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The world’s fastest motorcycle race takes place in Portrush-Portstewart, Co Derry, from  May 10-16.

It is called “The North-West 200″ and is held every year. It attracts about 100,000 fans from around the world.

Festival of Beltane

The festival of Beltane begins on May 1 and marks the second half of the Celtic year. Beltane means “fire of Bel” after the sun god.  When summer begins, plants blossom as do good spirits.  People would gather flowers to decorate their homes and women would braid flowers in their hair.  Traditionally, a bonfire was lit at night and young people spent the night in the woods “a-Maying;”and the next morning, they danced around the May Pole.  At this time a marriage of one year and a day could take place.  A May Queen is chosen and she goes from door to door, singing and soliciting donations for merrymaking.

Yeat’s Advice to Shaw

On advice from Yeats, GB Shaw went to the Aran islands and wrote about life there and the western coast of Ireland.

‘Lazy beds’ were narrow ridges about 4 feet in width used to plant potatoes.  There was a furrow between each ridge and seed was planted by sticking a spade into the ground and dropping the seed behind the spade which was then withdrawn leaving the potato 2-3 inches beneath the soil.  This produced more potatoes than the usual way of planting, thus they were called’ lazy beds’.  If the peasants didn’t have a spade then their hands or sticks were used.

L. Hartley Quote

“The past is a different country: they do things differently there.”

Senior members of Sinn Fein have met with descendants of Easter Rising combatants in preparation for the commemorations next year.  They plan to launch the party’s plan and will seek to involve the Irish diaspora.

The Irish government has given its approval for the restoration of the Ulster Canal between the Shannon-Erne Waterway and the International Scout Centre at Castle Saunderson in Co Cavan.  The project will have an economic impact on the area which is still recovering from the Troubles.

A former window washer Jim Osborne of Donegal has found a new occupation.  He discovered he could draw on misty windows with fantastic results.  His collection is called “Stormy Windows Collection” and can be viewed at www.osborneart.com

The Irish government has acquired the property at 14-17 Moore Street, the site of much of the fighting during the Easter Rising.  It is hoped that a museum will be in place for the remembrance of the 1916 Easter Rising.

An Irish Saying

Snuff at a wake is fine if no one sneezes over the snuff-box.

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