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Ireland’s Own is pleased to announce details of our 2014 Writing Competitions (this year again in association with the self-publishing company Original Writing).

Entries are invited to compete for €2200 in prizemoney.

The Open Short Story section is open to all and carries a prize fund of €1000 – a first prize of €600; second prize of €200 and two runners-up prizes of €100.  

The Beginners Short Story section is restricted to those who have never had a story published before. It carries a first prize of €300 and three runners-up prizes of €100. Entries for both short story sections should be of approx. 2000 words, reflect the ethos of Ireland’s Own and be of a non-experimental nature.

Occasionally, stories may need some slight adjustments to comply with our requirements; we reserve the right to make such changes.

Entry in the competitions is deemed an acceptance of this condition.

For the Memories section we are asking entrants to tell us of some special, moment or event in not more than 800 words. It could be about school, holidays, falling in love, getting married, emigrating, a special person you have known, etc. This section carries a first prize of €200 and four runners-up prizes of €100.

In all three sections, entries should be the original and unpublished work of the sender, and should be typed on one side only of A4 paper, double spacing. Any number of entries may be submitted, but each story must be accompanied by a €6.00 (£5 Stg) fee, in cheque or money order – post no cash), made payable to IRELAND’S OWN.

Entries must be submitted by post; make sure you include your own name and address on each entry, and also your email address if you have one to facilitate easy contact.

The results will appear in the Christmas Annual in early December.

The winning entries will be published in our Winning Writers Annual next May.

It is our intention to publish an anthology next year featuring the winners and best of the recommended entries.

No entry form is needed; the decision of the judges is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Entrants should retain copies of their work as manuscripts will NOT be returned. Entries should be sent to: 2014 Original Writing Competitions, Ireland’s Own, Channing House, Rowe Street, Wexford.

Which section each entry is intended for should be clearly marked on the envelope. CLOSING DATE IS September 30th, 2014

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In China they build houses – for spiders! Because the winter kills most spiders, in the rice and cotton fields farmers build small, waist-high huts out of straw where the spiders can safely hibernate. Then in the spring the spiders scuttle out into the fields to kill the harmful insects which feed on the precious rice and cotton plants.

Spiders are an insect’s worst enemy. It’s reckoned that spiders devour enough insects worldwide in a day to out weigh the human population.

The extra ordinary brownish grey Banana Spider lives in warm countries. It likes eating cockroaches and this spider will quite happily keep a house free of these pests.

In Central America the Banana Spider is a welcome visitor, eating insects and small lizards that crawl up the walls.

In California, to increase the spider population, enterprising farmers plant grass between the trees in their orchards. The spiders feed on the moths which would otherwise damage the apples.

Many spiders help farmers protect their wheat fro destructive insects. Weaving their large webs among the stalks, spiders catch the pests as they fall. Although some spiders, like the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse are dangerous, most spiders are harmless to man. Reports of people being bitten by spiders are usually exaggerated.

For more amazing facts about spiders and other creatures check out Ireland’s Own

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The popular Brown Bread Challenge returns at this year’s National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska on September 23-25th

The cooking skills of Irishwomen have long been appreciated, and heralded, as being in a league of their own.

This year, therefore, at the National Ploughing Championships, those famous culinary talents are to be put under the microscope, as the National Brown Bread Baking Competition is resurrected after a 23-year absence.

‘We were delighted to come on board when Anna May McHugh approached us and told us that Aldi were going to sponsor the competition,’ says ICA President, Liz Wall.

Wexford woman Liz (who you might recognise if you are a regular on the Country Market circuit) has been in the ICA hot seat for the past two years, and is a dab hand in the kitchen herself. She also knows just what it takes to make the perfect loaf of brown bread.

‘I’m not on the judging panel myself,’ she says with a laugh, ‘but the actual judges tell me that they look closely at such important details as texture, taste, appearance and that very important word – sliceability. No soggy bottoms are allowed!’

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    The village of Pallasgreen in Co. Limerick made its national television debut with The Passion which depicts the final 24 hours of Jesus Christ, filmed over three weeks last April.

