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Timetable of how an honest cop has led Ireland to the brink of a shock election

Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein’s motion of no confidence in Frances Fitzgerald could well force a general election. Here’s how this happened.

Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein will put a motion of no confidence in former Irish Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to the Dáil next Wednesday. It will succeed given that the two parties combined have far more seats than Fine Gael and the  small group of independents that constitute the current government. An election is the only outcome unless the parties can agree a compromise on Fitzgerald's future.

But how did it get to this point where no one wants an election given the massive uncertainty about Brexit, an abortion referendum not to mention a crisis in Northern Ireland? Here is how it happened.

January 2006: Maurice McCabe, a sergeant in the Irish police force, the Gardaí, officially complains about two colleagues who turned up drunk at a suicide scene. One garda (police officer) is disciplined.

Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

December 2006: The daughter of the disciplined garda makes an allegation of child abuse against McCabe. The Director of Public Prosecutions finds the case totally lacking in evidence, says there is no proof the offense ever occurred and refuses to prosecute.

2008: McCabe reports massive abuse of the penalty points system for drunk driving including the removal of points for well-known names and nepotism.

One of the persons who abused the system is the Garda Commissioner.

2008 to 2010: McCabe uncovers 42 cases of police corruption.

May 2013: Assistant police commissioner John O’Mahoney carries out an investigation of McCabe’s accusations and finds no reason to prosecute anyone.

October 2013: Comptroller and Auditor General Séamus McCarthy publishes his report on penalty points and finds about 5 percent of cases annulled.

January 2014: McCabe continues his allegations which are called “disgusting” by Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

Garda commissioner Martin Callinan.

February 2014: McCabe hands over his report on corruption which is given to Taoiseach Enda Kenny. It reveals Callinan misused the points system for himself. He resigns.

March 2014: Senior counsel Seán Guerin begins a review of the McCabe allegations.

May 2014: Guerin’s report is deeply critical of Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, who resigns.

July 2014: New Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald orders yet another inquiry.

Police Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.

February 2015: Political pressure continues over the McCabe allegations and a commission of inquiry headed by Judge Kevin O’Higgins is established.

May 2015: The legal team for the police brings up the discredited child molester claim against McCabe. The police lawyer when asked by Judge O’Higgins if he is attacking McCabe’s “motivation and attacking his character" replies “right the way through.”

The strategy was sent in an email in May 2015 to Fitzgerald who does not share it with her party leader or call in the police commissioner to explain their tactics. She has now said she has no memory of the email.

May 2016: The O’Higgins commission report praises McCabe and agrees there was police malpractice in many cases.

October 2016: Another inquiry reveals there has been a concerted smear campaign against McCabe. The smear campaign was known about by Minister Fitzgerald via the email she had received.

January 2017: The Government establishes a new commission investigation into the blackening of McCabe’s reputation and his accusations.

Evidence is presented that the Health Service was also part of the smear of McCabe with a falsified document saying the alleged child victim had been examined and found   to have been raped. The commission of investigation is upgraded to a tribunal of inquiry.

Summer 2017: The commission uncovers a widespread conspiracy to blacken McCabe and several top officials resign.

September 2017: As more police fabrications are uncovered Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan abruptly retires.

Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

November 2017: Labour TD Alan Kelly asks a pointed series of questions if the justice department and the minister was aware all along of the smear campaign. Minister Fitzgerald initially says she only found out about it in 2016 but it becomes evident she knew a year before that and did nothing.

November 2017: Fitzgerald refuses to resign and is backed by her party leader, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein prepare a motion of no confidence in Fitzgerald.

Fianna Fail has been propping up Fine Gael in government, so their opposition mean an election unless there is a last-minute compromise on Fitzgerald.

Read more: Bravest man in Ireland battles on against police and government corruption

“Polar low” over Ireland following flooding to cause hazardous conditions

1,000 effected by major flooding in Laois and Ireland faces second national weather warning this week

Temperatures in Ireland are set to plummet this weekend, following a week of heavy rain and flooding in areas. Weather experts are warning of hazardous black ice conditions as this “Polar low” takes hold.

A national status yellow warning is effect across the country until midday on Saturday, November 25, as a “polar low” brings snow and ice to Ireland.

Three rivers burst in Laois

After a week of heavy rain hundreds of people spent Thursday night in emergency accommodation following devastating flooding as three rivers burst their banks in Mountmellick, County Laois. Two housing estates were evacuated by emergency services, while hundreds of other residents in the town had to leave their homes.

It’s estimated that 1,000 people were affected.

Locals describe the floods as the worst in living memory. Laois County Council’s Director of Services, Kieran Kehoe, said more than 50mm (1.9 inches) of water fell in two hours.

The rainfall this week was heaviest in the Dublin region where there was localized flooding and some road closures.

However now the country faces into its second weather warning in a week with temperatures set to become “severe” on Friday night.

Snow and freezing temperatures

In Ulster and Connacht scattered snow showers are expected to be frequent over the weekend.

The public are being urged to wrap up warm as temperature are set to drop to -4C (24.8F) in some areas. Temperatures will only reach between 3C (37.4F) and 4C (39.2F) during the day.

Gerald Flemming of Met Eireann, Ireland’s meteorological center, said that November has been mild so far, but the cold snap is normal for this time of year.

He told RTE Radio One "It's really a big change from what we've had so far in November which has been a relatively mild month. This time last year we were looking at minus 7 degrees so it's in no way unprecedented.”

Sadly, for many, Flemming said snow is not expected for Christmas.

"There's no sign of anything like we had back in 2010 when we had that exceptionally cold period. I'd never bank on a White Christmas though. At this stage we just can't tell what it will be like coming into Christmas."

Black ice on the roads

The AA Roadwatch is warning drivers to drive slowly this weekend. “Stopping distances are 10 times longer on snow and ice and gentle maneuvers are the key to safe driving.

"Use major routes as they are more likely to have been gritted than secondary routes."

Read more: Timetable of how an honest cop has led Ireland to the brink of a shock election

Ancient Irish fairies behind visual trickery of magic roads

Are leprechauns and ancient myths behind these roads where cars roll uphill?

Ireland’s far-reaching ancient history has lent its countryside to being riddled with all kinds of magic, from fairy rings to sacred trees, there’s sorcery in the Irish air but the magic hills or roads must be the most visual of all the trickery found in the Irish countryside. This brilliant video, made by a father and son, illustrates just how crazy the “magic hills” really are.

So! As you can tell, magic hills fail to recognize the natural rules of gravity. If you turn your car engine off while you’re on the hill and put the car in neutral you will roll UP the hill. Magic!

A magic bewitched road in Ireland where cars roll uphill

Do you believe ancient Irish fairy’s trickery is behind these magic roads in Ireland? Read more about these magic hills and roads here: http://irsh.us/2A3mfyy

Posted by IrishCentral.com on Thursday, 23 November 2017

The magic hill featured in this video is located in Jenkinstown, on the Omeath Road, in County Louth.

Read more: The ancient race who ruled Ireland and their magic harp

Over the years scientists have visited sites such as this with monitors, meters and magnets but to no avail. It is obviously magic! It’s said that the magic comes from unseen sprites, like leprechauns, who are up to no good.

In 2011, American TV presenter Andrew McCarhy also visited this spot:

The area where this magic road is located, the Cooley Mountains, has long been associated with ancient Irish myths and legends. Much of the ancient tale of The Tain takes place in these mountains and there are several Neolithic tombs in the area.

If you really want to ruin the magic these legendary places, here’s what’s really happening... Be warned though, the real explanation is not that much fun.

So, a magic hill occurs where a slight downhill slope appears to be an uphill slope. This is due to the layout of the surrounding land, creating an optical illusion that water flows up hill or, in this case a car, will roll uphill.

The Dundalk magic road isn’t the only one in Ireland either, those leprechauns get about. Here’s a run down some other famously magic spots around Ireland.

The Comeragh Mountains

This magic road in Waterford is probably the most famous in the country. It’s located to the Mahon Falls.

Some of these roads are, of course, tough to find but this one’s marked plainly with a “Magic Road” sign! The area was also home to a fairy tree until 2011, when hooligans, who no doubt are having fierce bad luck, cut it down.

Ben Bulben

Of course, being located in “Yeats’ Country”, at Ben Bulben, in County Sligo, there is an aura of magic about this area anyway so there’s little surprise that here are TWO magic hills close by.

You have to admit these videos are conclusive proof to some sort of magic!

Do you believe ancient Irish fairy’s trickery is behind these magic roads in Ireland? Let us know below.

Read more: Truth about fairies and leprechauns

What you should know about the history of your Irish surname

The earliest known Irish surname is O’Clery (O Cleirigh); it’s the earliest known because it was written that the lord of Aidhne, Tigherneach Ua Cleirigh, died in County Galway back in the year 916 A.D.

Unlock your own ancestry with a DNA test

In fact, that Irish name may actually be the earliest surname recorded in all of Europe.

Until about the 10th century in Ireland, surnames were not passed down from generation to generation. Instead, surnames were patronymic or based on someone’s father’s name. A person was identified by his given name plus “mac,” meaning “son of,” followed by his father’s name.

For instance, Brian mac Colum was Brian, son of Colum. Brian’s son might be Finnian mac Brian (Finnian, son of Brian).

The female form of “mac” is “nic,” shortened from the Irish iníon mhic.

Alternatively, the prefix “o” was sometimes used in place of “mac” and meant “grandson of” or “descended from.” If Colum was well known, his grandson might have gone by the name Finnian O Colum.

There were no fixed surnames, so a surname changed every generation or two. That can make tracing your family tree a bit more complicated!

But even without hereditary surnames, those names still hold clues. For example, that person named O’Clery or O Cleirigh (or Ua Cleirigh) was the grandson or descendant of someone named Cleirigh. (“Ua” was an earlier form of “O.”)

It was around the 1100s, as the population was increasing, that people in the upper social classes started taking hereditary surnames (those that remain fixed over the generations); others didn’t need surnames, or even get around to them, until the 1500s.

Another strong influence on Irish names came with the Norman invasion of 1169 when a lot of Anglo-French names came marching into Ireland (this, too, is when the Latin-derived prefix “Fitz,” meaning “son of,” first came into Irish names). It’s from this influence that some of the names we now consider Irish — Costello, Power, Burke, and others — first entered the scene.

And in the 1500s, the influence of the English was beginning to make itself felt in Ireland. Ireland was experiencing religious persecution and invasions, and many changes came to the island — including the changing of Irish names, steadily but surely over the ensuing years, into ones that sounded more English.

An example of this was the common Irish surname Mac Gabhann, which meant “son of a smith.” Some Mac Gabhanns, living in County Cavan, had their name translated to Smith and it remained that way. Others outside that area resisted, but the spelling became anglicized and they became Mac/McGowans. This was very common.

Also, in many cases the prefixes Mac and O were done away with.

Many surnames originated as occupational or descriptive names. That earliest known name, O Cleirigh (O’Clery), was someone descended from a clerk; Mac an Bhaird (Ward) was the son of a bard, and Mac Labhrain (MacCloran) was the son of a spokesman.

Descriptive names were names that described the first person to take them. The first person with the name Dubh (Duff) (“black” or “dark”) was probably dark featured. Other descriptive surnames include Bane (“white”), Crone (“brown”), and Lawder (“strong”).

Irish toponymic surnames, deriving from a place where the original name bearer once lived, are rare. They include Ardagh, Athy, Bray, Kelly, Sutton, and a few others.

The most common Irish surnames in Ireland haven’t changed much for a century. Here are 10 of them:

- Murphy — The Anglicized version of the Irish surname Ó Murchadha and Mac Murchadha, meaning “sea warrior.”

- Kelly — The origin of this Irish name is uncertain. An Anglicized version of the Irish name Ó Ceallaigh, it can describe a warrior or mean “white-headed,” “frequenting churches,” or “descendant of Ceallach.”

- O’Sullivan — (Ó Súileabháin or Ó Súilleabháin in Irish). In 1890, 90 percent of the O’Sullivans were estimated to be in Munster. Many people agree that the basic surname means “eye,” but they do not agree whether the rest of the name means “one-eyed,” “hawk-eyed,” “black-eyed,” or something else.

- Walsh — This name came to Ireland via British soldiers during the Norman invasion of Ireland and means “from Wales.” It’s derived from Breathnach or Brannagh.

- Smith — This surname does not necessarily suggest English ancestry, as some think; often the surname was derived from Gabhann (which means “smith”).

- O’Brien — This name came down from Brian Boru (941-1014) who was king of Munster; his descendants took the name, Ó Briain.

- Byrne (also Byrnes; O’Byrne) — from the Irish name Ó Broin (“raven”; also, a descendant of Bran); this dates to the ancient Celtic chieftain Bran mac Máelmórda, a King of Leinster in the 11thcentury.

- Ryan — This name has various possible origins: from the Gaelic Ó Riagháin (grandson or descendant of Rían) or Ó Maoilriain (grandson/descendant of Maoilriaghain) or Ó Ruaidhín (grandson/descendant of the little red one). Or it may be a simplification of the name Mulryan. It means “little king.”

- O’Connor — From Ó Conchobhair (grandson or descendant of Conchobhar; “lover of hounds”).

- O’Neill — Anglicized from the Gaelic Ua Néill (grandson or descendant of Niall). The name is connected with meanings including “vehement” and “champion.” The main O’Niall family is descended from the historic “Niall of the Nine Hostages.”

Learn more about your own Irish ancestry and surnames at Ancestry.

* There are many paths to finding your family story. Whichever way you choose—tracing your family generations back with a family tree or uncovering your ethnicity with AncestryDNA—Ancestry be here to help you. Unlock your own ancestry with a DNA test.

Cheers to 200 years - the fascinating story of Guinness in America

Guinness has been in America for 200 years! Here's the full history of the iconic Irish beer and how you can celebrate with the limited release Guinness 200 brew. 

The story begins on October 16, 1817 with a single line in a brewer’s log. The handwritten note reveals the first eight barrels of Guinness beer – a porter to be exact – meant for America would make their arrival in South Carolina. Ever since then, the bond between America and Ireland has continued to grow, from Irish immigrants searching for a better life to community leaders to, of course, Guinness and the countless pints – shared responsibly – with the people of the United States.

The anniversary this fall is a celebration of a 200-year love affair between a brewery and a people: Guinness and America. There’s no better time than now for the Guinness brand to say thank you to America by introducing the limited-edition Guinness 200th Anniversary Export Stout; bringing back a few favorite stout releases for a festive variety pack; and hosting a pair of public events in New York City and Los Angeles.

“Two things have always been at the heart of the Guinness brand since our founding in 1759: brewing great beer and sharing our story,” said Emma Giles, Guinness Brand Director. “When we started brewing beer for America 200 years ago, that story became a shared one. Now, every time you share a pint with someone else, another chapter begins.”

Guinness 200th Anniversary Export Stout is the latest beer created by the Open Gate Brewery – the pilot brewery located at St. James’s Gate in Dublin – where Guinness brewers experiment with new styles and reinterpret historical brews. Inspired by a recipe Benjamin Guinness – the son of Arthur Guinness – originally developed in 1817, this beer is brewed with Black Patent Malt and Golding Hops and has a 6% ABV.

“We took a look at that export stout’s recipe from 1817 in our brewing records and used that as our inspiration here, but it’s not just an homage to who we were as brewers then or who America was as a country,” said Peter Simpson, Head Brewer at the Open Gate Brewery in Dublin. “We’re also using this beer as a way to show how much we’re looking forward to the next 200 years. We knew it had to be special, and we really think this throwback recipe captures exactly what we wanted from 1817 all the way through 2017.”

This October, Guinness will also release its newest limited-edition Guinness Draught cans, featuring artwork from the legendary Guinness ads from the 1930s and the 1950s that featured various zoo animals. Previous limited edition cans have featured the much-loved Guinness toucan and tortoise, among other works.

The 200 Years of Stout in America Mixed Pack – also on its way from Guinness – will bring back a few favorite stout recipes to add to the festivities. The full list of celebratory releases includes:

Guinness 200th Anniversary Export Stout – A deep, dark, authentic export stout with smooth, rich flavor; brewed with Black Patent Malt. (MSRP: $8.99, 6-pack)

Guinness Limited-Edition Mount Rushmore Cans – Classic Guinness Draught stout in limited-edition cans depicting everyone’s favorite toucans flying across the iconic American monument of Mount Rushmore from a rarely seen Guinness ad from the 1950s. (MSRP: $8.99, 8-pack)

Guinness 200 Years of Stout in America Mixed Pack – A collection of brews in honor of America’s love of stouts – Guinness Original, 200th Anniversary Export Stout, Antwerpen Stout and Foreign Extra Stout – all of which have been exported to the U.S. over the past 200 years. (MSRP: $21.99, 12-pack)

Along with Guinness 200th Anniversary Export Stout, these brews will be available in stores nationwide.

While the past 200 years are the reason for celebration, the next 200 years have even more possibility. The newest chapter in this Irish-American story will be set in Maryland, where the first Guinness brewery on U.S. soil in more than 60 years will open in 2018. The brewery’s name, the Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House, is a combination of the pilot brewery at St. James’s Gate and a nod to the plan for this new brewery to be a center for barrel-aging beer. The new home for Guinness in the U.S. will also be the permanent brewing site for Guinness Blonde American Lager and other new beers created specifically for the states.

Whether you’re celebrating the 200th anniversary of Guinness in the U.S. or toasting to the next 200 years, please remember to drink responsibly.

Sláinte to these Black Friday deals from the IrishCentral shop

In America, modern tradition has it that on Thanksgiving Thursday we gather with family, give thanks, and eat, and the day after, on Black Friday, we shop.

The idea has caught on in Ireland too, with many stores offering special Black Friday deals both online and in person. Naturally, at the IrishCentral Shop we thought it was only right to join in on the sale prices and special offers.

