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Last chance to enter to win a trip for two to Ireland!

Been dreaming about a trip to Ireland? We want to make that happen. March 31, 2017 is the last day to enter our Trip to Ireland Giveaway, which will give one lucky winner: 

  • A pair of round-trip tickets to Ireland
  • €500 voucher for IrelandHotels.com
  • Dinner for two at Rustic Stone, a Dublin restaurant from award-winning Irish chef Dylan McGrath

Click below to enter, and if you want to get started on planning your dream trip to Ireland, check our IrishCenral's Best of Ireland and Travel Tips sections. 

Good luck! 

Trip to Ireland contest

Why the Irish were both slaves and indentured servants in colonial America

There has been much controversy recently about whether the Irish transported in bondage to America and the West Indies during the Cromwellian era and later were slaves in the truest sense of the word.

A plethora of articles was  published around St. Patrick’s Day debunking the notion of the horrific Irish experience after transportation as slavery.

The controversy has arisen because some far-right groups have claimed that the experience of Irish slaves was interchangeable with (or even in some cases worse than) the experience of black slaves, and have used that as justification for an array of abhorrent racist statements and ideas.

To be clear, there is no way the Irish slave experience mirrored the extent or level of centuries-long degradation that African slaves went through.

But the Irish did suffer tremendously and there is a clear tendency to undermine that truth. Adults and children were torn from their homes, transported to the colonies in bondage against their will, and sold into a system of prolonged servitude.

Some would even call it slavery.

To say that as a bald fact has suddenly become very controversial.

The argument goes that the Irish were indentured servants and therefore could be set free at some point after they had worked like slaves literally for years.

But, as the following court case from 1661 shows, the terms of servitude were not always so cut and dry, with masters extending them at will, with full support of the court system and laws of the day.

What is especially interesting is that indentured servitude was said to be a contract between the servant and his master. However, in this case the contract was between the ship captain who captured the Irishmen and the family he sold them to.

Here is what the two young Irishmen stated. “what Agreement was made betweene Mr Symonds & ye Said master, was neuer Acted by our Consent or knowledge.”

This was not an indentured servant relationship then, in which case, what do you call it?”

The answer seems obvious.

The accounts of the two defendants, Irishmen William Downing and Philip Welch, are heartbreaking as they describe being captured, transported without consent, and forced to serve.  

If we accept that a slave is someone “who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them,” as does the Oxford Dictionary, then I say let’s call it what it was according to those who lived and reported it: slavery AND indentured servitude.

We cannot allow racist whites to delineate our history for us, nor politically correct thinking to ignore and deny that any Irish were ever slaves.

Let’s take a  look at this one case of the Irish experience in the 17th Century in Massachusetts which certainly looked an awful lot like slavery to me.

The Yale University Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery describes the case as “Law Case, Master Samuel Symonds against Irish slaves. William Downing and Philip Welch.” It was published in the Salem Quarterly Court. Salem, Massachusetts. June 25, 1661. Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, vol. II, 1656-1662. The Essex Institute: Salem, 1912.

The case involves two Irishmen, Will Downing (at times spelled Downeing) and Philip Welch, who after seven years of unpaid servitude told Symonds they would only keep working for him if he set them free and paid them for their work. Their master then had them arrested and took the matter to the courts. Symonds had purchased them from the British ship captain, George Dell (at times spelled Dill) who captured them and brought them to the Americas to sell them when they were 14 years old. How the young men were captured and sold makes grim reading. (To read the full case, click here.)

“John King deposed that he with divers others were stollen in Ireland, by some of ye English soldiers, in ye night out of theyr beds & brought to Mr Dills ship, where the boate lay ready to receaue them, & in the way as they went, some others they tooke with them against their Consents, & brought them aboard ye said ship, where there were divers others of their Country men, weeping and Crying, because they were stollen from theyr frends, they all declareing ye same & amongst ye rest were these two men, William Downeing & Philip Welch, and there they were kept, until upon a Lord’s day morning, ye Master sett saile, and left some of his water & vessells behind for hast, as I understood.” Sworn in court, 26.

The two Irishmen, by then 21 years of age, stated they had worked for seven years for no money and were the property of Mr. Symonds:

“Defence of William Downeing and Philip Welch: “We were brought out of or owne Country, contrary to our own wills & minds, & sold here unto Mr Symonds, by ye master of the Ship, Mr Dill, but what Agreement was made betweene Mr Symonds & ye Said master, was neuer Acted by our Consent or knowledge, yet notwithstanding we have endeavored to do him ye best service wee Could these seuen Compleat yeeres, which is 3 yeeres more then ye use to sell ym for at Barbadoes, wn they are stolen in England. And for our seruice, we haue noe Callings nor wages, but meat & Cloths. Now 7 yeares seruice being so much as ye practice of old England, & thought meet in this place, & wee being both aboue 21 years of age, We hope this honored Court & Jury will seriously Consider our Conditions."

The jury reported a special verdict, that if Mr. Dell’s covenant was according to law, then they find would find service due from defendants to plaintiff until May 10, 1663; if not, they would find for defendants. However, they judged the covenant to be valid, returning Downing and Welch into the possession of Symonds. Surprise surprise.

That was the Irish experience. We cheapen it because we are scared of it being taken over by white racists, but we cannot allow them to own our historic reality either.

And there is no reason why acknowledging what those two Irishmen and countless others experienced – torn away from their families, brought across the ocean, sold to the highest bidder, forced to work without wages, and refused their freedom – should mitigate one iota the monstrous experiences that Africans slaves went through.

History does not belong to any group or individual – it belongs to us all. How the Irish were treated in colonial America is a lesson we should never forget.

Antrim mourns husband who dropped dead at wife’s funeral

Tributes have been paid to an Antrim man who died suddenly at his wife’s funeral. James McAllister is reported to have fallen to the ground as his wife Kathleen was interned in her grave at St Mary’s Church in Cushendall on the north Antrim coast.

A doctor on hand tried to resuscitate him but his efforts were in vain.

A shocked Chairman of the Ruairí Óg, the local hurling club, told the Irish News, “It’s a terrible shock for us all. The family is steeped in hurling and Jimmy himself was a great supporter of the club, it’s in the blood, the DNA of the family. I worked for 16 or 17 years with Jimmy and he was a great character to work with. He was great company, a great raconteur, a great story teller.”

Although not common, so-called broken heart syndrome has been endorsed by a number of scientific studies. In Glasgow, doctors discovered from a study of 4,000 couples that the surviving spouse was 30% more likely to die of any cause in the si month following the death of their husband or wife. Another study in Jerusalem put the figure as high as 50%.

Read More: Heartbreak as depression claims another Boston Irishman

People who suffer from broken heart syndrome often suffer from potentially fatal chest pains due to the stress of bereavement the American Heart Association has warned. However it is usually treatable and sufferers are urged to contact their doctor.

H/T: The Irish Mirror/Mic Network

Calling all aspiring pro Irish dancers! Riverdance is auditioning (VIDEO)

Think you have what it takes to be the next Jean Butler? Dreamed of taking over as Lord of the Dance now that Michael Flatley has unlaced his dancing shoes for the final time? For the last 23 years, the world-acclaimed Riverdance has been seen as the pinnacle of Irish dance and now they are looking for the next batch of superstars to travel the world on their upcoming tour.

The show, which was first introduced to the world as the intermission act during the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, will hold auditions in Dublin in April, hoping to find the next heart-stoppingly talented dancers to take over the reins of the iconic Irish tradition.

The auditions are being held in Ireland’s capital city to coincide with the World Irish Dancing Championships where the best of the best will already be battling it out for the top spots. Taking place between April 12 and April 14, those contending in the Worlds, who are over 18 years of age, will be given the chance to audition for both the Riverdance and spin-off Heartbeat of Home tour before Riverdance begins its summer stint in the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin on June 21. With both shows set to tour internationally this year, there is sure to be a strong demand for world-class Irish dancers.  

After taking the world by storm as a half-time act in ‘94, the Riverdance brand has traveled to over 465 venues in six continents, while it has reached a global TV audience of 3 billion. Over 1,500 dancers have already been employed by the Irish dance phenomenon, making use of some 14,000 dance shoes, 12,000 costumes, 200,000 gallons of water, and 60,000 gallons of Gatorade.

Read more: Amazing facts about the Irish dance phenomenon "Riverdance"

Having already performed to over 30 million people worldwide in well over 11,000 performances, the Riverdance crew will set themselves up in the Red Cow Moran Hotel to find the dancers to take them through the next 30 million.

If you’re interested in auditioning for Riverdance and are over 18 years of age, you can apply here before being contacted by a member of the team. Dancers who attend auditions without having previously registered will not be seen.

Online MA in Gaelic Literature available from University College Cork

The Online MA in Gaelic Literature is a unique and affordable postgraduate degree focusing on all aspects of Gaelic literary culture, from early to modern times. It is taught by experts in the Department of Modern Irish, University College Cork. It is currently taken by students from their own homes in all parts of the world.

At a cost of $7,622 (€7,000) for non-EU students, the course may be taken full-time in one year, or part-time over two years. All lectures and reading materials are provided online. As registered students of University College Cork (Sunday Times University of the Year 2016-17, and a constituent college of the National University of Ireland), those who take this course enjoy access to all the electronic facilities of the renowned George Boole Library.

The Online MA in Gaelic Literature is delivered entirely through English, and no previous acquaintance with Irish or with Scottish Gaelic is required. Applications will be considered from graduates of all disciplines, who will normally have an honours primary degree (equivalent to a cumulative GPA of 3.2).

The course consists of modules on Gaelic literature from earliest times to the present day. Emphasis is placed on continuity and divergence in manuscript traditions and in language development. Monastic books and texts are discussed in the context of the introduction of Christianity and the durability of myth and saga. The development of the poetic voice is explored as found expressed in the common Gaelic heartland shared by Ireland and Scotland. The international aspect of Gaelic literature is one of great variety and is dealt with in a dedicated module. Modules on the connection between language and landscape, and on important the role of women in poetry and song, highlight the diversity of Gaelic literature. There is also an optional module on Irish for beginners, which introduces the spoken language to those who would like to explore one of the Gaelic languages.

Read more: University College Cork wins best Irish university for second year in a row

From all over the world, this course attracts students who wish to avail of the opportunity to take a high-quality postgraduate degree, accredited by a leading and long-established Irish university, without having to leave their homes. Pre-recorded lectures mean that students can learn in their own time and space, and this flexibility is complemented by the important feature of interaction with fellow students through online discussion groups. The module discussions are monitored by lecturers, who are always available to answer questions and address issues that are raised.

Online MA in Gaelic Literature.

University College Cork was established beside the monastic lands of a settlement founded by St Finbar in the late 6th century. The University therefore represents a continuous history of education and scholarship extending over fourteen centuries. This deep sense of tradition informs a commitment to sharing knowledge and expertise with a world audience, and it is in furtherance of this commitment that the Online MA in Gaelic Literature is offered. Drawing from the living traditions of the Irish-speaking areas in the hinterland of the University, and on the unparalleled expertise of the community of scholars who deliver the course, the Online MA in Gaelic Literature is a unique high-end qualification in the culture of a society that has survived for millennia on the western edge of Europe and that has contributed significantly to world literature.

Here are some testimonials from current students:

‘I'm really enjoying the course and the course materials. It's exactly what I wanted to study.’ (Siobain, Italy)

‘For people with . . . reduced abilities, I would call this program very accessible.’ (Johanna, California)

‘I'm enjoying the course immensely and am finding it fascinating, stimulating and hugely enjoyable. The discussion boards and online delivery are working very well and I'm finding the interaction with my fellow students hugely beneficial.’ (Barry, Leeds, UK)

‘No one else offers a programme like this online. UCC offering this programme has allowed me finally to pursue a decade-old dream and to make that dream a reality . . . It is a fantastic course, of which I am proud to be a part’ (Falicia, Florida)

For further information please contact Professor Pádraig Ó Macháin (p.omachain@ucc.ie), or visit www.ucc.ie/en/modern-irish/postgraduate/ma-gaelic-literature.

Create customized maps of Ireland - from ancient history to vacation planning

Would you love to explore the pilgrim paths of Ireland, the burial grounds, bat landscapes, maritime collections and/or walled towns? Now you can do all of this online from your phone, tablet or personal computer before you even begin your vacation in Ireland.

A new site, HeritageMaps.ie allows you to find museums, archaeological sites and little-known national monuments in your area of interest. Its system allows you to look at a wide range of built and natural heritage datasets in map form, many of which have never been accessible to the public before.

Speaking about the launch of this new and imaginative viewer the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys, said, “The Government’s recently launched Creative Ireland Programme commits us to building a legacy of 2016 around our cultural heritage and encourages us all to play a part in placing our rich cultural heritage, and its potential, at the center of our lives. This new online tool will help people to do just that, by providing new ways to access information on their local heritage.

“Heritagemaps.ie should appeal to a wide audience and will be of use to people of all ages, from heritage enthusiasts, to school children and professional planners. It’s great to see a variety of agencies working together with the Heritage Council to produce this very useful online tool which will make accessing heritage information easier than ever before.”

Logo for HeritageMaps.ie.

The viewer was originally created as a planning tool for local authorities at county level. It presented collected and collated data from local authorities, state agencies and government departments in order to better inform professional planners and planning decisions.

The viewers’ potential for the education, research and tourism sectors soon became very apparent and the Heritage Ireland undertook a redesign of the viewer to make it more user-friendly and instinctual to use. It is hoped that the viewer will become widely used as a means of discovering and exploring both well-known and unrealized elements of Ireland's extremely rich natural, cultural and built heritage.

The site has something for everyone’s exploration of Ireland – from coastal vegetation surveys to mountain geology, and from prehistoric monuments to the latest satellite images.

A screengrab of some of the data available for Kerry.

HeritageMaps.ie contains over 600 datasets displayed in map-form, containing up to 150,000 individual points of interest. It has detailed species and habitat data; information on all the museums, archives and collections on the island; in-depth archaeological and architectural records; quirky and interesting local maps on mills and kilns, mines and bridges, follies and railways, towers and castles, and the list goes on.

The viewer also brings heritage alive for a much more technologically savvy younger generation, something which the recent Creative Ireland Programme talks about – "enabling the creative potential of every child." The viewer is constantly being updated and added to and its launch now could not be more timely in helping communities, the length and breadth of Ireland, to realize the potential offered by investing in initiatives that will encourage heritage-led regeneration.”

Some datasets available for Monaghan on HeritageMaps.ie.

Explaining how the platform works, Pat Reid of HeritageMaps.ie said, “The viewer builds up national coverage of heritage datasets from local authority sources as well as using existing national datasets. It uses web services to access live data where possible, increasing data reliability. Users can also create cross-disciplinary views from hundreds of datasets – crossing over administrative boundaries, subject boundaries, and the land-sea boundary.”

HeritageMaps.ie has been developed by the Heritage Council, working over the past 18 months with local authorities, the National Biodiversity Data Centre, the Discovery Programme and Compass Informatics.

Read more: Have you seen the first known map of Ireland from 140AD?

Starting today, you can now renew your Irish passport online

Irish adults can renew their passports online from now on. Today, the Online Passport Application Service (OPAS) is live on the Department of Foreign Affairs website and is available to applicants over the age of 18 not applying for their very first passport.

Previously, only postal applications were accepted and this remains the case for children and first-time applicants.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said the reform, "aims to deliver a more efficient, integrated and citizen-focused passport service with an increased emphasis on fraud detection and prevention measures to maintain the integrity of the Irish passport."

The innovative new service come at a time of rising demand for Irish passports. After Britain’s impending exit from the European Union, thousands of British citizens have rushed to maintain EU citizenship.

This demand has generated delays and irritation from Irish people trying to renew - as oppose to obtain - a passport.

Read more: Britain officially serves the EU with divorce papers

Figures from last year reveal that 740,000 passports were issued by December of last year and, of those, 65,136 were from Northern Irish applicants and a further 59,377 from Great Britain.

Anyone born on the island of Ireland prior to 2005 has automatic Irish citizenship. Anyone with an Irish-born parent is similarly automatically an Irish citizen. Furthermore, anyone with an Irish grandparent is entitled to claim Irish citizenship and a large number of the new applicants fall into that final category.

In addition, a large number of Northern Irish applicants were first-time applicants – meaning they had previously used British passports.

It all made for a “very busy and challenging year for the passport office” in the words of Irish government minister Flanagan.

H/T: Journal.ie/The Irish News

Mayo town celebrates slain Irish Vietnam War hero on 50th anniversary of his death

They will be gathering in Ballyhaunis County Mayo to remember Patrick “Bob” Gallagher, a hometown hero whose life was ended in Vietnam exactly fifty years ago today.

Gallagher was about to depart Vietnam and the war when his life ended on what would have been his last patrol.

But March 30, 1967 would be his last day of life.

His hometown is holding Patrick Gallagher Memorial Day today in memory of the Navy Cross and Purple Heart recipient.

Representatives of the United States military, specifically the Marine Corps, and the Irish Defence Forces, will take part in the day’s events which will begin with a Memorial Mass.

The Mass and ceremonies, according to a release, will also honor Christopher Nevin and Brian Óg Freyne, who also died in Vietnam, and Ballyhaunis native Billy Keadin, who was killed while serving with the Irish United Nations peacekeeping force in the Lebanon.

An exhibition on Gallagher’s life will be opened as part of the day’s ceremonies.

The anniversary commemoration will come against the backdrop of a petition drive aimed at having Gallagher’s name affixed to a U.S. Navy destroyer.

The goal is to have 10,000 signatures by the end of 2017, said Martin Durkan, who hails from Mayo, though is now a resident of California.

The petition requests that the Secretary of the Navy consider naming a destroyer in Gallagher’s honor.

Gallagher, from Derintogher, Ballyhaunis, won the Navy Cross for heroism in Vietnam, but was shot dead while on Patrol in Da Nangon what would have been his final day “in country.”

He was 23 years of age.

The petition effort has been led by Martin Durkan, and Dallas, Texas-based Dublin native, Marius Donnelly.

“Patrick was one of at least 31 Irish citizens, mostly green card holders, who died during the Vietnam War,” said Durkan.

“Should the USS Patrick Gallagher sail, then it will sail for all 31,” he said.

More on Patrick “Bob” Gallagher and the campaign to have a ship named after him at www.patrickgallagherusmc.info

 

Julie Sinnamon: The accidental glass ceiling shatterer

Julie Sinnamon has been the CEO of Enterprise Ireland for over 3 years. She was the first woman to climb to the top position in the governmental agency supporting indigenous Irish companies. In this interview with Niamh Bushnell, Dublin Commissioner for Startups, Julie traces her career as a public servant, from attracting multinationals to Ireland to what grew into a passion for nurturing and supporting born and bred Irish companies.

Tell us about your journey with Enterprise Ireland and its different iterations.
I’m from County Down originally and studied at Ulster University. I came to Dublin to work on my thesis. One of the things that struck me about Dublin was the number of US multinational companies that were here. It was a contrast to the lean times for foreign direct investment (FDI) in Northern Ireland. I decided to do my thesis on FDIs and why they chose the Republic over Northern Ireland. I contacted the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) and worked with them on it. After I had graduated, I was working for Trinity Bank when one day someone from the IDA approached me to join them. I did it because of that interest I had in FDIs. Funnily, it was during my time there that I got more interested in the Irish indigenous companies. In 1994, IDA was split into an indigenous agency and an FDI agency. I was very keen to stay with the indigenous side and joined what first became Forbairt and then Enterprise Ireland.

What did you find while writing your thesis, why were companies choosing the Republic over Northern Ireland?
One of the things was tax. Another was talent. Northern Ireland was going through a tough time with the Troubles. Most people who looked at the Republic of Ireland never considered Northern Ireland. The risk was too high. The ones who did move to Northern Ireland found the risk acceptable. Tax and talent were big factors in 1981, just as they are today. Serendipity also played a role. There was always a family connection with Ireland. The quality of life was a big part of it as well. Many people think it’s one thing – the tax. It was not back then, and it is not now.

Tell us about your transformation, getting more interested in the indigenous side?
My family in the north had a business, and I was always actively interested in it. When I was in the IDA, I experienced a similar sensation each time I worked with entrepreneurs who were at a similar stage. They came to us with an idea, we worked with them, and saw them grow into trading international companies. It was fantastic. Nowadays, I travel on trade missions with Irish companies and see the belief their customers have in their products; I experience that same buzz. What people do not realise is that these founders are heroes starting their companies in towns and villages all around the country. People like John Power from Aerogen, a company that provides nebulisers for people in developing countries, and Dr. Nora Khaldi, the founder of Nuritas. She was recently awarded Woman of the Decade at the Women Economic Forum. One thing I am particularly proud of is that in 2016 we supported 63 female-led high-potential startups. In 2011, it was seven. Starting up seems a lot more viable for women when they see others doing it too. 

Is that how you felt about building your career in EI? I guess there wasn’t a huge number of females at the top of the totem pole.
When I joined, my direct boss was female. She’s someone who has played a crucial role for me and is still a mentor. She has gone on to inspire lots of other females. But other than that there were no women divisional managers, directors, or a CEO: it certainly was a male dominated organisation.

Did you feel like you were breaking some kind of glass ceiling when you came up the ranks or did it feel natural?
I went for jobs that I wanted to do. I was doing them because I wanted them as opposed to thinking I want to do it because there should be more females doing it. I was quite oblivious to the gender issues early on. When I got the CEO job, it was the first time a woman had that role and it was a big deal. We’re more tuned into the subject today, and there still is a long way to go. But this is about more than just equality. To fix this country and maximise its potential, we need to use all the talent we’ve got.

Why did you want the CEO role?
In the ten years before I got it, I worked closely with Frank Ryan (the former CEO), so I had a good idea what the role involved. One of the questions I had going forward for it was whether I wanted it. That is typical for women and goes back to confidence. I thought, “Well, I spend so much time telling other women they should put their name forward, that I have to do it myself too.” Having the opportunity to work and influence the whole enterprise agenda for Irish companies was something which I thought was a great challenge. It has been a privilege to be able to do it.

What has surprised you about the role and what were some of the lessons that you’ve learned along the way?
Interestingly, the aspect of the role that I thought I wouldn’t enjoy, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. That was the external piece. Going out and about, hearing and influencing people, and using every opportunity to move forward the agenda for EI’s clients. I was pushed outside of my comfort zone, which I believe is important. It’s how I discovered what I like, which was an important lesson.

You’ve been in the organisation for a couple of decades. What has changed and what excites you about what’s going on in the Irish industry?
The number of really successful entrepreneurs who started up, may have sold out, and have come back bigger and better, has grown. The confidence this cycle brings has also grown. It’s not about numbers; it’s about the growth in the ambition of the people who are coming through and the confidence that they can do it. We have a part to play by exposing Irish entrepreneurs to the best entrepreneurs in the world and helping them realise these are just normal people, with equal capabilities. We have made the journey a lot less scary by showing them that.

