The Common Ground

Vol. VIII, Issue 10


October 2010



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.

You can now find us on Facebook! Go to and search Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh, and ‘become a fan’ to find out the latest news about our visitors or upcoming events.








A Message from our President James J. Lamb

“Investment portfolios?  Language classes?  Strategic Business Partnerships?  College Fairs?  Travel Services?  Who are you…and what did you do with my Institute?”


I have spoken and written for a long time about the gradual transformation of the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh.  This energetic group of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, serving Ireland’s disadvantaged young people, has managed, somehow, to keep its focus on that mission while diversifying its activity to such a degree, especially in the past few years, that you might not even recognize it anymore.


Today the Institute addresses the same issues in Ireland that led to its creation over twenty years ago.  Extremists on both sides of a sectarian divide, no matter how marginalized they may be now with the peace process and a working government, continue to threaten the greater society in the North.  And the entire island of Ireland is experiencing severe economic hardship. The Celtic Tiger that catapulted Ireland to the top of the economic tables ten years ago simply could not be sustained with foolish investments by banks, companies and individuals in over-valued property.  The government’s policies around those investments didn’t help matters either.


Suffice it to say we are still at least a generation away from true peace, justice, reconciliation, and economic growth on the island of Ireland.


What scares me is the capacity of this next generation to avail of opportunities toward civil society, education, careers, the economy, and global citizenship.  According to the last international survey, one in four or 25% of Irish adults have literacy difficulties. This compares with 3% in Sweden and 5% in Germany.  Last year, two out of three Leaving Cert students (Irish high school graduates) believed they did not have sufficient computer skills or were ready and able to take on jobs. And only one third thought the school system had boosted their self-confidence.  In the 1980s and 1990s Ireland was exporting thousands of bright, well educated young people who couldn’t find work at home.  They found great success when given opportunities for work in the US and around the world.  And the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh was one of  several organizations around the world facilitating placements and boosting careers.


In order to help today’s unemployed young people from Ireland, we have to take a multi-pronged approach.  It is not enough to simply offer placements for young people.  We have to engage US companies to look at hard business opportunities in Ireland that help their bottom lines.  We have to identify companies on both sides of the Atlantic that, when partnered, can improve their respective operations.    If we succeed, jobs are created in Ireland and in Pittsburgh.


We also have to develop the great resource locally that is the Irish Diaspora.  Thousands of Western Pennsylvanians declare Irish heritage every March 17th.  If we can engage them further toward their ancestry they can have a significant impact on Irish tourism, education, and the arts.  And that, too, can translate to jobs. 


We still believe that Ireland’s young people are worth fighting for.  Through education, training, job creation, placement and other support, better opportunities are available to more people on both sides of the Atlantic.  And we’re finding new, innovative, diverse ways of doing that. 


References for today's letter:'fail'%20to%20prepare%20students%20for%20life%20or%20work



Please submit your feedback to:  Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh * Regional Enterprise Tower

 * 425 Sixth Avenue, Suite 1410 * Pittsburgh, PA 15219 or

Call/fax our offices:  Telephone:  (412) 394-3900  * Fax:  (412) 394-0502

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




                                                IIP NEWS


Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh

In service to peace

The Irish Castle Vacation Prize Raffle


Ashford Castle – Galway       Dromoland Castle – Limerick         Clontarf Castle – Dublin


Return airfare for two - 6 nights accommodations - Car rental for 1 week


 Donation $20

Winning ticket will be drawn December 13, 2010 at The Harp & Fiddle, 2329 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh PA15222  

For more information, contact the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh at 412-394-3900

Cash or Check made payable to Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh

 Prize Subject to availability of dates. Allow three weeks for booking.

 Clontarf Castle Accommodation donated by Clontarf Castle

Car Rental courtesy of Dooley Car Rental


The Pittsburgh Foundation held a 24-hour Day of Giving on October 13, 2010.  The Ireland Institute will receive matching funds from the Pittsburgh Foundation for donations made to the IIP on that day.  The numbers aren't in yet, but we appreciate your continued support of the IIP's mission!









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Following an initiative launched at the Magee campus by the University of Ulster and the Public Record Office (PRO) of Northern Ireland this week, records declassified secret files on the early years of the Troubles have gone online.  Staff from the university have worked with the PRO to make the records freely available on the University of Ulster’s Conflict Archive on the Internet (CAIN) website.

The records cover a broad range of issues including security, politics and education.  They comprise a selection of material for the period 1968-79 which is already in the public domain, having been published under the 30-year rule — the timeframe within which official documents are kept hidden from public gaze. Those behind the initiative said that the records provide a valuable online digital resource for researchers looking for information on the Troubles and politics of Northern Ireland during this period.

