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Letters - 2008
Next Page: Letters of the month 2007
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 of the Month - one that for whatever reason, tickled our fancy. So,
December - 2008
I have finally been able to make time to do the trivia again! The trivia contest is one of my favorite aspects of your site as it gives me a chance to learn things I never would have thought of otherwise. Thank you for your great site and all the enjoyment you provide by giving it to us. God bless you throughout the New year and every year.
Book Cover: So You Think You're Irish by Margaret Kelleher.
November - 2008
Just a quick thanks for an amazing website! I'm researching as much as I can about Ireland, and Dublin in particular as I will be moving there in the spring due to my husband's job. We are coming from northern Minnesota and know it will be quite the culture shock, but are so excited! Thanks for helping us to anticipate what we may encounter!
Photo Credit: All Posters
October - 2008
Dear Bridget & Russ,
We have just returned from our first trip to Ireland and we wanted to let you know how helpful your web site was in deciding where to go and what to see. While it's a small country, a couple of weeks just isn't enough time! In the end, we decided to stay away from the big cities and keep to the back roads and villages. In fact, we kind of followed your route from Dublin down the coast to Cork and then up from there to Clare.*
As well as being tight for time, we were also on a tight budget, so we stayed at B & B's off the beaten track. It was off-season when we went which meant the rates had been reduced. Our hosts were charming and the breakfasts were incredible. When they say "full Irish" it often includes baked beans as well as the traditional and black & white "pudding" which we quickly learned isn't sweet! The weather wasn't the greatest, but that didn't spoil the spectacular views. While it's hard to pick a favorite place, we really enjoyed the Beara Way - wild and unspoiled.
It was a trip we will never forget. We can't wait to go back.
Joyce & Jim Kearns
*ED. NOTE: If you would like to follow our route, please see the following articles:
Driving in Ireland - Part 1
Driving in ireland - Part 2
Photo Credit: Aran Lodge
September - 2008
Dear Bridget & Russ
I live in the little port of Bideford, Devon, England - which is situated on the northern coast of the 'toe' of England - just up a bit from Cornwall. It had a flourishing trade in smuggling French brandy and American tobacco to Ireland in the 17th C. It is a sleepy little town with a tidal river - the Torridge - used a great deal by the British government to ferry troops and munitions to Ireland in times of rebellion. It just happens to be the home port of the Kathleen & May. I see it tied up at the quayside most days on my way to mass. It's a lovely old ship - very graceful. Interestingly, just across the road from where she is moored is a little alleyway - a cul- de-sac - and otherwise unremarkable except that its name is 'Vinegar Hill' ! A local historian tells us that it was so named by British troops returning from "A successful campaign against Irish rebels in County Wexford 1798. This lane was so named as a memorial of their victory." No-one in the town knows anything about Vinegar Hill and the heroic battles of the Wexford pikemen under Father Murphy of course. I'm sure it doesn't occupy a great deal of space in English children's
school history books. An old lady was showing me proudly, last week, a photo of her nephew in the Coldstream Guards, sitting on his charger, outside Buckingham palace, immaculate in shining
breastplate and helmet. I was quick to notice that the reins he held had chain links from the bit - another 'memorial' from Vinegar Hill, but one not trumpeted. They owed their introduction to the fiendish practise of the Irish rebels who slashed through the leather reins with their pikes - thus rendering the cavalry horses unmanageable in the heat of battle.
Photo Credit: Tony Jones
ED. NOTE: Kevin's letter was sent in response to a mention in one of our newsletters about the Kathleen & May being put to use recently to transport French wine to Ireland as a green and ultimately cheaper alternative to engine propulsion. You can read the story here: Times On-Line.