In my role as Commissioner, I’m always asking companies to wave the Irish flag. At the same time, I get that companies want to position themselves as global. What are your thoughts on taking ownership of the Irish identity?
I always say to our companies that people do not buy your products because you’re Irish and nice. People do like the Irish, and they like doing business with likable people. We travel very well. But people want solutions to their problems. It’s important that Irish companies not only have the innovation and the products that solve the problems but that they can also get the value proposition across to the customer. Why it is of relevance to them and why they need it. The pitch is key.

Which is your favorite EI program?
Leadership 4 Growth. I have seen its impact on ambition. People spend a few weeks together, nurturing a strong bond. All CEOs get lonely and having peers that they can talk to is incredible. The Leadership 4 Growth program has given people the skills to deliver on the ambition, and it has given them a sense of community. To me, there’s no other development agency globally who has a program like it. We can see a strong correlation between the leadership developing and the accelerated growth of the companies. Our International Selling Programme has helped people formulate their value proposition. Selling is not just about the gift of the gab; it is a science to maximise sales, establish a pipeline, and follow up on it to make sure that the interest translates into a contract.

Enterprise Ireland is becoming more known as an investor of international scale. Why is that important?
When we started investing capital in startups as opposed to giving grants, we did it on the basis that we’re taking risks with these companies, and should try to make some return. That grew, and we are currently the third biggest investor globally. We do about 230 deals a year.  One of the things that we didn’t realise when we decided to take equity in companies was the benefit for the companies as they hit international markets. It was giving them a stamp: the Irish government is one of the shareholders in the company. That gave credibility to young startups.

A number of companies sing the praises of Enterprise Ireland for the R&D grants that you give. Is that a big part of what you do?
It’s a big part, and it should be bigger, especially at the current times. Many companies that have spent money on R&D and have highly innovative products have been able to command price increases as currencies have gone against them in the UK. Innovation is important, and R&D support can help companies spend more on innovation and be more innovative than they might otherwise be. One of the surprises to me is that companies don’t approach us as often to get the R&D grants. We recently looked at the correlation between companies that have withstood the downturns better. It’s those who have been supported with R&D.

What is the future of the indigenous economy?
We are getting to a critical mass in the early stage technology companies that we didn’t have ten years ago. One of the sectors where we could be really good is MedTech and Life Sciences, an area where we already have a cluster of strong companies, with great IP. We have a very active angel network investing in the space. The food sector is another. 55% of exports of Enterprise Ireland clients are in food. One in seven babies in China is fed with Irish milk formula. It is a phenomenal success that most people don’t even know about, and it’s because of the unique mix of green agriculture, the sustainability agenda, and excellent science. One of the real challenges for us is to get those stories out there. Another great success is Movidius – a great story and a great role model for ours to look at and take comfort from. It helps us realise that if we have a leading edge technology, we can extract great value from it as long as we hang in there and keep focused.

Tell us about the value EI brings to international people?
We’ve 32 offices around the world, so we have our antennae around the world and see what’s happening in the marketplace. Locally, we see what is going on at the end of research since we are heavily involved with Technology Centers in all the key sectors in Ireland. We connect the people with markets and technology, thus shortening the journey for anybody outside Ireland coming in and tapping into what we have going on. I often hear from people in other countries saying, “Why can’t we have an Enterprise Ireland for our country?” It confirms the value we bring.

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This interview appears courtesy of the Dublin Globe. To read more stories from Dublin's start-up ecosystem, visit their website here. 

NYC St. Patrick's’ Day Parade and affiliates still at odds

The 2017 New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade has come and gone, but the behind the scenes disagreements over the management of the march continue.   Last week the parade’s board of directors led by chairman Dr. John Lahey once again issued an offer of four board seats to the leaders of the AOH, Ladies AOH, United Irish Counties and the Grand Council of United Emerald Societies to ensure both greater representation of the parade’s affiliated organizations, and compliance with New York State mandates for non-profit groups.

The parade board issued a statement re-iterating its position that those serving in leadership roles on sub-committees have always been members of the board proper.  The board’s Parade and Celebration Committee, elected by the 180 affiliate groups in November of 2015, is not led by any board members and as such has not played an active part in organizing the last two parades.  

That committee was formerly led for decades by John Dunleavy, whose role in parade management was downgraded after a June 2015 board meeting. Dunleavy launched a lawsuit against Lahey later in 2015 alleging all actions of the board since that meeting have been illegal.  The lawsuit is still awaiting action in Bronx Supreme Court by Judge Robert Johnson.

The board latest statement said, “The New York City St. Patrick’s Day Board of Directors is made up of dedicated volunteers who have spent 20 years or more working on the Parade.  The board has worked over the last two years to bring its practices into compliance with the highest and best practices recommended for non-profit organizations, subject to oversight by government officials.

“Among those best practices is that board members serve as chair and vice-chair of all committees.  This was the practice for at least 20 years with the Parade and Celebration Committee, where board member John Dunleavy served as chair and Board member John Lahey served as vice chair.

“In addition, about 200 dedicated volunteers work every year on the parade, giving many hours to the planning, preparation, and execution of this event.  Without these selfless volunteers, the oldest and largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world would not be possible.  The board looks to this pool of volunteers when it enlists new members.”

The board’s statement went on to say that two years ago “three individuals presented themselves and said they should head the Parade and Celebration Committee.   These individuals are not board members and no one recalls that they ever worked as volunteers on the parade.”  Those referenced by the board are John Tully, the chairman of the committee; Dennis Grogan, president of the New York County AOH Board; and John Manning, state treasurer of the New York State AOH.

The board said its offer of four seats, first made in April of last year, still stands. Should the offer be accepted, “From this expanded board, a chair and vice chair of the Parade and Celebration Committee can be named and a committee of board members and non-board members can be formed,” the board’s statement said.

“This proposal addresses the wishes of the affiliated organizations for increased representation; keeps the Board of Directors in compliance with highest and best practices; continues the long tradition of naming board members as chair and vice chair of board committees.”

Denis McCarthy, the corresponding secretary for the Parade and Celebration Committee, says the committee will not agree to what they call a “divide and conquer” proposal offered by the board.

In an email exchange with the Irish Voice, McCarthy said, “Instead of seizing the opportunity to heal and unite the Irish community in a spirit of collaboration, Chairman Lahey and his Napoleon agents continue to proselytize a policy of division and authoritarianism.  It’s a terrible shame the leadership fails to recognize their ploy of divide and conquer has been rejected by ALL umbrella organizations: the UICA, LAOH, Emeralds and AOH.

“The Irish American community and the 180 affiliated organizations have repeatedly spoken – that they want the legally elected officers of the Parade and Celebration Committee to run the parade according to the parade’s bylaws – as well as these officers to represent them in the governance of this 256-year legacy.

“It’s time for Lahey to recognize that the Bylaws were constructed almost 25 years ago – to prevent this abusive attempt to consolidate power away from the true owners of the parade, the 180 Strong.”

The committee also issued an open letter to the Archdiocese of New York and the Irish American community earlier this month which said in part, “This parade also represents the shared egalitarian spirit of our Irish ancestors; forefathers and foremothers who united to form Irish organizations and societies to help one another in charitable need, to promote unity, goodwill, and assistance among the Irish-American people.

“So it is absolutely necessary that the Board of Directors of the St. Patrick’s Day parade act within their authority as ‘stewards’ rather than authoritative owners of a parade that does not belong to them – and restore the parade to its rightful owners!

“It is time the St. Patrick’s parade board leadership restore the democratic voice and vote of the affiliated organizations, represented by the democratic election of the Parade Committee, and in so doing; restore the egalitarian spirit and grassroots foundation of our parade’s affiliations, who the board has always claimed are ‘the very heart and soul of the St. Patrick’s Day parade!”

Read more: Stop dyeing Chicago river green for Paddy’s Day demand environmentalists

Bill Donohue says unnamed “Galway orphan” exonerates Tuam nuns

This week an “anonymous orphan from Galway” has sent a “sober and well-researched article” to the Catholic League’s energetic enragé Bill Donohue that “debunks many myths about Irish nuns.”

Timely! But a government-commissioned study recently found “significant quantities” of the human remains of infants on the site of the former Mother and Baby home in Tuam, just as local historian Catherine Corless had suggested they would, so exactly what “myths” is Donohue referring to?

The real scandal, according to his unnamed Irish orphan, is the “fake and sensational” media, who feed the public a steady diet of anti-Catholic news. It’s not the 796 dead infants buried in an unmarked grave.

In the scattershot, free-associating “defense” that Donohue published without sufficient reflection this week, it’s hard to decide which is more offensive, the content or the tone.

The Ireland of the Tuam Mother and Baby home, which finally closed in the early 1960’s, was a place where, according to this unnamed former orphan, “There were no antibiotics, no electricity… let alone running water, and for many the only mode of transport, if they were lucky, was a donkey and cart.”

Gates and plaque at the burial gound at Tuam, County Galway.

By the sounds of this, Ireland would have given the Old Testament Jerusalem a run for its money. No wonder so many infants died without a proper burial.

But this stone-age portrayal would have come as a terrific surprise to my grandmother’s generation, who lived during the Mother and Baby homes period in their own homes with running water and electric light, driving their own cars, as many around them did likewise. I wonder what she would have thought of this John Hinde retro “donkey and cart” portrait?

“The Bishops (built) the local schools, churches and clinics, building a Catholic infrastructure for a Catholic Nation consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” writes the unnamed orphan, their tone indicating they are unlikely to consider how Catholic dogma contributed to the stigmatizing of these generations of unmarried mothers.

Citing national child mortality statistics from recent years to defend against the shocking numbers who died in just one year at one Mother and Baby home, this former Orphan wonders why nothing is being said about these more recent deaths, even though he/she is citing annual CSO figures that instantly contradict his/her claims.

Read more: Let's remember their names: The 796 infants and children who died in the Tuam home

This tactic is called bait and switch; also known as don’t look at that, look at this. It is odd to see the principled defenders of a worldwide faith resort to it. The real aim of all of these studies and commentators is to bash the Catholic Church and pave the way for greater access to abortion, the writer claims.

And perhaps it was all the mother's fault, Donohue’s unnamed commentator continues.

“Perhaps was there more to the behavior of their daughters who may have been uncontrollable, wild, even loose women, we don’t know. We can only assume by today’s standards that if a young girl got pregnant and she came from a good family that her family might support her. But even by today’s standards if the young women were wild and uncontrollable and came home expecting a baby she too would be expelled from the family…”

So there you have it, loose, wild and uncontrollable young women had no one to blame but themselves. Which is exactly the kind of thinking they would have encountered from the religious orders of the period.

Women working in a Magdalene Laundry.

Donohue’s unnamed orphan sounds like he/she would have been more suited to running one of these institutions than being raised in one.

Critics are already suggesting that Donohue wrote the latter himself in a bizarre act of Norman Bates style ventriloquism, but Irish observers doubt that, saying there’s no difficulty finding elderly reactionaries to write poison pen missives in defense of the indefensible in Ireland.

Concluding by blasting young women “who get pregnant after living immoral lives” it is clear that Donohue’s orphan would more likely have condemned his own mother.

Read more: What you should know about mother and baby homes in Ireland

Jimmy Breslin, a king of journalists, joins the ranks of the immortals

Earlier this month, the literary gods that decide these things sent me a message from the great beyond and said it was high time I finally read, front cover to back cover, Pietro di Donato’s 1939 novel Christ in Concrete.  (What, you think we only read Irish stuff around here?)

This raw New York story is about an Italian immigrant laborer working under such unsafe conditions that he is literally drowned in concrete, following a building collapse.

If this sounds a bit heavy on the symbolism and, thus, a tad unrealistic, that’s understandable.  But it’s actually happened to di Donato’s own father, who (like the victim in the story) was an immigrant named Geremio.  It’s also what happened exactly 60 years later, in Brooklyn, to a 21-year-old Mexican immigrant named Eduardo Gutierrez.

Like di Donato before him, legendary New York newspaperman Jimmy Breslin, who died earlier this month at the age of 88, transformed this horror into literature, in his epic, unsettling 2002 book The Short Sweet Dream of Eduardo Gutierrez.

When Breslin died, there were so many things to remember about him.  His humble Queens upbringing.  His decision to interview John F. Kennedy’s grave-digger following the president’s assassination.  His correspondence with “Son of Sam” killer David Berkowitz.  His hard-hitting columns on corruption in New York City that won him a Pulitzer.

There were so many famous Breslin stories to recount that some simply got left out.

One such story is that of Gutierrez, which would have been little more than a few small headlines in the newspapers if Breslin had not suck his teeth into his story and transformed it into a cautionary tale of the glory and horror of the American immigrant experience.

Breslin explored the shoddy construction practices that spurred the Brooklyn boom that shows no signs of stopping, that lined many pockets, and that led to Gutierrez’s death.

Breslin traveled to the central Mexican town of San Matias Cuatchatyotla, where Gutierrez was born to a 15-year-old mother, and a father who was -- sadly but fittingly -- a brick seller.  These immigrants, Breslin notes, “come north with a faith that seems as deep and strict as that of the Irish.”

Finally, Breslin shone a bright light on the dark underbelly of the Rudy Giuliani years in New York, making The Short Sweet Dream of Eduardo Gutierrez one of those Dickensian books that help you understand the vast forces that make a city actually function.

Jimmy Breslin.

At one point in the book, Breslin writes of the streams of immigrants who once came to America “from Magilligan in Northern Ireland, from Cobh in southern Ireland, from Liverpool and Naples and Palermo and Odessa.”

So imagine one of those ships, from Cobh, say.  And it arrives in New York, say, in 1900, and among its passengers is an Irish immigrant named Morrison who settles in Manhattan, before his son moves out to Queens, and his grandson, by the late 1960s, ends up fighting a war in a place called Vietnam.

That could very well be the back story for another criminally underappreciated Breslin work, the novel Table Money.

By 1970, Vietnam vet Owney Morrison is back in Queens with his wife, a Congressional Medal of Honor, and job alongside his father working as a “sandhog.”

So much of this turf has been covered by others, and been slathered in stereotypes and sentiment. And while Table Money may not be a perfect book, it is easily among the best explorations of the small towns that ring the great cities of the world. These neighborhoods are populated by deeply unromantic people who just happen to make the country go.

Table Money is both excruciatingly tough and unexpectedly tender.  Like its author, it can seem crass and cranky.  It, too, helps you understand how a city -- how the world -- works.

A vast cemetery abuts the Morrison home in Table Money.   Breslin has joined these Queens dead. 

But with Table Money, with The Short Sweet Dream of Eduardo Gutierrez, with all those wonderful columns, Breslin long ago joined the ranks of the immortal.

Read more: Jimmy Breslin passes -- the prince of New York City

Was Martin McGuinness a freedom fighter or terrorist?

“Martin McGuinness was NOT a terrorist. Martin McGuinness was a freedom fighter."  Gerry Adams, his voice shaking with anger and emotion, defiantly insisted on the difference in his oration at the graveside of McGuinness in Derry last week as the former IRA leader and deputy first minister was laid to rest.   

Adams' anger no doubt was prompted by media coverage which had referred to McGuinness as a "former terrorist."   The timing of last week's terrorist attack in London was unfortunate for Sinn Fein.  It happened the day before the McGuinness funeral, making the comparison inevitable.       

The death of McGuinness naturally led to assessments of his entire career, not just the later part when he was in non-violent, political mode.  The earlier part of that career was replayed in detail on TV and in newspapers last week in all its gruesome horror.  

With pictures of the aftermath of IRA bombings in Britain and the carnage of the wider IRA campaign over the years, with all its innocent victims, how could the attack on Westminster be called terrorism, but not what McGuinness had directed?    

McGuinness in the military garb of the IRA.

Most of the media last week acknowledged McGuinness' key contribution to the achievement of peace in Northern Ireland, but still the "former terrorist" label was applied to him frequently.   Which is what led to Adams’ angry rebuttal in the graveside oration: “Martin McGuinness was NOT a terrorist. Martin McGuinness was a freedom fighter."   

So where is the truth? The realpolitik determination in political circles to "move on" from the past and make the peace settlement in the North work has meant that for some time now McGuinness' Chuckle Brother persona has become the dominant image of him. But this glosses over the appalling things that were done to so many innocent people under his leadership of the IRA.  

Part of this effort by the British and Irish governments to keep the peace settlement in place has meant avoiding terms like terrorist or terrorism whenever the IRA is mentioned.  That has implied a degree of acceptance of the Sinn Fein/IRA narrative of a "struggle" waged by "freedom fighters.” 

Calling either Adams or McGuinness "former terrorists" is not seen as helpful.  But is it accurate?    

The usual definition of terrorism is the use of indiscriminate violence against ordinary people to instill fear and thereby force through a political aim.  By any yardstick, that is what much of the IRA campaign in Britain -- when either Adams or McGuinness were on the IRA Army Council -- was doing.  And on that basis it is accurate to label McGuinness a former terrorist (and Adams as well).  

The massive car bombs in London, the pub blasts in Guildford and Birmingham, the litter bin bombs in a shopping street in Warrington that killed two boys -- these can only be categorized as terrorism, since the targets were civilian, not military.  

Giving warnings by phone, which were frequently inadequate or inaccurate, did not change this.  The IRA were gambling -- and frequently losing -- with ordinary people's lives, creating terror with the aim of pressurizing the British government.   

Of course the campaign in Britain was only part of the terror story.  Equally horrific acts were carried out by the IRA in the North -- the knee cappings, punishment beatings and murders that were done to keep their own side in line. And the execution of so many ordinary people on the loyalist side -- postmen, farmers in isolated areas on the border, etc. -- to instill fear and destabilize society.

It's hard to describe this in any way other than terrorism.  On McGuinness' watch, the IRA were not just killing policemen or soldiers. They were killing ordinary people going about their everyday lives. The IRA killed hundreds of civilians rather than members of the security forces. 

One incident that most people remember with revulsion was the La Mon hotel bombing on a night in February, 1978.  The hotel near Belfast was packed with people at a dinner dance when the IRA set off a hidden bomb attached to cans of petrol, killing 12 and leaving many more with very severe burns.  The IRA later said they had tried to give an early warning but the public phone nearby had been vandalized.  

Any link with the British no matter how remote was seen as justification for grotesque acts.  There are many examples, but let us remember one, Patrick Gillespie, a Catholic man who worked in the kitchen at an army base in Derry at a time when jobs were scarce.

While his wife and kids were being held hostage, he was forced to become a "proxy bomber," driving a van laden with explosives up to an army checkpoint.  As he arrived the bomb was detonated remotely by the IRA who were following behind, killing him and five soldiers.   This operation in 1990, one of several "proxy bombs,” was run by the IRA in Derry, which was controlled by McGuinness.     

One could go on and on with this, with examples of what can only be called terrorism carried out under the direction of McGuinness.  One poignant one that sticks in the mind was the cold blooded murder in 1981 of Joanne Mathers, a young mother who was collecting census forms in a housing estate in Derry.  As she stood on the doorstep of one house she was shot in the neck by an IRA gunman who grabbed the forms from her hands -- the IRA opposed the census.

Again, this was done on McGuinness' turf and while he was in charge.  And over the three decades that the IRA fought their campaign there were many such terrorist murders, some of them in the south. 

An old photo of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

The high profile example that everyone remembers was the killing of Mountbatten, the Queen's cousin, when his small fishing boat was blown up off the Sligo coast in 1979 by an IRA bomb detonated remotely from a nearby cliff. This action, authorized by McGuinness, made world headlines.  Less remembered is that three other people on board also died in the blast, one of them a 15-year-old boy who was working on the boat.     

Whether incidents of this kind mean that the IRA were terrorists is at least open to debate.  The evidence is compelling in many of their actions.  But apart from that, it is doubtful whether the term "freedom fighter,” as used by Adams last week, is in any way appropriate.  

No matter how bad the unionist regime was in the 1960s -- and it stank -- what was at stake was equality, voting rights, job opportunities, access to housing, etc. for the Catholic/Nationalist people in the North. It was particularly bad in Derry, where McGuinness grew up.  

But oppressive though it was, no one was being banned from bathrooms or being lynched.  The comparisons with blacks in the southern states in the U.S. or the apartheid regime in South Africa are overblown.   

It is arguable that the civil rights campaign in the North, despite the violence of the loyalist mobs, could have led to a satisfactory outcome within a few years.  Certainly the British government was waking up to the reform that was needed.   And it is worth remembering that the British Army, which had been deployed initially to the North to protect Catholics and was welcomed by them, could have played a decisive role in that.  

Instead the IRA started to shoot at the troops, mainly because they could see that this scenario threatened their goal of a united Ireland.   

What was needed was a power-sharing settlement to bring equality in the North, which was offered in the Sunningdale Agreement in 1974, more than 20 years before the Good Friday Agreement did much the same and Sinn Fein/IRA decided it was acceptable. 

Sunningdale was undermined by the other Chuckle Brother Ian Paisley and his mobs, but the IRA also continued its campaign of violence at the time.  By then the IRA aim was no longer just to "defend Catholic areas" but to force a complete British withdrawal from the North.  

This was never going to be achievable because of the unionist presence -- and it is worth remembering that the 

loyalist population have been in the North as long as the pilgrims in the U.S. Driving a million of them back to Britain or forcing them into a united Ireland 300 years later was never a realistic option.  

The real heroes from that miserable time were those who took the more difficult non-violent path, people like John Hume, Seamus Mallon and so on. It's easy now to forget that the vast majority of people north and south (including the majority of Catholics/nationalists in the North) did not support the IRA campaign.  So whether you can call McGuinness or the IRA "freedom fighters" when they were not supported by the majority of people in Ireland is doubtful.    

Over the years the IRA campaign descended into what one writer last week called "nihilistic barbarism." Eventually, two decades too late, the realization dawned on McGuinness and Adams that their "war" was unwinnable, not least because the IRA by then was riddled with informers and the situation had reached stalemate.  So they switched to non-violence and politics.  

This was a pragmatic decision rather than a moral conversion, something that is clear from the absolute refusal of McGuinness or the rest of the IRA to ever admit that their actions were wrong and to apologize.  

On the contrary, McGuinness liked to turn up at welcome home parties for the worst IRA killers when they were released from jail, as he did when the Mountbatten bomber was released in 1998.  

The late conversion of McGuinness to non-violence and the political path was welcome when it came.  And to be fair to him, once the decision was made he worked tirelessly to make the peace agreement work.  He deserves credit for that.  

However, the virtual canonization we saw last week at his funeral -- with Bill Clinton doing his folksy thing -- was badly misguided.  It was an exercise in reshaping a bloody history that has left so many innocent victims in its wake, with so many families still grieving and suffering.   