To give you a had with your holiday shopping, today, Black Friday, through December 4, the IrishCentral Shop is offering a site-wide discount of 15%.

For the day that’s in it, today, November 24, only you can get 25% off all items purchased between 6am and 12pm EST.

What’s more, take 20% off the following items until 11:59pm EST. From Aran sweaters to Guinness salt and pepper shakers to Irish stained glass, we’ve got you covered.

Aran One Button Collar Cardigan

Merino Wool Aran Lumber Jacket

Kids Irish Shamrock Socks

Irish Gloves - Adults

Happy Sheep Kids T-Shirt

Guinness 1759 T-Shirt

Ribbed Two-Tone Shawl Collar Cardigan

Raised Shamrock Round Neck Sweater

Kids Irish Shamrock Knitted Navy Sweater

Wacky Woolies Sheep Apron

Guinness Salt and Pepper Shakers

Guinness Playing Cards

High Cross Gothic Stained Glass Panel

Ireland Round Stained Glass Panel

Fishermen Men’s Cardigan Sweater

 

LISTEN: The Great Famine podcast series – the Irish rebel Anne Devlin

The first in a series from the Irish history podcast - this episode examines the roots of the Irish Famine from the rebellions of 1798 and 1803

The Great Famine is the most important event in modern Irish history. It changed Ireland, and indeed, the world forever. While one million perished from starvation and disease, our ancestors also struggled to survive. From rebellion to riots, evictions to emigration the Great Famine podcast series will bring you on a fascinating and vivid journey to the world of your ancestors in Ireland of the 1840s.

While Great Hunger began in 1845, its roots lie deep in Ireland's bitter relationship with Britain. This first podcast in the Great Famine podcast series looks at the roots of the Great Hunger through the life of one extraordinary Irish rebel –  Anne Devlin.

She lived a remarkable life and was involved in both the 1798 and 1803 rebellions. These reshaped Ireland and had profound consequences impacting life right up to and during the Great Famine.

Anne Devlin’s life also explains why sectarian tensions between Catholics and Protestants dominated life in Ireland, what the Act of Union was and why it was so important."

* Fin Dwyer Is a historian, author, and creator of the Irish history podcast. Over the last seven years, he has been creating free podcasts which makes Irish history accessible to new audiences. He has covered diverse topics from the Middle Ages to the modern history. He is currently focusing on the story of the Great Hunger. With over three million individuals downloads, the show is one of Ireland's most popular podcasts. You can find his podcast on iTunes.

Read more: Why the real story of Ireland's Great Hunger is not taught in U.S. schools

Courtney Cox surprised Johnny McDaid with a star-studded video at the Irish Post Awards

P!nk, Alicia Keys, Robbie Williams, Ed Sheeran and Gary Lightbody among stars who paid to Irish musician and his work

 Hollywood actress Courtney Cox created a gorgeous video of love for fiancé Johnny McDaid in a special show reel for The Irish Post Awards, on Thursday night in London. 

The highly acclaimed songwriter and Snow Patrol guitarist accepted the award for his Outstanding Contribution to Music at the 40th Annual Irish Post Awards.

In a video praising the Derry native, his partner Courteney Cox rounded up a series of artists he has worked with through the years to describe him in three words. P!nk, Alicia Keys, Robbie Williams, Ed Sheeran and Gary Lightbody are amongst the stars to pay tribute to Johnny McDaid and his work.

Read more: Watch the 40th Irish Post Awards on IrishCentral, all the way from London

The video is truly moving, it must be said.

Robbie Williams said McDaid got him to be 'the most vulnerable.'

"He’s like a musical therapist, he got me to be the most vulnerable that I’ve ever been on any song ever.”

"He’s a master of his craft," he added.

"I just say these terrible things and he turns them into pure poetry," What About Us singer P!nk says."

"He is very giving and is willing to give you as much as you give."

"I don’t remember how Johnny and I met, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know him.

"His contribution over the last two decades to Irish music is immense," bandmate Gary Lightbody said.

Accepting his award, after watching the show reel, he said “I’m absolutely overwhelmed for all those amazing messages, I’m amazed by Courtney going to that effort – thank you darling.”

Courtney Cox and Johnny McDaid on the red carpet at the 40th Irish Post Awards.

Regarding his award, he said “I get to make records for people I love, that’s all I do, that’s all I have to do, be in there and allow that to happen.

“When I was a kid growing up in Derry, music to me was the way forward. It was the way to say we can express this part of us here, our hearts, and do it in a way that allows others to express theirs.

“My mum is here tonight, she is from the bogside in Derry, as is my dad. They spoke their hearts to me and I found music, first of all as a guitar sitting in guitar in corner of my living room now I find it in front of all these people.

“The next song I write will be my favorite song until the song I write after that.

Asked what drives him, he said: “Everything that you have seen here tonight is about community, we are all of us a community, we are people from Ireland who left and came here to England to make more of our life.

“We are community - what drives me is exactly that – its community.”

You can watch the full award ceremony below here:

Live from The Irish Post Awards 2017

Live from the 40th Annual Irish Post Awards 💚 ☘️ Read more about the awards here: http://irsh.us/2mUoU8S

Posted by IrishCentral.com on Thursday, 23 November 2017

 Incredible Irish people making a difference, including Bob Geldof, Johnny McDaid, Karren Brady and Imelda May, were honored at the Irish Post’s 40th Award ceremony. The prestigious Irish community event was hosted, once again, by renowned broadcaster and TV personality Eamonn Holmes.

Read more about all the winners here

Atlas of the Irish Revolution among greatest Irish history books ever?

There is only one word to describe the "Atlas of the Irish Revolution": WOW!

"Atlas" is a remarkable, comprehensive work running 964 pages and weighing in at a hernia-inducing 10-pounds. This is not a book you curl up with—it’s too heavy—but a tome you set on the kitchen table to study and enjoy.

Printed in Italy, it is a brilliant four-color product chock full of beautiful paintings by such artists as Sir John Lavery, Jack B. Yeats, Leo Whelan, Seán Keating, Elizabeth Thornton Butler, James Brennan, Margaret Allen, William Orpen, Ben Bay, Sarah Cecilia Harrison, Sarah Purser, just to name but a few.

It also has stunning, sometimes disturbing, rare photos. You like maps? You've got maps, plenty of them. If you’re a chart man, you’re covered.

Read More:  Pathé brings color to Irish revolution footage (VIDEO & PHOTOS)

It is edited by John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil, and Mike Murphy and features over 100 contributing writers, with a forward by Irish President Michael D. Higgins.

About the only misleading thing about this book is its title because it starts way before Easter Week and goes right up into the time of the time of the 'Blueshirts' in the middle-1930s.

Completely Comprehensive

"Atlas" starts with the Gaelic League in the 1890s and looks at the Ireland of that time, including her culture, her politics, her poverty and her labor problems, which culminated in the 1913 Lockout in Dublin. It also shows how the early years of the Great War molded opinion in Ireland with Irishmen suffering heavy casualties at Gallipoli and the Somme. It also takes an in-depth look at how the Protestants of the North warily viewed their Southern counterparts.

It has portraits of every important Irishman and woman, both North and South. Of course, all the 1916 martyrs are chronicled, but also figures like John Redmond, Edward Carson, Bulmer Hobson, Eoin MacNeill, Kathleen Clarke, James Craig, Rose McNamara, Harry Boland, Kevin O’Higgins, Art Ó Briain (O’Brien), Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, and Ernie O’Malley, to name a few of the more prominent figures.

The Easter Rising is covered extensively. The book then describes the years 1916-1919 where many topics served to drive the narrative in nationalist Ireland: by-elections, the threat of conscription, the suppression of a free press by the British, and the huge influence of the IRA’s women’s auxiliary, the Cuman na mBan.

'Atlas of the Irish Revolution' book cover.

Guerrilla Warfare

The bulk of the book looks at the years between 1919 – when the guerrilla war started in earnest – and 1923, the end of the Irish Civil War. There is a chapter called “Michael Collins and the Intelligence War” by Michael Foy that describes exactly what Collins was trying to do—basically, terrorize the British out of the country by targeting their eyes and ears: their police, their informers and their intelligence services. There are some amazing maps of Dublin pinpointing the addresses of Bloody Sunday and even some of the ordinary, everyday addresses where you could easily find Collins in 1920.

There is also a chapter on “The Catholic Church and the War of Independence” that shows the ebb and flow of the church’s support for the rebels. Also described are the hunger strikes, the Dáil courts, and the Belfast Boycott of 1920.

The American connection is dissected with profiles of John Devoy, Judge Daniel Cohalan, Joe McGarrity and their battles with de Valera while he was in America in 1919-20.

The Treaty and Beyond

The machinations around the Treaty are explored and noted Collins scholar T. Ryle Dwyer has a chapter entitled “Michael Collins and the Civil War.”

The Irish Civil War is chronicled at the Four Courts and the Battle of Dublin which led to the breached birth of the Irish Free State. The book pulls no punches in the extreme degrees the government went through to put down the anti-Treaty forces.

Read More: The top twenty books every Irish American should read

There is an extraordinary photo of the wedding of future Minister for Justice Kevin O’Higgins. In it O’Higgins and his bride are centered between de Valera and his best man, Rory O’Connor. A year later O’Higgins would order the execution of his completely innocent best man in reprisal for anti-Treaty atrocities. O’Higgins would pay the price in 1927 when he was assassinated by anti-Treaty men with long memories.

Life in the Free State

My mother used to have a saying: “We’re in a terrible state—we’re in the Free State!” and this book looks at the young nation and its terrible growing pains in the decade after the end of the Civil War. There is economic depression, outrageous censorship, and contrary to the Proclamation of 1916, Irish women were getting no respect.

There is a chapter called “Southern Irish Protestant Experiences of the Irish Revolution” and how Protestants—many of whom left the country—viewed the Free State and the massive influences the Catholic Church had on the new state. There are also pokes of insight in what was going on up North.

Finally, we see the resurrection of Eamon de Valera and his taking power in 1932 and the subsequent counter-punch manifested by the rise of the Eoin O’Duffy’s Blueshirts—basically Ireland’s answer to the Nazis or Mussolin's blackshirts.

Extraordinary

"Atlas of the Irish Revolution" is an extraordinary, monumental publishing achievement. It is not an exaggeration to say that "Atlas of the Irish Revolution" is the bible of this most important time in Irish history.

"Atlas of the Irish Revolution" is published in Ireland by Cork University Press (€59) and in the United States by NYU Press ($75).

 

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

 

 

Little Irish boy with cancer has best day ever on the set of 'Vikings'

The cast and crew of the hit show Vikings helped grant the wish of a 7-year-old Irish boy with stage 4 cancer.

Max’s wish was to be Ragnar, the main character on the show, which is currently filmed in Ireland. The Vikings cast and crew decided to help him out by bringing him on set.

Max was turned into mini Ragnar with a Vikings costume and hair and make up done up by the show’s crew.

Read More: Irish university starts world’s largest crowdsourcing project about Vikings

He also got to meet many of the actors from the History Channel series and Skyped with some others.

Read More: Miracle Dublin child, stricken with cancer, makes it to her confirmation

Max, who has only a few months left to live, is part of Aoibheann's Pink Tie Foundation, an organization similar to the Make-a-Wish Foundation in the U.S.

H/T TMZ

Watch the 40th Irish Post Awards on IrishCentral, all the way from London

Bob Geldof, Johnny McDaid, Karren Brady and Imelda May were among those honored at the star-studded ceremony

Incredible Irish people making a difference, including Bob Geldof, Johnny McDaid, Karren Brady and Imelda May, were honored at the Irish Post’s 40th Award ceremony in London on Thursday. The prestigious Irish community event was hosted, once again, by renowned broadcaster and TV personality Eamonn Holmes.

Live from The Irish Post Awards 2017

Live from the 40th Annual Irish Post Awards 💚 ☘️ Read more about the awards here: http://irsh.us/2mUoU8S

Posted by IrishCentral.com on Thursday, November 23, 2017

Seven winners were presented with awards. Here’s a rundown:

- Snow Patrol’s Johnny McDaid - Outstanding Contribution to the Music Industry Award

The Dublin-born but Derry-raised star is also a prolific songwriter and producer, who is behind a wide array of recent chart hits – including Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You, which is now one of the most popular singles of all time.

- Irish Olympic favorites, Gary and Paul O’Donovan - Outstanding Contribution to Sport Award

On their Olympic debut at Rio 2016, the Co. Cork brothers won Ireland’s first-ever Olympic medal in rowing.

The Skibbereen pair sealed silver in the lightweight men’s double sculls and won the nation’s heart with their relaxed yet entertaining post-race interviews and their famous “pull like a dog” quote.

- Sir Bob Geldof - The Irish Post’s Lifetime Achievement Award

The Dublin musician and philanthropist became world famous after staging Live Aid at Wembley Stadium in 1985.

Lead singer of the Boomtown Rats, Geldof has become known as a tireless activist, particularly against poverty in Africa and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

He is also a successful businessman, largely in the communications and media sector.

- Baroness Karren Brady - Outstanding Contribution to Business in Britain Award

Known to millions through her starring role as Lord Sugar’s trusted boardroom advisor, Baroness Brady is the Vice-Chairman of West Ham United FC, a Senior Non-Executive Director on the board of Simon Cowell’s Syco Entertainment and Chairman of Topshop.

She is also the daughter of self-made Irish millionaire Terry Brady.

- Imelda May - Artist of the Year Award

Having sung the Irish national anthem this summer in Las Vegas to a global audience of millions before the Conor McGregor v Floyd Mayweather fight, this year Imelda May has found a new groove with a new look and a new album.

The Dubliner will also give a special performance this evening.

- The Outstanding Contribution to the Community Award and the Building Britain Award, will both be announced during tonight’s ceremony

No less than five live music performances are due to take place during tonight’s event, including Imelda May’s.

Folk will meet rock when two of Ireland’s most exciting bands join forces to headline the red-carpet ceremony. Kodaline and Beoga will perform exclusively at the event.

Also on the bill is award-winning artist Damien Dempsey, who has won several prestigious Irish Meteor Awards over the years.

Country music star Lisa McHugh is also on the line-up. Glasgow-born, to Irish parents, McHugh is famed for her pop Country and Irish music style.

More than 1,000 people will enjoy a front row seat to all the action at tonight’s event, which takes place at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane.

Why young people are joining the Ancient Order of Hibernians

The Ancient Order of Hibernians is, as the name suggests, one of the oldest Irish groups in North America.

Founded in 1836 its original aim was to care for the often destitute Irish who arrived on America’s shore, as well as stand up for safer working conditions for the working class.

With an aging profile, the organization has recently taken to targeting the younger Irish Americans for recruitment.  One such individual is New Jersey man Seán Brewer, who is helping to recruit fresh blood at Iona College, in New Rochelle, New York.

The Thomas Addis Emmet Division 17 is, he says, “one of the biggest and youngest divisions” in the AOH and plenty of the new members have only just reached adulthood: “A lot of them at freshmen… so mainly 18-year-olds.”

In total, some two dozen new people have joined which makes it the “biggest class and youngest class, we dropped the age average from like 50 to 25/30 because so many of us have joined.”

Brewer has little doubt of the continued relevance of the organization: “It’s a group of like-minded individuals [and] helps you out with your heritage. It’s really cool to see how we help the neighborhoods, all the fundraisers that we do that support Irish Americans. 

If you’d like to join the AOH - and they’re always recruiting! You may do so here.

Thanksgiving leftovers recipe: turkey enchiladas with olives

Irish Thanksgiving leftovers recipe offering up a nice alternative to a turkey sandwich.

Do you have tons of leftover turkey and mashed potatoes after Thanksgiving and want to wrestle up something a little bit more exciting than a sandwich or a casserole? This Thanksgiving leftovers recipe will have you dying to have some more leftover turkey in your fridge.

Thanksgiving leftovers recipe: Turkey enchilada with olives

Serves: 4

This one is with a Mexican flair. Serve this with guacamole, sour cream, salsa and other Mexican fare for a grand lunch or dinner.

INGREDIENTS

3 tbsp butter or margarine
2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 cups cooked turkey, chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed olives
1/2 cup toasted almond slivers
2 tsp chili powder
8 corn tortillas
Oil
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated

METHOD

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add mushrooms and onion; saute until onion is tender. Remove from heat and stir in turkey, undiluted soup, sour cream, olives, almonds and chili powder. Briefly cook tortillas in hot oil until softened; drain on paper towels.

Place 1/3 cup turkey mixture in center of each tortilla. Bring opposite sides of each tortilla up over turkey mixture overlapping edges at center.

Arrange seamside down, on a greased 9x13 and a 8x8 baking dish. Spoon remaining turkey mixture down center of each enchilada. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake at 400°F for 25 minutes until hot. May take longer depending on oven.

Read more: Thanksgiving roast turkey with sage and onion stuffing recipe

AND FINALLY... The Twelve Days of Thanksgiving


On the first day: We give thanks for the fresh turkey feast and its hot trimmings.

On the second day: We bless the cold turkey sandwiches, sloshy cranberry sauce and hard rolls.

On the third day: We praise the turkey pie and vintage mixed veggies.

On the fourth day: We thank the pilgrims for not serving bison that first time, or we'd be celebrating Thanksgiving until April.

On the fifth day: We gobble up cubed bird casserole and pray for a glimpse of a naked turkey carcass.

On the sixth day: We show gratitude (sort of) to the creative cook who slings cashews at the turkey and calls it Oriental.

On the seventh day: We forgive our forefathers and pass the turkey-nugget pizza.

On the eighth day: The word "vegetarian" keeps popping into our heads.

On the ninth day: We check our hair to make sure we're not beginning to sprout feathers.

On the tenth day: We hope that the wing meat kabobs catch fire under the broiler.