August - 2008
Dear Bridget and Russ,
My husband and I just returned from another trip to Ireland. It was, as usual, magnificant, but unusual. I got to hold a Harris Hawk on my arm at the "Birds of Prey" center at the Aillwee Caves in County Clare, watch wild dolphins on the Shannon River, and drive for hours in the Black Valley of Co. Kerry- not for the fainthearted. But finally, the most amazing incident: While attending Bunratty Folk Night, we met the Notre Dame Basketball team. On top of that, some of the players know a former student of mine from our little town in Southern Pennsylvania. He is a starting lineman for the football team.
One thing I would like to say is that Co. Clare has so many wonderful activities and sights, but I think it is off the beaten track. That is a shame because it has so much to offer. The Cliffs of Moher are awe inspiring, but the Burren and its history, Ennis and its medieval charm, and East Clare with Lough Derg are so varied and all have such historical significance (Brian Boru and Killaloe and Holy Island).
Again, thank you so much for your wonderful newletters and your super website. I have tried to learn a bit of Irish from it, and, finally, some of the people I used it with actually understood me!
Slán agus beannacht,
Photo Credit: O'Hairless1 (Illustration purposes only).
September - 2008
Dear Bridget & Russ,
We are on a computer in the salon of the Leif Erickson ferry to Nova Scotia just after having one of the best vacations ever with the folks of Newfoundland.
We travelled from St. Johns, the capital, out over the Northren tip just off Labrador. Here we found a village dating back to the early 17th century where they still speak the Irish dialect of their ancestors from Ireland today. We saw farming practisings that were done in Ireland long ago like the carrots and cabbage houses cut out of the earth!
Their Memorial University brags the best Irish Folklore Center in North America. This strong connection to Ireland was a plesant surprise to me and I suggest anyone looking into Irish roots and history take a look on the mountains of Newfoundland, Canada.
Bye and "take care me Lovely"
Photo Caption: Potato beds ready for seeding
Photo Credit: Heritage of Canada
July - 2008
Hi there Bridget and Russ,
Many thanks for your wonderful newsletter.
I love Ireland. I love Irish books and when possible I buy them directly in your land. I love the beautiful energic spirit, and also the great and profound faith of the Irish people.
Ciao and thanks! Your site is also great. The best I had found about irish culture and traditions.
Anna Maria Polidori
Photo Credit/Short description: Continuing in the tradition that made this building a famous literary Dublin landmark, the Winding Stair Bookshop offers a wide range of new & second-hand books, as well a terrific range of children's books and few surprising gems for enthusiasts. For the long description, please click Winding Stair.
June - 2008
We went to Ireland a little over a year ago and between RTE radio and your news letter, I can hold on to the wonderful feelings we had. Must admit, I love Clare FM the best. Around here from 6 -11 pm our time (including the 5 hour time difference) there is a DJ named Mike who is just like a step down memory land. A time when D J's were live, requests were taken and I must admit that the passion for "they fell in love and one of them died" music keeps me laughing! You must try it sometime.
As for the reason for this message, when I was in Ireland I bought a bottle of perfume called FROND. Haven't been able to find it on any websites. It is wonderful for summer, especially with the humidity we have been having in PA. It is light and floral. Just reminds me of walking through a field. Any idea where I can find more?
Thank you for your newsletter, I love it.
Donna K. Fetter
ED. NOTE: We always appreciate positive comments and it spurs us on to repay the kindness. In this case, we went looking for FROND perfume and after a bit of digging we found it here: Wee bit of Ireland Store.
Photo Credit: Gift Box
We also looked up the URL for Clare FM and here it is. Enjoy!
May - 2008
We just returned from Ireland a week ago, and the building that is going on there is astounding! An incredible amount of money is going into the infrastructure there from the EU. And they have the prices to match - a pint of Guinness in the pubs averaged the equivalent of $6.50 - we had to cut back on eating to make up for it.
Many of our favorite places in the West are hardly recognizable anymore. In fact, we have been especially fond of Leenane (just a bit south of Louisburg) and were startled to find a traffic light there although I think it is temporary for the duration of the bridge construction.