The horrible disease that took Martin McGuinness so quickly no doubt intensified the emotion and the misplaced nostalgia on the day for the lost Chuckle Brother.  But we should all remember that he was Saint Martin de Provos, not Saint Martin de Porres.

Read more: Why Martin McGuinness will be remembered for hundreds of years to come

Oklahoma monks open one of first Catholic monasteries in Ireland since 1536

An Oklahoma Catholic Benedictine community has opened what may be the first monastery to open in Ireland since 1536.

The religious community in the priory has been steadily growing since 2012 and prior Dom Mark Kirby told the National Catholic Register “hardly a day passes when I do not receive a vocational inquiry."

The story of the monastery’s establishment in Ireland begins with Dom Mark himself, who, akin to Ireland’s patron Saint Patrick, felt he was drawn towards the promotion of the Church in Ireland.

He tells of how a prayer came to him during a layover in Dublin airport in 2005 when he found himself saying, “Lord, let me do something for the Church in Ireland.”

He placed that thought aside for a while, but when he met with Irish people at a conference in Rome in 2011 they invited him to Ireland to establish a Benedictine community that they felt would be of benefit to the country.

“The invitation to consider Ireland touched me deeply, because, for several years, I had felt a growing desire to respond to the needs of the Church in Ireland with a humble love,” Dom Mark said.

Dom Mark began his mission in Ireland with the monastery’s other founder Dom Benedict, but their community is now four times as large. The community is young too, particularly in today's Church – all but one of the monks is under 36 years of age.

The community is based in the Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, Co. Meath. Bishop Michael Smith of the Diocese of Meath presided at the canonical establishment of the new monastery in late February 2017, an official start to the ambitious plans of the Benedictines in a country still shaken by the latest revelations in the Mother and Baby Home scandal earlier this year.

Inside Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, Co. Meath.

Members of the US Benedictine community hope to change this, however, and bring about a revival. They have opened the first Catholic monastery in the Diocese of Meath since all monasteries in Ireland were suppressed by King Henry VIII in 1536.

Last month the monks had their constitution and canonical norms approved by the Holy See. Bishop Smith signed a decree “erecting the Benedictine Monks of Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar as a monastic Institute of Consecrated Life of diocesan right in the Diocese of Meath.”

The monastery is believed to have a particular focus on the Divine Office and Eucharistic adoration meaning it will have more of a focus on contemplative prayer over apostolic work.

Once known as the “Land of Saints and Scholars” Ireland’s rich tradition of monastic life reaches far back into the mid-centuries of the first millennium, shortly after Patrick's revival. Monasteries flourished in the early Irish Christian Church. The number of ruins of abbeys and round towers across Ireland is a testament to their influence on Irish history.

Following the dissolution and suppression of monasteries by English King Henry VIII, his successor Elizabeth I and later Oliver Cromwell, the 400 religious houses in Ireland that existed in 1530 had all but disappeared by the end of the 17th century. They never regained the strength they once had.

Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly: Ireland as "The Land of Saints and Scholars" is still evident throughout the country.

“The history of religious life has seen many developments over the centuries, and I am delighted to recognize the unique presence of this new monastery in the Diocese of Meath. Through their prayer, study and hospitality, the monks are ‘speaking to the heart,’ and their quiet witness is a reminder that the Lord continues to provide the Church with new gifts and grace,” Bishop Smith said during the mass.

Read more: Ireland’s most famous pilgrimage sites (PHOTOS)

Here's a short clip from the RTE show "Today with Maura & Dáithí":

Meet the monks of Silverstream Priory from Silverstream Priory on Vimeo.

“Since our arrival at Silverstream in 2012, our Benedictine community has grown steadily, from two to eight members. Two more men, both in their 20s, will enter the novitiate later this spring,” said Dom Mark.

“Our goal is to implant traditional Benedictine life at Silverstream,” he continues.

“This means a close adhesion to the letter and spirit of the Rule [of St. Benedict] and a commitment to the traditional forms of the sacred liturgy in Latin and Gregorian chant.”

While some may question the worth of prayer behind monastery walls instead of other work in the community, Dom Mark believes their mission to be one that’s good for Ireland.

“People often ask me, ‘What good are monks, silent and enclosed behind walls, when so much cries out to be done in our troubled world?’” he said.

“We monks, by remaining faithful to our daily round of liturgical prayer – seven times a day and once in the night – provide the Church, the Body of Christ, with the regular heartbeat of the Divine Office.

“The Church, if she is to be a healthy organism, needs a regular heartbeat. Without the prayer of monks, the Church would suffer from a kind of spiritual cardiac arrhythmia and, over time, slip into a critical lethargy,” he states, declaring that “in us monks, the Church has her heart.”

“So long as there a monks in their choir stalls, manfully singing the praises of God by day and by night, and monks in adoration before the altar where the living Christ is truly present in the sacrament of his love, the Church will be forever young, forever alive and equipped to continue her mission into generations to come,” the prior added.

The monks currently in residence in Silverstream have come from all over the world and have even attracted some converts to Catholicism. Unlike other monasteries, the monks are not completely shut off from the outside world, however, and even use technology to keep in touch with what's going on, sending out newsletters through their website and utilizing the internet in helping them raise funds for a new oratory for their ever growing numbers.

H/T: CatholicBishops.ie

Adele’s “Hello” sung as Gaeilge is just stunning (VIDEO)

The Irish language students from Coláiste Lurgan, in Galway, have done it again with their cover version of Adele’s “Hello” as Gaelige (in Irish). The video, featuring lead singer Shannon Bryan accompanied by a great cast of fellow students, was posted last week and has gone viral with close to 500k views on YouTube.

Students attending the Gaeltacht school at Coláiste Lurgan have made brilliant covers of songs such as Avicii’s “Wake Me Up”, Sia’s “Chandelier”, Hozier’s “Someone New”, as well as tunes by Ed Sheeran and Wiz Khalifa.

These Irish language students are really grabbing the public’s attention and later this month their new TV show will be starting on TG4, the national Irish language TV channel. The show, “Lurgan Beo,” kicks off on September 31. They also have another cover, a version of “Cake By The Ocean” which will go live this Friday. Hardest working students in Ireland, this lot!

Is it just us or has the Gaeltacht changed since our day!

Check out this fun video for their cover of “Cheerleader" by OMI, which has racked up 1,245,993 views:

The lovely folks from Colaiste Lurgan even provided the lyrics to “Hello” as Gaelige in case you want to sing along.

Hello, tú ann?
Mé smaoineamh théis na mblianta
Ar mhaith leat casadh liom?
Le ghoil siar ar chuile shórt 
Deir siad go gcneasódh am mo phiansa 
Ach, táimse fós ag fulaingt

Hello, gcloiseann tú mé? 
Tá mé síoraí breathnú siar ar an gcaoi mbíodh rudaí linn
‘S muid chomh hóg agus saor
gCuimhin leat an gliondar sular thit an domhan mórthimpeall orainn?
Muid ‘nois chomh difriúil oná chéile
Is ait an mac an saol 

Hello dhuit ag tíocht anall
Ó dheoraí grá atá faoi smál
Ag iarra’ tharla a chuir ina cheart 
Ná habair riamh go bhfuil ar ngrá thart 

Hello dhuit ón taobh thall 
Na bí chomh fuar mar níl aon chall 
Admháim mo chionnta 
Ba ormsa an locht
Nach féidir tosú ón tús ‘ríst anocht

Le do thoil

Hello, ce chaoi bhfuil?
Gach rud coinní’ ‘stigh rófhada
Tá sé seo chomh deacair
In am bogadh ar aghaidh
Scaoil uait a tharla ná breathnaigh siar 
Is fág i bhfad taobh thiar dhúinn
Ní haon rún é nach bhfuil ceachtar a’ainn i dTír na nÓg.

* Originally published in September 2016.

Why is Wicklow named the Garden County? (VIDEO)

Co. Wicklow on Ireland’s southeast coast may not be along the Wild Atlantic Way but it’s a sure reminder of why you shouldn’t forget the rest of the country to explore the west coast. Known as the Garden County, from its mountains to its beautiful beaches, Wicklow is a magical place to visit and is just a short train or car journey from the capital city Dublin.

With outstanding natural beauty, from the world renowned Mount Usher to Powerscourt Gardens - voted third best garden in the world by National Geographic - Wicklow easily earns its nickname, with its temperate climate providing an unrivalled variety of trees, plants, and shrubs throughout the county’s various planted gardens while the natural landscape provides a garden of its own.

This garden of Ireland was beautifully captured recently in drone footage from Skycam who took footage from across the county and compiled it into this utterly majestic collection of clips from the glens, pinnacles and sandy shores of one of the best tourist spots in the country.

Opening with an incredible shot of an endless abundance of green standing on either side of a peaceful river, the video moves from the snowy peaks of the Wicklow Mountains to sweep across the waterfalls and lazy fields towards the incoming tide of the Irish Sea.

Also showing off some of the county's beautiful historic building from castles to round towers, if this doesn’t make you want to book flights to Wicklow instantly we don’t know what will.

Read more: The top five tourist attractions in County Wicklow

From homeless and pregnant at 15 to Trinity College lecturer

Katriona O’Sullivan was only 15 when birth to her son, John. As if becoming a mother for the first time wasn’t enough of a challenge O’Sullivan was also homeless.

After the Dublin woman told her parents she was expecting found herself homeless. She moved in with her boyfriend in the English city of Birmingham and it was there she gave birth to John.

“I was suddenly pregnant, homeless and squatting with my boyfriend," she told the Irish Independent. "Because I was still a child, I was placed in a hostel for young mothers when I was about five months pregnant."

But her years in England were cut short after she reconciled with her parents. She moved back to Dublin and split from John’s father.

"I got a flat, rent allowance. This was 1996. I felt stunted, deprived of opportunity. There was nowhere to go," she recalled.

However her life as a single mother took an extraordinary twist when she met another young woman one day.

"She told me she was studying law at Trinity [College, Dublin] on the Trinity Access Programme (TAP). She had the same background as me, very disadvantaged," Katriona said.

It was a life changing moment.

"I didn't believe her. I asked where did she get into Trinity and that minute I marched straight over to the access programme and said 'what do I have to do to get in here?'.

"People don't realize young women who've been through hard times have learned to fight."

O’Sullivan gained a place on Trinity’s undergraduate psychology course and juggled parenthood with her studies. After graduating with a first class degree Trinity awarded her a scholarship to study for a PhD and the department kept her on as a lecturer after she graduated again.

Now married, O’Sullivan is a research fellow at Trinity and with two more children. Her oldest son John is a soccer player in England - playing for Blackburn Rovers and soon to move to Carlisle United.

And O’Sullivan isn’t even the first single mother to achieve big things after applying to the Trinity Access Programme.

Senator Lynn Ruane also gave birth at 15 before attending Trinity, making national news after she became President of the college’s Student Union and then going on to be elected to represent Trinity in the Irish Senate last year.

Read more: Seven secret spots you missed at Trinity College Dublin

Stop dyeing Chicago river green for Paddy’s Day demand environmentalists

A Chicago environmentalist group believes it is high time to put an end to the St. Patrick’s Day tradition of dyeing the Chicago River green. It's been a St Patrick's Day tradition for more than 50 years now, but the nonprofit Friends of the Chicago River feel that dyeing the river may be ruining the reputation of the river as a healthy environment and preventing further progress in its improvement.

Speaking to Loop North News, Margaret Frisbie, Executive Director of the 6,000-member voluntary group, explained that the river is currently the healthiest it has been in over 150 years. She believes that turning river a shade of radioactive green each year, however, may lead people to believe that the water is as polluted as it once was and prevent any further development in the river as a safe and healthy area.

“We’re getting to the point where, perhaps, dying the river green is not the best way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day,” said Frisbie, “because we believe that it makes people think that the Chicago River is not as healthy as it actually is.”

First started in 1962, before any kind of permit would have been required by authorities in order to place chemical substances into a body of water such as this, Frisbie states that it is unknown what harm the dye could be causing to the environment as the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers, Local 130, who mix in the vegetable dye each year, have never revealed its exact composition.

“Everyone says it’s a secret recipe,” said Frisbie. “We’ve never seen a permit for what they put in the river. The way that the rules work is that Illinois [Environmental Protection Agency] is required to give a permit to anybody who discharges into the river – anything. And so, they should have a permit that would mean the Illinois EPA has tested and looked into what is in the dye. And if they haven’t done that, then the Illinois EPA is not doing their job.”

The tradition has been overseen by the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers since its inception and they do not believe the 45 pounds of vegetable-based dye has any detrimental or polluting effects on the river and its environment.

Nearly 400,000 people line the Chicago River during the city’s St. Patrick’s Day river-dyeing each year, watching two boats and their teams sift the orange powder into the river sparking the green effect that can last up to a few days, depending on the weather.

The river was also dyed blue last November to celebrate the Cubs World Series championship. The Friends of the Chicago River disagreed with that too.

“We were thrilled that the Cubs won, but it’s a terrible precedent to set, that you can dye the river...for whatever occasion suits you,” Frisbie continued.

Friends of the Chicago River have acknowledged, however, that it is not a pressing concern of theirs to put a stop to the river-dyeing but rather one they hope will receive more attention as the river’s health continues to improve. They do hope to put an end to the practice completely at some point in the future.  

The group's aim, since its founding in 1979, is to make the Chicago River one of the world’s greatest metropolitan rivers in the world and to improve the health of the Chicago River system for the benefit of people, plants, and animals.

The river contains 70 species of fish and plants, is used by canoeists and kayakers and there is talk of people swimming in the river someday soon. The environmentalist group wish to address the issue of the river dying in the near future to eradicate any issues that may prevent this from taking place or would delay the development and improvement process.

“We need to rethink how we use it,” Frisbie stated.

“You think about the comparison of ... the Mississippi River, a wild and scenic river – nobody would ever let them dye it green.

“Maybe it goes out with a big hurrah one day where this is it, we’re done, the river is alive, and let’s celebrate a new way – and giant green shamrocks made of food coloring and ice melt away into the river rather than a comedy of color – an amusement park theme as opposed to a natural resource.”

How do you feel about the St. Patrick’s Day tradition in Chicago that turns the river green? Should we be doing more to protect the natural environment or is it a harmless act that should be let continue? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

H/T: Curbed.com

New Jersey junk justice as Christie walks after Irish aides found guilty in Bridgegate

The Bridgegate affair is the biggest corruption scandal to hit New Jersey in decades, which is saying something in the state known for such shenanigans. Today Christie's Irish aides, Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni (Irish-born but adopted by an Irish-Italian couple out of Ireland and still an Irish citizen) were sentenced; Baroni for 24 months, Kelly for 18 months. 

Christie was in Washington in his new role as czar of the effort to wean addicts off painkilling drugs. 

He should have been in the dock.

His aides deserved prison time, but so definitely did Christie.

From September 9 through September 13, 2013, two of the three traffic lanes in Fort Lee normally open to access the George Washington Bridge and New York City were closed on orders from a senior Christie aide and a Christie administration appointee. The lane closures in the morning rush hour resulted in massive traffic backups on the local streets for five days endangering lives.

If you believe that Governor Chris Christie did not know about the lane closings in Fort Lee that led to dreadful traffic jams and first responders prevented from reaching victims then I will sell you the George Washington Bridge where the lane closings took place.

Don't take my word for it. During the Republican primary for president, Donald Trump accused Christie of knowing about it and participating in a cover-up.

Christie is known as notoriously hands-on with a vengeful streak which no doubt he had his minions act on when the Mayor of Fort Lee refused to endorse him in his re-election race in 2013.

It was revenge against that Democratic mayor Mark Sokolich for refusing to endorse Christie in his runaway re-election that led to horrific scenes on the Fort Lee exit from the GW bridge as ambulances, school buses and commuters snarled up traffic for hours for what the defendants claimed was an experiment in traffic flow. An elderly woman died when help could not reach her.

Instead of putting Christie in charge of a drug program Trump needs to tell Christie “You’re fired.”

Don't feel sorry for Kelly, a mother of four, or Baroni.  What they did was despicable but it only gets stranger by the day that Christie was not in the dock with them.  The other character in the sordid mess is David Wildstein who turned in the state’s evidence against them. 

Read More: "Bridgetgate" - Bridget Anne Kelly, the aide at the center of the Christe storm 

Wildstein was known as a dirty operator, even in the jungle of New Jersey politics, so turning informer was no problem to him.

It was Kelly, prompted by Wildstein and with Baroni’s knowledge, who began the revenge reaction against Mayor Sokoloski. "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” she emailed Wildstein in December 2013.  Wildstein responded to Kelly's e-mail: "Got it." 

In a text message the next day, Wildstein told Kelly about a text from Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich in which he complained about the traffic jam and said, "The bigger problem is getting kids to school. Please help. It's maddening." Kelly replied, "Is it wrong that I'm smiling?"

Baroni stonewalled all the media inquiries said it was a traffic management exercise even though the jury clearly felt he knew exactly what it was.

 Baroni and Kelly say Christie knew about the scheme and there is even a picture of him laughing heartily at what Baroni claims was information he gave him about the traffic jams before taking part in a 9/11 ceremony.

Kelly’s defense attorney Michael Critchley had no doubts Christie knew.

They want that mother of four to take the fall for them,” he said, at the time of Kelly's trial referring to Christie. “Cowards!” Critchley shouted. “Cowards!”

Christie made a “political calculation” to say he didn’t have know­ledge of the traffic scheme, Critchley said.

“He lied about it why? Motive. Because it would affect his presidential campaign. Because at that time, he’s still hot,” Critchley said. “He wants no blips. He wants no stains. How does he avoid blips? How does he avoid stains? By saying ‘I didn’t know about it.’

NorthJersey.com reported Kelly’s former colleague and ex-congressman Bill Pascrell as saying “The young lady did not just wake up one morning when you see the emails, she didn’t just wake up one morning and decide let’s screw up the traffic in Fort Lee.”

Baroni, who went to Ireland to fight for passage of the gay right to marriage referendum is a member of Ancient Order of Hibernians Msgr. Crean Division and he serves on the Board of Trustees for Visitation Home, a Catholic shared-residence for New Jersey residents with developmental disabilities.

He and Kelly go behind bars but the real culprit behind Bridgegate strolls into the White House and emerge with a new job. Jersey junk justice at its worst. 

Britain officially serves the EU with divorce papers

Nine months after the British public narrowly voted to leave the European Union in a referendum the divorce proceedings have officially begun.

Last night British Prime Minister Theresa May wrote a letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk invoking Article 50 - the clause in the Lisbon Treaty that begins a two-year process of negotiation until a member state leaves the European Union.

The letter, delivered this morning by the UK Representative to the EU, marks a step into the unknown for both Britain and the remaining 27 EU members states as no country since Greenland has ever left the union.

Apart from Britain itself, Ireland has the most of any country at stake in the negotiations. Britain is Ireland’s largest trading partner and the issue of the border between north and south is of particular concern for the Irish Government.

In her letter triggering Article 50 May wrote, "We must pay attention to the UK’s unique relationship with the Republic of Ireland and the importance of the peace process in Northern Ireland… and to make sure that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU does not harm the Republic of Ireland.

Under EU law goods and people may move freely across the union with minimal checks. However, the British Government has made it clear it intends to leave the EU’s Customs Union that mandates common standards in goods and trade as continued membership would prevent Britain from signing new free trade agreements with countries like the US and its allies in the Commonwealth like Australia and New Zealand.

Britain remains committed to the Common Travel Area (CTA) of 1923 that gave British and Irish citizens the right to live and work in each others countries - meaning Irish and British people will still be able to cross the border without a having to show their passport or obtain a visa - so the big sticking point is the movement of goods across the border.

In January, May committed herself to the pursuit of a "seamless, frictionless border" between Northern Ireland and the Republic. While much of what Britain wants from the EU looks set to be disputed that there should be no return to a “hard border” looks to be one area of common agreement between all parties. How in practice it will work will have to be hammered out in detail over the coming weeks and months.

Another important issue the Irish Government is looking to have dealt with is what would happen in the event of Irish unity. Whilst a referendum on reunification has been ruled out by the British Government - for the time being - Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny wants the agreement to clarify that Northern Ireland would automatically rejoin the EU were a united Ireland to happen. Since the Good Friday Agreement the British Government has accepted that Northern Ireland may one day vote to join a united Ireland and this week David Davis, Britain’s Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, made clear that such a clause would not be a problem for London.

Sinn Féin has called for Northern Ireland to be given special status designated status within the European Union on account of its vote to stay in last year’s referendum. The province voted by 56% to 44% to remain although results varied wildly across different local areas with majority nationalist areas voting to stay in and most unionist areas opting to leave. The staunchly republican area of Belfast West recorded one of the UK’s strongest remain votes of 74.1%, albeit on the lowest turnout with only 48.9% bothering to cast their ballots. Foyle, which covers the city of Derry, also went heavily for remain, with 78.3% opting to stay in. Conversely North Antrim, for decades represented by Ian Paisley, voted strongly for Brexit with 62.2% in favor of quitting the bloc.  

However, not all politicians in Northern Ireland were angry. Nigel Dodds, the Democratic Unionist Party’s leader in the British Parliament and a staunch advocate of Britain’s exit, congratulated May on her actions.

"The Prime Minister has rightly been emphasizing her determination to deliver for all constituent parts of the United Kingdom on this historic day,” he told a packed House of Commons. "And whilst others are content to moan and whine we want to see that delivery happen and we are confident she will make that happen."

The recent collapse of power-sharing in Northern Ireland means the province’s affairs will be on London’s agenda for some time, with a return to direct rule a real possibility.  

With the clock now ticking towards Britain’s departure - two years from today, one of the many incendiary issues to be settled is how much the split will cost. European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker has said Britain will be billed somewhere in the region of $62 billion for projects it has already committed to. The amount is disputed by the British Government, with Brexit Secretary David Davis insisting that there had been “no explanation” for such a figure and that he didn’t think “we’re going to be seeing that sort of money change hands.’’

However, the question of money has the potential to derail the entire process with the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier warning that Britain “must settle the accounts” before anything else.

Were talks to break down completely and Britain to leave in two years with no agreement then a hard border with between Northern Ireland and the Republic would be the likely result. In addition to economically disastrous tariffs on Ireland’s exports to Britain.

The British Government has said it does not expect such an eventuality to take place but May warned in January she would be prepared to walk away from a deal that sought to punish Britain for leaving the bloc. “No deal,” she warned, is better than a “bad deal for Britain”.

No deal would likely mean a funding crisis for the EU too, as Britain currently contributes more money to the bloc than any other country except Germany and France.

