The Staff of the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh wish you a Happy New Year!


The Common Ground

Vol. IV, Issue 1


January 2006


                 News Updates






in this issue


This month, we highlight the last of our "12 Counties in 12 Months" feature with a focus on Derry/Londonderry.


In our Letter to the Editor, Jim Lamb comments on his recent trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland.


We've also included an update on the Michele O'Leary New Hope Centre in Enniskillen, and news on devolution talks in Northern Ireland.


Finally, check out our lifestyles section for some exciting upcoming events, including a benefit concert for the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 11, and an Oscar Wilde comedy at the Pittsburgh Public Theater. 



letter from the editor


We learned last month that a Sinn Fein office manager at Stormont, arrested and charged for spying on behalf of his party, was actually working for British Intelligence, operating inside Sinn Fein for the past twenty years. This sent shockwaves through the political and legal communities of Ireland, North and South. The charge that Sinn Fein's Dennis Donaldson ran a spy ring in Stormont back in 2002 led ultimately to the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly. Direct rule of Northern Ireland by the British government resumed at that time. The Peace Process and the Good Friday Agreement were put on hold and the goodwill of millions around the world was squandered.

Having spent the holidays in Ireland, I was able to follow the day-to-day breaking news of this incredible story, dubbed Stormontgate, which is yet to be resolved. The people of Ireland, North and South, not to mention the political leaders from both the unionist and nationalist communities, have serious concerns about the involvement of British intelligence and its relationship to Mr. Donaldson. And if the British government did not know about this relationship, why not?

The British government decided not to pursue this case any further, claiming such pursuit is "not in the public interest." Yet the four main political parties of Northern Ireland (Democratic Unionists, Ulster Unionists, SDLP, and Sinn Fein) have bemoaned, as UUP Member of Parliament, Lady Hermon stated, the "loss in confidence in the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland," given the Stormontgate episode and the British government's reaction to it. The people of Northern Ireland have questions and the British government has no intention of answering them.

There is a bigger story here. Finally, four political parties, who each spend too much time telling us what's wrong with the other three, have stumbled onto a common cause. They want to know the truth about British Intelligence involvement in the devolved, supposedly democratic government of Northern Ireland.

Now we're getting somewhere.


Jim Lamb


Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh

12 counties in 12 months:


On a hill on the banks of the River Foyle lies one of Northern Ireland's most unique cities, with a contentious history unto itself.   The city of Derry/Londonderry is located in the province of Ulster, in the county of the same name.  The county is bordered by County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland, Counties Tyrone and Antrim in Northern Ireland, and a portion of Lough Neagh.

St. Columcille/Columba founded his monastery in the city in the sixth century A.D. The name "Derry" derives from the word "Doire," an old Irish word which means oak grove, the site on which the monastery was founded. 

In the seventeenth century English settlers were sent to Ulster in what is usually referred to as the "Plantation of Ulster."  The King of England at the time, James I, devised a plan to move predominantly Protestant English and Scottish settlers to Ulster, which until then remained the only part of Ireland the English were unable to gain control of. This laid the groundwork for the cultural contentions between the city's Catholic and Protestant populations and persists in the name of the city - "Derry" to some, and the name given the city by the British government, "Londonderry" by others.  During the plantation era, a wall was erected around the city which stands intact to this day.

Ecological attractions include the Sperrin Mountains.  Also, Amelia Earhart landed her plane in Ballyarnet, three miles north of Derry, during her historic solo flight across the Atlantic in 1932.

For more information visit



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  Northern Ireland devolution talks planned for early February

In a speech before the House of Commons last week, Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain announced he has asked the political parties of Northern Ireland to engage in "substantial discussions in early February with the British and Irish governments."  He referred to 2006 as a "make or break year" for restoring the government institutions of Northern Ireland.  The pressure to restore Stormont comes in light of scandals involving spying at Stormont and the fact that the current Assembly was elected in 2003 and has yet to sit.  New elections are scheduled for May 2007.

Ecumenical Memorial Service Slated for Armagh, northern Ireland

An ecumenical memorial service will be held for Sr. Michele O'Leary, past President and co-founder of the Ireland Institute, Thursday, February 23rd, 2006 at 2:30pm.  The service will take place in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh, Northern Ireland.

On another note, progress continues on the fundraising initiative for the O'Leary New Hope Center in Enniskillen.  The amount raised to date is over $7,000.

