Read about the sad passing of our board member, John Kirkwood.


The Common Ground

Vol. V, Issue 9


      September 2007



                 News Updates






letter from the editor 


Over the past year or so, I have been asked by several interested friends and colleagues about Ireland's new found wealth, the successful peace process, and the future of the Ireland Institute.

Our mission is to promote peace, reconciliation, and economic development in Ireland. Some would argue that we have achieved our mission. Others insist that we still have work to do. While peace and prosperity have come to the island, the reconciliation process is only now beginning, according to some.

Either way, this organization is in an exciting transition. Having successfully managed programs for over 1500 young people from Ireland's most disadvantaged communities, the Institute now looks to the next horizon.

While we pass from one objective to the next I am reminded of some important contributors to the culture and heritage of Pittsburgh's Irish community who passed away recently.

John Kirkwood, a board member of the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh passed away earlier this month. He was committed to peace and reconciliation in Ireland and assisted many companies in Ireland with investment, advice, and friendship. He will be missed.

Mary Folan, in my mind, the matriarch of Irish Pittsburgh, passed away last week. Mary and her husband Mike ensured that Irish Culture was secure in Pittsburgh, encouraging their children, nieces, nephews, and others who knew them to promote the music, language, dance, and sports of that island.

As John and Mary move on to their next horizon, I know they will be pleased that the Institute and the many other organizations that care about Ireland will do the same.

I once read that death is a journey toward a new horizon. May John, Mary, and Ireland be at peace.

Jim Lamb, President

Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh


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

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Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny may cut some of the older members of his frontbench from the last Dáil to clear the way for some of the party’s newly elected, younger TDs.


Labour leader Eamon Gilmore, meanwhile, has already let it be known that there will be places on the frontbench for his party’s three Dáil newcomers — Sean Sherlock, Ciaran Lynch and Joanna Tuffy.  Such changes are an attempt to re-engergize the parties with some political youth and new faces.

Fine Gael, which won 20 new seats, has 51 TDs, compared to 31 following the 2002 election.


The Omagh District Council has appointed an independent mediator to attempt to reach an agreement on a plaque for the planned memorial that will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Omagh bombing.  Twenty nine people, including a woman pregnant with twins, were killed when a Real IRA bomb exploded on August 15, 1998.

The victims’ families feel that the Council’s choice of language for the plaque does not reflect the truth of the event. The Council members assert that nothing has been decided on or ruled out.  Omagh District Council chief executive Danny McSorley said he wanted the views of everyone to be taken into account.   The professional facilitator will lead a series of discussions in order to prepare a report for consideration, which will help create a successful and consensual outcome.

A competition was launched in April to provide a permanent tribute at the bomb site and nearby memorial garden.  The winning design was submitted by a Dublin team, artist Sean Hillen and architect Desmond Fitzgerald and its theme is "Constant Light".

It includes a 4.5m tall glass obelisk with a heart inside which will mark the site of the explosion. Though the pillar is almost constantly in the shade, the designers will use 31 mirrors placed in the Memorial Garden around the corner - each one mounted on top of a pole, representing those who died. Light reflected from these will be beamed down the street and onto the heart inside the pillar.


The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Education at a Glance 2007 document sparked criticisms from teachers about Ireland’s below-average spending at all levels of education. The 4.6% of gross domestic product invested in education in 2004 placed us almost bottom of a list of all developed countries and significantly below the 5.2% spend in 1995. When spending per student was measured from primary to third level, Ireland remains below OECD and EU averages.

But Education Minister Mary Hanafin criticized the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO), Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) and Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) for highlighting these figures from the bulletin.  She said Ireland was second-highest in the OECD and highest in the EU for increased education funding, while rates of education attainment are higher and school drop-out rates among the lowest in the OECD.

“The other thing I’m sure the teachers unions didn’t mention was that, after 15 years of primary school teaching, your salary is 24% higher in Ireland than in any of the OECD countries,” she said.

INTO general secretary John Carr noted the salary comparisons but said that Irish primary teachers are among the most productive.

“They teach more children for more hours than those in most other countries. Teachers’ salaries here are broadly in line with Germany but, as we know, junior ministers here earn more than the German chancellor,” he said, in a lightly veiled reference to recent comments by the German ambassador to Ireland.

The OECD report shows that, despite concerns about participation, we have above-average numbers of young science graduates and our third-level system has a greater mix of students from social backgrounds than most developed countries.












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Number of Irish Trips abroad up 12%

The number of visits abroad by Irish people was only slightly fewer than the number of trips being made to Ireland, according to tourism figures from the Central Statistics Office.

Irish travelers made 2.04 million trips abroad between April and June of this year, compared with 2.13 million visits by tourists to Ireland.  For the first time since beginning to publish reports in1990, Irish trips abroad in the first three months of the year were larger than the number of visitors coming in to Ireland.

55% of people who came to Ireland took the trip for leisure reasons and they stayed an average of 6.7 nights, which was down from 7.3 nights for the second quarter last year.

The figures also show that Irish visits abroad and overseas visits to Ireland for reason of business showed large increases on the second quarter of last year, growing by 27% and 15% respectively.

The number of visits by residents of Britain to Ireland fell by 1%, the number of visits by residents of other European countries grew by 4%.

Visits from the United States and Canada were up by 2%, and visitors from other destinations fell 1.3%.


Ireland began accepting Burmese refugees as part of a program by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees.  50 men, women, and children from an isolated camp on Burma’s border with Thailand have come to Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, where they will be prepared for permanent resettlement to Castlebar.  Another group of 45 people will arrive in mid-November.  Six other European countries are participating in the initiative.


