Read about Darren Sutherland taking Ireland to the Olympics, and our back-to-school articles.


The Common Ground

Vol. VI, Issue 8


August 2008





In 2008, the Common Ground will feature you! Your stories, past and present, will be our feature column this year. Tell us how your family came to the United States from Ireland, how you celebrate your Irish heritage, or how you enjoy Irish history and culture. Send your photos and stories to  during the first week of each month.  Diverse cultural, political, and religious views are appreciated, but publication of any piece is subject to approval by the Ireland Institute Executive Management.







letter from the editor 


Over the past month, the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh has been busy managing two Wider Horizons Programs. Over thirty young people have called Pittsburgh home since late July. Their journey has been remarkable. 

Imagine yourself, an unemployed twenty-something, traveling to a foreign land for the first time. You travel with a group, but you don't know them very well. Some of them are from a community that will never accept, let alone welcome you. At least that's what your parents told you.

You arrive in this foreign place to live with a family you never met before. You report to your first job--ever, interacting with a diverse group of natives who have trouble understanding your accent. Simple tasks like crossing the street, catching a bus, and using your electrical appliances, are impossible due to a system that is new to you. You get through your first week, nearly, when you wake-up Friday morning, and remember that today you have to attend university. "University?," you gasp. "I barely finished High School."

It is a daunting endeavor. There are plenty of people supporting you, but you didn't expect it to be as hard as this. And by the end of the second week you are homesick. You can't sleep, can't eat, you miss your family, even your brat younger brother. You start to hate it here. You hate the food, the noise, the heat. What you wouldn't give for a decent cup of tea. 

And then, unexpectedly, things start to turn around. The Wider Horizons Program ultimately becomes one of the greatest experiences of every participant that ever signed up. For most of them, somewhere at some point in Pittsburgh, something clicks. A fellow worker takes you out for a night of fun. A student at the university asks you questions about your country. A conversation from home reminds you that its been raining there since you left. And it dawns on you that there is a lot more to this world than that town or village that you call home.

You begin to realize that things here are not necessarily better nor worse, but different. You realize that you are capable to manage a job, social relationships, personal responsibilities, and professional growth. And you fly. Confidence, assertiveness, cooperation, and independence flourish within you. This is what you came for.

Since 1989, the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh has served over 1600 young people from Ireland on various programs. On September 11 and September 17th we will celebrate the graduations of our 59th and 60th International Fund for Ireland Wider Horizons Projects at Duquesne University. Please accept this note as your invitation to watch them fly.

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

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










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On Friday, August 15, Co Tyrone town held the 10th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. A new glass memorial replaced the former monument, which stated that the 29 victims of the 1998 attack were “murdered by a dissident republican terrorist car bomb.”  This alteration proved to be controversial, and many members of the Omagh support group refused to attend.

“The bombing was an attack on all the people of Ireland,” said the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, and “that as it continued to build a peaceful and better future, it remained an indelible stain on its history.”

The Taoiseach, Northern ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and junior minister Jeffrey Donaldson were among the dignitaries, plus Councilor Eibhlin Byrne, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, and 800 other attendants.

During the service, former Beirut hostage Terry Waite made an address, and all attendants bowed their heads in a minute’s silence. Also, all the names of the victims were read reverently by two 10 year old children.

At this time, no convictions have been made to the party guilty of this crime, and with the insufficient amount of evidence already obtained, PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde says it is “unlikely that anyone would ever be convicted of the atrocity unless new evidence comes to light.”

In addition, a mass was held at the Pro Cathedral in Dublin that morning, and a memorial garden was unveiled nearby. The words written on the original monument, “murdered by a dissident republican terrorist car bomb,” were included in a portion of the garden.



On October 1, Boston will be holding The Irish Echo Golden Bridges Awards ceremony, to celebrate Irish Americans who are building bridges between the United States and Ireland, through commitment in culture, business and community development. 


The Guest of Honor at this ceremony, held in the JFK Library, is Sir Reg Empey, Northern Ireland Minister for Employment and Learning, and leader of the Ulster Unionist Party.


"As efforts are stepped up to cement the peace process into a prosperity and reconciliation process, one benefiting those communities which suffered most during the years of conflict, we feel it's timely for Irish America to welcome Sir Reg Empey to the U.S. as our guest of honor," said Irish Echo publisher and former Sinn Féin Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir.


The participants being honored include a veteran Irish language teacher, a chairman of a multi-billion dollar development company, and the Massachusetts State Treasurer Tim Cahill.


“Our honorees come from all walks of life…they all share a passion for Irish America, Ireland and the ties which bind the two,” added Ó Muilleoir.


President McAleese wishes Irish Olympians well

President Mary McAleese was among the dignitaries who gathered in Beijing for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics, and wished the Irish Olympic squad a goodwill message. She said that the nation would share the squad’s achievements with “pride and admiration.”  Taoiseach Brian Cowen said that “qualifying for the Games was an achievement of great distinction,” and also sent a congratulatory message to the athletes.

