Read about an exciting new Pittsburgh-Ireland venture


The Common Ground

Vol. IV, Issue 5


      May 2006



                 News Updates






letter from the editor 


One of the top stories dominating the national news in 2006 has been Immigration. And we are not alone in dealing with the issue. Ireland, England, the Netherlands, and France are among the many nations that have struggled recently with the strong opposing views of this thorny issue in their respective countries. 


It does not appear that the governments have the ability to control their borders. Everyday thousands of men, women, and children seek to enter the United States, either legally or illegally. And checkpoints have not thwarted illegal trafficking. CNN reported just this week on the elaborate networks of cartels, moving hard drugs, selling people, especially children into slavery, exploiting families, and participating in other unlawful activity.

So there is no argument that the system needs fixing. What are the issues? Why do some Americans feel threatened by a perceived onslaught of immigrants. Why do others insist that immigrants are a necessary piece of the American Pie? And why is the argument so intense? 


American workers’ jobs are at risk when an immigrant workforce is willing to do those jobs at lower pay. Our perceptions of American culture will be altered dramatically with the influx of other cultures. And our natural resources have been and will continue to be burdened by the sharply increased population. These are some of the primary reasons for saying “no” to immigration policy. And they are valid points. 


On the other hand statistics indicate that immigrants, both legal and illegal, typically are filling jobs American Citizens do not want or cannot perform. And the US government sees, in spite of the outcry against illegal immigrants, that this portion of the workforce, estimated 10 million strong, is a vital part of the growing economy. Immigration analysts contend that, while enforcement of immigration policy is effective in schools, hospitals, public offices and other agencies where illegal immigrants may seek vital services, the job is a relatively safe place to avoid enforcement officers. Companies dependent on illegal immigrants continue to employ them with no concern for the law nor the consequences for breaking it.


As to the threat of immigration to our culture and natural resources, doesn’t that really depend on us? America has welcomed immigrants from every nation in the world over the past 400 years. And while the government has never been terribly kind to new arrivals, the people have, for the most part, opened their arms, hearts, and minds to them. This willingness to accept and support diversity within our neighborhoods and across the continent contributed to our strength as a nation and to our positive image across the world. The mixing of folkways and identities, of literature and science, and the communication of thoughts between diverse individuals and groups leads to innovations and new technologies, richer compilations of culture and more thoughtful approaches to the many challenges we face in the new century. 

With each wave of immigration we have an opportunity to cultivate new Americans—groups with strong ethnic ties but even stronger yearnings to “breathe free” in America—just as our ancestors did before us. No matter how the battle on immigration gets resolved in Congress, the American people owe it to themselves and each other to study the issues, understand the arguments, and insist on the renewal of an open society and its many benefits. 


Jim Lamb, President

Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh



This month, we continue our series featuring Irish Festivals. 


In our Letter from the Editor, Jim Lamb comments on current immigration issues.  


There's some latest Irish news from the US & Ireland. Finally, check out our lifestyles section to find out more about how two of Ireland's musicians are attempting to "Make Poverty History". 


Festivals of Ireland

The Clonmel Junction Festival


July 1st – 9th, 2006

The Junction Festival is a nine-day annual cultural celebration taking place in Clonmel, the County town of South Tipperary. Having begun in 2001 with nine events over five days the event has doubled in size each year and now hosts over 70 events. The festival is a celebration of the performing arts with international and Irish theatre, dance, music and comedy performances taking place in a variety of venues around the town.

Complementing the exciting performing arts program is an integrated year round Participation Program which seeks to bring professional artists in contact with school and community groups to work together producing a series of vibrant temporary art installations which are displayed around the town of Clonmel for a three week period before and during the festival.

Building on the success of previous years the 2005 Junction Festival once again grew in scale and stature, attracting record numbers to the town to enjoy the exciting and eclectic mix of events.

The Galway Arts Festival

July 17th – 30th, 2006

The Galway Arts Festival is one of Ireland’s largest and most prestigious annual arts festival. Galway has long been considered a center of cultural excellence with the festival being the defining cultural expression of Galway. At the heart of all aspects of life in the city, a stunning fortnight of cultural activity and celebration is promised.

The 2005 festival featured over 400 writers, artists, performers and musicians from Canada, England, France, Scotland and the USA joining those from Ireland creating theatre, spectacle, street art, comedy, literature and music and the expectation is that this year’s event will top it.

So if you find yourself in the west of Ireland this summer check out a premium Irish Festival – you won’t be disappointed!

Don't forget Pittsburgh's own Irish festival this summer:

September 8th - 10th, Station Square


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 Monday last, 15th May, the Northern Ireland Assembly re-convened for the first time since they were elected in November 2003. 


As part of the process of devolution for Northern Ireland, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern announced that Assembly members would initially set about trying to elect a power-sharing government involving Rev. Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists, Gerry Adams’ Sinn Féin, Reg Empey’s Ulster Unionists and the SDLP lead by Mark Durkan.


However, if the Assembly is unable to form a multi-party devolved government within six weeks, both Prime Ministers have suggested that Assembly members would return in the autumn and be given a November 24 absolute deadline to try again.


The return on Monday to the Assembly was tinged with sadness as the members observed a minute silence to mark the death of Michael McIlveen, a 15 year old schoolboy from Co. Antrim who died in hospital after being assaulted by a loyalist gang last week.. 



