The Common Ground

Vol. VIII, Issue 5


May 2010



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                                                IIP NEWS

The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh's Northern Ireland - Pittsburgh Sustainable Leadership Program is about to launch! Over the last few months we have been in contact with various employers in the Pittsburgh area. The program centers around the Green/Renewable energy sector and will see 12 graduates from Northern Ireland spend a year in our region. We still have a number of placements to fill - so if you know anyone working in this sector, please have them give us a call. Thanks to all those employers in Pittsburgh who have already considered this innovative program. Stay tuned!


Ireland Institute Hosts a Partnership from Newry, Northern Ireland


The Creating Space program, developed and delivered by Sticky Fingers, Newry and Mourne District Council and Milligan Reside Larkin Architects, was presented at the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children world conference on May 15th, hosted by the University of Pittsburgh’s Early Childhood Department and the Council for Culture and the Arts. The PAEYC conference, “Creativity; Where the Future Begins” was a great opportunity for the collaborative group to showcase Creating Space to an international audience as a model of excellence in creative development.

The Creating Space Programme

In 2007, Sticky Fingers joined forces with Newry and Mourne District Council to explore ways of improving access to creative experiences for Newry communities, especially the city’s children and young people. A partnership between Sticky Fingers and the Council was formed and the Creating Space program was developed, not with the traditional department responsible for the arts but with the Council’s technical team, consisting of engineers, gardeners and general workers. In combining and sharing the widely varied skills and knowledge of the Council staff with the vision of our artists as a creative team, the possibilities have been endless.

The working model of the Creating Space program demonstrates how artists can work alongside council gardeners, engineers and general workers to build new parks and creative play areas throughout the city. Together, as a team, they plan and facilitate creative opportunities for children to engage in the consultation and design of new spaces. The team engages directly with children across communities in formal and informal educational settings to transform derelict land throughout the city. Looking creatively and collectively at these spaces, they transform them using their imagination and the skills unique to each partner group.

The Creating Space program is all about play. Play is a crucial element in supporting children’s health, development and well-being and it is a means through which they experiment, develop their abilities, get creative and explore the world around them. The relationship between the facilitators and the children is constantly centered on the needs of the child and the creative play process is always much more important than an end product.

Conor Haughey, Parks and Grounds Officer, Newry and Mourne District Council said “This partnership is an unusual marriage, as we are not artists or designers, and we are very much set in a way of working from the traditional perspective of council engineers; working with a very directed outcome in an environment where the end product is clearly defined and where we measure the success of a project on that end result. Taking the simple pencil drawings of young children and using them as planting lines in the town flower beds and roadsides is something that we would have never considered in the past, but we now realize that within these simple mark makings are hidden stories, personalities and an abundance of imagination - something that we now know to be very valuable, something that can greatly enhance our own work, open our eyes to new possibility and the ability to think outside the box.”

Today, as a result of the Creating Space program, Newry city has a number of art parks and living arts exhibition areas both completed and in development. Even though the program targets areas with high levels of anti-social behavior, the spaces transformed by the children have never been vandalized or disturbed in any way despite having delicate artwork within easy reach. Like the children who help with design, planting and sculptures, the Creating Space parks grow with the changing seasons; they become living exhibition spaces where children continue to bring their artwork and plants, taking ownership of the space and creating a sense of belonging and pride.

The newly created, transformed spaces are permanent and open to the general public to enjoy and, through their development, Newry’s children are introduced to a whole new world of possibility, where their creative thoughts, dreams, ideas and opinions are acknowledged by their communities.

Creating Partnerships, Creating Change: The Creative Development Team

Following the success of the Creating Space program a positive ripple effect was carried throughout Newry. Interest was soon expressed from the business community and in May 2009, Newry and Mourne District Council, Milligan Reside Larkin Architects and Sticky Fingers collectively established the Creative Development Team. As a team, artists, horticultural staff and architects began working under the shared direction of the Parks and Grounds Officer of the Council, the Artistic Director of Sticky Fingers and a Director of Milligan Reside Larkin Architects. This team is now made up of an eclectic mix of people who engage in the Creating Space process by working directly with children in schools and on site. The Creative Development Team and the children then work collectively on the development and design of projects, transforming waste and derelict ground into magical wonderlands. The Creating Space process soon spread to other aspects of the team leaders’ work and current projects now include the architectural development of new buildings, including shopping centers and hospitals.

