RIHA Standard Banner Style 3
Skip Navigation Links
Quilts For Comfort
Irish Central News
Young woman in wheelchair who Ryanair left behind plans to sue airline

Over the weekend IrishCentral broke the story of how Irish airline Ryanair left a wheelchair-bound woman stranded and crying at Dublin Airport.

Trinity student Niamh Herbert was refused boarding and says she's subjected to demeaning comments and a hostile attitude when seeking to board. They also asked her to walk up the stairs to the plane despite her condition.

We asked Ryanair for a statement for the article and when they did get back to us they told us our article had not given readers “the full facts”.

Whilst they didn’t dispute that the captain had taken off without Trinity student Niamh Herbert, or that staff had asked her to walk up the stairs “for easiness sake”, they did offer two excuses for their actions.

Firstly, they alleged that Herbert “arrived at the boarding gate 13 minutes before the flight was due to depart”.

They also forwarded us a screenshot of an e-mail from Dublin Airport’s OCS in which they state that they received a request for an ambi-lift  10 minutes prior to departure and that was the first instance they were made aware of Herbert’s mobility issues.

However Herbert disputes this version of events and speaking to IrishCentral told us that, in fact, she was at the gate “a lot more than 13 mins [before departure], but I can’t be exact!”

In a message to IrishCentral Herbert said, “Basically, I had booked, mistakenly, to fly on Thursday and I had booked assistance, but the group was actually flying on Friday.

“A girl dropped out of the trip, and so Carla [who organized the trip] changed my name on her ticket.

“I called Ryanair on Tuesday to say I'd be flying on Friday instead.

“So, I see it as being their fault that they didn't carry over the details.”

Since going public with her story Niamh has been subjected to abuse by internet trolls. One asked her, “I done work experience on a dairy farm if you want any more help milking this” and another asked, “Why were you in a wheelchair?”

However, most comments were supportive and one commentator said she’d had a similar experience with the budget airline in Manchester when staff had asked her to walk up the stairs – something she was unable to do.

A fellow Facebook user supported Bushnell's claim and highlighted that it was not the first time Ryanair had failed to aid a disabled passenger.

Ryanair’s Press Office responded with an updated statement insisting: "While we regret any inconvenience, this customer arrived at the boarding gate 13 minutes before the flight was due to depart and had not booked any wheelchair assistance, which is provided at Dublin Airport by OCS. A name change was made online at 2.39am (16 Feb), and no wheelchair assistance was booked.

“Our crew provided full assistance and as a gesture of goodwill, transferred this customer on to the next available flight, free of charge, and the customer flew to London Stansted. Thousands of passengers with reduced mobility travel with Ryanair on a weekly basis without issue and any customers who require wheelchair assistance are asked to book it in advance.

“The only reason this customer did not board their original flight was because they arrived at the gate late and had not booked wheelchair assistance. Had they arrived at the gate on time and booked assistance, they would have traveled without issue, as they did when returning from London Stansted.”

The incident has launched a frenzy of discussion on Reddit and on Twitter about the treatment of the disabled in Ireland.

One Twitter user pointed out that it was not the first time Ryanair had left a disabled passenger.

Herbert is currently back in college and plans on taking legal action against Ryanair.

“I plan on suing them. I haven’t been feeling myself since it happened and I’m going to have to pursue some sort of counseling, which is quite expensive,” she told the Irish Daily Mirror.

Her parents are looking for an attorney to bring the case against the airline.

Read more: Ryanair asks wheelchair user to walk up stairs, leaves her crying at the gate

Elderly Irish woman donates £5 banknote worth $62,000 to charity

A woman from Enniskillen in County Fermanagh has donated a rare and highly valuable banknote to charity. The limited edition £5 banknote, worth £50,000 ($62k), will be put up for auction in aid of Children in Need.

The pensioner - identified only as ‘J’ - noticed that the £5 note in her purse was one of four limited-edition prints. The kindly pensioner then sent the note off to a gallery in Kelso, Scotland, called Tony Huggins-Haig, where it was created with in conjunction with Birmingham micro-artist Graham Short.

“Dear Tony,” her short note begins.

“It was lovely to talk to you today.

“£5 note enclosed, I don't need it at my time of life. Please use it to help young people.

“Kindest Regards, J x”

The note looks almost exactly alike all other £5 notes issued by the Bank of England in 2016. On one side is Sir Winston Churchill and on the other the reigning Monarch Queen Elizabeth II.

However, unlike the other millions of £5 notes in circulation, this one has a small portrait of 19th century author Jane Austen.

The four special notes have the serial numbers AM32 885551, AM32 885552, AM32 885553 and AM32 885554 and currently only one remain undiscovered. 

The first note was found in a café in south Wales in December, with the second was discovered in Scotland, inside a Christmas card the same month. The third was discovered in by “J” in Northern Ireland.

It is thought the note will now be auctioned off with the proceeds going to Children in Need, one of Britain’s most prominent charities that has, since it was launched in 1980, raised close to $750 million to help vulnerable young people.

Read more: Could your old Irish coin collection be worth thousands?

 

Scorsese gangster film “The Irishman” heads to Netflix from Paramount

Martin Scorsese's gangster movie “The Irishman” is to make the move to streaming giant Netflix from Paramount Pictures, allegedly as a result of the disappointing performance of Scorsese's latest movie “Silence” which was released with the traditional studio.

Set to feature Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino, the epic gangster flick has been on the cards for a long time but filming schedules are still not set as the production transfers over to the streaming company.

Telling the tale of Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, played by De Niro, a high-ranking labor union official and mob hitman who was accused of ties to the Bufalino crime family, the movie’s script was adapted by Steve Zaillian from Charles Brandt‘s book “I Heard You Paint Houses”.

As a high official of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (more commonly known as Teamsters), Sheeran was believed to have links with much of the corruption within the unions as a result of the infiltration of organized crime.

Before his death in 2003, Sheeran is said to have confessed he pulled the trigger in the murder of fellow Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa in 1975. He also claimed that it was Hoffa who had wanted President John F. Kennedy killed. Brandt detailed the confession in his nonfiction book released a year after “The Irishman’s” death.

Read more: Top Irish TV shows and movies to watch on Netflix

Born in Darby, Pennsylvania, Sheeran was of Irish and Swedish descent and he joined the US Army, aged 21. It was while on combat duty during the Second World War he claims he got a taste for killing other human beings and he claimed to Brandt that he took part in several executions of German POWs that would be classed as war crimes. He was discharged from the US Army in October 1945 when it is believed he first became involved with Mafia bosses Russell Bufalino and Angelo Bruno.

Scorsese's “The Irishman” project was first announced in 2008 but a start date has yet to be finalized. It is believed CGI will be used to age De Niro down 30 years for the role. This will be the ninth collaboration between the actor and Scorcese. The director himself is said to be aiming for a 2019 release.

Paramount Pictures had handled the release of Scorsese's latest movie, “Silence” which starred Irish actor Liam Neeson, a movie many believed to have underperformed after spending a long time in the pipeline. The change of backer for “The Irishman” is believed to have been a result of the disappointing performance of “Silence”. Despite its $46 million budget, the movie has taken in just over $7 million in the US.

H/T: Hollywood Reporter

Nobel laureate Dr. William C. Campbell to be honored by Irish America Hall of Fame

Nobel laureate Dr. William C. Campbell will be among those inducted into the 2017 Irish America Hall of Fame by IrishCentral’s sister publication Irish America magazine on Wednesday, March 15.

A native of Co. Donegal, Dr. Campbell received the Nobel Prize in medicine in 2015 in honor of his work in helping eradicate river blindness. His treatment is used by 25 million people each year.

For centuries, river blindness (onchocerciasis) plagued remote communities in Africa, Latin America, and Yemen, and there was no answer to this affliction until Dr. Campbell's breakthrough.

The distinguished 2017 Hall of Fame inductees also include Michael Dowling, CEO of Northwell Health and grand marshal of the 2017 NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade; Sister Teresa Fitzgerald, founder of the nonprofit Hour Children which helps incarcerated and formerly incarcerated mothers and their children; labor leader Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America; and Kevin White, award-winning athletic director at Duke University and a member of the board of directors of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Founded in 2010 in celebration of Irish America magazine’s 25th anniversary, the Irish America Hall of Fame honors the extraordinary achievements of Irish-American leaders, from their significant accomplishments and contributions to American society to the personal commitment to safeguarding their Irish heritage and the betterment of Ireland.

The Irish America Hall of Fame is housed at the Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience in New Ross, Co. Wexford.

ABOUT THE HONOREES

Dr. William C. Campbell

Irish America magazine

Donegal native Dr. William Campbell was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for his work on a groundbreaking drug that effectively eradicated river blindness from the Earth. Before the release of the drug, Ivermectin, by Merck in the 1980s, more than 18 million people suffered from river blindness across the world. Today, it annually treats roughly 25 million people, preventing new cases of river blindness and effectively curing the disease. Campbell and his colleague, Professor Satoshi Omura, shared this year’s award for their work in discovering Ivermectin, which, to drastically reduces the occurrence of river blindness and lymphatic filariasis (commonly known as elephantiasis tropica) as well as other ailments.

Dr. Campbell was born in 1930 in Ramelton, County Donegal and graduated from Trinity College, Dublin with honors in 1952 with a degree in Zoology. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1957.

Campbell is currently a research fellow emeritus at Drew University in New Jersey, and, despite having lived in the United States for many years, has remained exceedingly proud of his Donegal heritage. In fact, he always begins his semesters at Drew by showing his new students a picture of his father’s cows on the Mall in his hometown.

Michael Dowling

Irish America magazine

Michael Dowling is the president and CEO of Northwell Health and was Irish America’s 2015 Healthcare and Life Sciences 50 keynote speaker. This year, he will also serve as the grand marshal of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Northwell Health is one of the America’s largest health systems, comprised of 21 hospitals, over 450 patient facilities and physician practices, and more than 61,000 employees overseeing eight million patients.

Dowling began his career as a faculty member at Fordham University as a professor and the assistant dean of the Graduate School of Social Services. In 1983, under Governor Mario Cuomo, he served as Deputy Secretary and Director of Health, Education, and Human Services. He became Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Northwell (then North Shore-LIJ) in 1997, and was named president and CEO in 2002.

Born and raised in Knockaderry, Co. Limerick, Dowling is the eldest of five children. He had to help support his family from an early age, which pushed to work harder and achieve his dreams. “No” was never an option for Dowling, as he makes clear: “If you tell me I can’t do something, that’s when I become determined to get it done.” He was the first person in his family to attend college, graduating University College Cork while working odd jobs to pay for tuition. After graduation, he went to New York and earned a Master’s Degree from Fordham. Dowling and his wife, Kathy, live on Long Island with their two children, Brian and Elizabeth.

Sister Teresa Fitzgerald

Irish America magazine

Sister Tesa Fitzgerald is the founder and Executive Director of Hour Children, a nonprofit based in Queens, NY that helps incarcerated and previously incarcerated mothers and their children when the women are released from jail. The nonprofit was founded in 1992 in an effort to end the cycle of intergenerational incarceration.

Born and raised on Long Island, Sister Tesa’s parents were working class Irish immigrants – her mother was from Donegal and her father from Kerry. Though the family wasn’t wealthy – they lived in a two-bedroom bungalow – she attended private Catholic schools and at 17 joined the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brentwood, NY. Following college, she spent time teaching in Puerto Rico and later in several schools in Queens and Brooklyn, eventually taking on responsibility for the oversight of Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn.

In addition to being an educator, Sister Tesa is a Certified Foster Care Trainer and has been named a CNN Hero (2012), a White House Champion of Change (2013), the 2014 winner of the Opus Prize, and in 2015 was awarded the Cross Pro-Ecclesia et Pontifice.

Terry O’Sullivan

Irish America magazine

Terry O’Sullivan became the tenth General President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) on January 1, 2000, and is dedicated to growing his union’s membership and market share. O’Sullivan’s mantra is “organize or die.” Under his leadership, the union significantly expanded its efforts in, and commitment to, member activism, capital strategies, grassroots politics, labor-management cooperation, journeyworker upgrade training, apprenticeship, and leadership education. Recognizing that labor and management share many of the same concerns and interests, he has built alliances with a wide range of owners, contractors, and business groups.

A long-time, vocal supporter of Sinn Féin and its work to secure a peaceful, just, and united Ireland, Terry O’Sullivan serves as President of New York Friends of Ireland and Chairman of DC Friends of Ireland.

A proud native of San Francisco, O'Sullivan joined LIUNA in 1974 and is a long-time member of LIUNA Local Union 1353 in Charleston, West Virginia.

Kevin White

Irish America magazine

Kevin White is the Vice President and Athletic Director of Duke University in North Carolina. Since taking over the position in 2008, Duke has won seven NCAA Championships – women’s tennis in 2009, men’s basketball in 2010 and 2015, men’s lacrosse in 2010, 2013 and 2014, and women’s golf in 2014 – and 17 ACC titles. Last year, he was named Athletic Director of the Year in the NCAA.

White, who holds a Ph.D. in education from Southern Illinois University, has taught graduate-level classes since 1982 and currently teaches a sports business course in Duke’s Fuqua School of Business as part of Duke’s MBA program.

Prior to joining Duke, White served as Athletic Director at the University of Notre Dame, Arizona State University, Tulane University, the University of Maine and Loras College in Iowa, where he originated the National Catholic Basketball Tournament. He is currently a member of the board of directors of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

White, who is second-generation Irish American with roots in Dungloe, Co. Donegal, and his wife, Jane, a former college track and field coach, have five children and 12 grandchildren.

For information on event reservations and advertising opportunities, please contact Kate Overbeck at kate@irishamerica.com.

Irish designer says Melania Trump is as glamorous as Jackie O

Top Irish designer Paul Costelloe has said the First Lady Melania Trump is “probably the most glamorous since Jackie Kennedy.”

The Dubliner, who was formerly the personal designer for Diana Princess of Wales, says President Donald Trump’s wife, a former Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model, is already having an impact on the fashion world.

Costelloe told Independent.ie “I think as a First Lady, Melania is probably the most glamorous since Jackie Kennedy. She will set trends as First Lady. She likes strong colors that work well.”

The straight-talking designer feels that the Slovenia-born First Lady has yet to put a foot wrong. Costelloe said, “For the inauguration, I liked the color of the Ralph Lauren number and I thought she looked comfortable in it.”

When the Trumps met the Obama's on the inauguration day! Melanie wears her stylish Ralph Lauren design.

At the inauguration Melania wore a sky-blue Ralph Lauren design – a high-necked sheath and matching bolero, in the same color. It seemed like she was channeling the style of Jacqueline Kennedy’s outfit from President John F Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961.

Jackie and John F Kennedy on their inauguration day in 1961.

Jackie has long been regarded as one of the United States’ most fashionable and iconic First Ladies in history One her most famous fashion moments was her Christian Dior evening gown, worn at a White House State Dinner in 1961.

Jackie Kennedy's stunning Christian Dior gown.

Now, it seems that Mrs Melania Trump is making her own waves. Her look – elegant, structured and mono-chrome designs – is being favored by many celebrities.

At a recent press conference Mrs Trump wore an exclusive design from Karl Lagerfeld, the Creative Director for Chanel and Fendi. Commentators said her white cashmere pencil skirt and jacket was a nod to purity and neutrality.

First Lady Melanie Trump wearing Karl Lagerfeld's white outfit.

The 71-year-old designer went on to say "I think she definitely has her own individual style.

“Melania isn't the slimmest person in the world, but she wears everything very well. She was a model so she has good posture. She's certainly Donald's trophy wife, and she behaves accordingly."

While Costelloe appears to be a fan of Melania it seems, that like her husband, she’s dividing opinion.

American designer Tom Ford has said “I was asked to dress her quite a few years ago and I declined. She's not necessarily my image."

Carolina Herrera was a little more flexible, saying that she predicts attitudes towards dressing the First Lady would change. She said, "In two or three months, they'll reach out. You'll see everyone dressing Melania."

Tommy Hilfiger for one wants to keep politics and fashion separate. He said, "I think Melania is a very beautiful woman and I think any designer should be proud to dress her.”

$69 US to Cork flights on Norwegian Air finally cleared for take-off

It’s been a dream for the past 50 years and now, after months of intense negotiations, tickets to fly from the United States to Cork could be on sale in a matter of weeks. Initially, fares may be as low as $69 one way, although fares are expected to cost around $300 round trip eventually.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave Norwegian Air the go-ahead on Friday and now all that’s left is for the airline to sell their tickets to transatlantic travelers.

“With Department Of Transportation approval in place for some time, Norwegian’s focus has been on finalizing our plans for new routes, greater competition and lower fares in Ireland, Europe and the US,” a delighted airline spokesman told the Irish Examiner.

“We expect to announce new transatlantic routes from Ireland and the US soon.”

Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos foresees “huge growth potential” in low-fare international flights.

“More people will start flying,” he said. “The fares go lower, but the volume goes much higher.

It’s expected that the first route to take off will land at TF Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island which is located some 60 miles south of Boston – roughly an hour’s drive. In Ireland Cork, Shannon and Dublin airports are all expected to eventually be used by Norwegian while is expected to serve the New York and Boston metropolitan areas.

The budget carrier’s application was stalled by the Obama administration for an unprecedented two and a half years due to strong opposition from US labor unions and 32 members of Congress who asked the then-President to veto the bid.

The European Commission warned the Federal Government it would be breaching the common legal agreement called “open skies” between the two jurisdictions and warned it could sue. The Department of Transport prevaricated and said the bid was “among the most novel and complex” they’d ever dealt with.

Finally, following lobbying from Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Enda Kenny last St. Patrick’s Day, the administration promised to have another look at the bid and a license was granted under the US-EU Open Skies agreement.

Labor unions asked President Trump to intervene at the last minute, but it soon became apparent that the deal also enjoyed the support of the Oval Office’s new occupant, with Press Secretary Sean Spicer briefing journalists that the White House considered the bid important for American jobs.

“With DOT approval in place for some time, Norwegian’s focus has been on finalizing our plans for new routes, greater competition and lower fares in Ireland, Europe and the US,” a delighted airline spokesman told the Irish Examiner.