Such an eventuality remains the Irish Government’s nightmare scenario and civil servants in Dublin are likely to be drawing up contingency plans just in case.

Going forward the British Government insists it is confident it can secure a “new, comprehensive, bold and ambitious free trade agreement” but speaking today May accepted that “there will be consequences” for ending Britain’s 44-year-old commitment to the European project.

Among the most politically difficult of issues will be the issue of immigration. One of the chief aggravations for British voters in the run-up to the referendum last year was that the EU gave all of its citizens the right to live and work in Britain without the need for a visa. May has pledged to restore “controls of our borders” and wants a return to a system of visas and work permits - with Irish citizens exempted. Such a goal is likely to prove highly contentious in Brussels as freedom of movement is a treasured principle of the European project and unlikely to be given up without a fight.

She also faces a likely constitutional crisis at home. This week the Scottish Parliament formally voted to ask London for the power to hold a second referendum on independence. Scotland voted by a comfortable 10 point margin against independence in a referendum in September 2014 but voted by a much larger margin of 62% to 38% to remain in the European Union - albeit on a turnout some 17% lower.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was one of the pro-independence campaign’s most high-profile champions and her Scottish National Party has always hoped one day to overturn the result.

In the aftermath of the vote to leave last year Sturgeon said a second referendum was “highly likely” but her announcement last week flies in the face of opposition from voters.

Polling since the announcement suggests Scottish voters seem to have wearied of constitutional debate and - despite their strong vote to remain in the EU - support for independence has waned since 2014 with strong opposition to a second referendum. One poll even found May with a higher approval rating than Sturgeon in Scotland, suggesting the First Minister had overplayed her hand.

May has fobbed off the request by insisting “now is not the time”. The power to grant a legally binding referendum lies with the British Parliament and the response provoked outrage from Scottish nationalists.

Now May must also play a game of constitutional cat and mouse with the Scottish First Minister, just as Britain enters the most important period of negotiation since the end of the Second World War.  

H/T: The BBC/The Belfast Telegraph/The Guardian/The Independent/The Daily Telegraph

Best Irish pub in every state in the United States

There’s no greater institution in Ireland than a trip to the pub, and our knack for creating a perfect little cosy haven where you can have a good catch-up with friends or a bit of craic with strangers has spread to fine drinking establishments all over the world.

There’s something very special about an Irish bar and the very best ones make you feel right at home the second you step through the door for the first time, but there are those that manage that fine balance of good food, a good pint of Guinness, friendly service and slightly old-fashioned decor a touch better than others.

The US is home to a wide variety of Irish pubs, but if you’re looking for the best Irish pub experience away from home, where are the best ones to frequent?

Buzzfeed had the very smart idea to ask review engine Yelp, for the inside scoop on their site’s most highly rated Irish pubs in each state, resulting in a comprehensive list of the very best Irish across the US, according to the people who’ve been there.

If your favorite place wasn’t chosen, let us know what makes it so special in the comments section, below.

Now, we’ll be traveling slowly through them all just to make sure!

Read more: Study reveals that living near a pub makes you happier

1. Alabama - Lucky Irish Pub & Grill, Mobile.

Image: Lucky's Irish Bar / Facebook.

Describing itself as “a local hangout with food worthy of a road trip,” the food at Lucky’s, including their $5 Irish nachos, has certainly earned itself some rave reviews on Yelp.

“Awesome burgers, beyond any burger I have had in many years. Got the Hickory 1/2 lb burger. For 6:00 on Sunday service was awesome too. Friendly atmosphere, big screens all over. Will definitely be going to see the live music very soon.”

“Great service, neat atmosphere, but the food ... Damn it's good. Chefs were featured on local morning talk show.”

2. Alaska - Lucky Lady Pub, Juneau

Image: Nelson G. Paguyo / Facebook.

Now owned by a 25-year patron, Mark Ericson, Lucky Lady Pub was purchased as the Pamaray Club by Mary Joyce in the 1970s and renamed because Mary considered herself a very lucky lady.

A “laid back dark local's bar with TV's, pool table, friendly vibe,” say the reviewers.

3. Arizona - Tim Finnegan’s Irish Restaurant & Pub, Phoenix

With some nice themed options such as the Killarney chicken and, of course, Irish favorites such as corned beef and cabbage and garlic/curry chips, the food at Tim Finnegan’s makes people very excited: “NOT YOUR TYPICAL MEDIOCRE BAR FOOD! DELICIOUS BEYOND BELIEF!

“Seemed like the longest traveling day ever and we found this gem. I ordered the corned beef and cabbage and thought I died and went to heaven. Some of the greatest mashed potatoes ever.”

4. Arkansas - Cregeen's Irish Pub, North Little Rock

Cregeen's Irish Pub / Facebook

Cregeen’s (meaning little rock in Irish) was apparently built in Dublin and shipped to Arkansas so you know it’s authentic!

“Always my first stop when I get off the plane. Nice, chill place. Great bartenders and a nice menu. I really love this section of Little Rock.”

5. California - The Shamrock Irish Pub & Eatery, Murrieta

Now it feels like Independence weekend. QUEL BORDEL getting the party started! It's a kicking Friday!

Posted by The Shamrock - Irish Pub & Eatery on Dé hAoine, 3 Iúil 2015

Opened in December 2012 by Dubliner Graham Judge and Mancunian Paul Little, The Shamrock has quickly seen off competition with authentic Irish culture and charm, hand painted murals, a solid oak bar and genuine memorabilia straight from Ireland.

They are also involved in Get Shamrocked, the biggest 2-day Irish Music Festival in Southern California featuring 15 amazing bands.

“The food is great; the whiskey beer burger with beer batter bacon MUST be tried if only once (pick your own outrageous explicative ).”

6. Colorado - Jack Quinn's, Colorado Springs

Opened in 1998, Jack Quinn's has become a social hub in Colorado Springs, featuring music and entertainment as well as good food all days of the week, even hosting a running club on Tuesday nights. 

"On a night of bar-hopping through downtown Colorado Springs, we rolled into Jack Quinn's with small-stage entertainment in full-swing thanks a jovial gent leading small packs of tourists in sing-a-longs," said one reviewer.

"It was fun times too after he pulled our group up and led us in belting out Irish tunes like 'I Useta Lover' and 'The Irish Rover' for a tip well-earned."

7. Connecticut - Inishmor Pub, Colchester

The Inishmore / Facebook

Named after Inis Mór in Galway, the owners traveled through Ireland in their 20s and sought to bring some of the atmosphere experienced back home with them.

“In my opinion, the best place in town for an all around night out experience. From drinks at the bar t authentic and unique Irish food, this place accomplishes all.”

“Great beer selection...Guinness served to perfection.... Shepherd's Pie- Should Never be Taken Off the Menu! My Go To Place, at least once per week....You Will Enjoy!”

8. Delaware - Sheridan’s Irish Pub, Smyrna

Matt T. / Yelp

Claiming to be Delaware's only authentic traditional Irish restaurant and bar, Sheridan’s is owned by two Co. Dublin blow-ins.

“Every time I've gone, the service is fast and friendly, and the food is excellent.”

“Delicious Irish Pub! Went there with a friend, excellent service and good food, including dishes we had not seen at other Irish restaurants.”

9. Florida - Celtic Ray Irish Pub, Punta Gorda

Stacy C. / Yelp

“This is for real! Owner a hoot! Best jokes! Great food, be sure to check out the fish and chips. Great beer selection. But most of all, I forgot how beautiful Irish gals are! The best smiles in the planet.”

“I will tell you hands down this Pub takes me back to Ireland! hands down the best atmosphere and great staff. The décor is identical to pubs in Ireland.”

10. Georgia - Shenanigan’s, Dahlonega

Shenanigans Irsh Pub - Dahlonega / Facebook

“Outstanding service, beer, and food at very reasonable prices. The Sausage Dip appetizer is awesome. You won't be disappointed.”

“This is a delightful traditional Irish restaurant. The food was served hot and had obviously been prepared with care. The friendly and happy servers made this a great dining experience.”

11. Hawaii - Murphy’s Bar & Grill, Honolulu

Michael S. / Yelp

Originally the Royal Hawaiian Saloon, owner Don Murphy has brought a taste of the homeland to this waterfront spot.

“OK - great pub with very good food - why five stars - SERVICE is off the charts.”

“Honestly the best Irish Pub food I've ever had. The ambiance of this place is enough for me to come here regularly.”

12. Idaho - MickDuff’s Brewing Company, Sandpoint

MickDuff's Brewing Co. / Facebook

Owned by brothers Mickey and Duffy Mahoney, the pair opened the brewing company because of their own fondness for hand-crafted beer.

“I kid you not, it was the best burger I've had in roughly 13 years. I told my buddies that I was in love with my burger.”

“This place is the best. Every damn Sunday. Definitely upscale pub style grub. Loving it.”

13. Illinois - Mollie’s Public House, Riverside

Mollie's Public House / Facebook

"Come in if you're good looking," the favorite phrase of the owner’s Grandmother Mollie (Flynn) Carroll from Westmeath.

“What a hidden gem!!! First and foremost, I absolutely loved this place, wow!”

“Let me just tell you it was a great time! Food was amazing and the Bartenders did a great job making sure everyone always had a cocktail and were there if we needed anything.”

14. Indiana - O’Bryan’s Nine Irish Brothers, West Lafayette

Qinwen Z. / Yelp

“Awesome atmosphere, theme, decorations and live Irish music. Lots of little areas to make it intimate. Servers were on top of their game. And the food....everything we ordered was phenomenal. Highly recommend.”

“The tap is also top notch. Wish I'd have gotten a Guinness because it looked creamy and perfect.”

15. Iowa, Dublin Bay Irish Pub & Grill, Ames

Patrick T. / Yelp

Describing itself as the perfect overgrown “family room” where members of the neighborhood meet, Dublin Bay Irish Pub offers the perfect Irish fare.

“The best place in ames!!! Great service great management! ! They have the best patio in town!!”

“It's amazing that this place could be considered a "hidden gem" of Ames, but it really is easy to miss.”

16. Kansas - O’Neill’s Restaurant & Bar, Leawood

Colleen O. / Yelp

“A favorite place for many years. A neighborhood favorite. Always busy. Excellent service. Great bar to have a drink or eat at. Friendly atmosphere.”

“God, I love y'all! Why is your service/food so damn good? A gem on Mission, I declare....”

17. Kentucky - Molly Malone’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, Covington

Easily the best and most authentic Irish pub in the Cincinnati area. Great atmosphere, good pub grub and knowledgeable bar staff who know the proper way to draw a pint.”

“O M G! This place is fantastic!!! If I could give it 10 stars I would!”

18. Louisiana - Erin Rose, New Orleans

Stephanie K. / Yelp

A loveable neighborhood bar in the French Quarter.

“Just about the perfect place to bring your out-of-town guests. Who can resist their frozen Irish coffee?? Not me, and every person I've taken here agrees.”

“I wish I could give this place more than 5 stars. Honestly. It's that amazing. The killer poboys served in the very back of the bar are pure evil genius. “

19. Maine - Féile Restaurant & Pub, Wells

David L. / Yelp

Located in the historic old structure that housed the Lindsey Tavern from 1799 until the mid- twentieth century, Féile is owned by Limerick locals Joe and Tracy Ryan, carrying on the success of their l pubs in Ireland.

“Love this restaurant! Cozy, and family-friendly, atmosphere. Hands down, the BEST corned beef and cabbage I have ever had.”

20. Maryland - Galway Bay Irish Pub, Annapolis

“A go-to favorite restaurant. Whenever we have out-of-town guests who may not be as big into seafood as we are, we take them here.”

21. Massachusetts - Keltic Kitchen, West Yarmouth

Greg D. / Yelp

Perfect stop for a full Irish!

“This place served me one of the best breakfast I've ever had. “

“We knew it was going to be good when the line to get in was spread out into the parking lot…”

22. Michigan - Sullivan’s Public House, Oxford

Chef's at it again with some amazing features for this week! Nice job brother!!!~ Soup Du Chef ~Vegetable...

Posted by Sullivan's Public House on Dé Céadaoin, 16 Nollaig 2015

“Sullivan's is an absolute gem. They have the best salmon around. I have never had a bad meal here. The owner's are great and very friendly.”

Made from scratch Irish fair, by some authentic Irish chef. Bangers and Mash, Shepherd's Pie, and Irish beers on tap from their authentic Irish bar. So cozy and inviting.”

23. Minnesota - Pub 112, Stillwater

Yes we're jamming tonight.

Posted by Pub 112 on Dé hAoine, 9 Deireadh Fómhair 2015

“Great little treasure in Stillwater. Vast beer selection.....friendly wait staff....and amazing food! Live sports on 4 screens. Live music on the weekends!”

24. Mississippi - Irish Coast Pub, Gulfport

“Owner and his wife run the joint. Place is incredible. Great music. There's an open mic type night. Phenomenal bands. Cold ass beer.

“And the food... Amazing. Irish Nachos are a must.”

25. Missouri - John D. McGurk’s Irish Pub, Saint Louis

With it’s Irish musicians and artifacts, you could be sitting in a pub in Dublin.

“I've always wanted to go to Ireland, buuuuuut my bank account is currently in the red (waiting on those refunds, lol) However, walking into McGurk's, it's exactly what I'd imagine a true Irish pub to be like in Ireland -- great selection of drinks, loud music and most importantly, delicious comfort food. McGurk's has all that and more!”

26. Montana - Celtic Cowboy, Great Falls

Eat, Drink and BE Irish!

Posted by The Celtic Cowboy on Dé Domhnaigh, 31 Eanáir 2016

Named after Welsh immigrant Robert Vaughn, the first European settler in the county, the Celtic Cowboy was one of Great Falls’ earliest philanthropists and most prominent citizens.

Tons of beer on tap and a great food menu! Never had a bad meal. Service is amazing! Arlene is our favorite server! She memorizes our drink orders and she's super friendly and sweet!”

27. Nebraska - Brazen Head Irish Pub, Omaha

Aaron H. / Yelp

Modeled on the Brazen Head on Bridge Street in Dublin, the Omaha version was designed in Dublin, built in Wexford and then shipped over to the US.

“My first time ever having corned beef and cabbage and I am definitely glad this is where I came. What an authentic looking Irish bar. The staff was friendly and the menu had a ton of options.”

28. Nevada - McMullan’s Irish Pub, Las Vegas

McMullan's Irish Pub / Facebook

The staff is very friendly and quaint. The food is perfect to cure your munchies. The drinks are perfectly poured. What more could you ask for at a place like this?!”

“Never had a bad meal here, everything is always divinely delicious! I love the atmosphere, the best Irish pub in Vegas hands down!”

29. New Hampshire - May Kelly’s, North Conway

Even fitted out with it’s own post office!

"Another GREAT meal, GREAT view from deck! Can't wait to come back! Again, and again...three years and counting!”

30. New Jersey - Anglesea Pub, North Wildwood

Brendan H. / Yelp

“What a great find in a sea of wannabes !!!”

“A perfect pint, excellent wings, cozy atmosphere, swift and friendly service - why was last night our very first visit to the Anglesea Pub? We have a new "go to." Looking forward to trying each of their nightly specials.”

31. New Mexico - Two Fools Tavern, Albuquerque

Fantastic Irish breakfast with a Guinness. They go hand in hand like Red and Green. In true New Mexico fashion, Two Fools Tavern is sure to surprise because it steps out of the usual pub, while still embracing its Duke City roots.”

32. New York - Cronin & Phelan’s, Astoria, Queens

 Eric C. / Yelp

In the city with an Irish pub on almost every block, it’s hard to pick just one but the Yelp reviewers love this Queen’s local.

“This place had some pretty darn good Shepards Pie. The owner is a nice guy. I like places like that. When you leave he comes and shakes your hand and thanks you for coming.”

33. North Carolina - The Belfast Mill, Charlotte

Dan M. / Yelp

“Like the other reviews, this is a wonderful classic North East style local Irish bar with no bells and whistles. This is here to serve drinks, and have typical bar conversations.”

“I think this is the best bar in Charlotte.”

34. North Dakota - Blarney Stone Pub, Bismarck

Embrace the gift of the “blarney” with a good pint or enjoy “Dinner in Dublin” in this North Dakota favorite.

“Excellent food and beer. You WON'T be disappointed with their Blarney Dip sandwich.”

“I just can't seem to get over how much I love this place. The atmosphere is outstanding. The place is frickin HUGE.”

35. Ohio - Parnell’s Irish Pub, Cleveland

Jayme K. / Yelp

“You cannot find better people than the staff and owner at Parnell's. A must stop before or after a show on Public Square. Its also a great spot to drop in with a friend and catch up over a drink.”

“What I thought was going to be a non-descript, forgettable, quick pick-me-up actually was a very pleasant way to spend a late afternoon.”

36. Oklahoma - Kilkenny’s Irish Pub, Tulsa

Bagpipes on St. Patrick's Day!

Posted by Kilkenny's Irish Pub on Dé Sathairn, 19 Márta 2011

“Now this is a local gem! Fantastic pub with one of the best menus I have ever seen we enjoyed appetizer or that had a potato pancake and chicken and other goodies in it it was so delicious.”

Never been to a bar by myself before. The people there are friendly and inviting. The bartender is HILARIOUS.”

37. Oregon - Irish Table, Cannon Beach

Linda H. / Yelp

Owned by brothers Sean, Luke, Levi and Shane with Seán’s wife Crystal cooking up a storm, you could be sitting at an Irish kitchen table.

“Amazing! Cheese platter, mussels, steak and ling cod! All delish! My husband tried talking them into opening a place in Portland.”

“The Irish Table is amazing on every level... I had the Prawns last night based on the server's recommendation and they were outstanding. The chandeliers and decor are perfect and everyone was so friendly and welcoming. I felt like part of the family!!”

38. Pennsylvania - Bill Murphy’s Irish Saloon, Philadelphia

Mike M. / Yelp

“Essentially the platonic ideal of what a neighborhood bar should be … Because of the wide range of positives, it's easy to settle into Murphy's in any scenario from family dining to a casual date to watching sports on their many TVs.”

“OMG the turf burger is LIFE!!! So glad to have this place in my neighborhood. I'm not big on bars these days, but I love pub fare.”

39. Rhode Island - Doherty’s East Ave Irish Pub, Pawtucket

Rebecca O. / Yelp

“I love a beer heaven! More selection than one'll ever get to, thank you Doherty's! The servers are always lovely and the junk on the walls is worth looking at (I always find something I would steal if I were a klepto, but I'm not).”

“Do you want real Irish food? Like, actually tastes like your Irish family made it? Doherty's has got it.”

40. South Carolina - Madra Rua Irish Pub, Summerville

What an absolutely gorgeous day to have lunch on our Paddy-o! We're ready for you!Lunch Specials:Jalapeño ChickenNY Steak HoagieTex Mex BurgerSoups:Lobster BisqueChicken & Pepper

Posted by Madra Rua Irish Pub - Park Circle on Dé Máirt, 17 Samhain 2015

Yum.... Just had lunch here for the first time and seriously thinking about going out and sitting in my car until dinner! I had one of the Daily specials which was a queso burger.”

“The fisherman's pie is delicious! Madra Rua is by far the most authentic pub in the Charleston area and very reasonably priced!”

41. South Dakota - McNally’s Irish Pub, Sioux Falls

McNally's Irish Pub / Facebook

With family Sundays, the Jameson Jewel cocktails, and drunken mussels, McNally’s came up top in South Dakota.

“Excellent friendly efficient staff. Dublin cheesesteak was good for the hubby who also enjoyed the champs. I had the Guinness sliders which was just perfect for my smaller appetite.”

Cool bar with a great atmosphere. ...and the food-my god the food is impeccably delicious. Try their special. If I knew the place a bit better I'd feel perfectly comfortable just saying, I'll take whatever the chef serves me”

42. Tennessee - McNamara’s, Nashville

Musician Seán McNamara, his wife Paula, and friends Kirk Orndorff, and Francis "Majic" Gyelbi came together to give you what they feel the perfect Irish bar should look and feel like. They must be doing something right!

Very good! The shepherd's pie was fabulous, as were the black and tan onion rings.”

“I grew up in NY & Boston and love a good pub. McNamara's nails it. Food is excellent. Live music is great.”

43. Texas - B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, Austin

Another pub created in Ireland and shipped to the US, named in honor of Bessie Dee Riley, an Irish immigrant who traveled to the US to escape the famine.

Very good Irish pub and they have an amazing harpist Kristen Gibbs playing few days a week. We went there 3 days in a row just to listen her.”

“BD'S holds true to every expectation of a pub. It has charm and lots of character coupled with delicious food and excellent staff. “

44. Utah - Rock & Reilly’s Irish Pub, Park City

According to “Good Morning America,” this Irish rock bar is home to one of the top ten grilled cheese in America.

“Huge fan of this place. I come in whenever I'm in LA. The in house whiskey is fabulous and the staff is great. The food is good for the most part, especially the wings.”

“No doubt my favorite sports bar in LA. I could spend every Sunday here and it never get old. Absolutely obsessed with the food - especially the nachos and boneless chicken wings.”

45. Vermont - McGrath’s Irish Pub, Killington

Karin S. / Yelp

“Great bar built right into the mountain. Rocks to sit on in the bar area and tables made of local wood. Stew was delicious.”

“Great food!! Had the turkey melt and it was delicious! There was apple butter on the Irish soda bread, along with turkey, melted cheese, and apple slices. Lots of great flavors.”

46. Virginia - The Celtic House Irish Pub & Restaurant, Arlington

“This is exactly what I want in an Irish Pub - fresh Guinness, Irish accidents, beer specials and attentive service.”

“I was immediately impressed by the small but jubilant bar crowd, Irish owner who personally came to our table to check on us many times, efficient waitress, awesome happy hour specials, great beer list, and overall menu which would please even the pickiest of eaters.”

47. Washington - Shawn O’Donnell’s, Seattle

Thanks to all of you that came out to our Everett pub for the St Pats festival. Good Times!The kid threw a pretty good party at our Seattle O'Donnell's.Check out this 11 sec clip. Wish I could have been at both.

Posted by Shawn O'Donnell's American Grill and Irish Pub on Dé hAoine, 20 Márta 2015

“Bread Pudding was delish!! Monte Cristo, Fish N Chips and Irish Nachos were all tasty! Will try again.”

This pub is the epitome of fun Irish food and drink! The soda bread is served with honey butter. The clam chowder has cabbage in it! … Added to that is a fun atmosphere with Irish music and friendly service.”

48. Washington, D.C. - Kitty O’Shea’s

Mike C. / Yelp

“This is the epitome of dive bars/local Irish pub, with unexpectedly excellent food. The bartenders are friendly, the food is great, the location is convenient, and the drinks are solid.”

“I love this place. Time after time I'm welcomed by bartenders who remember my name and my drink.”

