Read the first installment of our guide to Ireland's Summer Festivals


The Common Ground

Vol. IV, Issue 4


      April 2006



                 News Updates






letter from the editor 


 A Time to Heal


This past Monday marked the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising. Most of us know some version of the story. On Easter Monday, 1916, Padraic Pearse and his comrades proclaimed liberty for Ireland reading a statement from the General Post Office in Dublin. What ensued that day was a tragedy. Many on both sides of the riot were killed. Pearse and his comrades were executed. Buildings were destroyed and families were torn apart.


Throughout the 20th century inhabitants of the island of Ireland, North and South have struggled with the after effects of Easter Monday. A civil war, a border, government-sponsored discrimination, anti-government demonstrations, and the Troubles.


Finally, in 1998, enemies in the war agreed conceptually to cooperate for peace. And by and large, peace has taken hold. The IRA appears committed to peaceful advocacy of it's cause. The parties and governments, though shaken slightly by the murder of Sinn Féin official and British Intelligence operative, Denis Donaldson, seem to be making their way back to the discussion table. Small groups of dissidents on both sides of the conflict exist merely for the financial gains of criminality. But as contentious issues over policing get resolved, these gangs will lose support, too.


It' all a process. And it takes time. Journalist Alan McBride suggested that over time things have gotten better. "There have been only 75 deaths due to the [Northern Ireland] conflict so far this decade - 75 too many, of course, but encouraging compared to 554, 891 and 2,177 in each of the previous three decades."


The Easter Monday Celebrations held in Dublin last week were attended by the British Ambassador to Ireland. The event that marked the lowest point in Anglo-Irish relations was being celebrated by the two governments. Ninety years later, Great Britain is Ireland's largest trade partner. They have maintained important cultural links. These two nations have moved on.


We may analyze and discuss every action and reaction that took place since Easter Monday 1916 until we are blue in the face. We must know the facts. We must seek the truth. We must understand what happened and why. But more importantly, no matter which conflict in this world we seek to solve, we must take time to heal the wounds and reach an agreed way forward. Let us learn from the tragedy of Irish history that peace and justice and prosperity and liberty for all might triumph.



Jim Lamb, President

Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh



This month, we begin a new series about Irish Festivals. With summer just around the corner, Ireland’s various festival committee’s are working overtime to ensure that 2006 is the liveliest, most fun-filled season of festival’s yet. A major source of revenue for many small town’s and large cities alike, Ireland’s Summer festival’s are a perfect mix of Ceoil (Music) & Craic (fun) with something for everyone, from Gourmet Food lovers to comedy enthusiasts to Opera aficionados!


In our Letter to the Editor, Jim Lamb comments on the recent 1916 Easter Rising commemorations and Peace Process. There's some latest Irish news from the US & Ireland. Finally, check out our lifestyles section to find out more about Ireland's latest Oscar winner and learn more about Mayor Bob O'Connor's latest proclamation. 


Festivals of Ireland

The Derry Jazz & Big Band Festival

April 27th - 30th, 2006

The 5th City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival takes place again this April and according to the organizers promises to be a feast of top class entertainment with an unrivalled program featuring the best of international, national and local musicians.

 Priding themselves on accessibility and diversity the 2006 program will continue to provide festival-goers with something for everyone of all ages and musical tastes, including Jazz, Swing & Jump Jive, Blues, Dance, Indie, Salsa, Bluegrass, Big Band and a number of family events.

The Guinness Free Jazz Trail offers festival-goers the opportunity to enjoy some high quality free entertainment over the duration of the festival.

For more information visit

Cat Laughs Comedy Festival

Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny

June 1st - 5th, 2006

The Smithwick’s Cat Laughs Comedy Festival returns to Kilkenny this June Bank Holiday . This festival has rapidly established itself as one of the best comedy festivals in the world. Attracting a host of the best national and international stand-up comedians and comedy improvisers, the comedy festival provides for simple fun and exhilaration. Five days of fun and laughter are guaranteed with over 85 live performances in the relaxing surrounds of 14 of Kilkenny’s best loved venues.

Previous American comedians performing have included Cheers' very own "Norm", George Wendt and Saturday Night Live Alumni Bill Murray.

The Cat Laughs weekend is regarded as one of the world’s top three comedy festivals, alongside Montreal and Edinburgh. 

For more information visit:

Don't forget Pittsburgh's own Irish festival this summer:

September 8th - 10th, Station Square


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










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Immigration reform has been at the forefront of the Congressional agenda in the early part of this year. In December of 2005, the House of Representatives attempted to pass a law that would make foreign nationals illegally living in the country a criminal offense, and bar them reentry into the US under any circumstances if deported.


