Irish FAQ: Introduction [0/10]

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Irish FAQ Maintainer

Nov 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/8/99
Archive-name: cultures/irish-faq/part00
Last-modified: 3 Jul 99
Posting-Frequency: monthly

Part zero of ten.

FAQ = Frequently Asked Questions

The FAQ has a new home on the web at
Please update your links.

This document summarises answers to some questions that are asked a
lot on (It also contains answers to questions that
are not asked very frequently, but are thought to be useful anyway.)
The answers come from a lot of people who have volunteered their time
to write them at various times and places. Originally, this document
was part of the soc.culture.celtic FAQ (maintained by Craig Cockburn;
Godfrey Nolan wrote most of the Irish part). Now this FAQ covers, though a lot of the original answers are still
present almost unchanged.

The answers here are not _the_ answers to your questions. No article
posted to a soc.* newsgroup can ever contain _the_ answers if the
questions are interesting. However, the answers should be as fair
and accurate possible without being bland or burdensome. Please send
comments and corrections to the the maintainer.

Currently, the maintainer is Christian Murphy <cpm @>,
but I prefer if you send FAQ related messages to <>.
If you have a question that is not answered in the FAQ, it is a much
better idea to ask in than to ask me personally. I am
not an expert in things Irish, just the guy who edits and posts the FAQ.
The newsgroup is also the right place to discuss controversial questions.

Irish accented characters in this document are represented using the
ISO-8859-1 character set, which can be used to represent all western
European languages. Also known as Latin-1, ISO-8859-1 is a de facto
standard on Usenet. If you can't read the accented characters,
ask for help (for example from your service provider). Slashes for
accents are ugly and unnecessary.

Again, please let me know if you find any inaccuracies in the FAQ!
I cannot check everything and some things are bound to get out of date.
The FAQ is corrected and updated fairly regularly, usually at least
every month. If you are reading a version that is more than a couple
of months old, it may be worth getting the current version.

I'd like to thank the following people, who have
contributed to the health and well-being of the FAQ by sending
comments/suggestions/updates/corrections/additions or posting interesting
information to

Aidan Hollinshead
Áine McManus
Bart Connolly
Brendan Lawlor
Clive Staunton
Dave Westland
Donal Mac Craith
Fiona C Hyland
Gerard Cunningham
Godfrey Nolan
Ivan Harrow
Jeanne Cruden
Joe Bernstein
K.E. Dennis
Markie Becker
Paul Linehan
Peter Muldoon
Richard Logue
Richard Marsh
Robin Popplestone
Séamas Ó Brógáin
Sean V. Kelley
Steve McKinty
Timothy Murphy

[ Obviously they do not all necessarily endorse the whole of this FAQ. ]

My thanks also to others who contributed but did not want to be named
and anyone I forgot to credit (please let me know!).


Part 1: Basics

1) What is the newsgroup "" about?
2) Where is the Irish culture?
3) I found a lot of nastiness here. Are real Irish people like that?
4) Could you please send me the Irish FAQ?
5) What is netiquette?
6) What is a troll? What should I do when I see one?
7) What are the basics I should know about Ireland?
8) What are the basics about the Republic?
9) What are the basics about Northern Ireland?
10) I'm a bit confused by all the names. Please explain.
11) What about Irish-Americans?
12) Why is there a conflict in the North?
13) Where can I find more information about the flags of Ireland?

Part 2: Tourism and the Web

1) How can I contact the Irish Tourist Board?
2) How can I contact the Northern Ireland Tourist Board?
3) How can I contact hostels in Ireland?
4) What festivals are worth visiting?
5) Can I visit Ireland on the web?

Part 3: The Irish Language

1) What kind of language is Irish?
2) Tell me about introductory Courses to the Irish language.
3) Where can I learn Irish abroad (or online)?
4) What summer courses in Irish Gaelic are there?
5) Do you know of any Irish language Cassette tapes?
6) What bookstores in the States have Irish books?
7) What is the name of the pin worn by fluent Irish speakers?
8) Where can I find computer terms in Irish?
9) Are there any Irish speakers on-line?
10) What do all these Irish place names really mean?
11) How do you say "kiss my ass" in Irish?

Part 4: Politics

1) What should I call it?
2) What should I call them?
3) Doesn't the Irish constitution lay claim to Northern Ireland?
4) What's special about elections in the Republic?
5) What are the political parties in the Republic?
6) What are the political parties in Northern Ireland?
7) Isn't contraception illegal in the Republic?
8) What about D.I.V.O.R.C.E. ?
9) Can anybody explain the abortion referendum?
10) Wasn't homosexuality banned in Ireland?
11) Where can I find the text of the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement?

Part 5: History

1) Why is Ireland divided?
2) How did the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland start?
3) What books are there on Irish history?
4) Chronological list of dates from Irish History

Part 6: The Famine

1) Why is it important?
2) Why is it controversial?
3) What happened?
4) Why did so many people die?
5) Was the Famine genocide?
6) Any references?
7) Where can I find other points of view?

Part 7: Cuisine (Recipes)

1) Corned Beef & Cabbage
2) Colcannon
3) Irish Soda Bread
4) Shortbread
5) Boxty
6) Potato Cakes
7) Coddle
8) Hot Ginger & Lemon
9) Other sources

Part 8: Miscellaneous

1) I'm considering looking for a job in Ireland. Any hints?
2) Where can I get information about moving back to Ireland?
3) How do I apply for Irish citizenship?
4) Do I qualify for Irish citizenship if my great-grandparent was Irish?
5) Could I not get citizenship by first getting a parent to get it?
6) Which Irish embassy or consulate should I contact?
7) Is dual citizenship allowed (for example if I'm a U.S. citizen)?
8) I'm an American student: can I get a working visa?
9) I'm looking for XXX from Ireland: how can I reach him/her?
10) What are black Irish and shanty Irish?
11) What are Scotch-Irish?
12) What are black protestants?
13) What are travellers?
14) How do I pronounce "celt" and "celtic"?
15) What's the difference between clover and shamrock?
16) Does anybody know the lyrics for [Danny Boy, Galway Bay, etc.] ?
17) Where can I order Irish turf in the U.S.?
18) What are Claddagh rings?

Part 9: Irish Names

1) Does anyone have a list of Irish first names?
2) How do you pronounce that?
3) Are there any books of Irish names?
4) I'm looking for information about a family name.

Part 10: Glossary

1) Geography
2) Irish Language
3) Irish Politics
4) NI Politics
5) NI Paramilitaries
6) Government
7) Semi-State Bodies
8) Taxation & Spending
9) Other Bodies
10) Sport
11) Current Affairs
12) NI Current Affairs
13) Dead White Males
14) Other Historical Terms
15) Monuments
16) Irish-America
17) Myth and Folklore
18) General Terms

Irish FAQ Maintainer

Nov 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/8/99
Archive-name: cultures/irish-faq/part03
Last-modified: 7 Oct 99

Posting-Frequency: monthly

Part three of ten.

Frequently Asked Questions on with answers.
Send corrections, suggestions, additions, and other feedback
to <>

The Irish Language

1) What kind of language is Irish?
2) Tell me about introductory Courses to the Irish language.
3) Where can I learn Irish abroad (or online)?
4) What summer courses in Irish Gaelic are there?
5) Do you know of any Irish language Cassette tapes?
6) What bookstores in the States have Irish books?
7) What is the name of the pin worn by fluent Irish speakers?
8) Where can I find computer terms in Irish?
9) Are there any Irish speakers on-line?
10) What do all these Irish place names really mean?
11) How do you say "kiss my ass" in Irish?


Subject: 1) What kind of language is Irish?

Irish is a language related to Scots Gaelic, Breton
and Welsh amongst others. All belong the Celtic family,
which is part of the Indo-European group of languages.
(Irish is part of the "Q-Celtic" group of languages,
with Scots Gaelic and Manx. Welsh, Cornish and Breton
belong to the "P-Celtic" branch.)

Here are a few samples to whet your appetite. Note that
even greetings vary between the dialects.

Dia duit (Lit. God to you)
Dia is Muire duit (Lit. God and Mary to you)

Go mbeannaí Dia duit May God bless you
Go mbeannaí Dia is Muire duit May God and Mary bless you

Bail ó Dhia ort The blessing of God on you
Bail ó Dhia is Muire duit The blessing of God and Mary on you

Go raibh maith agat Thanks (Lit. May there be good at you)
Go dtaga do ríocht May thy kingdom come
Nár laga Dia do lámh May God not weaken your hand
Gura slán an scéalaí May the bearer of the news be safe
Gurab amhlaidh duit The same to you
Tá fáilte romhat You are welcome

Cad é (Goidé) mar tá tú? How are you? (Tír Chonaill)
Cén chaoi 'bhfuil tú? How are you (Connacht)
Conas atá tu? How are you? (Mumhan)

Tá mé go maith I'm doing well

An bhfuil aon rud úr ag dul? What's new?
Aon scéal 'ad? What's new? (Connacht)

Slán leat Good Bye (said to one going)
Slán agat Good Bye (said to one remaining)

Sláinte chugat Good health to you
Gabhaim pardún agat I beg your pardon
Gabh mo leithscéal Pardon me (Lit. Accept my excuse)
Más é do thoil é If you please
Le do thoil Please
Breithlá shona duit Happy birthday to you
Saol fada chugat Long life to you

For the following greetings Gorab amhlaidh duit is a common answer:

Oíche mhaith duit Good night
Codladh sámh duit A pleasant sleep
Nollaig shona duit Happy Christmas
Nollaig faoi shéan is faoi A prosperous and pleasant
mhaise duit Christmas
Athbhliain faoi mhaise duit A prosperous New Year

Terms of Endearment

a ghrá
a rún
a stór
a thaisce
a chroí
a chuisle
my dear darling/love/treasure


a ghrá mo chroí
love of my heart!

Ta grá agam duit.
I love you.


Imeacht gan teacht ort
May you leave without returning

Titim gan éirí ort
May you fall without rising

Fán fada ort
Long travels to you

Go n-ithe an cat thú is go n-ithe an diabhal an cat
May the cat eat you, and may the cat be eaten by the devil


Subject: 2) Tell me about introductory Courses to the Irish language.

NOTE: Additional information is available in the file
RPAYNE1 TYIG via the LIST...@LISTSERV.HEA.IE with command

Údar : Mícheál Ó Siadhail
Foilsitheoir : Yale University Press -New Haven and London
ISBN : 0-300-04224-8

For the accompanying tape set (four cassettes);
ISBN : 0-300-04340-6
NOTE: Irish lessons to be used with above texts are available in
the file IGSTENS1 TYIG via the LIST...@LISTSERV.HEA.IE with the

As a learner, you might consider a set of cassettes and booklet
titled BUNTÚS CAINTE. They come in three levels. This is
convenient as you don't have to purchase all three at once. It
is recommended that you use BUNTÚS CAINTE for pronunciation in
combination with PROGRESS IN IRISH.

Údar : T. Ó Domhnallain
Teideal : BUNTÚS CAINTE Vol.(1, 2, or 3) Book and Cassettes
ISBN : X50153, X50154, X50155

Údar : Máiréad Ní Ghráda
ISBN : X71212

Conradh na Gaelige (The Gaelic League) welcomes all who are
interested in learning/preserving Irish. They can be contacted
at the following addresses.

12 Sillogue Rd.
Dublin 11
Phone: +353-1-842-9372

6 Sráid Fhearchair
Dublin 2
Phone: +353-1-475-7401, [book shop +353-1-478-3814]

Gaelic League
Pittsburgh Branch
P. O. Box 97742
Pittsburgh, PA 15227-0142


Subject: 3) Where can I learn Irish abroad (or online)?

There's a list of Irish courses in other countries at Ceantar
( Neil McEwan has written some
lessons that may be a useful start

You can find more Irish related links at Sabhal Mór Ostaig
(, the
Trinity College BESS department
( and Trinity College
Maths department (


Subject: 4) What summer courses in Irish Gaelic are there?

Note: Additional information is available in the file IGSGUSA
CLAS via the LIST...@LISTSERV.HEA.IE with the command GET

Information concerning courses in spoken Irish (for adult
learners) is available from the contact numbers given below. If
you are thinking of visiting Ireland this summer, you might
consider building into your holiday plans one of these short,
intensive courses in Irish Gaelic.

Here are three snail mail addresses to write to for info on those
summer courses for different dialects of Gaelic:

(a) Gaeilge Chúige Uladh: if you wish to learn Ulster Irish.
Oideas Gael,
Gleann Cholm Cille,
Contae Thír Chonaill,
Fón: +353-1-213566 or +353-73-3005

(b) Gaeilge Chúige Chonnacht: if you wish to learn Connacht Irish.
Áras Mháirtín Uí Chadhain,
An Cheathrú Rua,
Contae na Gaillimhe,
Fón: +353-91-95101

(c) Gaeilge Chúige Mumhan: if you wish to learn Munster Irish.
Oidhreacht Chorca Dhuibhne,
Baile an Fheirtéaraigh,
Contae Chiarraí,
Fón: +353-66-56100


Subject: 5) Do you know of any Irish language Cassette tapes?

Here is a list of audio tapes (excluding music) available from...

Book Distribution Center
31 Fenian Street
Dublin 2

Prices are in Irish pounds but do not include postage (which can
be considerable for air mail orders). If you wish to order any
of this material you should first write, phone (Dublin 616522),
or fax (Dublin 616564), for a price that includes surface or air

Note: In Ireland VAT (value added tax) does not apply to books,
but does apply to tapes. However if you live outside the EU
(European Union) you are exempt from VAT.

Am Scéalaíochta I
Stories for young children:
Sicín Licín; Na Trí Bhéar
Book and Tape £3.99

Am Scéalaíochta II
Stories for young children:
Na Trí Mhuc Bheaga
An Circín Beag Rua
Book and Tape £3.99

Foclóir Póca - Caiséad
Phonetic Tape prepared to accompany Foclóir Póca, an
English-Irish/Irish-English dictionary of the synthetic Standard
Irish dialect £4.00

Íosagán & Scéalta Eile.
Collection of short stories by Pádraig Pearse. £4.87 + vat
These stories are also available in print as "Short Stories of
Pádraig Pearse" which can be obtained for £4.95

Uair An Chloig Cois Teallaigh - AN HOUR BY THE HEARTH
Dual Language Book and Tape compendium of folk stories £10.00

Educational Services Teaching Cassettes
Irish/Gaelige. Two cassettes with a small phrase dictionary.
Educational Services Corporation
1725 K St., N.W., Suite 408
Washington, D.C. 20006
+1-(202) 298-8424

Review: This is a conversation course with minimal grammar (next
to none). I'm finding it very useful to start off with, as it
teaches phrases, which give me a useable foothold with the
language, and it repeats the Gaelic twice after the English is


Subject: 6) What bookstores in the States have Irish books?

Note: Additional information is available in the files IGJTM1 BIBL
and IGJTM2 BIBL via the LIST...@LISTSERV.HEA.IE with the commands

Name: Irish Books
Address: 580 Broadway, Room 1103,
New York, New York 10012, USA
Phone: (212) 274-1923

Name: Schoenhof's Foreign Books
Address: 76A Mount Auburn Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA
Phone: (617) 547 - 8855
Fax: (617) 547 - 8551

Or you could try one of the Irish bookshops on
the Internet.


Subject: 7) What is the name of the pin worn by fluent Irish speakers?

It's a fáinne, pronounced roughly "fawn-ye".


