The Common Ground

Vol. IX, Issue 9

Sept/October 2011










I came across this essay from my friend, Andy Pollak, Director of the Center for Cross Border Studies at Queens University, Belfast.  I thought it reflected the sentiment of many living on the island of Ireland today.   Enjoy!



From the desk of Andy Pollak


We lucky people of Northern Ireland have a choice of two identities and citizenships, and this good fortune was formally enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement. For those of us who relish our duality, this is messy but rewarding, and we can hop from one to the other whenever we please. The latest Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey (a joint project by Queen’s University Belfast and University of Ulster) in June showed how we do it: just 33% of Northern Catholics told the pollsters they wanted Irish unity in the long-term (a view shared by only 1% of Northern Protestants, although 82% said they could accept it with some reluctance if it came about after a democratic vote). 52% of Catholics, the great majority certainly Sinn Fein and SDLP voters, said they would prefer to stay in the UK. Talk about having your cake and eating it – we Ulster folk make ambivalence into an art form!


In his speech to mark the restoration of power-sharing in 2007, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness approvingly quoted Seamus Heaney saying that we needed to move beyond talking about ‘the other side’ and get to a place of ‘through-otherness’ (a peculiarly Northern word meaning untidiness). In a 2001 lecture in Aberdeen Heaney, talking about the poet and clergyman W.R.Rodgers (who put the term into literature in a poem about Armagh), said: ‘There is something analogous to the triple heritage of Irish, Scottish and English traditions that compound and complicate the cultural and political life of contemporary Ulster’. For Rodgers it had not been ‘a question of the otherness of any part of his inheritance, more a recognition of the through-otherness of all of them.’


Like most good things in Northern Ireland (courtesy of that other great Derry man, John Hume), ‘through-otherness’ has an internal, a North-South and an East-West dimension. Sticking to sport for the moment, the North-South dimension is rugby supporters having to sing Ireland’s Call before Amhrán na bhFiann and (I would suggest) soccer supporters having to oppose the FAI’s attempts to poach only northern Catholic players for the Republic of Ireland team. Being an Irish-British or British-Irish champion – Eoin Morgan captaining the English cricket team; Barry McGuigan winning a British boxing title; Tony McCoy and Kieren Fallon becoming Champion Jockey  –  makes for a thoroughly healthy and normal East-West ‘through-otherness’. The success of Ballyfermot woman Mary Byrne on the X Factor and of the Queen’s visit to Ireland in May (and particularly to ‘rebel’ Cork) were other recent triumphs for this trí na chéile – ‘things mixed up among themselves’ – to use Heaney’s definition.


This close, mutually dependent cross-border inter-connectedness between North and South, Ireland and Britain, is there more than ever in the post Good Friday Agreement ‘new Ireland’. It will be continue to be there as the two countries try to find mutually beneficial positions vis-a-vis the financial meltdown that the European Union is currently wrestling with, and looming problems of energy shortages and climate change. We should welcome and celebrate it.







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In service to peace

The Irish Castle Vacation Prize Raffle

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

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

 Donation $20

Winning ticket will be drawn December 19, 2011 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.

If you think you can sell a book of 10 - please contact us. If you can sell a book - the 11th ticket is on us as a thank you!









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Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said the EU summit agreement was a quantum leap towards a solution to the debt crisis that threatens the survival of the single currency.

Eurozone leaders last night struck a deal with private banks and insurers for them to accept a 50% loss on their Greek government bonds under a plan to lower Greece's debt burden and contain the eurozone crisis.

Speaking on RTÉ's News At One, Mr Noonan said it was a comprehensive deal that dealt with all the issues, including bank recapitalisation, preventing contagion, a deal for Greece and governance.

He said the euro now looks secure, Europe will go back to growth and the threat of a recession emanating from Europe has been removed.

Mr Noonan said Ireland's main strategy was to grow its way out of trouble.

The minister said Ireland was not looking for a write-down similar to Greece, because Ireland was in a programme, getting loans at 3%, and expected to be back in the markets in the second half of 2013.

On the other hand, he said Greece was looking at least another ten years of austerity programmes and possibly 16 years.

Mr Noonan said Ireland has been successful in a serial renegotiation of aspects of its programmes, and while it aimed to reduce the overall burden of the debt, the Government will not touch its sovereign debt.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said this evening it had been an error to admit Greece to the eurozone in 2001, but said he was confident the country could emerge from its debt crisis.

Asked if he had confidence in Greece, Mr Sarkozy said, "Yes... we have no other choice," but asked about the country's entry into the eurozone, he added: "It was an error because Greece entered with false (economic) figures... it was not ready."

The agreement was reached after more than eight hours of negotiations in Brussels involving bankers, heads of state, central bankers and the International Monetary Fund.

