Read about the celebrations, remembrances, and changes in Ireland!


The Common Ground

Vol. VII, Issue 4


April 2009




The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh will be celebrating our 20th Anniversary next Thursday, April 23rd at Reed Smith LLP.  We will be joined by patrons, host families, and past employers/partnerships that have helped the IIP through the years.  Also attending this fundraiser will be special guests Ambassador of the Republic of Ireland H.E. Michael Collins, Daniel M. Rooney, and Former U.S. Representative of New York James Walsh.   

For more information on this event, call 412-394-3900








I can't believe twenty years have passed since the founding of the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh. I recall the young men and women who came to Pittsburgh under Sr. Michele's supervision on the Institute's first International Fund for Ireland program. They were unemployed, from both sides of the Northern Ireland conflict, and had little opportunity to improve
their lives.

Back then, many of them were my age!! At the suggestion of my mother, I became part of Sister's informal welcome wagon to Pittsburgh. As an Irish American I was proud to be part of such an important effort to bring conflicted young people away from the conflict.

Now, twenty years later, Michele has passed on. And we are both blessed and compelled to continue this good work. So it continues. We currently have 18 young people here from the border counties of Armagh and Monaghan, young men and women closer in age to my son than to me. They comprise our 61st IFI Program. Like the 1100 "Wider Horizons" participants who have come before them, these 18 young people are unemployed with no prospects for anything better at home.

But, as was the case with our first group and the many that followed, the Pittsburgh experience will change that. Every young person from Ireland, North or South, that took the leap of faith to come to Pittsburgh on one of our programs was guaranteed something they could not get at home: an opportunity. They learned how to work, how to manage a busy day, how to set goals, how to achieve those goals, and ultimately, how to make their lives in Ireland better.

This coming Thursday, we will take time to celebrate the tremendous impact Pittsburgh has had on Ireland's young unemployed people over the past 20 years. For it was not just the commitment of our board and the dedication of our staff that made this possible. It was our host families, our work placements, our donors, our academic partners, our Pittsburgh Irish organizations, and so many others who served on Sister Michele's welcome wagon who ensured that every young person from Ireland had an opportunity to make things better.

We will honor Michele and co-founder Mel Madden that evening at a reception along with three special friends: Irish Ambassador Michael Collins; Steelers Chairman, Dan Rooney; and former Congressman, Jim Walsh, who wrote the Walsh Visa Program, sending 300 additional young people to Pittsburgh. 

Then next Friday, we'll get back to the good work of changing lives. Our current participants are preparing for their graduation at Duquesne University. And two more groups from the border areas of Tyrone and Donegal, and Armagh and Monaghan are preparing for the opportunities that await them in Pittsburgh later this year.

I have no doubt that someone on one of these programs will have a better experience because of you. So join us. Tell us how you would like to get involved. And tell your sons and daughters that they are not too young to help. They may find this work as I did. And they may make it a I did.


Jim Lamb, President

Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh



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

 * 425 Sixth Avenue, Suite 1410 * Pittsburgh, PA 15219 or

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

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Thousands of people turned out in Kilkenny on April 11th to celebrate the mark of the Kilkenny becoming a city 400 years ago. The organizers of Kilkenny’s 400th birthday are hoping that the nine-month long festival will bring a welcome economic boost to the popular tourist town. 


On this day 400 years ago, King James I, the then King of Ireland and son of the infamous Mary Queen of Scots, granted Kilkenny a charter designating it a city.  A decision was taken a number of years ago by Kilkenny Borough Council to hold a celebration this year to mark the milestone.


The celebrations got under way with an open air performance by the Kilkenny Gospel Choir. Kilkenny's main historic buildings opened their doors to the public for free and there were street performers, musicians, art exhibitions and lecture's on the city's history.


The city's charter was escorted through the streets by the mayor and an army guard of honor.  Some of the other festivities included choreographed drums, dance, music and a fire finale display.



Wednesday, April 15th marked the 97th anniversary of the world’s most infamous peace time maritime disaster — the sinking of the Titanic.


Throughout Belfast, a range of activities took place to mark the anniversary in order to pay tribute to those who died and to celebrate Belfast’s shipbuilding heritage.


Belfast City Council’s Titanic: Made In Belfast festival, which continues until April 19, includes a series of talks, walks and boat trips.


Meanwhile, at the W5 in the Odyssey Pavilion, an exhibition entitled Titanic: Designed And Built In Belfast features a collection of photographs, many of them taken by R J Welch, the official photographer of Harland & Wolff.


Una Reilly, the chairperson and founding member of the Belfast Titanic Society, is says, : “The Titanic herself wasn’t a disaster, but what happened to her was.