Subject: 8) Where can I find computer terms in Irish?

You'll find Irish computer terms (such as "líon domhanda" for
"world wide web") at Sabhal Mór Ostaig


Subject: 9) Are there any Irish speakers on-line?

You'll find them on the Gaeilge-A and Gaeilge-B mailing lists.
Gaeilge-A is for fluent speakers, Gaeilge-B for learners.
To subscribe to Gaeilge-B, send a mail message to
with the following command in the text of the message

SUBSCRIBE Gaeilge-B Your-firstname Your-surname

(If your name was "Joe Sixpack", this would be written as
"SUBSCRIBE Gaeilge-B Joe Sixpack".)

To subscribe to Gaeilge-A, use the same command as above, but
put "Gaeilge-A" instead of "Gaeilge-B"

There _are_ Irish speakers on as well.


Subject: 10) What do all these Irish place names really mean?

These web sites may be helpful.


Subject: 11) How do you say "kiss my ass" in Irish?

Póg mo thóin.


End of Irish FAQ part 3

Irish FAQ Maintainer

Nov 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/8/99
Archive-name: cultures/irish-faq/part02
Last-modified: 17 Jul 99

Posting-Frequency: monthly

Part two of ten.

Frequently Asked Questions on with answers.
Send corrections, suggestions, additions, and other feedback
to <>

Tourism and the Web

1) How can I contact the Irish Tourist Board?
2) How can I contact the Northern Ireland Tourist Board?
3) How can I contact hostels in Ireland?
4) What festivals are worth visiting?
5) Can I visit Ireland on the web?

[ Telephone numbers are given with the international dialling
code preceded by a '+' and area codes enclosed in brackets '('
and ')'. Put a zero in front of Irish area codes if you are
dialling from Ireland. Please let me know if any of these
numbers are out of date or just wrong. ]


Subject: 1) How can I contact the Irish Tourist Board?

BORD FÁILTE (The Irish Tourist Board), Head Office,
Baggot Street Bridge,
Dublin 2,

+353 (1) 676 5871 or +353 (1) 661 6500

In the States
1-800 223 6470
+1 (212) 418 0800
+1 (416) 929 2777

[ I've deleted the numbers for other countries because I've
no way of checking them without straining my telephone bill.
If anyone comes across a brochure or the like with the numbers,
please let me know...]


Subject: 2) How can I contact the Northern Ireland Tourist Board?

In Northern Ireland:
59 North Street, Belfast BT1 1NB
Tel: (011232) 246609 - Minicom (011232) 233228
Fax: (011232) 240960

US Office:
551 Fifth Avenue, Suite 701
New York, NY 10176
Tel: (212) 922-0101 or (800) 326-0036
Fax: (212) 922-0099

Canadian Office:
111 Avenue Road, Suite 450
Toronto, Ontario M5R 3J8
Tel: (416) 925-6368
Fax: (416) 961-2175


Subject: 3) How can I contact hostels in Ireland?

An Oige, Head Office, 61 Mountjoy Street,
Dublin 7, Ireland.
Membership required. 43 Hostels in Republic.
Tel +353 (1) 830 4555.
Fax +353 (1) 830 5808.
Telex 32988 IYHA EI

YHIANI, 56 Bradbury Place, Belfast BT7 1RU, Northern Ireland
Tel +44 (232) 324 733.
Fax +44 (232) 439 699
Membership required. 6 hostels in Northern Ireland

Be aware that the hostels affiliated to these two
official organisations usually have a curfew around 11pm!

Kinlay House, 2-12 Lord Edward Street, Dublin 2. Ireland.
Tel +353 (1) 269 7696.
Fax +353 (1) 269 7704
No membership required. 26 hostels in Republic.

57 Lower Gardiner Street, Dublin, 1. Ireland.
Tel +353 (1) 836 4700
No membership required.

Dooley Hostel, Glencolumcille, Co. Donegal
Tel +353 (73) 30130
No membership required.

Gulliver is a reservations database for Ireland run by the
Tourist Board. It covers hotels, guest houses, car hire etc.
All Bord Failte international offices are connected to Gulliver.
Call on 1-800-600-800 in Ireland or +353 (1) 284 1765 outside
Ireland to make a reservation using a credit card number to
guarantee arrival.


Subject: 4) What festivals are worth visiting?

[ This needs to be updated and expanded! ]

Music festivals are covered by Ceolas

Bord Fáilte publish a booklet called "Calendar of Events"
with hundreds of festivals around the country. You should be
able to get a copy from your nearest Irish Tourist Board office.


Subject: 5) Can I visit Ireland on the web?

Yes. Here are a few starting points. This is just a small
sampling of what is available.

The ever popular yahoo...

Telecom Internet's Doras [Irish for "door"]

Links under various categories

The World Wide Web Virtual Library's Irish section

More links

Good starting points for Northern Ireland web links

CELT - "text material of Irish interest"
(successor to Thesaurus Linguarum Hiberniae project)

Tourism Information [ gruesome, but official! ]

The soc.culture.celtic FAQ (large chunks of this FAQ are taken
from it!) should remind you that Ireland is only one country
with Celtic roots. The current version is at
(The old version is still available at

Book shops with a Web presence

A list of Irish Newspapers and other news media with a presence
on the web is available at

Some Irish writers are lucky enough (through fame and timely death)
to have their work on the web. There's a search engine at
Carnegie-Mellon that can help find them.

A good source for Irish poetry (from the living and the dead)
can be found at

Sports Football Asosociation of Ireland The Unofficial GAA site

More sports web links at

An excellent jump list for politics in Ireland is provided by
the UCD Politics Department at

General business info

The government in Dublin

The Constitution (Bunreacht na hÉireann)


End of Irish FAQ part 2

Irish FAQ Maintainer

Nov 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/8/99
Archive-name: cultures/irish-faq/part06

Last-modified: 7 Oct 99
Posting-Frequency: monthly

Part six of ten.

Frequently Asked Questions on with answers.
Send corrections, suggestions, additions, and other feedback
to <>

The Famine

1) Why is it important?
2) Why is it controversial?
3) What happened?
4) Why did so many people die?
5) Was the Famine genocide?
6) Any references?
7) Where can I find other points of view?


Subject: 1) Why is it important?

More Irish died in the Famine of 1845 to 1849 than in any war
before or since. The best estimates (based on census data
from 1841 and 1851, as well as other figures) are that around
one million people died, or one out of every nine inhabitants.
About one and a half million emigrated in the decade after 1845
(the peak was in 1851, when a quarter of a million people left
the island). The population continued to decline in Ireland
through emigration until well into the second half of this century
(it nearly halved between 1840 and 1910). Many say that the
west of the country never recovered.

The Famine hit one of the richest kingdoms of western Europe in
a time of peace. There have been food shortages since and even
starvation, but western Europe has not seen a large scale famine


Subject: 2) Why is it controversial?

Most of the controversy is over the question of blame. Those who
look for a simple answer usually settle on one of two targets:
the British government of the time or the Irish themselves.
The government is accused of genocide and even of instigating an
"Irish holocaust". The Irish are accused of marrying too early
and having too many children, making a Malthusian catastrophe

However the Famine is too complicated to allow a simple
apportionment of blame. There were a number of social and
political forces at work, not to mention the seed of the calamity,
the potato blight that robbed people of their food.


Subject: 3) What happened?

The potato crop failed two years in a row, 1845 and 1846.
There was a partial harvest in 1847 but there were failures again
in 1848 and 1849. The cause of the failures was potato blight
(phytophthora infestans) a fungus that attacked potatoes, making
them rotten and inedible.

There was hardship after the blight struck in 1845 but the true
famine did not come until the following year. More potatoes
than ever were planted that spring because people did not expect
the blight to strike again. It did. During the winter of 1846
the worst started to happen. People died of starvation in their
houses (or what passed for houses), in the fields, on the roads.
Dysentery and typhus became epidemic. Each took their toll,
especially among the very young and the old. Cholera hit in
1849 and killed many of the survivors. More people died of
disease than of starvation.

The hardest hit were the landless labourers who rented small plots
of land to feed themselves and their families. When their own
crops failed, they had to buy food with money they did not have.
The price of a hundredweight (112 lb or 50 kg) of potatoes in
Dublin more than doubled in eight months (from around 16d in
September 1845 to 3 shillings in April 1846, rising to more than
6 shillings by October). Wages did not keep pace. Some landlords
treated their tenants well, but most did not. Evictions were not
uncommon and tenants who were evicted were left without means to
support themselves.

The poor did not just accept their fate. There were food riots
and an upsurge in activity among secret societies. These were
dealt with as a threat to law and order by the usual method,
repression with violence if necessary. There was an epidemic
in crime as people stole to survive.

The prime minister, Peel, had £100 000 worth of Indian corn
imported from America for food relief in November 1845. This
was food not unfamiliar to the Irish, but it was unpopular.
A programme of public works was started in March 1846 to
employ the neediest. The works were to be paid for locally.
The harbour at Dun Laoghaire (then Kingstown) is a good example
of the type of scheme that was approved: it did not benefit any
particular private interest but was supposed to be of social
value. Unfortunately most of the schemes were of little value to
anyone and, although three quarters of a million were employed
on them by March 1847, they were paid a wage (about 12d a day)
too low to feed a family.

A traditional policy of Peel's party, the Tories, was support for
the Corn Laws, which restricted imports of grain. The failure
of the potato crop in Ireland helped convince Peel that this
protectionist policy was wrong. He moved to have them repealed.
In this he was successful. The Laws were repealed in June 1846
but Peel lost power immediately afterwards, having alienated
a large portion of his own party. The next prime minister was
Russell, leading a Whig minority government.

In March 1847 the government abandoned public works and started
a new scheme. Soup kitchens were opened, paid for by charity,
local rates and government aid. By July three million people were
being fed a day. It was probably the most successful (in terms
of lives saved) that was tried, but it was abandoned in September.

Instead, the Irish Poor Law System was supposed to cater for
the destitute. This System had been established in 1838 as an
extension of the English system in Ireland. The harsh conditions
in Poor Law houses were supposed to encourage self-reliance,
thrift and hard work. 200 000 were housed in July 1849 and
"outdoor relief" was given to a further 800 000. The system had
been built to house 100 000 and before the famine it rarely
housed more than 40 000. As a solution to the plight of the
famine-stricken, it was not only woefully inadequate; it was
horrific. The infamous "Gregory clause" denied even this much
relief to anyone who owned more than a quarter of an acre of land.

The blight struck again in 1850, but not to the same extent.
Hundreds of thousands of smallholdings had disappeared with the
people who lived on them. Many of the marginal plots that had
been in use were never cultivated again.


Subject: 4) Why did so many people die?

Ireland was uniquely vulnerable to a failure of the potato crop
in the 1840s. Potatoes had been imported to Ireland in the late
sixteenth century (they were brought to Europe from the Spanish
empire in America). By the nineteenth century, varieties adapted
to the Irish climate were developed and they became a staple,
particularly for the poor, who often lived off little else.

An adult male would eat 12 to 14 pounds (5 to 6 kg) a day.
If the amount seems large, it must be remembered that growing
potatoes was back-breaking work. Fields were dug with a spade;
planting and fertilisation were done by hand. An acre (about
0.4 hectare) could support four people, about twice as many
as the equivalent area of grain. With a supplement of milk or
buttermilk a diet like this did not lack any essential nutrients.

The population of Ireland was growing at around 1.6% a year in the
early nineteenth century (a rate that would cause it to double
every 44 years). This was one of the highest rates in Europe.
The rate fell drastically in the fifteen years before the Famine
to something like 0.6%. Population growth was highest in the
West, where small plots of intensively cultivated potatoes were
the most common. The population of Ireland reached its peak
just before the Famine.

Although the Irish poor may have been relatively healthy (there
was a notable lack of scurvy), they were still appallingly
poor. It was common for labourers to hunger in the late summer
before harvest. In 1841 there were more than a million of them.
Housing and clothing were poor: mud huts and rags were the norm
for the majority. Men lived to an average around 37 years of age,
(actually not a short lifespan by European standards of the time).
But most importantly, the Irish economy was ailing since the
end of the Napoleonic wars and the poor were getting poorer.

The Industrial Revolution never reached Ireland in the nineteenth
century (with the exception of eastern parts of Ulster).
Irish cottage industries could not compete against the new
mills of England. There was little opportunity for employment
outside of agriculture and agriculture did not pay well.

The potato blight was misunderstood or not understood at all.
People could see that it thrived in damp weather, but the
scientific committee of inquiry set up by Peel considered it a
type of wet rot. A fungicide for blight was not discovered until
1882, when it was found that spraying a solution of "bluestone"
(copper sulphate) prevented the disease from taking hold. At
the time of the famine there was nothing a farmer could do.

Medical science could do no better. There was no cure for
the common relapsing fevers, never mind typhus and cholera,
especially when these struck people already weak from hunger.

It would have taken massive government intervention to feed
everyone during the famine, probably more than any government
of the time was capable of. As it happened, the efforts of
the government were wholly inadequate, even by the standards
of the time. The Treasury spent £8 million, mostly in the form
of loans that were never repaid. This amounts to around two to
three percent of government spending during the period, or 0.3%
of GNP. It was easy for critics at the time to find more money
spent on other things, including £20 million to "compensate"
slave owners in the West Indies when their slaves were freed.


Subject: 5) Was the Famine genocide?

No. "Genocide" is defined in the Shorter Oxford as " the
(attempted) deliberate and systematic extermination of an ethnic
or national group".

British policy was anything but deliberate and systematic.
The government did not prevent extra food from being imported
(indeed the repeal of the Corn Laws had the opposite effect).
The government did not force exports to continue: Irish farmers
chose to export their produce. Of course, armed guards were
used to protect such private property.

Imports to Ireland rose and exports fell dramatically as a
result of a famine (see the table below, from Ó Gráda's book).


Grain exports and imports 1844-48 (in thousands of tons)

Exports Imports Net Export
------- ------- ----------
1844 424 30 +394
1845 513 28 +485
1846 284 197 +87
1847 146 889 -743
1848 314 439 -125


Quakers and other charitable societies were not prevented
from feeding the poor. On the contrary, private charities
were expected to provide most of the relief, as they had in
1822 and 1831, when subsistence crises had threatened to turn
into famine. One of the charities, the "British Association",
raised over £450 000 in Britain, including £2000 from Queen
Victoria, not the five pounds of legend. (Around one sixth
of the money raised was used to relieve famine in Scotland.)

(There is real doubt whether enough food was produced in
Ireland during the Famine to feed everyone [even assuming
perfect distribution]. A rough calculation shows that three
million extra acres of grain would have been needed to make
up the shortfall of potatoes. Theoretically, there was enough
acreage of grain to feed everyone if shared equally, but this
assumes, for example, that none of the grain would be needed
to feed the animals that would transport it.)

However, there is no doubt that the governments of the day
bear much of the blame for the number of deaths. There were
ideological reasons for refusing to intervene, but these had
little to do with anti-Irish animus (though that certainly
existed, as a look at some of the Punch cartoons at the time
proves) and much to with laissez-faire carried to its logical

The Whigs were strong believers in free trade and small
government. Adam Smith, the greatest economist of the last
century had written "the free exercise [of trade] is not only
the best palliative of the inconveniences of a dearth, but the
best preventative of that calamity". In a mixture of fatalism
and complacency, they trusted the free market to supply food to
the needy, or at least the most efficient distribution of what
food was available. Notoriously, Trevelyan, Assistant Secretary
to the Treasury and most responsible for British relief policy,
believed that the Famine was ordained by God as a Malthusian
measure to control population growth.

