Read about the devolved government


The Common Ground

Vol. V, Issue 5


      May 2007



                 News Updates






letter from the editor 

The Devil you don't know

For years countless individuals and organizations have worked tirelessly for peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Their common mission to bring mutual understanding to Catholic and Protestant traditions is now being recognized as a model for peace for other conflicted regions of the world. The concept for reconciliation is simple but the will to achieve it is the challenge that faces community workers on either side of any conflict.

Sectarian conflict is not brought on by cultural differences. It is borne out of ignorance and prejudice as to the meaning and interpretation of those differences. Learning about another person or group or culture takes time and energy. In divided communities it is easier to find fault, lay blame, and demonize the other side, suggesting that his values are not in tact. Her religion is not complete. Their ways are inhumane.

In Northern Ireland generations have grown up listening to elders berate their neighboring communities, teaching them to hate. Many young people on Ireland Institute programs, both Catholic and Protestant, have reported that the Pittsburgh experience was their first opportunity to meet, speak with, and learn about the other tradition.

What happens on these programs? Is it some kind of magic or sophisticated reprogramming that makes these young people suddenly realize that the person from the other side is not different? No!

The transformation is the result of applying a basic concept: humanizing the enemy. When two people meet for the first time there is an immediate apprehension in which differences are recognized, processed, and assimilated. We may say to ourselves:

"He's tall. She's fat. He's black. She has a foreign accent. She's wearing a burka. That's a Holy Cross school uniform."

But during a normal introductory conversation, we soon find ourselves learning more about this other human being with whom we find some common goals and interests.

"I work in your building. That's a great neighborhood. You went to school with a friend of mine. Do you think they'll sign Faneca?"

Young people growing up in divided societies do not have these conversations with members of the other community. They live among their own kind, insulated, defensive, relying on community leaders who retain their own authority by maintaining the status quo.

Community workers in Northern Ireland spent years trying to break down the barriers between communities. They angered many. They took risks. Some were killed. Many were injured. But the risks paid off.

Northern Ireland was transformed, one conversation at a time, from a divided society where the Godless other was avoided at all cost, to an increasingly integrated cosmopolitan community, where the enemy was made flesh and now dwells among them.

This is the work of the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh, its staff, volunteers, host families, mentors, and donors: humanizing the enemy.

Jim Lamb


Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh


This month, we continue our series about Pittsburgh's Irish Organization with profiles of the area's Irish stores.

 In our Letter from the Editor section, Jim Lamb, comments on the difficulties and successes of the peace process.

We also have news about Northern Ireland's latest fitness craze!


There's no shortage of Irish events to attend this weekend - see our events section.



In addition to the many Irish organizations in the Pittsburgh area, we also have four stores that carry Irish merchandise.

The Irish Design Center, located on South Craig Street in Oakland, specializes in handmade blankets and clothing, especially knitwear, as well as pottery, glass, and metal decorative objects and gifts imported from Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. Some of their products are available for sale online; however, they offer a greater range of products in their store.  Paul Carey, originally from Dublin, opened the store 30 years ago.  He says the store’s focus is on bringing over high-quality merchandise made in Ireland, rather than what looks stereotypically Irish.


Located in the Freighthouse Shops at Station Square, St. Brendan’s Crossing offers a range of merchandise including clothing, Waterford crystal, pottery, jewelry, and Guinness products, as well as wedding and children’s items.  Elaine Manning founded the store in 1978, one of the first to sign a lease on the then-newly renovated Freight House Shops at Station Square.  Named after an Irish monk’s legendary voyage across the Atlantic in the 6th century, St. Brendan’s Crossing also honors the renovated P&LE Railroad crossing.


The Celtic Collection, on Lincoln Avenue in Bellevue, truly provides a collection of Celtic-related services.  In addition to offering merchandise from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, they also teach music, Scottish Highland Dancing, Middle-Age weaponry, and other classes.  They bring in local Celtic performers as well as helping people to find their coat of arms or pick the right kilt online.  They are planning an art show featuring local artists who create Celtic-inspired artwork displaying their works for sale.  They maintain a list of musicians and help couples plan certain aspects of their Celtic-themed weddings.  “We’re more than a store,” says owner Susan Shegog, “We want to help people understand their heritage.”


On Washington Street in Mount Lebanon, The Celtic Cross sells jewelry, gifts, casual clothing, books, music, teas, and candy imported from Ireland and the United Kingdom.  It also offers kilt rental and custom framing services.  It has also partnered with CIE Tours International to offer group tours of Ireland with Irish breakfast and dinner, as well as tour guides and bus service.