On the eleventh day: We smile over the creamed gizzard because the thigh bones are in sight.

On the twelfth day: We apologize for running out of turkey leftovers.

And everybody says Amen.

Read more: The secret to cooking a perfect Thanksgiving turkey

Love Irish recipes? Visit our recipes page or like IrishCentral’s Recipes Facebook page and never miss a recipe again!

* Originally published 2011. 

Bid to end discrimination against Irish surnames with apostrophes by O'Leary family

Imagine trying to book a plane ticket or apply for a credit card and being told that to do so successfully you’d have to change the spelling of your name.

Fed up after years of being forced to spell their last name incorrectly, Irish American father and son Thomas and Matt O’Leary are taking a stand on the issue.

They’re the founders of an advocacy group called Keep the Apostrophe in Irish Names. Their mission is to gather first-hand accounts of the frustration that those with apostrophe names experience and to spread awareness in hopes of an eventual resolution.

Unbeknownst to the majority of the population without any apostrophes or other special characters in their last names, this is a constant battle for those with such surnames.

Unless your last name has an apostrophe in it, you’ll never know the plight of getting computer systems for everything from air travel to – as recently as a decade ago – voter registration to recognize your proper name.

While apostrophes are found in a variety of names, including Italian, African and French, perhaps some of the most common names with apostrophes are Irish surnames – the entire category of O’ names, in particular.

Read More: 9 Irish American surnames explained by the experts 

 

Irish surnames infographic from Ancestry.com

“The situation with the Irish apostrophe has been vexing me for many years,” Thomas O'Leary told IrishCentral.

“My dad told me that when my grandfather came to the U.S. from Inchigeela in County Cork in the 1880s, he passed through Castle Clinton in the Battery, the pre-Ellis Island immigration station. Evidently, a clerk there considered the apostrophe a bother and actually had the nerve to remove it from my grandfather’s entry papers. Thus, when my grandparents met and married in San Francisco the wedding license records the groom as Timothy Leary.

“It wasn’t until 1896 when my dad was born and taken for his baptism that the priest corrected the error and gave the family back our apostrophe.  

“Now we have to deal with the same careless messing with Irish names on computer programs, where our apostrophe is rejected as an unacceptable ‘foreign element,’” he explained. “Nervy Castle Clinton clerk reincarnated.”

An Associated Press report on the issue in 2008 – which featured IrishCentral's founder Niall O'Dowd, who'd faced similar difficulty booking plane tickets – went into detail about how the conflict arises, attributing it to common programming practices:

One: Online forms typically have a filter that looks for unfamiliar terms that might be put in by mistake or as a joke. A bad computer system will not be able to handle an apostrophe, a hyphen or a gap in a last name and will block it immediately.

Two: Even if the computer system is sophisticated enough to welcome an O’Brien or Al-Kurd, the name must be stored in the database, where a hyphen or apostrophe is often mistaken for a piece of computer code, corrupting the system.

The best-known instance of the latter was the 2004 Michigan Caucus, when the votes of thousands of people with apostrophes, dashes, and spaces in their last names were not counted.

Today, there is a way to correct and control for special characters in names. This is what O’Leary learned when he consulted with Ashish Lakhiani, a computer scientist.

Read More: The top 100 Irish last names explained

“Yes, it's possible,” Lakhiani told him. “Information Technology specialists can develop code level checks, by writing a few more lines of code, to allow the usage of this character in name field data entry points of user interfaces (mobile, web, etc.).”

He offered the insight that many programs don’t currently practice this due to security concerns.

Some people with apostrophes in their names run into trouble at the airport when the name on their passport doesn't match the name on their ticket

“Computer programmers and information security advisors aim to decrease the attack surface and strengthen the attack vectors in the systems that they develop. This is important for keeping systems safe from attackers. It’s common practice to decrease the opportunity for an end user to enter special characters such as (? | | " | % | \ | / | : | ‘ * | Due to their usage in popular programming languages like C, C++, PHP, C#, SQL, and Java many of these characters can trigger code execution in Information Systems if not handled correctly in the code.

Still, he stated, “It is unfair to ask individuals to skip the apostrophe in their names due to this reason. With a little bit more work on code level checks this character can be allowed for use. Apostrophes in names have cultural value and help to make them unique in an artistic way. This character should be accommodated for names in software systems.”

Through their recently launched website, the O’Learys aim to gather more first-hand accounts from those with apostrophes in their names and from there to develop a stronger advocacy community. They also have t-shirts with their logo, which they hope people will wear to spread the message even wider.

“Our Keep the Apostrophe in Irish Names project is to fight back and get banks, stores, and other businesses to accommodate our humble little mark,” Thomas said.

His suggestion for what to do? “Contact companies and request they do whatever it requires to adjust their websites. And, of course, we would like people to wear our logo to protest with pride and purpose.”

Does Black Friday ruin Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is being ruined by Black Friday and by the increased commercialization of the family holiday. 

Hey, America you're ruining Thanksgiving. Do you care? Thanksgiving just ain't what it used to be. Back when I first moved to Ireland, Thanksgiving was one thing that I really missed but now I have to ask does Black Friday ruin Thanksgiving? I missed the simplicity of a day with no commercial implications, with no presents to buy and no cards to send.

Previously I wrote that Ireland should adopt Thanksgiving. I wondered why so many less-likable bits of American culture made it to Ireland, but not one of the best things America has to offer: Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately, I'm less positive about Thanksgiving than I used to be. The Thanksgiving I was writing about, the one I wanted Ireland to adopt, is in the process of being tossed away by America.

Stay at home instead of ruining this Thanksgiving with Black Friday. Image: iStock.

I don't know why, but for some reason Thanksgiving has morphed into a sort of frenzied and frantic (and fake) Opening Day of the Christmas shopping season. It's a shame because one of the greatest things about Thanksgiving was that the stores were closed. I know that back in the day the little candy store or gas station would be open – for newspapers and gas – but there was basically no shopping to be done on Thanksgiving. What bliss! That is no longer the case. These days the stores are all falling over one another to shout out how they're open Thanksgiving Day as if this is a good thing.

Read more: Police say Thanksgiving’s “Blackout Wednesday” is worse than St. Patrick's’ Day

This is a disaster. Oh sure, the stores don't open til late in the day but that doesn't matter. They're open. Why?

How many family dinners will have to be rushed or desserts postponed because Mom or Dad has to be at work by 5pm? A holiday is a day, not a few hours in the morning. Only not anymore. Now Thanksgiving is just another shopping day, albeit with the twist that the stores open in the evening and stay open for 30 hours or whatever. Some holiday.

Every store will be ruining Thanksgiving this year with their Black Friday sales. Image: iStock.

I guess the retail stores feel they must do this to compete with Amazon, which – of course – takes no days off. Yet most of the stores that are opening Thanksgiving Day have websites where you can buy stuff so why do they have to force employees out to work? And really, what is it that makes people so desperate to shop that they can't resist going to the stores on Thanksgiving Day? Is shopping really all that important?

Maybe there is some great sociological explanation for all this, but I don't really care. Nobody needs to buy a sofa or a skirt or a Playstation on Thanksgiving Day. They may want to, but they don't need to.

Yes, I know, Black Friday and all that hoopla. Another ridiculous contrivance. Were the stores empty on Wednesday? Was there nothing to buy anywhere last weekend? No, of course not. The idea that nobody buys a Christmas present until (the now shortened) Thanksgiving Day is over is patently false. That's why Black Friday is nothing other than a pernicious falsehood.

How much of a bargain can you really get on Black Friday anyway? Image: iStock.

So come on America! Before it's too late, cut out this nonsense and return Thanksgiving Day to what it was: a day for food and parades and food and football and food and family. Especially food and family.

Best Buy will wait. Let's have Thanksgiving Day – a full day – as a day without stores, without sales, without shopping. Just a day to give thanks. And to eat.

Read more: Thanksgiving is an American holiday that Ireland should embrace 

* Originally published in November 2014. 

Truth of Irish homelessness with so little planning it’s a wonder it’s not worse

Telling it like it is is not appreciated here when talking about the emotive issue of homelessness. 

The acceptable approach is to make compassionate noises and bitterly criticize the government for failing to tackle "the homelessness crisis."  It's a narrative that is put forward endlessly these days by opposition politicians, left wing activists, charity groups and much of the media.

Last week, however, we heard something different when the director of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE), Eileen Gleeson, introduced some awkward reality into the current debate on homelessness here, bringing a storm of criticism down on her head as a result.

Among the un-sayable things that Gleeson actually said was that volunteers "handing out cups of soup" are not helping to solve the rough sleeper problem in the city.  Homelessness is a complex matter that often results from "years of bad behavior."  Helping rough sleepers get off the streets is beyond the capacity of well-meaning groups of volunteers doing soup runs.

The implication of what Gleeson said was that these groups are perpetuating the problem by making it easier for rough sleepers to continue to stay on the streets.  What they are doing does not encourage rough sleepers to face up to their problems, to make a decision to change and to  engage with the services that could help them rehabilitate and find somewhere to live.

Gleeson's message was that rough sleepers, most of whom have alcohol, drug, mental health or other problems, need comprehensive intervention by experienced social workers, not handouts from well meaning but amateur do-gooders.

Homeless line the road, on Henry Street, Dublin 1 at night.

She was referring to the many individual charity groups (up to 30 in the Dublin area) who now do soup and sandwich runs at night for the homeless in the city, often handing out clothes and sleeping bags as well as hot food.  If you have visited Dublin recently you may have seen them in action in prominent tourist spots like Grafton Street, College Green and O'Connell Street where they have food giveaways for the homeless at set times after dark.

A few of these charities are the bigger organizations that receive state funding and have experienced personnel.  But more of them are small groups of enthusiastic young volunteers who just want to do something. 

Moved by emotive stories in the media about the plight of the homeless, they seek out rough sleepers at night and hand out soup and sandwiches.  Their concern is admirable. 

But the bigger question is whether they are really helping or, as Gleeson suggested, perpetuating the problem by enabling rough sleepers to continue to survive on the streets?

For her blunt comments Gleeson was subjected to a barrage of criticism in the media all last week.  She was accused of insensitivity, not knowing what she was talking about, being uncaring, and there were calls for her resignation.  It was shoot the messenger time.

Homeless living in tents along the Grand Canal.

The truth is, however, that what she said about homelessness in Dublin was largely correct.  This is not surprising since she has headed up the DRHE for the past year, the body set up in 2011 to jointly tackle the problem across the four council areas in greater Dublin and co-ordinate action.  With 30 years experience behind her in the city administration, she knows the reality on the ground and all the groups involved.

It's far easier to make dramatic, emotional claims about "the homelessness crisis" and the lack of compassion of the authorities than it is to deal with the often complicated and messy reality.  Individual homeless stories make emotional reading and sell papers.  For opposition politicians and left wing activists, hyping up the issue allows them to portray the government as right wing and uncaring.

There are a few things to bear in mind  about this debate.  Opposition politicians, particularly on the left and in Sinn Fein, frequently talk about our "8,000 homeless"  and people sleeping on the streets in the same breath.  But this conflation of homeless people and rough sleepers on the streets is misleading.

It implies that we have 8,000 homeless people on the streets here, whereas the truth is that the vast majority who lose their homes are in emergency accommodation paid for by the state, in hotel rooms, B&Bs, and the new family hubs.  It's not like your own home and it's far from ideal, particularly for the 3,000 children involved.  But they are NOT sleeping on the street.

The system is not perfect, and there have been examples of people who end up sleeping in cars or tents because there are delays in finding them emergency accommodation in hotels.  These make for tearful interviews in the media, but the reality is they are the exceptions and are usually resolved within days.

Even our overall figure of over 8,000 homeless people is not out of line with other countries, despite the fact that in Ireland we are still dealing with the collapse of the house building sector here after the crash.  This was pointed out by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last week when he said that homelessness in Ireland is "not high by international standards."

This statement of fact brought angry accusations against him of being right wing and uncaring, even though he also said that obviously he does not want anyone to be homeless.  But the figures support what he said. 

The head of the Housing Agency here agreed with the taoiseach, saying that yes, there is a homelessness crisis in Ireland, "but there is one everywhere."  One commentator here last weekend pointed out that the number of homeless people in Sweden, a country usually held up as a model of social concern, is proportionately higher than in Ireland.

As far as rough sleepers are concerned, the number in Dublin right now is somewhere around 250.  This is below the number in Boston, for example, a city of similar size to Dublin.

At the moment all the available beds in hostels in Dublin are full on cold nights, although there are free beds available on many other nights.  Gleeson said last week that dozens more beds are to be made available in the next few weeks, enough to cope with those who may be turned away at present.

The reality is that many of the rough sleepers on the streets are there by choice and don't like going into hostels.  Some don't like the restrictions and the noise and they complain about open drug and alcohol use and a lack of security.

This seems to be an area that can be improved on, although one social worker has pointed out that the more you enforce the rules and make hostels more restrictive, the more rough sleepers with addiction problems will stay away.

The wider homelessness problem, which is separate from the rough sleeper issue, in almost all cases involves people who cannot keep up with the rising rents here, or where their rented property is no longer available because it is being sold or has been taken back by the owner.  There is a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme in place under which local councils in Dublin pay €1,300 a month rent directly to landlords for a family with three children.  The family then pays rent to the council, typically in the €50 to €80 a week range, depending on income and welfare benefits.

But finding landlords who will accept HAP payments has become ever more difficult as rents in general have soared.  And if these families -- often single parent families -- can't find somewhere to rent they register as homeless and end up in emergency accommodation in a hotel room.

One of the factors involved here is the change in the way our society operates, something that also is evident in other western countries, all of which seem to have homeless problems.  Family support structures that used to be there a generation or two ago no longer function.

You would think that most single parent families -- typically a single mother with one or two children -- who become homeless would be able to move in with parents or grandparents or siblings or friends.  But frequently that is not the case, and one hears the excuse in media interviews that "I don't get on with my family."

So instead of being a problem that the extended family might solve, as used to be the way years ago, it becomes a problem for the state.  There is an immediate assumption that the state has a duty to step in and provide accommodation without question or delay. 

In some cases, there is a reluctance to move in with extended family because the homeless person is afraid it will lengthen their waiting time for social housing if they no longer appear to be an emergency.

Most media coverage of the homeless situation here is superficial and self-serving, designed to stir emotions rather than provide in-depth analysis of individual cases and the factors that led to their homelessness.  Some questions are not asked at all, like whether the father of the children is helping (the majority of cases are single mothers with children).  Or whether parents or grandparents have spare rooms in their homes.

To really understand this problem we need much more detailed analysis of those who are homeless  --- income, marital status, details of partners or ex-partners,  details of extended family and their accommodation, and so on.

Of course we need extra social housing provided by the state, and the government is committed to a substantial program which is beginning to get underway.   But the reality is that after the crash 10 years ago all construction here stopped and it will take us considerable time to catch up.  In the meantime we have a distorted market with soaring rents and high prices for the property that is for sale.

The wonder is not that we have a homelessness problem here (even if it's not out of line with other countries).  The wonder is, after the crash, that it is not far worse.

5,000 year old DNA reveals the surprising origins of the Irish

With a vial of saliva and a little cutting-edge science, AncestryDNA can tell you if you’ve got any Irish heritage in your genes. And with a lot of cutting-edge science, researchers in December 2015 published a study telling the world where that Irish heritage first originated.

By studying the 5,000-year-old remains of a female farmer buried near Belfast, Ireland, and the remains of three men buried 3,000 and 4,000 years ago on Rathlin Island in County Antrim, archaeologists and geneticists now say they now know where the modern Irish people originally came from.

Unlock your own ancestry with a DNA test 

The remains of the Stone Age female farmer show that she resembled modern people from Spain and Sardinia, suggesting she had roots there. But her ancestors ultimately originated from the Fertile Crescent, the once-lush region of the Middle East where humans first practiced agriculture. Those migrants brought cattle, cereals, and ceramics, along with black hair and brown eyes.

The remains of the Bronze Age male farmers show a different group of migrants entering Ireland one to two thousand years later. Those farmers came from the Pontic steppe of southern Russia. They brought metalworking culture, the genetic disposition for blue eyes, and the gene for a blood disorder so often found in Ireland that it’s known as the Celtic disease: haemochromatosis.

Using a technique called whole-genome analysis, scientists at Trinity College Dublin studied the DNA from all four bodies to establish a history of ancestral migration and settlement.

“There was a great wave of genome change that swept into [Bronze Age] Europe from above the Black Sea … we now know it washed all the way to the shores of its most westerly island,” geneticist and lead researcher Dan Bradley told the BBC.

The research shows that cultural changes in the ancient British Isles, such as the introduction of agriculture and metalworking, likely arrived because of large-scale migrations rather than the adoption of new ways by indigenous people.

DNA research isn’t just for looking back thousands of years. With AncestryDNA, you can discover whether your grandparents or great-grandparents really did hail from Ireland or any one of 26 distinct ethnic populations. AncestryDNA can also be an invaluable tool in genealogical research by matching up your DNA with relatives you might never have known and by identifying common forebears you may never have heard of.

From there, the 16 billion historical records on Ancestry can help you search forwards or backward in time to fill in your family tree — wherever that tree first took root.

* There are many paths to finding your family story. Whichever way you choose—tracing your family generations back with a family tree or uncovering your ethnicity with AncestryDNA—Ancestry be here to help you. For more visit www.ancestry.com.

IRA victims families anger at Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams

Some IRA victims’ families greeted Gerry Adams’ announcement of his imminent departure as Sinn Fein leader with a blunt observation that they are no nearer to justice for their loved ones.

As the contest for Adams’ successor gathers pace, with Mary Lou McDonald the only candidate so far, the families of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, mother-of-10 Jean McConville, prison officer Brian Stack, and 21-year-old Paul Quinn told the Irish Independent they believe Adams could help jail the IRA killers.