The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Cancer Centers, intent on broadening their services on an international stage, were pleased to announce an important partnership with Ireland.


UPMC has partnered with Irish-based Euro Care International to develop and operate a radiation therapy facility that will involve the installation of up to two linear accelerators to treat public and private patients. Whitfield Cancer Center is currently under construction in the city of Waterford, Ireland. The partnership will bring convenient access to treatments including radiation therapy to the people of Waterford and surrounding counties. In addition, UPMC is in the final stages of negotiations for a second center in Dublin. While UPMC has significant international experience, this is the first international venture for UPMC Cancer Centers. Whitfield Cancer Center is scheduled to open in mid-2006. This is a launch pad for other initiatives, such as the Wiser Simulation Center at the School of Nursing in Waterford.


Jim Lamb, President of the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh was invited to serve on the Pittsburgh-Ireland Relations Committee to enhance the partnership being developed with Ireland. 










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U2 lead singer Bono is to begin a ten day tour of Africa in order to establish the success of the recent Make Poverty History campaign.


He will examine the effects of the campaign that seeks to see the main industrialized countries of the world cancel the debts owed to them by poorer countries. 


Already, public pressure has forced many of these rich countries to cancel some poor country debts. Gordon Brown, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, acknowledged that the G8 made further concessions in 2005 because campaigners had made debt "a crucial public issue".


Ireland's other favorite son, Bob Geldof, is also very much involved in the Make Poverty History campaign, having organized Live Eight last Summer on the 20 year anniversary of the Live Aid concerts that were held in 1986.

Bono plans to visit Lesotho, Rwanda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Mali and Ghana.  

What is the Celtic Tiger Mark 2?

Anyone who has been to Ireland or read about the island of Ireland will know that we have a wide array of Flora & Fauna that are some of the corner stones of our tourism industry. In the late 1990's and the period 2000/2001 a new animal appeared on Ireland's fair shores - the Celtic Tiger! The Celtic Tiger was the name Economists and subsequently the media gave to the ferocious growth of the Irish economy during this time, a growth that saw unemployment falling to 4.9% and the economy growing by 5 to 6 percent annually, dramatically raising Irish living standards to equal and eventually surpassing those of many states in the rest of the European Union. 

The Celtic Tiger came to a sudden halt in 2001 after a half decade of astonishingly high growth. The Irish economic downturn was in-line with the worldwide downturn. A large drop in investment in the worlds IT industry caused by the over-expansion of the industry in the late 1990s was partly to blame. Other factors included  several companies moving their operations to Eastern Europe and China due to a rise in Irish wage-costs, insurance premiums and a general loss of Irish competitiveness.

But the Celtic Tiger has returned and the years 2004 and 2005 have seen Ireland experience growth of around 4.5% in contrast with much lower figures (1-3%) for many other European economies, such as Germany, France, and Italy.

Recovery of the world IT industry, a successful drive to attract high skills jobs, a rebound in tourism and continued investment by multinational firms such as Intel are amongst the chief reasons for the reemergence of the Tiger.


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

In the Summer and Fall 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.


The first group will arrive in Pittsburgh on 31st July and are from the Tyrone & Donegal areas while the 6th October sees the arrival of young people from Monaghan and Armagh.


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






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According to history, the ancient Celtic Kings held horse races in County Kildare, where the Irish flat racing headquarters were established early in the 18th century. Horse racing continues to be a popular pastime, with 11 major festivals all over the country throughout the year. As of January 2005, a total of 49.3 million Euro were bet on 2,241 races. 

The British Horseracing Board (BHB) and the Irish Turf Club hosted the first annual Anglo-Irish Jump Race in central London earlier this week. Irish-trained horses won four of the seven categories. BHB marketing director Chris John said: "It has been a positive step forward to jointly host the Anglo-Irish Jump Racing Awards with the Turf Club and through doing so it allows us to recognize the leading figures across the whole of National Hunt racing.” The partnership between the BHB and the Turf Club allows the long tradition of horseracing in both the UK and Ireland to come together in friendly competition.

















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Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theater (PICT) will present The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh, May 4th-28th. For more information call 412-561-6000. Martin was featured in last months Common Ground as he had recently won an Oscar for the Short Film "Six Shooter".

All-Ireland Athletic Club present Matt Cunningham's Irish Ceili Band, direct from Galway appearing at VFW Post 5008, 401 Draper Street, East Pittsburgh on Saturday May 20th. Contact Nellie Mannion at 412-362-1963

Pittsburgh Rowing Club will sponsor their 2006 Season Kickoff Party at the Irish Center of Pittsburgh, 6886 Forward Avenue at 7pm on Saturday May 20th. For more information contact Pat Clark at

Gaelic Arts Society of Pittsburgh presents a program about the Writers of Ireland at Synod Hall, Oakland at 2:30pm on Sunday May 21st. For more information contact Earl McCabe 412-761-1844

50th Pittsburgh Folk Festival at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center Friday May 26th. For information log onto

Irish Gaelic Football returns to Pittsburgh this summer. The Pittsburgh Celtics Men's team & Pittsburgh Banshees ladies team play Cleveland St. Patrick's at Founders Field in Indianola on Sunday June 11th. For more information contact Danny Erb on 412-867-9363 or Sheila Shovlin on 412-417-4802. 

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.