Russell's government can be justly accused of callousness,
miserliness, negligence, ignorance, slowness, fickleness,
complacency and fatalism. Unlike genocide, this does not amount
to murder.


Subject: 6) Any references?

This part of the FAQ is mostly based on two books. The
first is a slim volume, a fairly impartial summary of recent
work on the subject. It's very strong on the economics but
does not neglect the social and political aspects.

Title: The Great Irish Famine
Author: Cormac Ó Gráda
Publisher: MacMillan
ISBN: 0-333-39883-1

The second is Roy Foster's book Modern Ireland (see part 6 of
the FAQ for publishing details) which contains a chapter on
the Famine.

Another book (recommended by Patrick Denny <de...@GFZ-Potsdam.DE>
in this newsgroup) with a more contemporary slant is

Title: The Great Irish Famine
Author: Canon John O'Rourke
Publisher: (Abridged reprint) Veritas Publications
ISBN: 1 85390 130 X (Hardback 1 85390 049 4)

Cecil Woodham-Smith's book remains one of the most comprehensive
accounts available, though later research casts doubt on some
of her conclusions.

Title: The Great Hunger
Author: Cecil Woodham-Smith
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 0 14 014515 X


Subject: 7) Where can I find other points of view?

There are various pages on the web which contend that the Famine was

Chris Fogarty has a comprehensive web site at

Whitewolf has some material from Chris Fogarty on his site at

Nancy Monaghan has a web site with a similar theme at

An organisation called the Irish Famine/Genocide Committee
has a web site at .

Gareth Davis has written a paper about the causes of the Famine and the
lessons that can be drawn from it. A draft is available at

Richard Lough has some statistical research and commentary at

Various links (including some primary sources) relating to the Famine can
be found at


End of Irish FAQ part 6

Irish FAQ Maintainer

Nov 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/8/99
Archive-name: cultures/irish-faq/part08
Last-modified: 6 Jul 99

Posting-Frequency: monthly

Part eight of ten.

Frequently Asked Questions on with answers.
Send corrections, suggestions, additions, and other feedback
to <>


1) I'm considering looking for a job in Ireland. Any hints?
2) Where can I get information about moving back to Ireland?
3) How do I apply for Irish citizenship?
4) Do I qualify for Irish citizenship if my great-grandparent was Irish?
5) Could I not get citizenship by first getting a parent to get it?
6) Which Irish embassy or consulate should I contact?
7) Is dual citizenship allowed (for example if I'm a U.S. citizen)?
8) I'm an American student: can I get a working visa?
9) I'm looking for XXX from Ireland: how can I reach him/her?
10) What are black Irish and shanty Irish?
11) What are Scotch-Irish?
12) What are black protestants?
13) What are travellers?
14) How do I pronounce "celt" and "celtic"?
15) What's the difference between clover and shamrock?
16) Does anybody know the lyrics for [Danny Boy, Galway Bay, etc.] ?
17) Where can I order Irish turf in the U.S.?
18) What are Claddagh rings?


Subject: 1) I'm considering looking for a job in Ireland. Any hints?

The employment market in the Republic of Ireland has improved
markedly in the last couple of years. There are good jobs
to be had for people with appropriate experience, particularly
sales/marketing, customer support and technical/engineering.
People with fluency in one or more European languages combined
with other skills are particularly in demand.

The best places to look are the Irish Independent on Thursdays
(business "pink pages") or Friday's Irish Times (in the Business
Supplement). If you're interested in Dublin the Evening Herald
is also worth a look.

There are a number of websites of interest, for example

There's also a jobs fair every Christmas called the `High
Skills Pool', which has taken place in Dublin for the past couple
of years. They are partly funded by the IDA and will give you
information on companies in Ireland for free if you have any
queries. You can also get an information pack on moving back to
Ireland, e.g. what the tax rate is, etc.


Subject: 2) Where can I get information about moving back to Ireland?

The "Irish Emigrant" newsletter has a fairly comprehensive
guide on the web at
called "Living and Working in Ireland".

Another guide can be found at
(Unfortunately you don't get to see everything without
paying first.)

The Sunday Business Post has some useful information at


Subject: 3) How do I apply for Irish citizenship?

Anyone who has a parent or grandparent born in the Republic
of Ireland or Northern Ireland can get an Irish passport
by applying to your local embassy or consulate. If you are
considering applying for Irish citizenship, you should in any
case contact the nearest Irish diplomatic mission to make sure
you get accurate and up-to-date information.

You need to have the following :-

i) For the Irish grandparent, birth certificate and marriage
license to whoever was the other grandparent of the applicant.

ii) For the parent (child of the Irish grandparent) birth
certificate and marriage license to your other parent.

iii) For you: birth certificate

ALL of the above documents must have complete details that prove
the connection. In other words, the birth certificate must show
the names, dates of birth and places of birth of both your
parents, so that they can be conclusively identified to be the
same person mentioned on the marriage license and their own
birth certificate. Irish documents seem to include these
details automatically, but in the U.S., you may have to contact
the Vital Statistics Bureau in the state of birth to get an
official copy containing more details.

ALL of the documents must be official, i.e., must bear the
raised stamp of the issuing agency.

You have to fill out forms, attach photographs and have it all
witnessed, not by a notary public, but by a "clergyman, high
school principal, lawyer or bank manager".

It costs about $160 if you are claiming through your parent(s),
in addition to the cost of getting copies of the documents. If
you are claiming citizenship based on your grandparent(s) then
you need to pay $270 for Registration of Foreign Birth.

There's about a one-year backlog in processing applications.


Subject: 4) Do I qualify for Irish citizenship if my great-grandparent was Irish?

No, a great-grandparent is too distant a relation for you
to qualify. The rules are specified in the Irish
Nationality and Citizenship Act, which someone has been kind
enough to put on the web at

The Act is a bit confusing and not necessarily complete.
Check with an Irish embassy or consulate [see below] or
a lawyer [there are several advertising their services on
the web] for the definitive word on this.


Subject: 5) Could I not get citizenship by first getting a parent to get it?

No, you can't get citizenship from a great-grandparent
like that. You get citizenship from your parent at the
time of your birth (see the Nationality and Citizenship
Act,section six, subsection two). If your parent was
not an Irish citizen when you were born, you cannot get
citizenship from him or her later. (Obviously, this doesn't
stop you from getting citizenship if you are entitled to it
for some other reason.) I emphasize: none of what is said
here about citizenship is legal advice. I could be wrong.
Read the Act yourself, but if you want legal advice for
your situation you will most likely have to pay a lawyer.


Subject: 6) Which Irish embassy or consulate should I contact?

If you're in the States, you can choose one of the following.

Embassy of Ireland
2234 Massachusetts Ave.
Washington D.C. 20008
tel. (202) 462-3939
fax. (202) 232-5993

Consulate General of Ireland
Ireland House
345 Park Avenue - 17th Floor
New York, NY 10154-0037
tel. (212) 319-2555
fax. (202) 980-9475

Consulate General of Ireland
535 Boylston Street
Boston MA 02116
tel. (617) 267-9330
fax. (617) 267-6375

Consulate General of Ireland
400 North Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
tel. (312) 337-1868
fax. (312) 337-1954

Consulate General of Ireland
44 Montgomery Street, Suite 3830
San Francisco CA 94104
tel. (415) 392-4214
fax. (415) 392-0885

If you live elsewhere or you want more detailed information,
you could try looking at


Subject: 7) Is dual citizenship allowed (for example if I'm a U.S. citizen)?

In general there's no problem. If you are a U.S. citizen
you might find Rich Wales' Dual Citizenship FAQ
at useful.


Subject: 8) I'm an American student: can I get a working visa?

It is possible to get a work visa for 6 months. But be warned:
although the market has improved during the last couple of years,
jobs are usually not as easy to come by as in the States!
Ireland & Britain operate exchange schemes whereby Irish &
British students can work in the USA for up to six months on
J-1 visas and USA students can work in Ireland or Britain.

Not surprisingly, service industries are probably your best
bet. There is a fair demand for waiters/waitresses during
the summer tourist season. Note that pubs usually require
previous experience before they'll hire you to tend the bar.
There are other jobs to be had but they are in niche areas.
Whatever you look for, the best hunting strategy is often to
just tramp from door to door.

Good preparation and timing are essential. In particular, if you
need accommodation, it's often best to look for it _after_ Irish
students end their exams (which may be several weeks after you
do). Contact an Irish consulate or BUNAC for more information.


Subject: 9) I'm looking for XXX from Ireland: how can I reach him/her?

There are better approaches to finding someone than asking
on If you have access to the Web,
you might look at or if you think
the person you're looking has posted messages to Usenet,
you could try looking at or
you could also try using a search engine such as AltaVista

You are not likely to be able to find someone using the Net if
they don't use the Net themselves. The chances that someone
reading knows them is vanishingly small.
You're more likely to find them the "old-fashioned" way,
by asking family, friends or relatives.


Subject: 10) What are black Irish and shanty Irish?

This question has come up fairly regularly on the newsgroup
but has never been resolved definitively. Neither "black"
or "shanty" are used much in Ireland. They seem to be mainly
used in America.

"Shanty Irish" was used to describe the poorest of the poor
Irish immigrants, the kind who ended up in shanty town (the
origin of the word "shanty" is not known, but it might come
from the Irish "sean tí", meaning "old house"). Today "shanty"
in the States is a derogatory term for people who in Ireland
might be known as culchies but the people so described need
not necessarily be of Irish descent.

"Lace curtain Irish" could be as poor as the Shanty Irish but
they had notions of being more respectable. They were called
that because they would put up lace curtains for appearances
sake, even in a shanty town. Thus the term is far from being
a complement.

{ Thanks for clarification to Neil Cosgrove. }

"Black Irish" is often taken to mean Irish people with dark
hair and eyes. One romantic story is that they are the
descendants of shipwrecked sailors of the Spanish Armada.
Unfortunately for the story, it is very unlikely that enough of
the sailors survived for their genes to be in the population
visible today. A variation on this theme says they are
descended from Spanish Moors who traded with people on the
west coast of Ireland. Another explanation is that it's
common in Irish to give people nicknames based on their hair,
such as Seamus dubh and "black Irish" is just a carryover of
this into English. Some people say that the "black Irish"
were the original inhabitants of the island and all the rest
were just blow-ins.

One other interpretation is that "black Irish" refers to the
descendants of Irish slaves taken to the Caribbean island of
Montserrat during Cromwell's time. The descendants of these
slaves and black slaves from Africa live there to this day.
The surprising thing is that they still speak with an Irish


Subject: 11) What are Scotch-Irish?

A majority of Irish people who emigrated to America in the 18th
century were Protestants from Ulster. Most of these, in turn,
were descendants of settlers brought in from Scotland from
the 17th century during the so called plantation of Ulster.
(Being Protestant, it was believed they would prove more loyal
than the troublesome Irish.) "Scotch-Irish" usually refers to
those emigrants or to their descendants. (Note that most Scots
do not like being called "Scotch" nowadays, because this word
is usually used for whisky from Scotland.)


Subject: 12) What are black protestants?

Black protestants are protestants who take their religion
seriously. "Black" in this context means intense or
dedicated. Answering this question, Gerard wrote: "not
simply protestant, but a dedicated protestant, not just
talking the talk but also walking the walk".

There is some speculation as to where this expression comes
from. One plausible source is the Irish word dubh (pr. dove,
meaning black) which is commonly used as an intensifier.
It might also have something to do with the Royal Black
Institution, a body for Ulster protestants similar to
the Orange order.


Subject: 13) What are travellers?

Travellers (also known as itinerants and tinkers, though
these names can be seen as offensive) are people in Ireland
who have traditionally lived "on the road", typically in
caravans moving from place to place. In many ways they
can be seen as a separate ethnic group and they are often
subject to ethnic prejudices and discrimination.

There's a FAQ on travellers at


Subject: 14) How do I pronounce "celt" and "celtic"?

The "c" at the start of "celtic" can be pronounced soft, like
an "s", or hard, like a "k". The most common convention is to
always pronounce it with a hard "c" ("keltic") except when using
it as a proper noun (e.g. Celtic Football Club, Boston Celtics,
The Anglo-Celt newspaper).

In Irish, "c" is always pronounced hard, like the letter "k"
which is never used in Irish words. The Greeks were the
first to write about the Celts, using the word "Keltoi",
which suggests that the hard sound is also historically

{ Thanks for clarification to Michael Ruddy. }


Subject: 15) What's the difference between clover and shamrock?

Short answer: shamrock is smaller than clover.

Long answer: shamrock and clover are both used to refer to
species of trefoil (genus Trifolium, from the Latin meaning
"having three leaves"). Clover is used for large species and
shamrock for small species. Shamrock, like clover, is common
in Europe, not just in Ireland. [Answer blatantly cogged
from Des Higgins, resident newsgroup expert on the subject.]


Subject: 16) Does anybody know the lyrics for [Danny Boy, Galway Bay, etc.] ?

There's a list of song lyrics at

For people looking for Dubliner lyrics

Irish Folk Songs For Singing On St. Patrick's Day or Whenever

If it's not on any of the above sites, try asking on Read the FAQ first, in case the answer
is there (available at


Subject: 17) Where can I order Irish turf in the U.S.?

Bord na Móna are offering turf (baled briquettes and wicker
baskets of sod turf) for delivery anywhere in the 48 contiguous
states. They can be contacted by

phone (toll-free): 1-888 843 0924
or e-mail:

To order, you need your full address (including ZIP code).
Currently, credit cards are the only form of payment accepted.


Subject: 18) What are Claddagh rings?

There are many stories about the Claddagh ring. Claddagh
itself refers to a small fishing village just near Galway city.
The Claddagh ring supposedly originated in this area. The ring
has a design of a heart being encircled by a pair of hands with
a crown above the heart.

Some more information can be found at


End of Irish FAQ part 8

Irish FAQ Maintainer

Nov 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/8/99
Archive-name: cultures/irish-faq/part09
Last-modified: 25 Sep 99

Posting-Frequency: monthly

Part nine of ten.

Frequently Asked Questions on with answers.
Send corrections, suggestions, additions, and other feedback
to <>

Irish Names

1) Does anyone have a list of Irish first names?
2) How do you pronounce that?
3) Are there any books of Irish names?
4) I'm looking for information about a family name.


Subject: 1) Does anyone have a list of Irish first names?

Yes, here are four such lists. The names are separated into
girl's names and boy's names. These are further separated into a
"conservative" list and a more "general" list. The "conservative"
list includes only names acceptable to purists, meaning that
they are of Irish origin and are spelled correctly according
to modern Irish usage. The "general" list includes names from
various sources such as postings, birth and death columns.

The "general" list includes different variant spellings of the
same name on the same line. Not all of these spellings are
strictly speaking correct but they have been or are still used.
I have put the Anglicised spellings last; they are, however,
popular and give English speakers a clue how to pronounce
the name.

Where an "equivalent" English name is given, this does _not_ mean
the Irish name is derived from or even related to the English
"equivalent". It just means that the English name has been used
traditionally when a translation was desired.

Irish pronunciation is difficult to work out from the spelling
and Irish names are no exception. In most cases, Irish names
are not pronounced the way they look to an English speaker.
The most notorious case of this is "Caitlín", which is _not_
pronounced "Kate-Lynn". See the (sketchy) pronunciation
guide below.