Although Adams continually denied he was in the IRA, few in Ireland agree and they accept intelligence sources’ conviction that he was once Belfast commander and knew people linked to the killings.    

Stephen Quinn, father of Paul who was beaten to death in a barn in Co. Monaghan after he punched the son of a south Armagh IRA commander, said, “He knows who the murderers are, all of them. Why doesn’t he come clean now and say who they are?”

Gerry Adams: Former president of Sinn Fein.

Four men were convicted of the manslaughter of McCabe, and two are still sought by the authorities. The four convicted men were strongly supported by Adams and by TD Martin Ferris who, like Adams, is not running for the Dail in the next election.

McCabe’s widow Anne, mother of five, said, “I cannot retire from my continuing heartbreak and mental agony over my beloved husband’s murder.”

Irish Republican Army members at a recent funeral.

Seamus McKendry, son-in-law of McConville who was kidnapped and murdered by the IRA in 1972 although her remains weren’t found until 2003, said Adams, who was questioned by the police in Northern Ireland in 2014 but never charged, was unlikely to ever offer the family new information. Last week a Belfast court heard that veteran republican Ivor Bell, 80, is not medically fit to stand trial for McConville’s murder.

Brian Stack, a 48-year-old chief prison officer in Portlaoise Jail, was shot in the neck by an uncaptured IRA member and died 18 months later. His son Austin, said, “As a family, we have no expectation that Gerry Adams will ever tell the truth.”

How the Irish saved Thanksgiving

The facts of the first Thanksgiving meal may never be known, but some believe it to have been in celebration of a shipment of Irish food. 

No one can say for sure exactly when the first Thanksgiving was celebrated, but at least one historian thinks it was invented as a day of Thanksgiving for the generosity of the Irish people after a ship from Ireland, bursting with provisions, landed in Massachusetts Bay in the freezing winter of 1621. 

The first Thanksgiving was actually celebrated on Feb 21, 1621 when a band of starving pilgrims at Plymouth Rock were saved at the last minute by the arrival of a ship from Dublin bearing food from Ireland.

The Boston Post, the largest circulation newspaper in the 1920s and 1930s, discovered the earlier date for the Thanksgiving ritual. It showed that the traditional date of the autumn of 1621 was actually incorrect.

According to the "Observant Citizen," a columnist for the Boston Post, the Pilgrims in the winter of their first year were starving and faced the end of the their project to colonize the new world when “a ship arrived from overseas bearing the much needed food."

Read more: How an Irish ship created first Thanksgiving for grateful Pilgrims

The first Thanksgiving...but was it the Irish who were giving thanks?! Image: iStock.

Because of anti-Irish prejudice at the time, the "Observant Citizen" neglected to name it as an Irish ship, but it was actually The Lyon and “its provenance and that of the food was Dublin Ireland.”

It turns out, from records at the Massachusetts Historical Society, that the wife of one of the prominent Plymouth Rock brethren was the daughter of a Dublin merchant and that it was he who chartered the vessel, loaded it with food and dispatched it to Plymouth.

The "Observant Citizen," whoever he was, never admitted the Irish connection, even though a number of Irish organizations challenged him on the issue.

Nonetheless, the Massachusetts historical records revealed the tale, giving the Irish a fair claim to saving Thanksgiving.

Another thing to be grateful for this Thursday! 

Read more: Thanksgiving is an American holiday that Ireland should embrace

How are you spending this Thanksgiving? Is it an American Thanksgiving with an Irish twist? Let us know how your day is going in the comments section, below. 

* Originally published in 2014.

John F. Kennedy very likely had celiac disease

 

Did JFK have celiac disease? The health of the former president has been placed under the microscope in recent years. 

Dr. Peter Green, a Professor of Clinical Medicine, Director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, suspects that JFK was the victim of celiac disease, an undiagnosed disease common to the Irish.

Green  wrote in History News Network that Kennedy’s Irish heritage may have played a part in the disease, noting that it is more highly associated with Irish than many other races. The article was later picked up by our sister publication Irish America Magazine.

Green wrote, “John F. Kennedy’s long-standing medical problems started in childhood. In Kennedy’s adolescence, gastrointestinal symptoms, weight and growth problems, as well as fatigue, were described. Later in life, he suffered from abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, osteoporosis, migraine and Addison’s disease. Chronic back problems, due to osteoporosis, resulted in several operations and required medications for chronic pain."

Read more: Gluten-free diet a useless fad for most, says renowned Irish doctor

JFK's bad health was well hidden during his lifetime

JFK was said to have been struggling with his health even when he looked full of energy on the campaign trail.

Green says that by the standards of the time, Kennedy was extensively assessed.

”He was extensively evaluated in major medical centers including the Mayo Clinic and hospitals in Boston, New Haven and New York. Among the multiple diagnoses were ulcers, colitis, spastic colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and food allergies. His medications included corticosteroids, antispasmodics, Metamucil and Lomotil," Green wrote. 

However, while it is not clear that his physicians obtained a definitive diagnosis, a review of his medical history raises the possibility that JFK had celiac disease.

Green explains how celiac disease happens: “Celiac disease is caused by ingestion of gluten, which is the main protein component of wheat and related cereals, rye and barley. The small intestine develops villous atrophy that results in difficulties in the absorption of nutrients. Diarrhea and abdominal pain are common symptoms. Elimination of gluten from the diet results in resolution of the inflammatory condition in the intestine and the associated symptoms and prevention of the complications of the disease. A life-long gluten free diet is then required. People with celiac disease, providing they adhere to the diet have normal longevity."

Read more: Anointed twice - The real story of JFK's health just emerging

JFK moments before his assasination in Dallas, Texas.

JFK was ill from a young age and may have had celiac disease which can also present itself in childhood

Green notes it often occurs early in life. "Celiac disease can present at any age," he states.

"In infancy and childhood, it may cause chronic diarrhea and abdominal pain, in addition to growth, behavioral and developmental problems. In older individuals, the presentation of celiac disease is frequently due to the development of complications of the disease. These include anemia, osteoporosis, skin rashes or neurologic problems. The neurologic problems include neuropathy, epilepsy, ataxia (balance disorders) and migraine."

"While the disease is more common in females, men are affected as well. Osteoporosis is common in patients with celiac disease; men often are more severely affected than women. Gastrointestinal symptoms in celiac disease persist for many years prior to diagnosis and are often attributed to an irritable bowel syndrome or spastic colitis.

"Autoimmune disorders occur more frequently in patients with celiac disease than the general population by a factor of ten. Frequently, the autoimmune disorder assumes greater clinical significance than the celiac disease and, as a result, is diagnosed first. The associated autoimmune disorders include thyroid dysfunction, psoriasis, dermatitis herpetiformis (an intensely itchy skin rash), Sjogren’s syndrome, and Addison’s disease. Relatives of patients with celiac disease have a greater risk, not only of celiac disease, but also of other autoimmune diseases."

JFK may have has celiac disease because of his Irish roots

JFK may have his Irish roots to blame for celiac disease.

As to the Irish connection, Green says Kennedy may well have been more susceptible because of his heritage.

“Celiac disease was formerly considered a rare disease of childhood. It is now recognized as being very common in those of European descent, one of the most common genetically determined conditions physicians will encounter. Recent studies have demonstrated the country with the greatest prevalence to be Ireland.

"In Belfast, one in every 122 have the illness. The prominent familial association of the disease indicated by the occurrence in one of ten first degree relatives and in 80 percent of identical twins points to a genetic component of the disease.

"However, the actual genes responsible for the disease have not been discovered, though many groups are working on the problem. It is known that there is a strong association with specific HLA genes that are required for the disease to occur but are themselves not sufficient for the disease to be manifested.

JFK on his graduation.

"Kennedy’s Irish heritage, long duration of gastrointestinal complaints (since childhood), diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome and migraine, presence of severe osteoporosis, and the development of Addison’s disease all lead to a presumptive diagnosis of celiac disease. Kennedy was given steroids for his problems. Steroid use is associated with the development of osteoporosis and Addison’s disease.

"However, steroids were initially used in clinical practice in the 1930s and 1940s for many indications not considered appropriate now.

"In the case of Kennedy, if he did, in fact, have celiac disease, the steroids would have suppressed the inflammation in the intestine and reduced his symptoms, making the diagnosis of celiac disease less likely to be established. The occurrence of Addison’s disease in his sister, however, argues for a familial [genetic] cause of his Addison’s disease, rather than an iatrogenic one."

JFK was never diagnosed with celiac disease despite rigorous testing 

Green says that, despite the intense medical scrutiny, his doctors failed to diagnose it, yet at the time there was sufficient knowledge about the disease to allow for a diagnosis.

“Could celiac disease have been diagnosed in Kennedy during his lifetime? Possibly. The disease was first recognized in 1887, as was its treatment with an elimination diet. It was recognized to occur at all ages. However, it was not until the 1950s that the shortage of bread during the Second World War and its subsequent reintroduction in Holland led to the recognition of wheat's role as a cause of this malabsorption syndrome. It was in the 1970s that physicians became aware of the more subtle presentations of the disease. The diagnosis of celiac disease initially requires consideration that it may be present in an individual patient; even now many physicians do not consider the diagnosis.

"It would, however, be possible to diagnose celiac disease in JFK now, if biopsies taken during his life, or autopsy material of the small intestine had been archived and was now made available. Frozen blood samples could also provide diagnostic material, for there are serologic tests now available that are specific for the condition.

"A diagnosis of celiac disease, if it had been made, could have been treated by diet alone. This would have prevented all the manifestations of the disease and its complications.

"Due to the strong genetic component of celiac disease, Kennedy’s family may well be interested in obtaining the diagnosis as well."

(This article was previously published on HNN/History News Network)

* Dr. Peter H.R. Green, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, is a professor of clinical medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University and attending physician at the Columbia University Medical Center. Celiac disease has been his focus for almost 20 years, with equal concentration on patient care and research. He is one of the few physicians in the United States with an intense clinical academic interest and expertise in celiac disease. He is the author of Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic, which has been called “the definitive resource for celiacs and those yet to be diagnosed.”

For more information on celiac disease visit: celiacdiseasecenter.columbia.edu

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*Originally published in February 2014. 

 

Lawrence O’Donnell comments on Irish culture’s failure to accept success

Irish-American Lawrence O’Donnell speaks about alcohol abuse, racism, failure and success during his Boston Irish upbringing.

Irish American MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell has claimed that the Irish had “no vocabulary for success” during his childhood in Boston, giving an intriguing and honest insight into the city’s Irish community with the WTF with Marc Maron podcast.

While also speaking about the racism and alcohol abuse he witnessed growing up among the Boston Irish, the 66-year-old host of “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” spoke in some detail of his perception of the Irish as a people and a culture who struggle with accepting success, despite the many Irish success in America stories we are now all too fond of sharing.

He claims the Irish have “every word for the failure” but “no vocabulary for success,” continuing to mention that he believed the Irish Americans he grew up with were very suspect of the success of a person within their own community, believing any success story to be all down to luck and something that is sure not to last for too long.

Read more: Sean Hannity claims Newsweek is racist after article slamming Irish American conservatives

Marc Maron interviews Lawrence O'Donnell about his Boston Irish upbringing.

In particular, he reveals in the podcast how as a 13-year-old he heard famous Irish-American actor Carroll O’Connor stating that “the Irish would always prefer you to come home a failure.”

“My whole culture in a sentence,” O’Donnell tells Maron. “It’s the whole things right there.”

Read more: Ryan, Kelly, O’Donnell… oh my! America’s racist thunderstorm

Asked by Maron why that was the case and whether it was to do with Irish history or because of the Irish relationship to Catholicism, O’Donnell responded by explaining that “success was a new experiment to the Irish at the time,” himself and his brothers being first-generation college graduates and being among the first breaking out from the traditions of careers as policemen and firemen.

“It takes a while you know. You don't immediately adopt the values and the framework of this, the academically successful world, just because okay now you kids get to go to high school,” stated O’Donnell.

He claims, however, that he will still use this experience of growing up in an Irish community as an excuse sometimes to explain his own actions and thoughts.

“This is an evolution,he continued. “I have no idea what I would be, I really don't have the vaguest idea what I would be, if my father had remained a Boston cop. I don't have any idea what I would have thought the horizon was.

Lawrence O'Donnell gave a very frank interview on the failures of the Irish in the US.

“I’ve got a lot of poisoned DNA in me and stuff, you know, from my neighborhood. that I use now as an excuse for the way I am.”

Maron had some kind words for the people of Ireland himself, although this was offset with his own history with the likes of the Boston Irish communities in America, which O’Donnell highlights as places where anti-Semitism and other forms of racism were rampant.

“I was just a sensitive Jewish kid in the middle of Irish townies everywhere and I grew to like them,” Maron says on his podcast.

Read more: General John Kelly accused of Boston Irish racism for comments on black congresswoman

“I go back now and there's nothing more unique than the indigenous population of Boston. It's true there's nothing like it and for a while there it was terrifying and now I kind of romanticize it but you know I go to Ireland and I don't have any of it. I feel so comfortable in Ireland. I'm a Jew and I'm like this is the greatest place. It's so green and these people are so humbled by history and sort of sweet and melancholy but not nasty.

“How do you explain that gap?” Macron asks O’Donnell of the difference between that and the harsher, scarier attitudes he faced from the Irish in the US.

“I have pondered it my whole life,” O’Donnell answered, remarking that when he was younger, the Lord Mayor of Dublin was Jewish, something he could never imagine happening in Boston until very recently, placing some of the blame on these Irish communities and neighborhoods where you were ranked on toughness and even children as young as ten years old were getting drunk at weekends.

This is not the first time that O’Donnell has spoken out strongly against his fellow Irish-Americans, however, last St. Patrick’s Day calling those within Trump’s White House “disgrace their heritage” and heavily criticizing White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly just last month for the manner in which he spoke about a black Congresswoman.

In an 18-minute feature on Kelly, O’Donnell stated: “I grew up a few years after John Kelly in an identical neighborhood in the other side of Boston and I went to high school in John Kelly’s neighborhood. I know the neighborhood John Kelly comes from, I know the culture.

“It was a neighborhood in which calling someone who looked like Frederica Wilson an empty barrel was the kindest thing that would have been said about her. Desegregation came very painfully to the Boston schools, long after John Kelly finished high school, and the pain of desegregating Boston schools was visited entirely on the students who looked like Frederica Wilson.

“The language about black people in John Kelly’s white neighborhood was exactly the same language about black people that was used at that time by white communities in the segregated south.”

What do you reckon of O’Donnell’s take on the Boston Irish community and its anti-Semitism, racism, alcohol abuse, and love of failure? Spot on or extreme? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, below.

Just 1.7% of people in Ireland speak Irish everyday

New Census results shows slight decrease in number of people speaking Irish on a daily basis

The figures from Ireland’s Census 2016 show 73,803 people, of the total population of 4.75 million, speak Irish daily. This equates to 1.7 percent of the population.

This is a slight decrease from the lasts Census, in 2011, when the Central Statistics Office reported that “There were 77,185 persons speaking Irish on a daily basis outside of the education system in April 2011.”

Of the daily Irish speakers from the 2016 Census 20 percent live in Dublin and just over 8 percent live in Cork, Galway, and Limerick.

Read more: Learn Irish for free - How to speak Irish for beginners

Galway County recorded the highest percentages of persons able to speak Irish at 49.0 percent, followed by Clare (45.9 percent), Cork County (44.9 percent) and Mayo (43.9 percent).  In contrast, the lowest percentages were in Dublin City at 29.2 percent, followed by Louth and South Dublin (both 34.1 percent) and Cavan (34.6 percent). 

CSO map showing location of daily Irish speakers.

A total of 20,586 daily speakers in Gaeltacht areas, three-quarters of whom live in counties Galway and Donegal. Within the Gaeltacht regions, 66 percent of the population said they could speak the language.

Out Gaeltacht regions, the towns with the largest percentage of Irish speakers are Letterkenny in County Donegal (2.9 percent), and Maynooth (2.3 percent) and Leixlip (2 percent), both in County Kildare.

Within the Gaeltachts, the three towns with the largest percentage of daily Irish speakers are Mín Lárach (73.3 percent) and Rann na Feirste (66.6 percent), both in County Donegal, and An Cheathrú Rua in County Galway (61.6 percent).

Read more: Ever wonder if there’s an Irish language version of your name?

Uncovering your Irish ancestor’s secrets online

Beginning your search for your Irish ancestors can seem daunting at first.

Many people initially only have a name, a vague address and perhaps a faded photo to go by but with the use of billions of Irish records online answer to all your questions are within reach.

Unlock your own ancestry with a DNA test

With billions of Irish records from Ancestry.com and the breakthrough science of AncestryDNA, you can uncover details about your Irish heritage and find out how it all fits into your unique family story.

On Ancestry’s Irish collections page you'll find record collections, history, and genealogy resources to help you trace your Ireland ancestors.

In their Vital Records unit, you’ll discover moments that defined your ancestors’ lives – from births and baptisms to marriages and deaths. The Census Records can show you their family’s names, addresses, occupations, religious affiliations, and more. From the Church Records, you can learn new details about your ancestors’ parishes and congregations.

If you’re still not done you can delve into Ancestry’s Other Records and find a deeper context about the life and times of your Irish ancestors. These records include New York Emigrant Savings Bank, 1850–1883, Ireland, Lawrence Collection of Photographs, 1870–1910, and the Irish Canadian Emigration Records, 1823–1849.

* There are many paths to finding your family story. Whichever way you choose—tracing your family generations back with a family tree or uncovering your ethnicity with AncestryDNA—Ancestry be here to help you. For more visit www.ancestry.com.