“Resettlement is considered only as a last resort when all other options for these people have been considered,” said a spokesman for the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Last year 180 Iranian Kurds arrived from a refugee camp in Jordan and were resettled in Sligo, Carrick-on-Shannon and Mullingar.

A total of 29,560 refugees were resettled in 15 countries worldwide under UNHCR-sponsored programs.


A third-year student in CBS Synge Street, Dublin, Abdusalam Abubakar tried to mathematically crack the world’s most hacker-proof encryption system to win the top prize of €5,000 at a competition in Valencia.  He faced competition from 81 entrants from 30 countries including China and the United States.  It also took the top prize in the Irish Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in January.


 Abdusalam was born in Somalia and learned English in Kenya before moving to Ireland with his family.  His project deals with the RSA encryption code used when, for instance, anyone pays for goods over the internet using a credit card to ensure the details cannot be read by someone else. He developed a new method to crack the code which banks and others will find useful as a way of helping them make their transactions more secure from hackers. 


Presenting the prize, European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik said the two crucial elements of Europe’s future is its young people and our research ability.



Speaking at the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas International Conference at Cork City Hall, Eamon Ryan, Green Party TD, described the challenge of climate change as being as “mammoth” a task as that which faced the Republic’s revolutionary leaders as they began building the State.

“Every man, woman and child in this country uses the equivalent of five pints of oil a day. The challenge is how do we de-carbonize our society. This is the big task before us as we try to protect our people, society and economy,” he said.  


Ireland, he said, should aim to be oil-free by 2050.

After two days of speakers lamenting the failure of governments to admit the impending oil crisis and the urgency of climate change, Mr Ryan said Ireland is a high-risk economy and society with 90% of its energy coming from fossil fuels. By 2020, the minister said, the country is aiming to have 33% of our energy needs from renewable resources. Renewable energy currently accounts for just 10%.

“We need singular political consensus on climate change and alternative energy similar to that required to turn around the economy and create the Celtic Tiger,” he said.

Airtricity chief executive Eddie O’Connor called for government and local authority support for wind energy saying it would create secure energy supply, a competitive advantage for this country, an electricity export market and allow us to meet alternative energy targets. He called for government support for his company to build a European offshore supergrid which would provide electricity for much of Europe.

“If we want to reduce our carbon emissions by 3% by 2020, we must support wind energy in this country,” he said.



The last Wider Horizons group of the summer is due to return home on October 10.  The group from Monaghan & Armagh has received 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. 

The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh would like to thank all of the host families who have worked with us this summer to create a safe and supportive living situation for the participants.  Our host families have been key to the success of these programs.

We are looking forward to new Wider Horizons groups next spring.  We rely on our dedicated base of host families, as well as families new to the program, to help us provide quality programs for the young people.  We are always looking to build up our pool of host families, so please encourage interested relatives or friends to contact us.

If you are interested in becoming a Host Family, please contact us at (412) 394.3900.






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Steve Staunton's Republic of Ireland have climbed five places in the latest FIFA rankings, bypassing Northern Ireland in the process.

The Republic are up to 32nd place, despite just claiming one point from their last two Euro 2008 qualifiers.

Northern Ireland have slumped nine positions to 36th, while Scotland's fine run of form has seen them rise to 14th. England are ninth, following their recent victories over Israel and Russia.

A win over Ukraine and a draw with France sees Roberto Donadoni's side replace Brazil at the summit, with the South American side falling to third behind fellow Copa America finalists Argentina.

Germany move up one place to fourth, Holland are fifth, a rise of two places, while France's recent home defeat to Scotland drops them two places to sixth.  Iberian rivals Spain and Portugal are seventh and eighth.

















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Our Mission:


Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre ‘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.

Friday, September 21st

The Dublin City Ramblers in Concert at "Molly Brannigan's Traditional Irish Pub and Restaurant" 660 Washington RD. Mt. Lebanon. Information 412.341.7827.  Opening for The Ramblers are Cue Ball at 8:00 pm; The Ramblers at 10:00 pm.  Tickets in Advance $20, Door $25.00. 

Friday, September 28th

Boys of the Lough appear in Concert at The Hillman Center for Performing Arts at Shadyside Academy, 423 Fox Chapel Road.  Tickets through ProArts  or 412-394-3353.

Sunday, September 30th

Gaelic Arts Society of Pittsburgh 2008 Opening Luncheon at Church of the Epiphany’s McDowell Hall.  Information John Webber 412.758.5446 or Email:

Saturday, October 6th

Pittsburgh Irish Feis at the Pittsburgh Indoor Sports Arena; contact any of the local Dance Schools.

Pittsburgh Ceili Club will sponsor a Ceili at the Morningside VFW, Chislett Street, Morningside 8:00 PM.  Information Mary Anne McGill 412-363-8686.

Thursday, October 18th

The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh, in conjunction with Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, Pittsburgh, will present an evening of entertainment with Irish Fleadh Champions with the touring company ‘Echoes of Erin’ in Music and Dance, at Cefalo's in Carnegie. 7:30 PM.  Tickets in advance $12, at door $15.  Information: Email:

Sunday, October 21st

The Gaelic Arts Society of Pittsburgh presents the program “The Celts of Brittany” presented by Kathleen Mullooly; 2:30 PM at Synod Hall Social Room.  Information Earl McCabe 412-761-1844.

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


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.


AOH Division 32 Carnegie will hold Fish Fry's at the Ukrainian Club in Carnegie on the following Fridays:

Friday February 23rd - Friday March 30th

Times are 3:30-7pm. For more information click on link above.


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.



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