We had gone to a wedding in the North (Limavady) and the prices there are even higher in that the conversion rate for the pound sterling is running 2 to 1. All of this is great for the people of Ireland, but it sure makes you tighten your belt.
Photo Credit: Leenane - Virtual Tourist
April - 2008
Dear Russ & Bridget:
This is a note of appreciation for your outstanding web site. I just returned from my sixth trip to Cobh, County Cork, in a little over a year. I don't know myself to be Irish, but there are a few Murphy's and such in my tree. (With the success of Wales in the Six Nations Rugby matches, I tried to imply that I was half Welsh, but my friends in Cobh wouldn't buy it.) I already have tickets for my next trip, 9 September. I frequently check out your web site and have learned so much from it! Thanks for your efforts!!
Pelham, Alabama, USA
Photo Credit: Irish Camper Vans
March - 2008
Dear Bridget & Russ,
We have just returned from our first visit to Ireland. St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin was amazing but I think we both agreed that while the parade was spectacular, we would have preferred something more traditional and less glitzy. It didn’t seem Irish. However, once we drove out of the city into the countryside, we experienced what we had traveled so far to find - warm hospitality, stunning landscapes, the unique sound of irish being spoken in the Gaeltachts, quaint pubs in tiny rural villages. it was everything we expected and more.
Thanks so much for a great web site and especially for the tips in Russ’s driving articles. They were invaluable. We also pretty much followed the same route south from Dublin and around the coastline back up to Shannon Airport. We are now planning our next trip and this time, we’ll head north. We both want to walk on the rocks at the Giant’s Causeway
Anne and Tom Cassidy
ED. NOTE: It always makes us happy to hear than our articles have been helpful. If you are planning a trip to Ireland, you may also find his driving articles of value. They are in our travel section. please click here Driving in Ireland.
February - 2008
Dear Bridget & Russ,
thanks a lot for these wonderful e-mails. I'm Hungarian without any Irish relations, but I love this place and would fancy to go there one day. Your mails are simply fascinating and I really look up to you for putting so much effort into this work. It's a real cultural treasure on the web!
Zsuzsanna Fodor, Hungary
Photo Credit: Keewi Photography/Irish Corner
January - 2008
...thank you for the wonderful work you guys do, I love the website, always updated and keeps me in check. Very personable. Being a Dub away from home 'tis brilliant to be connected with your site. It's the best out there I have to tell ye - so much great stuff - I spend hours reading on it, learning, enjoying it all.
ED. NOTE: In follow-up messages back and forth to Maria, she tells us “I grew up in Portland Row, off North Strand, just up from the Five Lamps, down from Croke Park.”
And in reference to the photo we chose to accompany her letter, she says one of the lamps went "missing; it made the headlines for weeks in Dublin. Finally it "returned".
Photo Credit: Dermot
Next Page: Letters
Image: The Letter by Kirsten Soderlind,
Note card from All Posters
Caption: We lost a lot when we stopped writing letters. You can't reread a phone call.
Fri, Nov 3, 2017
The Round Towers
The Round Towers of Ireland are remarkable among the world's ancient monuments; one author has called them 'Elegant, free-standing pencils of stone.' Today, 65 survive in part or whole. Hand-crafted in native stone and cemented with a sand, lime, horsehair and oxblood mortar - a technique imported from Roman Britain - it's said by many historians that they were built by monastic communities to thwart Viking invaders. And yet, there's reason to believe that the towers were built long before Christianity came to Ireland. Whatever their origins, monasteries did indeed flourish where the round towers existed. And why not. These imposing edifices provided a watch tower, a keep and a refuge.
Image: By kind permission of Stephen Cassidy, The Cassidy Clan.
Click for More Culture Corner.
Elegant bookmark is made of silver over pewter. It measures 3" x 1". When in use, the pretty Celtic design sticks out of your book. Or choose Trinity Knot or Celtic Heart.
Click for Celtic Book mark.