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

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











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DUP leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness took the pledges of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in the historic return to devolved government on May 8th.  Ten ministers were appointed in the power-sharing executive, which had been suspended since October 2007.

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, and the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, were among the guests witness to what Mr. McGuinness called the most important leap forward for the North in 15 years.

Dignitaries from both sides of the Atlantic hailed the event as a first step down the road to peace and prosperity.  President Mary McAleese was hopeful that the new government would help to create a fair and just society after years of pain, sectarianism, and conflict.  U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton praised the Northern Ireland peace process as a model for diplomacy around the world, informing her own vision of U.S. foreign policy.   Describing Ireland as “one of the most successful and dynamic countries in Europe,” Tony Blair said that he was proud of what had been done and the relationship that was now in place between Ireland and the UK. 


The Republic of Ireland will hold a general election on  24th May. 

Candidates will canvass non-stop between now and election day as the campaign enters its final week.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will be canvassing in Cork, while this weeks Fianna Fáil news conference in Dublin will focus on tax with Ministers Brian Cowen, Mary Hanafin and Martin Cullen.

Fine Gael will be focusing on pre-school education with Enda Kenny visiting a creche in Buncrana, while Labour leader Pat Rabbitte will also concentrate on education policy with a visit to a school in west Dublin.

Progressive Democrats leader Michael McDowell is canvassing in Wexford, while Mary Harney will deliver a speech in Dublin on the economic choice facing the electorate.

The Greens are looking at planning and development while party leader Trevor Sargent campaigns in Cork and Kilkenny.

Sinn Féin publishes a manifesto on the Irish language in the Clondalkin neighbourhood of Dublin.

Recent polls suggest a very tight outcome, with no proposed incoming coalition having a clear lead. The new Dáil will meet for the first time on 14th June.


As the European Commission considers proposals that could lead to some harmonization of corporate taxes across the European Union, Fianna Fail is vowing to do all it can to block any proposals that might force Ireland to increase corporation tax rates. According to Finance Minister Brian Cowen, an increase could have catastrophic results for Ireland’s economy.  Ireland's rate of 12.5% has been credited with attracting billions of euros in foreign investment as one of the lowest rates of corporation taxation in the EU.  Mr. Cowen said a low corporation tax was fundamental to Ireland's economic success and the matter should be a major issue in the forthcoming election.


When he was born, doctors told Alan Doherty’s parents that it was unlikely he would survive.  Now, at 17, this youth from Co. Donegal has more hope than ever.  Alan was born with a rare maxillofacial disorder, never developing a lower chin.  He breathes through a tube in his throat and uses a keyboard to communicate.  After winning five gold medals, five silver, and a bronze medal in last summer’s New York State Games for the Physically Disabled, Alan met US businessman Bill Broadwick, who introduced him to a specialist at the Sinai Center in Manhattan.  On June 11, surgeons will recreate a jaw in a groundbreaking procedure that will last 14 hours and require several follow-ups. 

Friends and family have an extensive fundraising network on both sides of the Atlantic to raise the €250,000 needed for the procedure.  Comedian Conal Gallen and professional golfer Paul McGinley are supporting the campaign, as well as Alan’s teachers and schoolmates at the Letterkenny Vocational School, who have organized a series of charity events including a soccer match and a remote control airplane show.  The surgery will make an unimaginable improvement to his life.











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Northern Ireland's newest fitness craze

Walkers with what look like ski poles have been spotted all over Northern Ireland.  Nordic Walking, the latest fitness phenomenon, has been growing in popularity, spurring Northern Health and Social Care Trust to train ten people as Nordic walking instructors.  The specialized form of walking is reputed to have health benefits for a wide range of ailments.  It “exercises the whole of your body, rather than just their legs,” says Nicola Browne, the Trust’s physical activity coordinator. By using very light sticks like ski poles, walkers engage their arms and torso.  The Northern Trust plans to start several sessions in Co. Antrim as a complement to the forty existing Walking for Health groups.


According to figures supplied to Labour TD Tommy Broughan, Ireland is now home to 150 diverse nationalities.  Immigrants from the Philippines topped the list with over 8,000 workers, followed by Indians and South Africans.  Former Soviet-bloc countries also have significant numbers of immigrants in Ireland, with the majority of those from the Ukraine, Russia, and Belaruse.   Workers from Pakistan, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Thailand, China, and Brazil also make up high percentages of the 54,430 from non-EU countries who secured work permits.


Poet Thomas Kinsella, who will be conferred with the Freedom of Dublin City later this month, will be given a tribute at the 2007 Dublin Writers’ Festival, which will take place from the 13th to the 17th of June.  Nearly 30 writers, poets, and journalists will be a part of the program.  The readings, lectures and panel discussions will take on topics such as war reporting, the relevance of God, and the impact of immigration on “Ireland of the Welcomes.” 

