The Common Ground

Vol. IX, Issue 7

July 2011



Common Ground readers and other supporters of the Ireland Institute can now follow Jim on Twitter.

Log on to, and enter Jim's ID in the search tab.  His ID is Jim_Lamb.

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n Excerpt from James J. Lambs remarks at the Tyrone/Donegal Wider Horizons Pittsburgh Graduation, July 21, 2011

“Distinguished Guests, Reverend Clergy, Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight we celebrate the extraordinary achievements of 18 young men and women from Ireland and Northern Ireland who have spent the past six weeks living, working, and learning, together, far away from home. Their challenges here and at home have been great.

This marks our 66th International Fund for Ireland Wider Horizons program and we are pleased to be part of one of the greatest campaigns for peace in the history of the world.

The “troubles” that defined Northern Ireland for 30 years have given way to civil society within and among the communities that suffered most. Thanks to programs like Wider Horizons, young people from divided communities, Protestant and Catholic, are encouraged to come together, to dispel myths, seek common ground, & accommodate difference.

Pittsburgh, with its industrial history, diverse neighborhoods, and excellent educational and cultural amenities, has been an ideal place to host these important programs. Thanks to the support of Duquesne University, the openness of our great host families, and to the people of this region, we’re able to offer an environment that promotes learning, diversity, teamwork, mutual understanding, and achievement. 

These 18 young people have made the most of their experiences here and we are very proud of them tonight. They return to home tomorrow to face new challenges—finding work, returning to school, improving their communities and neighborhoods, and maintaining that fragile peace that underpins life in a civil society today.

Unfortunately, today there are hostilities emerging anew in those hard areas of Northern Ireland and the Border Counties, where these young people call home. Dissident groups who have chosen not to be part of the solution for peace and equality remain in the shadows, enticing young people to return to violence and despair.

Our programs offer another way.

Over the past 22 years, nearly 1300 young people have participated in the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh’s Wider Horizons Programs. They returned home, to pursue careers, start families, and build their communities. I have no doubt these young men and women will do the same. 

Congratulations and good night.



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IIP News


On Sunday, July 9, our 2nd group (of 5) arrived in Pittsburgh as part of a training program in partnership with Irish Autism Action and The Watson Institute ACCLAIM program.  The Ireland Institute is facilitating the program, which shares training and knowledge through these "ambassadors" with a heart for autism work.  For the first week, the group underwent training at the Watson Institute, and will now be working at Autism Camps until August 14.  The IIP is very pleased to be a part of this program. Both groups are pictured above.


The second 'Be International' program seminar took place recently in the Magherafelt District Council offices in Maghgerafelt, Northern Ireland.


Presenting to the attendees were Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh President Jim Lamb and Kevin Roland, the Deputy Consul General at the US Consulate in Northern Ireland. Both were able to give the businesses in attendance benefit of their experience in dealing with companies in the US, and the participants found the event and the information supplied to be very useful. 


The next "Be International" seminar takes place on the 22nd June at 8am in the council offices once again, and is concerned with the Chinese market. 

Photograph left - right: Jim Lamb; Nick Lestas, Managing Partner Lestas Consulting; Kevin Roland; Anne-Marie Campbell, Director of Development for Magherafelt District Council.









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Australia seeks to hire 150,000 of Ireland's unemployed says minister

Australia is looking to fill its job vacancies with Ireland’s unemployed, says a report in the Independent.

According to the region's employment minister Peter Collier, western Australia has enough job vacancies to employ a third of Ireland’s 450,000 unemployed.

Collier says the region is anticipating a shortfall of 150,000 workers by 2017 and the area, which is rich in oil and gas exploration, mining and agriculture, is booming and is crying out for skilled workers. And the prosperity there is based on sustainable industries, unlike Ireland’s short-lived boom.

"It's an economic powerhouse," he said at a recruitment drive in Dublin.

"With more than €145bn of resource and infrastructure projects planned, western Australia is on the cusp of a 25-year expansion, which will drive the nation's economy."

The Australian government predicts there will be more than 20,000 vacancies in the building and construction trades by 2015, more than 28,000 jobs in health care and related fields and close to 20,000 jobs in education, said the Independent.

Collier said they are desperate to hire. "They'll come back on the plane with us if we can get them!" he said.

Sleepless in Sandwich: Clarke parties all night after Open win

Most Open champions wake up the morning after the night before and realize it was not a dream.

But not Darren Clarke. He had not been to bed when he brought the Claret Jug back to Sandwich this morning to pose for more photos and hold a press conference before flying home to Portrush.

