Irish place names website

Have you ever wondered what the official Irish name for your home town or city is? Well, a new website,, has just been launched that should provide the answers you are looking for.

The usability is a little strange at first. You are presented with a map of Ireland, segmented by county name. However, when I clicked on my home county (Waterford), I expected to see another (more detailed) map showing all of the towns and/or regions in that county. However, I did not.

It turns out that there is quite a lot of information available from this site, it just isn’t as easy to find it as I first expected. That said, there is a Search box on the site which works just fine, so maybe its just me.

Source: RTE News

Ronnie Drew R.I.P.

Today will go down as a say day in the annals of Irish folk music as it marks the death of Irish musical legend, Ronnie Drew. Most famous for his role as the singer with the Irish folk group, The Dubliners, Ronnie passed away earlier today in Dublin after a long illness. He was just 73 years of age.

Ronnie was almost as famous for his immaculately groomed white beard as he was for his unique voice. Whether he was talking or singing, or looking down the lens of a camera, Ronnie was unmistakably himself. He was truly one of a kind in every way possible and his passing will leave a void in Irish life for some time to come.

As we say in Ireland, “Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam” which translates to, “May his soul be on God’s right side”.

Irish Wife Carrying Championships

They say that you learn something new every day. Today, that something new for me was the existence of a sport called Wife Carrying. Here, a male contestant carries his female team mate over an obstacle course in as quick a time as possible. Several styles of carrying are used, including piggyback, fireman’s carry (over the shoulder) or Estonian-style (where the wife hangs upside-down with her legs around the husband’s shoulders, holding onto his waist).

Whilst it is predominantly a Scandinavian sport, the inaugural Irish Championships were held in Co. Kerry earlier today as part of the Sneem Family Festival, with the winners going on to represent Ireland at the World Championships in Finland next July.

Source: RTE News

How clean is your car?

Sustainable Energy Ireland has a useful energy emissions calculator for all models of car purchased since 2000. I tried this out for my 2003 Renault Scenic and was quite shocked at how poor the emissions were (173 gC02/km) and that it could cost €600 under the new motor taxation scheme, compared to €292 under the current scheme. Fortunately, it will not cost this since it was registered prior to July 2008 and is thus exempt from the new system.

I was also very surprised to see how little by comparison a brand new 2008 BMW 520 Diesel is going to cost under the new scheme (€290 compared to €689 under the current scheme). This car is very efficient and emits a mere 149 gCO2/km.

The times they are a’ changin’

Motor Tax changes

There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding the new motor taxation system being introduced in Ireland at the start of July 2008, so I did a little research of my own to see what impact, if any, this will have on me (and my family). I found the answers to most of my questions on the Citizens Information website and for me, it basically boils down to this:

  1. Cars registered before 1 January 2008 will continue to pay motor tax on the basis of engine size.
  2. New cars registered from 1 July 2008 will pay motor tax charges on the basis of seven CO2 emissions.
  3. The CO2 emissions are measured in terms of grammes of Carbon Dioxide emitted per kilometer travelled, or gCO2/km.
  4. There are 7 different bands of emissions, ranging in price from €100 to €2,00.

So for me (and most others I know) nothing changes in the short term and we will continue to pay motor tax based on the older system of engine size, which ironically increased its rates in January 2008. Only when we trade up to a car newer than July 2008 will these changes affect us.

For Focal Sake

Monday, 26th May 2008 saw the launch of a new book called For Focal Sake: A 32 County Guide to Irish Slang. I had the privilege to review an advanced copy of this publication and have to say, it’s both hilarious and brilliantly put together.

It features a collection of the most popular slang terms from each of the 32 counties of Ireland, based on submissions to the popular website. In addition, there is a brief (but informative) outline of each county including its colloquial name, names of some of the funnier townlands from that county and so on. My favourite part of the entire book has to be the collection of Irish words for being drunk – it’s absolutely priceless.

The front cover (below) is also great and would make a great T-Shirt!

You can find out more about it on the official website.