“We expect to announce new transatlantic routes from Ireland and the US soon.”

It’s expected that the first route to take off will land at TF Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island which is located some 60 miles south of Boston.

A second route to Stewart International Airport in New Windsor, NY is mooted for 2018 and the airline hopes eventually to operate transatlantic flights out of Dublin, Shannon and Belfast as well.

The airline had previously said that it could slash ticket prices to a mere $69 for a one way trip in a bid to undercut rivals.

There are, however, no plans to bring US preclearance to Cork Airport, meaning travelers will still have to pass through immigration control when they land in the United States. Currently travelers can pass through preclearance in Shannon and Dublin – the only places in Europe to have such facilities – although due to President Trump’s travel ban the system is currently under urgent review.

Read more: Ireland Calling! Enter to win a trip for two to Ireland!

Wexford man murdered in Sydney was on the run from the police

Wexford man David Walsh, who was allegedly murdered by his fiancee last weekend in Sydney, Australia, was also wanted by Gardaí (Irish police), according to the Irish Mirror. The 29-year-old fled Ireland for Australia in 2013 after being charged with assault five times.

A court-issued warrant for his arrest was made on July 10, 2013, after he failed to make an appearance at his trial in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. He was also alleged to have assaulted three gardaí that New Year’s Day outside his local police station.

The day prior to his trial Walsh was charged again with assault after an alleged brawl in a fast food restaurant.

It is believed the Wexford man then fled the country believing he could spend years in jail if convicted.

The father-of-three got engaged to Irish woman Tina Cahill, 25, who is now charged with his murder.  A 36-year-old man was also arrested but released without charge.

Walsh was found dying on a footpath near his home in southwest Sydney having been stabbed in the neck. Paramedics were unable to revive him.

Neighbors said they heard screaming and glass shattering.

Johnny Mythen – a family friend and Wexford county councilor – told the Irish Daily Mirror, “I would have known the chaps. They are a very big family. Hard working people, Johnners is a self-employed builder, all of those chaps worked with their father from the ages of 12, 13, 14.

“They would have been roofing, carrying slates up roofs,” he continued.

“Nothing came easy to that family. They had to work very hard for everything. They could turn their hands to anything. They’d be gifted that way.”

Cahill was reported as being too distressed to appear in court on Sunday morning. She was denied bail and remains in custody. She, too, grew up in Wexford and is said to have come from a well-respected local family.

“The Cahills are the finest people you could meet,” a neighbor told the Irish Independent. “No one can understand one bit of this. Tina was a good student at school and, I understand, very successful at whatever she worked at. There's total shock here."

Read more: Wexford woman accused of murder in Sydney too distressed for court

Guinness guzzling baby tracked down 20 years later

The identity of an Irish baby, who was a viral sensation last week after footage of him drinking a Guinness in a Kerry pub in 1997 emerged, has finally been revealed. Ever since the clip from the RTÉ archives was re-released, a nationwide search for the young boozer has been underway.

#PintBaby, also known as Steve Barron, lives in Prosperous, Co. Kildare and was identified after a friend of his mother in America spotted her in the video on Facebook and tagged her.

“You couldn’t really get any more Irish,” the now 20-year-old PintBaby told RTÉ News when they pitched up at his home in Kildare armed with the archive footage and a camera crew.

Although doctors warn against giving alcohol to children, his mother Caroline said, “There’s great nutrition in Guinness and it hasn’t done him [Steve] any harm. He’s fit and healthy, never been hospitalized. He’s grand! He hasn’t taken to the drink in a big way or anything!”

Caroline said the pair had gone down the pub where RTÉ had been filming and it had been “great fun [with] craic going on in the pub. Everyone was there for the novelty of 'Nationwide' being there and everything…. It's absolutely phenomenal. People are contacting us, emailing, texting, phoning, messages, notifications, here there left right and center. It’s gone off the scale … The phone is on fire!”

She insists “that could be any child in Ireland, even to this day!... He was the only one filmed doing it!”

As for Steven, he doesn’t mind sticking with the nickname PintBaby for a while but “not for the next 20 years”.

Countdown to St. Patrick's Day - 22 days to go! Check out our special section for the big day

The countdown to St. Patrick's Day has begun! 

March 17 is less than a month away, and it's a short one, too! Each day we'll be updating this space with St. Patrick's Day info, events and stories to entertain and prepare you as you watch the seconds until St. Patrick's Day tick away.

Do you already have your St. Patrick's Day 2017 all planned out? Do you have a question or need a recommendation for St. Patrick's Day? Let us know in the comment section and we'll get on it! 

February 22: 22 days to go!

 

Do you know what's going on in your area for St. Patrick's Day? We put together a list of parades, events and festivals happening across the US on and around March 17. Check it out and start filling in your calendar!

Read More: What's happening around the US for St. Patrick's Day 

One green thing you won’t want to eat for St. Patrick’s Day

For some people, it isn’t St. Patrick’s Day unless it begins with a bagel as green as the Wicked Witch of the West and ends with knocking back one last pint of emerald beer.

There are all sorts of other green treats – courtesy of both nature and food coloring – to keep you in the Irish spirit throughout the day, but there’s one Irish favorite you must avoid at all costs is green: potatoes.

What was commonly known in past generations is now often thought to be an old wives' tale, but it’s true – green potatoes are poisonous.

Potatoes (solanum tuberosum) turn green and produce sprouts when exposed to sunlight or extreme temperatures. The green itself is chlorophyll and is totally harmless, but indicates increased levels of a toxin called solanine.

All potatoes produce solanine as a defense against pests and fungus. Eating potatoes with high levels of solanine can cause potato plant poisoning.

According to the National Institute of Health-run website Medicine Plus, symptoms of potato plant poisoning include delirium, fever, hallucinations, headache, vision changes, nausea, vomiting, shock, loss of sensation and a drop in body temperature.

Potatoes that are green in parts and only lightly sprouted can be remedied – just cut away the sprouts and green areas until all margins are clear.

Potatoes that are fully green, however, should be discarded. A study from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln revealed that 16oz of fully green potato (the size of a medium to large baked potato) would be enough to poison a person weighing 100 pounds. The bitter taste of green potatoes is also a natural deterrent.

While some studies have shown the temperatures reached when potatoes are deep fried to be enough to lessen the levels of solanine, boiling potatoes has little to no effect on the toxin.

If you simply must have green spuds, here’s a delicious and healthy take on Irish-Italian mashed potatoes, using dandelion greens (you can also use spinach) to create the green potato effect.

Enjoy!

* Originally published in March 2015.

Irish researchers isolate genes linked to huge array of diseases

Trinity geneticists have used evolutionary history to isolate a few genes that may be linked to a huge number of diseases.

The UniversityTimes.ie reports that the researchers discovered that the genes, dubbed “goldilocks genes”, are candidates for a diverse range of neurodevelopmental conditions including autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), intellectual disability, developmental delay, and epilepsy.

The researchers focused on regions within the human genome that are duplicated or deleted in some people. These regions, termed “copy number variants,” are common in humans, but the presence of these regions does not always result in noticeable differences between individuals. However, variations in these regions are associated with a variety of debilitating disorders and diseases. These disease-causing regions within the genome contain a vast number of genes and it has been very difficult to identify the specific genes that cause diseases.

Prof Aoife McLysaght of Trinity’s Department of Genetics spoke about the findings in a press release.

McLysaght explained that their “idea was that there must be some genes within these regions with ‘Goldilocks’ properties: too much or too little duplication, and things don’t work properly. The number of copies must be just right.”

The team looked at humans evolutionary history to learn which genes don’t tolerate changes amounts of duplication or deletion over evolutionary time. According to the geneticists, the key is in the presence of these genes within disease-causing regions of the human genome. This is particularly important for genes that are key to human development at early embryonic stages, reports UniversityTimes.ie.

Across different mammal species, regions linked to developmental disorders had far less variation in the number of gene copies than for regions where variations are not associated with disorders.This means that wider variations in the number of gene copies may continue to change in these non-disorder associated regions, but not in disease-linked regions.

McLysaght also said that their “work demonstrates that our evolutionary history is useful for understanding human disease. These metrics also allow us to home in on a short list of genes as candidates for the diseases in question — some of which are seriously debilitating”.

She believes that “isolating specific genes that are linked to these disorders will increase our understanding of how and why they develop.”

McLysaght said that for people dealing with these disorders, their research could “lead to better diagnostics, and potentially help to develop therapies further down the line.”

The researchers’ findings were published in the international scientific journal Nature Communications on February 8th.

Turning 27 - time to panic or embrace my freedom?

On the morning of my mother’s 27th birthday, she woke up in total agony and spent the following 18 hours in further agony as she gave birth to me. In my fetal desire to steal her thunder, I was 10 days late, managing to arrive on her birthday that she already shared with her own mother.

The best birthday present ever, or the absolute worst?

Twenty-seven years later, and I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be waking up on Sunday morning in labor. I also won’t be waking up beside a husband who owns his own company, before going to work at a company that I own, while living in an actual house. Oh, how the times have changed.

I will be waking up single, in an apartment that I share with two guys (and, on occasion, their girlfriends) and a cat, in a room that has no furniture apart from a mattress on the floor and two suitcases.

For some reason, turning 27 is a big deal for a lot of people. It’s the time at which you move from being in the safety pool of your “mid-twenties” to being officially in your “late-twenties” and therefore officially an adult with impending responsibilities, if not a ton of existing ones that you have so far chosen to ignore.

Not to mention, this is the year where, if you are a talented musician or artist, you are most likely to meet your untimely death. If you don’t die this year, were you even an artist at all? Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse… the list goes on.

My friends and I used to joke about The 27 Club in college (when it was okay to have such a dark, offensive sense of humor) as an age that felt forever away. And now here it is, creeping up on us like this ominous threat.

Is this the year we are to be the most reckless because it’s our last hurrah? Or the year where we really ought to be planning for life beyond Carpe Diem?

Now I am only three years away from 30. Being four years away from 30 wasn’t scary at all, because four years is an entire college experience and think of all the things I got done then!? (Thinking back, didn’t that entire four years go by so fast that I can hardly piece together a solid memory?)

In fact, I’ve now been out of college for longer than I was in college. And now I have to get my entire life together in three years -- no pressure.

There is also the sudden realization that at least half of the people you know are starting to get engaged, married, pregnant, or beginning to climb the real estate ladder. I’ve even started meeting people younger than me who are getting engaged, married, pregnant, or beginning to climb the real estate ladder.

Where’s the respect for your elders? This is just humiliating.

On Saturday night, I was trying on the engagement ring of a 24 year old “for luck.” I’m 90 percent sure I got a look of sympathy when I dropped the “I’m single” bomb, but maybe I’m projecting.

Dating now is a whole new ball game too. People start asking if you think it’s serious after approximately five minutes, and I don’t even know this person’s last name yet. So you start wondering if there’s even a point in casually dating people that you don’t ultimately see a future with, due to all of the aforementioned engagements and whatnot.

The mature (pretend, make-believe, hardly real) part of me is starting to wonder if there is a point in dating a string of idiots. The immature (basically 17, hopeless romantic, totally self-destructive) part of me is thinking it’s definitely okay to throw caution to the wind, to not panic about planning a future and to just continue having fun.

Maybe that’s exactly what it means to be 27 and single. We actually have more time to behave like we’re in our early-twenties because we’re not yet tied down. We still have a lot of freedom.

That being said, there’s a few different countdowns going on in the back of my mind. Purely because I was born on my mother’s 27th birthday, and not because of any desire to be laden down with diaper changes and all that riff raff, babies are suddenly a thing that my friends and I are talking about more and more. I no longer recoil in horror at pictures of friends’ babies and children, which was something I prided myself on for my entire life -- until now.

Just the other day, there had been a leak-like situation in a bathroom that I immediately offered to clean, in spite of it being completely disgusting. My friend, who has two kids, turned to me and said, “Well, if you’re that ok with cleaning up someone else’s mess, you’re 100 percent ready to have kids.”

Needless to say, I immediately broke out in a rash and frantically began re-evaluating my life. Need to meet someone by X to marry by Y to have first baby by Z? And that, my friends, is a slippery slope.

And turning 27 has been the first birthday that has made me ever start doing that math. Terrifying.

Working both with and against that horrifying arithmetic, is the adventure timeline. The tantalizing temptation to drop everything, take at least a year to go traveling alone, and go completely off the grid.

Life is not a dress rehearsal! You only live once! Carpe Diem! And the myriad other slogans go flying through my mind like a carousel.

I can’t go now because I haven’t established a career, and I have no money. But maybe it’s best to go soon because I have no furniture, no responsibilities, no humans depending on me. What if I wait and then it’s too late?

I know I’m not alone in asking these questions, and I know that all options are good ones. I’m spoiled really. It’s not quite Sophie’s choice, is it?

On one hand, turning 27 seems to be presenting an overwhelming collage of questions and decisions that will ultimately shape my adulthood. On the other hand, I’m kind of excited to get started.

Michael Fassbender’s oddball Irish Traveller movie about lawless and loving family

In "Trespass Against Us," Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson star as a father and son duo, heads of a group of Irish travelers encamped in the English countryside where they live a brutal but weirdly idyllic life on the edge of the law. Cahir O'Doherty checks out this oddball feature about a feuding family bound by lawlessness and love.

In "Trespass Against Us" Brendan Gleeson and Michael Fassbender play a rough and tumble father and son duo, heads of a group of Irish Travellers living life on the edge in leafy southern England.

On their knockabout campsite life is a bit of a riot, sometimes literally. Animals roam free, campfires burn day and night, booze flows freely as does the craic.

Fassbender, 39, plays Chad, the only son of Colby (Gleeson), a former free spirit who, now that he has a wife, son and daughter, is secretly beginning to think a settled life would be much better for his growing children.

But Colby sees any talk of buying a house as a threat to the wider family and their rootless way of life. To him it’s a betrayal of all they are and stand for. He’s not prepared to let his son leave, and he’s not subtle in sending the message.

So for the first half hour of "Trespass Against Us," it looks like the film is setting itself up for a mighty battle between father and son, between Chad’s Traveller past and his more settled future, and between his wife’s claim on his loyalty and his father’s.

Before we can figure out which it will be, though, Colby has Chad participate in a heist at a country estate, where he and his buddies help themselves to priceless antiques and artwork.

In their getaway car they drop off their takings to a van waiting in the woods, then they turn around and pursue the police cars because they’re actually hoping for a good chase (from a force portrayed as mostly Keystone Cop halfwits).

Willfully blurring the lines between criminality and playing is one of the main themes of "Trespass Against Us." The bad guys here aren’t actually all that bad, and the good cops aren’t entirely on the up and up either.

“Blessed are the cracked,” says Colby, referring to the wild-eyed Gordon (Sean Harris), the feral man who roams around everywhere nearly naked, for reasons that are never explained, other than because he’s developmentally challenged I suppose.

Gordon looks like a metaphor for a life lived without social rules, and being always in the buff he’s supposed to embody it too, and Harris does his best to convey this intent without much dialogue.

But in a wider sense Gordon’s a sort of stand-in for the Colby men, who alternate between gentle affection and brutal violence without much warning. In their wildness they are closer to the truth of life and the source of nature I think the film is suggesting.

I don’t really know though, to be honest, because the script bobs along from character to character without bothering to explore who they are or why they do what they do.  It’s as if director Adam Smith and writer Alastair Siddons get infatuated with the participants in each new scene they’re working on and forget that they’re all supposed to connect to the ones that precede and follow them.

There’s certainly a lot of truth in the playing of these emotionally inarticulate, unstable men, but that’s mostly down to the fact they’re being played by two of Ireland’s most compelling lead actors.

Fassbender in particular seems a strange pick as Chad, because with his leading man good looks and his quicksilver intelligence he seems smarter, more resourceful and much further seeing than he should be.

Gleeson, meanwhile, turns the glowering menace up to maximum tilt as the unpredictable patriarch who will brook no dissension in his ranks. Colby runs his family like a small company with himself as CEO, which makes for some interesting contrasts with Chad and sets a course for their increasing conflicts.

Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson in Trespass Against Us.

Since neither Fassbender or Gleeson are capable of playing one note characters the squabbles between these two are richly layered, clearly extending all the way back to Chad’s hardscrabble childhood and accumulating like an abscess.

But before we can feel certain that the film is about their inevitable showdown, Chad’s wife and her plans for the future take the film in another direction, which comes with a surprising tonal shift that pulls the rug from under the audience’s expectations.

First Chad is pursued by the police for a crime they know he has committed, but then we are jolted sideways when Chad’s two children go missing from school.

Now we follow Chad and Kelly (Lyndsey Marshall) as they frantically drive around the Traveller halting sites and festivals desperate to find the missing runaways.

Once again Chad happens upon Colby as he’s watching a brutal wrestling match, and the older man’s lack of concern about the missing kids is another indication of just how stone cold his heart is. That awareness haunts Chad and he and his wife speed around frantically.

Behind all this tussling there are interesting questions about poverty and wealth, loyalty and betrayal, what it means to live authentically and what it costs to surrender the best parts of yourself for a quiet life.

Unfortunately the script doesn’t know how to ask those questions, leaving the main actors floundering or improvising in the hope of asking it themselves. That means the last act throws up some plot lines that look like they want to resolve themselves, and by this stage I think you’ll probably want them to too.

Fassbender’s noble brow, coupled with his matchless strength and sensitivity, are just too much for the dodgy surroundings he’s supposed to inhabit, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the film’s final set piece.

What bonds this big dysfunctional family together is love, even though previously there was no love between the two male leads to speak of, only fear and lifelong toxic resentment.

Recent years have seen the emergence of a whole new English film genre, roughly where bourgeois writers, directors and sometimes actors seem to harness the lost vitality of the working class to add some depth to their half-baked capers.

Sadly "Trespass Against Us" turns out to be another one of those, thanks to the half-baked script and the uncertain direction.