"I've looked at the trophy all night and sort of semi figured out it's mine," said Clarke, looking bleary-eyed.

"I probably won't get any sleep until tomorrow at some stage. Have to enjoy it when you can.

"I had quite a few pints and quite a few glasses of red wine and it all continued until about 30 minutes ago.

"It's been a very good night."

Nothing, though, had been poured into the trophy.

"I'm a little bit of a traditionalist. I feel a bit funny about putting stuff in the Claret Jug that shouldn't be in there," he added.

"There's nothing in it as yet. That may not be the case as the week goes by!"

Clarke said he had been inundated with messages of congratulations, but was not yet in a position to reply to them all. "I have 294 [text] messages and the writing is far too small for me to look at them in this state, so I may look at them tomorrow at some stage and figure them out."

His first phone call, however, was to his sons Tyrone and Conor in Portrush, to whom he dedicated his victory along with his late wife, Heather, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2006.

"Tyrone was very pleased, very proud – he said he was going to tell everybody his dad was Open Champion. Conor wanted to know what he could spend all the money on. So it was a huge difference between the two, but they were both very happy."

Clarke also revealed that Tiger Woods had sent him text messages of encouragement on Saturday night.

"I got a text from Rory [McIlroy], sort of reiterating what I had sent to him before he went out and won the US Open at Congressional," Clarke said. "And then I got a couple of really good texts from Tiger. He was giving me a couple of bits of advice, which was brilliant. Just getting things like that made today a little bit easier than it might have been."

Government welcomes Rehn support for rate reduction ahead of EU summit

The European Union’s most powerful economist has backed Ireland’s call for a reduction in the interest rate on the EU-IMF bail-out - a move welcomed by the Irish government. 

Ollie Rehn, economics commissioner with the EU, has officially endorsed efforts by the Irish government to negotiate a reduction in the interest rate charged on the $120billion package.

Writing for the Sunday Business Post, Rehn also claimed that Ireland should be given more time to pay back the loans available to it from the EU-IMB funds in the wake of the country’s current economic woes.
Commissioner Rehn acknowledged that the Irish government and people are working hard to puts it house in order.

“Ireland’s economic recovery would be sped up by more forgiving conditions on repaying the bailout,” wrote Rehn.

“Ireland is putting its house in order and fulfilling all the conditions necessary to restore confidence in its public finance and in its financial sector.

“Ireland provides hard evidence that the EU-IMF conditional financial support approach is working.

Ireland is recovering and implementing measures that will put its overall debt on a downward path in less than two years.

“Efforts to return to the markets are being delayed in an unjustifiable way by knock-on effects from the euro crisis in Greece.

“But the consolidation of Ireland’s public finances proceeds with determination. The reduction of public expenditure and tax increases are significant.”

Rehn likened Ireland’s current problems to the decline suffered by Finland in the early 1990s.

The Finns responded with ambitious cost-cutting which led to an export-led recovery and a new era of competitiveness.

The Irish government welcomed his remarks ahead of recent meetings of EU leaders.

At the meetings, Prime Minister Enda Kenny was expected to discuss an interest rate cut with his European counterparts.

Kenny’s deputy Eamon Gilmore said: “I think there is a general acceptance now among European governments that this is a European problem.

“It has to be dealt with at a European level. I believe that that will work to Ireland’s advantage because solving the European problem will help solve the Irish problem.”

Mary Robinson to travel to Horn of Africa

Former President Mary Robinson is to travel with a consortium of Irish aid agencies to the drought stricken Horn of Africa.

Ms Robinson has said she welcomed the invitation from the agencies to visit the Horn of Africa to see the impact that the drought has had on the poorest people.

Robinson said 'the people most affected are those who are not responsible for it. I hope my visit can highlight this injustice, increase awareness of the impacts of climate change and encourage the international community to respond.'

An estimated 10m people are affected by drought across East Africa.

Acute malnutrition has reached 37% and higher in some areas, more than double the benchmark threshold used to constitute an emergency.

Aid agency Concern has said prices of essential food items have skyrocketed, in some cases by more than 200%, as the price of the last livestock and assets that people are selling to buy grain falls sharply.

The aid agency Concern says more than 3,000 refugees are leaving Somalia daily, with children dying of causes related to malnutrition, exacerbated by the long journeys families have to make to reach emergency assistance.

Earlier, the United Nations began delivering aid to millions of starving people in Somalia.

It is the first airlift of aid to Somalia since al-Qaeda-linked militants, known as Al-Shabab, lifted a two year aid ban.

UNICEF airlifted five tonnes of food and medicine to the central town of Baidoa, more than 200km north-west of the capital, Mogadishu

Aid agency Oxfam has described the drought in east Africa as the worst food crisis so far this century.