The Creating Space program demonstrates the potential role of the arts sector in creative development within local government, business, community and education. The program has been a positive development in the lives of children in Newry. It has also been a positive influence on the gardeners, engineers, architects, teachers and artists involved, providing them with a unique insight into the value of engaging with our children. Those involved have gained new confidence in their professional roles, learnt new skills and seen first hand the creative achievements possible within their communities. These projects are unique in Northern Ireland and the UK in terms of the concepts, partnership arrangements and people involved. Right from the start, the importance of partnership has been paramount. The Creating Space concept of working together, pooling resources and sharing expertise is a sustainable way of ensuring that projects can continue and that children can be part of the dialogue and development of spaces created. Creating Space is an excellent example of statutory bodies working hand in hand with a local arts company, but more importantly it is an example of how local government can reach directly into communities and engage with the community’s most important members, the children, providing an opportunity for their ideas, their work and their voice to be used in the regeneration of the city.








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The Icelandic volcano which has been disrupting air traffic for more than a month is showing a marked drop in activity, new measurements suggest. 

Experts say the temperature in Eyjafjallajokull's crater appears to have fallen to 100C, meaning it is now producing steam, not magma.

But officials warned that it was too early to say whether the eruption was over completely. 

Ash clouds from the volcano grounded thousands of flights last month in Ireland and the rest of Northern Europe.

Magnus Gudmundsson, of Iceland University, flew over the volcano on Sunday and said evidence from heat cameras indicated the temperatures at the crater had fallen below 100C. 

But he also said that nothing was guaranteed and that the previous eruption at the volcano had lasted 13 months, from 1821-23. 

"It stopped and started again several times with different intervals, so it's difficult to say, difficult to give a timeline," he said. 

He also said it was impossible to say whether the neighboring Katla volcano - a much larger mountain - might also erupt. 

At the height of its activity, the volcano sent out huge clouds of ash, which led to airlines grounding their planes for fear it could interfere with jet engines. 

It was the biggest shutdown of airspace in Europe since World War II, and affected at least 10 million passengers worldwide.

Volcanic climate change? Not Likely Says Experts

Watching the enormous plumes of dust and ash rising from Eyjafjallajokull, it is hard to imagine that this almost week-long eruption would not have any effect on weather and climate.

But that is the likelihood; that the impact on Irish, Europeans and the citizens of the wider world will be limited to cancelled flights, with no other effects on the skies. 

Volcanoes produce tiny particles - aerosols - which have a net cooling effect on the world because they reflect solar energy back into space.

They also produce carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. 

Historically, the cooling has outweighed the warming. The 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in The Philippines lowered global temperatures by about 0.4-0.5C - but Eyjafjallajokull, dramatic as it looks, is simply not in that league. 

"Icelandic scientists have made a first estimate of the volume of material ejected, and it's about 140 million cubic metres," says Mike Burton from Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology.

"That's a lot in five days; but Pinatubo ejected 10 cubic kilometres - that's 100 times as much. 

"So this is not the big climate changing eruption that some people seem to think it is." 

As well as the sheer volume of aerosols, the other factor influencing the size of its climatic impact is the altitude they attain. 

If material reaches the stratosphere, it can remain aloft for several years; but if it stays in the troposphere, the lowest layer, it tends to come back to Earth in days or weeks. 

"At the moment, the eruption cloud reaches around 22,000 feet (7km)," says Anja Schmidt from the School of Earth and Environment at the UK's Leeds University. 

"That's high enough to affect aviation but is unlikely to be high enough to have a strong effect on the climate system." 




Democratic Unionist Party leader Peter Robinson has lost his Westminster seat to Lord Mayor of Belfast Naomi Long of the Alliance Party.


Ms. Long received 12,839 votes, while Mr. Robinson received 11,306 in the Belfast East constituency.


The seismic result, which represented a 22.9% swing in support, comes in the wake of a series of damaging revelations about both the DUP leader and his wife Iris.


Mr. Robinson remained in his role as Northern Ireland First Minister in the wake of the scandals, insisting he had done nothing wrong.


However, the loss of a seat he has held since 1979 will cast doubt whether he can survive as First Minister and leader of the party.


In the wake of the result, which saw his 6,000 majority turned into a 1,500 vote reverse, he vowed to fight on.