The new archive was officially launched by Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, a former head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, at an event in the Great Hall, Magee. The records include part of the period when he was a senior Government official.


An Interpol-led international week of action brought €500,000 worth of tablets and capsules into the hands of the Irish Medicines Board, Customs and the gardaí.  Pat O' Mahony, Chief Executive of the Irish Medicines Board, said that the main products seized were mood stabilizers, weight loss products and products for erectile dysfunction.

The campaign targeted online sale of counterfeit and illegal medicines and brought down illegal websites, the electronic payment system and the delivery service.  Five websites were closed, one person arrested and investigations are ongoing. The IMB said the websites involved appeared professional and genuine but were an elaborate and potentially dangerous deception. Some of the weight loss products contained Sibutramine, which is banned in the European Union due to associated health risks. The IMB said that people who buy the medicines over the internet have no way of knowing what the products really contain and if they are damaging to health.

This international operation involved authorities from over 40 countries, with over 267,855 packages inspected by regulators and customs throughout the week-long international operation.  Over 1m tablets were seized and a total of 290 websites were shut down.


A €3.3m investment in Ireland's network of county and city enterprise boards could generate more than 450 jobs nationwide. These funds are in addition to €15m already provided this year.  The boards have been in increased demand since the economic downturn.

The country's network of 35 enterprise boards supports small businesses employing ten or less workers in the start-up and expansion phases. They provide business development grants, training and mentoring to small firms.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen said the extra money announced today would support new business projects this year and create hundreds of jobs.

“The CEB's local focus and agile ability to respond quickly to specific business needs are key components in the Government's overall policy to support entrepreneurship, growth and productivity in the micro-enterprise sector,” Mr. Cowen said.

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Batt O'Keeffe, said that total net jobs created in CEB-supported companies between 1993 and 2009 was 30,726.



During 30 years of the Troubles, few areas have taken a worse battering than north Belfast. Shockingly, within one square mile it has been estimated that 635 people have been killed and more than 2,500 injured, both Protestant and Catholic.

In recent years community workers, politicians, educators and the people themselves have been working hard to try and help those whose lives have been shattered.  As part of that vital work, this month sees the launch of the North Belfast Respect Programme 2010 — a series of community-led events aimed at encouraging respect among all sections of society.

The first event is a poignant remembrance vigil which will be held next Monday evening outside the Bridge of Hope offices in Duncairn Gardens to acknowledge the deep loss and hurt endured by the entire community as a result of conflict.

Two local high school girls will read a short statement, carefully crafted and agreed by various local groups, which deals with the area’s past as well as its hopes for the future.  The organizers will also hand out white roses and candles to those who attend as a symbol of remembrance.

Bridge of Hope (BoH) project director Irene Sherry is organizing the vigil. She says: “Respect is key to everything we do. Once respect is prevalent in society, it builds community cohesion. It engenders hope.  We want to get to the point where people listen to each other. There has to be an understanding of one another and where each person has come from. For the last nine years the Bridge of Hope project has worked tirelessly with families affected by the conflict. We are always trying to create innovative opportunities to enhance, develop, and sustain relationships into the future. This event is a further extension of that work.”








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A young County Down woman is using her own traumatic experience battling both breast and ovarian cancer to help other women suffering from the disease.

Ciara Priestly, 28 year old mother of two from Bangor, has set up a new business designing headscarves for women who have had to deal with the trauma of losing their hair after chemotherapy treatment.  Concerned because of a strong family history of breast and ovarian cancer, Ciara decided to be tested for the BRCA1 gene.

"Unfortunately, just after I came back from having my youngest daughter, the test came back positive and my consultant advised me that I had an 80-90% chance of developing breast cancer and a 40% chance of developing ovarian cancer," she explained.  Later news was even bleaker.  Eventually Ciara had a mastectomy, hysterectomy, lymph nodes removed, and a course of chemotherapy.

It was when Ciara was coping with losing her hair as a result of the chemotherapy that she realized she was finding it hard to source attractive, easily-tied headwear. 

"When you have a mastectomy or any breast surgery you can't lift your arms above a 45-degree angle so it makes it extremely difficult to tie things behind your head. So I decided to design my own headwear, and after lots of compliments and comments from other people, I discovered there was a huge market and quite a need for them in Northern Ireland," Ciara added. 

Ciara launched a part-time business, calling it simply 'headscarvesbyciara' - and within a few days of establishing a profile on Facebook, had over 200 messages and inquiries, some from as far away as the United States and throughout Europe.


"I was always interested in fashion and looking good, like any girl would, but I didn't realize I could be creative until I had gone through the process myself and realized what I needed when I lost my hair."