Refugees have been trying to escape the worst affected area in southern Somalia, by traveling over the border into Ethiopia and south into Kenya.

Many refugees are also arriving in the Somali capital Mogadishu.








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Frank McCourt Museum opens in Limerick

After audiences have been captivated for almost 12 years by Frank McCourt’s masterpiece, “Angela’s Ashes,” now they can finally see his home described in the book with the opening of the Frank McCourt Museum yesterday in Limerick.

The house is supposed to be an exact replica of the home on Roden Lane that McCourt and his family occupied. However, this one is located on Harsonge Street, just yards away from the original. It also used to be the school, Leamy’s School, that McCourt and his brothers attended during their youth.

The museum was opened by Una Heaton with her husband, John. Una told the Irish Examiner that "This great project has been a passion with me and John."

McCourt wrote "Angela’s Ashes" in 1996, as a memoir of his childhood in Brooklyn, New York and Limerick, Ireland. While audiences were captivated with his in-depth details of poverty, alcoholism, and the struggles of everyday life, the book received mixed reviews in Limerick.

Malachy McCourt, Frank's brother, told the Irish Examiner: "Some people felt Frank’s book brought disgrace to Limerick. But that is the old axiom that the prophet is without honor in his own time; it also applies in Limerick. But the thing to do is not to come back once, don’t speak honorably once. Keep at keep coming back and then you’ll be honored. They will get used to you."

McCourt won the Pulitzer Prize for “Biography or Autobiography,” a title that his brother Malachy said Frank relished because he "always wanted to be known as a teacher, not as a writer or a celebrity.” He adds that his brother would have loved the museum for similar reasons.

"What he would like is that no child would be deprived of words, education, the pursuit of the path of discovery that children have, the beauty of language — and that is what he would he like his legacy to be."

Perhaps only a trained eye, one who had actually grown up in the house, would spy the only mistake in trying to replicate their childhood home: the peeling flaky wallpaper. Malachy McCourt, Frank’s brother, contests that "We had no wallpaper. The walls were covered in something they called blue wash.”

New scheme helps U.S. kids learn about Ireland first hand 

Irish entrepreneur, Brendan Sheehan, has created an innovative and unique spin for people who want to get in touch with their Irish roots. The site is

Sheehan is the Managing Director of Irish Home Stays, a business that provides a one of a kind experience for children 12-16 years of age who are looking to learn and experience the beauty of Ireland.

The company has many years of experience hosting students from all over the world and educating them about the history, mythology, language and cuisine of Ireland.

Their goal is to have the child learn about how the country was first founded and the fun and diverse world of Irish Mythology, understand and speak basic Irish lingo, as well as be able to prepare authentic Irish cuisine, by the time their stay is over.

“We are the only IRISH owned dedicated company providing Cultural Homestay programs of this kind,” reads the company’s website.

The program offers a new form of vacation in which children will stay in a rural environment with Irish families—who have received Garda (Irish Police) Clearance—and experience everything from educational two-hours a day courses, to visits to some of Ireland’s most popular destinations.

There is a core group of 20 families and the students are placed into a family that is specifically tailored to fit the child’s wants and needs. The program promises student safety in a “cocooned environment” which means they will be under an adult’s supervision at all times.

Polar bears descended from Irish brown bears

The Arctic's dwindling population of polar bears all descend from a single mama brown bear which lived 20,000 to 50,000 years ago in present-day Ireland, according to a new study.

DNA samples from the great white carnivores - taken from across their entire range in Russia, Canada, Greenland, Norway and Alaska - revealed that every individual's lineage could be traced back to this Irish forebear.

The analysis of genetic material inherited only through females also showed that brown and polar bears mated periodically over the last 100,000 years.

This raises the possibility that such cross-species mingling - thought by some scientists to be an additional threat to polar bears already struggling to cope with climate change - played a positive role in their recent evolution, the researchers said.

'Hybridization could certainly result in the loss of unique genetic sequences, which could push them toward extinction,' said Beth Shapiro, a professor at Pennsylvania State University and lead researcher for the study.

'But scientists should reconsider conservation efforts focused not just on polar bears but also on hybrids, since hybrids may play an under appreciated role in the survival of certain species.'

Several 'pizzlies' - a cross between a grizzly and a polar bear - have been spotted in recent years as the Arctic species has been pushed outside its familiar habitat by mounting temperatures and melting ice.

The fierce predators use the edge of the ice cap as a staging area to stalk seals, their preferred food.