It's also worth mentioning here that Fiona Hyland maintains
a page with Irish first names at

that includes pronunciations for each name.

Girl's Names (Conservative)

Bríd (dim. Brídín)
Fionnuala (dim. Nuala)
Sadhbh (dim. Saidhbhín)

Girl's Names (General)

[ ~ Engl. denotes the traditional English equivalent.
= Engl. denotes the English translation ]

Girl's Names

Áine (~ Engl. Anne)
Aisling Aislinn
Aoife (~ Engl. Eve)
Bláithníd (~ Engl. Florence)
Bláithín (~ Engl. Florence)
Caitríona Catriona (= Engl. Catherine)
Caoímhe Keeva
Clíona Cliodhna
Cáit (= Engl. Kate)
Cáitlin Kathleen
Deirdre Daoirdre
Dearbhaile [same as below?]
Derbhle Deirbhle Dearbhla Dervla
Eadaoín Aideen
Eibhlín Eileen Aileen
Eilis Ailis Aelish (~ Engl. Elizabeth)
Eimear Emer
Fionnuala Fionula
Gobnait Gobnat (~ Engl. Deborah)
Gráinne (~ Engl. Grace)
Laoise (~ Engl. Louise)
Máire Maura (= Engl. Mary)
Máiréad (~ Engl. Margaret)
Máirín Maureen (= Engl. Mary [dimuntive at the end -- "little Mary"])
Medbh Maedhbh Maeve
Muireann Muirin
Nóirín Noreen
Orlaith Órla Órfhlaith Orla
Róis (~ Engl. Rose)
Saibh Saidhbh Sive
Sinéad (~ Engl. Jane)
Siobhán (~ Engl. Joan)
Síle Sheila
Treasa (= Engl. Theresa)
Tríona (short for Catriona?)
Úna Oonagh Oona (~ Engl. Winifred [or Agnes for the English spellings?])

Boy's Names (Conservative)

Colm (dim. Colmán)

Boy's Names (General)

Aonghus Aongus
Aodán Aodhagán Aidan
Breandán Brendan
Brefni Breffni
Cathal (~ Engl. Charles)
Ciarán Kieran
Cilian Killian
Caoimhín Caoimhghin Kevin
Colm Colum
Cruchuar Conchúr Conchubhar Conor
Dáithí (= Engl. David)
Deaglán Declan
Diarmaid Diarmuid Dermot
Donagh Donncha Donnchadh
Dónal Donal
Eamonn Éamon (~ Engl. Edward)
Eoghan Eoin Owen
Feargal Fergus
Fionnbár Finbarr
Fionntán Fintan
Gabhan Gavan Gavin
Gearóid (~ Engl. Gerard, Gerry)
Iarla Jarlath
Liam (~ Engl. William)
Nessan Nessun
Niall Neil Neill
Oscar Osgur
Pádraic Pádraig (= Engl. Patrick)
Peadar (= Engl. Peter)
Proinsias (= Engl. Francis, Frank)
Ronan Ronán
Ruairí Rory
Seán (= Engl. John)
Séamas Séamus (Engl. James)
Seóirse (Engl. George)
Tadhg (~ Engl. Timothy)
Tomás (= Engl. Thomas)

Some names I'm not sure of


Are these Irish? If so, what is the canonical Irish spelling?


Subject: 2) How do you pronounce that?

You may have noticed that there's a fair bit of duplication
above. There are anglicised spellings, Irish spellings and
slight variations of the same name, even in the modern Irish
spelling. Some of the variations are probably regional. This
guide is, needless to say, incomplete and may contain serious

Here are approximate transiliterations for the letters that
don't exist in English. The slash above the letter is called a
fada in Irish, meaning long, because it lengthens the vowel).

á = aw - awe, crawl (a - flat in Ulster)
é = ay - hay, bray
í = ee - feed, creep
ó = o - owe, flow
ú = oo - cool, fool (more like the French word for "where")

Some of the consonants are pronounced differently.

s = sh (when it is in the stressed syllable)
bh = v
dh = g
mh = w
th = h

Note that the letters j,k,q,v,w,x,y,z do not occur in Irish.
The letter c is always pronounced hard, as in cow, never soft
as in cigarette.

Irish spelling insists on grouping "fat" vowels and "thin"
vowels when they are separated by a consonant. The fat vowels
are a, o and u. The thin vowels are e and i. So if a word
would have a fat vowel followed by a consonant (or several)
followed by a thin vowel breaks the rule: a vowel must be
inserted to balance the spelling. Thus "Osín" is wrong; it must
be "Oisín"; "Sibhán" must be turned into "Siobhán". The
extra letter is generally silent.


Subject: 3) Are there any books of Irish names?

Title: Irish Names

Author: Donncha Ó Corráin & Fidelma Maguire

Publisher: Lilliput 1990

ISBN: 0 946640 66 1

Title: Irish Names for Children

Author: Patrick Woulfe, revised by Gerard Slevin

Publisher Gill & Macmillan, Dublin, 1974 reprinted 1994

ISBN: 0 7171 0697 7

Title: An Sloinnteoir Gaeilge agus an tAinmnitheoir

Author: Muiris Ó Droighneáin

Publisher: Coiscéim 1995

Title: The Book of Irish Saints

Author: Eoin Neeson

Publisher: Mercier 1967


Subject: 4) I'm looking for information about a family name.

(Where does it come from? What does it mean?) is not really the right place for questions
like these, but read on.

If you don't mind doing a bit of research of
your own, the Irish Times has a a guide that you
might find useful. You'll find it on the web at

There are several genealogy newsgroups. If you are looking
for information on a particular surname, you might want
to try soc.genealogy.surnames.ireland. Fair warning:
this is a moderated newsgroup, you _must_ read the FAQ
before posting a message. This FAQ can be found at (A more
general FAQ on all the surnames newsgroups can be found at )

If you are interested in general discussion about researching
Irish family names, you could try soc.genealogy.ireland
(as of early 1999 this newsgroup does not seem to
have become very popular yet). If you have access
to the web, have a look at the Genealogy Meta FAQ at

End of Irish FAQ part 9

Irish FAQ Maintainer

Nov 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/8/99
Archive-name: cultures/irish-faq/part04

Last-modified: 7 Oct 99
Posting-Frequency: monthly

Part four of ten.

Frequently Asked Questions on with answers.
Send corrections, suggestions, additions, and other feedback
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1) What should I call it?
2) What should I call them?
3) Doesn't the Irish constitution lay claim to Northern Ireland?
4) What's special about elections in the Republic?
5) What are the political parties in the Republic?
6) What are the political parties in Northern Ireland?
7) Isn't contraception illegal in the Republic?
8) What about D.I.V.O.R.C.E. ?
9) Can anybody explain the abortion referendum?
10) Wasn't homosexuality banned in Ireland?
11) Where can I find the text of the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement?


Subject: 1) What should I call it?

The island is called Ireland, but it is divided into two
jurisdictions. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom,
governed from London. The remainder of the island is a separate
state, the Republic of Ireland, with its government in Dublin.

The Constitution of Ireland (Bunreacht na hEireann) states in
Article 4. "The name of the State is Éire, or in the English
language, Ireland". Some people find the use of "Éire" or
(worse) "Eire" in English irritating, but not everyone.

"Ireland" is ambiguous: it may refer to the island or to the
part governed from Dublin. You may want to say "the island of
Ireland" to avoid this ambiguity.

The following are synonyms in common usage. Some of these terms
are politically loaded: the first in each list is the best
choice if you want to make yourself clear (without committing
yourself to a particular political view).

Northern Ireland; Ulster; the North; the Six Counties

Republic of Ireland; Ireland; the South; the Twenty Six
Counties; the Free State


Subject: 2) What should I call them?

Nationalists north or south are generally content to be called
Irish. Unionists may prefer to be called "British", "Ulster-
men/women", just "from Northern Ireland" or even "Irish" (if
they are on their way to a rugby international). If you are
asking someone, "from Northern Ireland" is probably safest:
you let them choose to elaborate if they want to.


Subject: 3) Doesn't the Irish constitution lay claim to Northern Ireland?

Before the Northern Ireland Settlement of 1998, Articles 2 and
3 in the Republic's Constitution did claim the North as part
of Ireland (though they meant little in practice). If and
when the Agreement is deemed effective by the government the
amended Articles will read as follows. [The referendum put
the changes in Article 29, a traditional repository for all
kinds of constitutional changes affecting international
relations, usually of the form "the State may ratify...".]

Article 2

It is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in
the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas,
to be part of the Irish nation. That is also the entitlement
of all persons otherwise qualified in accordance with law
to be citizens of Ireland. Furthermore, the Irish nation
cherishes its special affinity with people of Irish ancestry
living abroad who share its cultural identity and heritage.

Article 3

1. It is the firm will of the Irish nation, in harmony and
friendship, to unite all the people who share the territory of
the island of Ireland, in all the diversity of their identities
and traditions, recognising that a united Ireland shall be
brought about only by peaceful means with the consent of a
majority of the people, democratically expressed, in both
jurisdictions in the island. Until then, the laws enacted by
the Parliament established by this Constitution shall have
the like area and extent of application as the laws enacted
by the Parliament that existed immediately before the coming
into operation of this Constitution.

2. Institutions with executive powers and functions that
are shared between those jurisdictions may be established by
their respective responsible authorities for stated purposes
and may exercise powers and functions in respect of all or
any part of the island.

See also the definitive Irish version at


Subject: 4) What's special about elections in the Republic?

A slightly unusual form of proportional representation, known
as the single transferable vote (STV), is used for elections
to the Dáil. There is more than one seat in a constituency
and voters indicate their candidates in order of preference by
putting a number next to their name on the ballot ("1" for the
favourite candidate, "2" for the next favoured, etc.).

A quota is established for each constituency when the votes
are counted. This quota is calculated as follows.

Let V be the number of valid votes.
Let S be the number of seats in the constituency.
The quota Q is

----- + 1

If there were 60,000 votes in a three seat constituency the
quota would be ((60000 / 4) + 1) = 15,001 votes.

Counts are divided into rounds. In the first round, all
first preferences are counted. At the end of each round, the
votes to be counted during the next round are determined as

- if one or more candidates receive the quota of votes they are
deemed elected; the surplus votes of the most popular candidate
are redistributed among the remaining (unelected) candidates
according to the next preference

- if no candidate has reached the quota, the candidate with
the least number of votes is eliminated and his votes are
redistributed among the remaining candidates according to the
next preference

Rounds are repeated until either all the seats are filled or the
number of vacant seats equals the number of remaining candidates.
In the latter case, the remaining candidates are deemed elected
even though they got less than the quota of votes.

If a candidate exceeds the quota on the first count, the excess
votes are distributed in proportion to _all_ the votes for that
candidate (i.e. the second preferences on all the ballots are
counted). The actual votes transferred are chosen at random
(obviously making sure that they are for the appropriate

On subsequent rounds, the votes are chosen at random _without_
first counting all the next preferences. Transferred votes are
transferred again before first preferences.

Because counting is a more complicated process than in most other
countries, it takes longer. Counting is not even started until
the day after the election and can go on for days if candidates
demand a recount. Most political parties have experts, called
tally men, who (using local knowledge and years of experience)
try to predict early on in the count what the result is going
to be. A good tally man can tell the outcome to within a few
hundred votes after only a few ballot boxes have been counted.

The first-past-the-post system is used in Northern Ireland, except
for elections to local councils and the European Parliament,
when a slightly different form of proportional STV is used.


Subject: 5) What are the political parties in the Republic?

The political parties represented in the Dáil and
their current leaders are

Fianna Fáil Bertie Ahern

Fine Gael John Bruton

Labour Party Ruairi Quinn

Progressive Democrats Mary Harney

Green Party [unknown -- maybe no leader as such?]

Sinn Féin Gerry Adams

[ This ignores the niceties of what is required to get the
privileges (offices, staff allowances ) of a party in the Dáil. ]
[ There are currently also seven independent TDs. ]

The most recent election results are from the General Election
of 6 June 1997.

Representation in Parliament

Fianna Fáil 77 seats
Fine Gael 54 seats
Labour 21 seats
Progressive Democrats 4 seats
Green Party 2 seats
Sinn Féin 1 seats
Socialist 1 seats
Independent 7 seats


Subject: 6) What are the political parties in Northern Ireland?

Within the two main groups are a number of smaller divisions,
usually defined by their representative political parties. This
list offers a spectrum of the major parties, from 'most
anti-Union' to 'most pro-Union".

Sinn Féin. Leader Gerry Adams.
The political representatives of the Republican
Movement. This is the more extreme minority of the nationalist
groups, generally regarded as being in sympathy with the IRA's
use of violence to achieve political change. Supported by
approximately 15% of the population in Northern Ireland, 1.4% in
the Irish Republic.

The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). Leader John Hume.
Regarded as the representative of moderate nationalism, it is
committed to the establishment of a single Irish nation, but
adamantly opposed to the use of violence to force this on people.
Its representatives are forthright in their criticism of the
IRA and its methods. Supported by approximately 20% of the
population in NI.

The Alliance party. Leader Sean Neeson (to be confirmed).
A centrist party often viewed as unionist in its leanings, but
its stated aims are simply to bring people in NI together as one
community. Rejects both traditional Unionism and Nationalism.
It favours local government with power shared between Catholics
and Protestants, remaining part of the UK as long as a majority
in NI want that, but with much stronger all-Ireland administrative
links. Gets up to 10% of the vote.

The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). Leader David Trimble.
The larger of the two Unionist parties, it is firmly committed to
maintaining the links with Great Britain. Not overtly religious in
nature, but has links with the protestant Orange Order. Drawing
support mainly from more moderate and middle-class unionists it
opposes the use of violence, condemning that from both IRA and
Loyalist groups such as the UVF and UFF. Gets up to one third
of the vote.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Leader Ian Paisley.
Formed in 1971 by Ian Paisley, capitalising on fears that
the mainstream party was weak. As to be expected from
its fundamentalist leader, the DUP is fiercely protestant
and pro-British in character. It draws support from the
moderate-to-extreme parts of the unionist population. Although
publicly opposed to violence, the same cannot be said for a
section of its supporters. Gets around 15% of the vote.

The Women's Coalition is a fairly new name in Northern Irish
politics. A web page can be found at

Observant readers will notice that these percentages do not add
up to 100.

For more details, see Nicholas Whyte's web site


Subject: 7) Isn't contraception illegal in the Republic?

There are no longer laws against any form of contraception
in the Republic of Ireland, apart from the RU-486 abortion
pill that is also banned in the UK. Ten years ago condoms
weren't available to under anybody under 16. Now, possibly
as a result of AIDS, these laws restricting contraceptives
have been repealed. Condom machines are now commonplace
in bars throughout the country.


Subject: 8) What about D.I.V.O.R.C.E. ?

The Constitution was amended by a referendum in November 1995 to
allow divorce in restricted circumstances. The people voted to
put the following sections into the Constitution.

"A Court designated by law may grant a dissolution of marriage
where, but only where, it is satisfied that:

i. at the date of the institution of the proceedings, the
spouses have lived apart from one another for a period
of, or periods amounting to, at least four years during
the last five years,

ii. there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation
between the spouses,

iii. such provision as the Court considers proper having
regard to the circumstances exists or will be made
for the spouses, any children of either or both of
them and any other person prescribed by law, and

iv. any further conditions prescribed by law are
complied with."

