Read about the arrival of Rugby & Soccer at Croke Park!


The Common Ground

Vol. V, Issue 2


      February 2007



                 News Updates






letter from the editor 



Sad news reached my house last Wednesday week that my wife's father, Kevin Burns passed away.

We rushed to Ann's childhood home in Creggan, Co. Armagh, where scores of neighbors from far and near had already been to pay their respects. In the end over 800 residents from several counties had visited the house where Kevin lay in state. As is custom they each took tea and a sandwich, chatted with the bereaved, and with others, and then moved on. What a terrific tribute! What a civilized way to remember and honor the dead and to console the family left behind!

When it was over I felt relieved that Kevin's widow, my mother-in-law, Annie, while she would miss him dearly, would be well looked after, not only by her sons and daughters but by an entire community that responded to her loss with their presence. A few moments out of their day was committed to attending to a grieving family.

I have read and written about how Ireland has changed for the better in recent years, but Kevin's passing was another reminder of what modern Ireland has lost. I was told that, as the older generation passes, this practice of visiting the dead is disappearing.

With all the hustle-bustle of modern life, two-income households, long hours at work, less interest in church, increases in drug and alcohol abuse, and the isolating influence of television, computers and the internet, Ireland, like America, is losing its sense of community and positive social interaction.

My faith tells me that Kevin Burns has achieved eternal life. But many of us are dead men walking. Like the winter, cold and dark, we may bury ourselves in our work, in our worldly possessions and pleasures, in our isolation. These graves offer no light, no warmth.

In a few days the season of lent will be upon us. No matter what your persuasion within Christian doctrine, lent offers an opportunity to find some light. And the idea of enlightenment is not lost among our non-Christian brethren.

I hope to find light this lenten season in my own community, among my neighbors, my extended family, and friends. Please God, in the light, I'll see you.

Jim Lamb, President

Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh


This month, we continue our series about Pittsburgh's Irish Organization with a look at the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

 In our Letter from the Editor section, Jim comments on the passing of his father-in-law.

There's also information on the Northern Ireland Assembly candidates.




The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) is an Irish-Catholic fraternal organization. Its largest membership is now in the United States, where it was founded in New York in 1836.

Its original purpose in the United States was to assist Irish Catholic immigrants, especially those who faced discrimination or harsh coal mining working conditions. 

The Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians (LAOH) was formed in 1894 in Omaha, Nebraska.

The goals of the AOH are preservation of Irish culture and heritage and supporting various political issues along with the primary focus of charity work. Over the years, the AOH has made many charitable contributions supporting several charities and good works both in their localities and abroad.

The organization consists of Divisions, all operating independently of each other. Allegheny County has a thriving AOH community with eight Men’s, six Ladies and three Junior divisions.

The organization continues to grow and welcomes new members that are inducted at special initiation ceremonies.

Membership in the Ancient Order of Hibernians is confined to men 16 Years and older who are practicing Roman Catholics of Irish birth or descent, and who are citizens of United States of America or who have declared their intentions to become citizens of the United States of America. Women over 16 can join the LAOH if they are a practicing Roman Catholic of Irish birth or descent or legal adoption or ares the wife or mother of a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians or Junior Division. Membership of the Junior divisions are open to boys and girls aged 6-18.

Divisions are located in the following areas: Carnegie, Garfield, Hazelwood, Lawrenceville, Monroeville, Oakland, South Hills, North Hills

For more information log onto the Allegheny Ancient Order of Hibernians website.


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

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Nearly 250 candidates are standing in the Northern Ireland Assembly election on 7 March.

The poll will elect 108 Members of the Legislative Assembly across 18 constituencies.

 Both the British & Irish governments hope the March election will set the scene for a return to devolution. A power-sharing executive is due to be formed on 26th March.

 The Electoral Office has published the full list of candidates on its website.

 There are 46 DUP candidates, 38 Ulster Unionist, 37 Sinn Fein, 35 SDLP and 18 Alliance candidates. 6 Republican Sinn Féin candidates have registered and their organization says that it plans to directly challenge Sinn Féin. However, it has insisted none of its candidates will take their seats if they are elected to the Assembly.

 In the last Assembly election in 2003, more than 250 candidates stood for seats at Stormont.

The Republic's Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, said it would be an "appalling shambles and a disgrace" if the Northern Irish parties failed to agree on the return of devolution by 26th March.

Both the Irish and British governments have warned that it is "devolution or dissolution" for the Stormont Assembly. The governments also said that the "plug will finally be pulled" if a working administration is not formed in Belfast by the end of March. Mr. Ahern and Northern Secretary Peter Hain issued the ultimatum to Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionists. The Taoiseach said the best indication of the DUP's attitude would come with the publication of its election manifesto later this month. But he said no sane politician would want to get into a charade where the assembly was abolished weeks after it had been elected.