It aims to draw a line under spiraling debt problems that have threatened to unravel the European single currency project.

Under the deal, the private sector agreed to voluntarily accept a nominal 50% cut in its bond investments to reduce Greece's debt burden by €100bn. This will cut its debts to 120% of GDP by 2020, from 160% now.

At the same time, the eurozone will offer "credit enhancements," or sweeteners, to the private sector totaling €30bn.

The aim is to complete negotiations on the package by the end of the year, so Greece has a full, second financial aid programme in place before 2012.

The value of that package, EU sources said, would be €130bn, which is up from €109bn when a deal was last struck in July, an agreement that subsequently unraveled.

"The summit allowed us to adopt the components of a global response, of an ambitious response, of a credible response to the crisis that is sweeping across the eurozone," Mr Sarkozy told reporters afterwards.

As well as the deal on deeper private sector participation in Greece - which emerged after Mr Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel engaged in the negotiations with bankers - eurozone leaders also agreed to scale up the European Financial Stability Facility, the €440bn bailout fund set up last year.

The fund has already been used to provide help to Ireland, Portugal and Greece, leaving around €290bn available.

Around €250bn of that will be leveraged four or five times, producing a headline figure of around €1 trillion, which will be deployed in a variety of ways.

Leaders hope that will be enough to stave off any worsening of the debt problems in Italy and Spain, the region's third and fourth largest economies respectively.

"The leverage could be up to one trillion (euros) under certain assumptions about market conditions and investors' responsiveness in view of economic policies," said Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council.

"There is nothing secret in all this, it is not easy to explain but we are going to more with our available money, it is not that spectacular. Banks have been doing this for centuries, it has been their core business, with certain limits."

European markets saw strong gains today after news of the deal emerged.

Earlier Asian markets closed higher, while the euro rose above $1.40 for the first time in seven weeks.

Meanwhile, Ireland should be in a position to resume borrowing on international debt markets in late 2012 or early 2013, the IMF's chief economist has said.

"I am fairly confident that with the path you are (on) in late 2012, first semester 2013, you should be able to go back there with relatively small spreads," Olivier Blanchard told reporters after delivering a speech to students at Dublin's Trinity College.

He said Ireland has turned a corner, adding that "unemployment is still much too high, production is much too low but the signs are pointing in the right direction."



They may be filled with rage against the capitalist machine, but the demonstrators outside Ireland's central bank are a polite bunch of radicals.
The protesters are under strict instruction not to harass or even say a cross word to the bank officials filing past their camp each morning.

Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in the US in the past month, the Occupy Dame Street protesters have been camped out in front of Ireland's central bank since Saturday.

But the activists stress that their protest is entirely peaceful.

They have appointed Sean Creagh, a business studies student from Deansgrange in the south of county Dublin, as their liaison with the Garda Síochána, the Irish police force.

Dressed in a high visibility yellow jacket, Creagh explains that the plan is to help the garda keep the peace at the camp. The organizers have banned alcohol and drugs from it and will help the police to extract anyone breaking that rule. "I have been talking to one of the local garda inspectors in the city who is in charge of policing the protests," Creagh said. "To be fair, the garda have been good because we have kept a clear dialogue with them. "The idea is we want a peaceful protest and we don't want to cause any direct trouble."We have a policy of not hassling anyone going into work and have kept the walkway into the central bank open all the time."

Creagh explained why the movement has not targeted the headquarters of one of the main Irish banks which helped cause the country's fiscal crisis through reckless lending to property speculators. He said: "You have got to remember that inside that [central bank] building there is a full-time official from the IMF who, un-elected by anyone in Ireland, is actually running our country's economic policy. "That person is in there carrying out the IMF's diktats to the Irish people. This is why we are here. It's the symbolism of that."

There are 20 two-person tents at the camp and about 60 protesters. There is also a covered area which houses a makeshift kitchen and food station.

David Johnson is a 38-year-old IT consultant who specializes in helping fledgling technology and computer startups. He worked for a US multinational until he left to start his own business.  Johnson now spends up to 16 hours a day at the camp. "I would not be your traditional student militant or even overtly political – I am in fact a business owner," he said. "But I am here because I am disgusted at the way this country has been run for the benefit of the very, very rich.  "Like everyone else around, I was inspired by the Wall Street occupation movement.

"Yes we are angry. Yes we want radical change – but it is all very polite really."





One in eight bars Irish bars in the Republic of Ireland have closed in the past six years.

The drastic recession, emigration and a huge crackdown on drunk driving are said to be the main reasons why.

Over 1,000 pubs have now closed in that time period with massive loss of jobs.

