Don't forget to visit the Ireland Institute booth at the 15th Annual Pittsburgh Irish Festival this weekend!


The Common Ground

Vol. III, Issue IX


September 2005


                  News Updates





upcoming Events:


September 9th, 10th, and 11th

September 16

September 30 -  October 2

Through September 24



in this issue


In this month's issue, we bring you an exciting array of articles including news of new Walsh Peace Visa Program participants arriving in Pittsburgh; an article from our Rooney Fellow, Miceal O'Neill; upcoming events in September including this weekend's Irish Festival and the Irish American Unity Conference; and other news such as Pittsburgh's representative in Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland's annual Maiden of the Mournes contest, Jordan O'Toole.



letter from the editor


Last month I commented on the need for a bright unionist, of which there are many, to emerge to champion the cause for cultural identity and just peace in a new Northern Ireland.  A few days after writing that piece I was reminded of the impressive story of Charles Stewart Parnell.


Here was a man born into the Protestant Anglo-Irish ascendancy of the 19th century.  Yet he brought about land reforms that actually threatened the very establishment that produced him.  He championed the cause of the Irish agricultural class that worked on the large estates of the ascendancy.  He went against his own class to advance the cause of the largely Roman Catholic Irish peasantry.  While his social peers deemed him nothing more than a troublemaker, the common people in Ireland often referred to him as the "uncrowned King of Ireland."


He was born while Ireland was starving.  As a young man of means and high station, he came to realize that the Irish peasantry's only chance for survival was to seize control of their own destiny.  And to Parnell, that meant seizing control of the land.


Parnell was not a solider.  He was a politician.  His use of parliamentary procedure was unmatched and unrelenting.  And like all true champions of peace, Parnell focused his campaign on some basic human rights.  They were known as the "three F's" : Fixity of Tenure (prohibiting landlords from evicting tenants as they pleased), Freedom to sell, and Fair rent.  As a member of the British House of Commons he pushed through a series of Land Acts which greatly improved the conditions under which the Irish agricultural class toiled.


British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, a regular adversary to Parnell and his politics, thought him the most remarkable person he had ever met.  A future Prime Minister, Herbert Henry Asquith described him as one of the three or four greatest men of the nineteenth century, while a contemporary, Lord Haldane, described him as the strongest man the British House of Commons had seen in 150 years.


Parnell's achievements were real and lasting.  He brought Home Rule from being a faint hope to the forefront of Irish national politics.  Both the English political parties and successive governments had to recognize the importance of the Irish question and declare their position on it. The land question had not yet been solved but Parnell's involvement in it during the years 1879-1882 was  a vital factor in future reforms.  By his creation of a disciplined Irish Parliament, he proved that Irishmen were capable of ruling themselves.


Where is today's Parnell?  What man or woman or group is so courageous and self-confident as to champion a great cause despite charges of betrayal from the powers that be?  Who will challenge the electorate of Northern Ireland to look beyond the politics of fear and hate, to seize their own destiny of peace and justice and equality and cultural identity and freedom?  Who will turn the political establishment on its head once again, initially to enrage and ultimately to engage all parties in a common way forward?  Who will help heal the loss of lives and the years of terror felt on both sides of that dirty war?


Here's hoping we find this troublemaker soon.


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

12 counties in 12 months:


County Louth is the northern most county found in the Leinster Province in the Republic of Ireland.  Map Co. LouthThis makes Louth a Border County to Northern Ireland.  Louth is referred to as the “wee county” because it is only 317 square miles.

Slieve Foye, located in the Cooley Mountains, is the highest point in this mountain range, which is found just outside the town of Carlingford.  The River Boyne is a main geographical element of Louth. This costal county contains one fishing village after another, which offer scenic views that can only be found on the east coast of Ireland. 

The name Louth came from the Irish word “An Lu” meaning “least.”  “Least” refers to the small size of the county. 

Manufacturing is the main form of business for County Louth, based mainly out of the towns of Dundalk and Drogheda.  Other types of industry include agriculture, and tourism, including visitors' quests to seek out their Irish roots in Louth.  Education, over the past decade has become more and more important through institutions such as the respected Dundalk Institute of Technology.

The County seat of Louth is the village of Dundalk, which is located at the head of Dundalk Bay.  This is known as a busy industrial and manufacturing town.  As a main attraction for both tourists and locals there are twice weekly greyhound races on a track just two miles outside of town.  Salmon and trout fishing are offered in the rivers around the county.  Golf, horse riding, and nature trails are charming places to spend time while vacationing in Louth.  A neighboring town of Dundalk, known as Dun Dealgan, is historically known as the birthplace of Cuchulain, a legendary hero of Ireland. 

no war. it's a county louth thing

St. Bridget’s birthplace was a village just outside of Dundalk in the 6th century. As the patron female saint of Ireland she is revered for her devotion to charity and justice.  Pictured below is St. Bridget’s cross.  February 1st is the feast day of St. Bridget and to honor her memory this cross is placed upon doorways to ward off illness, storms, and fire. 


