Read about Guinness going back home, the changes in Ireland, and much more.


The Common Ground

Vol. VI, Issue 9


September 2008





In 2008, the Common Ground will feature you! Your stories, past and present, will be our feature column this year. Tell us how your family came to the United States from Ireland, how you celebrate your Irish heritage, or how you enjoy Irish history and culture. Send your photos and stories to  during the first week of each month.  Diverse cultural, political, and religious views are appreciated, but publication of any piece is subject to approval by the Ireland Institute Executive Management.







letter from the editor 


This week the Ireland Institute said farewell to the last remaining participants of the Walsh Visa Program. This initiative, spearheaded by Congressman Jim Walsh of Syracuse New York, brought long overdue attention to various social, sectarian and economic problems of Northern Ireland's six counties and the six Border Counties of the Republic of Ireland.

The Walsh Visa Program focused its efforts on the region's poor, uneducated young people from communities where paramilitary recruitment, organized crime, and fear were part of the daily routine. These were the kids who didn't go to college, not because they weren't smart enough, but because they couldn't afford it. Many found it more lucrative to remain unemployed and work illegally. Others simply maintained the status quo of multigenerational unemployment. Until this program, they had no concept of a lifestyle that involved work.

Foreign-based learning programs are not new. Developing nations have been sending their best and brightest to universities in the United States, Great Britain, and elsewhere for centuries. And while these programs are vital to develop future world leaders and thinkers, I remain leery of those elitists who would deny international training opportunities to those less

The Troubles that plagued the island of Ireland for centuries are well documented. And Irish America is a product of those troubles, be they sectarian or economic. Our ancestors came here fleeing persecution or starvation. When they arrived they started at the bottom. With nothing but their faith and their hunger, they worked. The conditions and the treatment
were not kind. Yet more so than any other ethnic group, ours rose to lead our communities, our corporations, and our academic institutions.

Congressman Walsh and the bipartisan Congressional Friends for Ireland, along with concerned Irish American community leaders saw that bright young people from these twelve counties' most disadvantaged communities, if given
the chance would shine. And shine they did.

Over an eight year period, more than 1100 young unemployed men and women came to the US to work and learn and live together. Catholic and Protestant, North and South. Pittsburgh hosted approximately 300 of them. They worked in some of our best companies, including PNC, The Pittsburgh Steelers, Chatham University, and UPMC. They grew to love the Steelers, bear the winters, and celebrate St. Patrick's Day in a way they never had before...a party in their honor.

We hear from most of them. They are working back in Ireland, contributing to their economy and to their community. Here's what I didn't expect: They are becoming the leaders. They are confident, progressive, tolerant and accommodating to all communities, Catholic, Protestant, and a whole new group of immigrants from around the world. They are re-defining Ireland as a place open and equal for all. Where everyone is a friend and trouble stays with a stranger.

Jim Lamb, President

Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh



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Guinness heads home to its roots in Kildare County to build a new brewery, which will open in 2013.  Kildare County is just east of Dublin.  

When people think of Guinness, they associate the brewery with its main factory in Dublin.  That is where people head to the top of the building to retrieve their free pint, after touring the factory.  However, the brewery originally started in Leixlip's Ralph Street, which is in Kildare County.  

The brewery will be part of a €650m project overseen by Diageo Ireland, and it will be named The Arthur Guinness Brewery.  Diageo received 50 acres of land from the Guinness family, and the Kildare County Council sold the firm the remaining 20 acres that they needed in order to create a 70 acre site.  Guinness will still be made for the Irish and British Markets in the St. James Gate site.  



Lehman Brothers, one of the world's leading investment banks, said September 15, that they were filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.  It is considered one of Wall Street's oldest banks and withstood many financial hardships.  However, Lehman Brothers was unable to make deals with fellow companies in order to help them out of their situation.  


They had over a €2.7bn net loss in their third quarter after a problem with sup-prime mortgage losses.  Negotiations for a deal lasted a couple days in New York City, with the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank trying to find a deal to help Lehman Brothers.  Barclays spent a couple days considering to help them out, but decided not to in the end.