And the carnage is expected to continue with more pubs closing as even stricter drink driving laws are introduced.

Figures obtained by the Irish Independent show the country had 8,617 pubs in 2005, at the very height of the Celtic Tiger.

Now the number has fallen by 1,108 to just 7,509 this month





Ireland is in the grip of another major storm with severe weather warnings across the country.

Police have warned against unnecessary travel and ferry and airport services have again been disrupted.

The Irish government’s weather service Met Eireann has issued a ‘severe weather warning’ as heavy rain and strong winds sweep across the country.

Driving conditions have been described as treacherous in parts of the country as the heavy rain makes some roads almost impassable








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Extreme Metropolitan Makeover

Three rivers. One reinvented city. On all counts, the Steel City’s transformation over the past quarter century qualifies as revolutionary. Its mourning for its industrial past long concluded, this western Pennsylvania city changed jobs and reclaimed its major assets: a natural setting that rivals Lisbon and San Francisco, a wealth of fine art and architecture, and a quirky sense of humor.

Pittsburgh’s century-wide swath of architectural styles persuaded British film director Christopher Nolan to use downtown as a stand-in for Gotham City in this summer’s Dark Knight Rises. Sustainable design has transformed Victorian landmarks like the glass-domed Phipps Conservatory and created contemporary ones like the swooping waterfront convention center (above).


TOP 20 TO SEE  IN 2012

A Capital City of Titanic Ambition

Finding yourself in the company of a chef from the R.M.S. Titanic is just one of the surprises that Belfast has to offer. "Barney" leads the Belfast Bred walking tour on an ingredient hunt, tracking the culinary heritage of the Northern Irish city that built the Titanic. The centennial of her maiden voyage—April 10, 2012—gives Barney the chance to share Belfast’s pride in the “floating palace” and show off a capital that is redefining itself in the eyes of the world.

Sections of the city have undergone regeneration since Belfast emerged from the Troubles, the three decades of violence that culminated in the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. The Titanic’s birthplace on the River Lagan is now called the Titanic Quarter (above). A $152.1-million attraction opens in April with audiovisual exhibits, underwater footage of the wreck, and a ride that re-creates a trip through the shipyards of 1911 to tell
the passenger liner’s story. 
The glossy venue overlooks the Harland and Wolff slipways where the Titanic set sail to Southampton to begin her fateful voyage to New York.








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Two more great teams have recently added to Pittsburgh’s moniker as City Of Champions! The Pittsburgh Celtics were crowned Gaelic (Irish) Football National Champions while the Pittsburgh Banshees won the National Shield competition during a three-day competition in San Francisco over Labor Day.


The Celtics defeated teams from San Francisco, Boston and Detroit (divisional rivals the Wolfe Tones) on their way to the club’s first ever National title. The Banshees defeated San Francisco and Seattle teams in claiming their shield.


The NACB Championship is a competition that takes place each year in a different US city – and is the culmination of the Gaelic Football season throughout North America. The Celtics, a men's team founded in 1976, is comprised of both Irish-born and American players, while the Banshees, a ladies team founded in 2002, primarily comprised of American-born players.


Both teams are represented by the Pittsburgh GAA organization and compete in the Midwest Division, playing the teams from Detroit, Cleveland, Washington DC, Baltimore, Rochester and Syracuse during the year. Their season runs from April until early September each year.


If you are interested in finding out more about either team – log onto  






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:


Friday, October 28 

Mullaney's Harp & Fiddle 2329 Penn Ave. , in The Strip, Happy Hour w/ Andy Halter at 5:30pm, then you are invited to The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival beginning at 7:00pm. Matchmakers, Games, Prizes, Karaoke, Psychic Readings, Specials, and tons of fun – come meet your ‘match'. Information call David Regan 412.642.6622. Wear a costume for the costume contest! Over its 15 year history, it's become enchanted, as over 70 couples have met at the Harp & Fiddle and "lived happily ever after." Our Lisdoonvarna festival is meant to be fun. Our "matchmakers" will assist you in "making a match," if you choose. Just walk up to one of the matchmakers and let them know who you "fancy," and they would be happy to help you see if you can find, "Love at Lisdoonvarna!" Entertainment will be The Andy Halter Duo. 

Paddy's Pour House , 215 East Main Street , Carnegie, 412.279.0770, features live entertainment at 9:00pm. 

Saturday, October 29 

• Mullaney's Harp & Fiddle 2329 Penn Ave. , in The Strip, 412.642.6622, features Ballad Singer, Terry Griffith at 9:00pm. 

• Paddy's Pour House , 215 East Main Street , Carnegie, 412.279.0770, features Ballad Singer Mike Gallagher at 9:00pm. 