Drogheda is the home of St. Peter’s Church, pictured below.  It is located on West Street in the village, and is a famous site for tourists.  As one of Irelands few Gothic Revival Churches it is truly a marvel. 

Carlingford, another village in Louth, is known as the Oyster Capital of Ireland.  This town is located at the base of the Cooley Mountains in a river valley.  Each year in August the village holds an Oyster Festival, a must for county residents and visitors alike.

For more information please 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:






The Ireland Institute has hosted over 1,500 young people from Ireland and Northern Ireland through its 16-year history. 

Many of these young leaders are participants in the International Fund for Ireland Wider Horizons Programme or the Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program (the Walsh Peace Visa Program).  They have gone home as leaders in peace and reconciliation, with the skills and ideas necessary to foster economic development at home.

Over the years hundreds of our participants have come from Enniskillen and County Fermanagh.  Through these programs, the Ireland Institute has forged several partnerships with groups from the Enniskillen/Fermanagh region.

The Institute is pleased to announce that the New Hope Centre in Enniskillen has been renamed the Michele O'Leary New Hope Centre, in honor of the Ireland Institute's President.  The Centre is home to three floors of community, reconciliation, and economic development-oriented people and organizations.

From community health services to Peace and Reconciliation Training through the New Hope Community College, to Adult Education, the Centre is laying the ground work for an improved future for Fermanagh and throughout Northern Ireland. 

At left, students at work in the Centre.



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Sean Hoey, suspect in the Omagh bombing, has been ordered to stand trial in connection with the bombings of 1998 that left 29 people dead.  Although Hoey denies the charges, he is currently being held in custody awaiting his Belfast Crown Court trial.  The date for this trial has yet to be determined.  This may seem a trivial step, but it allows all parties to formally pursue the truth about this horrific event.

He will remain in the Maghaberry Prison until the trial takes place.  He faces 58 charges in the bombing.












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Miceal O’Neill arrived in Pittsburgh on August 15th to participate in the Rooney Fellowship Program. He will attend Duquesne University’s A. J. Palumbo School of Business Administration for the academic year.  Tuesdays and Thursdays Miceal attends public speaking and international business classes.  The rest of the week, during the fall semester he is interning for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the marketing department.  He says that it has been very busy as the Steelers prepare for the upcoming season.  His first project was working at a luncheon at the Hilton Hotel.  In the spring he will work for the Heinz Corporation. 

Miceal was born May 9th, 1986, making him 19 years old.  Born and raised in Cooley, County Louth on the east coast of Ireland he grew up with three siblings: Gearoid, 21, Aine, 20, and Conor, 17. 

Before attending Duquesne Miceal attended Mullaghbuoy Primary School, Colaiste Ris Secondary School in Dundalk, The White Hall College Dublin, and the Newry and Kilkeel Institute of Further and Higher Education. 

After finishing his degree he aspires to become an investment banker or trader on the stock exchange, but he also mentions that this all could change in the future. 

His first impression has been positive: “so many tall buildings, and hills, but very friendly people.”  However, he admits that he is still confused by the bus system.

When asked what he misses most about home he said, “a good fry, nice chips, and Cadbury chocolate.” 

See our Sports section, below, for Micael's write-up about his trip to Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp earlier this summer.


The Maiden of the Mournes pageant was held from August 7th to the 14th this year, in Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland.  Competing on behalf of the Pittsburgh community was Dormont native Jordan O'Toole, a graduate of Seton LaSalle High School and a freshman at LaRoche College.  Also in attendance was last year's Maiden and another local, Laura Allison.  Miss Allison was 2004 crowned Maiden.  Part of her duties as reigning Maiden was to return to the Warrenpoint Festival this year to crown the new Maiden.  Pictured below are Miss Allison, left, and Miss O'Toole on the right.

The pageant is open to single women ages 18 – 25, of any nationality.  The participants are engaged in Public Relations events throughout the week. 

The young ladies tour  Warrenpoint’s local shops, local government offices, City Hall in Belfast, and the Mourne Mountains after which the contest is named. 

At the end of the week the ladies are interviewed first by a panel of judges, and then by a television personality on stage.  They also perform a talent, such as singing, dancing, or reading a piece of literature, among other things.  The crowned Maiden receives a modest monetary prize on the night of the crowning and an additional prize the following year when they return to crown the new Maiden of the Mournes.    While Jordan O'Toole did not win this year's paegent, she represented Pittsburgh well.

The town of Warrenpoint, where the international event is hosted, is located in County Down, Northern Ireland.  This year’s festival, that surrounds the pageant, included fireworks, live music, a parade, children’s events, and crowning of the 2005 Maiden of the Mournes.  During festival week many local organizations hold events that include a regatta, a horse riding show, and children’s soccer school.