'I have a job to complete with my mandate at the Assembly and I will continue to carry out that important work.'


Ms. Long, whose win secured the cross-community Alliance party's first ever Westminster seat, thanked the voters for backing her.


'I went to the electorate with a track record of hard work with a passion for east Belfast where I have lived in my whole life and with a dedication to serve them in an open and transparent way and give them my best and to build a better future for everyone in east Belfast.'


She trailed in third in the 2005 poll, more than 11,000 votes behind Mr. Robinson.


Reacting to the East Belfast result, Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness described it 'as a major shock' and a dramatic development.


He said he would work with Mr. Robinson up until the next Assembly election.


Taoiseach Brian Cowen welcomed indications that the former East Belfast MP is willing to stay on in the post.


Speaking in Dublin this afternoon, Mr. Cowen said he had been in touch to commiserate with Mr. Robinson on the loss of his seat.


He said the formation of a government was exclusively a matter for the parties at Westminster and he insisted he would be willing to work with whoever emerged as Prime Minister.




Dissident republicans remain highly active and dangerous, according to the Independent Monitoring Commission.


It said the threat was "very serious" but they were not able to mount a campaign like the Provisional IRA.


Its latest assessment of paramilitary activity covers from 1 September last year to the end of February 2010.


It reflects recent police warnings that the threat remains severe, and that dissidents have improved their bomb-making abilities.


Dissidents have been responsible for a number of attacks in Northern Ireland this year, including bombs at Newtownhamilton police station and Palace Barracks in Holywood. 

The commissioners said the Real and Continuity IRA were continuing to recruit and train members, acquire weapons and target potential victims, with police officers the main focus of their activities.


But the report added there is no evidence to suggest a reappearance of something comparable to the Provisional IRA's campaign of violence.


In its 23rd report issued to the British and Irish governments, the IMC said mainstream organizations continued to follow a peaceful path.


The commission said dissidents lacked significant local or international support, and did not have comparable resources in terms of personnel, money, organization and cohesion, or range of weaponry and expertise.




"In particular, the range and nature of RIRA's (Real IRA) activities in the six months under review were, by any yardstick, a very serious matter," said the IMC report.


"However it is important to point out that this is in no way a reappearance of something comparable to the PIRA (Provisional IRA) campaign."


The report noted that former members of the Provisional IRA were helping dissident groups, but said this was on an ad-hoc basis by a small number of people.


The IMC said that while members of dissident groups were co-operating, it did not believe the organizations had managed to come together to form a united front.


In its previous report, the IMC said some former members of the Provisional IRA were assisting dissident groups by providing technical expertise.


Commenting on the report, Secretary of State Owen Paterson said that the report "has acknowledged the very real and serious threat from dissident republicans".


Mr. Paterson said: "The IMC report that the criminal justice system offers a potent response to paramilitaries, particularly now it is owned by and accountable to the people of Northern Ireland."




Ireland officially recorded the biggest government deficit in the EU last year.


Revised figures, published today by the EU's statistical agency, Eurostat, show Ireland's deficit for 2009 at 14.3% of Gross Domestic Product - higher than Greece at 13.6% and Britain's 11.5%.


Public debt stood at 64% of GDP.


Until now, the Government deficit has been shown at 11.8% of GDP, but Eurostat and the Government have agreed that the €4bn injected into Anglo Irish Bank can no longer be regarded as a financial investment, but must be recorded as capital spending.


The €4bn spent on Anglo was equivalent to 2.5% of GDP.


Today's change is a technical revision. It does not involve any new borrowing or spending.


Overall the euro zone deficit level rose to 6.8%, which is more than double the level permitted under the Maastricht guidelines governing the single currency.


The cost to the State of borrowing money has risen on international markets to 4.73%.


Responding to the figures, Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan said Ireland's plan is on track to bring the budget deficit in line with EU rules by 2014, despite a sharp upward revision of its 2009 budget deficit.


'There is no additional borrowing associated with this technical reclassification,' he said in a statement. 'This is a once-off impact.'


Fine Gael Finance Spokesperson Richard Bruton said the revised figures meant Ireland now had the highest borrowing of any state in the EU.


He described Mr Lenihan's comments as 'nonsense' and said the measurement showed the Government would have to raise taxes or cut expenditure in future budgets.