The Central Bank of Ireland has launched a limited edition €15 silver proof collector coin.  The coin features an Irish hunter horse alongside its foal and honors the first coins of the Irish Free State, which were issued in 1928.

Designed by Emmet Mullins, the coin is a modern interpretation of the original horse design which featured on the half crown by renowned designer Percy Metcalfe.

It is the first in a three-year series to be followed by the salmon and Irish wolfhound in 2011 and 2012.


Curious? Google "Irish bog snorkelling"!


Terminal 2 rises like the giant wing of an airliner to dominate the Dublin skyline, a vast silver and glass symbol of what Ireland was about to become before the economy decided otherwise.  The new building will provide a needed upgrade to the 1970s –built Terminal 1.

The terminal is part of a larger set of infrastructure upgrades, including the new Convention Centre, the motorway system, and the Aviva stadium.  The price tag on the terminal has brought some controversy, but others believe that the suite of projects will help generate business in Ireland. 

At Terminal 2 pre-clearance for the United States, in a state-of-the-art passport section built to Homeland Security specification, DAA believe they can attract major carriers to use T2 as a transit stop to America. Ethihad, US Airways, Continental and Aer Lingus are already among those on board, with others like Air India and BA in negotiations.  Aer Lingus will fly both short-haul and long-haul from T2. Over at T1 Ryanair will dominate, along with the other short haulers.

At a recent live test run, reviewers praised the bright, open atmosphere.  The retail and restaurant areas overlook the airfield, while the arrival lobby provides views of the hills of north Dublin.  Ireland’s largest escalator ferries passengers to the boarding gates. 

Terminal 2 will be up and running by the end of November.


The happiest children in Europe are in the Netherlands and Scandinavia but Ireland ranks ninth in the survey of European states.

A league table of young people's well-being places the Netherlands top of 29 European states, followed by Sweden and Norway, while Malta ranks last.

The UK ranks only 24th in the survey.

The table, focusing on youngsters aged up to 19, was compiled by researchers at York University in northern England for the Child Poverty Action Group using data mainly from 2006.

The researchers assessed the countries using 43 separate criteria, ranging from infant mortality and obesity to factors such as poverty and housing.

Germany was eighth, France was 15th and the UK was 24th ranked only above Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta.

The Netherlands scored high in all categories, while the Scandinavians were praised for having a low level of child deaths caused by accidents.

Scandinavian children also indulge in less risky behavior, which the researchers categorized as early sexual intercourse, smoking and drinking, than their European counterparts.

CPAG said the low ranking of the UK, despite its position among the world's leading economies, was “particularly influenced by the high number of children living in families where no parent works”.

CPAG chief executive Kate Green said: “The report shows a clear link between high levels of child well-being and low levels of child poverty.

“If we fail to protect families during the downturn, progress on child well-being could go into reverse”, she said.







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Northern Ireland enjoyed their greatest ever day at the Commonwealth Games with three gold medals, two silver and three bronze. All the gold and silver medals came on finals day in the boxing ring but the pugilists were joined on the podium by shooters David Calvert and Matthew Hall and bowler Gary Kelly as the province enjoyed a day to remember.

Add last week’s cycling heroes Wendy Houvenaghel, Martyn Irvine, Philip Lavery, Sean Downey and David McCann to that list and the total medals haul from the Games now stands at 10.

Gold medals at last courtesy of our boxers who proudly topped their sport’s medal table — a major achievement in itself. leading the way by example was team captain Eamonn O’Kane. Four years after he almost quit the sport, the Dungiven man stood on top of the podium, after dishing out a hammering to England’s Anthony Agogo, 16-4 in a lopsided middleweight decider. 

O’Kane joined Paddy Barnes and Paddy Gallagher as Commonwealth Games champions on an historic day as the team recorded its best result since they won two gold and two silvers at the 1994 Games in Canada.

Barnes became the first gold medal winner from the province in any sport for three Games and the first in boxing for 16 years since Neil Sinclair and Jim Webb both won Commonwealth titles at welterweight and light-middleweight in Victoria. If there was a fighter who epitomised the spirit within the squad it was 21-year-old welterweight Paddy Gallagher. He’d arrived not wanting to lose in the first round and five fights later was walking off with the gold medal after upsetting England’s Callum Smith 11-6.

Light-heavyweight Tommy McCarthy and heavyweight Steven Ward, Northern Ireland’s other finalists, had to settle for silver after their contests. McCarthy, 19, was beaten 8-1 by Scot Callum Johnson and Ward was on the end of a right hook from the highly-rated Simon Vallily from England. It knocked him to the canvas with just over a minute remaining in the first round and the referee stopped the fight with the Newtownabbey man already 6-1 down. 



