An Abbey on the Lake, Before You Sleep and the McDonnells…

Your letter from Ireland shorts from the 12th of December 2023.

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An Abbey on the Lake, Before You Sleep and the McDonnells…

Céad míle fáilte, welcome to your Letter from Ireland “Shorts”.  Each Tuesday we’ll bring you a quick-read of some of our favourite and interesting Irish things for this week.

Kylemore Abbey, County Galway.
 Originally built as a residence for a wealthy London couple, it was bought by the Irish Benedictine nuns in 1920 after fleeing from Ypres during WW1. They then turned the castle into an abbey. It now draws a lot of visitors for its picturesque beauty but is also still a working abbey. This youtube documentary gives a good history of the Abbey with interviews from the nuns of the time. Have you ever seen a victorian Christmas card? Have a look here at Kylemore’s collection here  and you’ll see some good examples.

Our Irish surname of the week is McDonnell. Tracing back to both Scottish and Irish origins, McDonnell derives from the Gaelic “Domhnall” meaning “world ruler.” Arriving in Ireland in the 13th century from Scotland, they became “gallowglass” (mercenaries) in to the north of Ireland. The clan also includes distinct Irish septs in Leinster and north Munster, with the latter serving as bards to the O’Briens. To see where the name appears in Ireland in the mid 1800s go to this page on

“Ireland” by Frank Delaney. This is a must-read. It enthralled me with the tale of a young boy, Ronan O’Mara, who is captivated by a storyteller’s vivid narratives of Irish history and legends. His journey through through the tales of kings, saints, and myths sparks a lifelong quest in Ronan to reconnect with these rich, cultural stories. Perfect for anyone enchanted by Ireland’s unique heritage. Click here to see the book on amazon. 


Is maith an scéalaí an aimsir

It translates as “Time is a good storyteller”.

Click here to listen to how a native Irish speaker would say it

The best stories have been embellished through much retelling over time!

IRISH CRAFT/PRODUCT WE LOVE (not an advert – just things we like) 

Adam was a little Irish boy who died suddenly and without warning from an undiagnosed brain tumour in 2007 – just after his 4th Birthday. To encourage others to spend more time with their children and pay tribute to his child, his Dad wrote this kids book “Before You Sleep” . We’ve bought it for our grandkids and think it’s a beautiful story. He’s since written more award winning books and has other beautiful pieces for kids like this Christmas teddy bear in pyjamas.

before you sleep by Benji Bennett

That’s it for this week. Send us an email with any of your own favourites for inclusion in future emails, or if you’re a plus member leave a comment below.

Slán for now,
Mike & Carina.

Note: The above article may contain some affiliate links (for example the Amazon link) which means we get paid a small amount should you choose to purchase, at no extra cost to you. This helps us keep the show on the road!

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