Among those participating will be Adrienne Rich, one of the key American poets of the past 50 years, Canadian novelists Alastair MacLeod and Timothy Taylor, Meg Roscoff, Derek Landy, Chinese writer Xiaolu Guo, Scottish poet Jackie Kay and Nell McCafferty.

Life during war and conflict will be discussed by BBC award winning Baghdad correspondent, now al-Jazeera International anchor, Rageh Omaar; Janine di Giovanni, who was a major reporter of the Balkan war; and Kevin Myers, who covered Northern Ireland throughout the 1970s.  Other events will feature Joseph O'Connor, Claire Kilroy, Lionel Shriver, Iain Sinclair and Ross O'Carroll Kelly.

More information is available at


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 will arrive in Pittsburgh to participate in our Wider Horizons program.  Both groups from Monaghan & Armagh and Tyrone & Donegal will  receive on-the-job training, personal development, exposure to American culture, and new insights into the problems at home through conflict resolution.  After their program the 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 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.

The group from Monaghan & Armagh arrived on May 3rd and is doing well.  If you see them around the city, be sure to say hi!  

The second group will be here from July 2nd - August 30th and will be in need of host families. Call 412.394.3900 for more information.






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Team Ireland took the silver medal at the recent Ice Hockey World Championships  and earned promotion to Division Two after scoring a dramatic penalty shootout victory over Luxembourg at the Dundalk Ice Dome.

Having trailed 3-1, Ireland staged a stunning recovery to tie the match at 3-3 and force extra-time, with Robert Leckey, Mark Morrison and Trevor Kennedy scoring for the hosts.

Neither side managed to find the net in added time and the game was decided by Ireland's Man of the Tournament Mark Morrison, who was the only one of six players to find the net in the penalty shootout.

Ireland will now compete against the likes of Iceland, Croatia and Mexico

















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Our Mission:


Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre – ‘Stuff Happens’ May 10 - June 2; ‘Hedda Gabbler’, June 14 - 30; ‘The Lieutenant of Inishmore’ , July 12 – Aug 4; ‘Private Lives’, Aug 16 – Sep 9; ‘Pride & Prejudice’ Dec. 6-22.  Performances at the Charity Randal Theatre in the Stephen Foster Memorial.  Info; PICT 412.561.6000. Tickets  or 412.394.3353.

AOH PA State President’s Dinner in honor of Jim Green, Holiday Inn, Greentree.  Mass at 5:00 pm, Open Bar 6:00 pm, Dinner 7:00 pm.  Glenn Cannon, Master of Ceremonies.  Entertainment The Mansfield Five.  Information & Reservations: John McElvoy 412.431.7196, Email:                                             Saturday, May 19th

Gaelic Arts Society of Pittsburgh is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Irish Nationality Room at the University of Pittsburgh, William Pitt Student Union Ballroom. Information: Regis O’Malley 412.884.2060.  Reception 4pm, Banquet 5pm, Guest Speaker from Ireland. See photo tour at                                           Saturday, May 19th

The All Ireland Athletic Club’s Spring Dance with Matt Cunningham’s Irish Ceili Band, 8:00 pm, at the VFW, East Pittsburgh.  Tickets – Joan Connolly 412.373.7252 or Nellie Mannion 412.362.1963.                                                    Saturday, May 19th

The Irish Centre of Pittsburgh is hosting ‘A Taste of Ireland’ featuring Smithwick’s.  Live music, $12 Members, $15 non-Members. Entertainment with Ballad Singer, Terry Griffith Information: Mac at 412.951.7068 or Email:                                          Saturday, May 19th

Pittsburgh Celtics & Pittsburgh Banshees Gaelic Football at Founders Field in Indianola, Pa. (off Route 28 North & 910 in Harmarville) for Family Co-Ed Sevens.  All day event. Info: Email: Banshees  Celtics:                                                     Saturday, May 26th

Gaelic Arts Society of Pittsburgh will sponsor an Irish High Tea at Epiphany Church’s McDowell Hall at 1:30 pm.  Reservation $12.00, mail check to Frances O’Malley, 3036 Duncan Lane, Pittsburgh PA 15236 by June 4, 2007.  Info 412.884.2060   Sunday, June 10th

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

This Sunday marks the 1,000th program of Echoes of Erin on WEDO. It will feature: The Ireland Report with Davy Kettyles, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh.  Telephone Interview with Pat Wilson in Belfast, Northern Ireland at the Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival.  

Congratulations Diane from all at the IIP!

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

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.