The petition by submitted by the Anti-Divorce Campaign to the
Supreme Court challenging the result of the referendum was
rejected by the Court in June 1996.

Legislation passed by the Oireachtas to regulate divorce came
into effect in March 1997. The legislation builds on existing
family law.


Subject: 9) Can anybody explain the abortion referendum?

[Note: As recommended in the "Welcome to talk.abortion"
posting, I am referring to the sides as prolife and
prochoice. This is not intended in anyway to reflect my
personal feelings on the use of these terms.]

Abortion has been illegal in Ireland since at least
1869. The 1983 referendum added a clause which
guarantees the "Right to Life" to the Unborn from the
moment of conception. The general consensus among the
prolife campaigners was that there was now a
constitutional prohibition on abortion, and abortion
would never be introduced into Ireland.

It was then illegal to give out names and addresses of
abortion clinics in Ireland. As a result no imported
magazines or newspapers were allowed to sell issues
which advertised abortion clinics.

In 1992, the Attorney General placed an injunction
against a 14-year-old rape victim (Ms. X) going to
England to have an abortion. The family of rape victim X
had approached the police and offered to let the aborted
foetus be used as evidence against the rapist. Police
then approached the Attorney General who went to the
High Court as allowing X to go abroad would breach the
"Right to Life" of X's foetus. The High Court then
granted the injunction.

In a state of near national hysteria, the Supreme Court
overturned the ruling, and declared that under the 1983
amendment, Ms. X was entitled to have an abortion in
Ireland as she was threatening to commit suicide. The
preliminary verdict was given on Friday, X went to the
UK that weekend to have an abortion but miscarried
before the abortion actually took place. The full
ruling followed on Tuesday suggesting that X has a right
to have an abortion in Ireland.

The government moved fairly quickly, and a second
referendum was held in November 1992, at the same time
as a General election. The referendum posed three
questions, dealing with the Right to travel, the Right
to information and the Substantive Issue (are abortions
ever allowed in Ireland?). While people voted for the
right to information and the right to travel, the
results from the vote on the Substantive issue were less
conclusive, with both sides claiming victory. However,
the government failed to legislate on the basis of the
ruling in X.

The government's case was not helped by the Irish Medical
Council ruling that any doctor who performs an abortion
should be struck off the register, a decision later
endorsed by the Irish Medical Organisation. The majority
of the IMO regard abortion as unnecessary for
life-saving reasons and doctors can be struck off. The
Medical Insurance companies (for doctors) believe
failure to perform abortion in life threatening
circumstance could result in negligence charges.

The whole situation is desperately confused and no one
knows under what circumstances abortion is legal or illegal.
No government has been eager to introduce laws to regulate
abortion, despite repeated criticisms of the current
situation by the judiciary. Women who want abortions
usually go to England, often without the knowledge of
their families.

[Note: Abortion is technically legal in the North,
but rarely carried out.]


Subject: 10) Wasn't homosexuality banned in Ireland?

Homosexual acts were illegal in Ireland up until the summer of
1993. The Offences against the Person Act lifted the ban, and
declared the age of consent to be 17, the same as that for
acts between heterosexuals.


Subject: 11) Where can I find the text of the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement?

The "Good Friday Agreement" of 1998 is available in hypertext form at


End of Irish FAQ part 4

Irish FAQ Maintainer

Nov 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/8/99
Archive-name: cultures/irish-faq/part07
Last-modified: 13 Dec 98

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Part seven of ten.

Frequently Asked Questions on with answers.
Send corrections, suggestions, additions, and other feedback
to <>

Cuisine (Recipes)

1) Corned Beef & Cabbage
2) Colcannon
3) Irish Soda Bread
4) Shortbread
5) Boxty
6) Potato Cakes
7) Coddle
8) Hot Ginger & Lemon
9) Other sources


Subject: 1) Corned Beef & Cabbage
From: Stephanie de Silva

1 3/4 lbs onions
2 1/2 lbs carrots
6 lb corned beef brisket or round, spiced or unspiced
1 cup malt vinegar
6 oz Irish stout
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon dill seed
1/2 tablespoon whole allspice
2 bay leaves
3 lb cabbage, rinsed
2 1/2 lb small red potatoes
1/2 cup coarse grain mustard
1/2 cup dijon mustard

To serve 12, use a 14 to 20 quart pan.

Coarsely chop enough onions and carrots to make 1 cup each. In
pan, place onions and carrots, corned beef with any liquid,
vinegar, stout, mustard seed, coriander, peppercorns, dill,
allspice and bay leaves. Add water to barely cover beef. Cover
pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer until meat is
tender when pierced, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Meanwhile, cut remaining onions into wedges. Cut remaining
carrots into 2-inch lengths; halve them lengthwise if large.
Cut cabbages in half through cores, then into wedges. Scrub

Add onions, carrots and potatoes to tender corned beef, place
cabbage on top. Cover and return to simmering over high heat;
reduce heat and simmer until cabbage is tender when pierced, 15
to 20 minutes.

With a slotted spoon scoop out vegetables onto warm serving
dishes. Using tongs and a slotted spoon, remove beef to a
cutting board; cut off and discard fat, slice meat across the
grain and place on warm platters. Serve meat and vegetables
with coarse-grain and dijon mustards.


Subject: 2) Colcannon

From: Stephanie de Silva

4 lb russet potatoes
1 lb cabbage, cute into fine shreds
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cup milk
1 cup sliced green onions
salt and pepper

To serve 12, you'll need a 5 to 6 quart pan. Peel potatoes;
rinse. Drain; cute into 2 inch pieces. Place potatoes in pan;
cover with water. Bring to a boil, covered, over high heat.
Reduce heat; simmer until tender when pierced, about 15 minutes.

Drain; mash, part at a time, in a heavy-duty mixer or by hand in
a large bowl. As mashed, transfer to a very large bowl; cover.

Place cabbage and butter in pan sued for potatoes. Cover; steam
cabbage over medium-high heat until well wilted, stirring often.
Meanwhile, stir milk and onions often in a 3 to 4 quart pan over
medium heat until simmering. Stir milk mixture into potatoes
until smooth, stir in cabbage. Season with salt and pepper.

From: Chuck Narad

8 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 head of cabbage
1 bunch scallions (green onions), chopped
dill (dried, or fresh chopped)
fresh ground black pepper

Shred the cabbage. Sautee it with a little butter, then reduce
heat and cover; let it steam. When it is almost limp, add the
scallions. (I'd probably add some garlic and an onion if I made

Meanwhile, boil, drain, mash the potatoes, add some milk and a
little butter. Add the cabbage mixture, and stir in the dill
and pepper.


Subject: 3) Irish Soda Bread

From: Stephanie de Silva

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon caraway seed
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional!)
1/3 cup dried currants (optional!)
1 cup buttermilk for dough
1 1/2 tablespoons buttermilk for brushing

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, soda and salt. Cut in
butter with a pastry blender or rub with fingers until fine
crumbs form. Mix in caraway, raisins and currants; add
buttermilk for dough. Stir until evenly moistened.

Gather dough into a ball and knead about 16 turns on a lightly
floured board. Pat into a smooth ball, then into a falt 1 inch
thick round. Place on a greased 12 by 15 inch baking sheet.

Slash an X about 1/4 inch deep completely across each round;
brush with remaining buttermilk. Bake in a 375F oven until deep
golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Serve warm or cool. Cut into wedges.

Note: if you cannot obtain buttermilk, you can use a mixture of
"natural" yogurt and home-made sour milk (add some drops of
lemon juice to milk and leave it for 15 minutes).


Subject: 4) Shortbread

From: Stephanie de Silva

Elaine's Shortbread

1 cup softened butter
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white rice flour (or more all-purpose)

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with the larger amount of
sugar until smooth.

Gradually add all-purpose and rice flours until well combined.
Spread in a 9 by 13 inch baking dish. Bake in a 275F oven until
pale golden, 55 to 65 minutes. Place on racks and let cool for
10 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with sugar, then cut into 24 bars.
Let cool completely. Serve.


Subject: 5) Boxty

From Deirdre Barr

Here's the recipe for boxty, as per the Monica Sheridan cookbook.

2 Large raw potatoes
1 teaspoon baking-soda
2 cups of mashed potatoes
2 tablespoons flour (approx)
1 teaspoon salt.

Grate the raw potatoes & squeeze out the liquid. Add to the
mashed potatoes & add salt. Mix the soda with the flour and add
to the potatoes. Roll out on a floured board to a circle of a
1/2" thickness. Cut in 4 quarters & put on an ungreased
griddle. Cook on a gentle heat for 30 to 40 minutes, turning the
bread at half-time. The farls or quarters, should be well
browned on both sides. Serves 4 You may add a teaspoon of
caraway seeds, if you like.


Subject: 6) Potato Cakes

From Deirdre Barr

Potato Cakes (1)

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups freshly mashed potatoes.

Rub the butter into the flour. Add the baking powder and salt
and mix well. Add the potatoes and bind all together with your
hand. Roll out to quarter-inch thickness on a well floured
board with a well-floured rolling pin. Cut in squares or stamp
out with a cutter. Bake on an ungreased griddle until brown on
both sides. Serve hot with running butter. Yields 12 cakes.
(Cold potato cakes are often fried with the breakfast bacon)

Potato Cakes (2)

1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups freshly mashed potatoes
2 teaspoons bacon drippings for the griddle.

Sprinkle the salted flour over the potatoes and knead lightly
together. Roll out on a floured board to quarter-inch
thickness. Cut in quarters or stamp out into rounds. Put on a
greased griddle and cook on an even heat until both sides are
well browned. When cooked, butter generously and eat at once.
Yields 6-8 cakes. Major heart attack food but extremely tasty.


Subject: 7) Coddle

1 lb (450g) Bacon bits (Rashers)
1 lb (450g) Pork Sausages
3 Large Onions
2 lb (900g) Potatoes
Pepper & Salt
Handful of Freshly Chopped Parsley (4 tbs 4 x 15ml approx)

Peel the potatoes and cut them in half if they are large.
Peel and slice the onions.

Place the Onions in an ovenproof dish. Add a pinch of pepper and

Remove any excess fat from the bacon. Place the bacon on
top of the layer of onions, add a small touch of pepper
and parsley. Place the potatoes on top of the bacon, add a
small touch of salt, pepper and parsley. Place the sausages
on top of the potatoes. Add just enough water to cover
the ingredients.

Cover the dish, cook in a low oven, (120蚓), (250蚌), Gas Mark 1
for two hours

Serving Suggestion: Serve with Brown bread or Soda Bread


Subject: 8) Hot Ginger & Lemon
From: K.E. Dennis

You need a teapot & strainer, as well as:

1 fresh ginger root,
2 Tbs. of freshly-squeezed lemon juice,
1 Tbs. of honey,
2 cups of boiling water,
& of course, a measure of Jameson's finest. Bushmill's will do
in a pinch.
(&, a friend insists, 1-3 fresh clove sprigs)

You grate the gingerroot - no need to peel, tho I prefer the
results - until you have 2 heaping tablespoons. Put the
ginger shreds in the pot, & pour the boiling water over it;
cover, & let it steep for 5-10 mins.

Pour the whiskey & honey into a mug, then cover w/ the ginger
infusion, straining out the ginger shreds. Add the honey
(& the cloves if you agree w/ my friend). Drink while it's
still hot.

Repeat as needed, or until you no longer have an excuse....


Subject: 9) Other sources

More recipes can be found at


End of Irish FAQ part 7

Irish FAQ Maintainer

Nov 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/8/99
Archive-name: cultures/irish-faq/part05
Last-modified: 17 Jul 99

Posting-Frequency: monthly

Part five of ten.

Frequently Asked Questions on with answers.
Send corrections, suggestions, additions, and other feedback
to <>


1) Why is Ireland divided?
2) How did the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland start?
3) What books are there on Irish history?
4) Chronological list of dates from Irish History


Subject: 1) Why is Ireland divided?

Ireland (all or part of it, at various times) was a colony of
the English (originally the Anglo-Normans) from the 12th
century. From the late middle ages it was a kingdom, under the
same monarch as England, but a separate country. In law and in
practice, the Irish government was usually subordinate to the
English government.

Henry VIII rejected Rome and put the Church in England under his
personal control. This church was to became more protestant,
particularly under Elizabeth I. Ireland's population remained
mainly Roman Catholic. The conflict between Catholicism and
Protestantism played a large part in 17th century several wars
in England and Ireland: civil wars, colonial wars, and at least
one war (c. 1690) that was part of a wider European conflict.
Following some of these disruptions, the winners forcibly
transferred ownership of large amounts of land to new landlords,
and sometimes new tenants: those who had supported the winning
side or those who they felt would support them in the future.

The majority of the Irish population were on the losing side. A
new elite was built of Anglo-Irish (people of English
background, and also anglicised Irish) members of the Church of
Ireland (Anglican/Episcopalian). This "Protestant Ascendancy"
lasted well into the 19th century, with traces still in evidence

English Protestants were not the only ones to settle in
Ireland. Presbyterians (historically known as Dissenters) from
Scotland colonised north-eastern Ireland in large numbers.
Other nonconformist Christians (especially Friends, better known
as Quakers) started arriving in the 16th century, and their
numbers grew in the 17th. During this period they and the
Protestant Ascendancy were not close allies: there were
significant differences in background, social class and style of

Both the Catholic majority and the Presbyterians were the
victims of discriminatory laws favouring the Church of Ireland
(that is, the Anglican church established by the state).
Generally, though, the discrimination against Catholics (who were
regarded as treacherous and potential allies of France and Spain)
was worse than that against the nonconformists.

In 1801, Ireland was technically made one with England, Scotland
and Wales by the Act of Union which created the United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Ireland. In some ways, this was a Good Thing
for Ireland, as it led to electoral reform, land reform, and the
disestablishment of the Church of Ireland and its right to tax
the whole population. But the colonial relationship remained,
and as freedoms grew without real equality with England and
the English, so did Irish nationalism develop and flourish.
(Nationalism became a force throughout Europe in the mid
nineteenth century, leading for example to the creation of Italy
and Germany as nation states for the first time.)

But there was a complicating factor. In the late 18th and early
19th century, the Ascendancy and the Presbyterians had begun to
become allies on political and nationalist issues. As Irish
nationalism developed (mainly among Catholics), so, in response,
did unionism (the desire to preserve the United Kingdom) develop
and strengthen among both kinds of Protestant. Several times
the unionists threatened insurrection against their own
government in order to stay under that government.

In 1912, a third Irish Home Rule Bill was introduced to the
British House of Commons, where it would pass its third and
final reading in January, 1913. This was blocked by the House
of Lords, but they could only delay bills since the Parliament
Act in 1911. Unionists in Ulster reacted with alarm; an Ulster
Volunteer Force was formed in 1913. This force landed 25,000
guns from Germany at Larne in April 1914, with the declared
intention of using them if Home Rule were imposed on the
northern counties. Their slogan was "Home Rule is Rome Rule",
referring to the fears they had of a Catholic dominated Ireland.
In the event, Home Rule was put in the statute books but was
never implemented because of the Great War which started in
August, 1914.

Two nationalist militias, the Irish Citizen's Army and
the Irish Volunteers were formed, dedicated to Home Rule.
They were far less efficiently organised than the UVF and they
quickly split in 1914. However a small part of the force, led
by Republicans staged an armed rebellion (the Easter Rising) in
April 1916, briefly taking over a small part of central Dublin.
Their attempt at gun running had failed with the capture and
scuttling of the Aud, carrying thousands of German weapons.
The general uprising the Republicans hoped they would inspire
throughout the country never happened. The rebellion was
crushed; its leaders were judged guilty of treason and shot.
Many hundreds were interned in Britain.