What does this mean for Irish Shares?  Shares went down 4.5% the morning after the collapse of the major U.S. bank.  Also, their U.K. business was put into Administration.  Their branch is said to employ around 5,000 people in the U.K.  Thousands of jobs are in danger throughout Europe and the U. S.  Bank of America made a €35bn deal with Merrill Lynch in order to help financial markets.  Unfortunately, the outcome leaves many in doubt.   


In an effort to help banks that experience problems from the collapse, 10 international banks agreed to create a €50bn fund.  The Federal Reserve Bank also made an effort to help by lowering the lending criteria for banks exposed to the fallout. 



Everyone that wants an end to the conflict in the North was reassured by the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and the report given by IMC, Independent Monitoring Commission, that the IRA Army Council was "no longer operational."  

Unionists and Republicans in Northern Ireland were in talks of aiming and securing their "power-sharing government."  Head of the Democratic Unionist Party, Peter Robinson said that in order to continue with the progress, the IRA Army Council would have to cease actions.  On September 9, 2008, the IMC reported that the Army Council split up their terrorist structures and gave up the leadership that was needed for waging these "wars."

Under PIRA's (Provisional Irish Republic Army)  rules, the Army Council directed the military campaign.  But now, the IMC believes that the PIRA is looking for a different method to a "final close."  The structures and leadership are no longer operational, and the IMC report says that the demonstrates the leave of the IRA, and believes that it will not be coming back.

Statements from the Irish Government, the British Prime Minister, and the Minister of Justice, Reform, and Equality, say that this report brings positive news and reassurance to Northern Ireland that history is changing.  

        British Prime Minister meets with northern ireland political leaders

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has urged political leaders in the North to reach agreement between themselves and set a date for the devolution of policing and justice.

Addressing members of the Northern Ireland Assembly in Stormont this afternoon, Mr. Brown paid tribute to the progress that had been made but said that politicians now had to take the final step.

The Northern Ireland Executive has not met since June and its next meeting on Thursday is seen as crucial.  Sinn Féin has been threatening to continue their veto of the meeting because not enough progress has been made on important issues.

Mr. Brown's visit also coincides with a potentially significant council by-election in Fermanagh, the first electoral outing for Mr. Robinson since he took over for Ian Paisley.  It is also expected that the issue of financing the deferral of water charges in Northern Ireland was raised during Mr. Brown's visit.







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Irish Consumers go back to Organic Produce

Move over artificial flavors and hello organics as Ireland consumers demands for organic produce increases.  Currently, the annual sale of organic produces has reached over €100m.  According to Bord Bia's National Organic Food Conference, almost half of consumers have been shopping for organic produces.     


This increase opens up many opportunities for Irish suppliers, and their use of the phrase "local organic" strikes an interest in buyers.  Some of the products of interest are beef bread and cheese, and they continue to increase in popularity.  The growing trend is being noticed, and retailers continue to provide enough resources to keep their customers happy.


Most of the organic foods are imported, but consumers are advised to look into their local farmers markets for the same products.  Many of the retailers welcome local suppliers.  Tesco, for example, said, "they reduced carbon emissions by working with Country Crest this year," which is a local supplier.  Not only is this proving to be good for the consumers, but it is good for the environment too. 



National pay talks reached an agreement of a 6 percent increase for all workers which will be paid over the next 21 months.  The statement was made at the Government Buildings in Dublin after 22 hours of negotiations. 

The money will be paid in two phases, and workers making €430.49 or €22,463 annually will receive a .05 percent increase at the end of the agreement.  All private sector workers will have a three-month pay pause. Then, they will receive a 3.5 percent increase over six months, and an increase of 2.5 percent for the following year.  Public sector workers will receive the same percentage increases, however they will have an 11 month pay pause, and their 3.5 percent increase will occur over the next nine months, and then the 2.5 percent.  

The agreement will included requirements that prevent employers from hiring temporary workers during strikes, and it will also act as an incentive for current trade union workers to leave their unions.  

The Taoiseach, who is considered head of the government, Brian Cowen said that the agreement would be a positive move for the country.  He said that the country has some challenging times ahead but hopes that this gives people some confidence about the future.  