Una joined other members of the society at the former Harland and Wolff drawing office where plans for the doomed White Star liner were drawn up.


Wednesday, April 15th marked the 20th Anniversary of the Hillsborough Tragedy, which left 96 soccer fans dead and thousands injured.   


Players, families of those killed, survivors and fans gathered at the stadium to pay their respect to the victims of Hillsborough.


Controversy continues to surround the circumstances leading up to the moment police opened the gate to allow thousands of fans to pour into the Leppings Lane End main pen.


Senior officer in charge that day, Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, immediately claimed drunken fans had forced the gate open. Subsequent public enquiries proved the police lies, but by that time many felt the damage had been done.


Anne Williams, who lost her 15-year-old son Kevin at the tragedy, claimed these lies provided officials connected to Hillsborough the platform for further calumnies. “The relatives of those killed have been left to pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives with many not knowing how their loved ones died that day.”


The Hillsborough Tragedy took place on April 15, 1989, in which fans were packed in the Hillsborough Stadium to watch Liverpool vs. Nottingham Forest.  The stadium held a capacity of 14,600 fans, but roughly 21,000 people managed to make their way into the arena.  A side gate was opened in order to let fans out of the stadium, but many proceeded to enter.  96 people died that day and thousands were left injured. 


An organization, representing over 120 employment agencies, has said a sense of perspective is needed about job prospects during the recession.


The National Recruitment Federation said that everyone needs to focus on encouraging a return to work, instead of being pessimistic about the situation. NRF president Frank Collins said over 400 permanent jobs were filled by member agencies in the last week of March alone.  Also, he added that these positions were across all sectors and included jobs in retail, construction and financial services.


Mr Collins says that while there is no denying the increased numbers on the Live Register in recent months, opportunities still exist for thousands of people who find themselves out of work.  “People need to know that it is not a pointless exercise to start looking for employment during the downturn.”


The federation has called for a revival of energy and innovation, saying a widespread 'mood of pessimism, depression and fear' in recent months has been counter productive.








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Former founding sdlp leader Paddy o'hanlon dies at the age of 65

One of the founding members of the Social Democratic and Labor Party, Paddy O'Hanlon, died on Tuesday, April 7, at the age of 65.


He studied at University College Dublin before becoming a leading member of Northern Ireland's Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.  He was elected an MP for the South Armagh constituency in 1969 and was one of the founding members of the SDLP the following year.


The Northern Ireland parliament was abolished in 1973, and Mr O'Hanlon was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly, representing Armagh, where he was the SDLP's Chief Whip.


He left active politics and qualified as a barrister, while remaining a member of the SDLP.  In 2001, he was appointed to head a Task Force to examine services provided by the Government to emigrants.


SDLP leader Mark Durkan described Mr O'Hanlon as one of the best orators of his generation, a real champion of civil rights, justice and reconciliation. 



The Government and Opposition have welcomed the announcement that up to 3,700 new jobs are to be created by the ESB.   The electricity company says the new contract posts will come from the development of new energy technologies.


At a media briefing, the company said it was developing new infrastructure such as smart metering and a system to allow for the recharging of electric cars.   ESB also plans to recruit 250 engineers and train 800 apprentices over the next five years.


The Taoiseach Brian Cowen welcomed the news saying it was refreshing to see the company's commitment to the area of green technology.


The Green members of Government warmly welcomed the development.  Fine Gael said it wanted to see more work from the Government in the area of job creation.


Dundrum Town Center in Dublin announced 104 new jobs in retail.


The Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has promised that his party will introduce universal health insurance for Ireland where everyone has private coverage.


Kenny said this would end the two-tier system in Irish healthcare and it could be paid for wholly or partly by the State.  He made a statement, in which it attacked the Government,

that described how they had wasted billions of taxpayers' money while failing to reform the health service.


Mandatory targets for hospitals would eliminate trolleys and slash waiting lists.


He also accused Minister for Health Mary Harney of hiding behind the HSE and not taking full responsibility for problems in the health service.


The main theme of the weekend will be the need to maintain and create jobs as a solution to the current economic crisis.


The Irish government has changed rules on passports to allow people from Northern Ireland, applying for Irish passports, to list their place of birth as Londonderry.

Previously, they would have to have used the name Derry, but Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said the gesture was timed to coincide with the 11th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. He said that enshrined the right of NI residents to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both.

"I believe that for this birthright to be fulfilled, people of both traditions in Northern Ireland must be able to express their culture, language, and tradition in a climate of tolerance and mutual respect, free from discrimination or harassment," Mr Martin said. "This decision carries no implications as regards the official or legal title of any political entity.