Why the film has been titled the way it has, who these people were or will become, why they are Irish but speak with Devonshire accents (I think?), what they want for themselves or why it matters in the scheme of things are questions that the film leaves largely unaddressed.

Gleeson and Fassbender are both world-class actors, in my opinion the top two male film actors of their respective generations. That they appear together in this low budget independent flick should have been a cause for celebration, but it’s as if the director and screenwriter have been given two Ferraris which they proceed to drive like Mini Metros.

You’ll come away from "Trespass Against Us" wondering whom to blame for the debacle.  I suggest you look no further than the writer and director on the closing credits.

The film is on limited release, also on Video on Demand.

Ryanair asks wheelchair user to walk up stairs, leaves her crying at the gate

Ryanair staff at Dublin Airport left a wheelchair user crying at the gate after telling her they didn’t have time to help her to board the flight, “no exceptions.”

Trinity College student Niamh Herbert was looking forward to attending London Fashion Week with friends from the university’s Fashion Society. After she arrived at the gate in Dublin Airport she was originally told to wait 15 minutes for assistance by cabin crew, before being asked whether she was able to climb the stairs to the flight, “for easiness sake”.

In what she later described as an example of “shocking ableism”, the captain at that point rang through to tell her he was leaving without her.

After she threatened legal action Ryanair later told her she could catch the next flight to London but she already felt that her vacation was “pretty much ruined”.

Her friends - who were allowed to board the flight - waited for her at the airport in London but when they asked staff for the captain’s name, they were greeted with a stony wall of silence.

Despite her upsetting experience, Niamh has yet to receive an apology from Ryanair staff and the only acknowledgement of the incident has been a bizarre tweet from the company in which they said, “Hi Niamh, Our Crew at Dublin Airport are providing assistance. Please advise if you need any further information. LR”.

It just so happened that Niamh was also fulfilling her role as curator for the Twitter account @Ireland. Each week the Twitter community is hosted by a different Irish person or Hibernophile somewhere in the world.

In a post on her Facebook page that’s been shared over a hundred time, Niamh wrote, “My plea is for you all to circulate this, and make sure Ryanair is held accountable for crimes of discrimination.”

Speaking to IrishCentral from London, Niamh said that Trinity’s student union president had contacted the university’s attorney who would look to see if Ryanair had breached Irish disability legislation.

For now though, she has begun to enjoy her vacation in London before she heads back to Ireland and a meeting with an attorney.

Ryanair released a statement to IrishCentral on Sunday. It reads: "While we regret any inconvenience, this customer arrived at the boarding gate 13 minutes before the flight was due to depart and had not booked any wheelchair services. Our crew provided full assistance and as a gesture of goodwill, transferred this customer on to the next available flight, free of charge, and the customer flew to London Stansted. Thousands of passengers of reduced mobility travel with Ryanair on a weekly basis without issue and any customers who require wheelchair assistance are asked to book it in advance."

For more discussion on this topic visit www.reddit.com/r/nottheonion

Read more: Young woman in wheelchair who Ryanair left behind plans to sue airline

Ranked! The best Catholic Colleges in America by USA Today

The Irish American community has strong historic connections with many of America’s Catholic colleges. For many students, attending one is an excellent way to combine a rigorous education with a spiritual support system that makes the transition from living at home to a college campus just that much easier.

USA Today has released a ranked list of the nation’s 10 ten Catholic colleges to aid High School students still pondering where they should apply. The list is compiled using rankings provided by College Factual which uses various outcomes such as graduation rates, starter salaries, and loan default rates to rate colleges.

Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana

Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana

Taking the gold medal is the University of Notre Dame. The South Bend, Indiana college remains one of the great Irish American institutions in this country and its sports teams are known for the pride with which they bear the name Fighting Irish.

It takes its Catholic identity very seriously. Students can still attend regular Mass if they want to and the university makes clear on its website that one of its “distinctive goals is to provide a forum where, through free inquiry and open discussion, the various lines of Catholic thought may intersect with all the forms of knowledge.”

Notre Dame offers 65 undergraduate courses and College Factual rates its fees as “good.” Currently, it will cost you $184,000 to obtain a degree from Notre Dame (unless you get a scholarship) compared with $210,000 it’ll cost you to attend Chicago's Northwestern University, by way of comparison.

College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA

College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA

With a name like that who could doubt its Catholic roots or ethos? The school is located in New England’s second biggest city, Worcester, MA.

This Jesuit College offers students the chance to get a strong Liberal Arts education in a small, intimate environment with only some 2,700 fellow classmates.

A couple of years ago, it was ranked as one of the best value Liberal Arts college in the US and its annual tuition is currently $48,000 per annum.

Georgetown University, Washington D.C

Georgetown University, Washington D.C.

The nation’s oldest Jesuit and Catholic university, Georgetown is almost as ancient as the United States itself. The college has an illustrious reputation and unrivaled political connections with the White House and US Congress just around the corner. Bill Clinton went to college here, and he still drops by now and again. Students frequently get internships with politicians, which is how Huma Abedin (who would probably have become Hillary’s Chief of Staff) got her first job with the then First Lady. Who knows, that could be you?

Without financial aid tuition comes to $46,000 a year – and you get a beautiful campus to study at too!

Boston College, Boston, MA

Boston College, Boston, MA

Boston College is another proud Jesuit school and its stunningly beautiful campus is almost a good enough reason alone to go to college there. Its buildings are, in fact, some of the earliest examples of Gothic architecture in North America.

It has a high freshman graduation rate and tuition (without aid) will set you back $50,000 a year.

Villanova University, Villanova, PA

Villanova University, Villanova, PA

This Philadelphia area school places a strong emphasis on community service – something it credits its Catholic traditions with. The college is packed with history and is allegedly linked by secret tunnels to local hospitals. Apparently they were built during the Civil War, but their existence is disputed, so it's unlikely they’ll be your shortcut to class when you’re running late.

Fees at the school without aid are $65,000 per annum.

Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA

Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA

Another prestigious Jesuit institution. Santa Clara is located in the heart of Silicon Valley and the university has a well-earned reputation for churning out Fulbright Scholars and all from an welcoming environment of 9,000 students. 

It’s also stunning: in 2012 Santa Clara University was ranked as the second most beautiful college in all the United States. And with that beauty you also get some relatively low fees at $43,000 a year without financial aid.

Providence College, Providence, RI

Providence College, Providence, RI

Providence College is another beautiful school to make our list. Set in the chocolate box perfect town in Rhode Island that it gets its name from, students learn in an intimate environment with only 4,000 other peers. It is the only North American college to be administered by Dominican Friars.

Its fees, without financial aid, are $44,000 and reach $59,000 once room and board are thrown in.

College of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, MN

College of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, MN

Are you a boy? If so you can’t attend the College of Saint Benedict. CSB in the aptly named town of Collegeville, MN is an all women's college, although it has strong links to the all-male St John’s University.

The colleges are jointly home to the famous St. John’s Bible and the college is still run on Benedictine values.

Tuition without financial aid is $43,000 a year which is a few hundred dollars lower than what the boys across the street pay.

Thomas Aquinas College, Santa Paula, CA

Thomas Aquinas College, Santa Paula, CA

Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, CA was only founded in 1970, but its modern foundation is based on its adherence to Catholic values that are hundreds of years old. In fact, it was even endorsed by The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College.

100% of its teachers are full-time and the student to staff ratio is 11 to one. Tuition fees without financial aid are a very cheap $25,000 per annum.

Gonzaga, Spokane, WA

Gonzaga, Spokane, WA

Gonzaga is another Jesuit college you might want to add to your list and is in the delightful town of Spokane, WA. Its motto is 'For the Greater Glory of God' and it has never forgotten its Catholic roots.

It’s considered one of the best 'value for money' colleges and a 4-year degree from Gonzaga will set you back (without financial aid) $150,000.

Read more: Irish one of the top 10 languages learned on new app

H/T: CollegeFactual, College.USAToday.com.

President Trump - It is time to deport your wife for working illegally!

Under the new guidelines issued by the Department of Homeland Security, Donald Trump should order his wife deported back to Slovenia. Fox News reported she had worked illegally when she came to America first.

Given that today it was announced that the description of a crime committed by an immigrant has widened, Melania seems to fit the bill exactly.

The Washington Post states that Homeland Security Honcho General Kelly has made the new orders clear: “Kelly’s new DHS policies considerably broaden the pool of those who are prioritized for deportations, including undocumented immigrants who have been charged with crimes but not convicted, those who commit acts that constitute a 'chargeable criminal offense,' and those who an immigration officer concludes pose 'a risk to public safety or national security.'"

A chargeable criminal offense includes working illegally as Melania did. She broke the law—she must pay.

And it’s not fake news! Fox News reported this during the campaign.

A Fox news report stated: “Melania Trump was paid for 10 modeling jobs in the United States worth $20,056 that occurred in the seven weeks before she had legal permission to work in the country, according to detailed accounting ledgers, contracts and related documents from 20 years ago provided to The Associated Press.

“The details of Mrs. Trump's early paid modeling work in the U.S. emerged in the final days of a bitter presidential campaign in which her husband, Donald Trump, has taken a hard line on immigration laws and those who violate them … Trump has noted that federal law prohibits illegally paying immigrants.”

Mrs. Trump, who received a green card in March 2001 and became a U.S. citizen in 2006, has always maintained that she arrived in the country legally and never violated the terms of her immigration status (which is not true, according to Fox).

During the presidential campaign, she has cited her story to defend her husband's hard line on immigration.

So we can look forward to an ICE raid on Trump Tower no doubt with Melania dispatched in handcuffs to JFK? I doubt it.

“Miracle” letter delivered in County Kerry by incredible mailman

The Irish postal system has long been known for its ability to successfully deliver letters despite incomplete addresses, but the letter delivered to a young woman in Dingle, County Kerry might top them all.

Andy Langlois was trying to make contact with Anne Long, an acquaintance of his in Dingle, but he was unsure of the address and name.

But he had heard about Ireland's stellar reputation in this area from his own time living in Kerry and decided to take a shot.

Well done An Post...well done.

Imagine his sheer delight when Anne received the letter and wrote back informing him.

The United States Postal Service boasts that "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed round."

In Ireland, they might add in, or "half written address or no address at all except a physical description of the woman and the area she lived in."

Anyway, all's well that ends well...

Read more: The last letter written on board the doomed Titanic

What song did John F Kennedy ask Judy Garland to sing to him on the phone?

A new book, about Judy Garland, has revealed that President John F. Kennedy would often call the star and ask her to sing her most iconic song, “Over the Rainbow,” over the phone.

A new memoir by "The Wizard of Oz" star’s third husband Sid Luft, which was crafted from notes Luft left unfinished before he died in 2005, tells how Garland was introduced to JFK by Peter Lawford and his wife Patricia, Kennedy’s younger sister, when Kennedy was a junior senator from Massachusetts.

“JFK was young, lanky and extremely outgoing,” writes Luft in "Judy and I: My Life with Judy Garland." “He asked Peter and Pat to introduce him to ‘Dorothy’ in the flesh.”

Detail from the cover of "Judy and I: My Life with Judy Garland" by Sid Luft.

Garland and Kennedy struck up a friendship, and as Luft wrote: “In the coming years, JFK would ring Judy from either the White House or Camp David and ask her to sing to him over the telephone.”

“He’d request ‘Over the Rainbow,’” continued Luft. “Judy was located somewhere in New York and obliged the President with several renditions of his favorite melodies.”

Garland and Sid Luft’s son, Joey Luft, remembers how excited his mother would get whenever the president called.

“I remember he called her one time. I think it was after the election and she was jumping up and down in the living room. She campaigned for him and they were pretty close,” he said.

In the book, Sid Luft also shares memories of the parties he and Garland attended at the Lawford home.

“It was at the Lawford’s beach house that I was introduced to grass,” Luft wrote. “The scenes at the Lawford’s were heady – at times Jack was there or Teddy or some other member of the Kennedy clan. Peter knew damn well if he brought girls around, Jack would take over. He’d steal any girl in sight.”

Read more: What did a young John F Kennedy look like during World War II?

IrishCentral's live trad music seisiun at The Cobblestone in Smithfield

IrishCentral were delighted to record (via Facebook Live) from the “drinking pub with a music problem”, the famous Cobblestone, in Smithfield Square, on Tuesday night. We were lucky enough to catch one of their regular Tuesday afternoon trad music seisiun’s performed by regular players, The Mulligans and some friends.

This traditional Irish music bar and venue, is laid back, friendly and built on the family tradition – respect for Irish music and culture. Owned by Tom Mulligan, The Cobblestone has remained one of the few last bastions in the center of Dublin, a kind of refuge from city life.

The spectacular musicians listed below are for the most part from the Mulligan family, including his brothers Alphie and Néillidh, the pipers and nieces and nephews. Tom Mulligan’s family have been playing Irish music for five generations - no one can remember back any further. Some of Ireland’s finest musicians, including Tom’s brother, the renowned uilleann piper Néillidh, lead traditional Irish music sessions in the bar seven days a week.

The sound this family makes, we think you’ll agree is something really special.

Delighted to be streaming live from an afternoon trad seisuin at The Cobblestone, in Smithfield, Dublin. Read more here: http://irsh.us/2l48CFc or visit www.cobblestonepub.ie

Posted by IrishCentral.com on Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Here’s full list of the performers:

Alphie – pipes

Tadhg – bouzouki

Saran – concertina

Caoimhe – fiddles / Sean-nós dance

Sabhdh – flute

Pauline – whistle / song

Néillidh – pipes

Jan Michael – whistle

Davóg Rynne – Bodhran / song

This music is not put on for show. Musicians and singers hand on songs, tunes and skills that keep the tradition alive at the Cobblestone in Dublin.

As well as hosting Na Piobairí Uilleann(Pipers Seisiún) on the first Tuesday night of every month The Cobblestone Backroom Venue also presents gigs, sessions, classes, and talks. The events varied and abundant ranging from bluegrass, country, folk, singer / songwriter nights, sean-nós singing and dancing, set dancing, céilidh, history talks and more.

The Balaclavas session takes place every Wednesday night in The Backroom when Tom’s daughter Síomha and Jacqui Martin, both fiddle players, teach Irish music on a variety of instruments to those not yet brave enough to play in the front bar (Balaclava supplied if you are really shy).

We highly recommend that you come and enjoy the atmosphere in a real Irish bar. Drop in, have a pint and soak in the Irish music.

The Cobblestone is in one of Dublin’s oldest neighborhoods, Smithfield, one minute from the Luas stop and 15-minutes walk from O’Connell Street.

Read more: Dublin's best bar is a well-kept secret

For more visit CobblestonePub.ie.

Liam Neeson to appear in Love Actually sequel

Irish actor Liam Neeson will appear in the newly-announced television sequel to the 2003 hit holiday film Love Actually.

The short, 10-minute sequel will air on March 24th as part of BBC’s Red Nose Day, a British TV telethon. 

Neeson will be joined with many of the ensemble film’s original actors including Keira Knightly, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Rowan Atkinson, and Bill Nighy.

In the romantic comedy, Neeson played Daniel, a man trying to raise his stepson Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster)after the death of his wife.

According to the Telegraph, Red Nose Day Actually will revisit the characters "to discover what they're up to in 2017."

The film's director, Richard Curtis, said:

"I would never have dreamt of writing a sequel to Love Actually, but I thought it might be fun to do 10 minutes to see what everyone is now up to.

"Who has aged best? - I guess that’s the big question… or is it so obviously Liam?"

"We’ve been delighted and grateful that so many of the cast are around and able to take part - and it’ll certainly be a nostalgic moment getting back together and recreating their characters 14 years later.

"We hope to make something that’ll be fun - very much in the spirit of the original film and of Red Nose Day - and which we hope will help bring lots of viewers and cash to the Red Nose Day shows."

In case you've been living under a rock, here's the trailer to the much loved rom-com Love Actually:

Caroline Kennedy’s son looks exactly like JFK Jr.

Caroline Kennedy’s youngest child and only son, Jack Schlossberg, has been attracting much attention for his uncanny resemblance to his uncle, the late John F. Kennedy, Jr., who died in a plane crash in 1999.

The 24-year-old is already taking after his late uncle in many ways, according to friends and family.

"Jack is very much interested in John," a friend told People magazine. "He has an ease and a sense of humor. And he loves being compared to him. John was a rare kind of celebrity who grew up with being famous and had fun with it and didn't let it take over his life."

It seems Schlossberg has not only inherited his uncle’s good looks, but also the Kennedy family brains. Schlossberg graduated from Yale University in 2015 with a degree in history and a focus on Japanese history.

People magazine has noted that he spent time in Japan with his mom, Caroline, who was serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Japan at the time.

At Yale, Schlossberg wrote blog posts for The Yale Herald and trained to become a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician. "Jack sees this training as a way to give back to the New Haven community that he's living in, and where there's obviously a lot of issues [such as crime and poverty]," a friend told the New York Post in 2013. "Jack's very aware of all the privileges and opportunities that come with his family, so his EMT training has a lot to do with the community-service aspect."

Speaking of community service, Schlossberg has already founded a non-profit organization. When he was in eighth grade, he found RelightNY, which reportedly "provides compact fluorescent light bulbs to low-income housing developments and promotes environmental awareness."

Following his graduation from Yale, he took the LSATS in November 2016, and in December 2016, he was reportedly studying for the GRE and was in the process of applying to grad schools.

As a member of the Kennedy family, it is no surprise that he is interested in entering the political arena.

In 2013, he served as an intern to Sen. John Kerry and subsequently as a page on the Senate floor. On campus, he co-founded an organization in support of Sen. Chris Murphy, TheList.com reports. He has also voiced his opinions on a number of issues. He wrote about the Syrian refugee crisis for Time magazine in 2016, and that same year, in Politico, he denounced Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz's self-made comparisons to President John F. Kennedy. He also wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post, urging young people to cast their vote for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.

In 2011, he wrote a letter to The New York Times criticizing an article written about his grandfather, President John F. Kennedy.