Donations to the O'Leary New Hope Centre are still being accepted.  Please contact the Ireland Institute at 412-394-3900 for further information. 









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A local division of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians is getting ready to celebrate its 100th anniversary, and they are holding quite a unique fundraiser.  On February 22 they will welcome Ireland's Wolfe Tones to Finnigan's Wake on the North Side.  Tickets are $25 and the show starts at 7pm.  See our "Events" section below for details on purchasing tickets.

Proceeds will benefit the Division's charities, which include such organization's as Miriam's House, Mom's House, St. Brigid's Court, and Walk for the Whisper, which raises funds for ovarian cancer awareness.. 

The Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians is a national organization dedicated to "friendship, unity, and Christian charity."  For more information on Division #11, you can visit their website at They will hold their 100th anniversary celebration on April 8th at the Holiday Inn Greentree.

OSCAR Wilde's work featured at Pittsburgh Public Theatre

The Pittsburgh Public Theater will feature Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest," January 19th-February 19.  The Public Theater describes the play as a "witty send-up of Victorian marriage and morality" and calls it a play that "many regard as the most perfect comedy ever written." 

Wilde was born Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde in Dublin in 1854.  An accomplished student, he studied at the Portorta Royal School in Enniskillen before attending Trinity College Dublin, and later Oxford University.  and was an accomplished playwright.  He also wrote poetry and one novel, "The Life of Dorian Gray." "The Importance of Being Earnest" was penned in 1895, five years before his death in Paris, France.  A controversial figure in his time, he had two sons, Cyril and Vyvyan, who moved to Switzerland with their mother after a scandal involving Wilde and Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas, third son of the Marquis of Queensberry. 

Tickets are available through the Public Theater's website,


Host Families Still Needed!

In the Spring and Summer of 2006, over forty young men and women from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are expected to arrive in Pittsburgh to participate in our Wider Horizons program.  These young people will receive two months of on-the-job training, personal development, exposure to American culture, and new insights into the problems at home through conflict resolution.  At the end of the eight weeks, the participants will return to Ireland, hopeful of securing employment and living in peace.

As an essential part of this program, we are looking for host families to house participants during these two separate eight-week long programs.  Those of you who have hosted participants in the past have our thanks for opening your hearts and homes.  No doubt you may be called upon again, but we also ask you to recruit any interested friends, neighbors, and co-workers.  Host Family help is vital in providing a positive and rewarding experience for the participants.

For more information on becoming a Host Family, please contact the Ireland Institute at 412-394-3900. 






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The Commonwealth Games is an Olympics-style event held every year where countries from all over the world compete in events including swimming, track and field, and weightlifting.  However, the Commonwealth Games are known as the "friendly games," differentiating themselves from the Olympics in their original mission statement, to be "merrier and less stern than the Olympics."  This year's event will be held in Melbourne, Australia, March 15-26.

The first Commonwealth Games were held in 1930 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and have been conducted every four years since, with the exception of 1942 and 1946 due to World War II.  The commonality that all participating countries share is their heritage as part of the British Commonwealth.  That's why you won't find the U.S. on this year's list of 71 competitors.  But you will find athletes from Northern Ireland.  And, they compete as an individual team, as do England, Wales, Scotland, Isle of Man, Jersey, and Guernsey.   

For more information on this year's Games, visit

















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Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest"

At the Pittsburgh Public Theater, January 19-February 19.

See our "Lifestyles" section for more information.

Tickets available online at Pittsburgh Public Theater's website,

RoseMarie's Tours is sponsoring a one-day motorcoach tour to a country club in Ohio to celebrate the St. Patrick's Day season.  The tour will take place on March 7, 2006.  The motorcoach departs Pittsburgh at approximately 9 a.m., and arrives back in Pittsburgh between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Events include musical entertainment with bagpipes and drums, luncheon buffet, games, door prizes, entertainment by "wild Irishmen" comedians Bill Keener and John Hoyle and the award-winning Murphy Irish Dancers.

The deadline for reservations is February 6, 2006.  Contact RoseMarie, Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., at 412-821-0210.

LAOH Division 11 will host the Wolfe Tones on February 26 at Finnigan's Wake, on General Robinson Street in the North Side.  The concert begins at 7 p.m.  Tickets are $25 and can be purchased through Maggie Cloonan at 412-366-6896.

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

become a regular at these local programs!

 Listen to Echoes of Erin, now in its 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 p.m.  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.



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 house, 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.