Unlock your own ancestry with a DNA test

Read more: A history of Irish surnames: Learn about your Irish last name

Kid-friendly and adult-friendly Irish Thanksgiving jokes

Kid-friendly Thanksgiving jokes and Thanksgiving jokes for seniors to give you plenty of laughs in 2017. 

Bad Christmas cracker jokes shouldn’t be limited to just the Christmas dining table. We’ve decided you should have some in your arsenal for every family event, so take a look through these cheesy Thanksgiving and turkey-inspired jokes, take a few of them with you to the Thanksgiving dinner table, and have your friends and family chortling (and cringing) for the rest of the day.

Think you have a few others up your sleeve that we’ve missed here? Fancy yourself as the very best turkey-based pun maker? Leave us your own Thanksgiving Day jokes in the comments section, below. Here are some particularly silly jokes to get your family giggling this Thanksgiving.

Read more: Irish Thanksgiving blessings, toasts, and sayings for your family and friends

Irish Thanksgiving jokes:

Why did the police arrest the turkey?

(They suspected it of fowl play!)

If April showers bring May flowers, what do Mayflowers bring?

(Pilgrims!)

What smells the best at a Thanksgiving dinner?

(Your nose!)

What should you wear to Thanksgiving dinner?

(A har-vest!)

If the Pilgrims were alive today, what would they be most famous for?

(Their age!)

What do you get if you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter?

(Pumpkin pi!)

What key won't open any door?

(A turkey!)

Why did the turkey cross the road?

(It was the chicken's day off!)

What do you get when a turkey lays an egg on top of a barn?

(An eggroll!)

Where do you find a turkey with no legs?

(Exactly where you left it!)

What do you call it when it rains turkeys?

(Foul weather!)

Which side of a turkey has the most feathers?

(The outside!)

What's the most musical part of a turkey?

(The drumstick!)

What happened when the turkey got into a fight?

(He got the stuffing knocked out of him!)

Be sure to share these Thanksgiving jokes with your favorite turkey-time jokester this Thanksgiving!

*Originally published in November 2014. 

Charlie Rose, Donald Trump among top ten turkeys for Thanksgiving 2017

No shortage of Dumbo's this year. Alas, it seems many villages are missing their idiot, most of whom have moved to Hollywood or Washington and the trend may continue.

Turkey Number One – Charlie Rose

Charlie Rose.

Charlie Rose… and rose, and then fell and splattered on the ground like Humpty Dumpty. It proved even the smartest guys can try the stupidest tricks and get away with them for a very long time.

Turkey Number Two – Steve Mnuchin

Steve Mnuchin.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has an original dumb blonde wife, who is a former minor actress and who loves showing off her designer clothes to the huddled masses.

Steve himself is a few sandwiches short of a picnic. How else to explain using private jets, railing at ordinary citizens, and posing with currency notes to prove how idiotic you are.

Turkey Number Three, Four and Five – Louis CK, Kevin Spacey, and Harvey Weinstein

They say every man has three lives – public, private and secret. The secret lives of Louis CK, Kevin Spacey and Harvey “Hears a Hoo” Weinstein were grosser and uglier than anyone could believe.

Harvey “Hears a Hoo” Weinstein.

Judge Roy Moore liked to pick up pre-school, okay, high school girls in Alabama shopping malls when he was in his 30s... another star rising in American politics. Al Franken thought it was funny to grab a sleeping colleagues breasts and have a photo taken...the list goes on, sadly.

Turkey Number Six – Paul Ryan

House Speaker Paul Ryan.

House Speaker Paul Ryan once looked like the only adult in the room among House Republicans but has become a complete Trump lapdog, yapping away in delight every time he passes a “crush the poor, reward the rich” budget.

Hey Paulie, remember the Famine-era Irish descendants you were so happy to talk about? You've turned your back on them.

Turkey Number Seven – Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand.

The attack dogs were inevitably on the Clintons for events, which took place over  quarter of a century ago, and investigated and adjudicated at a cost of $70 million dollars then.

Surprisingly, in the vanguard was Senator Kirsten Gillibrand who owes her success in the Senate directly to the Clintons. With friends like her...

Turkey Number Eight – Donald J Trump

President of the United States Donald J Trump.

None other than our glorious “greed is good” president, Donald Trump who has defined political stupidity downward.

All foreign leaders have to do is flatter him. China gave him  a “State dinner plus, plus,” he announced triumphantly. Putin told him he didn’t interfere in the 2016 election so it must be true, he decided.

He fired Comey and brought Mueller into the role of special counsel. He badgers Al Franken about women, conveniently ignoring his “grab them by the pussy” advice. He says there are good people among the Nazis who turned up at Charlottesville. He tries to criminalize black folk and deport brown folk. He is pandering to white racists sending signals all the time that If “you're White, you're right.”

Turkey Number Nine – White women in the US

Those White American women who voted for Trump.

White American women with college degrees who voted for Trump by a margin of 53 percent to 47 per cent. Fortunately, given Virginia and New Jersey recent election results, it seems they at least realize how awful the choice they made is.

Turkey Number Ten and finally... Bill O’Reilly

Bill O’Reilly.

What did Bill O’Reilly do to his sex accuser that cost him $32 million?

That’s a lot of Thanksgiving turkeys Bill O’!

Read more: What to do when it’s a pro-Trump/anti-Trump stand-off Thanksgiving

Irish Thanksgiving blessings, toasts, and sayings for your family and friends

Irish blessings for you and your family this Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, IrishCentral readers. To celebrate we've compiled some of the very best Irish blessings, traditions, toasts, and sayings for you to share with your loved ones this Thanksgiving. 

We’re sure that you have a lot to be thankful for today and although Ireland may not celebrate this holiday, anything that involves lots of delicious food and spending quality time with friends and family definitely falls under our definition of Irish craic.

Now one and all can wish a successful and healthy year on those around us leaving us with even more things to mention at the Thanksgiving dinner table next year. We, for one, are thankful for you, our readers, for sharing your love of Ireland and its culture with us.

Read more: How the Irish saved Thanksgiving

Irish Thanksgiving blessing - An Old Irish Blessing

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Irish Thanksgiving blessing - A Wish for a Friend

Wishing you a rainbow
For sunlight after showers—
Miles and miles of Irish smiles
For golden happy hours—
Shamrocks at your doorway
For luck and laughter too,
And a host of friends that never ends
Each day your whole life through!

Irish Thanksgiving blessing - An Irish Prayer

May God give you...
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer to each prayer.

Irish Thanksgiving blessing - An Old Celtic Blessing

May the blessing of light be on you—
light without and light within.
May the blessed sunlight shine on you
and warm your heart
till it glows like a great peat fire.

Irish Thanksgiving blessing - From Saint Patrick's Breastplate

Christ be with me
Christ before me
Christ behind me
Christ in me
Christ beneath me
Christ above me
Christ on my right
Christ on my left
Christ where I lie
Christ where I sit
Christ where I arise
Christ in the heart of every man
who thinks of me
Christ in the mouth of every man
who speaks of me
Christ in every eye that sees me
Christ in every ear that hears me
Salvation is of the Lord.

Irish Thanksgiving blessing - An Old Irish Blessing

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!

Make sure to share these beautiful Irish Thanksgiving blessings, toasts, and sayings with your family and friends this year.

* Originally published in November 2015. 

Motion of no confidence in deputy leader could lead to resignation or election

Sinn Fein’s request for resignation of Frances Fitzgerald over email scandal if backed by Fianna Fail could lead to a general election

The political party Sinn Féin have set in motions a vote of “no confidence” in Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Frances Fitzgerald, stating it is “abundantly clear” she should be forced from office.

If Sinn Fein’s request for Fitzgerald’s resignation is backed by Fianna Fail, who are currently in a confidence and supply arrangement with Fine Gael, a general election could be on the cards for Ireland before Christmas.

On Thursday morning former Minister for Justice Fitzgerald launched a defense her time in office saying, “I am not trying to hide anything. I was not part of any conspiracy to malign Maurice McCabe, quite the contrary."

Read more: Bravest man in Ireland battles on against police and government corruption

Fitzgerald said she did not remember reading an email she received in May 2015 outlining plans to malign whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe, at the O’Higgins Commission. She denies being aware of efforts by former garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to query the “motivation” and character of Sgt McCabe at a commission of inquiry examining claims of police malpractice. They were outlined clearly in the email, which came to light one week ago.

Fitzgerald told the Dáil suggestions that she did nothing about the whistleblowers situation "is completely wrong."

"I was the first Minister for Justice who even met a serving member of An Garda Siochana to discuss an issue like this. I wanted to hear his concerns," Fitzgerald said.

Maligned whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Now Sinn Fein has pushed for a “no confidence vote.” It is likely that Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar will cancel his trip to visit Irish troops in Mali next week.

Sinn Fein’s Deputy Leader, Mary Lou McDonald, said, “I'm not taken for a moment by the bluster."

She said Fitzgerald was aware of the plans to malign McCabe and “failed to offer when it mattered any protection to Maurice McCabe.

"For reasons you need to explain looked the other way," she said.

"You continued consistently to give political support to one of the architects of that legal strategy. You picked your side and you certainly weren’t on Maurice’s side."

She added that it was time for Fitzgerald to step aside.

Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesman said Fitzgerald was aware of a plan "to attack and try to personally destroy" McCabe.

"You were privy to that strategy. And our criticism is that you did nothing to stop it," he said.

"You were sent this email so that you could either give a green light or a red light to the strategy.

"You could have expressed reservations about the legal strategy. You didn’t do that."

The current Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan will also face questions over the delay in alerting Fitzgerald and Varadkar about the discovery of the email, which took place on November 9. Fitzgerald was informed of the email’s discovery on November 16, when she phoned the department. Varadkar did not find out until November 20, according to the Irish Independent.

Jackie’s secret agent shares memories of JFK’s assassination

Clint Hill had been newly assigned to Jackie Kennedy’s protection detail and it became the worst first day in any job imaginable 

The last surviving Secret Service agent from JFK’s assassination has spoken of his relief after sharing his memories of that fateful day in Dallas.

Clint Hill testified before the Warren Committee into the assassination and also gave an interview to 60 Minutes in 1975, but other than that he never talked about what he witnessed until 2010. Not even to his wife and kids.

Author Lisa McCubbin convinced him to speak to her for her book, ‘The Kennedy Detail’ and he found relieved after doing so.

“I never talked about it with other agents,” he admitted. “It has been cathartic for me to do that - to talk about it and to write about what happened."

The 85-year-old had only been assigned to work on First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s detail that day and spent years wracked with grief about whether he could have saved her husband.

Speaking at a memorial to honor former First Lady Betty Ford - who he came to know whilst working for her husband - Hill recalled, "I was working on the follow-up car immediately behind the presidential vehicle. I heard the first shot fired. I jumped from my position on the follow-up car [and] ran to the presidential vehicle.

"[I had] the intent of getting up on top of the back to form a shield there. But, unfortunately, just as I arrived a third shot hit.

"At that time, Mrs Kennedy came up on the trunk and I grabbed her and put her in the back seat and then I laid on top."

John F Kennedy and Jackie in the motorcade at Dallas on that fateful day.

He did not move again until the Presidential motorcade swept into Parkland Memorial Hospital where doctors battled in vain to stop JFK’s life ebbing away.

"You more or less just react," Hill said. "You see what's happening and you just go into protective mode."

"[I was] trying to cover them up and yelled at the driver to get us out of there as quick as they could.

"You don't have much time to think. Things happen so fast, you just have to react."

Hill remained on Jackie Kennedy’s detailed for a further year before moving back to Washington to work at the White House under Lyndon Johnson.

“After the assassination, she was really strong. [She] stood tall and I think that helped the American people to withstand what did happen that day in Dallas,” he added.

After decades of silence, Hill wrote a book about his lengthy career “Five Presidents: My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford” was published last year and chronicles his life walking a few steps behind the leaders of the Free World.

Here is Hill’s 1975 interview:

H/T: WoodTV.com/Daily Star.

* Originally published in April 2017.

Irish Deputy Prime Minister could be forced to resign over email scandal

Sinn Fein and opposition parties to decide on No Confidence vote as questions over forgotten whistleblower email remain

Ireland’s Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Frances Fitzgerald will face further questions in the Dáil (Irish parliament) on Thursday over her handling of the garda (police) whistleblower controversy that occurred while she was Minister for Justice. The issue could lead to her resignation or trigger an election.

The opposition parties continue to weigh up their next move. Sinn Féin has stated they would decide on Thursday if they will table a motion of No Confidence in Fitzgerald. They have offered her a last chance to provide details regarding what she knew of the campaign to discredit whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

Fianna Fáil politicians would not rule out backing the Sinn Féin No Confidence proposal, stating that they would find it “very difficult” to support Fitzgerald.

Read more: The bravest man in Ireland battles on against police and government corruption

The controversy centers on an email sent to Fitzgerald in May 2015. The email set out the strategy that was about to be pursued against whistleblower Sgt McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission.

Fitzgerald will face questions about her awareness of efforts by former garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to query the “motivation” and character of Sgt McCabe at a commission of inquiry examining claims of police malpractice.

Former garda commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan and the then Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.

The email shows that Fitzgerald had been informed of the gardaí’s legal team’s intention to raise a “serious criminal” complaint against Sgt McCabe, even though no such offense had been committed.

In the Dáil the opposition described the strategy as malicious and said Fitzgerald should have acted on it when she received the mail. Fitzgerald has said she does not remember reading this email and said it made clear that she couldn’t have legally intervened. Speaking to the Seanad (the Senate) on Wednesday evening she confirmed that her legal standing had been reaffirmed by the Attorney General.

The email was discovered by the Department of Justice two weeks ago during a search for an answer to a Dáil question posed by Labour Party politician Alan Kelly. It was a full week before Fitzgerald was alerted to the email. She stated she had forgotten its content.

On Wednesday evening a Fianna Fail politician told the Irish Times it would be difficult for the party to abstain from a vote of No Confidence “considering how the Dáil has been continuously misled.”

Others told the newspaper they anticipate Fitzgerald’s departure by the end of this week.

A frontbench politician said, “There is a sense that Fianna Fáil cannot keep criticizing without taking action. This has happened previously on a similar subject and there is no appetite to back down this time.”

Last week the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin asked for space to address the issue. It was thought that this meant he would raise the matter directly with the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar, the leader of the Fine Gael Party. The leaders held a private meeting on Wednesday.

Fitzgerald is also facing criticism for failing to notify Varadkar of the contents of the email when the issue was raised last Thursday. It is said that Varadkar has distanced himself from Fitzgerald privately as the scandal has engulfed her.

Previously, Varadkar criticized incomplete information received from the Department of Justice. He has now ordered a future trawl of documentation and called for an update on the implementation of the Toland Report on the operations of the department.

Should Fitzgerald consider her position rather or is a general election on the cards? Let us know your views below.

Irish dancing Ravens' NFL player celebrates touchdown with a jig

Running back Alex Collins celebrated his first touchdown of the season, against the Packers, with an impromptu Irish dance

Running back for the Baltimore Ravens, Alex Collins, found the end zone for the first time this season, playing on Sunday against Green Bay Packers, and took the opportunity to show off his now world famous Irish dancing skills.

On Sunday, Nov 19, Collins scored his first touchdown of the season, on week 11 of the season. Finally in the end zone during the fourth quarter on a three-yard-carry Collins let his Irish dance show just how happy he was.

A post shared by Baltimore Ravens (@ravens) on

After the game Collins’ efforts were rewarded with a game ball. Head Coach John Harbaugh said “That was great. He’s just done a great job for us.”

Irish dance as NFL training

Earlier this year Alex Collins became big news in the USA not because of his mad American football skills but the fact that he practices Irish dance, to give the running back that little extra bit of grace and coordination on the field.

Back in 2016 he explained that it was his high school football coach’s 15-year-old daughter who got him into Irish dance.

He said “It is all about rhythm and timing in Irish dance, and so it is for the running back as well.

“Here I am always on my toes, and I really love it because it builds my lower body muscles and my calf muscles.

“I am more explosive on the field. As a running back you want to have that lower body strength and that footwork – and this is perfect place to get it.”

Anti-bullying good guy

Collins also recently used his Irish dance powers for good when he stuck up for a young boy, Carl Tubbs, who was being bullied for Irish dancing.

On Twitter Carl’s mother wrote:

Collins did not disappoint sending Carl a seriously empowering message, telling him not to give up on his dreams. He tweeted:

Then, Carl got to meet his hero in person on the sidelines during a Ravens game. (Scroll ahead to 1min, 15sec to see their awesome chat)

"Having 12-year-olds laugh at me is not fun" -Baltimore Ravens' Alex Collins on Irish dancing, which he credits with helping him be a better player http://cbsn.ws/2zAysYk

Posted by CBS Evening News on Tuesday, 24 October 2017

"I want you to know that I'm proud of you, man. I'm going to be following your career," Collins told him. 

Tubbs said that Collins' encouragement has "really encouraged me to keep on going with Irish dance." 

Collins said it feels amazing to be making a difference in someone else's life.

Kieran Creaven and Al Porter - two more Irish sex scandals

Two prominent Irish broadcasting personalities, both men, have been accused of indecent sexual behavior.

One is RTE television sports producer Kieran Creaven, a 55-year-old married man who appeared in court in Leeds in England on Monday accused of grooming a 13-year-old girl for sexual activity.

The other is 24-year-old camp comedian Al Porter, a star of TV3 and Today FM radio station. Allegations of indecent behavior against him wreaked havoc with his high-profile career as he quit his radio show and a stage pantomime, and TV3 suddenly pulled a repeat screening of a flagship show he co-hosts.

The scandals exploded into the public domain just a week after former Gate Theatre artistic director Michael Colgan apologized for “politically incorrect” behavior to members of his staff following their complaints of sexual harassment and bullying. Colgan denied his behavior should be compared to “sexual crimes.”

Former Gate Theatre artistic director Michael Colgan.

