Don't forget to visit the Ireland Institute booth at the upcoming Pittsburgh Irish Festival, September 9,10, and 11.


The Common Ground

Vol. III, Issue VIII


August 2005


                  News Updates





upcoming Events:







in this issue


In this issue, we discuss a story that's generating international buzz - the IRA's announced end to its armed struggle.  In further news from Northern Ireland, we feature a story on the upcoming Omagh bombing trial, and the reaction in Ireland to the July terrorist bombings in London.


It is with sadness that the Institute notes the passing of former Walsh Visa Participant Francis (Francey) Vaughn.  For more information please see the News section.


You'll also find information on some interesting upcoming events, including the annual Pittsburgh Irish Festival,  a Gathering of the Irish Clans, and the Kane Sisters in concert.




letter from the editor


A Just Peace?


Last month's announcement that the IRA was ending its armed campaigned was met with mixed reactions: optimism by many and suspicion by a few.  Now a new campaign begins.  And it lies at the heart of the peacemaker.


The mission of a peacemaker is not simply to quell protest.  She must be brave enough to reach out to the protester and advocate for justice on his behalf.  Peace without justice and truth and fairness and equality is nothing more than a dominant people's outright oppression of second-class citizens.  Conversely, if civil rights exist in the midst of a civil war or a terror campaign, they have little meaning for those just surviving day to day.  Either way, without a just peace the collective society loses.


This is the challenge for the political parties of Northern Ireland, the governments of the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, and yes, the leadership and concerned citizens of nations around the world.  We need the Irish peace process to be a model for conflict resolution.  So where do we go from here?


Like any campaign, it takes effective planning, execution and constant reevaluation of the goals set out.  It takes a positive attitude to go into hostile territory, to affirm opposing views and disagreements, and seek common ground on important issues.  It takes the investment of people at all stations demanding a future that is brighter than the past.  It takes leadership.


I believe the ingredients for a just peace in Northern Ireland are, for the most part, in place.  The Good Friday Agreement remains a brilliant document, a road map marking the way.  The upbeat comments of world leaders and orders for the British military's further demilitarization were welcome and signaled some commitments to facilitate political progress.


Still hard-line unionists remain suspicious.  Peacemakers from within their own ranks must step forward.  Their best and brightest will simultaneously fight for unionist cultural identity in Northern Ireland and reach out to champion a just peace for all.  When they emerge I hope the world is wise enough to take their hands.


Jim Lamb is the Vice President of the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh, and can be reached at

12 counties in 12 months:


County Leitrim is part of the Republic of Ireland.  It has a short coastline on the Atlantic Coast and is bordered by Counties Donegal, Fermanagh, Cavan, Longford, Roscommon, and Sligo. 

Geographically the northwestern region contains the Gray Mountains and “boggy glades” to the southeast.  The southeast region was once covered by forests, which then turned to damp farming land used for farming and raising cattle.  Because of this the county was deeply affected by the Potato Famine. 

In 1841 the population was 155,000 and fell to 112,000 within ten years.  The drop in population was not only due to deaths but also to a large number that emigrated.  The county contains beautiful rolling hills, valleys, and lakes.  Residents often joke that the land is not sold by the acre, but by the gallon because of the vast number of lakes.

Historically the kingdom of Breifne and the O’Rourke family ruled Leitrim.  During the thirteenth century the Anglo-Normans invaded and occupied the county until the exile of the Irish landholders in 1620.

County Leitrim has one of the lowest populations of any county in Ireland.  Carrick-on-Shannon is the county town with only 4,000 inhabitants.  The county installed its first traffic light in 2003. Agriculture in County Leitrim has embraced organic farming as a new initiative. Rossinvar is home to the Organic Centre of Excellence for the production of organically grown vegetables and meat. The US company Masonite Ireland have built their European plant for molded door facings near Carrick-on-Shannon over an area of some 75 acres, which has helped contribute considerably to the local Leitrim economy. Other industries in County Leitrim include light engineering, food production and the growing sector of IT. Several fine arts and crafts producers are found in the north of the county

leitrim.jpg (12617 bytes)

For more information visit:


Please submit your feedback to:    Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh * Regional Enterprise Center

                                                        * 425 Sixth Avenue, Suite 300 * Pittsburgh, PA 15219 or

Call/fax our offices:   Telephone:  (412) 394-3900  *  Fax:  (412) 394-0502

To subscribe/unsubscribe or comment on this newsletter please send an email to:





Rest in Peace: 

Francey Vaughn, Former Pittsburgh Walsh Visa Participant

The death has taken place, as a result of a road traffic accident, of 28-yer-old Francis (Francey) Vaughn of Letterkenny, a Pittsburgh Walsh Visa Participant from 2002-2003.