"[Writer] Mr. Douthat suggests that President Kennedy was a 'near disaster,'" Schlossberg wrote. "He criticizes Kennedy on civil rights; Kennedy was the first president to deem civil rights 'a moral issue,' and applied federal authority to force desegregation. The president described as 'famously hawkish' resolved the Cuban Missile Crisis peacefully. Mr. Douthat does not mention what President Kennedy called his proudest accomplishment: the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty."

However, even though he honors and is proud of his family, he doesn’t let the Kennedy legacy define him.

A friend has noted that Schlossberg is "not walking around with a big sign over his head. He's not spending a lot of time thinking about his family's legacy. It's something he's proud of, but it doesn't define him."

Read more: Jackie Kennedy’s granddaughter has uncannily similar looks

Irish Car Bomb cocktail – Is it an insult to the Irish or harmless fun?

I can’t quite get my head around the drink called the Irish Car Bomb, which comes center stage every year around this time.

Sure, I know it's very popular, but what would American’s reaction be if I invented a drink called “School Shooter” or “Boston Marathon Bomber.”

Not too kindly I’d say and quite right. Not everything can be trivialized and slapped up on a counter.

We Irish are accused of being too sensitive, but not every jibe washes off. Car bombs are bad business and deeply traumatizing to survivors and families who have lost someone.

Yet, I believe the car bomb – a mixture of Guinness, Jameson and Baileys – is more popular than ever... (incidentally showing that ruining a perfectly good pint of Guinness by dropping a shot and a Baileys in it is acceptable to many.)

The makings of an Irish Car Bomb.

It came back up for me when BroBasket, a gift company out of Camarillo, California, offered an Irish Car Bomb case with a special title “The Irish I was drunk” package as the main attraction.

Enough, says I. That’s silly and insulting, making the Irish out to be right morons.

An IRA victim’s group, FAIR (Families Acting for Innocent Relatives), has criticized the selling of the cocktail for several years, claiming the suffering of car bomb attack victims, who have been maimed or killed, should not be celebrated in such a way. They have a point.

Willie Frazer, a spokesman for the group, said: “It is disgusting that IRA car bombs which killed and maimed so many in Northern Ireland are being trivialized or celebrated in this way.

"I would have expected Americans, of all people, to behave more sensitively and responsibly. How would they like it if we developed the Al-Qaeda car bomb, the Twin Towers cocktail, or the 9/11 ice-cream sundae?"

Diageo, which owns two of the ingredients for an Irish Car Bomb, certainly agrees.

“We are proud of the role our brands play in celebrating occasions such as St Patrick’s Day,” said Emily Hallie, a Diageo spokeswoman, in a prepared statement. “We have a stringent marketing code which ensures that we promote only the responsible consumption of our brands. As such we do not seek to support drinks such as the Irish Car Bomb.”

The inventor of the tasty concoction, a bar owner named Charles Oat in Connecticut, has even apologized for his insensitive christening and wishes he could take it back.

"Of course, today I would take that name back. Of course – there's no question about it," Oat said It was a brave admission.

However, such criticism hasn't stopped its popularity. Former IrishCentral editor Megan Finnegan saw no real harm in the name. She wrote:

“There are a whole host of explicit drink names that denigrate women, most of which I can’t even write for this website. (The least offensive on the list is a Redheaded Slut.) And is an Irish Car Bomb really worse than a Runny Duck Fart? If you’re got a sensitive issue, chances are that there’s some idiotic cocktail name that will upset you.”

That may be true, but I don’t see such drinks having anything like the prominence that the Irish Car Bomb has.

She says the real equivalent of the Irish Car Bomb is the Kamikaze shot (vodka, triple sec and lime juice), named after the Japanese pilots who used their planes as bombs in the during WWII. Approximately 2,400 people died on December 7, 1941. To put that into perspective, 2,996 people died on September 11, 2001 and the IRA killed about 1,800 people during its active period spanning four decades. “So why don’t we have World War II vets protesting young whippersnappers with fake IDs doing Kamikaze shots?”, she asks.

Yes, but again it’s not called the Pearl Harbor victory shot, (though there were no kamikaze incidents in that surprise attack) so it is a deflected blow and many may see it in a different context and not make the connection. There is only one way to see the Irish Car Bomb.

Last year the Guardian quoted a bartender in New York as saying, "Americans ordering Irish Car Bombs is downright offensive. I might as well walk into a sports bar and order a School Shooting."

Me? I'm old enough to remember the Dublin/Monaghan bombings of May 17, 1974 when Loyalist killers, set up with weapons and bomb-making equipment by British secret forces, murdered 33 innocent bystanders (including a pregnant woman) and injured 300 using car bombs. The mass murderer Robin Jackson, AKA “the Jackal,” played the lead role.

Robin Jackson AKA The Jackal, carried out the most devastating car bombing of The Troubles.

Anything that reminds me of that atrocity does not ring my bell. I remember my distraught parents desperately trying to reach three of their children who were in Dublin that awful night.

No, the Irish Car Bomb fizzles for me. It might be time to replace the name with something else. How about “The Quiet Mad Man?”

Read more: Is the war being won or lost? Crude St. Patrick’s Day t-shirts of 2017

Hints of incest in newly discovered diary of Oscar Wilde?

Recently, the Irish Times ran an article about the discovery of one of Oscar Wilde’s notebooks, which was discovered at the Free Library of Philadelphia by Mark Samuels Lasner, an expert on the literature and art of the late Victorian era.

The Times’ article was written by Dr. Angela Kingston, who is writing a novel about Wilde’s relationship with his sister Isola, who died just short of her 10th birthday in 1867. The contents of the notebook forced Kingston to halt her novel and return to the drawing board as she reevaluated the Isola-Oscar relationship.

Child of Privilege

Isola was born on April 2, 1857, the third child of Lady Jane and Sir William Wilde after Willie and Oscar. Sir William was the most expert eye surgeon in the United Kingdom and Lady Jane, under the pen name “Speranza,” was the radical poet of the New Ireland movement and a close associate of such famous patriots as Thomas Francis Meagher, William Smith O’Brien and Thomas Davis. According to The Fall of the House of Wilde: Oscar Wilde and His Family by Emer O’Sullivan, Isola was a special child, beloved by her parents and brothers. Per her mother, she was “the pet of the house.”

According to O’Sullivan, in February 1867 Isola “caught a fever and, when she seemed to be getting better, her parents sent her to breathe fresher air in Longford” with Sir William’s relatives. “But no sooner,” wrote O’Sullivan, “was Isola in Longford than she suffered a relapse. By the time Jane and William arrived, Isola was beyond hope—they watched her die.” O’Sullivan speculates that the cause of death might have been meningitis.

Isola’s death darkened the family. Lady Jane wrote that “…Isola was the radiant angel of our home—& so bright and strong and joyous. We never dreamed the word death was meant for her.”

The physician who attended Isola saw that Oscar was devastated by his sister’s death. He observed Oscar as “lonely and inconsolable grief seeking vent in long and frequent visits to his sister’s grave in the village cemetery…”

Years later, in 1881, obviously still grieving, Oscar wrote “Requiescat”:

Tread lightly, she is near

Under the snow,

Speak gently, she can hear

The daisies grow.

 

All her bright golden hair

Tarnished with rust,

She that was young and fair

Fallen to dust.

 

Lily-like, white as snow,

She hardly knew

She was a woman, so

Sweetly she grew.

 

Coffin-board, heavy stone,

Lie on her breast,

I vex my heart alone,

She is at rest.

 

Peace, Peace, she cannot hear

Lyre or sonnet,

All my life’s buried here,

Heap earth upon it.

A Previous Draft Causes Reevaluation

Lasner’s find of Oscar’s lost notebook contained a previous draft of the poem, which caused Kingston to admit: “I was shaken by its previously unknown draft of ‘Requiescat.’ ” She goes on to state in the Times’ article: “An additional verse in the poem changed everything:

Had we not loved so well

Not loved at all

None would have tolled the bell

None borne the pall

Wilde’s cause and effect connection, between ‘we’ loving so well and Isola’s death, had not been publicly recorded. Another unpublished fragment in the notebook was even more astonishing:

O bitter fate

When some long strangled memory of sin

Strikes with its poisoned knife into a heart

While she has slept at peace.

Those lines seem to have been moderated for the published version of ‘Requiescat’:

Coffin-board, heavy stone,

Lie on her breast

I vex my heart alone

She is at rest.”

Was Oscar Hiding a Dark Secret?

Kingston goes on to speculate about the meaning that the previous draft of “Requiescat” exposed. Oscar, years later, was still agonizing over his sister’s death. Kingston believes that there may be more than grief in Oscar’s tone. There might be also a sense of guilt that he was somehow responsible for Isola’s death.

“Before the Philadelphia find,” wrote Kingston in the Times’ article, “Wilde’s works had inspired a handful of scholars to explore the possibility of an incestuous attraction or event between Oscar and Isola. Such theories have not gained widespread acceptance due to the lack of evidence and potential stigma involved. While the contents of the Philadelphia notebook might be used to support such theories, it must be remembered they do not substantiate them.

“Nor is this question the most important aspect of the draft ‘Requiescat’ passages; their revelations about Isola’s centrality to Wilde’s emotional and literary life are far more pertinent. Oscar Wilde is an icon of the modern age, who has had an enormous impact on western literature and culture. The indicators that his sister was a key influence, perhaps even his muse, constitute a discovery of major significance.

“…In the absence of further evidence, nothing can be inferred with any certainty; the nature of Oscar’s strangled memories may remain a mystery of modern literature.”

So, the mystery remains. Was Isola Oscar’s muse—or something more? Another Oscar Wilde secret for the scholars to investigate.

Read more: Mysterious death of Oscar Wilde's wife Constance Lloyd

* Dermot McEvoy is the author of the The 13th Apostle: A Novel of a Dublin Family, Michael Collins, and the Irish Uprising and Our Lady of Greenwich Village, now available in paperback from Skyhorse Publishing. He may be reached at dermotmcevoy50@gmail.com. Follow him at www.dermotmcevoy.com. Follow The 13th Apostle on Facebook at www.facebook.com/13thApostleMcEvoy.

H/T: Irish Times.

Ex-Canadian leader Brian Mulroney performs “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” for Donald Trump

The former prime minister of Canada Brian Mulroney say the Irish American classic “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” to President Donald Trump at the Mar-a-Lago, Florida resort, on Saturday night.

A video posted on various social media platforms appears to have been taken at a fundraiser for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. It was headlined by the Canadian songwriter David Foster.

Mulroney, who has been a longtime neighbor of Trump’s in Palm Beach, FL, was sitting with the President and his wife, Melania, at the fundraiser. The Star also reported that Mulroney gave the President a first-hand read on the meetings with the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Washington last week.

Also present was Brian Burns, named by Trump as his the future US Ambassador to Ireland.

Calling Mulroney to the stage, the headliner Foster, said “I would never presume to say that I could go to the president of the United States and ask him to sing, so I won’t do that.”

Mulroney jokingly said to the president, before starting his performance, “Mr. President, I hope this doesn’t fracture U.S.-Canada relations for decades…I apologize in advance.”

He told the crowd the previous evening he had visited with Andrea Bocelli, the opera singer at his home, and the Italian pro had said he had a good voice.

This was not the first time that Mulroney said “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” for a US President. In 1985, the Canadian and his wife, Mila, joined Ronald Regan and his wife, Nancy, in singing the song during a meeting Quebec City, dubbed the “Shamrock Summit.”

The Trump and Mulroney families have known each other for over 25 years. The families have homes in Palm Beach and their adult children know each other well.

The former Canadian PM is clearly proud of his Irish roots. Mulroney was born in Baie-Comeau, Quebec to Irish Canadian Catholic parents Mary Irene (née O'Shea) and Benedict Martin Mulroney.

Ironically his entertaining favorite tune, “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”, was not the work of those back on the Emerald Isle. While it’s long associated with the Irish and tends to crop up in ever Ireland-related movie, it was in fact written by a trio of writers in the United States, with strong tied to America’s Tin Pan Alley.

Read more: The history behind “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”

Happy President's Day - 22 of America's presidents had Irish roots

Ever since John F. Kennedy's trip to Dunganstown, County Wexford, in 1963, almost every President of the United States has traveled across the Atlantic, often to seek out their ancestral home.

With our current President, Barack Obama, also visiting his ancestral family home, Moneygall, County Offaly, during his time in office, historians are taking a look at the 22 American presidents with roots in Ireland.

John Robert Greene, a historian and author of dozens of books, explained: "It's very simple, Catholic votes …There's not a huge love of Irish tradition, with the possible exception of JFK and Ronald Reagan, not a huge love of Irish culture, with the possible exception of JFK, Reagan and Bill Clinton, but there's a huge love for Catholic votes and particularly Irish Catholic votes.

Obama and Taoisech Enda Kenny on St. Patrick's Day.

In 1984 President Ronald Regan and his wife Nancy visited Ballyporeen in County Tipperary. Eight bed and breakfasts, two cafes and souvenir businesses opened up. The tourist boom lasted for six or seven years.

The local pub was renamed after the president before he even arrived and after his death in 2005 the Reagan presidential library acquired the interior of the pub. The walls were decked with images of the president around the world.

Ronald Reagan.

The pub's owner, Mary O'Farrell, told the BBC, "He was real Irish in temperament …You'd know he was Irish, he had that sense of humor and glint in his eye."

Most of the 22 Irish American presidents have their roots in Tyrone and Antrim and come from a Protestant background of 19th century Ulster. They generally settled in the south and west in the US. Later they labeled themselves Scots-Irish in a bid to distinguish themselves from the Catholics fleeing Ireland during the potato famine of the 1840s. It better served those running for the presidency to not associate with those coming out of Ireland, who were being accused of stealing American jobs.

During the early 20th century, those attitudes began to change and then along came John F. Kennedy.

US statesman John F Kennedy (centre), 35th president of the USA, with Dublin's macebearer Jim Buckley (left) during a visit to Dublin. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Although neither his parents nor grandparents were born in Ireland, he forged a solid Irish identity and he became the first Catholic to take the office. At Kennedy's rallies, filled with prominent Irish Catholics such as Tip O'Neill, "Danny Boy" was the tune of choice.

Talking about Kennedy Greene said, "He clearly wanted the link to the Irish and he made himself more Irish than any other American president."

Since Kennedy (who was assassinated on November 22, 1963) every president apartment from Gerald Ford has claimed some sort of Irish ancestry, says Greene. Although he commented that in Bill Clinton's case there was no evidence.

Bill Clinton, former Irish president Mary Robinson, and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Carl Shanahan, founder of Wild Geese, an organization that promotes Irish culture in the US and worldwide, said that what these presidents are doing is exactly like what millions of Americans do every day.

Shanahan said, "Being Irish doesn't hurt you at any level of society. We were never at war with Americans like the Germans, the Italians and the Japanese. In Washington's army the numbers were a third Irish or Scottish-Irish …There is an affinity by association. It's the reputation of the Irish, the fighting Irish. A guy who gets off his feet and fights the battle and wins. We had boxing champs and baseball teams."

He continues, "We fought their wars, opened up their territories and built their cities. There's nowhere to tell that story and if we don't tell it, then people will forget."

One excellent demonstration of this is the St. Patrick's Day parade, which is older than the United States itself. The first parade took place 250 years ago in 1766, in New York, ten years before the Declaration of Independence.

* Originally published in 2013. 

Secrets you should know about McDonald’s Shamrock St. Patrick’s Day milkshake

The secrets behind the McDonald's best-selling Shamrock Shake have been revealed. Strangely, the bright green minty treat dates back to 1970, and its story is based around a charitable act.

The Shamrock Shake was developed in 1970, according to McDonald's. However, according to reports on Delish.com, Harold Rosen, who owned a McDonald's in Connecticut, claims he invented the popular holiday drink in 1966.

The McDonald's website says, "It all began with a little girl, a football team, and a visionary doctor."

The Philadelphia Eagles tight end Fred Hill's daughter was diagnosed with leukemia and began treatment. The Hill family were camping out in waiting rooms in hospitals and saw other families doing the same. They realized that many families who were traveling long distances to visit their sick family members had nowhere to stay and could not afford hotel rooms. The Hill family did something about it.

Hill and his team decided to raise some funds. The team's general manager, Jim Murray, called a friend in McDonald's advertising and suggested the team on the next promotional push. It just happened to be St. Patrick's Day.

Read more: Ireland’s favorite meal, St Patrick's Day bacon and cabbage recipe

Rogers Merchandising in Chicago created the shake and James Byrne, the executive artist at the firm, used a family recipe.

The Shamrock Shake raised enough money to buy a four-story house which was the first Ronald McDonald House.

Imagine, the Shamrock Shake now has 21,500 fans on Facebook and is second in popularity only to the McRib, and that sandwich had a "Simpsons" episode dedicated to it!

More importantly, the Ronald McDonald House program has also exploded in size as a much needed resource for families dealing with the difficulties of looking after a sick child in the hospital. It now has a presence in 60 countries and regions across the globe providing homes, family rooms, care mobiles, grants and scholarships that help almost 6 million families. 

Kim Hill, the girl who inspired it all, unfortunately passed away in 2011 aged 44. 

Here’s a hilarious ad for the Shamrock Shake from 1983:

*Originally published in 2013.

Rory McIlroy says Donald Trump’s a “decent” golfer after Sunday game

County Down’s Rory McIlroy played a round of golf with the President of the United States, Donald Trump, on Sunday, at Trump International Golf Club, in Palm Beach, FL.

A photo was posted on Twitter by Clear Sports, an outdoor and sporting goods company, showing its Chef Executive Garry Singer alongside New York Yankee player Paul O’Neil, McIroy and Trump. However, McIlroy told the website No Laying Up that Singer and O’Neil were not part of the presidential group. Their group was rounded-out by, Kildare-born, Nick Mullen from International Sport Management and Rich Levine, a friend of the President’s.

McIroy told the site “He probably shot around 80. He’s a decent player for a guy in his 70’s!”

The golfer said he received the call asking if he’d call on Saturday night, to play on Sunday morning. McIroy is currently nursing a stress fracture in his rib and was not planning to play golf for another week. However, he said he had to make an exception for the POTUS.