The current law is only a civil matter and bars reentry for 3-10 years depending on how long the offender lived in the US. The current bill, also known as the Kennedy-McCain Bill, so-named after Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) & John McCain (R-AZ), is still being debated, establishes a guest worker visa program that allows illegal immigrants who have been working since January of 2004 to stay legally for six years. Afterwards they can apply for citizenship. It also establishes a guest worker program for jobs in the agricultural sector. Both laws have their supporters, but it has been very difficult to reach a resolution. The Senate hoped to come to a decision before their Spring recess, but failed to do so. 


The Pittsburgh Friends of Immigrants (PFOI) have staged numerous rallies in recent weeks in order to highlight and draw attention to immigration reform. There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. The PFOI, citing the goal of protecting the legacy of immigration in the Pittsburgh area, are trying to encourage people to contact the legislature to support the /Kennedy McCain bill.  There are approximately 22,000 immigrants in Pittsburgh, with roots that go all the way back to the 1700’s. 

British Double Agent murdered in Co. Donegal home

The murder has taken place of former Sinn Féin official Denis Donaldson.


Donaldson who last year admitted to being a British agent was shot on April 4th in Glenties, Co. Donegal. He had held the position as head of Sinn Féin’s Stormont office and had moved to Donegal after admitting to his double life. 


The IRA has said that they had no involvement in the death of Mr Donaldson with Martin McGuinness, Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator, saying he was very angry about the killing of Mr. Donaldson calling the murder an attack on the peace process. 


He went on to say that Sinn Féin ‘absolutely dissociated’ itself from the killing and said whoever carried it out ‘was hostile to the concept of peace in Ireland’.










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In honor of the 25th Anniversary of the Hunger strikes that claimed the lives of 10 young Irish Republic Army volunteers in 1981 and in honor of the 90th Anniversary of the 1916 Irish Easter Rising, Pittsburgh’s Mayor, Bob O’Connor, has issued a proclamation that 2006 be known as a year of remembrance.

Various events are taking place during the year to commemorate both events. For more details log onto


Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, best known for his plays about Ireland, including The Beauty Queen of Leenane, won Best Live Action Short Film for his film 'Six Shooter'. The film, a black comedy was both written & directed by McDonagh and stars Irish actor Brendan Gleeson.

Pittsburgh's Irish & Classical Theater (PICT) is staging a production of McDonagh's 'The PillowMan" at the Henry Heymann Theater in Oakland May 4-28.

For more information:


opportunities available to host a young person from Ireland or northern Ireland this summer!

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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Ireland recently scored a 37-16 victory over defiant Scotland with a second-half flourish which clinched their seventh Rugby Union Triple Crown triumph at Lansdowne Road in Dublin.

Scotland, who trailed 16-9 at half-time, were level eight minutes into the second half but Ireland, managed by Eddie O'Sullivan, moved up a gear in response and 3 tries in quick succession secured an emphatic victory for Ireland and condemned Scotland to the wooden spoon in the 5 nations championship.

The Triple Crown is an honor contested annually by the national teams of Ireland, England, Scotland, & Wales amidst another competition - the 6 nations - in which France & Italy also feature.

If any one team manages to win all their games against the other three, which does not necessarily happen every season, then they win the Triple Crown. 

This years win brings Irelands total to 8 wins since the competition first began in 1883.

















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·Annual Card Party Luncheon and Fashion Show, sponsored by the Daughters of Erin, Saturday, April 22nd, Mitchell’s Restaurant, Ross St. Downtown, 11:30am. Reservations: Lois Stack 412-561-1018

Night of Irish Music· sponsored by AOH Monsignor Charles Owen Rice, Division 1, South Hills, Saturday April 29th, Castle Shannon Fire Hall (off Route 88). Entertainment includes Michael Murphy & The Shannon River Band, Ballad Singer Mike Gallagher, Bell School of Irish Dance. Doors open at 6pm. Tickets $12 in Advance, $15 at Door. Information Tom Long 412-472-3676

Communion Breakfast sponsored by AOH Sean MacBride Division 32, The Priory, 614 Pressley Street, North Side. Mass at 10:30am. For information, contact President John Graf

·Gaelic Arts Society will present Kenneth Gray speaking about ‘Bing Crosby’ his early life; his performance in Ireland, memorabilia and a sing-a-long, Synod Hall in Oakland at 2:30pm, FREE Admission. Information Jack Webber @ 412-885-5540, Email: 

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. 

New groups are arriving in the spring and summer of this year.  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.