Funeral Mass was held on Thursday at St. Eunan's Cathedral, Letterkenny, follwed by burial at Leck Cemetery.  Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to Donegal Hospice c/o Charlie McClafferty, Funeral Director, Churchill and Letterkenny.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Francey's family and friends at this time.




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The trial for the man suspected to be responsible for a car bomb attack in Omagh on August 15, 1998 has been pushed back yet again.  The bombing killed 29 people, including a set of unborn twins, and injured 220 people.  On the day of the bombing Ulster Television, a local news station, received false warning about the location of the bomb.  Police directed people away from the location of the false threat and to the location of the actual attack. 

Sean Hoey, 35, believed to be a member of the Real IRA, a dissident republican group.  The Real IRA has clamed that they intended to destroy a Law Court and did not intend to kill civilians.   

On May 26, 2005 Hoey was charged with the murder of 29 people, 23 explosives offences, and conspiracy to murder security force members.  His appearance via video link to the Belfast magistrates’ office on May 31, 2005 allowed a judge to push back the trial to August 30, 2005. 

Pictured below is a montage dedicated to the victims.  All are pictured here except for the unborn twins also killed in the blast. 


On July 14th, 2005, thousands across Northern Ireland participated in observances to honor those injured and killed in the London bombings.

Lord Mayor Wallace Browne led a ceremonyBelfast Lord Mayor Wallace Browne outside Belfast City Hall.  After signing a book of condolences Brown stated, “There are no words to describe the horror and revulsion of this barbaric act.  On behalf of all the citizens of Belfast we would like to express our deepest sympathy to the families that have been bereaved and those injured in the appalling attack. I think that because here in Belfast we have had experience of similar attacks over the years, we can empathize with the people in London.”

Also, Dr. Jamal Iweida from the Belfast Islamic Centre took part in the ceremony and informed the public that the local Muslim community was upset and distraught by the events in London.  “We would like to convey our condolences and our sympathy to victims, the families, and the friends of the victims.  It is a great atrocity what happened in London and to all the communities here a great shock,” stated Iweida. 

There was at least one fatality directly related to Northern Ireland.   The daughter of a County Fermanagh resident, Ciaran Cassidy, was killed in the explosion on the Russell Square underground train. 

Some Northern Ireland citizens had hoped that these bombings would push the IRA to end paramilitary activity as promised. 




On July 28th, 2005, the Irish Republican Army formally ordered an end to its armed campaign.  The IRA has stated that all of its volunteers have been instructed to participate in “purely political and democratic programmes” to achieve their goals stated in the Good Friday Agreement.  An end to the violence andSugarloaf Mountain watchtower  (Army picture) sectarianism that has torn at the fabric of society in Northern Ireland for the past 30 years is now one step closer.  However, there have been mixed reactions to the news.  Some are very optimistic, including Tony Blair who said, “Today may be the day that peace replaced war, that politics replaced terror, on the island of Ireland.”  Others are not so certain that they will see an end to paramilitary activity.  Sir Reg Empey, Ulster Unionist party leader, explains “People are so skeptical, having… been burnt so many times before.”  Most are waiting to see the results to believe that this is the end.  Yet, as early as July 29th, the army began dismantling posts including a base at Forkhill, a watchtower on Sugarloaf Mountain and theRoyal Irish Regiment soldiers Newtownhamilton police station, to name a few.  

As time passes, the Ireland Institute will continue its commitment to supporting peace in Ireland, as it has done for the past 16 years.  A settlement achieved through peaceful and democratic means is the only truly legitimate settlement. 









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With all the excitement over the NHL finally getting restarted, ice hockey is once again on the minds of quite a few people in the region.  But, did you know that Belfast is home to a professional ice hockey team?  The Belfast Giants are about the enter their sixth season.

Martin Klempa

With Belfast's Odyssey Arena, below, as their home turf, the Giants play as part of the Elite Hockey League. 

The Giants recently announced that they signed NHL veteran Theo Fleury for the upcoming season.  However, with paperwork and work permit hurdles, the Giants could not yet confirm his place on the roster.

They open this year's season on September 9th, with a home game versus the Newcastle (England) Vipers.