Currently ranked as the world’s number three golfer McIlroy has not played competitively since January, however, has confirmed that his rehabilitation has been doing well and he plans to play next week at the WGC-Mexico Championship.

McIlroy who currently lives in Florida, with his American fiancée Erica Stoll, has previously expressed his views on US politics. Ahead of the presidential election McIlory said “I’m not American.

“He's not going to be the leader of my country.”

He continued “Look, it really doesn't bother me too much. I've been following it. I really thought I knew what politics were until I started to watch some of these presidential debates…Look, I can't vote. And if I were to vote, I'm not sure I would want to vote for any of the candidates.”

This also isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced his opinion with regard to the POTUS’ golfer prowess. In June 2013, while attending the G8 meetings in Northern Ireland former president Barack Obama took the opportunity to play few rounds. While speaking to the press he said “I did meet Rory McIlroy last year, and Rory offered to get my swing sorted…Which was a polite way of saying, 'Mr. President, you need help.”

Read more: Ex-Canadian leader Brian Mulroney performs “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” for Donald Trump

Bono hails Mike Pence’s defense of AIDS bill

U2 frontman and long-time AIDS activist Bono has praised U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence for his support of an AIDS relief bill.

On Saturday, Bono met with Pence following the vice-president’s address at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, Pence’s first trip overseas as vice-president.

People magazine reports that the two men discussed the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) — a government initiative to provide treatment, testing, education, and counseling to those suffering with HIV/AIDS in Africa and other places.

The bill was first signed in 2003 under President George W. Bush. In 2008, PEPFAR was renewed under President Barack Obama. At the time, Pence, who was then an Indiana congressman, was an advocate for passing the bill.

“Twice on the House floor you defended that,” Bono told Pence. “That’s how we know you.”

“It was an extraordinary historic accomplishment and you played a leading role in carrying it forward,” Pence responded.

Bono has been raising awareness about the global HIV/AIDs epidemic for nearly 20 years. He helped form Product Red, which works with big brands such as Nike and Coca-Cola to help raise funds for AIDS charities and co-founded ONE Campaign, which aims to eradicate poverty and HIV/AIDS in Africa by encouraging Americans to contact elected officials and voice their opinions on the issue.

Although Pence advocated for passing PEPFAR, his critics claim he enabled an HIV outbreak in Indiana while serving as governor by defunding Planned Parenthood, which offered HIV testing. He also allegedly hesitated on pushing forward a needle exchange bill to fight passing infection, which led to a rise in HIV patients in Scott County. However, he did eventually approve a needle exchanges bill, which led to a reduction in the number of HIV cases.

“I appreciate the chance to get together with you for a minute,” Pence told Bono. “I heard you were in town.”

“You’re the second busiest man on earth,” Bono joked.

The vice-president tweeted about the meeting. “Enjoyed chatting w/ Bono at @MunSecConf,” he wrote. “Discussed prior effort to twice pass Africa AIDS assistance & future security in developing nations.”

Irish apple crumble cake recipe

"Apple crumble is one of my most favourite desserts of all time, I remember making it growing up and to this day still swoon at the smell of it coming out of the oven. This Irish apple crumble cake is nice little twist on the classic with a moist apple cake interior and a light crumbly topping. That classic combination of apple and blackberries could also be used here." - Donal Skehan.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

4oz butter plus extra for greasing

5oz soft light brown sugar

2 large free range eggs

7oz plain flour, sifted

1 tablespoon baking powder

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

11oz peeled, cored and sliced cooking apple (Shouldn’t be more than one large one)

For the crumble topping:

2oz of vanilla sugar (or substitute with caster sugar)

2oz of plain flour

2oz of butter

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 360°F, grease and line a 8in cake tin with a removable base. With an electric hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until they are incorporated.

  2. Fold through the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon until you have a thick cake batter. Stir through the apple and pour the batter into the cake tin. The batter will be thick, so use a spatula to spread across the base of the tin. 

  3. Using a handblender with a food processor attachment, blitz the ingredients for the crumble topping until you get left with rough crumbs. You can also do this by hand in a bowl using your fingertips to combine the ingredients together. Sprinkle the crumble topping on top of the batter.

  4. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

  5. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Donal demostrates how to make this delicious crumble in the video below. Check out his Facebook page & website for more culinary tips, recipes and food travels.

Maura Murray: Still missing after 13 long years

Thirteen long winters have elapsed since Irish American Maura Murray - a straight “A” nursing student - crashed her car outside a small New Hampshire town, waved away a stranger offering help, and then vanished off the face of the earth.

If it was a story written for Hollywood many would judge it too unlikely: Maura left no footprints, police sniffer dogs lost all scent within a hundred feet of her car and a heat-seeking helicopter proved useless. Search parties scoured rural New England, but not a trace of the 21-year-old student was ever found.

Nearly a decade and a half on and the case, which once dominated front pages across the United States, remains unsolved and nearly forgotten.

Forgotten, that is, except by her family who still hope that something, someday, will turn up.

“My dad’s 74,’’ her sister Julie told the Boston Globe. “I don’t want much more time to elapse without him knowing something. I want some answers for my dad’s sake. Somebody knows something. Somebody doesn’t just disappear literally without a trace. This case and my sister are in his every waking thought. It never leaves him. Thirteen years is long enough. We need some answers.’’

For her, the pain remains undulled. The pair two as close as sisters could ever be.

“We were always pushing each other,’’ Julie said. “We spent every waking moment together. She was very witty. Her SAT scores were through the roof. I always tell people that when I was a freshman at West Point, I would call back to her to help me with my homework. It’s true. Just unbelievably talented in every way.’’

Her father, Fred, still keeps the flame alive. Maura is in his thoughts within seconds of his waking up.

“The case has to stay alive,’’ he insisted. “That’s the only hope I have. I can’t help Maura now. The only thing I can do for Maura is to grab the dirt bag who grabbed her. That’s all I can do. I must find her and bring her home.’’

The last time he saw her was at dinner one Saturday in February 2004 in Amherst, MA. Two days later she withdrew $280 from her bank account, e-mailed a professor to say there had been a death in the family (there hadn’t), and she wouldn’t be in class for a while. She stopped at a liquor store and her car was found that evening at 7 pm plowed into a snowbank.

It all makes her older brother think that something must have happened to upset her.

“There are so many things that could have happened,’’ Fred Jr said. “It’s going to take someone coming forward with a piece of information to solve it and it’s probably something simple. The likely scenario is that she got picked up by someone. Maura is very smart, but she’s not street smart. She grew up in Hanson, Mass.’’

“She vanished in what seemed like a blink of an eye,’’ was the verdict of John E. Smith who worked on the case.

13 years on there are no new leads. No new information and although a support group exists when they met earlier this month they rehash what they’ve already talked about. Did the police do enough? Could this individual with a tangible connect to Maura been involved?

Despite this, the case is not closed. Not yet.

“It’s still an open case with periods of activity and [at] times it goes dormant,’’ Jeffery A. Strelzin, New Hampshire’s Senior Assistant Attorney General told the press earlier this week. “There are no new updates to share at this time.’’

A public petition for the FBI to take over the investigation has garnered 6,000 signatures on the grounds that the case was “handled improperly and since that evening things have only gotten much worse. There is much more to this case than meets the eye and the FBI is needed to bring answers to the case."

Fred still works in nuclear medicine at Falmouth Hospital. Now a widower of eight years he could have retired long ago, but his work is really the only thing that keeps him from thinking about the trauma of his daughter’s disappearance.

“I wake up. It takes just a few seconds, and then it crosses my mind,’’ he said. “I’m aware. It hits me. It’s a constant pall. To tell you the truth, it really isn’t any better than it ever was.’’

On the 13th anniversary of Maura’s disappearance, the Murray family released balloons to mark the date. Tragically, it looks like they’ll be marking the anniversary in the same way for many years to come.

Maura Murray Timeline:

On the evening of February 5, 2004 Maura Murray spoke on the phone with her older sister, Kathleen, while Murray was on duty at her campus-security job at Amherst. They discussed Kathleen's relationship problems with her fiancé. Around 10:30 p.m., while still on her shift, it was reported that Murray broke down in tears. When asked what was wrong, Murray said two words: "My sister." It appears she did not share any additional explanation about the phone call or the reason for her tearful breakdown.

FIRST CAR ACCIDENT:

On Saturday, February 7, Murray's father Fred arrived in Amherst. He told investigators he and Maura went car-shopping that afternoon and later went to dinner with a friend of Murray's. Murray dropped her father off at his motel room and, borrowing his Toyota Corolla; she returned to campus to attend a dorm party.

At 2:30 am, she left the party. At 3:30 am, en route to her father's motel, she struck a guardrail on Route 9 in Hadley causing nearly $10,000 worth of damage to her father's car. The responding officer wrote an accident report, but there is no documentation of sobriety field tests being conducted. She was driven to her father's motel and stayed in his room the rest of the morning. At 4:49 am, there was a cell phone call placed to Murray's boyfriend from Fred's phone. The participants and content of the phone call are unknown.

Later Sunday morning, Fred Murray learned the damage to his vehicle would be covered by his auto insurance. He rented a car, dropped Murray off at the university, and departed for Connecticut. He would never see her again.

At 11:30 that night, Fred called Murray to remind her to obtain accident forms from the Registry of Motor Vehicles. They agreed to talk again Monday night to discuss the forms and fill out the insurance claim via phone.

PREPARATIONS AND DEPARTURE

Around midnight on Monday, February 9, Murray used her personal computer to search MapQuest for directions to the Berkshires and Burlington, Vermont.

At 1:00 pm Murray emailed her boyfriend: "I got your messages, but honestly, I didn't feel like talking too much to anyone, I promise to call today though.” She also made a phone call inquiring about renting a condominium in the same Bartlett, New Hampshire, condo association her family had vacationed at in the past.

At 1:24 pm, Murray emailed a work supervisor at the nursing-school faculty that she would be out of town for a week due to a death in her family. No one in her family had died. She also said she would contact them when she returned.

Credit: CrimeFeed.com

At 2:05 pm she called a number which provides recorded information about booking hotels in Stowe, Vermont. The call lasted approximately five minutes. At 2:18 pm, she telephoned her boyfriend and left a voice message promising him they would talk later. This call ended after one minute.

"We don't know why Maura left school... Clearly, it was her intention to leave school. Clearly, she had a destination in mind when she came up north. What clearly did not make sense was that she didn't confide in anyone."

—New Hampshire State Police Lt. John Scarinza

In her car, she packed clothing, toiletries, college textbooks, and birth-control pills. When her room was searched later, campus police discovered most of her belongings packed in boxes and the art removed from the walls. It's not clear whether Murray packed them that day, but police at the time asserted she'd packed between Sunday night and Monday morning.

On top of the boxes was a printed email to Murray's boyfriend indicating trouble in their relationship. Around 3:30 pm, she drove off the campus in her black Saturn sedan.

At 3:40 pm, Murray withdrew $280 from an ATM. Closed-circuit footage showed she was alone. At a nearby liquor store, she purchased about $40 worth of alcoholic beverages, including Baileys Irish Cream, Kahlúa, vodka, and a box of Franzia wine.Footage also shows she was alone when she made that purchase.[13] At some point in the day, she also picked up accident-report forms from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Murray then left Amherst, presumably via Interstate 91 north.] She called to check her voice mail at 4:37 pm, the last recorded use of her cell phone. To date, there is no indication she had informed anyone of her destination or evidence she had chosen one.

DISAPPEARANCE

"At a hairpin turn, she went off the road. Her car hit a tree. At that point, a person came along who was driving a bus. It was a neighbor. He asked her if she needed help. She refused. About 10 minutes later, police showed up to the scene, and Maura Murray was gone."

—Joe McGee, The Patriot Ledger[21]

Some time after 7:00 pm, a Woodsville, New Hampshire resident heard a loud thump outside of her house. Through her window, she could see a car up against the snowbank along Route 112, also known as Wild Ammonoosuc Road. The car pointed west on the eastbound side of the road. She telephoned the Grafton County Sheriff's Department at 7:27 pm to report the accident.At about the same time another neighbor saw the car as well as someone walking around the vehicle. She witnessed a third neighbor pull up alongside the vehicle.

The White Mountains, did Maura somehow get lost there? Credit: William Hemmel/©New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development/Courtesy of Britannica.com

That neighbor, a school bus driver returning home, noticed the young woman was not bleeding but cold and shivering He offered to telephone for help. She asked him not to call the police (one police report says "pleaded"]) and assured him she'd already called AAA.(AAA has no record of any such call.)

Knowing there was no cell-phone reception in the area, the bus driver continued home and called the police. His call was received by the Sheriff's Department at 7:43 pm. He was unable to see Murray's car while he made the phone call but did notice several cars pass on the road before the police arrived.

At 7:46 pm, a Haverhill police officer arrived at the scene. No one was inside or around the car. Maura Murray had disappeared ]

At 8:00 to 8:30 pm, a contractor returning home from Franconia saw a young person moving quickly on foot eastbound on Route 112 about 4 to 5 miles (6 to 8 km) east of where Murray's vehicle was discovered. He noted that the young person was wearing jeans, a dark coat, and a light-colored hood. He didn't report it to police immediately due to his own confusion of dates, only discovering three months later (when reviewing his work records) that he'd spotted the young person the same night Murray disappeared.

She has never been seen since. Was she abducted? Did she leave to start a new life? Did she die from exposure in the mountains? Was it a suicide? No one knows.

In brutal crime, Irish woman murdered her fiancé police say

An Irish woman has been charged with the murder of her 29-year-old Irish fiancé after he died from a stab wound to the neck at their home in Sydney, Australia on Saturday morning.

Police were called to the scene on Watson Road, Padstow in Sydney at 12:15 am local time and found David Walsh, a father-of-three from Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

Cathrina Cahill, 25, originally from New Ross, Co Wexford, was arrested and questioned along with another man, a 36-year-old Australian from Revesby in Sydney.

The Irish Times reports that Cahill was later charged with murder and refused bail. The man arrested has since been released without charge.

New South Wales Police said in a statement that investigators were being assisted by officers from the State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad. The police said they was working with the Irish Consulate in Sydney.

Enniscorthy locals were shocked to hear of the Irishman’s death.

Local Councillor John O’Rourke told the Irish Times that he remembers a headstrong young man with a great interest in sports, who was known to his friends as “Motcha.”

“I coached him under 12s for Ajax soccer team here in the town,” said Cllr O’Rourke. “The news has come as a massive shock to everyone here.

“He comes from a family that would be well-respected within the local community. He was a decent chap and anytime we met he would always have a word for you and he’d reminisce about the all the good times on the pitch when he was playing.”

He said Walsh leaves behind three young daughters in Enniscorthy.

Walsh, who worked in carpentry, moved to Australia around 2012 to work in the building trade and had got engaged to Cahill on New Year’s Eve.

Cllr O’Rourke said: “It’s a sad time for the town and for his family and out thoughts and prayers are with them at this difficult time.”

Denzel Washington on drinking Guinness and acting with Colin Farrell

Oscar-nominated actor Denzel Washington revealed he used to run into Shannon airport for a quick pint of Guinness whenever his plane would stop to refuel, taking advantage of his short 30-minute stopovers in the Co. Clare airport to get himself a proper pint. Sporting an Irish accent that had us ducking for cover, the 62-year-old star told Irish site Joe.ie of how the bartender would recognize the actor from his 1999 film “The Hurricane” telling Washington he could sing the film to him if he had a few pints.

The two-time Academy Award winner was in Dublin to promote his latest film Fences, an adaption of August Wilson’s play of the same name that follows the life of a working-class African-American father as he tries to raise his family in the 1950s, while coping with the disappointment of being too old to play before the major baseball leagues began admitting black players and never reaching his dream of becoming a professional player.

His next project, however, will see him star alongside Co. Dublin actor Colin Farrell in Dan Gilroy’s “Inner City”, a legal drama from the director and writer of “Nightcrawler.” The new film will see Washington play a liberal lawyer who is shocked to discover the murky past of his firm when he is asked to become its frontman, leading him to take extreme actions to right their wrongs. Farrell is set to play another attorney in the firm.

“He’s a wonderful actor,” Washington said of Farrell.

You can watch the full interview below:

Eight ways not to ask for directions in Ireland

Irish people are famous or infamous for giving directions, especially when the road signs leave a lot to be desired.

Here are eight beauties of direction giving we have come across:

 

Driver: Can you tell me the road to Connemara?

Local: Ah sure, no need, everyone knows the road to Connemara.

 

Driver: How do I find Murphy’s house?

Local: Do you see that house up there, the second one on the hill with the high chimney and the children outside playing and the woman hanging out the washing?

Driver: I do.

Local: Well it’s not that one but if you pass by it about a mile beyond turn left you’ll likely find it.

 

Driver: Can you show me the road to Killarney?

Local: Well if I was you I wouldn’t start from here anyways.

 

Driver: Can you tell me where O’Shea’s House is?

Local: Well you’re on the right road but if you pass the graveyard you’ve gone too far.

 

Driver: I need to get to Jim O’Brien’s house, by the rectory.

Local: Well take you first left, right? Then take the second right and bear to your left. It’s right in front of you on the left.

 

Driver: Do you know the way to Killarney from here?

Local: I do... (keeps walking)

 

Driver: Excuse me do you know the way to the football field.

Local: I do and I don’t.

Driver: Err? What do you mean?

Local: I only know the old way before they dug it up for the motorway, shure I get lost myself now.

 

Driver: Can you tell me the way to Cork from here?

Local: Ah, sure if I was you I wouldn’t bother going you are miles away.

 

A few years ago the Irish comedy trio, Foil, Arm & Hogs, hit the nail on the head with this video:

Read more: Why driving in Ireland is an American’s dream or nightmare

There’s a new Irish whiskey coming from the owners of Guinness

Diageo, the owner of Guinness, has announced that they will be launching a brand new premium blend Irish Whiskey named Roe and Co., scheduled to be released across Europe in March 2017.

