Check out our Lifestyles and Events Sections for events surrounding St. Patrick's Day


The Common Ground

Vol. IV, Issue 2


February 2006


                 News Updates






letter from the editor


TIRED? Try this!


There is an old Irish proverb that says "A change is as good as a rest."  I would suggest that it's even better.  Truly, the excitement of new challenges and opportunities bring new energy from unknown places to carry out the tasks at hand.  A good night's sleep or a vacation will recharge your batteries just enough to resume your living.  But a commitment to change offers you a whole new perspective, a new world of opportunity, a new life.


What happened to you when your first child was born; when you changed careers; when you went back to school after many years of working; when you volunteered your time to help a good cause?  It probably wasn't easy but it certainly changed your life!


Often the circumstances surrounding change are painful.  Individuals, communities and nations may live comfortably for years until trauma dictates a drastic change.  Consider the hundreds made homeless in the Gulf States after Katrina; the thousands made redundant due to outsourcing; and the many families mourning a loss in the war on terrorism.  Of course in Northern Ireland the effects of redundancy and war brought considerable pain.


Common to all these circumstances are initial grief and lingering stress.  Then eventually, comes an inner strength and resolve to change, to step out of the depression, and get on with life.


The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh and many other fine organizations have worked diligently to facilitate change among those suffering.  In this work the most gratifying moments are when participants gain that new perspective.  Unemployed young adults, lacking self-confidence and self respect, desperately took a chance on the power of fundamental change.  Fighting through the pain brought a sense of accomplishment that empowered them to seek further challenges, either in pursuit of their careers, or in contributing to their communities.   Many of you, our host families and internship mentors, saw this transformation first-hand.


Now the Ireland Institute itself braces for monumental changes, in -step with the realities of today's Ireland and it's position in the world.  Happily for us, these changes are most welcome.  Relative peace across the North and the strong sustained economy of the Republic have compelled us to examine our mission, our focus, and our approach to facilitating links between Western Pennsylvania and Ireland.  Our model for peace and reconciliation might be replicated for other global ht spots; more attention could be paid to strategic links for business, educational, and cultural exchange with Ireland; and fulfilling the promise of the Good Friday Agreement will require all the help it can get.


Our work is not done.  We cannot rest.  Our work is changing and we need to change.  We are forging a new Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh.  As Common Ground readers tend to have good taste and great ideas, I submit this challenge.  If you need a rest don't take a nap.  Gather up your thoughts, commit your time and energy.  Help us celebrate our past and prepare for our new life.  The change will be at least as good as a rest.


Jim Lamb


Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh


It's almost March, and that means its time for the annual flurry of events surrounding St. Patrick's Day.  Check out our Lifestyles and Events sections for more information.

Our News section has updates on the current round of devolution talks going on in Northern Ireland.

Finally, we remind readers that opportunities are still available for Host Families, through the Ireland Institute, in 2006.  You'll find more information in the Lifestyles section.

Irish Poet and Scholar John O'Donohue to appear in Pittsburgh

On Sunday, March 19th the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh will host an appearance by Irish poet John O'Donohue.  This guest speaker, also a best-selling author, scholar, and philosopher, will discuss the topic of "Spring: A Celebration of Life."

O'Donohue, from Connemara, Co. Galway, is the author of Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom; Echoes of Memory, Eternal Echoes: Exploring Our Yearning to Belong; and Beauty.

The Evening will commemorate Sr. Michele O'Leary, former President and co-founder of the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh.  Her legacy of care and outreach still resonates here and in Ireland.

Tickets will be sold for $25 for general admission, and $10 for students and clergy.  For more information please contact the Ireland Institute at 412-394-3900.




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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On Thursday, news emerged of a new bill before the British House of Commons that would allow devolution of policing and criminal justice duties to local Northern Ireland politicians whenever a new agreement is reached to restore the devolved government.  These powers were previously withheld from local control in the Good Friday Agreement.  Devolved government at Stormont in Belfast, including the Northern Ireland Assembly, has been suspended since 2003.


Talks to restore the devolved government of Northern Ireland continued this week at Stormont in Belfast.  After an optimistic start, the talks have been jeopardized when the DUP threatened to withdraw from the talks after the Independent Monitoring Commission issued a report contending that some IRA criminal activity continues.  The DUP have indicated that they are not willing to participate in the talks until the IRA is disbanded.









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Special Events:  St. Patrick's Day "Season"

As we approach March and the annual St. Patrick's Day celebrations, we thought it might be useful to offer a listing of upcoming events specifically geared toward this holiday

Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh's Annual St. Patrick's Day Open House

The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh will host its annual St. Patrick's Day Open House here at our offices at 425 Sixth Avenue, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Friday, March 17th.  Please do stop in. 

St. Patrick's Day Parade and Button Party

Pittsburgh's Annual St. Patrick's Day parade will be held on March 11th.  The parade starts at 10 a.m.  A fundraiser for the parade, the annual Button Party, will be held March 3rd at Mitchell's Pub, downtown.  For more information please visit the parade website by clicking here.