For more information, visit





We made the journey to Founders Field in Indianola, PA on a hot Sunday afternoon in July to watch our very first Gaelic Football match and cheer on the Pittsburgh Celtics.  From the moment we arrived on the pitch and received a hearty greeting from the Club Secretary, we knew that afternoon would be good craic.  We were nervous that a rainstorm might ruin that afternoon's fun, but luckily only a few drops fell and helped to cool the afternoon heat.  After making our way to the bleachers and finding a seat among the crowd, a mix of families, fans, and friends of the team, we were ready for the game to begin.  The Celtics faced off against St. Jarlath's, hailing from Cleveland, Ohio.  Although St. Jarlath's won out in the end 30-10, the Celtics had some good plays and we enjoyed the match despite the loss.  At first we weren't clear on all of the rules, but the fast pace and constant action kept our attention for the entire sixty minutes.  All in all, the afternoon was a great opportunity for a bunch of Yanks to be introduced to the fine sport of Gaelic football.  Given the excitement of the game and the friendliness of the team during post-game socializing at the Harp and Fiddle, we suspect that we interns might be fans of Gaelic football for many years to come.


Photo:  IIP Interns and friends enjoy the game


Submitted by Ireland Institute Interns Heidi Baughman (Duquesne University), Emilia Gallagher (Duquesne University) and Heidi Lynch (Penn State University). 















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The Ancient Order of Hibernians’  ½ Way to St. Patrick’s Day and All the Way to Helping Old St. Patrick’s Church Celebration

For over a year, the Allegheny County Ancient Order of Hibernians have charged forward in its holy crusade to restore the beauty of Old St. Patrick’s in Pittsburgh’s Strip District and invite you to join them.

About Old St. Patrick’s Church

The current "Old St. Patrick's" church was constructed in 1936, the 4th building for a congregation established in 1811, a full 50 years prior to the establishment of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Father Cox, St. Patrick's priest in the 1930s, was a tireless activist for the unemployed during the Depression. He held daily radio sermons, opened a soup kitchen feeding 3,000 souls a day, ran a homeless shelter and led a march on Washington to appeal for jobs. He briefly ran for President as the Jobless Party candidate in 1932.

The church is one of only four in the world to contain 28 Holy Stairs that symbolize the steps Jesus walked to confront Pontius Pilate. Faithful pilgrims ascend into the church by way of these stairs on their knees contemplating Jesus’ sacrifice for all of us. In addition, St. Patrick’s has a beautiful courtyard which showcases a wonderful grotto modeled after Lourdes and a classic Irish Round Tower too!

To date, the AOH has financed – physically and financially – the painting of the entire church and have been raising funds to create and install two new beautiful stained glass windows of St. Patrick and St. Brigid by St. Patrick’s Day 2006 and is halfway home to reaching their financial goal. Those donating $500 will be recognized on a church plaque.

½ Way to St. Patrick’s Day Celebration to Benefit Old St. Patrick’s Church

On September 16th, the AOH is welcoming everyone to its “1/2 Way to St. Patrick’s Day” celebration at the Priory Hotel’s Grand Hall benefiting Old St. Patrick’s.

Here are some the details of the evening of Irish entertainment: 6:30 p.m. Doors Open; 7:00 p.m. Bands/Entertainment; All Irish fun will last until 11:00 p.m. Entertainment includes Famous Irish Bands and performers such as Guaranteed Irish, Hooley, Michael Gallagher, Michael Murphy and the Shannon River Band and many more to be announcedThroughout the evening celebration raffles, auctions and a whole holy bunch of blarney will take place.  Admission is $20 per person at the door and includes food and a cash bar.

For more information or for donations, please contact: Bernie Donnelly, AOH St. Patrick’s Renovation Committee Chairperson, 1358 Raven Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15243, 412.279.8220 or visit


The Pittsburgh Irish Festival will take place at the Chevrolet Amphitheatre in Station Square, September 9th through 11th.  This year will mark the 15th Anniversary of the festival, which brings 25,000 people to Pittsburgh over a three-day period. 

The Krushinski sisters created the festival to honor their Irish background while spreading Irish culture and traditions in western Pennsylvania.  In 1991, they organized the first Pittsburgh Irish Festival, featuring local artists and the father of Irish music in America, Tommy Makem.  The festival has become a nationally renowned representation of Gaelic entertainment in celebration of “Halfway to Saint Patrick’s Day”.

Ever since, local interest in Irish traditions has grown, pushing the Pittsburgh Irish Festival, Inc. to form the Irish Education Outreach Program.  This was established to support events that display Irish history, dance, and music to the diverse Pittsburgh community. 