 The Irish language name of the city or county will continued to be entered as Doire on passports, regardless of which English version is chosen.






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Rory McIlroy has formally turned down a golden opportunity to become a full member of the US PGA Tour.  McIlroy was approached by the US PGA Tour with the offer of ‘Special Temporary’ membership, which is customary Tour practice once a player earns a certain amount in a season.


When he arrives home early next week from South Carolina, where he is competing in the Verizon Heritage in Hilton Head, McIlroy will decline the offer.   ‘Special Temporary’ membership becomes automatically available to non-US Tour competitors once they have earned more in a year than the 150th placed player on the money list the previous year.


Last year that player was former British Open champion Todd Hamilton, who banked $537,958.  


And after discussing the issue with 2008 US Masters champion Trevor Immelman, McIlroy has now confirmed he has declined the offer after carding an opening-round one-over-par 72 on the Harbour Town course.


“I am only going to play 11 events over here this year so I don’t need any extra invites to compete,” said McIlroy.  “I’ve thought about taking out full membership but that would mean adding another four events over here which would be quite difficult.

WidER HORIZONS 2009 - Host FaMily Program

We are close to the halfway mark for our first group of participants from the MAPP program.  Our next two groups will arrive later in the summer..  If you are interested in becoming a Host Family for 2009, please contact Robert Tierney at or phone (412) 394-3900.





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Our Mission:






Help the Institute:


Please visit or call 412-394-3353 for details.


Saturday, April 18

AOH Division 17, Monroeville presents Corned Beef & Curry 8:00PM at Club Rooms, Broadway Blvd. / Route 130, Monroeville.  Kevin O’Donnell at or 412- 613-3500


Sunday, April 19

The Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, St. Anne Division 21, South Hills, celebrates 100th Anniversary with Mass and Brunch at South Hills Country Club beginning at 10:30 AM.  Tickets $30.00, call Eileen O’Malley at 412-341-2974 or email or President Jean O’Malley 412-531-3855.


Saturday, May 16

      AOH Division 17, Monroeville, 8:00PM Whiskey Limerick at Club Rooms, Broadway Blvd / Route 130 in Monroeville, Kevin O’Donnell or       412-613-3500.

The All Ireland Athletic Association is sponsoring their Annual Spring Dance with Matt Cunningham’s Irish Ceili Band direct from Galway, Ireland at American Legion Hall in East Pittsburgh.  Information Ray Connolly 412.373.7252.





become a regular at these local programs!

 The Echoes of Erin is marking its 21st year!  It airs every Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. on WEDO, 810 AM.  Diane Byrnes continues to provide Irish music, news, and other great information from the Emerald Isle.  Keep up the good work, Diane!


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, come for Irish Night: Guinness, Smithwick's, and Half and Half specials 8-12 p.m.  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

Pittsburgh Irish Rowing Club 2009 Schedule

For more information contact:




Check Performance Schedules, Etc.

Aran from Johnstown PA -    

George Balderose  -

Carnival of Souls -

Ceann  -

Cue Ball Music

Cahal Dunne  -

Tony Egan   -

Michael Gallagher  -

Terry Griffith 

Guaranteed Irish    -

Hiraeth  -

Hooley  -

John McCann  -

Corned Beef & Curry - http://

Michael Murphy & TSRB

Na Gaels  -

Jack Puskar  -

Red Hand Paddy  -

Rolling Scones  -


Pittsburgh Irish Dance Schools

            Bell School of Irish Dance

            Burke Irish Dancers

    Pittsburgh Irish Reelers

    Shovlin Academy of Dance

    Pittsburgh Ceili Club


Pittsburgh Irish Sports

Pittsburgh Irish Rowing Club (PIRC)

    Pittsburgh Banshees

    Pittsburgh Celtics     

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.




The Ireland Institute relies on its donor and volunteer network to continue its mission of mutual reconciliation and economic development. Your generosity is kindly appreciated.

The Ireland Institute is available to accept donations through the United Way. Please remember our code for the United Way Campaign of Southwestern Pennsylvania: 4534. We are also listed as a non-Profit under the Combined Federal Campaign. Our number is: 12438. A third option is to donate through the local Federal campaign. This number is: 9016.

If you prefer, a tax-deductible donation can also be made directly to the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh. The Ireland Institute also appreciates in-kind donations of furniture, housewares, event tickets etc. that we can then distribute to our participants.

For further information or questions about how you can donate, please complete the form below.




 All articles are adapted from www., the Belfast Telegraph, the Irish Examiner, BBC, and other news sources.