Global warming has hit the Arctic two or three times harder than other parts of the planet, redesigning the environment in which dozens of terrestrial and marine mammals live.

Based on DNA and fossil evidence, it has long been known that polar bears - Ursus maritimus - branched off from the larger family of brown bears about 150,000 years ago.

But whether the subsequent inter-species mating was incidental or whether it fundamentally shaped the animal's gene pool was unknown.

To delve deeper, an international team of scientists led by Ms Shapiro analysed mitochondrial DNA in 242 ancient and living brown and polar bears.

Mitochondrial DNA are part of cells with their own DNA that are passed exclusively from females to offspring, in this case from mother bear to cub.

'We found that the matrilines of the polar bears coalesce to a relatively recent common ancestor' that once lived along Ireland's Atlantic shore, said Daniel Bradley, a professor at Trinity College in Dublin and a co-author of the study.

Previous research had traced the earliest female brown bear ancestor for modern polar bears back 14,000 years to the Alaskan ABC islands.

The new findings, published in the journal Current Biology, not only change the location but push back the date an additional 6,000 to 36,000 years.

Only by comparing the more recent maternal genetic lineage with core DNA formed by both male and female parents were researchers able to pinpoint the brown bear ancestor.

'The nuclear DNA goes back much farther, and probably emerges from a common ancestor with brown bears earlier than 500,000 years ago,' explained Ms Shapiro in an email.

'It is exactly this difference - between the very recent common ancestor along the maternal line and the much older common ancestor in the other genomic DNA - that makes it possible to infer that all living polar bears are descended from a brown bear that lived more recently,' she said.

In order to discern this pattern, there had to have been occasional mating after the two species split, she added.

Because they evolved in separate environments, neither species could survive long in the other's ecological niche due to different body shapes, metabolism and hunting habits.

Polar bears, for example, are expert swimmers, whereas brown bears are more adept at climbing.

There are currently 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears left in the wild, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).







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Ireland are set to take on the USA on 11 September in New Plymouth, New Zealand. However they will be without out-half Ronan O’Gara who is facing a race against time to be fit for the World Cup after tearing his calf in pre-season training. Having tore his calf a couple of weeks ago, the 34-year old Munster man, and arguably one of the world’s top players, is confident that he will be in the frame later in the competition. 

Ireland will also compete against Australia, Russia and Italy in the competition which takes place every 4 years. England have been drawn against Argentina, Georgia, Romania and Scotland. Ireland, England and the US are expected to make it out of their groups and into the Quarter Final stages.

The final will be contested in Aukland New Zealand on the 23rd of October.



If you are interested in becoming a Host Family for the Wider Horizons Program in 2011, please contact Robert Tierney at or phone (412) 394-3900.





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Our Mission:





Help the Institute:


September 9-11, 2011


21st Annual PIttsburgh Irish Festival at Riverplex, Sandcastle. Call or text 412-422-1113 for more information.


Fri 4pm-12 mid, Sat 11am-12 mid, Sun 9am-6pm

Adult - $12 at the door/$10advance
Child - 12 and under free
Senior/Student - $8 with ID
Friday 4pm-6pm $3 admission!

2011 Entertainment Line-up
Gaelic Storm
Makem and Spain Brothers
Screaming Orphans
Carbon Leaf
Tom Sweeney
David Kincaid
Colin Grant Band
Dennis Doyle 
Cahal Dunne
Alan Irvine
Bell School of Irish Dance
Burke-Conroy School of Irish Dance
Corned Beef and Curry
Guaranteed Irish
Mark Guiser
Matthew Craig and Kerry Tipper
Mike Gallagher
Patrick Regan
Pittsburgh Irish Reelers
Pittsburgh Police Pipes and Drums
Red Hand Paddy
Shovlin Academy of Irish Dance
Terry Griffith
and more to be announced!!

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 Gaelic Athletic Association (PGAA)

- a representative organization of the Pittsburgh Celtics, Pittsburgh Banshees, and Pittsburgh Celtics Youth



Pittsburgh Hurling Club (PHC)

-a representative organization of the Pittsburgh Pucas

Open Practices: Tuesdays @ 5:30pm, Frick Park



Pittsburgh Irish Rowing Club (PIRC)




Become a regular at these local programs!

 The Echoes of Erin is marking its 22nd year!  It airs every Sunday afternoon at 12:30-2:00p.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


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 -

Michael Murphy & TSRB

Na Gaels  -

Jack Puskar  -  

Red Hand Paddy  -

Rolling Scones  -

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 such as event tickets etc. that we can then distribute to our participants.


For further information or questions about how you can donate, please contact us at 412-394-3900.


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