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This coming October marks the arrival of a new group of Walsh Peace Visa Program participants.  We are very excited to continue our participation in this program.

The Walsh Peace Visa Program, officially known as the Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program, was created in 1998 from legislation sponsored by Congressman Jim Walsh of New York.  The program allows young people from disadvantaged areas in Northern Ireland and the counties of the Republic of Ireland which border the North, to live and work in the United States for up to 24 months.




The new and improved Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh website will be launched in upcoming weeks.  Look for it at

New features include more detailed information on our programs, news on upcoming events, online photographs from our events, an archive of past issues of the Common Ground, and news from Ireland.











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By Miceal O'Neill (2005 Rooney Fellow/Duquesne University)

On the 17th of August in the roasting heat a few of us from the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh went up state to Saint Vincent College to go to the Steelers training camp.

The camp was located on a huge campus. We arrived at about 2pm and registered with people screaming every were you looked when the players were walking out of the main building and down to the pitch. When we got registered we were allowed to go down onto the actual pitch and walk around the outside of it. The players, who are huge, were doing practices in different groups: defense, offense, Quarterbacks and the kickers. The players were using dummies to tackle and hit them hard to knock them to the ground. Which didn’t look easy and especially in the roasting heat of mid-afternoon!!!


After about an hour training in their own groups the whole team got together (which is about 60 players) and started a game. It was a bit confusing as I am not used to the game yet but it was explained to me as the mini game went along. After the players were finished we went to the VIP tent for a barbeque. Before the dinner two players came over to sign autographs for us the players were number 34 Verron Haynes (HB) and 21 Ricardo Colclough (LCB). After which I meet Mr. Rooney and was talking to him for a few minutes about how hard the players hit and the size of them. Once we were all finished dinner we headed back to Pittsburgh. It was a different experience and the rules of the game are hard to pick being so used to Rugby and Gaelic Football.




















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The 15th Anniversary Celebration of the Pittsburgh Irish Festival will be held September 9th, 10th, and 11th at Station Square’s Chevrolet Amphitheatre.  Featured musical artistes include Tommy Makem, Gaelic Storm, Vishten, Makem and Spain Brothers, Teada, Searson, Cahal Dunne, and many others.  Irish Dance Companies will be performing thoughout the weekend.  These companies include the Bell School of Irish Dance, Shovlin Academy of Irish Dance, Burke Irish Dancers, Ceili Dancing with Hooley and Liz Shovlin, and Pittsburgh Irish Reelers.  This year’s cultural section has expanded and will include Irish historians, artisans, storytellers, the Irish Dog Tent, activities for children, and Blarney Bingo.  Pittsburgh’s Local Organizations will be present with members and information about becoming a member. 

Pictured above is Gaelic Storm, they will be performing at 10:30 Saturday night. 

The Irish Festival will be open from 4pm – midnight on Friday, 11am – midnight on Saturday, and 9am – 6pm on Sunday.  Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door for adults, $8 for students and seniors, $3 for children 3 – 12, children under 3 are free, and a 3 day pass is $25 for adults. 

Pictured below a previous year's Gaelic Mass.  This year's mass will be celebrated by Father Sean Kealy and held at 10am on Sunday.

mass.jpg (70829 bytes)

For more information visit 

September 16 - Half Way to St. Patrick’s Day   The Allegheny AOH are celebrating not only half way to St. Patrick’s Day, but they will also be celebrating that St. Patrick's Church, of the Strip District, is 1/3 of the way competed.  Come and enjoy live music, food, and drinks with family and friends.  For more information visit:'s%20Church.html

Friday, September 30 - Sunday, October 2, 2005 – Irish American Unity Conference     This years conference will focus on promoting democracy in Northern Ireland, with an emphasis on what Irish-American Organizations can do to help.  This years conference will be held in the Westin Convention Center and feature speakers including: Judge Peter Cory, noted investigative jurist, Alex Maskey, former Lord Mayor of Belfast, Mairtin O’Muilleoir, journalist and author, Mary Nelis, MLA, Sinn Fein, Professor Ruan O’Donnell, historian and author, Bill Rolston, Professor of Sociology, University of Ulster, James Lamb, Vice President, Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh, Caoimhin Mac Giolla Mhin of Coiste na n-Iarchimi, and Diane Byrnes, host of the Pittsburgh radio show Echoes of Erin.  On October 1, the documentary “Lifting a Dark Cloud” will be shown, about the story surrounding the murder of Kathleen Thompson of Derry in November 1971.                                              

For more information visit:

Through September 24 - Henry                   

By Thomas Kilroy
The tale of King Henry presented by the Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theater promises to be a hit.  The play is presented at Charity Randall Theatre in Oakland.  For more information visit:

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 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.