49. West Virginia - Irish Pub on Washington Street, Lewisburg

Sellers of the most Guinness in West Virginia!

“The Irish stew was fabulous as was the shepherd's pie. Really, really solid food. And it really stuck to your bones. I have also never seen such an incredible beer selection anywhere in WV.”

“Great staff, all always ready to serve you with a smile and conversation. Authentic Irish music performed live most nights by one of the owners makes it even better!”

50. Wisconsin - County Clare Irish Pub, Milwaukee

A beautiful tribute to County Clare with 20 stained glass windows and a “Saint’s Snug.” County Clare claims “A pint of Guinness is the freshest here outside of St. James Gate itself.”

“If I never eat at another Irish-food restaurant aside from County Clare again, I would die happy knowing that I had tasted the best Irish Pub in Milwaukee.”

51. Wyoming - Pat O’Hara Brewing Company, Cody

And last but not least, a great Irish microbrewery in Wyoming.

“Love the Irish Egg Rolls! All the sandwiches are good. Service is welcoming. Good spot for football games.”

“This place was a great find in Cody. Great beer, good food, and friendly staff. It felt like more of a local place than a tourist trap.”

This list was compiled by Yelp and Buzzfeed using an algorithm that looked at the number of reviews plus the star rating for every business using the tags “Irish pubs” and “Irish restaurants”.

H/T: Buzzfeed

*Originally published in February 2016. 

Irish outrage as The Guardian shows Brexit UK taking bits of Ireland too

There was a significant amount of confusion, anger, and hilarity this morning when it appeared that the British media had claimed as their own the Irish county named as the coolest place to visit in 2017. Co. Donegal was shown by The Guardian newspaper to be among the areas now to leave the European Union since Brexit was triggered under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty earlier today.

In their graphic, The Guardian show a jigsaw puzzle of Europe in which the pieces of the puzzle where the UK should be are removed to signify their impending departure from the European bloc. Unfortunately for the English newspaper, these pieces also included counties Donegal and Cavan as well as parts of Co. Westmeath and Co. Wicklow, alongside the Co. Louth town of Dundalk.

For those in Northern Ireland worried about what will happen over the next two years as the Brexit process is undertaken, there also appears to be a solution. Within the same image, Newry, south Tyrone and a small part of Co. Derry will be remaining firmly within the union, if it is to be believed.

Read more: Britain officially serves the EU with divorce papers

While Irish people have become accustomed to any talented Irish person being referred to as British in the UK press, this move to take large chunks of the Republic of Ireland out of the EU alongside the UK led to plenty of jokes from those in the 26 counties.

And as it’s 2017, Irish people took to Twitter to tell them:

There were also plenty of jokes about the fact that Northern Ireland did not vote to leave the EU, despite the UK majority doing so. This fact has resulted in some calling for a united Ireland, a call that was echoed yet again today after The Guardian’s image.

And, of course, plenty of attention was brought to the counties that The Guardian hadn’t tried to take with them, with poor Co. Offaly on the receiving end of most of the county bashing.

H/T: Mashable

Take a sightseeing tour around Dublin with IrishCentral! (LIVE VIDEO)

With the St. Patrick’s Day Festival done and sun making an occasional appearance, spring has officially sprung in Dublin and the Irish are making the most of it. We decided to bring our readers out and about on a tour of Dublin, filmed from the top of an open top bus.

From O’Connell Street, to Trinity College on to Christchurch Cathedral and the Guinness Storehouse, join us on a tour of Dublin city center’s highlights. Soak in the sights and indulge in some serious people-watching with us.  We were live from 3.15pm (Dublin time), and now you can watch the full video here: 

Dreaming of a trip to Ireland? Join IrishCentral live on a tour of Dublin! Read more: http://irsh.us/2nvchOx

Posted by IrishCentral.com on Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Read more: Dublin seen anew - the cool spots you’ve probably never heard of

IrishCentral was happy to jump on board a DoDublin hop-on-hop-off bus tour. Part of Dublin Bus, these tours have been in operation since 1988 and the local bus drivers know every nook and cranny of this fair city.

These guys pride themselves on having great “banter” and knowing their city. In fact, when asked what their favorite tourist attractions in Dublin city were the 63 tour guides' choices came down to: Kilmainham Gaol, the Guinness Storehouse, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Jameson Distillery, and The Little Museum of Dublin. Tours are available in ten languages – Irish, English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Russian, Chinese, and Japanese.

The DoDublin brand includes The Hop-On-Hop-Off Tour, Coastal Tours, Ghostbus Tour, The 1916: Beyond Barricades Tour and Airlink Express.

Visitors to the city can avail of the best value with a DoDublin Card. At €33 for adults and €16 for children under 14 it offers unlimited travel for three days, including direct transfers to and from Dublin Airport on Airlink Express, The Hop-On-Hop-Off Tour, and all public buses on Dublin Bus routes.

Find out more here at DoDublin.ie.

Irish lad stuck in an arcade claw game is the funniest thing you'll see all week

A mischievous young Irish boy got trapped inside an arcade toy machine to the amusement of his father and people worldwide. A video shot by the boy's father has already garnered over 225,000 views on Facebook.

Three-year-old Jamie Bracken-Murphy became an online sensation after he found himself on the wrong side of the glass of an arcade claw machine at Jump ‘n’ Gyms play center in Nenagh, County Tipperary.

Jamie’s father, Damien, came across his son waist deep in a pile of cuddly toys, much to his amusement. Jaime himself didn’t seem too overawed by the occasion, focusing more on which toy he would like to get his hands on.

Luckily nobody was injured during the incident. Employees at the center were quick on hand and with the help of an off-duty firefighter Jaime was safely returned to his father and five-year-old brother Shane. Damien recalled the situation by saying he heard muffled complaints coming from behind him before realizing what had happened.

Read More: Adorable Irish lad confuses British vacationers with "Baa Baa Black Sheep" as gaeilge

“I turned around and just see Jamie's face looking out from behind the glass. I wasn't surprised at all really. He's a very mischievous, sharp kid who's always pushing boundaries. He was inside for about 10 minutes and was worried for maybe 10 seconds at the start but then he just found it hilarious.

"Luckily, a fireman was there and is used to dealing with situations like these. He told Jamie to crouch down and then he was able to shimmy out. He got to keep two dragon toys after picking them up inside. He's not embarrassed about it or anything, he just laughed about the whole thing."

Claw machine games are notoriously difficult to conquer but in the end Jaime’s little trick worked as he ended up winning two dragon toys as prizes. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened.

In 2014 18-month-old Colin Lambert found himself in a similar situation when he climbed into a claw machine in Maryville, Tennessee here in the US. While in 2015, Henry Howes, a young boy aged four, was also causing mischief when he got stuck in an arcade game in Tamworth, Staffordshire in England.

How I made my dreams happen and moved to New York, scared but strong

I was one of them, dreaming of the city that never sleeps while I should have been sleeping.  This year, I took the leap and moved my life to NYC and if you’ve been following me on Snapchat (StephanieOQ) you’ll see my daily updates.

Its glamorous, mind boggling and life-changing.

Last month, I boarded a one-way flight. I made my dream happen. Something that I had anticipated for most of my life, looked very different when it was closely staring me right in the face. I felt like I was ruining my life and only beginning my life, all at the same time.

I said my goodbyes. I sold my car, my clothes and packed up my everything I owned into two suitcases. My life savings in one pocket, my iPhone in the other and a bunch of emotions tearing my heart apart. Although I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing, I just knew I had to do it.

Fast forward a month and despite still being very much unsettled, I am here, living in New York City.

The emails, questions, messages and snaps from you all tell me that it is a common desire for most young women to live in Manhattan. I know how it feels and I want to tell you some truths about making the actual move a reality….

- You will be broke. And if you’re not broke, you will think about money all the time in the fear of being broke. New York is extremely expensive. Rent, food, transport, you name it. You’ll soon begin to question every single penny you spend.

- You will eat out, a lot! Food is expensive here so you may as well enjoy it! There is an unbelievable amount of choice from cereal cafes, bakery’s that only sell 4 cookies to 100% vegan cafes. The options are endless. Adding to this, you can get anything delivered at any time of the day. NOM!

- You will cry. You will cry so much it will become painful. You might not know why you’re even crying! New York is HARD in every sense and it takes a while to build up a tough exterior.

- You will meet so many new people. New York is a hub for people from everywhere, you just don’t know who’s around the corner!

Read more: A positive spin on moving home to Dublin from New York

- But… you will be lonely. No matter who’s around, that loneliness will stem from the displacement you are experiencing being away from home, your natural habitat and all you know.

- Walking is the currency. All you have is yourself and your own two feet (and the subway of course!) To get from A to B, you must be prepared to build those calves.

- You will question yourself, every single day. WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING HERE?! Because everything feels so strange and new, you’ll feel out of place for a long time.

- You will be so proud of yourself. The feeling of accomplishment of even getting here will boost your confidence so much. A dream that may have seemed so distant at one point is now a reality and that in itself will give you that warm, smug feeling inside.

Stephanie O'Quigley: The feeling of accomplishment of even getting here will boost your confidence so much.

- You’ll find energy, you never knew you had. From being constantly on the go, the city’s energy is something you just can’t compare to. No matter how you’re feeling, being on these streets gives you a boost of motivation, energy and open mindedness. Boredom just does not exist.

- You will appreciate so many different, little things. Living in New York couldn’t be more ‘hard’ in every way. The smallest things are ten times harder in New York. Taking a bag to the gym means carrying it all day. You begin to cut down on the things you actually need. Fridges are small and so are kitchens. Food shops must be done in small doses also.

Although I miss home, I know this is where I need to be and what I need to do. I have been here about 3 months now and am nowhere near settled, but I often wonder does anyone really settle in New York.  I am proud of myself for coming this far and I have learnt so much it has made this experience worthwhile already. This, however, is only the beginning for me. Now that I have a taste of it all.

Read more: Start spreading the news...Every Irish grad’s guide for moving to New York

* Stephanie O'Quigley has been blogging on SnappedUp.ie for over 4 years now. After a life-changing career with one of Ireland's most talked about brands and a 5-stone weight-loss, her blog has caught the attention of thousands in Ireland and the UK. Now, Stephanie has relocated to take on the New York City concrete jungle. Follow her blog to see an insight into living & working in Manhattan. You can follow O'Quigley via her blog www.snappedup.ie, Instagram or Snapchat at StephanieOQ.

7,618 horses in Ireland killed for EU meat market

Horse meat isn’t usually sold in Irish supermarkets - but Irish horses are being habitually slaughtered for customers in the rest of the European Union.

In 2016 the total number of horses killed for meat was 7,618, which represents a steep rise on the 6,033 slaughtered in 2015.

However, last year’s 25% increase still leaves the number far below the 24,000 animals taken in by abattoirs in 2011 when at the height of the recession many previously wealthy horse owners were unable to afford their upkeep.

While many horse lovers will be horrified to read of such practices, Conor Dowling, the chief inspector of the Irish Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA), said it’s better than letting an animal suffer.

“We’ve seen so many animals abandoned in bad condition over the past 10 years,” Dowling told the Irish Examiner. “It is certainly favorable for an animal to be humanely destroyed, or slaughtered for meat or put to sleep by a vet.

Read More: The mystery of Shergar, the champion racehorse kidnapped in Ireland

“It is a sad situation that this is what is required, because of over-population, but, sometimes, it might be the responsible thing to do.”

Even racing thoroughbreds worth small fortunes in their primes end up as burgers or steaks.

“It could be horses who have reached an age where they can’t perform anymore, or who don’t make the grade,” Dowling said.

“Some might have some sort of injury and be healthy enough to make the trip to the slaughterhouse, but not to live on indefinitely.”

However, the number of horses slaughtered pales in comparison to the number of cattle and sheep killed in Irish abattoirs. Department of Agriculture figures show 1.6 millions cows and a further 2.7 million sheep were slaughtered in 2016.

While beef, mutton and lamb remain staples of the Irish diet, the sale of horse meat has a controversial history.

In 2013 it was revealed that millions of beef burgers in Ireland had been sold containing traces of horse meat.

Read More: Celebrities Colin Farrell, Jamie Dornan take stand against Irish puppy farms

The public was aghast and it led to the recall of more than 10 million burgers and urgent questions in the Irish Parliament. Though there was no questions as to the burgers reaching the EU’s food standards, many Irish folk felt they had been duped and would never have bought the burgers had they known they were part horse.

Globally, demand for horse meat has soared in recent years and is particularly popular in France, where it is considered haute cuisine and until recently was usually only sold in specialist shops.  

What are your thoughts on horses being killed for meat? Have your say in the comment section.

H/T: Irish Examiner

Are you Irish? A trip around Europe could cost you nothing for your 18th birthday

Great news if you’re an Irish teen! European Union teenagers could be offered a free Interrail pass when they turn 18 years old as a birthday present. The Interrail pass allows EU citizens to travel around 30 European countries by train for up to a month.

The European Parliament has voted in favor of the proposal and it is now up to the European Commission to approve the final decision. The project was first launched in September 2016 by Christian Social Union (CSU) politician Manfred Weber, Chairman of the Group of the European People's Party (EPP).

The project has been proposed as a way to "strengthen European identity" and seen as “essential in promoting a sense of belonging in Europe, enhancing social cohesion and ensuring a competitive European economy.”

Weber is asking the EU Commission to fund this new scheme that will allow 18 year olds the chance to explore the many great countries within Europe, while getting to know their foreign neighbours and reduce prejudices.

CSU politician Manfred Weber launched this proposal in September 2016

Weber said, ‘The EU has to give them the means to discover who their neighbours are and what opportunities another member state can bring to any single European.’ The plan was first suggested by two Berlin activists, Vincent Herr and Martin Speer, before Weber took up the cause.

The European Parliament has added the Interrail initiative to their 2018 EU budget priorities and will explore the possibility of financing the project. In Ireland, Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond has welcomed this new proposal and has commended the European Parliament for voting it in.

“This vote is just the first document that parliament produces in the annual budget procedure. It sets out the line that parliament expects the commission to take when drawing up its budget proposals and any proposal included in this is certainly a promising beginning.

“As a student, I was very fortunate to travel across Europe on an interrailling ticket and it was that experience that plays such a large part in my belief in the greatness of the European project and the importance that, particularly now in the wake of Brexit, we fight for the survival and continuing strengthening of the EU.”

However, opposition to the proposal have deemed it too expensive and could cost the EU Commission in the range of €2bn ($2.16bn) a year in funding, as well as working out a deal with public and private rail companies on the Interrail network. Reports last month in the Financial Times in London suggested that EU Commission may put forth an alternative proposal sighting costs as a major stumbling block. Instead funding may be given to schools in member states as a form of travel budget. This project would be worth €2.5 million ($2.7 million) a year.

The free Interrail ticket initiative is still on the 2018 EU budget and a draft for this will be drawn up in May. The European Council and European Parliament will then begin negotiations and will need to finalize the budget by the end of the year.

If either of these projects materialize it would exclude citizens from Great Britain on account of their decision to leave Europe in June 2016. This would mean that teenagers in Northern Ireland would miss out on this opportunity afforded to those in the south of Ireland. With the issue of Brexit continuing to be a major topic this is just one more issue that politicians may need to contend with.

Currently the standard cost for Interrail tickets range between €206 ($223) to €493 ($533) depending on which pass you would like to purchase. Non-European citizens can avail of a Eurail pass which works in a similar way and can be purchased here.

Guinness chocolate pie with beer marshmallow meringue recipe

Following on from Tayto’s release of the cheese and onion chocolate bar in Ireland we’ve realized that we are a nationality divided by whether putting salty and sweet together in a dessert is really disgusting or completely delicious.

Of course there’s the obvious American favorite, the chocolate covered pretzel, more commonly known in Ireland as the brand Flipz, but then there are the breakaway groups who will break up a Dairy Milk chocolate bar and drop it into their popcorn at the cinema or even branch out and go for Galaxy Minstrels.

If you’re one such delinquent then we’ve found a most scrumptious recipe for you - Guinness chocolate pie with beer marshmallow meringue.

Thanks to SprinkleBake for this fabulous recipe. Makes two pies.

Pretzel crust:
Ingredients:
2 cups crushed pretzels
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar (firmly packed)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix together pretzels, graham cracker crumbs, butter and brown sugar.  Stir together with a rubber spatula until well incorporated.

Divide mixture between two 8 or 9-inch pie plates. Bake for 10 minutes.  Cool completely before filling.

Guinness chocolate filling:

Ingredients:

8 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
14.9 oz. can Guinness Draught, divided
2 1/4 cups heavy cream
7 oz. high quality bittersweet chocolate, evenly chopped
1/4 cup cornstarch

Method:

Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a non-reactive bowl.

Pour 1 cup of Guinness in a heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan (reserve the rest for later use).

Add heavy cream and whisk to combine.

Set over medium-high heat and cook until very hot but not boiling.

Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate.

When chocolate has melted, whisk in the egg mixture in a very thin stream as to not scramble the egg.

Whisk in cornstarch and return to heat source.

Whisk over medium heat until thickened.

Divide mixture between pie pans.

Use a rubber spatula to effectively remove all the pudding from the saucepan; quickly smooth the chocolate into the crust.  Refrigerate while making the marshmallow topping.

Beer marshmallow topping:


Ingredients:
2 cups sugar
4 egg whites
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. water
1/4 tsp salt
12 jumbo marshmallows (or about 18-20 large) cut into quarters with kitchen scissors
3 tbsp. beer reduction

Method:

Whisk sugar, egg whites, water and salt together in a large metal bowl.

Set bowl over a simmering pan of water; whisk constantly until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot to the touch.

Remove bowl from simmering saucepan and stir in marshmallows pieces.

Let stand for 3-5 minutes until marshmallow pieces have softened.

Return bowl to simmering water and beat together using a hand-held mixer.

Beat for several minutes until mixture thickens.

Remove bowl from simmering water and add beer reduction.

Continue to beat mixture until it has cooled slightly.

Preheat oven to broil.

Divide mixture between two pie pans and place under broiler in oven.

Watch constantly - it's easy for the marshmallow to burn! Remove from oven when nice and toasty.

Refrigerate pies until well set - about 3-4 hours.

Source: Sprinkbakes.com

Cry from the heart of Irish undocumented in plea to stop deportations (VIDEO)

Undocumented Irish immigrants in New York have made a video in an effort to highlight their precarious existence.

Edited by the Aisling Irish Center in Yonkers, NY the video features a number of undocumented New Yorkers from Ireland. Their faces are blacked out but in their hands they hold up a piece of paper with the year they arrived in America and below it the number of years since they were last home.

“Those of us who have overstayed are not criminals; we work hard, we pay our taxes, and we make a very positive contribution to the economy of this country,” the video declares.

“Thousands of Irish emigrants dream of one day being able to go home to Ireland and once again hug their loved ones, but for many, it is too late.

“The punishment, however, is the possibility of never setting foot in our birthplace again or seeing our loved ones, or not being able to say goodbye before they die.

“We have all lived here in the hope that immigration reform would one day become a reality.

“Some people left Ireland because of personal or family issues, some left because they could not find work in Ireland, some left because they were not earning enough to support their family and some came here out of a sense of adventure.

“Having outstayed their time here, the realization that there was no path to legal status soon dawned on them, but life in America was providing them with so many opportunities, it was impossible to walk away from the dream,” the video concludes.

Speaking to IrishCentral, the center’s executive director Órla Kelleher said she decided to make the video, “in the lead up to St. Patrick’s Day; a time when we celebrate Irish culture and heritage, but also a time to celebrate Irish diaspora worldwide including 50,000 undocumented Irish emigrants living in the United States. I have friends who are in this situation and they work very hard, pay their taxes, obey the laws, and contribute in a very positive way to making this country the great place it is – they are not criminals.”

She added, “Many of them were the first to come forward and volunteer when New York was devastated by the 9/11 terrorist attacks and again, when widespread damage was caused by Super Storm Sandy. Their legal status was never questioned when they stepped up to help New Yorkers rebuild their homes and their lives following these terrible attacks.”

Read More: In Queens, the threat of immigration raids grows

And she gave short shrift to those who think the undocumented should go home.

“America is a country which was discovered by immigrants and built by immigrants… Most Irish emigrants fell in love with this country, and stayed because of better opportunities and a much better lifestyle. Having overstayed their time here, the realization that there was no path to legal status soon dawned on them, but life in America was providing them with so many opportunities, it was impossible to walk away from the “dream”.”

However, as to whether there will be reform to the system soon Kelleher was reserved; she thinks it “difficult” to predict if and when comprehensive immigration reform will happen, since there has been no big reform to the system for over 30 years.

The Aisling Center showed the video to Minister for the Diaspora Joe McHugh at a viewing also attended by members of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform. A spokesperson for the lobby told IrishCentral the video had been, “a very impactful way to impressing on the Minister the importance and urgency of the situation and Minister McHugh seemed to 'get' the magnitude of the issue and seemed to grasp the part he could play in rectifying it.

Read More: Ireland's undocumented send St. Patrick's Day message to undocumented in the US

“[McHugh] spoke about [how] the Irish Constitution specifically says that the Irish government is still responsible for its Irish citizens, no matter where they live, and that it is the duty of the Minister for the Diaspora to work on their behalf.

“The ILIR hopes that Minister McHugh does remember those he met in the Aisling Center and the stories he heard and that he is finally the Irish minister who actually does something on behalf of this community.”

What was you reaction to the video? Share your thoughts in the comment section. 

Suicide prevention group launches 2017 NYC Darkness into Light run and walk

A large crowd gathered in the Consulate General of Ireland premises as suicide and self-harm charity Pieta House launched New York’s Darkness into Light 2017 (DIL 2017) event.

Taking place on Saturday, May 6, Darkness into Light is a unique, early morning experience which begins in darkness around 4:00 am as thousands of people walk or run a 5km route while dawn is breaking.

Senator Joan Freeman and the Chairpersons of the Darkness into Light Committees for both Queens and the Bronx, were joined by officials of the Consulate, Michael Madden of Teneo, representatives from the GAA, other dignitaries with members of local organisations, such as, the IBO, the Kerry Man’s association and many more as well as volunteers and supporters from all over the city to launch DIL which is now in its ninth year in Ireland and its third in New York.

The annual fundraising and awareness event has grown year on year to become one of the biggest events of its kind where participants gather simultaneously at multiple locations around the world. San Francisco, Chicago, San Diego, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Boston, and Texas are also among the venues that will host the dawn walk in the United States in 2017. The event will also take place in hundreds of locations across Ireland, the UK, Canada, Australia, the Middle East and Asia. Organizers are expecting over 150,000 people to participate worldwide.

