other benefits.
To read the beginning and buy the book, please click Amazon.
Whitsuntide in old Ireland
by Bridget Haggerty
In contrast to Easter Sunday, which was considered a very lucky day, Whit Sunday was quite the opposite. All precautions were taken against accident or ill-fortune and very few people would set out on a journey or risk doing anything dangerous - particularly if it involved water.
Water was completely avoided, for it was thought that the danger of drowning was very great. People didn't bathe or go swimming; the fishing and sailing boats were left idle; and it was considered very foolish to even walk along the edge of the sea, river or lake. The reason for this was based on an old superstition that all of those who had perished in that water rose up on Whit Sunday to try and persuade or force the living to join them. If that gives you goose bumps, it gets even grimmer.
St. Brendan,The Navigator
by Bridget Haggerty
Also known as Brandan and Borodon, Brendan was born about 484 A.D. near Tralee in County Kerry. He was ordained by Bishop Erc and sailed around northwest Europe spreading the Christian faith and founding monasteries the largest at Clonfert, County Galway. Legend says that the community had at least three thousand monks their rule dictated to Brendan by an angel. He died at the age of 93 and he was buried at the monastery in 577 A.D.
Brendan and his brothers figure prominently in Brendan's Voyage, a tale of monks travelling the high seas of the Atlantic, evangelizing to the islands, and possibly reaching the Americas in the 6th century. At one point they stop on a small island, celebrate Easter Mass, light a fire - and then discover the island is an enormous whale!
Marry in May and Rue the Day
by Bridget Haggerty
When I told our daughter about this old Irish verse, she changed her wedding date from May to April: Marry in April if you can, joy for maiden and for man.
I am convinced that if couples make the effort, they can have a totally Irish celebration from beginning to end - even to the pre-wedding parties. There's one quaint custom where the groom was invited to the bride's house right before the wedding and they cooked a goose in his honor. It was called Aitin' the gander and it has to be where we get the expression "his goose is cooked!" We threw one of these dinner parties for our daughter and everyone had a great time. (The apple-potato stuffing has become a family favorite!).
The Bright Flames of May
by Cormac MacConnell
It was a May Day that I remember well, a long time ago now, and I was wearing a pair of short trousers and the warm wood of the First Class desk was warm against the backs of my thighs and the Mahon twins were standing in front of the teacher, Miss Rooney. Oona was in floods of tears. Hughie was defiant, arms folded across his small gansied chest, but the tears were not too far away either. In between huge sucking kind of sobs Oona was looking deeply into her mothers cloth shopping bag.
To me it seemed to be filled with wadded pages of the local newspaper, The Fermanagh Herald, but everybody in the class already knew what was down in there and the terrible thing that had happened ten minutes earlier at Keenans Cross beside the school.
The Irish Soldiers in the American Civil War
by Bridget Haggerty
His cavalry is numerous but cant ride and his infantry, except the Irish, cant fight. Confederate Col. E. P. Alexander commenting on the Union forces.
It is estimated that approximately 360,000 Union soldiers died as a direct result of the war. The Confederacy lost 133,000 dead. Many more soldiers were wounded; some maimed for life. One source has said that one in nine who served were either Irish born, or of Irish descent. Based on these numbers, nearly 50,000 Irish soldiers gave their lives in battle, and countless others were injured.
About 190,000 Irishmen contributed to both sides of the cause. It is estimated that 150,000 served on the side of the Union and that about 40,000 served the Confederacy. After the conflict was over, more than 130 Irish soldiers had been awarded the Medal of Honor.
The Irish Soldiers in WWI
by Bridget Haggerty
My dad fought in Africa during WWI. I know very little of his experience as he preferred not to talk about it. What I do know is that he lied about his age in order to enlist, that his boots rotted off his feet in the trenches and that he contracted malaria - a condition which was to afflict him for the rest of his life.
It's possible that he was reluctant to discuss his role as an Irish soldier in the British army because he was from Galway and on his return home, he may have been treated as a traitor. In my own time, I remember how returning vets who fought in Vietnam were vilified by protesters. In any event, I'll never know how my father fared, but it's interesting to note that just a few years after the war, he left Ireland and never went back.
The Irish Kitchen: Traditional Irish Nettle Soup
Edited & adapted by Bridget Haggerty
"Eat Nettle Soup three times in May,
And For a year keep rheumatics away."
According to the old folklore, just three bowls of Nettle Soup eaten within the month of May would prevent the aches and pains of rheumatism for an entire year. This would have been of great interest to Irish monks as this nourishing dish was a part of their diet as far back as the 6th century. Did they know that it would help ease the stiffness in the knees when bent in prayer? Or soothe a back made to ache by hours in the garden wielding the rake?
Basic Irish: May & The Month of Mary.
Our lesson this time features words and phrases related to the festival of Bealtaine (which is the word for May in Irish) and the Month of Mary. Even though modern-day Ireland isn't as religious as it was in the old days, you will still see lovely grottos in honour of Our Lady throughout the country; also, many families still say the Rosary together every evening and May is traditionally the month when Roman Catholic children make their First Holy Communion.
Kids' Ireland: St. Brendan's Adventures
Founded in 545 AD by St Ciaran, Clonmacnoise monastery became between the 7th and 12th centuries a religious, literature and arts center for monks all over Europe. They came to study and pray in the Island of saints and scholars when the rest of Europe was still in the Dark Ages. Clonmacnoise was totally devastated by fire as well as successive raids but the site retains its stunning features. The view captured in this image has remained relatively unchanged for 1500 years. Clonmacnoise lay in decay until the Office of Public Works began the arduous task of turning this sacred place into one of Ireland's most famous visitors' centres. Interestingly - and we have yet to find out why - for centuries, courting couples have stood on each side of the arch whispering their words of love to each other.