Before the war, a majority of people had supported Home Rule
which would grant Ireland autonomy in domestic affairs. After the
war, Sinn Féin (previously a minor party with tenuous connections
to the actual Rising) got overwhelming support for their platform,
complete independence (but not in the north-eastern counties, where
Unionists were in the clear majority).

The failed rising was an inspiration to many join the newly
created Irish Republican Army (IRA) and fight. The conflict
escalated into a brutal war of attrition between the IRA and
the British.

But the unionists still held the north, and they would in turn
rebel if Britain cast them loose. Partition was made official
by the Government of Ireland Act of 1920. This was based on the
old Home Rule Bill and formed the basis for the negotiations
that were inevitable once the two sides had reached stalemate
in the south.

The Treaty of 1921 that ended the war with the British was a
messy compromise. The Irish negotiators, who included Michael
Collins, but not Éammon De Valera, accepted it under the threat
of "war within three days" from the British Prime Minister,
Lloyd George. There was also a vague promise that a Boundary
Commission would adjust the borders, possibly gaining Fermanagh
and Tyrone for the new Free State.

Opponents of the treaty were outraged not so much by partition
as by the Oath of Allegiance (to the King) that members of the
Dáil would have to swear. The negotiators in London had managed
to water it down considerably, but any oath was unacceptable
in principle to hard-line Republicans. The Dáil, reflecting the
feeling in the country, voted (reluctantly) to accept the treaty.
The new Irish Free State had a dominion status similar to that
enjoyed by Canada.

The IRA split on the treaty issue and there was civil war.
This became more brutal than the war of independence before it,
with massacres and atrocities committed by both sides.

(The South altered its constitution in 1937 severing most of its
links with the UK. It declared itself a Republic in 1947.)

The Boundary Commission that was set up as part of the Treaty to
realign of the border between Northern Ireland and the Free State
did not meet until 1924. Both nationalists and unionists were
reluctant to participate in it (the unionist delegate had to be
nominated by the British government, and the Irish representative
understood participation meant the end of his political career).
The Commission's terms of reference were vague and included a
proviso that boundaries be drawn "in accordance with the wishes
of the inhabitants, so far as may be compatible with economic
and geographic conditions".

The Chairman of the Commission, Feetham, was not inclined to
make any big changes. In any case, (Southern and Northern)
nationalist feelings about the border were muddled and
ambivalent. The Unionist position, "not an inch", had the
advantage of being clear and simple. The Free State drew up
a minimum negotiating position that would gain Fermanagh,
most of Tyrone and parts of Down and Armagh for the South.
Even this minimum position could not be held, and so the
Commission was quietly abandoned in favour of the status quo
(the border created by the Government of Ireland Act) in 1925.
This left substantial unionist minorities in Donegal and
Monaghan and nationalist majorities in Fermanagh and Tyrone
all on the wrong side of the border. The Irish Free State was
overwhelmingly Catholic and nationalist, and unionists formed
a clear (but not as overwhelming) majority in Northern Ireland.

Irish history is one of the topics that comes up again and again
on Some regulars have devoted much of their
own web pages to the subject.

Jerry Desmond has written a more extensive summary of Irish history
which can be found at

Gareth G Davis maintains a "Irish historical and religious
statistics" page at


Subject: 2) How did the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland start?

The northern unionists effectively created a single-party state.
Proportional representation was eliminated for local council
elections in 1922 and for the Northern Ireland Parliament in
Stormont in 1929. One vote per person did not hold in local
elections until 1969. Gerrymandering was used to secure unionist
seats in nationalist areas throughout the thirties. Nationalists
and catholics were viewed as potential traitors and alienated by
the government policies, which favoured protestants and unionists.
In turn the nationalists never fully accepted the legitimacy
of the new constitutional arrangements. Some republicans in
the North continued a violent campaign against the London and
Belfast governments.

By the 1960s, northern republicans had mostly given up violence
and turned either to politics or to retirement. But a new civil
rights movement arose in the North, to protest and correct the
discrimination against Catholics. The Prime Minister of
Northern Ireland, Captain Terence O'Neill (a moderate Unionist)
pushed through reforms in electoral law and public housing. He
met with increasing opposition from hard-line Unionists including
William Craig and Brian Faulkner, important members of his
cabinet. After a general election (in which he retained a
narrow majority) he was forced out of office in April 1969,
following a bombing which was blamed on the IRA but later turned
out to be the work of loyalists.

Civil rights turned into civil disorder. The Belfast government
could not cope when fighting broke out in the streets of Belfast.
At times, the riots verged on pogroms, such as when loyalists
invaded the nationalist Falls Road. Thousands of families
were forced to leave their homes. The London government sent
British troops into Northern Ireland to keep the factions apart
in August 1969.

1970 was a turning point in Northern Ireland. The British Army,
having been welcomed initially by Catholics turned that welcome
into suspicion and hatred by conducting mass house searches in
nationalist areas. The IRA split in two, the Officials and
the Provisionals (who were better organised and more willing
to use violence). Ian Paisley was elected to Westminster on a
fundamentalist ticket, opposing the "soft" approach by official
Unionists like O'Neill. The Socialist Democratic and Labour Party
(SDLP) was formed out of the civil rights movement.

In 1971, Brian Faulkner became Prime Minister after his
predecessor, Chichester-Clark, resigned. Faulkner made the
colossal blunder of staging Operation Internment in an attempt to
quell the IRA. The Army sealed off whole areas during the night
raided homes, taking hundreds men for detention without trial.
Many of the internees were subjected to brutal treatment.
The injustice was compounded by incompetence: many if not most
of the internees were innocent, and many senior IRA men escaped
the net. The IRA drew valuable sympathy and support from

The last Sunday in January 1972 was Bloody Sunday. British
paratroopers shot dead thirteen unarmed men, six of them under
eighteen. A fourteenth died later of injuries sustained on the
same day. Thirteen others, including a widow, were wounded.
All of them had been participating in an illegal but largely
peaceful march against internment. The a public inquiry
that followed, conducted by by the British Chief Justice,
Lord Widgery, was a whitewash, clearing the soldiers of blame
and lending credence to their claims that the men they shot
were armed.

Bloody Sunday is a potent propaganda weapon used by the IRA and
Sinn Féin. It was not the first atrocity, nor did it claim the
most lives (more than fifty civilians were killed by IRA bombs
in 1972 alone). On that day and in the cover up that followed,
the state used the same methods as terrorist organisations like
the IRA.

Stormont, as the Northern Irish government and parliament were
known, was suspended (later to be abolished) and direct rule from
London was introduced by the British Prime Minister, Ted Heath.

Attempts during the seventies to devolve government back to
Northern Ireland with power sharing failed because of Unionist
and Nationalist opposition. However, direct rule from London
meant that the Northern Ireland Secretary could push through
the types of reforms that cost men like O'Neill and Faulkner
their careers.

The level of violence has been much than it was in the early
1970s and Northern Ireland is actually a safer place
than the news sometimes made it seem. The civil rights that people
marched for in the streets in the 60s are protected by bodies
such as the Housing Executive and Fair Employment Commission.
But Northern Ireland still has not achieved "normal" political
and social stability. The RUC still has a credibility problem
in nationalist eyes.

In 1997 a peace process got started, based in part on compromises
on marching routes by the Orange Order and a renewed IRA
ceasefire. For the firt time in many years there is some hope
that political reforms may make Northern Ireland a better
place to live in for all its inhabitants. Most importantly,
there is hope that the terrorists may find they no longer have
support for shootings, bombings and other activities.


Subject: 3) What books are there on Irish history?

These are some general works.

Title: Modern Ireland 1600-1972
Author: R.F. Foster
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 0-14-013250-3

Title: Ireland Since the Famine
Author: F.S.L. Lyons
Publisher: Fontana
ISBN 0-00-686005-2

Title: Ireland 1912-1985: Politics and Society
Author: J.J. Lee
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 0-521-37741-2

Title: Oxford History of Ireland
Author: R.F. Foster (Ed.)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0-19-822970-4 (hardback)

Title: The Making of Modern Ireland 1603-1923
Author: J.C. Beckett
Publisher: Faber & Faber
ISBN: 0-571-18036-1 (0-571-18035-3)

Title: A History of Ulster
Author: Jonathan Bardon
Publisher: Blackstaff Press
ISBN: 0-85460-476-4 ( 0-85640-466-7 hardback )

Title: Early Medieval Ireland: 400 - 1200
Author: Dáibhí O'Cróinín
Publisher: Longman
ISBN: 0-582-015650 ( 0-582-015669 cloth )

One book that people mention a lot in connection with early Ireland is

Title: How the Irish Saved Civilization
Author: Thomas Cahill
Publisher: Doubleday Books
ISBN: 0-385-41849-3 (hardback or paperback?)

[ The publishing information given is for the paperback editions unless
otherwise specified. ]

One online resource worth mentioning is the CELT Irish Electronic
Text archive at UCC, which has a variety of texts available for
reading on the web or download.


Subject: 4) Chronological list of dates from Irish History

c.3000BC Megalithic tombs first constructed.

c.700BC Celts arrive from parts of Gaul and Britain.
Ireland divided into provinces. (This according
to a contributor is reconstructed folk history
and not based on the archaeology.)

c.AD350 Christianity reaches Ireland.

400-800 Kingdom of Dalriada extends from Northeastern
Ireland to Scotland. Christianity brought to
Scotland by St. Columcille and others.

432 Trad. date for the arrival of St. Patrick in

700-800 Irish monasticism reaches its zenith.

795 Full-scale Viking invasion.

1014 Brian Ború defeats Vikings at Clontarf but is

1169 Dermot MacMurrough, exiled king of Leinster,
invites help from 'Strongbow'.

1172 Pope decrees that Henry II of England is feudal
lord of Ireland.

1366 Statutes of Kilkenny belatedly forbid
intermarriage of English and Irish. Gaelic
culture unsuccessfully suppressed.

1534-40 Unsuccessful Kildare rebellion

1541 Henry VIII proclaimed king (rather than feudal
lord) of Ireland

1558-1603 Reign of Elizabeth I. System of counties adopted.

1595-1603 Nine years war, a failed uprising led by Hugh

1607 Flight of the Earls; leading Ulster families go
into exile.

1610 Policy of plantation by colonisation begins
in Ulster.

1641 Charles I's policies cause insurrection in
Ulster and Civil War in England.

1649 Cromwell invades Ireland.

1653 Under the Act of Settlement Cromwell's
opponents stripped of land.

1689-90 Deposed James II flees to Ireland; defeated at
the Battle of the Boyne.

1704 Penal Code enacted; Catholics barred from voting,
education and the military.

1775 American War of Independence foments Irish unrest.

1782 Grattan's Parliament persuades British to declare
Irish independence, but in name only.

1795 Foundation of the Orange Order.

1798 Wolfe Tone's uprising crushed.

1801 Ireland becomes part of United Kingdom under
the Act of Union.

1829 Catholic Emancipation Act passed after
Daniel O'Connell elected as MP.

1845-49 The Great Famine.

1879-82 The Land War; Parnell encourages boycott of
repressive landlords.

1914 Implementation of Home Rule postponed because of
outbreak of World War I.

1916 Easter Rising. After the leaders are executed
public opinion backs independence.

1920-21 War between Britain and Ireland; Irish Free State
and Northern Ireland created.

1922 Civil war breaks out.

1932 De Valera elected.

1939-45 "The Emergency"; Free State remains neutral

1958 "Programme for economic expansion" published;
establishes a five year plan of public investment
with a target of 2% economic growth per annum.

1969 Rioting between Catholics and Protestants.
British troops called in.

1971 Provisional IRA begins campaign to oust
British troops from Ireland.
Faulkner becomes N.I. Prime Minister;
introduces internment without trial

1972 'Bloody Sunday' in Derry.
N.I. Government and parliament suspended;
direct rule from London.

1973 UK and Republic of Ireland join
European Economic Community.

1974 Power sharing Executive collapses in face
of Unionist general strike called to protest
Sunningdale agreement on "Council of Ireland".

1980-81 H-Block hunger strikes in NI. Republican
prisoners starve themselves to death for political
status. Inept handling by government results
in increased support for republicans.

1983 The first abortion referendum. An amendment
to the Constitution (article 40) says that
the State "acknowledges the right to life of
the unborn".

1984 Southern nationalist parties and SDLP publish
New Ireland Forum report.

1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement signed at Hillsborough.
Intergovernmental Conference established.

1986 The first divorce referendum. An attempt
to amend the Constitution to allow the
dissolution of marriages fails to get
majority support.

1988 The Single European Act is approved by
referendum (effected by a chance to
article 29 of the Constitution).

1992 The Treaty on European Union (also known
as the Maastricht Treaty) passes the
referendum hurdle (voters approved another
change to article 29 of the Constitution).

The "X" abortion case and referendum.

1994 Peace Declaration and IRA ceasefire.

1995 Second divorce referendum. Provisions
allowing for civil divorce are added to
article 41 of the Constitution.

1996 End of IRA ceasefire; elections for Peace Forum;
Sinn Féin is excluded from peace talks because
of continuing IRA violence; SF decides not to
attend the Forum

1997 Renewal of IRA ceasefire. Sinn Féin joins
establish peace talks.


End of Irish FAQ part 5

Irish FAQ Maintainer

Nov 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/8/99
Archive-name: cultures/irish-faq/part10
Last-modified: 2 Nov 98

Posting-Frequency: monthly

Part ten of ten.

Frequently Asked Questions on with answers.
Send corrections, suggestions, additions, and other feedback
to <>


1) Geography
2) Irish Language
3) Irish Politics
4) NI Politics
5) NI Paramilitaries
6) Government
7) Semi-State Bodies
8) Taxation & Spending
9) Other Bodies
10) Sport
11) Current Affairs
12) NI Current Affairs
13) Dead White Males
14) Other Historical Terms
15) Monuments
16) Irish-America
17) Myth and Folklore
18) General Terms

This is an attempt to explain some of the terms that come
up in


Subject: 1) Geography

Six Counties Another name for Northern Ireland

The North Another name for Northern Ireland

NI Another name for Northern Ireland

NoI North of Ireland: frequently preferred to
"NI" by nationalists.

26 Counties Another name for the Republic of Ireland

The South Another name for the Republic of Ireland

The Republic Another name for the Republic of Ireland

ROI Another name for the Republic of Ireland


Subject: 2) Irish Language

Irish a Gaelic language, closely related to Scots Gaelic

Gaeltacht The areas where Irish is spoken as a first language

Gaeilge The Irish for Irish Gaelic

RnaG Raidio na Gaeltachta, Irish language radio station

TnaG Teilifís na Gaeilge, Irish language TV station

Fáinne Pin worn by fluent Irish speakers

Currach a small boat made of a frame covered with
waterproof material (Irish spelling "curach")

Curragh flat, boggy area; _the_ Curragh is a plain in
Co. Kildare, notable for its racecourse and
the army barracks; also, an alternative spelling
of Currach

Ogham ancient script arranged along an edge or (later)
a line, usually carved onto wood or stone,
mainly preserved on stone monuments


Subject: 3) Irish Politics

Fianna Fáil Traditionally largest single party in Ireland;
formed by De Valera at the end of the civil war;
literally translated "soldiers of destiny" (from
some words in the national anthem). Pronounced
roughly "Fee-na FOIL". Often abbreviated "FF".