The major global beer and spirits company are planning to make a €25 million ($27 million) investment into this project over the next three years. This includes the construction of a brand new distillery near their Guinness Brewery at St James’ Gate in County Dublin.

The proposed site for the new distillery is the former Guinness Power House on Thomas Street, only a short distance from the brewery at St James Gate, and very close to the old George Roe distillery, from which the name of the whiskey is derived.

Planning is still yet to be approved by Dublin City Council but Diageo are confident that they will be able to begin construction soon with a hope that they can start production at the new distillery by 2019. Until then Roe and Co. will be produced by blending different whiskies from various distilleries throughout Ireland, which will be sourced by their master blender Caroline Martin.

Read More: Ireland aims to become the world leader in whiskey tourism by 2030

After two years away from the Irish whiskey market, Diageo are hoping to capitalize on the growth of this category over the past number of years. Roe and Co. will need to compete with the likes of Jameson, owned by Pernod Ricard, which makes up 70 per cent of the global Irish whiskey category.

In a statement Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD said, “Irish Whiskey is experiencing a renaissance and is truly an Irish success story. It is seeing a return to the success it experienced in its golden era in the 19th Century and is now the fastest growing spirit drink in the world with global sales increasing by over 300% and record exports of over €400 million in the last ten years.

Read More: Top 10 Irish whiskeys as the world falls in love again

“This commitment and investment by Diageo comes at an opportune time for the sector which is experiencing unprecedented global demand. €25 million ($27 million) investment in this project over 3 years will support the local economy, create jobs, and bring a welcome new addition to the City’s tourism offering.”

In 2015 Diageo pulled out of the Irish whiskey market altogether by trading its Bushmills Irish Whisky brand with spirits maker Jose Cuervo for full control of the Don Julio premium tequila brand. But now after a surge in the Irish whiskey market over the past number of years, Diageo want to re-enter the thriving market.

This news comes on the back of the announcement that Diageo will investing $50 million (€46 million) into a brand new Guinness brewery at Relay in Baltimore County, Maryland. This will be the first time in over 60 years that Guinness will have a brewery in the United States. Construction is scheduled to begin during fall 2017.

This will be similar to the Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Dublin and will focus on crafting beers specifically for the US market. Guinness Draught will continue to be manufactured at St James Gate brewery in Dublin.

What is your favorite Irish whiskey and are you looking forward to a new brand on the market? Let us know in the comments.

My great-aunt, the bootlegging Irish nun in Prohibition America

This article and podcast link appear courtesy of the Irish History Podcast by Fin Dwyer.

Click here to listen to the podcast episode as you read along. 

Between 1920 and 1933 alcohol was banned in the U.S.A. Almost immediately the sale of illegal alcohol – bootlegging – soared, and the ban became increasingly ineffectual. While the likes of Al Capone made a fortune bootlegging, ordinary folks - including one Irish nun - also turned their hand to it.

In 1926, my grandaunt Sister Genevieve Dwyer, a nun in South Dakota, returned to the USA after a visit to Ireland. In Chicago she wrote back to my grandparents to inform them that a mysterious cargo had been delivered. As she passed through US customs she went on to say:

“I met the brothers. I put the xxx inside my bosom, it must have been boiling point when I took it out, we laughed more over that.”

Given this was right in the middle of prohibition, its hard to see what else she could be referring to other than booze.

For over 40 year Genevieve Dwyer wrote letters to my grandparents about her life as an emigrant in early 20th century America. These featured her longing for home, World War II and her battles with depression. You can hear her stories in my latest podcast ‘Letters from Dakota’.

 

 

Irish-born cowboys were the fastest guns in the west once upon a time

Eight months after the June 5th 1882 murder of notorious Irish gunfighter James Leavy in front of the Palace Hotel in Tucson, Arizona Territory, professional gambler and fellow Irishman Johnny Murphy rose to make a statement upon his acquittal: 

Your honor, I thank you and the jury, but I desire to say that I have lived all my life on the frontier. I was honorably discharged from the navy, when a young man, on the coast of Florida, and came right through to the frontier. I have been amongst rough men all my life, have stopped many a bad fight, and never before been in any trouble. I regret this occurrence, but what I did was done by me conscientiously and with a belief that it was all I could do to save my own life, and it was done in self-defense.  

Murphy, along with accomplices William Moyer and David Gibson, shot down Leavy in a hail of small-caliber gunfire after a night of heated arguments over one of Murphy’s faro tables at Tucson’s Fashion Saloon. Immediately afterwards all three surrendered and were placed in the county jail and the protective custody of Pima County Robert Havlin “Bob” Paul. Testimony began in a preliminary hearing against the three defendants when suddenly the trio escaped the county jail in what the Arizona Weekly Citizen called, “a bold and successful break for liberty by desperate criminals.” 

During his life, and even after death, those who knew Irish gunman James Leavy described him as an honorable and intrepid fighter. Some remembered him as a man willing to give anyone a fair show. But he was also considered a hard case and a dangerous man. One Deadwood pioneer recalled Leavy’s ability as a gunman, claiming he was second only to James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok. For a brief time Leavy’s notoriety spread far and wide, surpassing even that of his former business partners Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Of the hundreds of gamblers and gunmen in the trans-Mississippi West, few fostered a more fearsome and geographically transcending reputation than Leavy. 

By some accounts Leavy survived 16 shootouts. Although most can’t be properly documented, that is not unusual for a legendary Old West gunfighter. That Leavy is not better known today (no photograph of him is known to exist) is somewhat of a mystery. But details are coming to light on his career as a gunman, thus landing him a spot among what author Richard Maxwell Brown terms the “glorified gunfighters.” 

The early life of James H. Leavy is riddled with mystery. His last name is often misspelled “Levy,” but letters he wrote and legal documents show the addition of an “a.” He was born in Ireland, probably in 1842, and though he was likely Catholic, much of Leavy’s modern legend as a shootist rests upon the fact he was thought to be Jewish (no evidence has turned up to support this claim). In early 1852 young Jim departed Liverpool, England, with his parents and sailed to the United States, docking at New York City on May 14. While still in his teen she traveled west and found work in the gold mining camps of California. When news broke of significant silver strikes in Nevada in the late 1860s, Leavy ventured to the rough-and-tumble mining camp of Pioche in southeast Nevada’s Lincoln County. It was there Leavy likely learned about gun handling and gun play from another Irishman, Richard Moriarty, alias Morgan Courtney, who had built a reputation as a feared gunman and participated in at least three gunfights. 

In a portion of a stereoview by frontier photographer Carleton Watkins, Tucson’s Palace Hotel can be clearly seen. Irish gunman and gambler James Leavy was shot to death near the front entrance of the hotel in June 1882 by fellow Irishman Johnny Murphy and his friends from the local gambling fraternity William Moyer and David Gibson. Credit: Collection of Erik J. Wright.

Leavy got into a gunfight of his own in Pioche in May 1871. A prospector named Mike Casey claimed to have shot another man that March in self-defense, but Leavy testified that he had witnessed the shooting, and that Casey had fired first. The angry Casey tracked down Leavy, and the two engaged in a wild shootout in an alley. Leavy killed Casey, but Casey’s friend Dave Neagle, a future Arizona Territory lawman, in turn shot Leavy through the jaw, leaving the Irishman with a disfigured and sinister face. 

Born in Ireland in 1847, Murphy first enters the record shortly after the Civil War as a Landsman aboard the USS Contoocook, a screw sloop-of-war. Murphy was admitted to the Naval Hospital at Portsmouth, New Hampshire after becoming ill from exposure from “washing deck.” What brought Murphy to Arizona remains unclear, but evidence suggests early mining opportunities attracted Murphy to central Arizona thus establishing his tenure in the Territory. 

In 1880, Pima County Sheriff Charles Shibell entered Murphy into the Great Register of Pima County. Two years later, in 1882, Murphy is known to have been operating faro tables at several saloons in Tucson and under his employ was fellow gamblers William Moyer and David Gibson. Gibson, a noted Tucson card sharp, had a run-in with “Big Ed” Byrnes’s “Top-and -Bottom Gang” of con-men and gamblers recently expelled from Benson during the annual San Augustin Festival in Tucson: 

The usual amount of gaming was in progress, and the “sure thing” crowd were still exhibiting numerous tempting devices for trapping the unwary. A fight occurred on the feast grounds between Dave Gibson and one of the "top-and-bottom” gang. The latter used a revolver freely in clubbing Gibson over the head, cutting him quite badly. 

The attraction to Tucson as a gambling center drew James Leavy, a veteran of the gambling dens of San Francisco, Deadwood, Pioche, Cheyenne and Tombstone. Hot-tempered and dangerous when drunk, Leavy strongly accused Murphy of running a “crooked game” and demanded a duel with Murphy to settle the score. Knowing a fair fight with Murphy would likely end in his own death, Murphy enlisted the help of his fellow gamblers and set-out to even the playing field.  

After the murder of Leavy a short trial began before Murphy and his two co-defendants escaped from the Pima County Jail. Both Murphy and Gibson were later caputed living under assumed names in Fenner, California and were both acquitted of their crimes. Moyer was captured about the same time in Denver, Colorado and was sentenced to life (a sentence that was later pardoned)  in prison at Arizona's notorious Yuma Territorial Prison. 

Leavy's remains are in an unmarked grave somewhere in Tucson's urban sprawl. Following his acquittal, Murphy remained quiet, but his presence in the gambling underworld was still strong. For years Murphy was deeply involved in gambling rackets in Tucson and Bisbee, a mining town south of Tombstone in Cochise County. Both cities record several arrests against Murphy for various charges well into the early 1900s. In 1903, pioneer photographer William E. (W.E.) Irwin staged a series of photos inside Bisbee’s Orient Saloon. One of these images, “Orient Saloon at Bisbee, Arizona…Faro game in full blast” would become one of the most widely-distributed and easily recognized images of the frontier, but few know that the faro dealer in the photograph is none other than Johnny Murphy.  

On March 27, 1926, Johnny Murphy died in Tucson. Buried in an unmarked grave in Tucson’s Evergreen Cemetery, Murphy seems to have earned redemption and forgiveness with his obituary from The Arizona Republican 

Death Thursday claimed one of the few remaining picturesque characters of Tucson’s wide-open gambling days in the passing of John Murphy, resident of Arizona since the early eighties when he figured as one of the professional gamblers of Tucson and one of the most skillful rough-and-tumble fighters of the old regime. He was 74 years of age at the time of his death and retained much of his old-time robust vigor to the last.

 

*adapted from the author's Gamblers, Guns & Gavels, 2016

St. Patrick's Day during Lent: Can Irish Catholics eat meat and be merry?

Growing up in Ireland, St Patrick’s Day was always a welcome reprieve from Lent, one day when depending on how concerned your parents were about your soul, you would be allowed to break the promise to give up candy, chocolate, or chips for just 24 hours.

This year, however, St. Patrick’s Day 2017 is falling on a Friday and the festivities are causing some problems for Irish Catholics who stick to the sacrifice of abstaining from meat throughout the Fridays of Lent. Will they still be able to enjoy their full Irish breakfast the morning of March 17 and indulge in a hearty bacon and cabbage dinner when they’re done marching in the parade?

According to the Archdioceses of Milwaukee, yes.

For those Irish Catholic in the Milwaukee area who still keep to the traditions of abstaining from meat and making sacrifices during Lent, yet who still wish to celebrate everything Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, Archbishop Jerome Listecki has given a dispensation from the sacrifice on March 17.

“Each year, Catholics throughout the world are expected to abstain from meat and meat products on Fridays during Lent. Once or twice a decade, we are faced with a quandary: when St. Patrick's Day falls on a Friday during this time of penance, may we eat the corned beef?” wrote the archdiocese via Facebook.

“After careful consideration, Archbishop Jerome Listecki has decided this year that Catholics in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee can take part in this tradition with a clear conscience. He has granted a dispensation which allows the consumption of meat on Friday, March 17, 2017.”

Read more: All the pubs in Ireland used to be closed on St. Patrick’s Day

While many still uphold the sacrifice of abstaining from meat on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, and on Good Friday, not as many people still maintain the sacrifice throughout the full 40 days.

Many would also be surprised to know that despite the emphasis that is sometimes placed on St. Patrick’s Day as a day of partying, it was in the US that this tradition grew, while in Ireland pubs were closed every year on March 17 until the 1970s.

While the stereotype of the drunken Irish can go into overdrive when some people speak of St. Patrick’s Day,  in reality, Irish law prohibited pubs opening on March 17 as a mark of respect for this religious day.

Although St. Patrick was never officially canonized by a pope, he is included in the list of saints and his feast day officially placed on the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar in the early 1600s with thanks to Waterford-born Franciscan scholar Luke Wadding. From then on it has been a holy day of obligation for Ireland's Catholics (meaning they are obliged to participate in the Mass). Until the 1700s, St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated predominantly in Ireland where it was a somber religious occasion spent mainly in prayer.

Even when St. Patrick’s Day became an official Irish public holiday in 1903, it was still a holy day of obligation and so there wasn’t much of a party atmosphere. Mass was attended in the morning with the afternoon set aside for celebrations, although even then when the pubs were still closed, meat was allowed for the special occasion if March 17 happened to fall on a Friday.

What do you think? Should Irish Catholics be allowed to eat meat and break their lenten promises on St. Patrick’s Day? Leave us your thoughts in the comments section, below.

People need to stop calling themselves “southern Irish”

As we look to negotiating how Ireland’s border with Northern Ireland will function if the UK leaves the EU, it is time to set the record straight once and for all that the country “Southern Ireland” is what President Trump’s administration would call an “alternative fact.”  

The relationship between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is currently under the most intense scrutiny I can remember since I was a seven-year-old watching on TV as the the Good Friday Agreement was signed. Yet, within the deluge of commentary on Northern Ireland after Brexit, there seems to be nothing I can focus on as much as the constant usage of the terms “southerners,” “southern Irish,” and “south Ireland.”

This is not exclusively a Brexit-related phenomenon. I have often seen/heard it used by journalists and commentators on anything from politics to tourism and well before the June 23 referendum that all but sealed the UK’s departure from the EU. However, it seems to have had a massive resurgence amid the post-referendum uncertainty regarding the future of the relationships on the island of Ireland.

I don’t make a habit of telling people how they should identify themselves or that what national identity they feel is right or wrong, but let me briefly explain why the bad habit of referring to yourself as a “southerner” should be left behind.

A few examples:

Firstly, and most simply, the most northerly point on the island of Ireland is not within Northern Island but the Republic of Ireland. In terms of easy geography, to refer to South or Southern Ireland in relation to anything south of the Northern Ireland-Republic border is most definitely not referring to the Republic as it forgets to include the entire county of Donegal.

And why would we want to forget about Donegal? The people of Donegal already feel separated and isolated from the rest of the country, especially when it comes to the government in Dublin, why would we add to that by ignoring them as we casually call ourselves "southerners." Besides, National Geographic Traveler recently named Donegal as one of the coolest places to visit in 2017. Why would we attempt to ignore that spectacular county's existence?

South or southern Ireland refers to those regions that are geographically placed in the south of the island, anywhere below my own Midlands region. These are the places where we’d venture on holidays to escape the flat lands of Co. Kildare and to get a glimpse of the Irish Sea or the Atlantic Ocean. Co. Kerry, Co. Cork, Co. Waterford and Co. Wexford are all “south Ireland.” And, despite the Rebel County natives often referring to their home county as the “People’s Republic of Cork,” Cork and the other three are all in the Republic and cannot be called a country in their own right.

Under the official list of countries within the United Nations, Ireland (without “Republic of” even prefixing it) is our official name, while Northern Ireland comes under the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Ireland is our official name – the Republic of Ireland if you so wish to differentiate it that way – and Irish is our official nationality. No south or southern involved.

Of course, this causes difficulty for those in Northern Ireland and the rest of the world who wish to place a name on the difference between us, a difference that some would argue doesn’t or shouldn't exist. The various county-based, regional-based, nationality-based and even European-based identities that are held throughout the whole island should not allow themselves to be narrowly defined in a way that simply places us as north or south of a border. As for those from the 'Six Counties,' the decision should rest with them as to whether they identify as Northern Irish, Irish, or British, not with us changing our own nationality to that of a fictional state.

Don’t get me wrong. This comes from no kind of raging republican standpoint of intense nationalism. As much as I would gladly take a 32-county Ireland, I’m by no means a United Ireland warrior and have on more than one occasion endured the West Brit slur. I look with disdain on those who I see as using Irish culture as a political device and always felt particularly uncomfortable at that point in the chorus of the Fields of Athenry when you’re supposed to shout “IRA” in a show of nationalist pride.

Yet, why should we lose our Irish nationality and become nothing more than “Southerners.” I, for one, don’t come from “the South."

Do you think people have a right to refer to themselves as “southerners” if they come from the Republic of Ireland? Let us know if you agree or disagree in the comments section, below.

Immigrants are not US’s problem and policy makers already know this

Let's face it -- every Irish person in New York knows someone who’s undocumented. Usually they know more than one. They also know that if weren’t for them and other immigrants half the bars, restaurants, shops and even colleges in the city would be deserted.

New York has always had a special welcome for immigrants – even the undocumented ones – because it’s been the historical landing point for intending Americans since the earliest days of our national story. Welcoming immigrants is really the city’s oldest tradition.

It actually makes sound financial sense. The undocumented often do the work that the natives recoil from, and no one knows this better than the city’s employers.

Sadly, however, many of those same employers then vote to ensure that their workers never get a real chance to emerge from the shadows, meaning that they’re being oppressed for a reason. It’s just business, it’s nothing personal, or at least that’s what they tell themselves.

But there are few experiences that are quite as personal as finding yourself menaced by your own immigration status. It literally cuts across every facet of your life.

From where you live, work, travel, socialize, pray or even which hospital you can visit – if you dare to visit one at all – you really can’t grasp how isolating the experience of being undocumented is until you are in it.

To find yourself undocumented is to find yourself becoming a creature of myth. Many stories are told about you, and fanciful legends are created. The first and most far-reaching myth is that you are having a disastrous impact on the American economy.