Pittsburgh isn't the only place facing years of road construction.  More than 150 Dublin Bus routes will have to be changed in order to make way for the Metro North rail system.  The RPA, Railway Procurement Agency, said that this will increase traffic congestion and makes drives to work much longer.  Westmoreland Street and a fifth of St.Stephen's Green will be closed for four to five years due to construction of the underground.  The Metro North is due to open in 2013.


The Metro North will be a modern, mass transit system for Dublin commuters.  It will be similar to many of the European railways and the London Underground.  However, the rail system will not be as big as the London Underground.  It will operate more in congested areas of the city and act as a "light rail system."


Metro North will be used be people living along the rail-system line, and all regions will be able to use it to connect to the Dublin Airport.  




Screen star Geraldine Hughes takes time out from her shopping trip on Belfast’s Boucher Road to tell Stephanie Bell about her soaring career and her starring role in Clint Eastwood’s new film.  Hughes, who starred as Marie in the boxing blockbuster Rocky Balboa, was on a brief trip home to catch up with family and friends before the release of her latest film, Gran Torino.

Hughes is originally from Divis Flats on the Falls Road, and she attended St Louise’s Comprehensive School in Belfast in the 1980s.  She moved from Belfast to America, nearly 18 years ago, to attend the University of California in Los Angeles, where she received a Bachelor of the Arts in Television and Film.  She worked in theater productions in New York before being asked to audition for "Rocky Balboa."  Now, she's a big celebrity actress and is considered "Hollywood Royalty."  However, she is still seen as "a true daughter of Belfast, unaffected by the stardom of being a global celebrity."

Her current film, with Clint Eastwood, is due out next year.  She will be playing Clint Eastwood's daughter-in-law, and she considers it a special role. “It is the most amazing film I have ever had the privilege to work on. Clint is a fantastic director because he understands actors. There is no sense of anyone being better than anyone else — there is no sense of status or hierarchy on the set."    

Her natural affection for her home city shines through and despite her star status, Geraldine loves to get back to her roots, family and community whenever she can.  






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Sports brings out the competition in everyone.  No matter what sport you watch, it's all the same.  The cheering fans excite the players to compete at their best.  When it's game time, each athlete puts their best performance on the line.  It's win or lose, all or nothing, because when the stakes are high, defeat is no option.  


On Sunday, September 21, 2008, Tyrone will battle it out against Kerry in the All-Ireland Senior Football Final.  Fans were worried for 

Tyrone, in May, after they lost to Down in Newry in the Ulster Championship, and most doubted that Tyrone would make the final until Tyrone beat Dublin in the All-Ireland quarter-final.  This raised spirits and brought about hopes that Tyrone would go all the way.  This game is considered the battle of all battles with both teams holding the last five Irelands between the two of them, Kerry leading the numbers.  


Tyrone secured their spot against Kerry after a win over Wexford, holding back Wexford in the second-half.  This is the first All-Ireland final position that Tyrone has acquired since 2005, while Kerry is going for their "hopeful" third win in a row.  


In other Gaelic sports news, the Cats of Kilkenny won the All-Ireland Senior Hurling final two weeks ago.  They beat Waterford with a very lop-sided score of 3-30(Kilkenny) to 1-13(Waterford).






After the 2008 Summer Olympics concluded, it was time for Beijing may way for the Paralympics.  Unfortunately, Irish Football athlete Derek Malone was excluded from the Paralympic Games seven-a-side football tournament following a classification ruling by the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association in this years Paralympics.  The Paralympics are sports events for athletes from six different disability groups, and their mission is to emphasize achievement rather than disability.  


In 2004, the athlete faced a difficult conflict where he had to convince the Paralympic committee that he suffered from cerebral palsy before entering the 800 meter race.  Now, in 2008, Malone has been excluded from the games, after switching to football,  because the officials says that he does not meet the minimal criteria to be entered in them.  The Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association have stated that they have a "classification system" that athletes need to meet in order to compete, and that the system has been around for awhile.  