Tadhg Kennelly is expecting an intense battle when Ireland and Australia renew their rivalry in the International Rules Series over two Tests at the end of October.


The Sydney Swans player is in a good position to assess the merits of both sides ahead of the clashes in Limerick (23 October) and Croke Park (30 October), and expects entertaining fare to be the order of the day rather than any of the 'rough stuff'.

With the fear of suspension hanging over players on both sides who don't play within the rules, thuggish behavior is hopefully a thing of the past as the series marks its return to Irish shores.


Kennelly favors the new regime: “Without the sanction, players had free reign to do whatever they wanted and that resulted in some of the disgraceful scenes that blighted the series in the past. The game of AFL has become a lot more athletic, with a strong emphasis on running with the ball. The same is now true of Gaelic football. I know the traditionalists may not like that, but both codes have evolved to a point where they are now quite similar. This could become a worry for the GAA as more players from Ireland may want to try their luck Down Under.”


Whether an exodus of talent leaves these shores or not, Kennelly is confident that Irish players, now more than ever, will be able to handle the rigors of a professional sport.


AFL is now a lot less physical; players are leaner and can run all day. Nobody will doubt the fitness of Gaelic footballers, but with a greater emphasis on physical training, weights etc, they are well equipped to deal with the demands of modern day Aussie Rules.



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:

October 17th

The Gaelic Arts Society presents a program on the Celtic Spanish Provinces of Galicia and Asturia in the Dithridge House Party Room, 220 N. Dithridge St. Oakland , 2:30PM.  Information Earl McCabe 412.761.1844.


October 21st

"Belfast Boys, Uniting a Divided City During World War I" by Dr. Richard Grayson, University of London.  Annual History Forum Lecture at Power Center Ballroom, Dusquesne University, 7:30pm, Free and Open to the Public.  Information 412-396-6470 or visit


October 23rd

"The Donahue Fleadh" in McMechen WV on Route 2, one hour from Pittsburgh.  Entertainment includes: Ballad Singer, Terry Griffith, Gallowglass from WV, and Celtic Rock with Red Hand Paddy, and more TBA.  This is Year #1 for this new Irish Festival.  Information: Brendan Lyman 304-559-7707. More details to come!


November 1st

Samhain-Celtic New Year Celebration at Mullaney's Harp and Fiddle in the Strip District. Doors open at 4pm with a $15 donation that benefits the Echos of Erin radio station.  Features music by Jack Puskar, Christopher Laughrey, Terry Griffith, and GallowGlass. Cash Bar, Free appetizers, Costume Contest and Raffle. Call 412-781-6368 for more information.


November 5th

 Pittsburgh Ceili Club at is sponsoring their monthly Ceili at the VFW in Morningside on Morningside Ave., Workshop @ 7:00 PM, Ceili @ 8:00 PM.  It’s Crazy Hat Ceili!


November 7th

 Samhain the Celtic New Year Celebration at Mullaney’s Castle.  Information Diane Byrnes 412-781-6368.  Fundraiser for Echoes of Erin.  Entertainment with The Cogan Brothers, Ballad Singer, Mike Gallagher, Whiskey Limerick and more to come!  Doors open at 4:00PM, Donation - $15.00 at the Door, Costume Contest with prizes, Raffles, Fairy Mound, The Story of Samhain and Free appetizers, order dinner from menu.  Come on out and help a good cause and have some great fun!


November 12-13th

Balmoral Classic presents US Junior Solo Bagpiping and Drumming Championships.  Information George Balderose, 412.323.2707.


November 20-21st

The Heinz History Center presents the Heritage Holidays at the History Center.  Information Natalie DeRiso, 412-454-6359.  There will be live performances, ethnic foods, holiday decorations, crafts, heritage history information and items to sell and buy.


December 2nd

LAOH Division 4 is proud to announce "A Classic Irish Christmas" featuring Andy Cooney on Thursday, December 2, 2010.  See below for more details.

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  -



LAOH Division 4 is proud to announce "A Classic Irish Christmas" featuring Andy Cooney on Thursday, December 2, 2010. Show 7:30pm. Doors open 6:00pm at the West View Fireman's Banquet Hall.  Advance tickets are $25.00 per person ages 11 and above and $10.00 for kids 10 and under.  Tickets at the door will be $30.00 and $10.00 kids 10 and under.  This is a fundraiser for our division.

For tickets and more information please contact Sue Donnelly at 412-734-9595 or email to   Tickets should be purchased in advance.   Checks should be made out to LAOH Divsion 4.

For more information on Andy Cooney please visit his website at

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.