Fine Gael The "other" big civil war party and traditional
enemy of Fianna Fáil. Pronounced roughly
"Finn-nu GALE". Often abbreviated "FG".

Labour Party Like British counterpart an evolving socialist
party in a post-socialist world

Progressive Originally an anti-Haughey splinter from Fianna Fáil;
Democrats now their most likely partners in government;
right-wing economically, liberal on social issues

PDs Abbreviation for Progressive Democrats

Democratic Left left-wing party with roots going back to "Official"
Sinn Féin in the early seventies

Sinn Féin (Today) a party with close ties to the IRA that gets
most of its support in Northern Ireland; literally
translated "we ourselves". Pronounced roughly
"Shin FEIGN".

Shinner Supporter of Sinn Féin

32CSC "Thirty two County Sovereignty Committee";
Republican committee critical of GFA and
associated peace process

Republican Formed after a 1986 split when Sinn Féin voted
Sinn Féin to take up seats in the Dáil

Green Party like other parties of its kind in Europe, focuses
mainly on environmental issues

Bunreacht na the Irish Constitution; mostly written by de Valera
hÉireann in 1937; amended several times through referendum;
articles two and three claim whole island and are
therefore disliked by Unionists

CJH Charles J. Haughey; veteran FF politician,
Taoiseach many times during the eighties;
came back from disgrace being dismissed from
cabinet after Arms Trial (built up grassroots
support by doing the "rubber chicken" circuit
while in exile); always controversial and
ruthless in power; retired while going was
good but got caught up in corruption scandal
and tribunals later

CCOB Conor Cruise O'Brien; after career in Irish
civil service, including spell at UN became
Labour TD, later journalist and writer;
famous for outspoken op-ed pieces in Saturday
editions of Indo; joined UKUP and stood as
a candidate in NI


Subject: 4) NI Politics

UUP Ulster Unionist Party; traditionally the main
Unionist party in Northern Ireland; sometimes
known as the "Official" unionists

SDLP Social Democratic and Labour Party; main Catholic
and nationalist party

DUP Democratic Unionist Party; Ian Paisley's party;
usually tries to be more radical than the UUP

Sinn Féin See definition under Irish Politics above

Alliance A non-unionist, non-nationalist party

UKUP United Kingdom Unionist Party; mainly
Robert McCartney

PUP,UDP Two small unionist parties with links to Loyalist
terror groups

Women's New party that tries to bring NI women's views
Coalition to politics

Orange Order Organisation for Protestant men; stages marches;
c.f. AOH

NICRA Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association;
formed in 1967; later overtaken by sectarian
violence and the start of the troubles


Subject: 5) NI Paramilitaries

IRA Irish Republican Army; also known as the
Provisionals or the Provos; main republican
terrorist group

Army IRA body that (apparently) makes policy and
Council can only be overruled by an Army Convention
(all members or delegated members)

INLA Irish National Liberation Army; another
republican terrorist group

IPLO Irish People's Liberation Organisation;
another republican terrorist group, splintered
from the INLA; now thought defunct

UDA Umbrella group for various loyalist paramilitary
and terror groups

UVF Ulster Volunteer Force; a loyalist terror group

UFF a loyalist terror group; a cover name for the

Red Hand a loyalist terror group; often said to be a
Commandos cover name for the UVF

CLMC Combined Loyalist Military Command;
seems to speak for loyalist terror groups;
apparently they broke up recently

CIRA Continuity IRA; breakaway associated with
Republican Sinn Féin; (Óglaigh na hÉireann
Leanunachas in Irish)

CAC Continuity Army Council;
apparently the CIRA equivalent of the IRA's
Army Council (see above)

RIRA Real IRA; splinter group that disagreed
with IRA's ceasefire and "constitutionalism"

LVF Loyalist Volunteer Force; extremist loyalist
terror group

ÓnhÉ Óglaigh na hÉireann (the Irish Volunteers);
often used by republicans to refer to the IRA;
lately used by RIRA to refer to themselves

Chuckies supporters of the (provisional) IRA and Sinn Féin
(from "tiocfaidh ár lá", republican slogan,
meaning "our day will come", pronounced roughly
"chucky hour law")

Stickies supporters of the old "Official" IRA and
Sinn Féin (now Workers Party)

Taig derogotary term for Catholic and/or Nationalist,
derived from Irish name Tadhg

Hun derogotary term for "Protestant" and/or Unionist


Subject: 6) Government

Dáil The lower house of the ROI parliament

Seanad The upper house of the ROI parliament

Leinster House The building where the Dáil and Seanad sit

TD Teachta Dála (Dáil Deputy); an MP in the ROI

Taoiseach The prime minister of the ROI

Tánaiste The deputy PM of the ROI

Uachtarán The Irish word for President

Stormont The old parliament building in NI, often refers to the
institution itself

MEP Member of the European parliament, which sits in

Secretary (in Britain) government minister of cabinet rank;
of State in Irish context, usually the one responsible for NI

Garda Short for Garda Siochána (guardian of the peace),
ROI police

RUC Royal Ulster Constabulary, NI police

IDA Industrial Development Authority - ROI agency which
tries to attract foreign investment

IDB Industrial Development Board - NI equivalent of IDA

FEC Fair Employment Commission - judges cases of religious
discrimination in NI

Westminster Refers to British parliament and/or government

Gerrymander the manipulation of constituency boundaries
to affect the outcome of an election or
referendum (most effective under the first-past-
the-post electoral system) [ named after Elbridge
Gerry (1744-1814) U.S. politician and (at the
time) Governor of Massachusetts who in 1812
devised a strangely shaped senate district that
was caricatured into a salamander ]


Subject: 7) Semi-State Bodies

Semi-State (in Ireland) Company in which the government has
Body a controlling stake

RTÉ Raidio Teilifís Éireann; Irish state broadcasting
company; often accused of harbouring Dublin 4

Aer Lingus The state-owned airline

CIÉ Coras Iompar Éireann, The ROI state bus/rail transport
company, comprises Iarnrod Éireann (Irish Rail),
Bus Átha Cliath (Dublin Bus) and Bus Éireann (Irish
Bus) mainly

VHI Voluntary Health Insurance - largest, and semi-state,
health insurance company in ROI

An Post Post office in ROI

TÉ Telecom Éireann; Ireland's "The Phone Company"

Bord na Móna Turf

Bord Gáis Gas


Subject: 8) Taxation & Spending

VAT Value Added Tax, a sales tax - 17.5% in NI, 12.5/21%
in ROI

Dole Unemployment benefit; hence 'government artist': a
euphemism for 'drawing the dole'

PAYE Pay As You Earn - taxation system where tax is
deducted from your pay packet before you receive it;
most important source of government revenue

PRSI Pay Related Social Insurance


Subject: 9) Other Bodies

ICTU The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (an all-Ireland

IFA Irish Farmers Association, main ROI farmers group

SIPTU The largest trade union

IBEC Irish Business and Employers Confederation, the largest
group of employers in the ROI

SPUC Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child - large
anti-abortion group


Subject: 10) Sport

GAA Gaelic Athletic Association, the governing body of
the indigenous sports; also used informally to
refer to Gaelic football or Gaelic games in
general (sometimes pronounced as if it were a
word when used like this)

Hurling Irish game played with sticks, like shinty

Football Can refer to either soccer or Gaelic football

Camogie The female version of hurling

Croke Park The main GAA stadium, in Dublin; known in Irish
as Páirc Uí Chrocaigh

Hill 16 Stand at Croke Park

Rule 21 The GAA rule that denies membership to people in
British armed forces and RUC

FAI The governing body of soccer in the South

IFA The governing body of soccer in the North

Landsdowne Rd. The stadium in Dublin where the all-Ireland rugby
team and ROI soccer team play internationals

Windsor Park Stadium in Belfast where NI soccer team plays

IRFU Irish Rugby Football Union - all Ireland rugby body


Subject: 11) Current Affairs

EU European Union - economic and political alliance of
15 European countries

X Case Infamous abortion rights case which resulted in a
referendum in 1992 to 'clear up' the issue

Extradition Sending someone who is wanted in another country on
criminal charges to that other country; has often
been an emotive issue in Ireland

Brendan Smyth Case of pedophile priest and a delay in his
Affair extradition from ROI to NI that led to a government

Beef Tribunal Judicial enquiry in 1994(?) into irregularities
of beef processing industry that revealed
little and cost a lot; since then, several
other tribunals have investigated other
(suspected) political scandals with more or
less success

On Mature (now facetious) used to back out on an awkward
Recollection statement after being found out; first used by
Brian Lenihan, FF candidate in the
1990 presidential election, to admit
on live television that he _did_ phone
President Hillary in 1982 to ask him to
refuse dissolution of the Dáil after the
FG Taoiseach lost a vote of confidence; by
not disolving the Dáil, Hillary would have
allowed FF to try to form an alternative
government by canvassing independent TDs;
Lenihan's admission after repeated denials
damaged his credibility lost him the presidency

GUBU (facetious) coined by CCOB after CJH (Taoiseach
at the time) described the discovery of
a killer in the flat of the Attorney
General as "grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre
and unprecedented"; came to be used as a
popular shorthand for all scandals involving CJH

CAP Common Agricultural Policy - EU system of farm
subsidies; largest portion of EU spending

Veronica Guerin Dublin crime journalist who exposed organised
crime activities and was murdered in 1996
triggering public outcry and referendum on
stricter bail laws

EU Structural EU funding for projects such as road building
Fund similar to Cohesion Fund and Regional Fund

Indo Irish Independent; largest circulation daily
newspaper in Ireland

Sindo Sunday Independent; largest circulation
(surprise!) Sunday newspaper


Subject: 12) NI Current Affairs

GFA Good Friday Agreement; the Northern Ireland
settlement to end the troubles negotiated
up until the early morning of the 10th of
April, 1998, supported by majorities in NI
and RoI in two simultaneous referenda in May;
also referred variously to as the Belfast
Agreement, the Stormont Agreement and the
the British-Irish Agreement

Downing St. Joint Anglo-Irish communiqué issued in November 1995
Declaration which started the policy of parallel "tracks" of
negotiation: one for arms decommisioning and one
for all-party talks

Mitchell Recommendations for democratic and non-violent
Principles negotiations, written by the International Body
on Arms Decommisioning, headed by Senator
Mitchell; principles state that "to take the
gun out of Irish politics", all parties to
negotiations should commit themselves
"a. To democratic and exclusively peaceful means
of resolving political issues;
b. To the total disarmament of all paramilitary
c. To agree that such disarmament must be
verifiable to the satisfaction of an independent
d. To renounce for themselves, and to oppose
any effort by others, to use force, or threaten
to use force, to influence the course or the
outcome of all-party negotiations;
e. To agree to abide by the terms of any agreement
reached in all-party negotiations and to resort
to democratic and exclusively peaceful methods
in trying to alter any aspect of that outcome
with which they may disagree; and,
f. To urge that "punishment" killings and
beatings stop and to take effective steps to
prevent such actions."

Forum for Consultative body formed by ROI govt. comprising
Peace and party groups from North and South, formed to
Reconciliation "assist in identifying and clarifying issues which
could most contribute to creating a new era of
trust and co-operation on the island" of Ireland


Subject: 13) Dead White Males

Strongbow Norman leader who led invasion of Ireland in 12th

Daniel 'The Emancipator'; Irish political leader and MP at
O'Connell Westminster in early 19th century; campaigned
against anti-Catholic laws and later for repeal of
Act of Union to Britain; died in 1847; thought
greatest leader of 19th century by many;
portrait and credo is on 20 pound note

Charles Stewart Late 19th century politician; first president of
Parnell Land League; later, MP and leader of Home Rule Party;
effective parliamentarian; demise followed
scandalous affair with Kitty O'Shea; died after
her divorce and their marriage in 1891

Éamonn Most important 20th century Irish nationalist
de Valera politician; only commander not executed after
Easter Rising; president of first Dáil; opposed
Treaty but survived; founder of Fianna Fáil;
President of Executive Council/ Taoiseach
'32-'48, '51-'54, '57-'59; President of
Republic '59-'73; died in 1975

Michael Irish republican leader; fought in Rising; highly
Collins successful head of intelligence during War of
Independence; member of Treaty delegation; shot dead
in 1922 during Civil War while Commander-in-Chief of
pro-treaty forces

Edward Carson Barrister and Unionist politician; MP at
Westminster; leader of Irish Unionist Party until
1921; proposed exclusion of Ulster from Home
Rule and supported Ulster Volunteer Force in 1913;
extremely successful legal and political career

King Billy William of Orange; Dutch Protestant who won
British throne from Catholic tyrant James II,
the latter having made his last stand in Ireland;
King Billy is fondly remembered by NI Protestants


Subject: 14) Other Historical Terms

Wild Geese Originally, supporters of James II who left
Ireland after the Treaty of Limerick in 1691 to
form the 'Irish Brigade' in Louis XIV's army.
Also used to refer to refer to all those who
left Ireland in the 17th century, and sometimes
(loosely) all Irish emigrants.

Flight of Earls In 1607, the Earl of Tyrone, Hugh O'Neill,
last leader of Gaelic Ireland, went into exile,
bringing many Irish lords with him.


Subject: 15) Monuments

Giants Causeway Structure of hexagonal basalt columns off NE coast

Newgrange Stone-age passage grave; illuminated on winter solstice

Blarney Stone Stone on castle wall which gives gift of the gab to
those who kiss it, supposedly

Knock Marian shrine in Co. Mayo; a place of pilgrimage


Subject: 16) Irish-America

AOH Ancient Order of Hibernians - a group for Catholic
Irish men; stages marches; c.f. Orange Order

Morrison Named after Irish-American senator; scheme that gave
Visa Irish people seeking residency in the US favourable
treatment during late eighties


Subject: 17) Myth and Folklore

Milesians Descendents of mythical Spanish king Milesius
who supposedly conquered Ireland around 1300 BC;
hence, Irish


Subject: 18) General Terms

Craic Fun, good time

Ceol Music

Poteen Poitín; illicitly distilled whiskey, i.e. moonshine

Culchie Dublin term for someone from the country

Jackeen The opposite of culchie

Dublin 4 Postal code of supposedly wealthiest part of
Dublin; thus used to describe posh accents
and attitudes; D4 is also supposedly a den of
wishy-washy liberals


End of Irish FAQ part 10

Irish FAQ Maintainer

Nov 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/8/99
Archive-name: cultures/irish-faq/part01
Last-modified: 25 Sep 99

Posting-Frequency: monthly

Part one of ten.

Frequently Asked Questions on with answers.
Send corrections, suggestions, additions, and other feedback
to <>


1) What is the newsgroup "" about?
2) Where is the Irish culture?
3) I found a lot of nastiness here. Are real Irish people like that?
4) Could you please send me the Irish FAQ?
5) What is netiquette?
6) What is a troll? What should I do when I see one?
7) What are the basics I should know about Ireland?
8) What are the basics about the Republic?
9) What are the basics about Northern Ireland?
10) I'm a bit confused by all the names. Please explain.
11) What about Irish-Americans?
12) Why is there a conflict in the North?
13) Where can I find more information about the flags of Ireland?


Subject: 1) What is the newsgroup "" about? was created by a vote of 539 to 21 following
the usual process (see news.announce.newusers for more
information on this process). The result was announced in
news.announce.newgroups on 12 May 1995.