This year, the festival will have endless amounts of performers and cultural activities, including:

Burke Irish Dancers:  Theresa Burke, the founder of the Burke School of Irish Dance, has been teaching for over 42 years.  With locations in Pittsburgh, Youngstown, and Cleveland, she has led many students to winning Regional, National and World titles each year.  Her father, Tom Scott, was born in County Sligo and played violin with the famous Michael Coleman.  Her mother was from County Clare.  Make sure not to miss their performance!

Hooley:  Since 1991, this traditional music and dance ensemble has performed endless gigs in the surrounding Pittsburgh area, whether it’s for a school, reception or concert hall.  Their collection varies from toe-tapping jig to polkas.  They will be performing at the festival on Friday, September 9th at 10 o’clock p.m.   

Other local performers include the Wild Geese, Mark Guiser, Bell School of Irish Dance, Shovlin Academy of Irish Dance, and Mike Gallagher.

Cultural activities at this year's festival include Gaelic Symbol Drawing, Fiddle, Bodhran and Uilleann Pipe workshops, Beginning Gaelic Language with the Gaelic League, and Instrument Demonstration and Seisuin with Bodhran, Fiddle, Banjo, Whistle, Flute, Guitar, and Mandolin with Pittsburgh's Comhaltas Ceiltoiri Eireann.

Other popular performers include Gaelic Storm, Red Hand Paddy, Tommy Makem, at left, and the Rolling Scones.  For more information on the festival and a schedule of events, visit

Be sure to stop at the Ireland Institute's informational booth to find out more about what we're up to lately!













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special events 

August 13 & 14 – 9th Annual Gathering of the Irish Clans

St. Maron’s Pavilion and Recreational area of Youngstown, Ohio will hold the 9th Annual Gathering of the Irish Clans.  The two day festival have food and pub service beginning at 5pm on Saturday and noon on Sunday that include Irish and American beer, Irish stew, Limerick potatoes, food for the kids, and many more Irish style foods.  Saturday’s entertainment includes That Irish Band and the Wild Geese.  Sunday’s entertainment includes The Shaffer Brothers, the Burke School of Irish Dance, Seamus Kennedy, and Pittsburgh’s very own Cahal Dunne.  Also offered on Sunday is a mass at 11am followed by the Land of the Little Leprechauns, which is a children’s area filled with games and space to play.  For more information visit:

 August 20 & 21 – Celtic Weekend at the Greater Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival

Laurel Highlands, PA is the location of the Celtic Weekend at the Renaissance Festival.  From 10:30am – 6:30pm the festival will exhibit Irish step dancers, bagpipers, craft vendors, Celtic Organizations including St. Andrew’s Society, AOH, St. David’s society, genealogical society, Sean Webber who specializes in writing Celtic names, and Diane Byrne who will be broadcasting live Echoes of Erin.  For more information visit:

August 25 – Kane Sisters in Concert

Liz and Yvonne, better known at the Kane Sisters, from Co. Galway, Ireland will be performing at the Irish Center of Pittsburgh.  For more information visit: or

Pictured above are the Kane Sisters.

become a regular at these local programs!

 Listen to Echoes of Erin, now its in 17th year, every Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. on WEDO, 810 AM.  Diane Byrnes has Irish music, news, and other great information









Paddy's Pour House located on Main Street in Carnegie, PA hosts live entertainment every Friday and Saturday night starting at 9:00 PM.  Tuesday nights join Dennis Murphy with "Get Educated and Entertained  as only 'Murph' can" from 8:00-12:00.  For more information visit their website or call (412) 279-0770.


Catch the Thistle and Shamrock every Sunday evening at 7:00 p.m. on WYEP 91.3FM for Celtic music performances and discussions.


We're always looking for events to include: If you'd like to include your next event in this newsletter, please send event information including date, time, location, admission cost, and contact information to


One of the support services offered by the Ireland Institute includes furniture donation, collection and redistribution to the Walsh Peace Visa participants. The money they save, as they set up housekeeping, is realized immediately, and they are quite grateful to all Ireland Institute supporters who have kindly donated furniture and household items.

If you have any furniture or household items to donate, please contact the Institute at 412-394-3900. Our thanks and gratitude goes out to all involved.


Our Mission:

The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh’s mission is to promote mutual understanding of the Catholic and Protestant traditions in Northern Ireland and economic development throughout all of Ireland. The Institute fulfills its mission by providing quality programs in job training, economic development, leadership development, educational alliances and reconciliation. The Institute is a change-oriented organization that collaborates with industry, educational and government institutions in the development of all programs.