Sunday, October 30 

• Echoes of Erin on WEDO at 12:30pm. The Ireland Report with Mairtin O'Muilleoir , Managing Director of the Belfast Media Group, access at and . Listen to Mairtin give an analysis on the new President of Ireland . 

• Concert at The Map Room in Regent Square with Dan Stacey, Mirella Murray, & Will MacMorran, 8:00pm. 

Monday, October 31 through December 11 

• The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh welcomes a new group of 21 young persons for the Wider Horizons Program. This group is from the Tyrone-Donegal Partnership based in Omagh, Co. Tyrone. If you can host a one of these young folks at home or at work please contact Rob Tierney at the Ireland Institute at 412.394.3900 or . 

Friday, November 4 to Sunday, November 6, 2011 

• In New York – Tribute to Irish poet Thomas Kinsella; Irish Arts Center Poetry Fest. Over three days a showcase of Irish poetry featuring readings & events with six poets and a film about the distinguished & influential Thomas Kinsella. Free Fest at the Irish Arts Center , 553 West 51 st St . (between 10 th & 11 th Avenues); (subway C E to 50 th St .). Reservations strongly recommended through or 866.811.4111. Poets & readers include: Thomas Kinsella , Rooney prize winner Nick Laird , former Professor of Poetry for Ireland Michael Longley, Lannan Literary Award winner Dennis O'Driscoll, 2009 Ireland Chair of Poetry Leanne O'Sullivan, nominee for the 2011 Irish Times Poetry Now Award Sara Berkeley Tolchin, and winner of The Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize David Wheatley. 

• Mullaney's Harp & Fiddle 2329 Penn Ave. , in The Strip, 412.642.6622, features Corned Beef & Curry, 9pm. 

Saturday, November 5 

• Mullaney's Harp & Fiddle 2329 Penn Ave. , in The Strip, 412.642.6622, features 9th Annual Guinness Oyster Festival. FOOD – Fresh Oysters on the half shell, Fried Oysters and Oyster Stew. We will also offer our delicious regular menu that will feature all of our new menu items. Music will start at 2:30pm with The Denmon Sides Project . This duo has been together since 2010 but separately they have been performing for years in the Pgh. area. Jess Sides is the lead vocalist and plays acoustic guitar. She can sing like an angel. Graham Denmon performs on the Fiddle and together they make music that will have you dancing in the aisles. They will be followed by Tim and John. Tim and John play all of your favorite tunes from the 70's right up until today; followed by another Happy Hour favorite in The Professor and Mary Fran . The entertainment will be headlined by Guaranteed Irish . 

• AOH Division 17 in Monroeville invites you to join them for a “ Trip to the Meadows Casino”. Information Bill O'Neill, . 

Sunday, November 6 

• Echoes of Erin on WEDO 810am, The Ireland Report with Patricia Sharkey, Donegal; Editor of the Donegal Newsletter at . Live Stream – click on “Listen Live'. 

• LAOH Maude Gonne Division 32 will hold a Fundraiser Luncheon at The Nevillewood; information and reservations call Patti Flaus at 412.921.7829. 

Friday & Saturday, November 11 & 12 

• The Balmoral Classic featuring the US Junior Solo Bagpiping and Drumming Championships plus a concert with Breabach direct from Scotland . Information 412.323.2707 or Email . Friday - Welcoming Reception at Pittsburgh Athletic Association with entertainment by Guaranteed Irish. Silent Auction, raffle, door prizes, hors d'oeuvres and cash bar, Tickets $20. Saturday – the competitions take place at Mellon Institute at Fifth Ave. & Bellefield St. in Oakland , Free Admission. Evening concert with Breabach, Scottish Folk Band, at McGonigle Theatre, Central Catholic High School , Fifth Ave. , in Oakland Ticket Prices: from $35 down to $14.95 for students, 412.394.3353 or . 

• Mullaney's Harp & Fiddle 2329 Penn Ave. , in The Strip, 412.642.6622, features Seamus Kennedy , Singer, Musician, Story Teller & Funnyman. He'll keep you chuckling! 9pm both nights. 

Saturday & Sunday, November 12 & 13 

• Heinz History Center presents Heritage Holidays at the Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman Street , in The Strip from 10 am to 4 pm . A variety of Irish organizations will have display tables along with many other ethnic groups. 

Saturday, November 12 

• Paul Byrom ( formerly with Celtic Thunder) will appear in concert at WQED Theatre Studio, Fifth Ave. , in Oakland . Call WQED for details. 

Sunday, November 13 

• Echoes of Erin on WEDO 810am beginning at 12:30pm. The Ireland Report from Galway with Brian Nolan . ‘Listen Live'. Telephone Interview with the Celtic Tenors. 

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  -

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)




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.