St. Patrick's Day Mass at the Irish Centre of Pittsburgh

On March 17th the Irish Centre of Pittsburgh will host a St. Patrick's Day Mass with Father Sean Kealy at 7 p.m.  A social will follow.  For more information see


Local LAOH to Celebrate 100th Anniversary


By LAOH Division 11


One hundred years ago, May of 1906, a group of Irish Catholic Women from the Oakland /Soho area of the city of Pittsburgh met for the first time and organized a new division of the Ladies Auxiliary to the Ancient Order of Hibernians.  Nationally the organization had been founded about 10 years earlier and this new division was one of the first in Allegheny County.  There had been 10 divisions founded prior and as was the custom the new division took the next number available hence Division Eleven was born. 


The first members of our Division were Irish born immigrants, first and second generation Irish Americans, married women, mothers, working women and professional women.  Very much like we are today, a century later.  We still also share our common goals of Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity.  We still cherish the friendships we have made and still remember our departed sisters with love and appreciation.


Any organization that has been able to remain true to its mission for a century is truly exceptional, however that achievement is all the more special when that organization was founded on the principals of the Catholic Church and pride in our Irish Heritage.


We invite you to join us in the celebration of our Diamond Jubilee on Saturday, April 8,2006 at the Greentree Holiday Inn.  Holiday Drive, Greentree, PA 15220.    Mass will be celebrated by PA State Chaplain, Father Francis X Hanley at 5:00 p.m. in the Junior Ballroom of the Holiday Inn.  The schedule for the rest of the evening is as follows:


6:00 p.m. Open Bar and Hors d' oeuvre

7:00 p.m. Dinner  

8:00 p.m. Dancing and Open Bar


We hope that you will be able to join us on our very special evening.

opportunities available to host a young person from Ireland or northern Ireland this summer!

In the Spring and Summer of 2006, over forty young men and women from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are expected to arrive in Pittsburgh to participate in our Wider Horizons program.  These young people will receive two months of on-the-job training, personal development, exposure to American culture, and new insights into the problems at home through conflict resolution.  At the end of the eight weeks, the participants will return to Ireland, hopeful of securing employment and living in peace.

As an essential part of this program, we are looking for host families to house participants during these two separate eight-week long programs.  Those of you who have hosted participants in the past have our thanks for opening your hearts and homes.  No doubt you may be called upon again, but we also ask you to recruit any interested friends, neighbors, and co-workers.  Host Family help is vital in providing a positive and rewarding experience for the participants.

For more information on becoming a Host Family, please contact the Ireland Institute at 412-394-3900. 






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GAA Season Underway in Ireland

By Miceal O'Neill


The Gaelic football season is getting underway in Ireland with the Allianz Football League, but the main talking point is the Championship.  This year the main contenders are Kerry, Dublin, Armagh, and Tyrone.  But shocks are always guaranteed from other contender such a Laois, Donegal, and even Monaghan, who have improved greatly over the last few years. 


The question that is always asked: who is going to get out of Connacht?  Furthermore, with Galway coming up on top last year with a slim victory over Leitrim, can they repeat this? Mayo are another contender as they beat Kerry in the home territory last weekend.  Everyone wonders if Galway will return to their winning ways of the early 200's and late 1990's.


Already this year in the league Armagh have been beaten twice - has the loss of their leader Joe Kiernan hurt the Orchard County?  The facts speak for themselves.  They have lost an inspirational leader and his boots will be hard to fill maybe for many years to come.  Meanwhile, GAA fans still await news of the game between Tyrone and Dublin where huge pitch brawls threatened to end the game early bans from this game are inevitable.  Video evidence is still under review as the game was broadcast live on television.. 


This years Championship is going to be one of the best in recent history as many of the smaller teams have greatly improved, with year-around training regiments as tough as professional sports.  The writing is on the wall for a huge shock in the Championship.  So all I can say is watch this space and keep an eye on the smaller teams. 


Miceal O'Neill is the 2005-2006 Rooney Fellow

















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February 26th LAOH Division 11 will host the Wolfe Tones on February 26 at Finnigan's Wake, on General Robinson Street in the North Side.  The concert begins at 7 p.m.  Tickets are $25 and can be purchased through Maggie Cloonan at 412-366-6896.

March 5th Irish Tenors with Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, 2:30 p.m.  Discount tickets are available for groups of 10 or more. Anthony Kearns, John McDermott, and Finbar Wright.  Tickets are available through the Symphony Box Office at 412-392-4900 (412-392-4819 for group sales).

March 7th Natalie MacMaster, described as "Canada's Finest Fiddler" will perform at the Byham Theater at 7:30 p.m.  For tickets contact the Box Office at 412-446-6666 or visit

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

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.



One of the support services offered by the Ireland Institute includes furniture donation, collection and redistribution to the Walsh Peace Visa participants. The money they save, as they set up house, is realized immediately, and they are quite grateful to all Ireland Institute supporters who have kindly donated furniture and household items.

New groups are arriving in the spring and summer of this year.  If you have any furniture or household items to donate, please contact the Institute at 412-394-3900. Our thanks and gratitude goes out to all involved.


Our Mission:

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.