After more than a decade of economic growth that earned Ireland the moniker the “Celtic Tiger” the Irish economy has hit the skidders. Spurred on by a boom-bust housing market and surrounding banking practices it has slid downward since mid 2008. On November 22nd, Ireland”s coalition government accepted a financial aid package estimated between 80-90 billon euros ($100-123 billion) from the European Union (EU). EU officials had been pitching and pushing the aid package to help bailout Ireland with the broader goal of stabilizing the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and keep it from spreading to other financially shaky countries, i.e. Portugal and Spain. After initial enthusiasm for the bailout/loan waned, financial markets in Europe and U.S. fell as investors following the money realized that it did not come from an endless pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, but rather from a stressed EU debt load. As Irish citizens call for the proverbial heads of politicians, bankers, and the usual suspects, others try to reassure that all will be well. Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said on ITN on the day of the bailout, “I have no doubt that with this external assistance Ireland will emerge from this stronger, better, and leaner.” But, perhaps the best rallying cry can be heard from Dublin based graphic designer Fergus O”Neill who created a series of posters which bore the slogan “Keep Going Sure it”s Grand” Taking his cue from the “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters produced by the British government during World War II, O”Neill”s quintessentially Irish version is quietly finding its way into homes, offices and businesses across the world as people do their best to get on with things and keep going. He suggests that his posters express a typically Irish attitude. “The posters reflect something which I believe is in the very fabric of being Irish, if that’s good or bad you can decide – I personally believe it’s a good thing, it’s what makes us Irish. We’re NOT French and we’re NOT Greek. Thank Christ!” The “Grand” scheme is not only designed for sales and solace ” O”Neill thinks that he has come up with a solution to help Ireland”s banking crisis. “I’m giving one euro back to the state for every one of my signed and editioned (limited edition of 42 billion) posters sold and my objective is to sell 42 billion posters thus half solving the banking crisis.” A weekly count of monies earmarked for the state along with Department of Finance receipts, have been tracked on the Keep Going facebook page which has attracted almost 3,000 followers worldwide since its foundation last month. O”Neill hopes that a positive message to Irish people home and abroad can be communicated and said, “The bid to sell 42 billion of these posters may seem absurd but it can be deemed no more absurd than the outrageous practices and policies that landed us here. There is little we can do except be ourselves and get on with it.” He added, “What I’m doing is something rather than waiting for something to be done. How can he sell 42 billion posters you may well snicker? Well I have a plan … a very big plan.” So far the plan seems to be working, “The posters are selling quite well. I have sold them to addresses in Scotland, all over the UK, Denmark, Spain, France, Austria, New York, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Canada, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and from Clonshaugh to Ballyhooly.” “Keep Going” postcards are also available online and more products in the pipeline including toilet seats and doormats. O”Neill”s “really Irish poster” with slightly different wording is also available to see and order online (If you”re Irish you can guess). When asked in jest by the Celtic Connection if he were to sell all 42 billon posters, would he not be in a position to purchase Ireland and declare himself King, he responded in kind. “I wouldn’t be comfortable as ‘King’ I’m too humble, perhaps some kind of feudal Chief.” The original hand-crafted screen prints are currently available online from http://grandgrand.bigcartel.com both framed and unframed, along with postcards and tote bags and will ship worldwide. Patrons are being urged to display their posters with pride and above all to Keep Going”Sure It”s Grand. (December 2010 Celtic Connection, Denver CO) Buy at: http://grandgrand.bigcartel.com/ Find on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Keep-Going-Sure-Its-Grand/130806596969418

by Cindy Reich In Ireland, on Christmas Eve, it is customary to light a candle and put it in the window for Mary and Joseph to find their way” Especially in rural areas, the hillsides are dotted with lights that sparkle like stars on “Oiche Nollaig”. You can experience an Irish Christmas with Danu when they bring their Irish Christmas show to Macky Auditorium on Friday, December 10. Blending Irish carols, traditions and of course, music, Danu will transport the audience to their native Ireland for the evening. Long a driving force in Irish traditional music, Danu has gained the respect and adoration of fans throughout the world with their energetic jigs and reels as well as soulful vocals. However, along with painting a musical picture, Danu will introduce the audience to the rich Irish traditions surrounding Christmas. One of the most unique is the “wren dance” that takes place on December 26th, also known as St. Stephen”s Day. According to legend, Stephen was being pursued by Romans and hid in a furze bush. As the Roman legion passed by, the wren called out, giving away Stephen”s hiding place and he was caught and killed. There is retribution for the wren, in Ireland, even to the present day, but the tradition all but died out except in very remote areas of the Gaeltacht (Gaelic speaking areas of Ireland, primarily in the west). However, even Dublin has its “wren day” and to find out what happens to the wren, you”ll have to be at the gig! (No wrens will be harmed in the wren festivities!!!!) The evening can best be described by original Danu founder and band member, Benny McCarthy (button accordion): “We perform “An Irish Christmas” which basically entails Music, Songs and stories that we play here at home in Ireland. We have many traditions that are particular to Ireland such as the lighting of Candles on Christmas Eve to St.Stephens day and the hunting of the wren traditions. We like to tell our audience about all this tradition and get them involved in some familiar carols (Irish Style mind you), play tunes, sing songs and have local Irish dancers join the band. An overall Christmas Hooley Irish style!!” Other members of Danu include outstanding Gaelic singer and first female member, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh (vocals, flute, whistle), returning member Donal Clancy (guitar), Tom Doorley (flute), Oisin McAuley (fiddle) and Donnchadh Gough (uillean pipes/bodhran). With six albums and a live DVD under their belts, Danu has a brand new album, “Seanchas” (Lore/Folklore). McCarthy has this to say about this newest release: “This is the band”s first release since 2005. We are very proud of this new album, which features many tunes and songs we didn’t get the chance to record over the years along with some beautiful newer material. We like to think this our “mature” record! While Danu have not been in Colorado for a while, “too long away” as Benny McCarthy, they are looking forward to returning to snowy (?) Colorado for this special Christmas show. “We are really looking forward to getting to Boulder and the Rocky Mountains”, says McCarthy. “It is going to be the highlight of the tour!” Danu”s “An Irish Christmas” Friday, December 10, 2010 at Macky Auditorium, Boulder. 8pm 303-492-8339

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