Ciara Peelo, 28, from Malahide, Dublin, who participated in the Women’s Single-handed Dinghy, led the Irish squad through the ceremonial parade, carrying Ireland’s flag.

The 51-strong Ireland team joined some 11,000 other participants from around the world, and will be watched by an audience of one billion as they partake in over 300 events.

Ryanair passengers face travel chaos              

This is a continuing of a previous article in July’s newsletter, pertaining to Ryanair airline, and the effects of the high fuel costs on the airline business.

This month, Ryanair is commenting on the usage of various ‘screen scraper’ websites, which offer price comparisons of different airlines, and flight bookings. These have led to daily cancellations of seats to almost 1,000 passengers who have booked with these websites. A new policy has been initiated to oppose the intermediary sites that generally charge more than the airline’s own website. With an overabundance of passengers per flight, many flyers are left stranded at the airport without boarding passes.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary says that these ‘screen scraper’ websites don’t work personally with Ryanair, and Ryanair doesn’t deal directly with the passengers.

'We are free to cancel a booking,' he said, and added, 'we want to cause as much chaos for the screen scrapers as possible'. 

If a flight has been booked, Ryanair will refund the their cost of the flight to the website, but the site is responsible for passing the refund on to the flyer, as well as the higher cost they charged for the seat.

In other news, Ryanair says that the winter season will bring further job losses to baggage handlers and other employees working in airport handling, as check-in kiosks have been installed in Dublin and Stansted. 

O’Leary responded to a question about the job loss scale by saying that the numbers will be “relatively small,” and the overall employment growth will increase.







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Record CAO applications in 2008

This year, students applying to third level colleges in Ireland sent 68,000 applications. The figures proved by the Central Applications Office show that in 2007, only 65,500 people applied-a 2,500 difference from this year. This research verifies the all-time high.


The number of adult students, and those in the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC), increased by 3,000, to 18,000 applicants. Submissions were up by 16,000 for arts and social sciences in honors degree courses.


However, healthcare and nursing courses are in the process of dropping, despite the rise in other programs.




Angela Lansbury, the 82-year-old veteran actress, and star of Murder She Wrote, calls Ireland her sanctuary, where warmth, respect and peace shelter her family from the chaos of Hollywood.


After a fire destroyed their home in Malibu, California, and her children were exposed to the drug culture, Angela moved her family to the land of her mother and grandmother, and settled in County Cork.


“My grandmother, who came from Belfast, used to come to Cork every winter because it was warmer down here. (The climate) is a little less difficult and sharp and cold.”


The family, which included her late husband Peter, and two children, Deirdre and Anthony, found it rather easy to start their lives over in Ireland.


“We had our problems, there’s no doubt about it, so coming to Ireland was like beginning all over again and it afforded us that time to get back to basics really. We bought a house in Cork and we gardened and I learnt to cook…we started a whole new life.”


This new life was some of the happiest years for Angela and her family. Circumstances made it necessary for them to sell their house, but 10 years later, they came back, bought a piece of land, and built a new home.


“We loved living here and we never were able to give it up,” she said.


Angela’s passion for Ireland comes from many angles, particularly the respect shown towards her family’s privacy, and the warmth from the local community outside Ballycotton.



This school year, after parents have “shelled out” hundreds of euro on clothes, books, and any necessary equipment, along with additional charitable contributions, they have spent over €60,000 on their child’s education. Where is the concept of “free education” hiding? Primary school education is costing up to €9,856, secondary school adds up to €12,737, leading to €38,614 for a four-year university. Not included are any accommodation expenses, or other financial obligations.


This research was conducted by for Bank of Ireland Life, an online parenting and teaching resource. Though Ireland claims to have free education, and offers an allowance of €166 on back-to-school expenses, this study has shown that 89% of parents don’t believe this amount is sufficient. Once students are back in the classrooms, the tab to put them there has reached an average of €376, about $553. Following this total, we might include the bill for any extra-curricular activites.


Free education? Maybe somewhere else, but not in Ireland.



Ronnie Drew, who entertained the world with his raspy voice and heart-wrenching ballads, died on Saturday the 16th of throat cancer at 73.


The funeral was far from conventional, as the crowd hummed along and swayed to the music played by the remaining members of the Dubliners, the Chieftains, and other balladeers and songstresses. Almost everyone whose life was touched by Drew’s music attended, from those in entertainment and political businesses, to ordinary, personal friends. All together, approximately 3,000 people were present in the Church of the Holy Rosary on Tuesday morning. The crowd was so big, that a video link was set up outside to accommodate the mourners that remained in the churchyard and streets.


“It’s a Mass of thanksgiving for Ronnie’s life and the joy that he brought to each of us,” said celebrant Fr. Denis Quinn.


Ronnie Drew had “a love and compassion and feeling for the person who got a hard hand in life that oozed through (his) gravelly voice,” said Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin Eamonn Walsh.