Here’s the real truth. The U.S. Department of Agriculture claims “about half of the hired workers employed in U.S. crop agriculture are unauthorized, with the overwhelming majority of these workers coming from Mexico.”

This week there are tomatoes rotting in the fields in Alabama and elsewhere because the Mexicans who usually harvest them are afraid to be targeted in the latest raids.

In the current climate of hysteria it’s easy to lose sight of the truth: undocumented workers are crucial to the U.S. economy, as well as vital to certain industries like agriculture.

So what we are really doing is exploiting their vulnerabilities and then punishing them for it, because our economy actually incentivizes this wanton cruelty.

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimated that 11.4 million illegal immigrants lived in the United States in January 2012. According to the DHS, “the number of illegal immigrants peaked around 12 million in 2007 and has gradually declined to closer to 11 million.”

One million people, having experienced the terrible privations and hardships of the undocumented life here in the United States actually did the thing some cynical Republican senators suggest they do and “self-deported.” And this happened under the Obama administration remember, not the new era of Trump where the ICE gloves have really come off.

Interestingly, it’s estimated that 52 percent of undocumented immigrants are Mexican and that their numbers have actually declined by one million from 2009.

Most of those who have remained here live in California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Illinois (states where they are more likely to find support networks, employment and a measure of security if not welcome).

Here’s a vitally important truth about the undocumented that rarely gets told: the tax revenues raised by the undocumented by far exceed the costs of all the services they may use. Indeed, they have contributed a full 10 percent ($300 billion) to the nation’s Social Security fund.

Policy makers already know this. In an open letter to President George W. Bush in 2006, 500 economists (including five Nobel laureates) stated the following:  “While a small percentage of native-born Americans may be harmed by immigration, vastly more Americans benefit from the contributions that immigrants make to our economy, including lower consumer prices.”

Those are the facts, not the myths. Sadly we live in an age where our new president looks out at America and sees “carnage,” not progress. He represents and he actually embodies the rich and the powerful scapegoating the poor and powerless because he knows they can never really fight back.

We should be careful of the dark myths told by the powerful to attack the powerless, because they are often a calculated distraction, a sideshow, concocted to take our eyes off the people who are really exploiting us all.

Healthy Viscount cookie recipe for Chocolate Mint Day

Today, would you believe, has been dubbed, Chocolate Mint Day! As it is Lent after all we found the perfect slightly healthier version of an Irish favorite provided by Irish model turned dietician Rozanna Purcell. 

INGREDIENTS

*Makes 21

Cookie Base

· 2 cups almond flour

· 3 tbsp. coconut oil – at room temperature

· 1 egg

· 3 tbsp. maple syrup/ raw honey

· 1/2 tbsp. vanilla powder or 1 tsp. vanilla essence

· Pinch of sea salt

Mint layer

· 4 tbsp. coconut purée or Virgin coconut oil

· 1 tbsp. raw honey /maple

· 1/2 capful of spearmint or peppermint extract

Coating

<70% dark chocolate

* Paleo, Gluten Free, Dairy Free

METHOD

· Preheat oven to 350ºF

· Start with the base. Using your hands rub the coconut oil in with the flour until it's almost like fine crumbs.

· Add the rest of your base ingredients and mix using your hands. It should be wet dough.

· Prepare your wooden board or clean surface for cutting your biscuits.

· Sprinkle some almond flour, then fold the dough a couple of times.

· Pat down the dough to 1/2 inch thick and using a cutter make your cookies.

· Using your thumb make a well in the center of the biscuit, but be careful not to pierce the whole way through.

· Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes

· In a bowl place all the ingredients for the mint layer and using the back of a spoon mix until completely smooth.

· Once the cookies have cooled fully, fill in the thumbprints with the mint paste and dip into the melted dark chocolate.

· Place in the fridge until hardened.

Are these the world's wackiest St. Patrick's Day celebrations?

The shortest parade, the worst, the longest, the coldest, the largest shamrock, and the snake race – all the information you need to make your St. Patrick's Day season fun.

The World's shortest St. Patrick's Day parade:

The shortest parade is always held on March 17th on historic Bridge Street in downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas. Bridge Street became famous in the 1940s when “Ripley's Believe It or Not” designated it "The Shortest Street in the World." Having earned this distinction, the Hot Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau deemed Bridge Street the most logical location for this novel parade.

Hot Springs Fountain Dyed Green. Photo by: Kimberly Vardeman/Flickr

World's worst St. Patrick's parade

Chicago's South Side parade was canceled in 2009 but local bar owner Gerry O'Connell had his own parade – around his bar “Irish Eyes.” O'Connell wanted to pay homage to the defunct Chicago tradition.

"The South Side [parade] was canceled," he said. "So what we're doing, is we're starting at the south side of the bar, and we're going to come around from the south side and parade the whole bar. And we're going to salute the South Side, because we'd like them to have their parade. The parade was reinstated in 2012. 

Festivities returned to South Side in 2012. Photo by: dnainfo.com/Wiki Commons


 World's coldest St. Patrick's celebration:

Bering Sea Ice St. Patrick's Golf Classic: Third Saturday of March in Nome Alaska. Six-hole course played on the frozen Bering Sea with bright orange golf balls. Par is 41. Cash prizes for best scores. $50 entry fee includes a t-shirt, hat, golf balls, tees (old shotgun shells), snakebite remedies (small bottles of vodka) and a certificate of completion.

Not one we'd chose ourselves. Photo by: Wiki Commons

World's smallest St. Patrick's celebration:

Can you say one? That's right, this is a party for one, and it has occurred every St. Patrick's Day since 1993 in the town of Enterprise, Alabama.

A different person of Irish descent each year holds the Irish flag high above his/her head, carries a pot o' gold and recites limericks as he/she walks past the local courthouse and around the Bol Weevil Monument. (Yes, Enterprise is the only American city with a monument of a pest. Don't ask!)

Grand Marshals in absentia are nominated and selected on the basis of their written acceptance speech, plus their reasons for not being able to attend the parade. In other words, anyone can be a Grand Marshal.

A not-so-lonely flag-bearer. Photo by: Jamie McCaffrey/Flickr

World's largest St. Patrick’s Day parade:


The New York parade has become the largest Saint Patrick's Day parade in the world. In a typical year, 150,000 marchers participate in it, including bands, firefighters, military and police groups, county associations, emigrant societies, and social and cultural clubs, and two million spectators line the streets

New York tops all the lists.
 
World’s oldest St. Patrick’s Day parade:


The New York celebration is the oldest and largest St. Patrick's Day Parade in the world. The parade dates back to 1762,

St. Patrick's Day 5th Ave 1909.
 
World's longest celebration of St. Patrick’s Day

Montserrat in the Caribbean

In the 17th Century, Irish Catholic indentured servants were welcomed to the tiny volcanic island of Montserrat at a time when they were shunned in most other English-controlled islands of the Caribbean. The Irish mixed freely with the African slaves brought to work the English sugar plantations, and a unique Afro-Irish culture developed.

Some say St. Patrick's Day is a bigger deal in the U.S. than it is in Ireland, but Montserrat may top them both.  The St. Patrick's festivities here go on for a solid week. In fact, Montserrat is the only nation in the world other than Ireland that considers St. Patrick's Day a national holiday.

St. Patrick's Week in Montserrat includes parades featuring costumed revelers wearing green shamrocks, concerts with calypso, soca, and iron band music, church services and dinners, and a special March 17 commemoration of an attempted slave revolt in 1768. You'll find Guinness on tap in the bars, hints of Irish cookery in the national dish (a stew called 'goat water'), and lots of Irish surnames among the people.


 
World's newest St. Patrick’s Day celebration:

Hong Kong was the latest addition to the global St. Patrick's Day celebration. On Sunday, March 15, they organized an event in Tamar Park to celebrate the links between Hong Kong and Ireland and to bring together locals, Irish and other ex-patriates.

Tamar Park, Hong Kong. Photo by: Wiki Commons


World's weirdest St. Patrick's Day event:

Until recently, San Francisco featured a snake race involving real snakes racing each other in their celebration. A recent winner was named "Window Viper", "I'm boa-ed" was second.

iStock

World's largest shamrock

In Nebraska, the world's largest shamrock is painted on the road in the town of O'Neill, which is the Irish capital of Nebraska. Every year, they install a huge blarney stone at the corner of the Shamrock and have many festivities, including a public reading of the book, "Green Eggs and Ham."

*Originally published March 2012

Shame! General Kelly seeks National Guard to hunt immigrants says leaked document

Department of Homeland Security chief retired General John Kelly was a warrior in Iraq and other trouble spots, tragically losing a son who followed him into the Marines.

The Marines was an inevitable choice for Kelly when he decided to join up. As former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter stated  on Kelly’s retirement, “Where else was an Irish Catholic kid from Boston to go.”

Now however Kelly is putting that stellar reputation on the line, as Donald Trump's Homeland Security czar. Instead of chasing ISIS, he's rounding up women and children and families who are in America illegally -- and it appears he is seeking the aid of the National Guard to do it.

On Friday news that the Trump administration was planning to mobilize up to 100,000 National Guard troops to round up undocumented immigrants across eleven states caused uproar. The document bore Kelly’s name.

But the Associated Press’ (AP) scoop was immediately described as “false” by The White House.

Responding to the charge the AP quickly published a draft memo from Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly written under his own name, insisting the proposal was real.

In response the Trump administration said that although the 11 published page memo clearly states it is “From John Kelly,” it was an early draft that had been quickly rejected.

Credit: Flickr/Lorie Shaull/CC by-SA 2.0

In the memo Kelly, a retired four star Marine general, called for “the unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana,” the AP wrote.

Up to 100,000 National Guard troops would be given immigration enforcement powers if governors in the affected states approved of the plan, the AP wrote.

The prospect of an anti-immigrant action of truly historic proportions being signed by a man named Kelly caused comment in Irish American circles, where the Irish backgrounds of key Trump staffers has been a sore spot or a point of honor depending on affiliation.

Kelly, 66, is a native of Brighton, Massachusetts and served in the Marines for more than four decades, including three tours in Iraq. In Boston, where his son who died in a 2010 bomb in Afghanistan is commemorated at a memorial in the Seaport District, Kelly is regarded as a local hero.

 Meanwhile the scale and the involvement of military units in the proposed immigration sweeps have alarmed even seasoned commentators. National Guard personnel have occasionally been used to assist with immigration operations on the US-Mexico border, but they have never been used as part of a national roundup far away from the Mexican border.

The published memo, dated January 25, was addressed to the then acting heads of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and US Customs and Border Protection, underlining its authenticity.

 

If, as some speculated, the memo’s leak was a trial balloon to gauge public reaction to an unprecedented and militaristic immigration sweep, what kind of actions does the administration actually have planned, they wondered?

Some also wondered if the details of the memo were leaked by the administration itself? Could it have been done to undermine the media for reporting on the memo and doing its job, further driving a wedge between the press and the public?

Or was it merely gross incompetence, leaked as a result of the chaotic first weeks of the Trump administration?

Or was it good citizens in the DHS appalled at the militarization of American streets?

One thing is certain, it will not help Trump's approval rating which is now at the historic low of 38% according to Gallup, and this is before his administration likely kicks at least 20 million people off their healthcare plans.

For the White House, the trouble may just be starting.

St. Patrick’s Day 2016 as celebrated around the world (PHOTOS & VIDEO)

Editor's Note: Last year, the entire world celebrated St. Patrick's Day in style. With the countdown to St. Patrick's Day 2017 well and truly on, we thought we'd take a look back at the fun and frolic folks had around the world last year. Have you got major plans for this year? Going somewhere exotic? Mail us some photos to editors@irishcentral.com or tag us on Twitter @IrishCentral.

After weeks of parade preparation, reading up on the history of St. Patrick and the day named after him, cooking up special Irish recipes, and brushing up on Irish toasts and sayings for the special day, St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone.

While a few towns and cities around the world will still be holding their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations this weekend, yesterday was the main event, with parades and parties galore, and monuments around the world turning green in honor of Ireland and March 17.

Here’s a look at some of the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations around the world, from New York to Dublin to Sydney.

And if you’re feeling a little worse for the weather (no judgement!), you can read up on our top Irish hangover cures here.

Ireland:

The St. Patrick’s Day parades throughout Ireland, where it’s a national holiday, proved once again that there’s no better place for the craic on March 17th than Ireland.

Just look at these spectacular floats in Dublin!

And Cork!

And Limerick!

Credit: Press 22

Credit: Press 22

The Dublin parade was led by the wonderful Joanne O’Riordan, who stars in the documentary No Limbs, No Limits.

Over half a million people thronged the streets to watch the parade, which was especially in tune with this year’s theme, “Imagine if…”

#TakingYouToIreland for the parade in #dublin! A sea of green madness. Shot by @elizabethclloydcanvin#lovedublin #dublin #stpatricksday #stpatricksday2016

Posted by InstaIreland on Thursday, March 17, 2016

In Cork, where the theme of the parade was Ireland’s 1916 Proclamation, the parade was led by a massive reproduction of the proclamation itself as well as people portraying the signatories.

They also had a “Foxy Float” devoted entirely to redheads:

In Galway, they recreated the famous Men at Lunch photo of Irish construction workers in New York: 

Hands down the best St. Patrick's Day float we've ever laid eyes on. The top was snapped at the Maigh Cuilinn parade in...

Posted by InstaIreland on Thursday, March 17, 2016

In Ennis, Co. Clare, the parade was led by 97-year-old Patrick Wall – the oldest living Patrick in the county. He was joined by a few more venerable Patricks, pictured here:

Patrick McMahon (94) from Feakle, Patrick Malone (92) from Corofin, Mayor of Ennis Pat Daly (who turned 60 today), Patrick Wall (97) from Kilmihil and Chris Droney (92) from Bellharbour pictured after today's Ennis St Patrick's Day Parade.

Donald Trump also made an appearance at an astounding number of parades throughout Ireland:

And in Carrigaholt, there was Ireland's shortest St. Patrick's Day parade: 

Ladies and gentlemen.. The moment you have all been waiting for has finally arrived!! The direct result of a long years...

Posted by Becky O Farrell on Thursday, March 17, 2016

New York City:

The 5th avenue parade, the oldest in the world, made history today as the first Irish LGBT group marched in the procession:

In addition to St. Patrick’s Day revelers, the streets of New York were full of Irish literature, thanks to the Irish Arts Center’s St. Patrick’s Day book drive, though which 5,000 Irish books were given away.

Lisbon:

Portugal’s capital city held its first-ever St. Patrick’s Day parade yesterday! It was led by Ambassador Orla Tunney and some adorably excited schoolkids.

Australia:

Sydney’s St. Patrick’s Day parade was sadly canceled this year due to a lack of funding, but the Irish in Australia’s capital still found ways to celebrate:

Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening campaign

It was a massive success this year, with close 200 landmarks around the world going green for St. Patrick’s Day. The part most people don’t realize? The cities and countries join in on the fun for free, saving the Tourism Ireland an estimated 20 million euro.

The Coliseum in Rome:

The Great Wall of China:

Niagra Falls: 

The Mount Ulriken TV mast in Bergen, Norway:

Iceland: 

The London Eye:

A bunch of attractions throughout Northern Ireland, including the Giants Causeway:

Toronto:

Guadalajara:

Madrid:

And even the Aisling Irish Center in New York!

Aer Lingus enlisted the help of Mundy for a really sweet surprise for Dublin Airport:

And finally, this trad band golden retriever completely stole the show:

Happy #StPatricksDayGetting into the Irish spirit

Posted by Jason Oliveira Abc30 Action News on Thursday, March 17, 2016

* Originally published in March 2016.

Sick teen crowdfunded over $700k for life-saving US cancer treatment

It was a video that went viral overnight and few who watched it would be surprised. Carlow teen Shauntelle Tynan is sick with multi system histiocytosis x (LCH) - a highly rare form of cancer. She’s been unsuccessfully treated five times and her doctors told her only chance now lies in Texas. But healthcare in the US isn’t cheap and if she goes the family will need to pay $527,000 (€500,000).

The Irish Government declined to contribute a single cent and Shauntelle turned to the internet to help get her the money she needs to survive. In a heartfelt plea for her life the 18 year old make a YouTube video begging viewers to donate, telling them, “I don’t want to die.”

The Irish public however responded generously and within less than two days she raised the amount needed and more. Her mother told local radio Ireland was a “mighty little country” and that the family was “blown away” by the support. At the time of publication Tynan has raised €723,154.

Now Shauntelle has filmed what she described as “the most happy video I’ll ever make”, the reaction of her two younger siblings when she tells them the good news.

Watch the reaction of her stunned siblings below and if you’d like to donate to Shauntelle’s fund you can do so here.

Further 2,600 US J-1 visas allocated to Ireland

An additional 2,600 J-1 Summer Work and Travel (SWT) for the summer of 2017 were allocated to Ireland by the US embassy on Wednesday, bringing the total number of J-1 spots open for Irish students up to 7,000.

The additional visas bring the Irish J-1 total back up to 2015 levels after a dip in 2016 due to the implementation of a new policy that required students to have a job lined up before they entered the US. For the 50 years previous, students were allowed to travel to the US without any pre-arranged employment and find a job once they arrived. The pre-placement policy was implemented on a global level by independent US sponsoring agencies hoping to bring some reform to the summer work program.

The J-1 Summer Work Travel Program has for many years been a rite of passage for Irish third-level students who travel to the US during the summer months to work mainly in the retail and hospitality industries.

Of the 300,000 worldwide participants on the program in 2014, 8,000 were Irish students and more than 150,000 have traveled from Ireland on the visa over the past 50 years, including the former Irish President Mary McAleese.

During the 2016 Presidential campaign, now-President Donald Trump promised to eradicate the J-1 summer program and replace it with a database of prospective employees from urban areas so as to fill the void left by the absence of the foreign labor. By ridding American of “new low-earning” and “guest workers” employed in the US as part of the J-1 Visa program, Trump stated that he hoped to “help wages grow, get teenagers back to work, aid minorities’ rise into the middle class, help schools and communities falling behind, and to ensure our immigrant members of the national family become part of the American dream.”