You can donate to Pieta House here

Pieta House is a suicide and self-harm crisis centre founded in Dublin, Ireland in 2006. With ten centres throughout Ireland and one in New York, Pieta House provides a professional one-to-one therapeutic service for those who are experiencing suicidal ideation or engaging in self-harm and distressing issues that affect Men, Women and Children in New York. A doctor’s referral or a psychiatric report is not required and the service is completely free of charge.

“We’re very grateful to the communities here in America and at home in Ireland for your support to Pieta House” said Founder of Pieta House Senator Joan Freeman.

Darkness into Light Bronx Committee 2017.

“Your courage, vision and generosity have helped to bring hope to people here in New York and has led to the phenomenal success that is Darkness into Light.” she added. “We have entered a time of uncertainty for many people in the United States; we are just so pleased that we are here to help during these difficult times.”

In fall 2015, Pieta House set up a service which is housed in the New York Irish Center in Queen’s New York. The success of Pieta House over the last decade in Ireland has been pragmatic but has an empathetic approach taken to suicidal ideation. In New York, this approach extends to the care received by all clients, who find themselves at the brink of despair. Money raised from this year’s Darkness into Light in America will go towards the running of this center.

Read more: Pieta House founder on breaking the terrible silence that surrounds suicide

Nick Costello, Erica Paul & Jane McCarter of the New York Irish Center, and Sean Price, Rockland GAA.

New York’s Darkness into Light event will set off from the Bronx and Queens. Online registration and further details are available now at www.pietahouse.org. For more information on Darkness into Light in any of our nine venues please contact Beth Flaherty or Rebecca Skedd at Office: (718) 482 0001 or beth.flaherty@pietahouse.org or rebecca.skedd@pietahouse.org.

WOW air launch $150 flights from Chicago to Ireland

Low-cost Icelandic airline WOW air has announced a new Chicago route, with flights commencing on July 13 from Dublin and Cork.

WOW air, Iceland’s ultra-affordable transatlantic airline, will begin landing in the Windy City July 2017, with the inaugural flight from O’Hare International Airport on July 13, 2016.

The Dublin and Cork to Chicago (O’Hare) route will run four times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) all year round via Reykjavik, the Icelandic capital.  Fares start from as little as $150 one way, including taxes and charges.

WOW air flies Dublin to Reykjavik five times weekly, increasing to daily in peak summer times. WOW air recently announced flights to Iceland from Cork Airport, commencing 19 May. Flights connect passengers to nine North America destinations via Reykjavik in addition to Chicago including New York, Boston, Washington DC, Toronto, Montreal, Miami, LA, San Francisco and Pittsburgh.

Read more: WOW flies Ireland to America via Iceland for $300 and it's pretty cool

Skúli Mogensen, CEO of WOW air, said “We are very pleased to be flying WOW air passengers from Dublin and Cork to the Windy City. Chicago is one of the USA’s most iconic and important cities, and is steeped in history and culture.

“The addition of Chicago to WOW air’s growing list of destinations is part of our ongoing strategy to deliver even greater flexibility and convenience to our passengers, with more connections to North America via our Reykjavik hub.”

Commissioner at Chicago Department of Aviation, Ginger S. Evans said “This announcement is great news for the City of Chicago and O’Hare International Airport. I want to thank WOW air for choosing Chicago as its first central destination in North America.

“This new service is estimated to generate approximately $80 million in annual economic impact for the Chicago region, and will boost tourism and business for both the cities of Chicago and Reykjavík.”

Why you should visit Ireland now

Kiss the famous stone Blarney Castle? Travel the Wild Atlantic Way? What's the #1 thing on your Irish bucket list? With WOW air flying to Cork Airport, there are a million reasons to visit Ireland.

Posted by IrishCentral.com on Tuesday, March 21, 2017
When an Irish pub locks you in then the real fun starts out

On a recent visit to Ireland I was locked in on a night out.

No, it doesn't mean I was arrested, rather the pub owner had decided closing time had come too soon in the little country pub and the craic was too great to stop.

So, extra time was needed, kind of like in a soccer game when extra time is played if the teams are level.

There is no public announcement, merely a nod and a wink from the owner, transmitted by osmosis to the lads and lassies in the bar, usually locals, who are in on the skullduggery.

The bar owner prefers it that way, so there are no strangers who might blab about it the following day.

The lock-in begins quietly and subtly. The strangers drift away thinking last call has been called. The blinds come down and the glasses are cleared. The musicians stop as if the night was over. The bartenders disappear.

Anyone not in the know has no clue. Indeed, if they ask the barman if there is a lock-in they would be met with a blank stare. There is no advance warning for those not in the know.

I was lucky to be with a friend who knew that in this pub, every second Thursday night or so, there was a lock-in and the locals continued with the craic.

Once the strangers had left, none the wiser, the toys, so to speak, come alive. The dead bolt lock was slid across the front door and slammed in place so that the folks present were essentially locked in and everyone else locked out.

The wild night outside with the rain coming down in sheets and a cold wind from the east made it far more palatable to stay and have a few while continuing the craic.

With drunk driving laws as strict as they are, there is an unofficial pact that requires some of those present stay sober so that they can drive their neighbors home. I had that task for my friend and his two sons this night.

The musicians gathered again, but it was mostly singing, not playing instruments in order not to alert a passing police car with the noise.

Beside me, out of the blue, a pretty young woman began singing “The Rocks of Bawn.” The crowd was as still as church mice at Sunday service. There was no applause and then a young man launched into a Jimmy McCarthy song "Bright Blue Rose," a song that haunts all who hear it.

The lights were lowered and the atmosphere becomes intimate. Folks you never spoke to in your life engage you in deep conversations. “Is Brexit f***ed?” a woman beside me asked to my complete surprise. I stammered an answer but another joined in.

The big fear of course is the knock on the door and the “Guard on Duty” command. It is rare but folks have been known to scatter, some even into the family house of the publican.

Local papers have long written of such incidents where two strangers are found in bed pretending they were visitors to the house of the publican, which is often attached to the pub.

The best lock-in is when the cop himself is present, as sometimes happens. When that happens, no one gets out of line and the night does not dwell too late. Everyone can relax.

How do you know where to find a lock-in? It's not easy. There are none advertised and many, if not most, are spontaneous. The rule is the more isolated the pub the better the chance.

Years ago, when I was a lot younger, I left some lock-ins with daylight outside heralding the dawn. On one occasion, I took a dare to take a sip from every whiskey bottle on the top shelf. I still remember that hangover.

After a mighty few hours of song and story, humor and craic at last it was time to go. The owner took us outside looked right and left, and beckoned us out.

Our adventure was over, but the memory will be held dear of a night for the hidden Ireland to assert itself.

The lesson? Being locked in can be great craic, but you won’t find mention of it in any tourist brochure.

Maybe it’s better that way.

Read more: Pub with no beer six nights a week named Ireland's best pub

Saorise Ronan was recently on Jimmy Fallon and explained the Irish lock-in:

After 44 years "I am still seeking my mother" says Mother and Baby home survivor

Ronan James O’Halloran was born on December 9, 1973 at St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home on Dublin’s Navan Road. Now aged 43, he has spent the past two and a half decades searching for the woman forced to give him up at birth.

“From a very young age I knew I was adopted,” he told IrishCentral, but it was only when he was 18 that he was allowed to begin the search for his birth family. With his legal majority freshly acquired he contacted the Catholic adoption agency, Cúnamh, but his efforts were bluntly rebuked.

A social worker informed him that him that, “my mother was most likely dead or if she was alive she would have nothing to do with me.

“I was pretty shocked; at the tender age of 18 I was optimistic, I was really enthusiastic and I was pretty taken aback. The third option I was given was that, if I wanted to go forward, there was an eight year waiting list. So they might as well just have told me to p*** off.”

The experience, however, set the tone for his future dealings with authorities as he tried to track down his birth mother.

“All the way along I have been thwarted. I have been disrespected. I have been lied to. So it’s been a pretty nasty experience.”

And the search goes on.

“I’m still looking for that woman.”

Only recently did he gain access to anything close to his birth certificate.

“About two years ago I managed to get what’s called non-identifying information – which gives a very broad description of the circumstances of your adoption. They don’t give names, they don't reveal locations.”

The most specific details he was given was that his mother was from Leinster and that, “She was a tailoress – which is not actually a word but it's the word they used. She was 22, he was a year younger and worked as a chef in a hotel.”

It also revealed that his grandfather came to visit him at St Patrick’s.

St. Patrick's Home.

He strongly suspects that she was from a middle class family in Dublin. “If you had no money you were liable to spend up to a year in the place and your extended stay was to pay for your upkeep. If you had money you paid to go in and out. And you were in and out in maybe three months. Her stay from what I gather was about three months – which suggests her family was in a position to pay for her upkeep.”

He’s found two birth certificates that could be his original one. He’s written to one of the mothers and she’s not his mother. “The other lady is a complete dead end.” The church often falsified birth certificates and he wonders whether that could be why.

"At the moment I’ve hit a brick wall and I haven’t been able to progress. I just haven't been able to get anymore information on her."

He was baptized on site a week after he was born, but that certificate is under lock and key because it will likely have his original name on it too.

Read more: Ireland’s forgotten diaspora – banished unwed mothers and adopted babies

When asked about St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home where he was born he does not mince his words. He describes it as, “No different from Tuam and I believe it will be revealed that it’s possibly even worse. They describe it almost as an idyllic sort of place where women went voluntarily to give up their babies. Now I’ve had the privilege of reading almost a hundred testimonies of mothers who went through that facility. None of those testimonies were either voluntary, all of them claim, and I believe them, that their babies were taken from them and the place was a hell-hole.

“They would go into labor, she would be left in almost darkness on her own, a priest would intermittently come in as she was screaming to tell her that this was her penance for having sex outside of marriage.”

Reading such harrowing testimonies has changed his views about the woman who gave him up.

Nuns and young mothers look over babies.

“I went from a place of being slightly resentful of my birth mother for giving me up to a place of utter compassion now, where I see what the women went through, the circumstances she was forced into.

“None of these revelations are shocking and there’s lots more to be revealed.”

Does he believe there is a mass grave to be discovered in St Patrick’s?

“No doubt about it.

“St Patrick’s had a huge mortality rate. It’s just as likely that there are graves on site at St Patrick’s. One woman described the situation where the nuns did everything to create an environment where babies did not survive – through neglect. The women did not spend time with their children. After they gave birth they were put to work, scrubbing toilets or floors and then they would have a ten minute break to feed the child and then they’d be sent back to work. So the children were neglected. They were in no way nurtured.”

The institutions came hugely wealthy as a consequence, as did the doctors who were involved too – with many getting a cut of the money from adoptions contracted with wealthy Americans.

Sometimes it all gets to him, but Ronan James refuses to give up.

“It comes at me in waves. I become really, really disturbed by it, but that comes in sections in my life and I’ll chew away at it for awhile and then I’ll leave it alone. But I’m determined to just get my answers.

*If you or someone you know were at St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home in late 1973 or early 1974 and know anything that could help Ronan James find him birth family, feel free to contact him by e-mailing hally@hallymusic.com. This interview has been edited and condensed.

Read more: "The nuns forcibly separated us" recalls former Tuam baby snatched from his mother

Johnny Cash’s 'Forty Shades of Green' inspired by this Irish landscape

Johnny Cash’s greatest hits may be remembered as 'Ring of Fire,' 'I Walk the Line,' and 'Folsom Prison Blues,' but there’s one Johnny Cash song that stays dear in the hearts of Irish people and lovers of Ireland.

Cash began penning 'Forty Shades of Green' in 1959 during a trip to Ireland and completed it in 1961 as a B-side on his album 'The Rebel – Johnny Yuma.'

While he lists a number of the most popular destinations in Ireland – Dublin, Shannon, Dingle, Skibbereen – local lore has it that he got the initial inspiration for the song in the Kockmealdown Mountains in Co. Tipperary.

Vee Pass. Photo: Oliver Bruchez

Cash allegedly asked his Irish contacts where he could go to get a look at the true beauty of Ireland and was told to head for the Vee Pass, which divides the Knockmealdown and Galtee mountains in southern Tipperary. He kept that stunning view in his mind  and sought to capture the lush greenery and beauty of the Irish landscape in song.

The legendary singer would continue to perform the song throughout the rest of his career.

His daughter, Rosanne Cash, also has her own gorgeous rendition.

Read the full lyrics below!

Forty Shades of Green – Johnny Cash, 1959

I close my eyes and picture the emerald of the sea

from the fishin boats at Dingle to the shores at Donaghdee

I miss the River Shannon and the folks at Skibbereen

the moorlands and meadows and their Forty Shades of Green

But most of all I miss a girl in Tipperary town

and most of all I miss her lips as soft as eiderdown

I long again to see and do the things we've done and seen

where the breeze is sweet as shalimar and there's Forty Shades of Green

I wish that I could spend an hour at Dublin´s churning suft

I long to watch the farmers drain the bogs and spade the turf

to see again the thatching of the straw the women clean

I´d walk from Cork to Larne to see those Forty Shades of Green

But most of all I miss a girl in Tipperary town

and most of all I miss her lips as soft as eiderdown

I long again to see and do the things we´ve done and seen

where the breeze is sweet as shalimar and there´s Forty Shades of Green

Post Famine eviction photographs show how merciless British landlords were

The Irish Land War was an organized campaign of civil unrest in Ireland that lasted from the 1870s until the 1890s. It was called a 'war,' and there were violent incidents and deaths during the campaign, but the Land War, led by the Irish National Land League, was essentially a non-violent movement of tenant farmers with the aim of resisting the landlords' efforts, backed by the British government, to evict tenant farmers who were struggling the pay the ever increasing rents.

Still struggling to recover in the aftermath of the Great Hunger in the 1840s, these poor tenant farmers were often exploited by landlords, especially by “absentee landlords,” those landlords who lived outside of Ireland, who raised rents without regard to what the farmer could pay or what the land could bear.

The eviction of Thomas Considine at Moyasta, County Clare. IMAGE: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF IRELAND.

Evictions were widespread. The Land League organized resistance movements throughout the country hoping to reduce rents and to put an end to the threat of eviction facing many of Ireland's tenant farmers. When nothing more could be done to stop an eviction, however, tenants often took to barricading their cottages and taking up an odd assortment of arms in an effort to prevent police removing them.

Read more: How three brave sisters defended their family’s home in the Irish Land War

Police shield themselves against hot water thrown by tenants while carrying out an eviction. IMAGE: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF IRELAND

The images here are from the National Library of Ireland and were taken around 1888. They show some of the efforts by tenants to protect their homes, while police took up battering rams to remove their protections.

Constables surround the home of boatbuilder Francis Tully on land owned by the Marquis of Clanricarde at Woodford, County Galway. IMAGE: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF IRELAND

With thorny bushes placed in windows and doors to prevent armed police and British soldiers from entering, boiling water and cow dung was fired at them by tenants to warn them away when they came with an eviction order.

A building in Mitchelstown bears an anti-eviction banner and has its windows barricaded with brush to repel attacks. IMAGE: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF IRELAND

Although the number of evictions never reached the same levels as they did during the famine, some 100,000 families were left in rent arrears due to the economic situation in the country by 1879. Thanks to the work of the National Irish Land League and The Ladies Land League, a movement numbering approximately 200,000 people helped prevent of the disastrous total of evictions from the famine years was avoided in the late 1870a.

A laborer's family outside their temporary turf hut after being evicted from their home. IMAGE: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF IRELAND

This was achieved by drawing attention to specific cases of eviction and placing national pressure on the landlords trying to remove tenants from their homes. One of the most high-profile of these led to the introduction of the concept of a “boycott” to the English-speaking part of the world. In 1881, landlord Captain Charles Boycott was ostracized by the local community in south Co. Mayo in what became one of the most effective methods of campaigning by tenants.

The scene before an eviction in County Clare. A disassembled battering ram is brought in on a horse cart. IMAGE: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF IRELAND

Not every family was as lucky. Speaking about an eviction in Tully in 1888, William Henry Hurlbert stated, “Two constables were burned by the red-hot pikes, the gun of another was broken to pieces by a huge stone, and a fourth was slightly wounded by a fork.”

A battering ram is used to breach a farmer's home. IMAGE: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF IRELAND

“On the morning of the eviction we were up at the break of day and laid our plans, each to defend a certain point and none to waiver, whatever might come,” said Frank O'Halloran of his family’s eviction in 1887.

IMAGE: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF IRELAND

“We boiled plenty of water and meal, and, when all was ready, we kept a look-out for the bailiffs and the rest of them. At this time I was only home a few months from America, and during my absence, I may add, I did not learn to love Irish landlordism or English rule.

Mathias McGrath's home in Moyasta, County Clare after destruction by a battering ram. IMAGE: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF IRELAND

“I got a big pole: there was a policeman at the top of the ladder; I put it to his chest, pushed him into an upright position. The policeman behind him pressed him on, while the crowd yelled, wild with delight. I shoved harder and he fell to the ground, amidst deafening cheers and shouts. Others pressed on, to meet the same fate.”

The scene at the eviction of Thomas Birmingham in Moyasta, County Clare. IMAGE: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF IRELAND

H/T: Mashable

Staff at the Irish Consulate in New York are fighting to retire with dignity

After decades spent in a tax no-man’s-land, their pleas for a solution ignored by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, a group of long-time local staff members at the Irish Consulate in New York face the prospect of retiring on a pittance in comparison to their counterparts elsewhere.

Throughout their time with the Consulate, the local staff members who emigrated from Ireland and later became US citizens have been precluded from paying to the US tax and social security systems. Nor have they been included in Ireland’s pension system.

The alleged failure by the Irish government to make social security payments for these employees will result in a greatly reduced amount of funds available to them once they retire.

Some local staff (as opposed to diplomatic staff) at other Irish Consulates across the US have been afforded access to preferable pension arrangements. When the New York staff, many of whom are approaching retirement age, realized the bleak circumstances they would be facing, they attempted to raise the issue with the Department of Foreign affairs but have been largely dismissed.

As employees of a foreign government, they cannot have their case heard under US law, so Shane Humpries, the attorney representing them, advised they look into joining the Office and Professional Employees International Union.

Their request to join the union must first be approved by the Irish government, which has declined to respond for close to one year.

The New York Daily News recently reported on their case, calling it “a bureaucratic quagmire that’s robbed them of a lifetime of retirement earnings — with no solution in sight.”

Seth Goldstein of the OPEIU said that he was surprised at the lack of response given the history of the Irish and the labor movement.

“There are many unions here in the city that were started by the Irish — and supported by the Irish,” he told the Daily News. “Given their history, this situation has come as a surprise. We can’t get an answer from the consul here in New York or the government in Ireland.”

Humphries told the newspaper that his clients have “fallen through a major crack in the system. With Social Security, it’s all about time spent paying in — you can’t make up 20 or 30 years lost. . . They are only eligible for a small pension in Ireland, one that’s so little they’d qualify for food stamps.”

Raise a Guinness and celebrate friendship, conversations and togetherness

First launched in 1959, it’s named “Guinness Draught” because it was first brewed to be served on tap at pubs. It’s also the world’s first nitro beer because the unique qualities of Guinness Stout required a different approach to conventional carbonation. The nitrogen infusion gives the beer its smooth creamy mouthfeel and beautiful long-lasting head. 

Guinness Draught is surprisingly light, with fewer calories than a comparable glass of skim milk or orange juice.

 

Belfast soccer commentator signs major deal with America’s oldest broadcaster

A Belfast man who has blazed a trail in the United States with his coverage of soccer’s English Premier League has announced that he has signed a deal with America’s oldest broadcaster.

Phil Brown, whose “Beyond The Pitch” podcasts have been featured on Sirius for a number of years, will now appear on the NBC network.

NBC has agreed to host both Brown’s podcast and a separate Manchester United broadcast.

Brown, who immigrated to California in 2001, told the Irish Echo that he was excited at the link-up.

“The original ‘Beyond The Pitch’ show that I do with Martin Wallwork and former Manchester United player Danny Higginbotham will be broadcast on their radio and podcast platform. I will also be appearing across their platforms,” said Brown.

“We are extremely excited to work with the magnificent team at NBC Sports, a team who have led the way in soccer coverage in North America for the last number of years.”

Brown spoke of how he started the podcast after missing the cut and thrust of the game in Europe.

Read More: Belfast man astoundingly getting Americans interested in soccer

“Around 2010 ago I set up a podcast in my bedroom with an American lad who was a massive football fan.

“I had never met the guy in my life, but we just started doing it.

“At that time there were millions of podcasts, so we asked ourselves how we were going to stand out from everyone else.

“We decided to contact as many major football clubs as we could around the world, and we told them how we were based in Hollywood and would be keen to interview players and could get them exposure in America.

“We then started getting players offered to us for interview – Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United) and Michael Essien (Ghana) and Hugo Almeida (Portugal) and it built from there.”

Details have yet to be finalized of when Phil will begin on NBC Sports but “Beyond the Pitch” can be downloaded via iTunes.

Garden State Film Festival showcases 2 Irish films

In the last 50 years the Irish film industry has grown by leaps and bounds. It has not only given us great films, many shot on location in Ireland, but actors who have become household names, such as Siobhan McKenna, Peter O’Toole, Saoirse Ronan, Brenda Fricker, Richard Harris, Fionnula Flanagan, Colin Farrell, Fiona Shaw, Sarah Bolger, Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson—and the lists goes on and on, growing daily as new talent comes to the forefront.

One place Irish actors and their films have found a home in the United States is at the Garden State Film Festival. Founded in 2002 by industry insider Diane Raver, the GSFF is a non-profit organization that comes alive every spring at its new headquarters in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

This year the GSFF takes place between March 30th and April 2nd and it will be introducing two Irish-themed films to its rabid fandom—Narcan and The Ladies.

Raver is succinct and blunt in saying what she wants for her festival: “It has to be good with a plot that has a beginning, a middle, and an end and has good production value. We don’t screen what some festivals call ‘edgy’ and no one knows what the film was about when they leave the theater.” This year Raver will be showing a remarkable 225 films from 24 countries, with filmmakers attending from as far away as China.

Raver has been a big fan of Irish films for a while. She has traveled to Ireland to participate in the Cork Film Festival and can’t remember when she didn’t have an Irish film on her venue. “The Irish have a wonderful film board which encourages filmmaking as a vocation…the Irish aren’t dumb!”

How does Raver find Irish films? “We host an international call for entries each year and we have a sterling reputation on the festival circuit as a Trudgen’s indie festival, not like others that say that, but are really only interested in screening studio indies—which is an oxymoron.”

Raver hopes that in the future she will be able to screen many more Irish films. “We love their work, we applaud their work, and we celebrate it. I can’t think of one bad film we have seen from Ireland.” This Irish year’s entries include:

The Ladies

Still from the poster of Ladies.