National debt to rise


Meanwhile, the national debt is expected to rise to €94bn by the end of this year and to €112bn by the end of 2011, from just over €50bn at the end of 2008, the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee has been told today.


Chief Executive of the National Treasury Management Agency John Corrigan said the cost of servicing the national debt this year will be about €5bn.


He also confirmed that the State can borrow money on the international markets at a much lower rate than countries like Greece.


He said yesterday Ireland only had to pay 4.6% for funds, compared to the 8% that Greece is paying.


Mr. Corrigan also said about 14% of all taxes collected this year will go to pay for the national debt.








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RTÉ broadcaster Gerry Ryan has died at the age of 53.


Gardaí say Mr. Ryan was found dead at his apartment on Upper Lesson Street in Dublin at around 1pm this afternoon.


They are investigating the circumstances of his death.


Mr. Ryan joined RTÉ in 1979 and presented the radio program 'The Gerry Ryan Show' and television programs such as 'Operation Transformation' and 'Ryan Confidential'.


He is survived by his five children and his wife, Morah, from whom he was separated.


Gerry began his career as a broadcaster in pirate radio.


When 2FM was launched in 1979, Mr. Ryan joined the station as a DJ and he soon became part of their main night-time line-up.


The Gerry Ryan Show began in 1988.


Over the next 22 years his weekday talk program became one of the most listened to radio shows in Ireland.


In a statement, RTÉ said it had been asked by Mr. Ryan's family to say: 'Gerry Ryan died today. Morah and his children are in complete shock. Please respect their privacy at this time.'




President Mary McAleese has led the tributes to Gerry Ryan.


She said: 'Gerry was an extraordinarily talented broadcaster whose unique communication skills and larger than life persona entertained and enlivened a national audience over many years.


'His untimely death will be widely mourned, by his fellow colleagues at RTÉ and his many fans, but most especially by his family and friends who are in my thoughts and prayers.'


Taoiseach Brian Cowen has also expressed sadness at Mr. Ryan's death, saying he would be greatly missed.


He said Gerry Ryan was a tremendous broadcaster, both on radio and television, enormously popular and extremely able and talented.


Describing Gerry Ryan as forthright, articulate and intelligent, he said that he had brought a new style to broadcasting.


Mr. Cowen said that his lasting legacy would be the ability to be irreverent and witty while at the same time dealing with subjects seriously.


RTÉ Radio Managing Director Claire Duignan said Mr. Ryan was at the heart of RTÉ for over 20 years and he was a highly entertaining and larger-than-life broadcaster.


RTÉ's Dave Fanning said he was shocked at the death of his friend.


He described Gerry as the 'funniest man' he had ever met in his life and a wonderful family man.


Of Gerry Ryan's morning show on 2FM, Mr. Fanning said: 'Within two months of going on air in the day time, he was the biggest thing in Irish broadcasting.


'He took to it like a duck to water and more importantly the listeners took to him like a duck to water and to say he revolutionized broadcasting in Ireland would be a very small way of putting it.'


Dublin Lord Mayor Emer Costello has also paid tribute.


She said: 'I think he will be fondly remembered as one of the most colorful broadcasters in talk-radio and television in Ireland.'


The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland, the representative body for Ireland's independent commercial radio broadcasters, has also offered its condolences to the family of Gerry Ryan on the untimely death.


'A great voice has been lost to Irish radio and the entire industry is deeply saddened to lose one of Ireland's most professional broadcasters.'





Seven sites around the country, including the Burren and Tara, have been submitted by the Government to the UN as potential nominees to the World Heritage List.


It is expected their candidacy will be considered at a meeting in Brazil at the end of July.


Two Irish sites are already on the UN's World Heritage list. They are the prehistoric Brú na Bóinne complex of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth in Co. Meath and the seventh century monastic complex of Skellig Michael, 12km off the Co Kerry coast.


Citing their outstanding universal value, the Republic's Environment Minister John Gormley has now submitted what is called a tentative list of seven additional nominees to join that company, following recommendations from an expert advisory group.


The seven sites are the Burren, Céide Fields and Mayo Boglands, the monastic city of Clonmacnoise, Georgian Dublin and its Literary Tradition, early medieval monastic sites like Durrow, Glendalough, Kells and Monasterboice, royal sites like Cashel and Tara and the Western Stone Forts.


Minister Gormley added that stakeholders here would be consulted before anything would be finalized.