The promise was taken out of his immigration policy some weeks later, however, and there has been no further inclination that President Trump plans to put an end to the program. In fact, in December 2016, the Irish government and the US State Department signed a new three-year agreement for the 12-month Ireland Work and Travel Program, a program which enables Irish and US citizens between the ages of 18 and 35 who have graduated from second-level or third-level education to work and travel in each other’s respective countries. 

The implementation of the pre-placement policy had caused some concern when first applied in 2016 and despite a drop-off in numbers allocated last year, previous worries for Irish students in finding employment appear to have been mostly unfounded with thanks to the preparation of a J-1 guide and extra guidance in finding employment offered by the Irish visa sponsoring companies.

In addition to the popular Summer Work and Travel program, Irish students can participate in the Camp Counselor, Au Pair, and Intern programs in the US, including the 12-month Ireland Work and Travel Program which first began in 2008. In 2015, 1,319 Irish people availed of the 12-month J-1 visa, while approximately 300 Americans traveled to Ireland for a year with the visa.

For those Irish students hoping to avail of the J-1 Summer Work and Travel (SWT) program in 2017, the US embassy advises to begin the application process as soon as possible and to be proactive.

Teddy bear lost in Cork Airport reunited with two-year-old owner

A pink teddy bear that was lost in Cork Airport has finally been reunited with its grateful young owner.

Anna Howell, two years old, is the owner of the teddy bear who has gathered global attention after it was left behind in Cork Airport following a family trip. Anna, originally from County Cork, now lives in Amsterdam with her family and pink teddy.

Personnel at Cork Airport were eventually able to reunite the pair after a successful week long facebook campaign which saw them garnering worldwide attention from various news outlets across the globe, including ABC news here in the United States and Ireland’s Independent.ie.

Throughout the week Cork Airport's official facebook page added posts with information to try and track down the whereabouts of the teddy’s owner and urged people to share the posts in the hope that this story would have a happy ending.

Each day posts and pictures were uploaded to update people on the pink teddys various adventures around the airport, while also being treated with the utmost love, care, and attention. Their posts received thousands of likes and shares on facebook with people offering their support and well wishes.

Niall MacCarthy, Managing Director at Cork Airport, said: “We looked after Teddy as well as we look after all our customers, with care and attention. The response we have received to Teddy’s story has been astonishing and he has been turned into something of a social media superstar.

“It is truly heart-warming the efforts made by strangers to find Teddy’s young owner and reunite him with her. He has literally been around the world and back again in 80 hours.”

Thanks to all personnel who went above and beyond their call of duty, young Anna won’t have to bear much longer without her beloved stuffed animal. Teddy will fly VIB with Aer Lingus to be reunited with its young owner after surely an unbearable week apart.

Have you or your child ever left something behind after a family trip? Let us know in the comments below.

Unions making a deal with the Devil by making nice with Trump?

You can understand why Irish American labor leader Sean McGarvey would emerge from a meeting with President Donald Trump feeling heartened.

McGarvey is president of North America’s Building Trades Unions, and the new president has promised to build lots of stuff, from new roads and bridges to a “big, beautiful” wall.  McGarvey’s main job is to make sure the people in his union have jobs.

McGarvey initially supported Hillary Clinton.  That didn’t work out, of course, but it’s not unusual for a union leader like McGarvey to try and make nice with the guy in the White House.

Overall, however, anyone with any ties to organized labor who thinks Trump is going to solve more problems than he creates is only making things worse for working people in America.

I’m looking at you Carmine Cervini!

Sorry, don’t mean to pick on this 61-year-old employee at the upstate New York Momentive Chemical Plant, where hundreds of workers have been on strike for weeks.

But Cervini told the New York Daily News last week, “Trump promised to help America, to get us good jobs. Well here we are, fighting for our good jobs. I voted for him. I’m going to give him a chance.”

Now, anything is possible, and Cervini’s open-mindedness is impressive, I guess.  Maybe four years from now we will be talking about how the Trump administration created millions of stable, well-paying, safe jobs which offer great health benefits.

You know, the kinds of jobs unions helped create over the past century or so.  (And, yes, full disclosure, of course I’m a union member.)

It seems more likely, though, that Trump -- and the hyper-capitalist cabinet he has assembled -- will simply behave like the millionaires and billionaires they are.

Look no further than Momentive Chemicals!

As the News noted, “In 2007, private equity investors” -- including Trump’s jobs czar Stephen Schwarzman -- “took over Momentive Chemical, and since then the plant has driven down wages, cut health care coverage and attacked pension and retiree benefits.”

That’s what you voted for Carmine.

In carrying out its agenda, it is possible the Trump administration may incidentally or temporarily improve the economic outlook for some union members.  And no, unions didn’t exactly flourish under President Obama. 

But as a whole, organized labor -- a traditional Irish American stronghold, which gave millions of immigrants and their children a step up in America -- will be hurt, not helped, by Trump. 

Do you honestly think Trump would oppose the so-called “Right to Work” law currently up for debate in New Hampshire?  The kind of anti-union law Republicans have passed in numerous other states already? Do you honestly believe Trump cares about the things for which unions advocate -- dignity, safety, quality health benefits?

If you don’t belong to a union and don’t care about those things and voted for Trump, fine.  I would point out that your parents or grandparents probably got a leg up from organized labor, but if you think history doesn’t matter, oh well. 

But union members themselves need to do some soul searching, because Trump did quite well with organized labor back in November.  Why? 

Because they bought into Trump’s anti-immigrant culture war, a divide-and-conquer tactic that has been working among the Irish and other white-ethnic workers since at least the Nixon years.

As for me, the Irish American I would listen to is Mike McGuire, political director for Mason Tenders District Council 9 out of Long Island, who recently told the Daily News, "Our union and many other trade and constructions unions were founded by immigrants who couldn't get any other jobs -- they weren't welcome in other trades… Immigration has always been an issue we have cared about, since we were founded in 1904, and it still is. Many of the city's construction workers are immigrants and our attitude has always been that it's better to welcome them in than try to keep people out.”

Nine most important Irish American moments of all time

John F. Kennedy’s Election

In November 1960 John F Kennedy, the great-grandson of impoverished Irish emigrants, was elected President of the United States. Ireland and Irish America was never to be the same again.

The young American president was the embodiment of the American dream for so many Irish who had left. Suddenly Ireland was not so old fashioned and set in its ways with Kennedy’s arrival.

A new dawn beckoned and in America, it became known as the age of Camelot. On his visit to Ireland in June 1963 Kennedy was got an incredible welcome. Ireland changed after his visit and a new confidence became evident.

America would never be the same either.

Here are just some highlights from JFK’s speech in the Dail (Ireland’s Parliament) during his trip:

The Charge of the Irish Brigade

The Irish Brigade in battle.

During the United States Civil War 250,000 Irish fought on the Union side. The most famous Irish unit was the Irish Brigade, led by the heroic figure Thomas Meagher, who was banished from Ireland after the 1848 abortive uprising.

He helped form the Irish Brigade which distinguished itself so much that President Lincoln personally visited and thanked them. "Thank God for the Irish flag” Lincoln stated, kissing the flag on a visit to General McClellan's headquarters.

They lost 60 percent of their force at the Battle of Antietam, where they were thrown at the center of the Confederate line. At Fredericksburg the Irish Brigade was devastated after being ordered to take on rebel forces, who held the high ground and were behind a stone wall, and march across a field with no cover.

Up until the Civil War, many considered the Irish not loyal Americans. Thanks to the Irish Brigade the patriotism of the Irish in America was never questioned again. Apart from the Iron Brigade, the elite fighting force, no brigade lost more men.

The 1965 Immigration Act

Lyndon B. Johnson signing the 1965 US immigration act, Ted Kennedy stands to the right.

The 1965 Immigration Act, driven to passage by Senator Ted Kennedy, changed the Irish community in America forever and not for the better.

The act raised quotas from countries that had been previously disadvantaged, namely those in Asia and Latin America, and established a system under which an immigrant with family in the United States was given preference.

This proved prejudicial to European countries like Ireland, whose immigration figures had slowed. Official statistics showed a drastic reduction in the number of legal Irish immigrants, with more than 70,000 coming to this country in the decade 1956 to 1965, compared with only 10,000 plus in 1976 to 1985.

Kennedy apologized for outlawing the Irish in a 2006 statement:

"What we were trying to do was eliminate discrimination that existed in the law, but the way that that legislation was developed worked in a very dramatic and significant way against the Irish."

Lunch Atop a Skyscraper

The iconic shot, Lunch Atop a Skyscrapper.

This iconic photograph, taken in 1932, shows 12 workers, legs dangling, eating lunch atop a steel beam 850-feet up in the sky. It has become one of the most famous New York images. The story of New York was the story of skyscrapers, and the story of the Irish was that they helped build them.

The Irish built much of America. They dug the canals, laid the rails for the railways and created the road network with picks and axes.

There were maybe two or four Irishmen balanced on the beam that September day in 1932 depending on who you believe, but it was a powerful picture that resonates to the present day. It represents the working-class Irish in a unique way.

The Quiet Man

Still from The Quiet Man, starring Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne.

Generations of Bowery music hall shows in the 19th century had played out a sentimental version of old Ireland for millions of immigrants. Songs like “Christmas in Killarney” and “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” had their start in Tin Pan Alley.

Then came "The Quiet Man," the moment that vision of Ireland, held so dear, skipped to the silver screen and presented the lovable rural Irish as characters and rogues.

Maureen O’Hara the red-headed colleen became the very emblem of Ireland while John Wayne, as the returned Yank who gets the lady, was living nearly every immigrant's dream. For better or worse "The Quiet Man" is fixed forever as an image of Ireland for millions of Americans.

Al Smith runs for president

The man who could have been president, Al Smith.

Before John F. Kennedy there was Al Smith, the first Irish Catholic to have had a serious shot at the White House.

Smith was beloved in his Lower East Side district in New York and heavily influenced Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal policies.

When Smith ran for president in 1928, the forces of reaction, such as the Ku Klux Klan, were quick to condemn him. The Know-Nothings said he would dig a secret tunnel to the Vatican and America would be swarmed by priests.

He lost but left his mark as the first Catholic to have had a shot at being president. The Al Smith dinner remains the largest annual political dinner in New York.

James Braddock vs Joe Louis

James Braddock shakes Joe Louis' hand.

The son of Irish immigrants, Braddock was the last Irish-American heavyweight champion, a tradition that had lasted all the way back to John L Sullivan, in 1882, through Gentleman Jim Corbett, Jack Dempsey, and Gene Tunney.

The handover to African American champion Joe Louis occurred in 1937 and Braddock would never fight again after being knocked out in the eighth round. The era of Irish champions was over, and the Cinderella Man knew it and retired. African Americans would go on to dominate the division.

President Clinton’s visit to Northern Ireland, November 1995

President Bill Clinton during his visit to Northern Ireland, November 1995.

President Clinton fulfilled the dreams of generations of Irish Americans by using the power of the United States to bring peace to Ireland. Irish American groups, after centuries of effort, finally got an American president to get involved. His impact was incredible.

The apex of his efforts was his visit to Northern Ireland in 1995. Hundreds of thousands turned out to see him in Derry and Belfast. He promised he would stay with them on the peace effort come what may, a promise he kept.

Michael Flatley, Jean Butler perform Riverdance

Jean Butler and Michael Flatley, the Irish American stars of Riverdance.

Irish dance was stuck in a deeply conservative mode, put there by tradition, history and a watchful Church which wanted nothing to do with Irish girls and boys performing sexy dances.

Rigid positions and rigid bodies were the rule before "Riverdance."

It would likely have died on the vine but for "Riverdance," the interval act at the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, which introduced the world to Jean Butler and Michael Flatley, both Irish Americans, with the help of creators Moya Doherty and John McColgan.

Suddenly Irish dance was fiery and sexy, full of vim and vigor. There was a massive response from the audience. Irish dance would never be the same again.

Read more: Why Ireland owes Irish America a huge amount

Irish government has no empathy for returning Irish citizens

The Irish Government has been accused of having a “complete lack of empathy” for returning emigrants. Speaking before a panel of the Dáil (Ireland's parliament) Committee on Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Ciarán Staunton said the State’s treatment of returning Irish citizens has been “appalling” in many instances. The committee was hearing evidence on the challenges faced by Irish citizens who return home.

Staunton, who serves as Chairman of the US-based Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR), said the Irish state treated returning Irishmen and women as “diluted” citizens because they often had to wait years before being allowed to access essential services.

He told the committee "We need to simplify the process of getting car insurance, buying [a] house, getting education for our children, returning to family farms, getting electricity, getting health insurance."

Staunton noted that most American driver's licenses were not exchangeable for Irish licenses - unlike those from Canada – and said this meant many people were having to post L plates (for learner), take lessons and retake driving tests.

He also said returned Irish people had more trouble opening bank accounts than the undocumented in America. "It is easier for an illegal to open a bank account in America than it is if they return home," he insisted.

Karen McHugh, CEO of Safe Home Ireland which helps elderly people retire to Ireland, said many never managed to and that "unfortunately for our cohort of over 60s, they want to come back to die and that's quite sad because some don't get back to die. They get back unfortunately to be buried."

Speaking to IrishCentral after his committee appearance, Staunton said he deplored how “returning Irish citizens who had to go abroad during bad economic times are being penalized.”

He was dismissive of the Government’s “Coming Home” campaign, which aims to encourage 70,000 Irish people abroad to make the move back to Ireland. “They haven't removed any the barriers that we have addressed,” he said.

“Now those barriers have only come in in the last number of years. The Irish emigrants who emigrated in the 80s and came back in the 90s, who built the foundations of the Celtic Tiger did not have any of these barriers in front of them. And what has happened now is that the people who have been away for a few years have almost been diluted of their full citizenship.”

He noted that a number of Irish people who had emigrated and returned to Ireland had changed the course of Irish history. Not least Thomas Clarke, John McBride and James Connolly who were all executed for their roles in the Easter Rising.

Furthermore, he said, Mayoman Michael Davitt who founded the Irish National Land League would nowadays “not be considered a suitable person for farming grants” because he lived in England for a number of years.  

However, he was said all such problems were fixable as they were “man created, bureaucratic, so they can be man fixed” but there is not “the will, the desire, or the leadership to grasp this issue” from the Irish Government.

The Irish Government previously promised they would meet regularly on the issue with Minister for Diaspora Joe McHugh. Since that promise was made, he says, seven meetings should have taken place but not one has happened. No reports have been published and the Minister has yet to visit New York or meet with the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform – the largest such lobby group for the diaspora. Such behavior Staunton describes as “appalling.”

“What he need now is some action,” he concluded.

IrishCentral contacted Diaspora Minister Joe McHugh’s office for comment, but at the time of writing we have not received a reply.

Overall, an estimated 400,000 people have left Ireland since the year 2006: 300,000 from the south, 100,000 from the north. The vast majority left during the years when the economy was in recession and unemployment rose. The most recent figures show that between April 2015 and April 2016 21,100 Irish citizens returned to live in the Republic - a 74% increase on the previous year.

Read more: US immigration crackdown - fake news, reality and hope

H/T: The Irish Times, RTÉ.

Could this young Irish singer be the next Adele?

Áine Cahill is Cavan’s blossoming Adele.  Her voice is all emotion, all depth, all soul.  You would never guess her age if you heard her voice on the radio: this 21-year-old’s vocals project a range and savvy well beyond her age.  Although she’s moved beyond the braces at this point in her career, it still jars me to watch her stunning music video, “White Piano,” and catch a glimpse of her adolescent braces.  For me, Cahill is a true vocal talent, and she’s steadily been releasing snippets of what she can do.  The latest edition is a jazzy, cool and edgy “Plastic.”

While Cahill is undoubtedly still on the ascent to her career’s peak, the songs she has written and recorded so far are already exciting Ireland, and as of last year, the UK too.  Of her earlier songs, “White Piano,” one of her first, is one of my favorites, but “The Pictures” is just as good.  In this second, later track, her voice shows growth and her artistic vision evinces a more individualized insight.  

The drama and the sense of despair in this ballad suit Cahill.  As bleak as it might sound, this young singer is in her element in those moments of artistic grief.  I am impressed at her ability to conjure such emotional engagement and depth.

 It’s not surprising the young singer’s EP, “Paper Crowns,” was named the number 1 unlabeled Irish EP in 2014.  This initial success has only been followed by more accolades.  Her 2015 hit, “Black Dahlia” was nominated as a “Best Hit” by Hot Press Magazine.

Even at such an early stage in her career, people are taking notice: Cahill was also nominated for Best Female Solo Act by Pure M Magazine. And last month, the Guardian called a songwriter “with natural passion” and deemed her “one to watch.”

The real breakthrough for Cahill came last year, at the 2016 Glastonbury festival. The BBC asked her to do a live, spontaneous show, and the rest was YouTube history.  Success clearly suits this singer, as her most recent singles, “The 27 Club,” and this month’s release, “Plastic,” are undoubtedly her best yet.  

Perhaps it that extra year of maturity was all she needed.  “The 27 Club” is a disillusioned deconstruction of a teenage clubbing song.  “Plastic,” though, is the real standout—the song evokes the 1920s and the 2010s all at once.  The sounds are airy, streetsmart, full of attitude—not to mention excellent singing.  The song imagines its way into a Prohibition saloon and a Dublin city street.  You can’t help but feel cool and edgy listening to this track—even if you’re doing it in your pj’s.

Áine Cahill has that special, nebulous “star quality.”  She can sing, she can interpret music, and she can translate it to her audiences around the world, virtual or live.  For now, we’ll have to hold out for her debut full-length studio album, or maybe her first top 100 hit—whichever comes first.

Cahill is most certainly on the upswing, so make sure you can say you listened to her way back when.  You can hear her heart-wrenching ballads on her YouTube channel, Spotify, or her Facebook page.  Still no Stateside tours yet, but she’s playing Dublin, Galway, and Cork this April and May.

---

This article originally featured in the Irish Echo. You can read more from them here. 

Copyright © 2017 Robbinsville Irish Heritage Association