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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.
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.
St. Kieran of Clonmacnoise
compiled by Bridget Haggerty
St. Kieran or Ciarán of Clonmacnoise, also known as St. Kieran the Younger, was born around 512 AD in Connacht, a town located in the northern part of Co. Roscommon. The son of Beoit, a carpenter and chariot-builder, Kieran inherited a love of learning from his mother’s side of the family, as his maternal grandfather had been a bard, poet, and historian.
Baptized by deacon Justus (“the righteous one”), who also served as his first tutor, the boy Kieran worked as a cattle herder. Even this early in his life, stories testifying to Kieran’s holiness are told. Some later believed that his work as a herdsman foreshadowed the care he would offer the many who sought his wisdom.
John McCormack - An Irish legend, then and now
by Hartson Dowd
Surely no one has ever found his way into the heart of the old Irish melodies as the great Irish tenor, John Francis McCormack, who was born on June 14, 1884 in Athlone, Ireland and died in Dublin on September 16, 1945.
One of the supreme vocal artists of the century, his career as a professional singer extended from 1904 to 1944. No one has brought to us more beautifully the message of songs like "I Hear You Calling Me." These were the songs that made him famous and filled the world's greatest concert halls with those who clamored to hear him.
Poetry Corner: Thomas Michael Kettle (b. ?? 1880 - d. Sept. 9, 1916)
...born Co. Dublin; he was a nationalist, economist and poet. He was the first president of the Young Ireland Branch of United Irish League (Home Rule), associated with W. P. Ryan in the attempt to bring a fresh greenness to the trunk of obstructionism. He was elected Nationalist MP for East Tyrone, 25th Aug. 1906, increasing his majority in the second election, 1910. He joined the board of the Theatre of Ireland with Edward Martyn, Thomas MacDonagh, Patrick Pearse, and others.
He resigned from Parliament, 1910, for whole-time professorship, to formulate an economic idea fitted to express the self-realisation of a nation which is resolute to realise itself. He established and chaired the Peace Committee during the Lock-Out Strike of 1913, with Joseph Plunkett and Tom Dillon as co-secretaries.
He died with conspicuous gallantry in the attack on Ginchy at the battle of the Somme.
A memorial bust by Francis W. Doyle-Jones (d.1938) in St. Stephens Green bears the last lines from To My Daughter Betty..:
Died not for flag, nor King, nor Emperor,
But for a dream born in a herdsmans shed,
And for the secret scripture of the poor.
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. OTooles 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.
Celebrating St. Michael's Day in Old Ireland
by Bridget Haggerty
Throughout the Celtic lands, Michaelmas - September 29, marked the end of the harvest. This was the time that farm folk calculated how many animals they could afford to feed over the winter and how many would have to be sold or slaughtered and salted down in order to preserve the meat.
In addition to livestock fairs, rural folk attended hiring fairs which were especially important for farm laborers looking for winter employment after the harvest.
Michaelmas was also one of the regular quarter-days for settling rents and accounts; often, since this was also the time of the "geese harvest", many a farmer paid off his accounts with a brace or more of plump birds from the flock hatched in the spring. Traditionally, on St. Michael's Day, Irish families sat down to a roast goose dinner.
The Irish Kitchen: A Taste of Ireland: The Potato
by Bridget Haggerty
Ask anyone to name the one food they most associate with the Emerald Isle, and nine out of ten people will say the potato. Today, Ireland's inhabitants consume more potatoes per capita than any other country in Europe or the United States - more than three hundred pounds a year for each man, woman, and child. What may be surprising to many readers is that the potato didn't exist in Ireland until the end of the 16th century.
A perennial plant of the Nightshade family, its widely swollen underground stem or tuber is believed to have originally been used as a vegetable in the Andes Mountains of South America. After being introduced into Europe it was brought to North America and from there, it was taken to the British Isles by the English. Ironically, it is thought that the blight which caused the potato crops to fail and which ultimately led to the Great Famine, came from the United States.
Basic Irish: Oysters
In the Irish calendar, there's always something special going on. In September, Oysters are back on the menu!
Of course, this is the first month after summer with an 'R' in it and an old rule (still a wise rule) insists 'never eat shellfish unless the month has an 'R' in it.' After avoiding oysters for months we have the Galway and Clarenbridge Festivals; both in September and celebrating the Galway Oysters with gusto. So, let us talk about it.
Kids' Ireland: The Selfish Giant
by Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde's classic children's tale about how a selfish giant's life is transformed by the arrival of a special child who teaches him about love and friendship
Every afternoon, as they were coming from school, the children used to go and play in the Giants garden.
It was a large lovely garden, with soft green grass. Here and there over the grass stood beautiful flowers like stars, and there were twelve peach trees that in the springtime broke out into delicate blossoms of pink and pearl, and in autumn bore rich fruit. The birds sat on the trees and sang so sweetly that the children used to stop their games in order to listen to them. How happy we are here! they cried to each other.
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.
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.
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.
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March 4, 2011
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