The Ladies is Jake McKone’s wonderful 10-minute short which captures all the awkwardness and terror the love-timid go through when involved in the dating game. The film tells the story of a shy young man named Ernest on a first date who is subjected to a series of mortifying events when he mistakenly uses the ladies’ room in a restaurant. There, he is barricaded in a bathroom stall by four opinionated women. The result is hilarious as his stoicism leads to an unexpected encounter with the opposite sex.

“I wrote and directed this film,” Jake McKone told IrishCentral, “based on some hopeless dating experiences that I had in the 1980s. Imagine Basil Fawlty’s lovechild on First Dates.” The film was produced by Liam Beatty, whose brother is married to McKone’s sister, and who has produced a feature for the BBC. “We did extensive casting for the lead role which is played by actor/comedian Sam Monaghan. He relished the role and brought a lot to the character. Sam has appeared in TV and film, including Love/Hate and Rebellion.”

There are five female roles played with an exuberant earthiness by Anna Hession, Michele Burton, Aoife Honohan, Hannah Colgan and Evelyn Shaw. The antagonist Turlough, a bully and former classmate of Ernest—and the man who planted the hapless hero in the ladies’ room—is played with wonderful menace by Danny Mahony.

McKone is a Chartered Surveyor based in Dublin with a passion for filmmaking.  After attending numerous courses, he started making films about ten years ago. He wrote and directed the feature mockumentary Strange Days Are These, which premiered at the Galway Festival in 2008.  His first short Rearview won the Celtic Media Festival in 2009, and his next short Gonadz won Element Pictures Zonad Competition.  McKone’s Speed Trap was broadcast on RTE in 2015.

The Ladies will screen on Saturday, April 1st at 8:15 p.m. at Atlantic City’s Resorts Hotel & Casino’s Screening Room in the Ocean Tower on the 13th floor. 

Narcan 

A New York film with a Limerick-McCourt connection

Limerick actor Peter Halpin.

While The Ladies will leave you holding your sides, Narcan shows you the gritty side of New York life as seen through the eyes of an Irish paramedic.

What is Narcan? It is a prescription medicine that blocks the effects of opioids and reverses an overdose. It is a drug used by Irish-born paramedic Sean Ryan as he races through the streets of New York trying to save people from their demons, all the time struggling to save his marriage and connect with his young son.

Ryan is played by Mungret, County Limerick actor Peter Halpin, who says that Narcan “isn’t for the lighted heart!”

“It is a true story,” Halpin told IrishCentral, “which is shot from the hip with no punches pulled. We want people to experience what a day in the life of an NYC paramedic is really like, so we don’t sugar-coat anything, we tell it as it really is.”

Halpin is not only the star of the 21-minute short, but also the executive producer. Halpin collaborated with director Peter McNamara, who also wrote the screenplay. “Mack approached me with the idea in April 2015,” said Halpin. “I loved the concept and we immediately began developing it. Principal photography began in August/September of 2015, so it’s been a long road, but a most rewarding and satisfying one!”

There is also a unique Limerick connection surrounding Narcan. Not only is director and screenwriter Peter McNamara from Limerick, but so is Halpin. Halpin played the young Malachy McCourt in the film version of Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes. “Yes,” said Halpin, “it’s quite ironic that I played Malachy in Alan Parker’s film Angela’s Ashes many moons ago and then we end up working together on my film, Narcan. Malachy has become a great friend, mentor and champion of mine. He is exceptional in the film and I am very grateful to him for all that he does.”

McCourt, who plays the father of Sean Ryan’s wife (Sinead Ryan) in the film, told IrishCentral how he got cast: “I got the part because I had met Peter Halpin through a mutual friend shortly after he arrived in New York City. I play Paddy B his father-in-law in the film, a somewhat crusty old fucker, disabled, who is retired from civil service job, probably conservative.

“Peter Halpin,” McCourt went on, “grew up in Limerick a long time after I left there. His home is near the graveyard where all my mother’s relatives are buried. His family were well known as they were in the meat business. I wish I had known them better to get a bit of meat from them.

“Peter director [McNamara] and Peter [Halpin] actor sprung me from a rehab where I was recovering from a broken femur. I got out for the day so there was a rush to get my part done in one day. All had to be done with me seated as I was unable to stand up. And we got it done.

Great drama in and out of the story.  Those EMT laddies and lassies are the unsung heroes of our city and this film will sing their song. Their song loud and heartfelt.”

The thing about Narcan is that it will leave you asking for more—and that’s exactly what Halpin has in mind. “We made this film,” said Halpin, “as a calling card or proof of concept as it were, to attract investors to make the feature version, which we will shoot in October of this year here in the city. If there are any established film producers out there who are interested in helping us tell this ground-breaking story, drop us a line at narcan@outlook.ie. We have also partnered with the Children’s Aid Society who do amazing work for the under privileged kids here in the city and a percentage goes directly to them, so you’re helping a great cause as well as producing a movie! You can also follow us on all social media platforms: @narcanmovie.”

Narcan will screen on Sunday, April 2nd at 3:00 p.m. at Resorts Hotel & Casino’s Screening Room in the Ocean Tower on the 13th floor.

* 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.

Learn to play Irish music, Part 2: Finding a teacher

In this IrishCentral series, we'll look at the process of starting to play an instrument in the traditional Irish style that you'll find in seisiúins around world.

This guide is written from a beginner's perspective, by a beginner, and doesn't cover in-depth topics for each instrument. In the first part of the series, we looked at choosing an instrument.

If you have additional tips and tricks you think a starting player should consider, let us know in the comments below.

Part two: Find a tutor 

To some extent, finding a teacher will depend on what instrument you choose.

It’s perfectly possible to learn to play without professional help, but the added benefit of having a teacher who corrects basic mistakes you might not know you’re making is invaluable.

It’s also worth considering that, for many people, the forced timetable for practice that lessons provide can be as valuable as the lessons themselves. After all, the first question at every session will be "how did you get on with your practice this week?"

Real-life tuition


A first port of call should be Comhaltas Ceoltoirí Éireann,  a cultural body that promotes Irish music and tradition worldwide. They have branches all over the world, with a concentration in North America and Europe, but a few in Australia and elsewhere, too.

Each branch will have different teaching abilities based on the teachers who are available in your area, but their club model has the added benefit of social events and they’re internationally recognized.


If Comhaltas doesn't have a branch near you, there may be a freelance teacher or other school nearby.

The first thing to try is a simple Google search for the name of your instrument and your area. Even if that doesn't turn up a teacher, it might still turn up a player, who can point you in the right direction or may consider private lessons.

You can also investigate local folk festivals or Irish societies, which often have better connections and will be able to help.

Online options

If finding a real-life teacher is impossible, you have a handful of other options.

Skype lessons are a perfectly valid form of tuition, with many of the advantages of real-life tuition. Assuming you can follow instructions without a teacher physically moving your hands, the biggest drawback is the time-delay in online chat, which makes it impossible for student and teacher to play together.

Another fantastic resource is the Online Academy of Irish Music. The OAIM runs courses over a vast range of instruments and abilities and even gives access to the first few lessons for free. Lessons use videos, mp3s and PDFs allowing you to learn at your own pace, re-do lessons as often as you like and all in your own time. 

Other sites include http://blaynechastain.com/i-teach and http://irishguitarpod.com/lessons/.

Teach yourself

If you still can’t find a teacher, self-tuition is possible. Find a good book, and shell out for the accompanying CD.

Unlike pop and rock music, a song isn’t just a song; many have several names, and some tunes have no name at all (you’ll sometimes see these listed as ‘gan ainm’, literally ‘no name’ in Irish). Be sure to check a European retailer like Amazon.co.uk if you can't find an appropriate book on the USA or .com sites.

YouTube can be a fantastic resource for both tunes and simple lessons and a simple search should unearth many Irish instrumental channels such as Tradlessons and Irish Music Academy.

The first thing to learn is where the notes are on your instrument – CDEFGAB and so forth. Sites like The Session have tune catalogs in simple notation, rather than sheet music, and have MIDI downloads so you can hear the tune and how long each note is played. This will let you start playing before learning sheet music, although many players and teachers would strongly encourage learning to read musical notation long-term.

If you are teaching yourself, it’s important to set a timetable for yourself and stick to it. Clear at least 30 minutes once a week to sit down and move on to the next "lesson" in your book, just like you’d do in a real-life lesson, and practice for shorter periods several times a week.

A good technique for keeping track of this is committing to practicing just a few minutes a day – 5 or 10 – and ticking days off on a calendar when you do. After a few days, you’ll have a string of successful days marked off, and you won’t want to break the chain. And sometimes you’ll find yourself enjoying it so much you’ll practice for longer than the allotted time.

It's also important to go to as many seisiúins as you can and even just listen if you don't feel confident enough yet to participate, but remember that a traditional session is the best place to make your mistakes. So may other people will be playing that an odd note here or there will not be noticed.  

In part three of the series, we'll take a look at the different types of traditional tunes and good tune recommendations to get you started.

You can look back at part one of the series and choosing your instrument here

If you've any further advice, leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

*Originally published in September 2013. 

He left the priesthood for love, now he's back after wife died

An Irish American who left the priesthood in 1978 to marry has now returned to the altar following the death of his wife two years ago.

The son of Irish immigrants, Father Frank Daly, now 74 and a grandfather of five, still wears his gold wedding band on his left hand when he says Mass at the Gate of Heaven Church in South Boston.

"When I first came here, I met a lady and she said, ‘Oh, Father, welcome to South Boston,’" he told the Boston Globe. "Then she stopped and said, ‘We don’t like long homilies.’ And I said, ‘Well, about three months ago, I was sitting where you are. And I don’t like them either.’"

Frank Daly’s story is one of a remarkable journey.

Mary Gautier, senior research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, said that while it is not uncommon for widowers to enter the priesthood, Daly’s return to the vocation after giving up his collar to wed is rather unusual.

"This is the first one that I’ve heard of," she said.

Frank and Janice Daly in 1984, six years after their marriage.

Daly, the second of four children born to immigrants from Skibbereen in County Cork, had his first priestly gift conferred upon him in 1967 at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, where he had studied at the North American College. Following his ordination, he found his way to St. Mary’s in Dedham, MA at the age of 25.

It was in Dedham that he first met the Goulds, a parish family who had an attractive daughter named Janice, with whom he shared many common interests. She had, in fact, once been a nun, a member of the Sisters of St Joseph. Later, while serving in Sudbury, Frank began hearing a different calling. He and Janice began exchanging phone calls, having dinner, and spending time together on Frank’s day off.

Of course, his being a priest made things complicated.

"Initially, if you find someone like that attractive, you recognize that that’s something that you’ve kind of sworn off," he said. "You try to integrate it into your spirituality – that it’s not something that you really should pursue."

He traveled to California for further studies in theology and also for the time and space to sort out his feelings on the developing relationship.

"I thought it would give me a breather to work this whole process through in my head," he said.

While away, he wrote to Janice often. It was clear, the two had fallen in love.

In early 1978, Frank and Janice were married in a civil ceremony. Frank had asked permission to leave the priesthood before the marriage but was refused. He asked again afterward and was granted approval, and in 1981, was married in the Catholic Church.

Daly found work in the Massachusetts secretary of state’s office, where he served for a time as director of public records. The Boston Globe reports he worked as a special assistant to US Senator Paul Tsongas and later led the business ethics program for the defense contracting giant Northrop Grumman.

He and Janice, a middle school math teacher, had two children. The family went to church every Sunday.

Their son, Chris Daly, now an Army pediatrician in Texas, remembers his father as one who would bring him to hockey games, who expected much but was also a gentle moralist. Chris recalled how one day he smashed a window in the rear of their home with an errant fly ball. He dreaded his father’s return home, but his father took it in stride.

"He said, ‘Well, every American kid breaks a window with a baseball once,’" Chris said. "It took me off guard. I think I had to do extra chores."

In 2003 Janice suffered a stroke in the middle of Mass at the parish church. She was a teacher in the parish school. She suffered left-sided paralysis, but cognitively she was the same person. Frank became her caretaker and they would go on daily outings.

"She was very resilient and came back from the brink of death a number of times," Father Daly said.

They were together constantly for 12 years until her death two years ago.

After her passing, Daly sought out a spiritual director and tried to make sense of his life. He thought again about the priesthood, but he didn’t want to diminish his married years.

"I had all sorts of things I had to work through," he said.

Eventually, he found himself in conversation with officials of the Boston archdiocese.

"They said, ‘What are you willing to do?’ And I said, ‘What do you mean?’ " he recounted. Then "They said, ‘Would you go to the seminary?’ I said, ‘Sure.’ "

Daly spent a year at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston. On his birthday, the day before Thanksgiving last year, he received a phone call. It was the archbishop of Boston.

"Frank, I’ve called to wish you a happy birthday," Cardinal Sean O’Malley said to him. "I have a present for you from Rome."

That following Monday, Daly arrived at the rectory at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End, where he was vested in an alb and, after the gospel, Cardinal O’Malley administered the oath of fidelity.

He then, once again as the Rev. Francis J. Daly, said Mass with the cardinal.

Recently, Father Daly was named pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Sharon. He will start there on June 1.

This month, his children were with him when he celebrated Mass at Holy Family Church in Duxbury, marking the second anniversary of his wife’s death.

Daly's daughter, Meghan Daly Murphy of Mansfield said: "I remember thinking that I would love to see him as a priest again. He’s just a special man. He has a gift." 

Read more: Galway man to be deported from Boston after Trump immigration police home raid

 

"The nuns forcibly separated us" recalls former Tuam baby snatched from his mother

When John Rodgers’ mother was two and a half years old she was charged with begging on the streets of Dublin and sent by a chief justice to an industrial school. Released at age 16, she was raped and later gave birth to her son John, for which she was sent to the notorious mother and baby home in Tuam. Rodgers tells Cahir O'Doherty about their shattering experiences and the shadows they cast over two long separated lives.

When John Rodgers’ mother Bridie was two and a half years old she was arrested for begging on the streets of Dublin. A judge decided the best thing to do to reform her character was send her to a remote industrial school, where it was stipulated she would remain until her 16th birthday.

On release she was raped and became pregnant, whereupon she was sent to a home for unmarried mothers. It was one of the worst – the notorious mother and baby home in Tuam, Co. Galway, the place made famous by historian Catherine Corless in 2014 when she discovered 796 children had been buried there in a mass, unmarked grave.

Two books now tell Rodgers’ story in detail – "For the Love of My Mother" and "Eggshells and Broken Dreams." When you talk to him, however, you realize that this is a conversation that will likely never end. How do you experience that much human misery and expect to climb out of its shadow?

The cruelty of the Magdalene laundry system was best seen in the work itself, because as you were being set to work washing other people’s dirty laundry you were being hung out to dry yourself.

For the Magdalene women washing was work but it was also a metaphor: they were paying their keep and atoning for their sins at the same time. As carefully crafted systems of oppression go, it was both clever and watertight.

Women working at the Magdalene Laundries.

“I was born in the Tuam mother and baby home in 1947 and I remained there until 1953,” Rodgers tells the Irish Voice. “Six years. Enough to remember the place. Over time I tried to push the memories away, particularly in the early years.”  

There were two things that shaped his life and his pathway. He was with his mother for a year and a month at the start of his life.

“I just have to assume I bonded with her. Then the nuns forcibly separated us and I was put into the children’s home in Tuam (a separate wing from the mother’s quarters). My mother was put into the laundry in Galway. I had to deal with her loss then.”

Each day in Tuam he had different caregivers. Different nuns, different lay minders and no real sense of security. That impermanence was physically reflected in his playmates.  One day they’d be there and the next they’d vanish; some were adopted, others died, he says. Sometimes the fear he felt left him unable to talk to anyone. It left him slow to trust others. It turned him inward on himself, he says.

Nuns caring for children at a mother and baby home.

“When I was fostered out to an elderly couple at the age of seven it represented the second breaking up of my childhood,” Rodgers says. The introduction went bumpily, and he refused to speak to them for five days.

“I heard them have a fierce argument one night saying they were going to send me back to the home. There’s clearly something wrong with him, they said. He doesn’t talk.”

Looking back, Rodgers now actually thinks he was very fortunate. His foster parents were fine, upstanding people. “They taught me right from wrong,” he says.

What followed were years of hard work on the farm and something new for Rodgers: a bit of stability.

But that stability was broken one day in late summer when he was 14.  Returning home from the turf cutting, he saw a strange woman sitting in his kitchen.

“It was my mother. She had climbed over the wall at the Magdalene laundry and had escaped. I was horrified. I didn’t know her. I had no idea who she was and yet here she was.”

To Rodgers she looked like an escaped convict. “I have a foster mother now and this woman – well, I don’t know her – and she must be someone of ill repute because she says the police will be looking for her already, as will the priests and nuns.”

Women seated sewing at a Magdalene Laundry.

For his mother Bridie it was harrowing to see the shocked look on her son’s face. She was 34-years-old, she had spent 30 of those years in Irish institutions, the nuns had taken her freedom, they had taken her child, and now in a final act of treachery it looked like they had taken his love too.

Rodgers’ foster father had some stark advice for Bridie that night. Run to England and run fast, he warned her. He wouldn’t turn her in he said, not even if they police came around asking questions.

“It had a major effect on me for the rest of my life,” he confesses. “I didn’t see her courage then. I didn’t see how wily she had been to make her break for it.

“She had to wait till the time was right. She had to store a few pounds in her pocket, she had to send secret messages with help from the laundry drivers, she even had the address of a former Magdalene inmate in Northampton in England that she could stay with when she escaped.”

Rodgers was dumbfounded. He wasn’t able to have any kind of conversation with her. Growing up, no one would explain to him what a Magdalene asylum even was. The name of seemed to conjure stigma and shame he says.

“The word asylum suggested mental illness to me, the inability to function in normal society, a weird place,” he remembers.

What happened to Rodgers in his teenage years and in his twenties is typical of a person who had their childhood upended. He drifted.

“I spent years as a nomad,” he says. “I was always drifting. I was always out of a job. I had more jobs than hot dinners. I couldn’t hold one down. I felt I was cut out for something better, but I couldn’t better myself.  I had no confidence.”

His early experiences had left him feeling inferior, and there was no shortage of unscrupulous companies and individuals willing to take advantage of the fact. It made him vow to himself never to trust anyone again.

For the next 15 years he kept to himself. It was a classic abuse cycle.

Eventually he met a good woman, settled down and started raising a family, but a few years later he started having nightmares about his mother.

“She was going through the bins in London in my dream. I said to my wife, ‘Either I’m cracking up or this is a message.’”

So he traveled to England that night. He was 40.

“I got on a train and I thought about my mother. I thought about my childhood too, how I was always referred to as a bastard,” Rodgers says.

“I wondered if there were many more bastards on the train besides me. The world must be full of them.”

It took him a long time to find his mother, but eventually they were reunited. She had married an Englishman and they soon returned to live in Ireland, close to her son.

“She would get together with some other Magdalene escapees. I have never met finer women. When they heard I wanted to write they urged me to write about their lives. ‘Lookit John, I hope one day you tell our story because we were slaves and there was no escape,’ they’d say.”

For 10 years mother and son lived side-by-side and grew close. But like many women from that era, Bridie could never offer a bad word about the people who had incarcerated her.

“I do think they were brainwashed that they were sinners, fallen women,” Rodgers says.

The only sign that something had unmoored her was her insistence that she had started seeing ghosts. A priest would appear in her house late at night and terrify her she said.

She was in her sixties by now. Her husband started quietly talking of committing her. A trip to a medium in Dublin helped calm her, and a few years later she passed on.

The contradictions have stayed with Rodgers, though.

“One time I was out with her in the city center. ‘Oh God,’ she says, ‘here comes so and so. She doesn’t know I have a son; I’d be ashamed to tell her. Let on you're a family friend.’”

Rodgers asked her after, why would you be afraid? “She said, ‘Oh no, I couldn’t. I didn’t even tell my husband that I’d been in the laundries.’”

All things considered, Rodgers still says he feels lucky. For 10 years he got to bond with his mother. Thousands didn’t.

“She was a whizz with money. She was great with music. Ah, she could have had a great life, if someone had given her a chance,” he says.

Read more: Tuam babies adopted in large numbers to US, says historian who broke the scandal

"For The Love of My Mother" and "Eggshells and Broken Dreams" are available on Amazon.com.

Top ten rugged Irish beaches (PHOTOS)

TripAdvisor has released the results of their annual Travellers Choice “Best Beaches” survey and Banna Strand in County Kerry topped the poll, the number one beach for 2017.

Each year TripAdvisor lists the “best beaches” in Ireland from the reviews left by travelers who use their website. County Kerry features prominently on the list this year with four of the top six beaches in Ireland. Inchydoney beach in County Cork has been acknowledged as the best beach for the past three years,  but in 2017 it finds itself in second place.

Curracloe Beach in County Wexford is the only beach from the east coast of the country to make the list, leaving no place for counties Dublin, Waterford, Wicklow, etc.

Strandhill, Coumeenoole and Dog’s Bay were the only beaches on the list this year that did not receive the Blue Flag bathing status in 2016. This accolade ensures that beaches and marinas comply with a specific set of criteria outlined by the 2006 EU Bathing Water Directive. In Ireland, this program is funded by the the Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government and operated by An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland.

1. Banna Strand, Co Kerry

Banna Strand beach County Kerry

Top of the list is the beautiful Banna Strand in County Kerry. This Blue Flag beach extends for miles to the northwest of Tralee. Perfect for surfing, visitors can avail of lessons and summer camps to hone their skills. If that isn’t your cup of tea then a nice relaxing stroll on the sand could be just what you need, just wait till the tide is out.

The many sand dunes that dot the beach are the perfect shelter for a family picnic. With such a vast amount of shoreline to choose from don’t worry about those inevitable crowds in the summer, there’ll be plenty of places to sit and relax.

TripAdvisor reviews have described Banna Strand as beautiful, stunning and a little piece of heaven.

2. Inchydoney Beach, Co Cork

Inchydoney beach in County Cork

This Blue Flag beach found itself as the number one beach in Ireland for the previous three years. This year Inchydoney beach has been ranked second but is still a favorite among many. This family-friendly beach near the town of Clonakilty, is located right beside the award-winning Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa, which overlooks the beach, making it a favorite for couple's weekends and weddings as well.

Surfers and kayakers are frequently seen catching waves and roaming the sea with lessons and equipment rentals available for visitors. Reviews for Inchydoney Beach on TripAdvisor describe it as "stunning," "heaven" and "ideal for a refreshing break." TripAdvisor still rates it as the best thing to do in Clonakilty, so it’s still number one.

3. Derrynane Beach, Co Kerry

Derrynane beach in County Kerry

Derrynane Beach is the second Blue Flag beach from County Kerry to make the list this year. This beach is located just off the Ring of Kerry route, near the town of Caherdaniel in the south west of the county.