Irish showbiz is reeling from sex allegations so soon after Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of sex abuse by several stars.

Creaven, a sports producer for 20 years with RTE, is accused of flying from Ireland to meet up at the Queens Hotel in Leeds with someone he believed to be a 13-year-old girl but which was in fact a fake online identity created by a group that seeks to expose adults trying to contact children for sexual purposes.

Read more: RTE journalist charged in UK for sexual activity with 13-year-old

He was charged on Monday with attempting to meet a child following grooming and attempting to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity. He was granted bail to appear at the higher Leeds Crown Court on December 19.  RTE said Creaven was suspended until further notice.

In Dublin, the producers of the Olympia Theatre Christmas pantomime issued a statement confirming Porter is stepping aside from his lead role in the show, Polly and the Beanstalk, following claims of inappropriate behavior. At least four men have accused him of groping them.

On Sunday Porter, one of Ireland’s most successful comedians who has also starred in Britain, resigned from Today FM, where he has presented a lunchtime show since February this year.

Just the night before, TV3 cancelled its repeat showing of the final episode of Blind Date, which Porter co-hosted. The station said it would be inappropriate to broadcast it following allegations of “inappropriate” behavior.

The BBC said it is yet to decide whether a scheduled Radio 4 series fronted by Porter will go ahead next year.

One of the complaints, reported in the Irish Independent, was from a young male musician who accused Porter of offering a sex act after earlier making “unwanted lewd remarks.”

Porter, who has consulted a lawyer, said in a tweeted statement:

Unionist in House of Lords suggests County Donegal should rejoin the United Kingdom

A Unionist member of Britain’s House of Lords has said that Donegal would “benefit” from rejoining the United Kingdom.

Lord Kilclooney was speaking to Donegal’s Ocean FM Radio Station about the impact of Brexit when he explained to locals why he thought they would benefit from being British again.

“It [Donegal] would benefit from the block grant that we already enjoy in Northern Ireland, £10 billion ($13 billion) a year we get.

"It really is the hinterland of Northern Ireland and it would be great to have it back in with us.

"The history of Donegal since 1921 is desperate. I've seen the population in Donegal dwindle. It's half what it was at the time of partition. Many have moved to the United Kingdom, to the north-west or to Glasgow. I think Dublin ignores Donegal."

Read More: Nationalists are "not equal" to unionists, says British Lord

The British Government has long shovelled large amounts of cash into Northern Ireland: in 2015/16 public spending was 21% higher than the UK average and set to rise higher after the Democratic Unionist Party negotiated a further $1.3 billion in spending for schools and hospitals.

Despite the largesses, Donegal has never shown much inclination to rejoin the Ulster statelet to its east and has a long history of voting for republican parties; once Fianna Fáil dominated elections in the county but since the recession Sinn Féin have gained a significant amount of support.

Since partition the county’s Protestant population (most of whom historically wanted Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom) has plunged; where once one in five people in Donegal were Protestant, now it is closer to one in ten.

Surveys over the decades indicate that, unlike most of their coreligionists in Northern Ireland, most are happy to identify as Irish, not British.

The Orange Order maintains a presence in the county but it lacks the sharp political edge it does over the border:

“Here our priorities as Orangemen wouldn’t really be to do with being unionist as it is up north,” Donegal Orangeman Norman Henry told the Newsletter in 2013.

“For us it’s a religious and cultural thing to do with being Protestant and feeling that it’s important to be an upstanding member of the community, honoring your civic and Christian responsibilities. Being a good citizen and a good neighbor is important.”

Read More: Irish-speaking Donegal Orangeman says Protestants are overlooked in Ireland

Still an ever dwindling number do feel a strong connection with Britain: farmer and Orangeman Jim Devenney from the village of Raphoe - only a 15 minute drive from Northern Ireland - said he doesn’t feel exclusively Irish.

“My identity is British because I feel that I have a debt of gratitude, not to Britain, but to those people who were British and those people who gave their lives for what Britain and what the whole of British culture and identity stands for,” he told NBC.

After the creation of the northern state in 1921 an effort to reunite Donegal with the six counties to its east was made by Joseph Fisher who was appointed to the Boundary Commission which was intended to transfer nationalists areas in the north to the Free State.

Instead Fisher argued that Donegal should be administered by Belfast, not Dublin.

“We ought to bear our share of the burden of congestion and misery, and Ulster can never be complete without Donegal. Donegal belongs to Derry, and Derry to Donegal… and a hostile ‘Afghanistan’ on our northwest frontier would be placed in safe keeping,” he told his colleagues on the commission.

Read More: Why is the Irish border where it is?

Ultimately the commission agreed that a small Protestant part of the county on the Derry border should be sliced into Northern Ireland, but the report was unpalatable to the Irish Government and the authors were told it best “burnt or buried”.

No serious efforts to return Donegal to the United Kingdom have been made since.

First big solo award for former One Directioner Niall Horan

The solo life is working out pretty well for Irish One Directioner Niall Horan. The County Westmeath native scooped his first big award on Sunday night at the American Music Awards in Los Angeles when he was named Best New Artist, winning the trophy over James Arthur, Julia Michaels, Post Malone and Rae Sremmurd.

“This is unbelievable. I’ve had a hell of a year,” Niall said after accepting the statue.

Read more: Niall Horan thinks Donald Trump is a sick joke

He sure has. His first album Flicker reached number one on the Billboard magazine charts, and he’s currently on a tour that will take him to all parts of the world through next year.

David Cassidy's Irish roots: What you need to know

One of the most popular entertainers of all time, David Cassidy, has passed away from organ failure, aged 67.

David Cassidy, best known for his role in The Partridge Family as Keith Partridge, was admitted to a hospital on November 15, reports TMZ. The gossip site stated Cassidy,  was need of a liver transplant and that he was also suffering from kidney failure. The TMZ report added that "with Cassidy's organ deterioration, they need to prepare for the worst."

Cassidy had retired from performing earlier in 2017 after he publicly disclosed his dementia diagnosis.

Cassidy's parents got divorced without telling him

Cassidy was born at the Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital in New York City in 1950. His parents were actor Jack Cassidy and actress Evelyn Ward. Jack Cassidy was half-Irish and half-German while Evelyn Ward was of Irish and Swiss stock. Cassidy was raised in West Orange, New Jersey. When he was six years old, Cassidy learned from neighbors that his parents had been divorced for two years and chose not to tell him. Jack Cassidy went on to remarry an actress of Welsh-extraction, Shirley Jones, with whom he had two more sons, Shaun and Patrick.

Cassidy's great-grandfather did time in prison with 'Irish Famine emigrants'

A March 2011 Huffington Post feature on Cassidy, that was written while the singer was competing on Celebrity Apprentice, said that Cassidy's great-grandfather did time in Sing Sing prison with "Irish famine emigrants." That same Huff Po piece says that Cassidy's maternal family, although originating in Ireland, traced their roots in New Jersey back to 1777. The article says that his mother's family helped to found the city of Newark. Evelyn Ward died at 89 in December 2012 after suffering from an Alzheimer's related disease, according to the Hollywood Reporter. In 2011, Cassidy appeared in a public service announcement to highlight the need for funding for Alzheimer's disease.

Cassidy's father has been described as a 'bisexual... matinee idol with Irish blue eyes' 

While on his father's side, the Cassidy family hailed from Queens and "was almost to a man railroad workers," according to the Huffington Post. In a 2015 interview with the Daily Mail, Cassidy spoke of his mother regularly beating him and his father's boozing and womanizing ways. The article referred to Jack Cassidy as "a matinee idol with white-blond hair and blue Irish eyes." In March 2007, Cassidy spoke of growing up in "working class Irish roots" in an interview with the Scotsman. Cassidy went on to describe his father as "a vain philanderer, an alcoholic - and a bisexual." Jack Cassidy died at 49 in December after he inadvertently set fire to his apartment in Hollywood after a night of drinking. He had apparently fallen asleep while smoking, according to his obituary. That tribute mentions that Jack Cassidy's father, William Cassidy, had been an engineer on the Long Island Rail Road.

The first reported Cassidy in America in the 18th century caused controversy when she had a baby with a black servant

The Cassidy name originates from Fermanagh, more specifically the small town of Ballycassidy which is north of Enniskillen. The Cassidy clan was known for their storytelling and as practitioners of medicine. In America, the Cassidy name can be traced back to Virginia in 1703 where Catherine Cassidy was registered as the "white servant" of John Hutchins. Catherine Cassidy attracted controversy when she had a child with a black servant.  

Sinn Fein’s leader switch a major gamble

Sinn Fein made a dramatic move last weekend setting up the faces of the future at the party’s annual convention.

Sinn Fein is one good Irish election result from having a real shot at power in a race that will likely see the party as the third largest in the state after the next contest.

The decision by party leader Gerry Adams to step down was a deliberate move to hand over the reins to a younger leader at a critical time.  The move is a major gamble, but not for the reasons most might expect.

Conventional wisdom is that Adams and his IRA connections to the past were hurting progress for the party in the Irish Republic.

Read more: Irish Deputy Prime Minister could be pressured to resign

The other point of view could just as well prevail that his popularity among nationalist Irish, along with that of the late Martin McGuinness, was the reason the party has had a whirlwind rise to power in the north and on the cusp of it in the south.

Without Adams and McGuinness, could Sinn Fein become like the SDLP after that party’s two giants, John Hume and Seamus Mallon, stepped down? Successive SDLP leaderships have foundered since without their two pillars.

Losing Adams and McGuinness means that the two most vastly experienced Sinn Fein leaders have passed on the torch.

It also means that the long war they fought begins to fade even more into the background, and the idol-like reputations they enjoyed and deserved does not automatically flow on.

The cresting if the Sinn Fein wave in the north and now in the south was done with probably the two best politicians in the island in charge.

No matter how good Michelle O’Neill and the obvious Adams successor in the south Mary Lou McDonald are -- they still have gargantuan shoes to fill.

Both are highly capable, but their political opponents will know that testing then early and defining them on negative terms will be a major priority, and opportunity.

Sinn Fein’s biggest problem remains women in the middle class, especially in the Republic, and McDonald seems uniquely qualified to handle that issue. But it will take a major effort to bring the Republic’s middle class into the Sinn Fein fold.

Gerry Adams has clearly established, almost from nothing, a rural and a working class coalition which has brought the party a long way. Sinn Fein was helped in that effort by the near collapse of Fianna Fail and a financial crisis that heavily favored outsider political parties at the polls.

Whether Sinn Fein can make the leap into the middle classes remains to be seen, but the Adams coalition of the rural and working class must also hold.

So while the Sinn Fein decks are cleared for new leaders and new directions, there is no certainty that this strategy will succeed. The departure of Adams removes the most tactically astute politician on the island of Ireland.

It will be up to his successors to push the momentum forward.  That will be no easy task.

Read more: Total Brexit disconnect between Ireland and UK puts Northern Ireland border in jeopardy

Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell and rest of Daddy’s Guys love Dublin

Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson and John Lithgow were in Ireland for a couple of days last week promoting their new holiday hit Daddy’s Home 2.  Will, a frequent visitor to Ireland who has roots in Co. Longford, was adamant that Ireland had to be on the film’s European promo tour.

"It's always great to come to Dublin to promote a movie, just because the Irish turn out to see movies like no other," Ferrell told RTE.

"They're such great lovers of comedy here and a great fan following, so it's definitely a must-stop."

The first Daddy’s Home also hosted a premiere in Ireland a couple of years back with Wahlberg and Ferrell, and that one went on to gross a boatload of money around the world.  The stars were spotted around Dublin on several occasions last week; Wahlberg even made time for a round of gold at the K Club in Co. Kildare.

“I played Portmarnock the last time I was here. You think about Old Head in Kinsale, there are some of the greatest golf courses in the world here,” said the former rapper known as Marky Mark.

“For me the greatest thing would be to come here and just go on a guys’ golf trip and take my sons and come for two weeks and travel all around and play all the courses, but I don’t know if my wife will let me do that.

“Every time I get a chance, I come back here. It's amazing. It's more of a celebratory atmosphere, people are extremely nice and polite, and it's always a good time.” Wahlberg also revealed that Rory McIlroy is one of his buddies, and that they may team up for a project in the future.

“My favorite golfer from Ireland is Rory McIlroy. I had dinner with him the last time I was here. He and I share a mutual friend in Dermot Desmond, so we got to hang out and we may do some things in the future together,” he said.

Ferrell, who was clad in a Longford GAA jersey during one of his appearances, says he wants his kids to appreciate their Irish roots.

“My wife is Swedish and we always spend time there every summer. We really emphasize the Swedish side of our family so we really we need to know more about the Irish side for sure,” he said.

“We’d probably have to swing through Longford, I’d love to do a couple of weeks tour of the whole country with my kids."

Read more: Irish takeover Saturday Night Live Dec. 2 with Saoirse Ronan and U2

Remembering JFK – the assassination took place 54 years ago today

On this dark day, November 22, 1963: Irish American President John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the United States’ only Catholic president—the count is now running 44-to-1, which by any bookmaker’s cheat sheet are pretty amazing, skewered odds—once said: “There are three things in life: God, human folly, and laughter. The first two are beyond our comprehension, we must make the best of the third.” On November 22, 1963, the laughter died, not only for JFK but also for the United States of America.

For most baby boomers, there are two dates that stick out in their minds—November 22, 1963, and September 11, 2001. Both moments of unbelievable national tragedy. But maybe 11/22/63 was a little tougher because all Americans knew the man. He barely won the 1960 election—although the following year over 60% of Americans said they voted for him— but he brought something special to the White House—a beautiful young family, laughter, culture, and class. Whatever you feel about Kennedy, the rest of the world saw this man who represented the United States of America and what they felt was simple—hope.

Uniquely Irish

Kennedy was uniquely Irish. He was the great-grandchild of immigrants from County Wexford. Thanks to his family's great wealth he never suffered poverty or hard discrimination—save for those Boston Brahmins who thought him “Shanty Irish”—but in his gut he was a Fenian. In this day of draft-dodging political cowards—“Chickenhawk” is the perfect description—he used his father’s influence to get into the United States Navy during World War II. As the skipper of the PT-109 in the hotly contested Solomon Islands his plywood boat was cut in half by a Japanese destroyer during night action and he was violently flung back on the bridge, ruining his back for the rest of his life. He gathered his crew around him, saving a badly burnt crewmate by slipping a belt under his arms, putting the belt in his teeth, and towing the man to an island. For his valor, he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corp Medal and the Purple Heart. That’s a far cry from recent presidents who were outright draft-dodgers or hiding out in safe places like the Texas National Guard.

A triumphant year

The last year of Kennedy’s life was a whirlwind. In October 1962, he faced down the Russians over missiles in Cuba. The generals wanted war, but the President, who knew war firsthand, managed a negotiated settlement which the world saw as a win for the young President.

The first half of 1963 brought unparalleled success to Kennedy. On June 11, 1963, he gave a nationally televised speech about Civil Rights where he called upon Americans to give equal rights to their fellow Negro citizens because “We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the Scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution.”

In 1964 Lyndon Johnson would pass JFK’s Civil Rights Bill just as it was written by Kennedy. On June 26, 1963, Kennedy gave his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in Berlin which built up the hopes of the population of Berlin while warning the Russians that their time would come.

Home to Ireland

Immediately after Berlin, he flew to Ireland, where he was greeted on the tarmac at Dublin Airport by President Eamon de Valera.

The RTE feed is one of unabashed pride as it reads: “Welcome Mr. President.”

Kennedy went on to address the Irish Parliament, the Dáil, but the thing that stands out on that Dublin visit is that he took the time to visit Arbour Hill where 14 of the sixteen martyrs of the Easter Rebellion are buried in a mass grave. He is the only American President to pay his respects to these murdered leaders. It is poignant to see him reading the names of the patriots on the side of the grave as  Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Seán Lemass, who knew many of these men, walks at the President’s side.

Kennedy took pride in his Irishness as one can see from this clip when the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem sang “We Want No Irish Here” for the President. Liam Clancy’s cheeky introduction manages to elicit a huge smile out of the President.

JFK said goodbye to Ireland at Shannon Airport in County Clare, but promised “I’ll come back in the spring,” but he had already lived his last spring.

Tragedy strikes, then Dallas

August was to prove a momentous month for Kennedy. On August 5, 1963, he signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which made the world safer for every human being, but just four days later tragedy struck when his infant son, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, died two days after his birth.

Mrs. Kennedy disappeared for months but reemerged in November for a two-day political tour of the Texas cities of San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth and Dallas.

JFK was greeted by fantastic crowds in supposedly hostile territory and you can see the President obviously enjoying himself as he and the First Lady work the crowds. In his last speech, he issued a prescient warning saying we live in “a very dangerous and uncertain world.”

On the arrival of Air Force One at the ironically named Love Field in Dallas, the President and Mrs. Kennedy again worked the crowd, but, in the background there can be seen a Confederate flag stubbornly flying, reminding the world that not everyone approved of his Civil Rights agenda. Twenty minutes later the President was shot and a shocked nation listened to Walter Cronkite, in tears, give the terrible news of the assassination of the nation’s 35th president.

John F. Kennedy was President for less than three years, but in that short span of time, he pointed the nation towards the 21st century. He steered the nation to outer space and the moon explaining that “We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

JFK set about fulfilling President Lincoln’s promise to the slaves at home and promoting peace abroad, sending American volunteers around the world serving in the Peace Corp.

He was not without his faults. He was a man with a weakness for the flesh, but he did not blatantly brag about it. He tried to lift a nation and push it forward—and he succeeded. That’s why 53 years after his death he is still fondly remembered around the world, especially in the small island nation which gave the world his family.

* 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.

* Originally published in 2016.

Whistleblower scandal may bring down Ireland’s Deputy Leader Frances FitzGerald

Motion of no confidence considered in Irish parliament. Leader claims she doesn’t remember critical Sgt McCabe email.