Malone is upset with the outcome, and claims that he did a lot of physical training in order to stay fit to compete.  "High-performance sport is about pushing the limits, and how can they have a system that penalizes athletes for working hard," says Malone.  

WIDER HORIZONS 2008 - Host FaMily Program

Our 2008 programs have come to an end, and as we wind down, we reflect on a successful year. 


This week our last remaining participants on the Walsh Visa Program and MAPP Program return home to Ireland. We wish them well as they begin new lives with new opportunities in a peaceful for prosperous Ireland.

On behalf of the Walsh Visa  and MAPP Programs, the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh wishes to thank all the employers, landlords, local officials, and Irish community organizations that helped host nearly 300 young people on the program over the past eight years. Your commitment to them and to us was greatly appreciated.

If you are interested in becoming a Host Family for 2009, please contact Robert Tierney at or phone (412) 394-3900.





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Our Mission:


Elaine Stritch is coming to Pittsburgh for a one-night-only performance of her one-woman show, At Liberty.  The performance will be Saturday, October 18 at 8:00 p.m. in the Charity Randall Theatre, Stephen Foster Memorial, Oakland

Tickets are $50, $75, and $ 250.  

Please visit or call 412-394-3353 for details.

Saturday, September 20

·        Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle, 2329 Penn Ave., in The Strip, ½ Way to St. Patrick’s Day.  Live Entertainment outside  from 4:30 PM 4:3 PM with Duoprime, 6:30 Tim & John.  Inside – at 3:30PM Notre Dame vs. Michigan State.  Music with Corned Beef & Curry at 9:00 PM


Paddy’s Pour House, 215 East Main Street, Carnegie, features Jim Lamb on vocals & guitar at 9:00 PM.  412-279-0770


Sunday, September 21


The Claddagh Irish Pub & Restaurant, 304 Cinema Drive, South Side Works will air All Ireland SR. Football Final  Cork / Kerry vs. Tyrone / Wexford at 10:30. Buffet Breakfast available for $5.00.  Music Session at 4:00 PM.

Saturday, September 27


‘The Sounds of Charity Concert’ at Seton-LaSalle High School, 1000 McNeilly Road, Pgh. PA 15226.  Entertainment with Guaranteed Irish, Mike Gallagher, Pittsburgh Irish Reelers.  The evening begins at 6:30PM with a desert Reception and basket raffle, concert at 7:30PM.  Tickets $25.00, Sister Patricia Hughes 412.343.1382, online at and go to the News & Events section to use secure link to register online.  The concert benefits the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill and their Far East Missions.


Saturday, October 4

·        ‘An Irish-American Experience at Gettysburg’ Tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield & Soldiers National Cemetery from 9:15 AM to 2:30 PM.  This trip is being organized by the AOH; information contact Jim Green 412.881.6499.  Cost for Tour - $50.00 per person.  Limited Seating.  


Saturday, October 11


The Irish Centre of Pittsburgh will sponsor an “Irish Night” with Whiskey Limerick at 8:00 PM.   Doors open at 7:00PM.  Members $8.00 Non-Members $12.00.


Sunday, October 12

·        Samhain, The Celtic New Year Celebration, a fundraiser for Echoes of Erin on WEDO 810AM at Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle, (Mullaney’s Castle) 24th St. & Penn Ave. in The Strip. Doors open at 4:00PM, Local Talent with Terry Griffith, Christopher Laughrey with Casey Deely & Duane Davis, Jack Puskar, Michael Mykita with ‘rune’ readings & other interesting stuff, plus more with John McCann & Bob Banerjee.  Costume Contest.  Donation $15.00 at Door.  Information Diane Byrnes 412-781-6368, Email  


Saturday, November 1


Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle, 2329 Penn Ave., in The Strip, presents The Guinness Oyster Festival. 

become a regular at these local programs!

 The Echoes of Erin is marking its 21st year!  It airs every Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.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

Pittsburgh Irish Rowing Club 2008 Schedule

Annapolis – October 4

For more information contact:




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 - http://

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 Irish Rowing Club (PIRC)

    Pittsburgh Banshees

    Pittsburgh Celtics     

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, BBC, and other news sources.