His son, Phelim, noted that those in the music world shared a “unique kinship” with him, and that “they all rightly claimed to be Ronnie’s brothers and sisters."


Ronnie is survived by his two children, Cliodhna and Phelim, and their spouses; his brother Tony, sisters Joan and Margie, and six grandchildren-Ruaidhri, Aoife, Vivian, Milo, Lilian, and Seanie, along with many cousins. His wife, Deirdre, had died only 14 months before. Both are laid to rest at Redmonds Cemetery in Greystones, Co. Wicklow.






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On Wednesday the 20th, middleweight Darren Sutherland fought the best boxing tournament Ireland has seen since 1956. He joined two other contenders, light-weight Kenny Egan and light-flyweight Paddy Barnes, in securing the minimum of three bronze medals for Ireland at this year’s Olympics.


Only two years ago, Sutherland suffered an eye injury that almost took him out of the ring permanently. During a routine international fight, the thumb of the opponent was shoved into Sutherland’s eye, causing it to be pushed back into his head. Surgery was required to repair the two fractures.


Wednesday’s match saw Sutherland beat Venezuelan Alfonso Blanco Parra in an 11-1 victory. “Doctors didn’t think I would ever box again. It was six months until I got back into the ring… I never thought this was going to happen,” said the overjoyed athlete.


Head coach Billy Walsh was ecstatic as well. “Anything can happen in these Olympic Games, and this is Ireland’s best performance since 1956. Irish eyes are smiling.”


WIDER HORIZONS 2008 - Host FaMily Program

As the fall season approaches, we find our young friends still with us. Progress has been made through classes, internships and daily interaction with the citizens of Pittsburgh, along with the unique experiences met by the everyone on the day trips we’ve taken. With a couple short weeks left of their stay, our friends are focused on extracting the remaining opportunities this program has offered.

We are currently focusing on finishing out our groups for 2008, but 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:


For the next few months, the Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre will remain behind a closed curtain, as the outstanding cast recuperates from the summer season, and prepares their Winter production, Dublin Carol - authored by Connor McPherson. 

We will keep you posted with the particulars of the show, or visit or call 412-394-3353 for details.

Friday, September 5 through Sunday, September 7

·        Pittsburgh Irish Festival at Riverplex at Sandcastle, West Homestead.  Entertainment includes Gaelic Storm, Pogey, Glengarry Bhoys, Beoga, Screaming Orphans, Gadelle, Cahal Dunne, Dennis Doyle, Michael Murphy & the Shannon River Band, Matthew Craig & The Kerry Tipper Band, Red Hand Paddy, Hooley, Mike Gallagher, Burke-Conroy Irish Dancers, Pittsburgh Ceili Club, Pittsburgh Irish Reelers, Bell School of Irish Dance, Shovlin Academy of Irish Dance, Corned Beef & Curry, Terry Griffith, Ballet Academy of Pittsburgh, Mark Guiser, Alan Irvine, Patrick Regan plus more.  Variety of admission prices.  Information: 412.422.1113 or  Gaelic Mass on Sunday at 10:00 AM.  Marketplace, children’s activities, Gaelic sports, Blarney Bingo, Ceili Dancing plus more.  Opens Friday 4:00 PM.


Friday, September 12

·        AOH Division 4 sponsors ‘Hibernian Open’ at The Pittsburgh National Golf Course; 1:30PM Shotgun Start – Scramble.  Lunch before the start, Dinner after golf.  Contact Patrick Regan,  Benefits the AOH Division 4 Parochial School Tuition Assistance Fund.


Tuesday, September 16

·        The HIGH KINGS in Concert at the Byham Theater, 8:00 PM.  Tickets at


Saturday, September 20

·        Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle, 2329 Penn Ave., in The Strip, ½ Way to St. Patrick’s Day.  Live Entertainment outside under the Tent from 4:00 PM with three different bands.  Inside – at 3:30PM Notre Dame vs. Michigan State.  Music with Corned Beef & Curry at 9:00 PM


Saturday, October 4

·        ‘An Irish-American Experience at Gettysburg’ Tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield & Soldiers National Cemetery from 9:15 AM to 2:30 PM.  This trip is being organized by the AOH; information contact Jim Green 412.881.6499.  Cost for Tour - $50.00 per person.  Limited Seating.


Sunday, October 12

·        Samhain, The Celtic New Year Celebration, a fundraiser for Echoes of Erin on WEDO 810AM at Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle, (Mullaney’s Castle) 24th St. & Penn Ave. in The Strip. Doors open at 4:00PM, Local Talent with Terry Griffith, Christopher Laughrey with Casey Deely & Duane Davis, Jack Puskar, Michael Mykita with ‘rune’ readings & other interesting stuff, plus more with John McCann & Bob Banerjee.  Costume Contest.  Donation $15.00 at Door.  Information Diane Byrnes 412-781-6368, Email

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 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

Pittsburgh Irish Rowing Club 2008 Schedule

Boston – August 31

Albany – September 13

Annapolis – October 4

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.




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