We came across an interesting article this month about the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis written by Roy Garland of The Irish News. Roy, a popular Northern Ireland columnist, has written many informative articles over the last number of years. Here is a link to the Irish


Work is under way to dismantle the last significant British military installation in south Armagh.

The watchtower at Crossmaglen police station is being removed as part of the British government's normalization plans.

Preliminary work began yesterday with the removal of a metal cage that protected the base from rocket attack.

In recent months the British army's presence at the Crossmaglen base has been reduced and the site will now only be used as a police station.

The guard post was constructed in 1992 to protect British soldiers and police officers at a time when security forces could only travel to the (then) RUC station by helicopter.

The base was attacked by the IRA on several occasions during the Troubles.

Sinn Féin and the SDLP welcomed the demilitarization move, but unionists criticized its timing claiming it was being done for reasons of political expediency and coming in the middle of an election.

Military support to the PSNI will finish at the end of July and the British Army will then be reduced to 5,000 personnel at ten sites throughout Northern Ireland.

Dismantling of the military presence in Crossmaglen is seen as highly symbolic, given the village's location in the heart of a strongly republican area.

PSNI Chief Superintendent Bobby Hunniford said the work in Crossmaglen was "a significant step as part of the ongoing normalization process". "We want to work with the community and we want to deliver policing in south Armagh in the same way that policing is being delivered anywhere in Northern Ireland", he added.










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Planning experts have warned that Dublin's massive suburban sprawl could lead to health problems, pollution and increased rates of social isolation.

The Urban Forum, which is made up of five planning groups, is calling for a review of the National Spatial Strategy, and the creation of a new urban center along the west coast.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio's Morning Ireland, Aidan Ffrench of the Irish Landscape Institute, which is on the forum, says Dublin is growing too rapidly.

The forum is also demanding increased staffing of planning bodies and a greater emphasis on high-speed rail.

It has warned that Dublin is expanding so quickly it will soon occupy the same surface area as Los Angeles, but with less than a quarter of its population.

As a consequence, the average car in Ireland travels 70% more each year than France, 50% more than Britain - and even 30% more than the USA.

The forum says there is substantial evidence to suggest this will lead to obesity, cardiovascular disease, asthma and increased rates of social isolation.

The forum is made up of: Engineers Ireland; the Irish Landscape Institute; the Irish Planning Institute; the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland and the Society of Chartered Surveyors.


Over 65s will be able to travel free on trains and buses throughout the island of Ireland from 2 April onwards. Since 2002, senior citizens have been able to travel for free around Northern Ireland and on cross-border services. 

Translink said it would provide increased mobility and independence for thousands of retired people. 

Acting chief executive Philip O'Neill said the addition of onward journeys would "provide extended possibilities to explore". 

He encouraged pensioners from the Irish Republic to apply for a card to take advantage of the scheme in Northern Ireland. "We are confident our colleagues in the south will extend an equally warm welcome to our senior citizens," he added.


 Ireland has been ranked ninth out of 21 industrialized countries in a report assessing the well-being of children.

UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund,  said the assessment looked at 40 separate indicators to gauge the quality of the lives of children in the majority of economically advanced nations.

But the study found there was no consistent relationship between a country's wealth and a child's quality of life.

Northern European countries dominated the top half of the table, with child well-being at its highest in the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

The United Kingdom came bottom of the list.

The study found Britain lagged behind on key measures of poverty and deprivation, health and safety, relationships, risk-taking and young people's own sense of well-being.

Britain received better ratings for education but languished in the bottom third for all other measures, giving it the lowest overall placing, behind the United States.

The publication of the UNICEF report coincided with the launch of a policy document by children's rights charity Barnardos, relating to the proposed referendum on children's rights and protection.

Speaking in the Dáil, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said that the referendum will have to held in the short term, whether that be April or September.

However, Mr. Ahern emphasized that he does not wish to have the referendum politicized by a General Election campaign, and cross party agreement was essential.


It's been five years since the end of the Irish punt, but 300 million have yet to be exchanged for euros.

Last week was the fifth anniversary of the euro's full introduction as Ireland's currency.

Over three and a half billion punt notes and coins have been shredded into briquettes or melted down.

More than 200 people a week are still calling to the Central Bank to exchange their money. Bank tellers have heard stories about piles of punts discovered in old mattresses or Christmas stockings stocked away in the attic.

Some punts will never return, kept as keepsakes by tourists or locals. But there's no time limit on changing old Irish money.


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

This Summer & Fall, over forty young men and women from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland arrived in Pittsburgh to participate in our Wider Horizons program.  Both groups from Tyrone & Donegal and Monaghan & Armagh received on-the-job training, personal development, exposure to American culture, and new insights into the problems at home through conflict resolution.  After their program they participants return to Ireland, hopeful of securing employment and living in peace. 

A key success in both these programs has been our Host Family program - the young people are placed with host families during their stay in Pittsburgh.  Those of you who are currently hosting or 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.