A motion of no confidence is being considered by the opposition parties in the Irish parliament after Minister for Justice and Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald belatedly admitted she had seen a critical email in the case of a police whistleblower.

The Sergeant Maurice McCabe scandal is the subject of a tribunal of inquiry to ascertain the extent to which he was set up by false charges from police authorities desperate to cover up his exposure of corrupt practices within the force.

Two police commissioners, a former minister for justice and justice department officials were brought down and damaged by the massive police cover-up and attempt to defame McCabe as a child abuser. Even then-Taoiseach Enda Kenny was damaged by the case.

Whistleblower: Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

Minister FitzGerald now admits she received an email, in May 2015, from her own Department of Justice warning her that unsubstantiated charges against McCabe were going to be used by the police lawyer to blacken McCabe’s reputation at the tribunal.

Though she knew there was no firm evidence to back up the very serious claims, she failed to demand an explanation from the police authority as to why they were using such false charges.

The Tanaiste (Deputy Leader) was questioned for over an hour on Tuesday evening (Nov 21).

FitzGerald has stated in her defense that she had forgotten she received the email and later denied she had knowledge of the police tactics against McCabe.

Her excuse that she forgot that she'd received the critical email is being viewed with deep skepticism in Ireland.

The email alerted Fitzgerald that the issue of “a serious criminal complaint,” which had always been denied by Sgt McCabe, was raised at the commission.

Just minutes before Fitzgerald entered the Dail showdown Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar called Sgt McCabe to brief him on the content of the email. The Irish Independent reports that McCabe then pulled back from issuing a statement, which could have ended Fitzgerald’s career on Tuesday night.

Former Police Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan and Tanaiste Fitzgerald.

Solidarity TD (Teachta Dála / member of Ireland’s Parliament) Paul Murphy described the strategy adopted as a “disgusting attempt to blacken the name of Maurice McCabe.” The Dublin South West TD added, “How could the minister possibly get such an email and read it and then forget? That’s simply not credible.”

Social Democrats' TD Roisin Shortall, speaking to RTE, said that greater clarity was needed. She said, “It is unbelievable that the minister – if she had read that – would not have taken some action… Clearly alarm bells should have started ringing.”

She added, “The question is what, if anything, did Frances Fitzgerald do about the information she received in 2015.”

FitzGerald’s real problem, however, may be the attitude of her boss, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who appears to be stepping away from her as the crisis unfolds.

Deputy Leader Fitzgerald and Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar.

The nightmare scenario for Varadkar is a motion of no confidence in the Minister, likely presented by Sinn Fein, a move that would have the impact of forcing Fianna Fail, which currently props up the government, to make a decision to either support the motion or be seen as lackeys of the Fine Gael government.

It may turn out to be that FitzGerald's voluntary resignation will be the only way for Varadkar to prevent a no confidence motion and an election the party certainly does not want on the basis of FitzGerald’s actions.

 A Sinn Féin motion of no confidence could be offered as early as next week and the government could once again find itself in deep water over the attempts to silence the whistleblower McCabe.

How an Irish ship created first Thanksgiving for grateful Pilgrims

The facts of the first Thanksgiving meal may never be known, but some believe it to have been in celebration of a shipment of Irish food. 

No one can say for sure exactly when the first Thanksgiving was celebrated, but at least one historian thinks it was invented as a day of Thanksgiving for the generosity of the Irish people after a ship from Ireland, bursting with provisions, landed in Massachusetts Bay in the freezing winter of 1631. Writing in his book "The Annals of the Year 1631," the eminent 18th-century New England historian the Rev. Thomas Prince recorded:

“As the winter came on provisions are very scarce (in the Massachusetts Bay), and people necessitated to feed on clams and mussels and ground nuts and acorns, and those were got with much difficulty during the winter season… And many are the fears of the people that Mr Pierce, who was sent to Ireland for provisions, is either cast away or taken by the pirates. Upon this a day of fasting and prayer to God for relief is appointed (to be on the 6th of February). But God, who delights to appear in the greatest straits, works marvellously at this time; for on February 5th, the very day before the appointed fast, in comes the ship Lion, Mr. William Pierce, master, now arriving at Nantasket laden with provisions. Upon which joyful occasion the day is changed and ordered to be kept (on the 22nd) as a day of Thanksgiving.”

Read more: A Bronx Irish Thanksgiving in days gone by

Where the Irish behind the first Thanksgiving dinner? Image: iStock.

Historian Michael J. O’Brien believes that, based on this account and in the absence of more convincing evidence as to how the tradition began, it is fair to conclude that the holiday began with this generous gift of food from Ireland.

Why Thanksgiving was celebrated in November, instead of February when the ship landed, Prince’s Annals do not suggest. However, most people believe that it is held on the fourth Thursday of November because, in keeping with the European tradition, it was used to give thanks for the harvest that year. Perhaps the early settlers shifted the date to combine the traditional thanksgiving for the harvest, with the colony’s day of thanksgiving for Ireland’s provisions.  

Prince goes on to write that Ireland was the only country in the world to send help to the hungry pilgrims, despite the fact that the settlers had only left England just over a decade earlier. If so, how fitting that two centuries before the US welcomed with open arms nearly a million and a half Irishmen and women fleeing the hunger of the Potato Famine, the most quintessentially American of holidays was invented as a day to thank the Irish people for sending food that prevented the young colony from starving.

Read more: How we Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving in Dublin

How do you give your Thanksgiving an Irish twist? Let us know in the comments section. 

Amazing locals rescue dolphins stranded on Irish beach

A man noticed five young dolphins beached at Keem Beach on Achill Island. Soon, neighbors arrived to usher the dying dolphins to safety. 

On Tuesday morning, an overcast and blustery day on County Mayo's Achill Island, local man Joey Henry spotted a very worrying sight - five young dolphins beached on the sands of Keem Bay, struggling in vain to get back into the waves. 

Photo: Tommy English

Both Henry and another local man, Tommy English, sounded the alarm via social media, and very soon more people gathered on the beach to launch an improvised rescue operation.

Read More: Beloved Fungie the dolphin injured during Storm Ophelia 

Photo: Tommy English

According to Achill Island's tourism manager Sean Molloy,  "despite the rough seas, David McNamara and Saoirse Kennedy led the successful rescue."

Dolphin Rescue on Achill Island

Watch this amazing dolphin rescue on Achill Island! Locals banded together to help 5 stranded dolphins.

Posted by IrishCentral.com on Wednesday, November 22, 2017

He told IrishCentral that four of the five dolphins were saved. Tragically, the oldest dolphin perished on the beach, and the younger dolphins attempted to return to the beach several times to try to get him - heartbreaking. 

Photo: Tommy English

According to Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), thousands of whales and dolphins die each year after becoming stranded on shores. The reasons they wind up in this dangerous situation vary, from a confused group leader to injury due to fishing equipment, to tidal changes, to SONAR disruption. 

Read More: Amazing footage of a dog and a dolphin playing in Ireland

Well done to the Achill Islanders who stepped in to save these dolphins. 

 

Irish influence on an all-American Thanksgiving

It is no secret that the Irish love to celebrate! However, the end of the year brings about the celebration in all of us, commencing the holiday season with the American tradition of Thanksgiving.

Rooted in western history, Thanksgiving customarily celebrates the arrival of the early colonists to the “new world”, and their initial harvest feast with the Native Americans. The tradition, while unique to North America, is not independent of Irish holiday traditions. Whether or not shepherd’s pie has become a mainstay on your family’s Thanksgiving table, you can surely find the Irish staples of meat, veg, and potatoes at every Thanksgiving feast, a toast or prayer before the meal, and of course a few notable pints throughout the evening. While historians are skeptical of whether or not turkey was served at the original harvest feast, one theme that transcends the event is the gathering of people, despite their different languages and cultures, to share in an experience together.

Today, we emulate the 15th-century tradition by following in the footsteps of the colonists and Wampanoag Indians, coming together to commemorate their original harvest feast and as the melting pot that America prides itself to be, to grow the tradition to include new customs of our own – several of which are Irish! 

NIGHT OUT:

One of the more recent traditions imparted on the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is the gathering of old friends on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving – aka “Thanksgiving Eve". This has notoriously become one of the best bar nights of the year, bringing old schoolmates, cousins, and friends back to town to enjoy a night out.

The music is playing, the banter is flowing, the drinks are pouring, and togetherness is at an all-time high. Whether you are American, Irish American, or any other nationality, Thanksgiving Eve offers everybody the opportunity to enjoy themselves in the company of good friends and good craic.

Celebrating Thanksgiving Eve with your mates this year? Ask the bartender for a Magners Cinnamon Slammer and raise a glass to the old friends and the new!

Magners Cinnamon Slammer  

Ingredients:

12 oz Magners Original Irish Cider

2 oz Cinnamon Irish Whiskey

Directions:

Drop a shot of Cinnamon Irish Whiskey into your pint of Magners Cider and raise your glass to your mates!

SPORT:

Thanksgiving morning brings another type of togetherness, as the cooking and family festivities begin! One of the mainstays of everyone’s Thanksgiving Thursday is the gathering of family members to watch sports. If you’re not brave enough to face the late November temperatures and attend the game yourself, you can certainly be found crowding in front of the TV glued to the football game -- American football that is! The turkey is in the oven, the brunch drinks are mixed, and everyone’s tuned in.

Whether you’re shouting your team’s version of the traditional Irish “Olé” chant or asking questions about the game itself, sports are one facet of society that every member of the family can relate to. Thanksgiving Football is an American mainstay that brings all generations together to enjoy, and is best done with Magners Bloody Marys!

TRADITIONAL MEAL:

The gathering of friends and family to celebrate a meal with one another surpasses the great divide of age, interests, or location. There is something truly wonderful about having everybody together year after year, around the same table laughing, joking, and telling stories.

The Thanksgiving feast is the culmination of a centuries-old tradition and modern rituals offering the opportunity to spend time with one another.

Sit back and enjoy a slice of Magners Apple Pie at your Thanksgiving table!

Magners Apple Pie

Ingredients:

6 cups thinly sliced apples

¾ cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon lemon juice

¼ cup Magners Original Hard Cider

1 pie crust

Directions:

Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and ground nutmeg together in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, top apples with lemon juice, and add the dry mixture. Add Magners Original Hard Cider and mix to create your apple pie’s filling. Place into your favorite pie crust and bake to perfection!

Irish Toast for the Holiday Season:

“May Love and Laughter light your days, and warm your heart and home.

May Good and Faithful friends be yours, wherever you may roam.

May Peace and Plenty bless your world with joy that long endures.

May all life’s passing seasons bring the best to you and yours!”

From our home in Clonmel to yours, Sláinte!

More at usa.magners.com

 

Ireland’s favorite turkey pardoned by Dublin's US Embassy for Thanksgiving

Chargé d’Affaires Reece Smyth pardoned Dublin entertainer “Dustin the Turkey” ahead of US holiday

At a Thanksgiving reception the acting U.S. Ambassador, Chargé d’Affaires Reece Smyth pardoned Dublin entertainer “Dustin the Turkey” ahead of the American holiday.

Mimicking the annual White House tradition, which dates back to the 1940s, of pardoning a turkey ahead of Thanksgiving Reece honored a request he received from the Irish entertainer, a comedian who has represented Ireland, unsuccessfully, at the Eurovision song contest.

The tradition goes that Thanksgiving, the U.S. President “pardons” a hand-selected turkey, sparing the bird from someone’s dinner table and ensuring the rest of its days are spent roaming on a farm, doing whatever it is turkeys love to do.

Read more Thanksgiving stories on IrishCentral

Chargé d’Affaires Reece Smyth received a request from Dustin the Turkey to be pardoned by him. It is not common for U.S. Ambassadors to exercise such clemency, but an exception was made in this case.

Dustin the Turkey and Chargé d’Affaires Reece Smyth  at the US Ambassador's resdience in Dublin.

Since 1947, the chairman of the U.S. National Turkey Federation has presented a turkey to the President. Back then, however, birds were more likely to be destined for the White House dining table. 

Speaking of the pardon Chargé d’Affaires Reece Smyth said “I had to think long and hard and I consulted with many members of the Irish public on what was the best course of action. While opinion was divided on whether it was time to finally roast this turkey, ultimately I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and spare him. I just hope he appreciates this second chance and doesn’t let me down in the future”

After the event, Dustin the Turkey said "I simply hope that my own great leader President Michael D. Higgins will take the nod from the Americans and pardon me this Christmas. Go on ye good thing.”

On Tuesday President Donald Trump pardoned a turkey voted for by the public. Drumstick and Wishbone the turkeys, who had been living at the White House, had their fate decided by public vote via The White House’s Twitter account.

Police say Thanksgiving’s “Blackout Wednesday” is worse than St. Patrick's’ Day

The top five biggest drinking nights of the year include not only St. Patrick’s Day but Thanksgiving Eve parties.

Police are issuing warnings ahead of the Thanksgiving weekend for extra caution on the roads, especially during Thanksgiving Eve celebrations (otherwise known as Blackout Wednesday), which they claims are worse than St. Patrick’s Day in terms of over consumption of alcohol and drink driving.

“Drinksgiving,” the name given to the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, has quickly become one of the biggest drinking nights of the year as college students and young adults return home to celebrate the holiday with family and friends. Now established as one of the busiest bar nights of the year, the crowds on St. Patrick’s Day 2017 will look small in comparison to the Thanksgiving Eve parties.

“I'd put it up there with St. Patrick's Day,” a Pennsylvanian police officer told TribLive.com.

“It's definitely busier than New Year's.”

Read more: How an Irish ship created first Thanksgiving for grateful Pilgrims

“That's our biggest day of the year when it comes to people drinking alcohol and driving vehicles,” state police spokesperson Steve Limani said.

It is predicted that 50.9 million Americans will make a trip of 50 miles or more over the Thanksgiving weekend.

What are the top five biggest drinking nights of the year:

In no particular order, the US tends to overindulge on alcohol on:

  1. New Year's Eve
  2. Christmas
  3. Fourth of July
  4. St. Patrick's Day
  5. Thanksgiving

Stay safe everyone!

How do you celebrate the night before Thanksgiving? Do you partake in Drinksgiving? Let us know what your family and friends get up to in the comments section.

What to do when it’s a pro-Trump/anti-Trump stand-off Thanksgiving

Are you a Trump supporter? Or do you think he's an insult to the office he holds? Be afraid, be very afraid, at the family Thanksgiving.

That’s when families, in-laws, strays, and neighbors risk life and limb discussing presidential politics.

Trapped in the same house for hours, Freddie Krueger might even be afraid.

Luckily, one of Santa’s fairies happened by and offered ten house rules.

 - No turkey jokes about Hillary, no comparing the orange-y brown turkey skin to Donald’s hair.

Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton.

- If a presidential race discussion begins, remove all sharp objects, including carving knives, from the kitchen. Hide them!

- Bite your tongue very hard when Uncle Marty tells everyone what a great job our president is doing.

- Do not discuss hookers in Russia, misspelled tweeting, p***y-grabbing, in the context of the president.

- Make sure your stash of Valium/Zoloft /Xanax is available if discussion gets very animated. Share.

- Don’t remark how Kim Jong-un, the North Korean nut job, looks almost as out of shape as our president.

- Talk about Uranus and what a wonderful planet it is, not Russian uranium if the topic is raised.

- Remark on how nice the weather is lately when the climate change discussion comes up.

- Jokes about Hillary falling down or Donald playing golf every other day should be avoided.

- To break the ice, offer up the idea of a special counsel for every member of Congress or a cut rate.

Above all remember to have a happy Thanksgiving!

Congresswoman joins the fight to name ship after Irish Navy Cross recipient Patrick Gallagher

Irish-American Navy Cross awardee Patrick Gallagher is one step closer to having a ship named in his honor.

Chalk up another member of Congress supporting the naming of a U.S. Navy destroyer after Vietnam War hero Patrick “Bob” Gallagher.

Rep. Kathleen Rice has written Navy Secretary Richard Spencer urging the naming of such a ship after the County Mayo-born Gallagher.

Congressman Eliot Engel recently wrote Spencer in support of the campaign.

Rep. Rice, perhaps crucially, is a member of both the House Homeland Security Committee and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

She is also Long Island-based and Pat Gallagher’s American home after he left Ireland was Long Island. And family members still live there.

Read more: Navy Secretary candidate could name ship after Irish Vietnam war hero

Rep. Kathleen Rice wrote to Navy Secretary Spencer regarding Irishman Patrick Gallagher.

Rice, in her letter to Spencer, said she was writing to request that he consider “honoring a fallen hero of the Vietnam War, Corporal Patrick “Bob” Gallagher, by naming a Destroyer ship in his memory.”

Stated Rice in her letter: “My constituent, Patrick Nealon, Commander of VFW Post 2307, of Lynbrook, NY, brought Cpl. Gallagher’s story to my attention. Commander Nealon has worked with Cpl. Gallagher’s surviving family to honor his memory by telling the story of his service and sacrifice.

And she continued: “Cpl. Gallagher immigrated to the United States from Ireland at the age of 18 with ambitions of building a better life for himself.

“He stayed with his aunt in Lynbrook, Long Island, where he pursued a career in real estate and began his studies in law school.

Patrick Gallagher's Navy Cross.

“In 1966, Patrick joined the United States Marine Corps to serve in Vietnam. That summer, he went on to save the lives of three fellow service members, while nearly sacrificing his own. Cpl. Gallagher and three members of his unit were attacked while patrolling a defense post in Cam Lo. Patrick kicked away a grenade before it exploded, and when another suddenly landed between two of his comrades, he threw himself on top of the grenade to protect the other two men, almost assuring his own death.  Miraculously, the grenade did not go off, and Patrick threw it into a body of water where it exploded.  Cpl. Gallagher was later awarded the Navy Cross.  