The vote approved the following as the charter of the newsgroup.

The newsgroup will be open to discussion of
all subjects specifically referring to Ireland or Irish
culture. This newsgroup will be created for reasons including,
but not restricted to, the following:

* To encourage understanding and discussion of Ireland and Irish
culture, in the many ways people wish to define it.

* To act as a focus for the Irish diaspora (Irish people,
including emigrants and their descendants) and to draw
together the global threads of Irishness.

* To act as a resource for Irish people who wish to use the
Internet and for people who wish to encourage the development
of the Internet in Ireland.

* To provide a forum for the use and support of the Irish

The following exceptions should be noted:

* Matters referring to the broader family of Celtic nations
should be posted to soc.culture.celtic.

* Matters referring to Irish folk music should be posted to

[ At the time the charter was written there was no separate
newsgroup for Irish family names. Now there is
soc.genealogy.ireland, which is more appropriate for this
than .]

Like many newsgroups, is slowly developing a
culture of its own. For a guide to what's _really_ going
on, try Gerard Cunningham's informal guide to the newsgroup


Subject: 2) Where is the Irish culture?

Usually this question is a complaint. Many people are
disappointed when they read and find it
isn't quite what they expected. The newsgroup is not just for
discussions about Irish culture (unless you broaden the word
"culture" to encompass almost all things Irish). This is for
the very good reason that is the only Irish
newsgroup with worldwide distribution. (Other newsgroups, such
as those in the ie.* hierarchy are not available everywhere.)
It does not pay to read too much into a name when that name is
fairly arbitrary (as is the case with most Usenet newsgroups).

Having said that, there is most likely a place in the newsgroup
for Irish culture as you define it. If you don't see what
you want to discuss, you should post an article on the subject
yourself. If you express yourself well, you'll probably find
that people will respond positively. On the other hand, it is
not productive to complain about what's there if you have made
no effort to contribute yourself.

If you need inspiration, take a look at Gerard Cunningham's archive
of poetry postings (
and various other cultural items

Finally, remember that, as in most news groups, the interesting
articles are often hard to find until you get to know the group.
There are discussions going on all the time about things other
than politics: you just have to look beyond the current flame war.
You might want to read for a couple of weeks before you pass
judgement. As always, good news reading software helps a lot.
(This is particularly true since the newsgroup has become more
busy, with upwards of 200 articles a day.)


Subject: 3) I found a lot of nastiness here. Are real Irish people like that?

No. You cannot generalise from to "real"
Irish people (whatever that means to you). You can't do it
for any of the other soc.culture groups either. People often
do not behave on newsgroups like they would in real life.
A newsgroup is a great place to get on your hobby horse, make
a lot of noise and get yourself some attention without paying
the consequences you would if you did it in a pub. Again,
it pays to look beyond whatever rudeness offends you for
quieter discussions that may be taking place in the next booth.

(See also the question about trolls.)


Subject: 4) Could you please send me the Irish FAQ?

You might not get all the parts of the FAQ or you might just want
the current version. Please try to get it yourself before
asking me. If you have access to the web, use the web
version (

There's also a FAQ archive which lets you search for keywords at
the Internet FAQ Archives (

If you don't have access to the web, but you do have ftp access,
use (log in as anonymous). You should find all
the FAQ files in the directory


If you only have access to mail, send a message to with no Subject and just the following
two lines in the body


You can retrieve a list of the files using the index command

index usenet-by-group/


Subject: 5) What is netiquette?

It's politeness on Usenet. People reading your articles
appreciate it if you follow certain guidelines. Some of the
guidelines are listed here. If you are not familiar with them,
you might want to check the newsgroup news.announce.newusers.

Summarise or quote (briefly!) what you are replying to.
Don't assume other people see articles in the same order you do.
Read all replies and don't repeat what has already been said.
Check the headers when replying and remove irrelevant newsgroups.
Don't criticise people for their spelling.
Cite your references if you have any.
Don't overdo your signature.
Try to keep your lines less than 80 characters long.
If you reply by mail _and_ news indicate that the reply is public.


Subject: 6) What is a troll? What should I do when I see one?

A troll is an attempt to start a prolonged flame war, a fierce
argument with rude, personal insults. Usually, a troll is an
article that is so outrageous, insulting and stupid that you
feel you _have_ to reply. You can often recognise it because
it is crossposted to several groups (very few articles posted
to more than three groups are worth reading). If it is posted
by someone you never saw posts from before (especially if they
are using an anonymous account), that's a good sign of a troll.
Often, it will flagrantly violate basic netiquette.

If you see a troll, don't post an angry reply. If you do, the
troller will have succeeded. It's better to ignore the troll.
(A humorous putdown is another option, but one that might
backfire.) If you have a killfile facility in your newsreader
(sometimes called a filter), you can set it to ignore future posts
from this person. A good newsreader can also be set to "kill"
a subject (ignore future posts with that subject line).

There's also a FAQ about trolls

It's perhaps worth mentioning that not everything you
personally find offensive is necessarily a troll.


Subject: 7) What are the basics I should know about Ireland?

Ireland is an island in north-western Europe with a temperate
climate. Much of the coastline is hilly and large plains cover
the middle and southeast of the country. It is inhabited by
around five million people. Thousands of years ago, Ireland was
covered with deciduous forests, but now fields are the
dominant feature of the landscape.

There are two cultures to be found in Ireland. Historically,
the island has been politically dominated by the people of its
eastern neighbour, Britain. One culture, found mostly among
those whose ancestors came from Britain (usually hundreds of
years ago) values its connections with Britain: people of this
culture see themselves as British (though not always and not
always exclusively) in the same way that the Scots and the
Welsh are. They are called unionists. People aligned to the
other culture see themselves as Irish and put great value in
being independent from Britain. They are called nationalists.
While members of both groups will value the indigenous heritage,
such as the Irish language, nationalists are apt to claim it
as their own. Unionists are mostly raised as Protestants,
nationalists as Roman Catholics. (Unsurprisingly, nationalism
and unionism both run in families.) The two cultures are often
referred to as the two traditions, communities or identities.
This is a generalisation, because many (maybe even most) people
have connections to both cultures.

There is a border between the north-eastern part of the island
(which is still united with and ruled from Britain) called
Northern Ireland and the larger south-western part (which has
been independent since December 1921 and is governed from the
largest city on the island, Dublin) known as the Republic of
Ireland. Unionists form the majority in Northern Ireland and
nationalists form the (overwhelming) majority in the Republic.


Subject: 8) What are the basics about the Republic?

Between Three-and-a-half and four million people live in the
Republic (3.621 million at the time of the 1996 Census). It is
divided into twenty six counties:

Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Dublin*, Galway, Kerry,
Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Limerick, Longford, Louth,
Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary,
Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow.

[ * The counties do not necessarily coincide with
administrative units any more. For example, Dublin has at
least _four_ councils, Fingal on the northside, Dublin City,
Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown and South Dublin on the southside. ]

Dublin, with a population of over a million, is the most
important city. The government has tried to slow emigration
from rural areas to Dublin using measures ranging from grants
to relocating government offices, but with limited success.

Irish is the official first language, but is spoken mainly in
areas located along the western seaboard known as Gaeltachts.
Irish is a compulsory subject at school, but English is the
language generally used in every day life. There are also a
lot of Irish speakers in the cities (particularly Dublin),
but they are less concentrated there than in the Gaeltachts.
By the way, in Irish, Dublin is called Baile Átha Clíath
(often abbreviated to B.A.C).

Until recently the Republic had a high "dependency ratio",
meaning that the number of people working was relatively
small compared to the number of people they had to support.
As the children of the baby boom of the early and mid-seventies
comes of age, more and more of them will be entering the labour
force, making this less of a problem. With the extraordinary
economic boom of the nineties, unemployment in the Republic
has fallen from nearly a fifth to a single percentage figure
below the European Union average.

Ireland celebrates its national day on March 17th, the day of its
patron saint, Patrick, who introduced Christianity to the country.
The day is celebrated in the U.S. almost as much as (some would
say more than) in Ireland.

The republic has a bicameral Parliament (Oireachtas) consisting
of an upper house or Senate (Seanad Éireann) and a lower house
or House of Representatives (Dáil Éireann). Members of the
Dáil (known as Teachtaí Dála or T.D.s) are elected directly and
this house has the primary legislative role. The Seanad (whose
members are not elected by the people at large) has limited
powers and can in general be overridden by the Dáil.

Chief of State:
Uachtarán (President) Mary McAleese

Head of Government:
Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern

The national flag is divided into three equal vertical bands of
green (hoist side), white, and orange. The green symbolises the
nationalist culture, the orange the unionist culture, and white
symbolises peace.


Subject: 9) What are the basics about Northern Ireland?

Between one-and-a-half and two million people live in the North
(1 577 836 were counted during the last Census in 1991).
It is divided into six counties:

Antrim, Armagh, Londonderry (usually called Derry by
nationalists), Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone. These counties were
abolished as administrative units in 1973 and replaced with
26 "districts" [draw a deep breath]: Antrim, Ards, Armagh,
Ballymena, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Belfast, Carrickfergus,
Castlereagh, Coleraine, Cookstown, Craigavon, Down, Dungannon,
Fermanagh, Larne, Limavady, Lisburn, Londonderry, Magherafelt,
Moyle, Newry & Mourne, Newtonabbey, North Down, Omagh and

Belfast is the most important city in Northern Ireland and the
second biggest city on the island. It has traditionally been the
most industrially developed city in Ireland and is famous for
its shipbuilding, particularly the Harland and Wolf shipyard.
The shipyard has survived but is not nearly as important an
employer as it once was. It is a city starkly divided between
nationalists and unionists: victims of violence can (and are)
often be identified merely by the area they come from: someone
from Ballymurphy is nationalist; someone from the Shankill is
unionist. Divisions are at their worst in working class areas,
where it's often possible to label areas on a street by street
basis: middle-class suburbs are more integrated.

Unemployment is a serious problem just as it is in the south.
It is also very unevenly distributed, as in the south: you will
come across housing estates where the overwhelming majority of
people are unemployed, often for more than one generation in the
same family. Up until the late sixties there was open
discrimination against nationalists and many claim that this
discrimination continues today, although there are now strict
laws against discrimination.

Northern Ireland is ruled from London: there is a Northern
Ireland Secretary (currently Mo Mowlam) who is in charge of
the Northern Ireland Office and hence the civil service. The
parliament in Stormont has not been active since the start of
the Troubles in the early seventies, when "direct rule" was

Currently 18 out of 647 constituencies represented in the
House of Commons in London are in Northern Ireland.

Chief of State:
Queen Elizabeth II

Head of Government:
Prime Minister Tony Blair

The Good Friday Agreement created an elected Assembly
and Executive Authority for Northern Ireland. The First
Minister of this Executive is currently David Trimble;
his Deputy First Minister is Seamus Mallon.

The flag of Northern Ireland is that of the United Kingdom:
the crosses of Saints Andrew, George and Patrick overlaid on
each other. (There is also flag for Northern Ireland alone,
a red hand superimposed on a cross of St George.)


Subject: 10) I'm a bit confused by all the names. Please explain.

Different people use different names.

There are two more important terms: "republican" and "loyalist".
A republican believes in an extreme form of Nationalism, a
loyalist believes in an extreme form of Unionism. Both terms are
used to describe groups who advocate the use of violence to
achieve political aims.

Unionists tend to call Northern Ireland Ulster, even tough this
is technically incorrect (Ulster includes three extra counties:
Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal). Republicans (here meaning
nationalists who sympathise with violent attempts to force union
between Northern Ireland and the Republic) often call Northern
Ireland "the Six Counties" and the Republic "the Twenty Six
Counties" (or, worse, "the Free State", a reference to the
original Irish state with limited independence created in 1921).

British people often call the Republic Éire (possibly
because it was the word used by the BBC for years) but this
is not popular amongst Irish people. The word is grating to
many Irish ears when used in English. "Éire" is the name
of the state in Irish, "Ireland" is the name in English.
The Constitution says as much (but also contains the phrase
"We, the people of Éire" in its preamble, arguably a case
of mis-translation). Some Irish don't mind the mix and even
use it themselves, however if in doubt, you call it "Ireland"
if you are speaking English.

"Ireland" is ambiguous: it may refer to the island or to the
part governed from Dublin. You may want to say "the island of

Ireland" to avoid this ambiguity. "The North" and "the South"
are often used as shorthand for Northern Ireland and the Republic

There is sometimes a subtle difference in whether the word is
written with an initial capital or not, e.g. 'unionist'
indicating a general connection with the idea, 'Unionist'
implying a more direct political involvement especially relating
to one of the Unionist political parties.

Finally, you cannot tell someone's political allegiance reliably
from what names they use: these are all generalisations. The
safest terms are "Northern Ireland" and "Republic of Ireland".


Subject: 11) What about Irish-Americans?

What about them?

But seriously, "Irish-Americans" are a topic of heated debate,
repeated misunderstandings and a flame war permanently threatening
to break out as soon a newcomer says something inapposite on

To summarise the problem, some Irish people don't like it
when Americans refer to themselves as Irish or act in a way
that implies (or seems to imply) that they are "really" Irish.

There's not much that can be usefully said about this problem
except perhaps that people should keep an open mind and try not
to apply preconceptions based on words on a screen. The word
"Irish" can be specific, referring to nationality or it can be
vague, referring to ethnic background or "identity". There's a
whole range of meaning, which may not be immediately obvious.


Subject: 12) Why is there a conflict in the North?

(There is some hope that the Troubles in the North may be
coming to an end and conflict will be of the more usual
political kind, not involving the kind of violence that
has made Northern Ireland infamous for three decades.
Nevertheless, this answer refers to the Troubles.)

This is a difficult question and one that is impossible to
answer without offending some people. There are two easy
answers, each favoured by one side: because of the border;
because of the IRA. Neither is satisfactory, because both just
raise more difficult questions: why do the border and the IRA
exist today? There is an attempt to answer the first in the
History section of the FAQ.

This is not a war between the Irish and the British: it is not
a private war between the IRA and the British army; nor is it
a war between catholics and protestants. It is a struggle over
the political future of Northern Ireland, one where some people
have resorted to violence (as well as the IRA there are various
loyalist groups who have a U for Ulster at the start of their
acronyms). An overwhelming proportion of nationalists and
unionists reject violence (though they are usually most strident
in their rejection when this violence is committed by the "other"

To explain the conflict you must explain the IRA. It has little
popular support in Ireland (but considerable support in parts
of Belfast, Armagh and Derry). It is (despite claims to the
contrary) a deeply political organisation with a well-developed
ideology that justifies continued killing. This is the ideology
of British oppression. Perhaps the most significant icon is
the Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry when British paratroopers
shot dead unarmed protesters. It is events such as these that
recruit members, not the low-level harassment of republicans or
the border itself (both existed long before the Provisional IRA).

A FAQ answer is not a real answer to the question: you need to
read a book (preferably several). "The Troubles" by Tim Pat
Coogan (Random House, London 1995 ISBN 0 09 179146 4) might be a
start. (He also wrote a history of the IRA called, surprisingly
"The IRA: A History".) "The Edge of the Union" by Steve Bruce
(ISBN 0-19-827976-0 ) takes a different point of view of the
same period.


Subject: 13) Where can I find more information about the flags of Ireland?

Vincent Morley has a web page about various Irish flags


End of Irish FAQ part 1


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