This sandy beach is sheltered by a natural harbor, which is most welcome while out walking on a windy day. It is described by TripAdvisor users as a stunning location.

4. Inch Beach, Co Kerry

Inch beach in County Kerry

Inch Beach is the third entry from County Kerry. Don’t let the name fool you, this Blue Flag beach is by no means small. This sandy beach spans 5km (3 miles) in length and is nestled between Dingle Harbour and Castlemaine Harbour.

The surrounding area provides the ideal location for watersports and fishing and also has many walking routes. The Dingle Peninsula has been used as a location in many movies. The Oscar-winning movie ‘Ryan’s Daughter’ (1970) had a famous scene filmed on Inch Beach, where the two main characters are seen riding horses along the coastline.

Reviews for Inch Beach on TripAdvisor describe it as wild and windy "a beach worthy of the Gold Coast, but a bit colder."

5. Strandhill, Co Sligo

Strandhill beach in County Sligo

Strandhill in County Sligo is one of Ireland’s top destinations for surfing. Visitors descend on Strandhill for the big waves, clean surf and sandy beach. With surfing so prominent in the area, there are many surf schools for people to take advantage of and beginners can learn the basics.

With 4km (2.5 miles) of sandy beach to enjoy Strandhill isn’t just for surfers. If that isn’t your thing then kick off your shoes and go for a relaxing stroll away from the big swells and take in the scenery around massive sand dunes.

As reviewers on TripAdvisor note, this is a breathtaking place where you can enjoy the Atlantic at its best.

6. Coumeenoole Beach, Co Kerry

Coumeenoole beach in County Kerry

Back to Dingle and the final entry on the list from County Kerry. This small beach experiences the full force of the Atlantic Ocean allowing for dramatic currents which make it unsafe for swimming.

However, what makes this beach special is the beautiful landscape. A short distance off the coast are the Blasket Islands which are in full view from the coastline. Many visitors take the Slea Head Drive coastal route and take in all the sights.

TripAdvisor reviews describe Coumeenoole beach as a beauty to behold.

7. Barleycove Beach, Co Cork

Barleycove beach in County Cork

Barleycove Beach is County Cork’s second entry on TripAdvisor's “Best Beaches” list for 2017. This Blue Flag beach is located in the south west of the county between two headlands on the Mizen Peninsula.

The beach is known for its extensive sand dune system, which is said to be a result of a tsunami that occurred off the coast of Lisbon, Portugal in 1755. There is also a small river which runs through the south of the beach and into the sea.

The TripAdvisor reviewers love the golden sand and clear blue water.

8. Curracloe Beach, Co Wexford

Curracloe beach in County Wexford

This is certainly one of the longer beaches to make the list. Curracloe beach is a Blue Flag recipient and stretches 11km (7 miles) along the east coast in County Wexford with three main entrances at Ballinsker/White Gap/Culletons Gap.

Parts of the beach have very large sand dunes that visitors climb and then roll down, although it is mostly children who take part in the rolling. Curracloe Beach is also the location where the Oscar-winning movie the ‘Saving Private Ryan’ (1998) D-Day landings scenes were shot.

The reviews on TripAdvisor describe this beach as spectacular.

9. Narin/Portnoo beach, Co Donegal

Narin/Portnoo beach in County Donegal

Narin/Portnoo beach is a 2km (1.2 miles) beach along the west coast of County Donegal. This Blue Flag beach affords visitors tremendous panoramic views. Just off the coast there is a small island, Inishkeel, which can be reached on foot during low tide. People can explore this small island where the remains of two churches are still present.

Inishkeel has been named a National Monument and is where St Conall Cael founded a monastery during the 6th century. The sand dunes which make up a lot of this part of the coast have been designated a National Heritage Area (NHA) due to the diverse range of the coastal and terrestrial habitats.

The reviews from TripAdvisor confirm Narin/Portnoo is a stunning stop on the Wild Atlantic Way.

10. Dog’s Bay Beach, Co Galway

Dog's Bay beach in County Galway

Dog’s Bay Beach in County Galway is more than a mile long and runs back-to-back with Gurteen Beach forming a tombolo which extends out into the Atlantic Ocean. Dog’s Bay Beach is naturally protected by the headland and is an ideal location for visitors to enjoy watersports like windsurfing and kitesurfing.

Unlike a lot of beaches across Ireland, Dog’s Bay’s sand consists of fragments of seashells, as opposed to limestone. These seashells allow for its white color. The machair vegetation which inhabits the the surrounding area is considered rare and is only found on Ireland’s west coast and Scotland.

Located near the small town of Roundstone in Connemara, TripAdvisor users have described this beach as one of the most beautiful in Ireland.

What is your favourite beach in Ireland? Let us know in the comments below.

H/T TripAdvisor

Sinn Fein announces withdrawal from talks to restore North govt

Sinn Fein has announced that they will no longer take part in talks to restore the power-sharing government in the north and that the British government has not put pressure on the DUP to enact agreed steps.

The party feels that issues previously agreed have not been acted upon by the Democratic Unionist Party, their partners in power.

The DUP did not turn up for talks at Stormont on Sunday, saying they do not negotiate on the Sabbath.

British Northern Secretary James Brokenshire is expected to seek more time to allow the parties to come together rather than call a new election.

British Northern Secretary James Brokenshire.

Speaking in Belfast on Sunday Sinn Féin leader Michelle O’Neill said:

“This talks process has run its course. Sinn Féin will not be supporting nominations for Speaker or the Executive tomorrow.

“When the extent of the RHI (A government home-heating program) scandal became apparent and the First Minister refused to step aside, Martin McGuinness acted and made clear there could be no return to the status quo.

“The decision by Martin McGuinness to resign was endorsed in the election.

"The election result has transformed the political landscape. The approach of the unionist parties and the governments must reflect this change.

“We entered talks to implement what had already been agreed, to rebuild public confidence in an Executive and Assembly, operating on the basis of equality and respect and rights for all in society.

Sinn Fein leader Michelle O'Neill.

“This was an entirely reasonable approach.

“Sinn Féin in the talks sought the full implementation of the outstanding issues of equality and rights. The governments and the DUP have failed to step up to the plate.

“The British Government has refused to honor its responsibilities. Their objective has not been truth and healing but continued cover-up of their actions in Ireland.

“They have also set aside the democratic wishes of the people and are intent on imposing Brexit and continued austerity.

“Sinn Féin is still intent on honoring our mandate and agreements made. We want to see the institutions restored but when we said there will be no return to the status quo we meant it.

Read more: "To honor him we must finish his work," Bill Clinton at the Martin McGuinness funeral

Dramatic footage as wildfires engulf Ireland after a dry spell

A respite from the rain is typically greeted with delight in Ireland, but the dry spell this past weekend also had some devastating consequences.

The first dry spell of spring has seen a surge of wildfires across Ireland. Since Friday, the Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) recorded 15 wildfires from counties Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Galway, Donegal, Louth and Mayo.

Eight of these were in areas protected for nature conservation – all are illegal, as setting fire to vegetation is prohibited between March 1 and August 31 each year.

The dry weather leaves areas with flammable vegetation such as gorse and heather especially vulnerable to conflagrations.

IWT Campaigns Officer, Pádraic Fogarty, said “every year we see the same wildlife wipe-out as hillsides and bogs get torched. It’s devastating not only for the natural environment but for the people who live in these areas as their livelihoods and property are put at risk.”

He called for “greater coordination between the Gardaí, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Department of Agriculture to clamp down on this illegal activity.”

The IWT also encourages anyone who sees a wildfire to report it to the IWT in addition to local law enforcement, so that they can keep a comprehensive record of the fires across Ireland. They can be reached via email at irishwildlife@iwt.ie

Animal stars of 'Game of Thrones' save Northern Ireland farm

A farmer in Northern Ireland credits the HBO series 'Game of Thrones' with saving his livelihood. Kenny Gracey, from County Armagh, supplies a lot of the livestock that are featured in the show.

"It has been a great asset and a great savior for our farm,” said Gracey, who runs Forthill Farm.

"Any of the background animals, the chickens, the goats, the geese, the dogs for instance or the deer ... I'm supplying those.”

Gracey’s animals are not the only ones featured in the fantasy drama.

Odin and Thor, Northern Inuit dogs from County Down, made their debut on the show as six-week-old puppies, playing the role of Direwolves 'Summer' and 'Greywind.’

Said William Mulhall, of Direwolf Tours: "I got a phone call one day from the breeder, who had owned them, saying that some TV show wants to use my dogs in it.

"So I brought the dogs up to the breeder's house where the trainers from Game of Thrones were and they had pictures and then that was it, that's how it began."

‘Game of Thrones’ has also helped the business of Ingrid Houwers, a taxidermist from County Down.

Houwers helps dress the set with props and costumes produced from wild animals that died humanely.

She said: "It gives them an extra life and rather than go to a museum where, although they still get admired, these certainly have more of a movie star kind of a life, where it does get used and obviously admired.

"I have seen things that go to the exhibition as well so they get an extra boost to show people what they're used for and how they bring this fantasy world to life."

Read more: R.R. Martin reveals “Game of Thrones” Westeros is an upside down Ireland

 H/T: Belfast Live, I Heart Dogs

The remarkable tale of a Louth woman who fought in the American Civil War

Ireland has produced many famous females who have made their mark in culture, politics and the arts. Many are household names but unfortunately some are not. In the case of Jennie Hodgers, she is better known by a different name.

Born on Christmas Day 1843, in Clogherhead, County Louth, to Sallie and Patrick Hodgers, Jennie left her native land as a stowaway dressed in men’s clothes at the age of 18 and ended up in Illinois.

Jennie arrived in America just as its Civil War began. In those days women could not join the armed forces but Jennie, who had travelled to America disguised as a male, changed her name to Albert D.J Cashier and joined the Union army on August 6 1862.

Jennie enlisted into the 95th Illinois Infantry and although she stood at a mere 5"3 and did not socialize well with the other soldiers, suspicions were not aroused as to the real identity of the small and quite soldier.

Jennie’s regiment fought in over 40 battles including the siege at Vicksburg and the battle of Guntown Mississippi where they suffered heavy losses.

In the heat of battle Jennie proved her mettle. While on a reconnaissance mission in Vicksburg, she was captured by a Confederate soldier. Jennie managed to grab her captors rifle and knock him unconscious with it before running away. Shortly after that at another skirmish, Jennie witnessed as her company’s flag was tore down by the enemy. She took it upon herself to retrieve the flag and climbed a tree under heavy fire where she hung it from a high branch. Throughout the war she displayed great bravery and miraculously managed to avoid any serious injury, a fact which helped her to maintain her identity.

On August 17 1865 Jennie was mustered out of the army and she returned to Illinois where she lived for over 40 years in the town of Saunemin. Because she was still living as a man called Albert Cashier she could claim a veteran’s pension. Jennie didn’t just live off her army pension, she took various jobs including a lamplighter, janitor and a dry goods clerk.

Albert D.J. Cashier's pension slip.

Jennie was proud of her war record and every year on Memorial Day she put on her uniform and joined in the local parade with the other veterans and continued to do so until she fell victim to an unfortunate accident in 1910.

Jennie was working on the local estate of Senator J.M Lish picking up sticks from his driveway when he hit her with his car. The accident resulted in Jennie being left with a broken leg and she was brought to hospital. When a doctor examined Jennie, he discovered her real identity but out of respect for the Civil War veteran he kept it a secret.

The broken leg had left Jennie with a bad limp and she decided it best to retire to the Soldier and Sailors Home in Quincy Illinois. Jennie still maintained her disguise but over a two-year period in her new surroundings she developed dementia and was moved to Watertown State Hospital for the Insane, where it was discovered the old soldier was not a man but a woman.

On March 29 1914, The Washington Post reported on the woman who posed as a man in the army. It went on to state the sad fact Jennie was committed to an insane asylum but reported how she had ‘participated in some of the bloodiest battles of the war and behaved with gallantry.’

At the asylum, Jennie was forced to wear women’s clothes, something she had not done in over 50 years. Jennie found it hard to wear the long dresses and one day she tripped over the long garment and broke her hip. While recuperating from that accident Jennie had also come under investigation from the Pension Bureau. This arm of the government had decided to revoke Jennie’s pension but with the aid of former comrades who claimed she had fought as tough as any man in the battlefield and was deserving of the pension, the government body backed down and let Jennie keep her well-earned pension.

On October 11th 1915 Jennie died at the age of 72. She was buried in the uniform of the 95th Illinois Infantry with full military honors in Sunny Slope Cemetery in Saunemin.

The historica home of Albert D.J. Cashier in Saunemin.

In the aftermath of Jennie’s death an article appeared in the Anglo-Celt newspaper of November 6th 1915 looking for heirs of Jennie to claim money she had left behind but none were found.

In 1977 the people of Saunemin replaced the standard military marker on Jennies grave with a much bigger one bearing the following inscription:

Albert D. J Cashier

Co. G, 95th Inf. Civil War

Born: Jennie Hodgers

In Clogher Head Ireland

1843-1915.

Read more: The American Civil War through the eyes of an Irish photographer

Trump's ambassador to Ireland has big plans to redecorate Dublin residence

Brian Burns, President Trump’s US ambassador to Ireland-designate, is to redecorate the Dublin home that has housed America’s ambassadors for decades.

Although as yet unconfirmed by the US Senate, the millionaire philanthropist has reached out to staff in Dublin and has committed $1 million to renovating Deerfield House where he and his wife Eileen will live.

In charge of the renovations will be fellow American, Carleton Varney. The interior designer has previously supervised the redecoration of the White House under Jimmy Carter, Dromoland Castle in Co. Clare and Adare Manor in Co. Limerick.

“What we are planning to do is to make it for both ways, for entertaining as well as to give it a very warm, cozy and cared-for look,” he told the Irish Times from his home in Florida.

“It will be a very homely experience while at the same time retaining the tradition of being a ceremonial place as well.”

Former US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O'Malley gathers at Deerfield with young Irish creatives. Photo: RollingNews.ie

Varney previously oversaw modifications to the property in 2001 and said, “I think of it all the time because I walk through the rooms.”

The ambassador-designate’s wife, Eileen Burns, is “Not a woman who is afraid of color.” And as such visitors could expect to be greeted by much more striking color schemes than the current ones.

But whatever they decide it will be in keeping with the period charm of the 241-year-old manor house.

“The house is like an old lady, a beautiful woman: you can dress her in the period and in the time but you don’t put her in a mini-skirt or try to set her in another environment,” Verney added.

Deerfield House was previously the home of the Chief Secretary of Ireland, namely the British Government’s minister in charge of Irish affairs and a total of 69 Chief Secretaries lived at the Manor House. Between the age of two and six, a young Winston Churchill lived at Deerfield whilst his grandfather served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland i.e. the British Monarch’s representative in Ireland. After independence in 1922 it was rented by the United States Government and functioned as the Legation’s office and the head of mission’s home. After Ireland became a republic in 1949 the US upgraded its diplomatic presence in Ireland with the building of a new Embassy in Ballsbridge and Deerfield Park sole function became as the house of the ambassador.

The annual Fourth of July gathering at Deerfield. Photo: RollingNews.ie

 

The property comprises of 62 acres of land, the ambassador’s residence and three further cottages. US Presidents who have stayed at the house include Kennedy, Nixon and Clinton. Other Presidents who have visited Ireland, namely Obama, Bush Jr and Reagan, stayed elsewhere for security reasons.

H/T: The Irish Times

Mentoring program for young Irish entrepreneurs open to new talent

The Irish Executive Mentoring Program is recruiting. The voluntary organizations looks to nurture upcoming entrepreneurial talent by linking young Irish citizens and members of the diaspora with experienced individuals in their field.

IEMP was founded in New York in 2012 in the belief that mentoring is one of the most dynamic and effective ways to nurture young talent. It’s work was recognized by the Irish Government in 2014 when IEMP was awarded a grant to facilitate the continuation of its work.  

Mentors are usually in the middle of or nearing the end of their business careers and as such are well placed to give advice to young Irishmen and women starting out their careers.

Alan Duncan who signed up to the program as a mentee and founded Select PR told IrishCentral, “People often think the the first couple of years are the hardest part of running a business. While they definitely present some serious challenges, things don't suddenly become easier with time. If anything, the stakes get a lot bigger. When I was invited to participate in the Irish Executive Mentoring Programme, my business was at a critical junction. We had entered a period of strong growth, which required significant changes in the way I approached my business. Changes I hadn't even realized.

Alan Duncan.

“I was partnered with Gavin Barrett, Chief Commercial Officer at Story Toys. Working with Gavin, it quickly became clear that a lack of organizational structure and task ownership was holding my company back. With his help I was able to map out the business, identify the people I needed to hire to free my time and facilitate our growth. Experience is a great teacher, but being able to pick up the phone and talk to someone who has been through it all before can be invaluable to a small startup.

“Our company now operates across three different cities, with clients throughout the UK and Ireland, and have continued on a very positive growth curve. Furthermore, by allowing myself to focus on building the business, we've been able to diversify our offering - reducing risk - and create jobs. Without the IEMP and Gavin's assistance, Select PR at best would have stuttered along without any clear direction and at worst would have stagnated.

“The wealth of Irish talent around the world and their willingness to support one another is something we should be hugely proud of. I would strongly recommend IEMP to anyone serious about growing their business.”

His mentor Gavin Barrett who now works as Chief Commercial of Touch Press - a digital publisher of apps, games and educational content - sent IrishCentral an email explaining that, “Throughout my career I’ve been motivated by a desire to build Irish success stories. I’ve worked in a range of startups with varying degrees of success, and I’m happy to share the benefits of my experiences, my successes, and my numerous mistakes with others walking the same path.

Gavin Barrett, Chief Commercial of Touch Press.

“I think of mentoring a little bit like a counseling session, in that the most productive approach is to let the mentee arrive at their own conclusions. My role is simply to facilitate that process, perhaps by suggesting new ways of analyzing a problem, or alternative perspectives on the challenges they face.”

He is positive that the scheme can continue to contribute positively the careers of future young entrepreneurs, “I would love to think that as new Irish businesses focus on international expansion, IEMP could have a structured, ongoing role in providing mentors for senior management, perhaps through a relationship with Enterprise Ireland.”

Gillian Horan who works for The Pudding - a full service branding agency is also positive about her experience with the program. She signed up because she felt like she needed some assistance to help her.

“I really felt the need for guidance, accountability and a sounding board,” she told IrishCentral. “Not only is [business] tough at times, it can be also quite lonely. I don't have a business partner or a co-founder and at the time I didn't have a Board of Advisors, so I really felt I needed a mentor to help me grow the business.”

She felt the program was hugely beneficial to her, “I got so much for the IEMP mentoring program. From having more accountability to knowing I could ask any business question without feeling foolish. Chris mentored me with a balance of friendliness and assertiveness. I knew every month I needed to update him on the business and I knew I would need to review the results of the tasks he previously set out for me. Chris made me think differently and he made me think big. Thinking big was one of the best things I could of learned at that time. I live and work in Ireland but my business can be global and now, I am delighted to say it is.”

And even though the program is technically now over, she and her mentor still keep up with each other. “During the program we were in contact every month. Since we finished our initial six months, Chris and I catch up every few months. It is fantastic to know that at the end of the phone (or more accurately Skype!|), there is someone who genuinely wants to check in, wants to see how I am doing and is always willing to help. Just yesterday Chris spotted on LinkedIn that I was speaking at a European Conference on Employer Branding, not only did he wish me the best of luck, he passed on an article that I could use as reference in my talk. For me that sums up how this program is still benefiting me.  I have no doubt that Chris and I will be in contact for many years to come.”

As for Chris, he became a mentor because he simply wanted to give back. “I had the benefit of mentors in my career and it is simply a way of paying back that experience.  All business is really about people, and the Irish are renowned and respected for their communication skills, so it's not a stretch for most of us! Additionally, we have the advantage of less than 'six degrees of separation' and that really helps build global networks. The benefit to young Irish people is helping them build connections within this huge global diaspora.  My interaction is a virtual meeting - typically by Skype) - twice a month for one hour for the  six month program, but the real benefits accrue 12-18 months down the road - in Gillian's case it has been wonderful to see her double her business and expand her staff, and if I can act as a catalyst that really is a win-won!”

Read more: Youngest ever self-made billionaire is a 26-year-old Irishman

For more information visit www.iemp.org.

Why Martin McGuinness will be remembered for hundreds of years to come

Séamus Ó Domhnaill, the 19th-century Donegal poet lamenting his drowned son, comes closest to capturing our devastation at the news that Martin McGuinness is gone.

An chéad Mháirt de fhómhair ba brónach tuirseach mo scéal.
Lámh thapa a bhí cróga ag gabháil romham ar leaba na n-éag.

[On the First Tuesday of autumn, sorry and tired was my news.
A fast hand which was brave going before me to the bed of the dead.]

Singer Christy Moore paying tribute at the funeral of McGuinness.

For in him, we had a hero and a champion who stood always by our side. While the commentariat assesses his life’s journey in parts, we see only the whole of the moon. The Martin McGuinness who faced down the powerful on the streets of his native Derry was also the Martin McGuinness we revered as a fearless peacemaker.

His was a life spent in selfless service. A life of patriotic and enduring endeavor. A life of endurance, resolve and unstoppable commitment. Until just after midnight on March 20, he was our North Star.

The body of Martin McGuinness being brought through the Bogside. Image: RollingNews.ie.

No matter how great the challenge or how intimidating the task, he rose again and again. And on every occasion, his integrity and nobility brought his people with him. His every action inspired confidence and courage in others. His humor and big heart got us through the trials of politics. His compassion and kindness emboldened us to reach further and higher.

We admired him as a comrade and leader, of course. But that wasn’t even the half of it. We loved him. In turn, he believed that love would conquer all. Indeed, he went on to prove that as the pre-eminent peacemaker of his time, befriending, in particular, opponents who knew what it was like to have been in the trenches.

Read more: How Martin McGuinness and Bill Clinton made peace in Ireland

McGuinness shaking hands with the Queen of England accompanied by Peter Robinson.

And while his astonishing ability to build bridges did, indeed, win over many hearts, it also meant that when he called time on efforts to turn back the clock, his people rallied like never before.

Read more: "To honor him we must finish his work," Bill Clinton at the Martin McGuinness funeral

Gerry Adams accompanying the coffin of Martin McGuinness through Derry. Image: RollingNew.ie.

Today is filled with sorrow, but in time to come, wherever people gather to seek justice, they will take great strength and succor from his memory. And every time his name is spoken he will live again.

And his name will be spoken for a thousand years.

Martin McGuinness' funeral. Image: RollingNews.ie.

Copyright © 2017 Robbinsville Irish Heritage Association