“Tragically, he was shot while on duty in Da Nang on the last day he was scheduled to serve in Vietnam, and he died at the young age of 23.  

“50 years after his death, Patrick’s family still resides in Lynbrook, and members of the community have mobilized to gather more than 10,000 signatures on a petition requesting that a Destroyer be named in his honor.

“Cpl. Gallagher made the ultimate sacrifice for his fellow Marines and for his adopted country. I have no doubt he is deserving of this honor, and I believe this is an opportunity to keep his legacy alive to guide and inspire current and future generations of American service members and citizens. I respectfully ask that you give Cpl. Gallagher your full consideration as you progress through the Destroyer naming procedure.”

Chuck Schumer is also supporting the Patrick Gallagher ship bid also.

Democrats Rice and Engel both wrote Spencer following an initial letter to the Navy Secretary in similar vein from Senator Charles Schumer.

Are there any other Irish-American heroes we have failed to honor? Let us know about them in the comments section, below. 

Cork politician prepared to go to jail for defacing ‘Famine’ Queen Victoria road signs

A Cork City councilor has said is prepared to go to prison for painting over street signs in Cork named in honor of Queen Victoria - the so-called ‘Famine Queen’.

Two others from the Cork Street Names Campaign have also been charged with criminal damage after they posted online a video on them painting over signs for streets named after Queen Victoria.

Cllr Diarmaid Ó Cadhla, Tom O’Connor and Tony Walsh of the Cork Street Names Campaign said they painted over the signs as, “To honor the name of Victoria, the Famine Queen, in the street names of Cork is an insult to the dignity of the Famine victims and to the self-respect of the people today”.

Vulgar Victoria - the Famine Queen must go!

Supporters of the Cork Street Names Campaign painted over the name of Victoria on street names in Cork city. Victoria was the Famine Queen, she presided over genocide against our ancestors. Those involved wanted to alert the conscience of our fellow Irishmen and Irishwomen to this continuing insult to our own dignity and self-respect. This act of civil disobedience has been greeted by vindictive arrests and will probably lead to prosecution of the individuals involved - all of whom freely admitted their role and are willing to face the courts. There are many famine 'graves' in Cork, there are over 30,000 people buried in the one on Carr's Hill, it was always referred to as "Carr's Hole" - it had been opened by an enterprising Mr Carr who got paid for dumping human bodies into a hole on his land. These are the forgotten victims of Ireland's Holocaust, so named by Michael Davitt of the Land League - millions were forceably starved and dispossessed of their homes and land. A thousand SHAMES on Cork City Council that there is no memorial in Cork city centre to remember these victims of foreign enslavement and national betrayal.

Posted by Cork Street Names Campaign on Monday, 20 March 2017

Read more: The real story of Queen Victoria and the Irish Famine

In a statement on their Facebook page the group said, “The three intend to defend themselves in court, stating that their actions were not criminal, but that it was an act of conscious objection to the honouring of a person who ruled over a genocide against our ancestors.

“All three of us are looking forward to our day in court, the pity is that the City Council has even brought a prosecution – rather than open a public debate on this issue of street names.”

Ó Cadhla concluded, “there are no streets in Poland or France named after Nazi generals, and there would be outrage at even the suggestion of it, we need to get modern and get rid of the old colonial names.”

In court Ó Cadhla was denied his request that the whole the case be conducted in the Irish language but told he could give his evidence through Irish if he wanted.

The case against the trio was adjourned until December 4th at which point a plea must be entered.

Read more: An inconvenient truth: Queen Victoria was welcomed by the Irish during the Famine

Speaking later to IrishCentral Ó Cadhla admitted he expected them to be found “probably guilty” by the court but said it was a matter of principle and he was prepared to go to prison “if necessary”.

He said the group originally sought a meeting with the local council but when nothing came of that they concluded, “What’s left but civil disobedience!”

Thanksgiving is an American holiday that Ireland should embrace

Thanksgiving food, Thanksgiving pies, and Thanksgiving turkey are the only reasons you need to prove that Ireland should fully embrace the Thanksgiving holiday. 

You'll often hear people in Ireland complain about the American influence on the culture here. I don't always disagree. American television, music, and movies seem to be everywhere and a lot of it is just garbage. Anytime I see or hear Britney Spears I know they have a point.

Holidays too, are not beyond American influence. People frequently blame the changes in the way that Christmas, Easter, St. Patrick's Day and Halloween are celebrated on American influence.

In a week or two many Irish people will have their homes bedecked in flashing Santas, snowmen, sleighs, and all sorts of light displays. None of this existed when I first moved to Ireland in the early 90s. Back then the only decorations you'd see when you went by a house was the Christmas tree in the window – there were no outdoor decorations. Now every neighborhood is like Times Square. American influence.

Yet, there's one American holiday tradition that refuses to leave America's shores – Thanksgiving. Yup, Thanksgiving is one of the biggest days of the year in America, but here it's simply another Thursday. No holiday, no parades, no football (that's another sad story), no nothing. It can be the most depressing day of the year for an American in Ireland.

Read more: Thanksgiving leftovers recipe for hearty turkey pot-pie

Friendgiving - recreating the warmth and fun of Thanksgiving when your family's not available. Will you be doing this at Thanksgiving in Ireland?

Instinctively all Americans know when Thanksgiving comes around. It's ingrained in our DNA. When that 4th week of November comes around you begin to salivate at the thought of the big turkey dinner, like some Pavlovian dog. Whether you're stateside or in Ireland or anywhere else for that matter you've just gotta have turkey.

It's easier said than done, however. You can't just walk in and buy a turkey in the stores here. All the turkeys in Ireland are earmarked for December 25. And if you have to work a full day, there's no time to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner.

Those are obstacles, but not insurmountable ones. First, many Americans here shift their celebrations from Thursday to Saturday, when they have the time needed to prepare the dinner. Also, for those who don't have family here, a Saturday celebration makes it easier to invite over a few Irish friends to take part in Thanksgiving. (Just because it's not a holiday here, doesn't mean Irish people will turn down a nice big dinner and a couple glasses of wine.}

Read more: Remembering the magic of Thanksgiving away from home in Dublin

How could the Irish say no to a full Turkey dinner? Image: iStock.

As for the turkey, you have to order in advance. We order from a supermarket near enough to the American embassy. They're used to us Yanks and our specific needs for turkey a month in advance of the Irish populace. When I called to place my order a couple of weeks ago, Dave the butcher heard my accent and right away stopped me with, "Thanksgiving, right?"

Somehow I like that. I like talking about Thanksgiving. I want people here to know about it. In fact, I think it would be great if Ireland took up the tradition.

Who doesn't need a day to take a time out from all the hustle and bustle? A day with no cards, no gifts, no nothing other than time? Time to reflect? What's not to like?

Me? I'll be picking up our turkey later this evening and the whole family will sit down to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow afternoon (after school – life's tough for some). My stomach and I can hardly wait.

Are you an American living in Ireland? Let us know how you celebrate the holiday in the Emerald Isle.

*Originally published in 2012.

Remembering JFK's legacy on the anniversary of his assassination

JFK was assassinated on this day, November 22, in 1963. 

Editor's note: On this day (November 22) in 1963, the United States and the world lost President John F. Kennedy in tragic fashion. Not only did the public lose its leader, but a family also lost their father, brother, and husband. 

On this, the 54th anniversary of his death, we look back at a video created by JFK's daughter Caroline and his grandchildren earlier this year to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth.  

President John F. Kennedy's Caroline admits she still misses her father every day in a video she presents alongside JFK’s grandchildren. The video was produced to mark JFk's  100th birthday on May 29.

Joined by her children, Rose Kennedy Schlossberg, 28, Tatiana Kennedy Schlossberg, 27, and John “Jack” Kennedy Schlossberg, 24, the 59-year-old Caroline speaks about her memories of being with her father in the White House before his tragic assassination in November 1963.

Read more: 5 things you might not know about John F Kennedy’s assassination

JFK just moments before his assassination on November 22, 1963.

“I’ve thought about him, and missed him, every day of my life,” said Caroline, the only living child of President Kennedy and his wife Jackie.

“Growing up without him was made easier by all the people who kept him in their hearts, who told me that he inspired them to work and fight and believe in a better world, to give something back to this country that has given so much to so many,” continued the former US Ambassador to Japan, who recently sparked rumors of having set her sights on a US Senate seat.

The attorney and diplomat also recalls lovely stories from the short years she had with her father: hiding beneath his desk in the Oval Office and having him play tricks on her while on vacation.

"As my father said in his inaugural address, 'This work will not be finished in our lifetime. It's up to us to continue to pass these values onto our children and grandchildren,'” she continues.

Read more: How is John F. Kennedy's 100th birthday being celebrated in the US?

JFK, the 35th President of the United States, was 46-years-old when he was assassinated in Dallas. He never met his grandchildren but as part of his centennial celebration, his descendants have spoken about the massive influence his legacy has played in their lives and how he inspires them.

"One of the defining relationships of my life is with someone I've never met, my grandfather, President John F. Kennedy," said Tatiana Kennedy Schlossberg.

"But while my grandfather had reverence for the past, and the lessons it could impart, he also knew that America was a country where change was possible. That we aren't bound solely by tradition if we understand the past with which we are breaking."

Tatiana’ older sister Rose, who bears a strong resemblance to her grandmother Jackie Kennedy, also speaks about how she feels inspired by her grandfather’s determination to change America.

"I hope everyone, regardless of age or party, will remember what President Kennedy told America, decades ago: This nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds,” Rose states.

“It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal and the rights of every man are diminished once the rights of one man are threatened.”

Read more: Caroline Kennedy does not rule out White House bid

The youngest grandchild of JFK, Jack Kennedy Schlossberg, follows his sisters, highlighting, in particular, how climate change is an issue he felt John F. Kennedy would take head on.

"My generation will inherit a complicated world, with countless, unsolved problems. Climate change is just one of them,” he said.

"He [JFK] recognized that only if America leads the world in solving global problems, can we make sure that it's done right.”

“As his family, we’re so proud of what my father stood for during his life and how powerful those values remain today,” Caroline Kennedy concludes.

Read more: Caroline Kennedy’s son looks exactly like JFK Jr.

The assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby.

“I hope that these reflections on President Kennedy’s life and his influence on those of us who share his legacy will encourage people across the United States to look at challenges in their own corner of the world and seek solutions that heal, lift up the forgotten, and make a difference in the lives of others.”

President Kennedy would have been 100 years old in May. Events were held all across America to mark that milestone and to celebrate JFK’s achievements. 

Would you like to see the next generation of Kennedy’s run for political office? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, below.

*Originally published in May 2017. 

Is the expression "Irish Thanksgiving" a racist, stereotypical, slur?

An Irish Thanksgiving in my house hold is certainly one filled with food, family, friends and tradition. 

Have you ever heard of an “Irish Thanksgiving”? Urban Dictionary defines the phrase as a 12-pack of Guinness to wash down a feast of Boston Market by yourself, in place of the more traditional turkey meal shared with family and friends.

I’m well versed in the typical Irish / Irish American Thanksgiving, which I’d imagine is nearly no different from the typical American Thanksgiving. I’m thankful to say that Boston Market isn’t involved, nor is Guinness, although Budweiser is never short in supply. The only thing making my family’s “Irish Thanksgiving” markedly Irish is my grandmother offering grace in Irish before we dig into our feast of turkey, potatoes, and turnips.

It’s no news that being Irish is stereotypically linked to having an affection for all things alcohol, making Urban Dictionary’s definition of the slang “Irish Thanksgiving” none too surprising. Urban Dictionary, mind you, offers slang-defined terms often mocking and offensive towards nationality, race, or gender.

Read more: Remembering the magic of Thanksgiving away from home in Dublin

Saying Grace in Irish is one of the only things different about our Irish Thanksgiving. Image: iStock.

What interests me, however, about Urban Dictionary’s definition is that by dubbing the inherently American holiday “Irish,” the definition removes the holiday’s element of time shared with family and friends, which to me remains a staple of the understanding of Irish people today – that of a family-oriented and welcoming people. Sure we’re always up for some craic in any shape or form, and Thanksgiving is a perfect opportunity.

Thanksgiving celebrated with my Irish / Irish-American family always means a house full of people - Irish and non-Irish - and food - Irish and non-Irish. I could never imagine either anyone being turned away from the celebrations, nor anyone opting to be alone with a 12-pack and fast-food for the holiday.

Irish-born seem to have taken to Thanksgiving like almost no other nationality I know of. Family friends of ours who’ve moved back to Ireland from America take the tradition along with them, inviting their Irish friends over for  feasts of turkey on Thanksgiving. “When we lived in Ireland, we celebrated Thanksgiving,” says Rory Gourley, who’s carried the traditionally American holiday between here and Tyrone.

Read more: A Bronx Irish Thanksgiving in days gone by

Our Irish Thanksgiving is none too different from the American version. Image: iStock.

The wonder of the uniquely American holiday of Thanksgiving is that it is nondiscriminatory and isn’t tied to any one religion or ethnicity. Further, it seems to have oddly escaped much of the commercial hoopla that is associated with other holidays, such as Christmas. Materialism isn’t really tied to Thanksgiving in America, but giving thanks with those you love is.

By dubbing Thanksgiving as “Irish” by associating it with isolation and alcohol, one removes all the realistic connotations of what a modern Irish Thanksgiving actually is. For Irish and Irish Americans like myself, Thanksgiving is indeed more about time shared with loved ones rather than the avoidance of family in favor for Guinness and Boston Market.

What do you think? What does your “Irish Thanksgiving” consist of? Let us know below.

* Originally published in 2011.

Irish Studio owner of Irish Central acquires six new publications

Irish Studio, owner of Irish Central, acquires Irish Tatler, Irish Tatler Man, U Magazine, FOOD&WINE Magazine, Auto Ireland and Ireland of the Welcomes from Norah Casey’s Harmonia

Irish Studio, a New York digital media company, is acquiring six of Ireland’s leading consumer magazine brands from Norah Casey’s Harmonia. Irish Studio will now be the new publisher of Irish Tatler, Irish Tatler Man, U Magazine, FOOD&WINE Magazine, Auto Ireland and Ireland of the Welcomes.

Irish Studio, which also owns and operates Irish Central, is led by owner and Executive Chairman Liam Lynch. As a venture capital investor and media executive, he has managed, acquired, started, or invested in over 25 private companies and mentored countless others.

Commenting on the deal, Norah Casey chair and owner of Harmonia said: “I’m looking forward to working closely with Liam and his team. This is an exciting development ensuring these iconic brands are moving to a company that will develop their digital presence and global reach.”

Norah Casey will continue to work on the previous brands as Chairwoman Emeritus. In addition, she will continue to own and manage Harmonia’s remaining brand, which includes the award winning weekly magazine, Woman’s Way, and Planet Women.

Mr. Lynch described the deal as “a major acquisition that realizes our strategy of rolling up established brands onto our digital platform.  These six brands, including Irish Tatler, are trusted brands that people love.  We will continue to loyally service our treasured print readers while also bringing these titles online to engage and entertain new audiences.”

Lynch added, “We stand on the shoulders of giants with Norah’s successful leadership of these iconic brands and Niall O’Dowd’s creation of the highly influential Irish Diaspora site, Irish Central.  We will honor those legacies as a key part of our mission to entertain and inform the Irish and Irish Diaspora communities around the world. We are delighted that Ciaran Casey will be joining us in an executive role to roll out the new strategy and particularly pleased that Norah will continue to stay closely involved with the business.”

Mike Rich, AOL and Bertelsmann digital media and entertainment veteran, serves as Irish Studio’s CEO. Mr. Rich noted, "It's an honor to have these iconic titles join our family. It further realizes our house of brands strategy, which allows us to super-serve and build on the highly engaged communities around these areas of great passion. It also enables our advertising and brand partners to reach these audiences in an effective and efficient manner across our Digital, Social, Mobile, Video and Experiential platforms."

About Harmonia:

A former Dragon, Norah Casey is a legendary Irish entrepreneur who created Harmonia and is a television and radio broadcaster and author.  Harmonia has been Ireland’s largest magazine publisher, printing almost 5 million magazines each year, hosting events, and creative communications.  Harmonia will retain Woman’s Way and Planet Women. 

About Irish Studio: 

Irish Studio was created by Liam Lynch, a New York-based venture capitalist* and media executive, and is supported by Irish American co-investors.  Mike Rich, media and entertainment veteran, serves as Irish Studio’s CEO.  Its mission is to provide premium storytelling and experiences through video, events, print, social, and digital platforms. 

In 2016, Irish Studio purchased Irish Central.  Irish Central, founded by Niall O’Dowd in 2009, is headquartered in New York City, with editorial and advertising representatives in Ireland.  Irish Central is at the center of major news announcements affecting the Irish community.  It provides political, current affairs, entertainment, and historical commentary to the Irish community throughout the world and has a proud history of social and community engagement.  Mr. O’Dowd has been an advocate for the global Irish community for over 30 years and currently serves as Irish Studio’s Vice Chairman.

Irish Central caters to 34 million Irish Americans and 70 million Irish diaspora and receives 3.5 million unique visitors per month.  It has a large and quickly growing social media following, including 610k Facebook followers, 35k Twitter followers, and 21k followers on Instagram.  The brands also enjoy a 500k newsletter subscriber list. 

Advisors on the transaction for Harmonia included Feargal Brennan and Niamh Rouse from Byrne Wallace.  Advisors for Irish Studio included Mark Flynn from Studio.VC, Philip Koutnik and Steven Laabs from Husch Blackwell and Ross Little from DWF.      

* Studio VC is venture capital fund that provides capital and operational support to transformative companies that have strong growth potential.  For more information, please visit www.studio.vc.

Copyright © 2017 Robbinsville Irish Heritage Association