Scientists at a Cork research center claim they may have found a better way of treating cancer than chemotherapy, instead using bacteria commonly found in pro-biotic yoghurt.


Their breakthrough has been hailed as being at the cutting-edge of science by an international expert in the treatment of cancer.


The Cork Cancer Research Center was set up ten years ago to develop treatments for secondary cancer and scientists there say they have found that bacteria commonly found in pro-biotic yogurt can carry cancer-killing genes from the gut to grow inside cancerous tumors elsewhere in the body, where they pump out anti-cancer agents as they grow.


The researchers are also confident that this treatment will be safer and more effective than existing treatments.


The treatment is now expected to move to clinical trials and could be in regular use within five to ten years.


Cancer is the single biggest killer in Ireland, claiming around 8,000 lives every year.







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The Republic of Ireland may not have made it all the way to the FIFA World Cup Finals, but Mullaney's Harp & Fiddle on Penn Avenue in The Strip will bring you all the action from South Africa this summer.  From the opening ceremony, and the first game of the tournament where hosts South Africa face Mexico, on 11 June to the final on 11 July you won't miss a kick of the ball at The Harp.


For more information on game times and the kick-off celebration on Friday and Saturday, June 11th and 12th,  log-onto The Harp's website at




If you are interested in becoming a Host Family for the Wider Horizons Program in 2010, please contact Robert Tierney at or phone (412) 394-3900.





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Our Mission:





Help the Institute:


Wednesday, June 2

North Sea Gas - Direct from Scotland, will perform in Concert at The Thunderbird Cafe in Lawrenceville. They are "One of Scotland's most popular folk bands with great vocals and tremendous three-part harmonies. Guitars, mandolin, fiddle, bouzouki, whistles, bodhrans, banjo and good humor are all part of the entertainment.  They have received Gold and Silver disc awards from the Scottish Music Industry Association and regularly have sold out shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe!" As (2007) enthuses. Pittsburgh's Irish traditional music super group Hooley opens at 8pm.  Tickets are $15 at the door and $12 in advance (no processing fee if ordered through Hooley directly).


Saturday, June 5

Irish Festival at McDowell Hall at Epiphany Church, 1018 Centre Ave., Uptown, 'An Irish Festival' beginning at Noon to 5pm with arts, crafts & food, Irish Mass at 6pm followed by a Concert at 7:30pm with Mike Gallagher, Bruce Foley, Charles Heaton, Janet Witman, Robert Pegritz, Roseanna Louie plus more.  Information 412-758-5446. Proceeds Benefit The Epiphany.


Sunday, June 6

Pittsburgh Celtics Gaelic Football Club at Founders Field - Youth Football Clinic, new players age 8-12; Celtics and Banshees vs. Cleveland St.Pat's.


Friday June 11 through July 11

Mullaney's Harp and Fiddle, 2329 Penn Ave., in The Strip, 412-642-6622 will be "Home for The World Cup,' a big kick-off celebration is planned for Friday and Saturday nights.


Wednesday, June 16

Bloomsday in Pittsburgh. Readings around the city.


Saturday, June 19

A.O.H Division 4's "Day of Irish Entertainment" at The Croatian Center/Schitzen Park beginning at Noon.  Entertainment with Michael Murphy & The Shannon River Band and the Tullamore Celtic Band from Rochester, NY; Irish Dancing with the Bell School of Dance.  Children's activities & Raffles. Food available for purchase.


Saturday, June 26

A.O.H. Allegheny County Board presents "Let's Dance!" featuring The Mansfield 5; Opening doors with Don Obusek's tribute to 'The Magic of Elvis.' Castle Shannon Fire Hall, 3800 Library Road; Doors open at 6:30pm; Show starts at 7:30pm. Donation $20.00, includes snacks and refreshments. Limited Seating. Information & Tickets, Rich O'Malley 412-401-3945


Wednesday, July 7

Kennywood Park - Mark your calendars for our annual Irish Day at Kennywood.  Tickets will be available for $22 (ride all day passes) or $12 for a senior pass (I.D. required).  Order your Kennywood tickets at Or if you prefer, you can call 412-343-5461 or 724-864-2228 and get your tickets in the mail as years past.



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 Gaelic Athletic Association (PGAA)

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


Pittsburgh Hurling Club (PHC)


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.