If you are interested in hosting someone this year - why not join the IIP this Wednesday, 21st February at the Harp & Fiddle at 6:00pm. Call 412.394.3900 to RSVP or for more information.






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A motion to let Ireland's Gaelic Football ruling body the GAA decide on the opening up of Croke Park to other sports was carried by 227 to 97 vote in April 2005.


The GAA can now allow soccer and rugby to be played in Croke Park under certain circumstances.


The motion voted on asked that the GAA's Central Council be given the power to allow Croke Park to be used for other sports while Lansdowne Road, the traditional home of the Irish Soccer & Rugby teams is being redeveloped.


The debate that followed the secret ballot was emotional, touching on ideology, identity and ethos.


The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism John O'Donoghue commended the GAA for their decision, calling it a hugely significant gesture which will benefit all Irish sporting fans.


The first Rugby game to take place in Croke Park occurred last Sunday when France took on Ireland in the annual Six-Nations tournament. The French are now favorites to win the competition.


The English Rugby team will take to the field on Saturday February 24th in what many see as a new dawn for the Gaelic Athletic Association.


The Republic of Ireland will host Wales in a European Championship qualifier on March 24th.


The new stadium 50,000-seat stadium at Lansdowne Road is due to open in three years' time.

In other Croke Park related news - the first game under floodlights at the stadium, between Dublin and Tyrone, took place two weekends ago with a crowd of 81,678 in attendance. It was the highest attended sports event in the world that weekend. This figure is all the more staggering when you consider there was another little game being played in Florida that a certain Indianapolis team won!

















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Our Mission:


Gaelic Arts Society of Pittsburgh presents Irish & Celtic Folklore and Mythology at Synod Hall, Craig St., Oakland at 2:30 pm.  Free Admission, Information 412.761.1844.                                                                          Sunday, February 18th

'Irish Fest 2007' sponsored by sponsored by Saint Teresa of Avila, 1000 Avila Court, Pittsburgh, PA 15237, featuring an Irish Mass at 6pm, Irish Dinner and Irish Entertainment with Guaranteed Irish & the Burke School of Irish Dance.  Information 412.367.9001.  Tickets $25, Raffles & Door Prizes.                                  

Saturday, February 24th


Irish American Unity Conference will present Terry Kirby & Bobby Lavery, “From Long Kesh to the Good Friday Agreement – Reflections by Two former Irish Republican POW’s” as they speak about their experiences as prisoners in Long Kesh; their transition into politics; and the Peace Process.  Event takes place at Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle,  3:30 pm.  Information: or 412.782.2715 or Jim Caldwell 412.580.3759. The kitchen will be open for your dining pleasure.

Sunday, February 25th


Calliope, Pittsburgh Folk Music Society presents Buílle with Niall Vallely on Concertina, Paul Meehan on Guitar, Caoimhín Vallely on Piano, &  Brian Morrissey on Banjo, Bodhran, Whistles & Percussion. in Concert, 8:00 pm, Carnegie Lecture Hall.  412.361.1915. Email:  Tickets at ProArts 412.394.3353.  Irish Traditional Music at its BEST!

Saturday, March 3rd


St. Anne's Parish Peace & Justice Committee presents the Inaugural Msgr. Charles Owen Rice Lecture featuring guest speaker Michael Baxter "The Sign of Peace: The Mission of the Church in a Time of War" at St. Anne School Parish Hall/Gymnasium at 7:30pm. For more information, contact St. Anne Parish.

Thursday, March 8th


St. Patrick’s Day Parade Button Party at Mitchell’s Restaurant, 304 Ross Street, Downtown, Pittsburgh.  5:00 pm, $25.00

Friday, March 9th


AOH Allegheny County Board and AOH Division 9, Oakland Irish, will sponsor their Communion Breakfast and Mass at the Sheraton at Station Square, Ballroom # 3 at10 am.  Mass celebrated by Bishop Paul J. Bradley.  Breakfast & Program to follow Mass.  Tickets $20 through Bob Kennedy; 412.338.2711, Email:  Deadline February 28th.

Sunday, March 11th


The Ireland Institute of Pittsbugh & O'Neill Summer School present "An Evening with Hugo O'Neill" (Chief of the O’Neill Clan worldwide & President of the Standing Council of Irish Clans) at the DoubleTree Hotel, One Bigelow Square, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from 6pm-8pm.  The event is free - donations will be accepted at the door. Call the IIP to RSVP at 412.394.3900

Friday, March 16th


The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh & Duquesne University present An Evening with Poet Desmond Egan at the PNC Recital Hall, Duquesne University at 7pm. Admission is free and the recital will be followed by a reception. For more information or to RSVP, please contact the IIP at 412.394.3900. This event is free.

Wednesday, 21st March

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.


AOH Division 32 Carnegie will hold Fish Fry's at the Ukrainian Club in Carnegie on the following Fridays:

Friday February 23rd - Friday March 30th

Times are 3:30-7pm. For more information click on link above.


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

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.