    Four months after an estimated 5,000 people descended on the small village in East Limerick, the Pallasgreen actors and residents were eager to see their hard work broadcast on the silver screen and “connect with a new audience all over again,” champions The Passion director Eamon Harty.

    “I think we completely exceeded not only our own expectations but the expectations of everyone who came to witness the event. Everyone was pushed to the limit and we wanted people not to just come, watch and listen, but to actually feel part of it. I think we achieved our goal,” says Eamon proudly. Over almost 19 consecutive hours a captivated audience were transported back in time to the garden of Gethsemane to watch the arrest of Jesus Christ and his subsequent trial. On Good Friday crowds gathered to see Jesus being crowned with thorns and make his final pilgrimage to the top of Nicker Hill just outside the village for the Crucifixion scene. While rehearsals began in early September 2013, word on what the small group of amateur actors in Pallasgreen were creating soon began to spread. In January 2014, over 100 parishioners were lucky enough to get a special preview of what was to be recreated.

    The two-day event was the product of a 22-year-old idea when Eamon first witnessed a play in Cashel, Co. Tipperary, based on Christ’s final 24 hours.

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      NOEL COOGAN recalls the early years of the 1990s when Ulster teams dominated the All-Ireland Football Championship with debut wins for Donegal and Derry and a glorious double for Down.

      Something happened in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship in the first half of the 1990s which did not happen before and there is unlikely to be a repeat of it in the foreseeable future. In each of the years from 1991 to 1994, the Sam Maguire Cup was captured by Ulster teams with three different counties enjoying the sweet taste of success. In 1991, Down took the title for the fourth time and that was followed by first time triumphs by Donegal and Derry before Down reclaimed the big prize in ’94. For many decades Cavan were the dominant force in the northern province and the only county from the region capable of putting in a serious challenge for All-Ireland honours. Between 1933 and ’52, the Breffni county brought the game’s most coveted trophy home on five occasions but they ceased being a strong force after the ’60s. There was a sensational start to the sixties which was certainly a decade of significant change for Gaelic football with Down becoming the new glamour team of the game.

      In 1960, the men in red and black created history when becoming the first side to take the Sam Maguire Cup across the border when inflicting an eight points final defeat on the championship’s most successful county, Kerry.

      To prove that victory was not a fluke, Down had six points to spare over the Kingdom in an All-Ireland semi-final clash in 1961 before emerging force, Offaly, were narrowly defeated before a record attendance of more than 90,000 as the title went back to the Mourne county.c

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        Arguably Robert De Niro’s best screen roles were in Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Godfather: Part II and The Deer Hunter.

        The Deer Hunter was based in part on an unproduced screenplay called ‘The Man Who Came to Play’, by Louis Garfinkle and Quinn K. Redeker about Las Vegas and Russian Roulette. Producer Michael Deeley bought the script and hired writer/director Michael Cimino and Deric Washburn to rewrite it.

        He suggested taking the Russian roulette aspect out of America and placing it in the Vietnam War. Along with Washburn and Cimino, credit for the story was given to Louis Garfinkle and Quinn K. Redeker. This was Camino’s second film after the successful Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.

        The production team was headed by director of photography Vilmos Zsigmond, musical director Stanley Myers and Editor Peter Zinner. A strong cast was assembled, headed by Robert De Niro as Michael, John Cazale as Stan, John Savage as Steven, Christopher Walken as Nick, Meryl Streep as Linda and George Dzundza as John.

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        HELLO AGAIN! A large glazed ham need not be confined to Christmas dinner – this will feed a big gathering of family or friends generously, with enough left for the occasional sandwich. A joint of gammon or collar bacon is first par-boiled and then baked with a mustard topping. Serve hot or cold with this tangy Cumberland sauce. A tasty mixture of oranges, lemons, redcurrants and port, Cumberland Sauce is best served cold as a delicious accompaniment to this glorious honey glazed ham. I do hope you enjoy it.

        c 10 Minutes COOKING TIME: 53/4 hours. 2-3kg/4-6lbs lean gammon or prime collar joint of bacon 2 bay leaves 1-2 onions, quartered 2 carrots, sliced thickly 6 cloves GLAZE: 1 tbsp redcurrant jelly 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard CUMBERLAND SAUCE: 1 orange 3 tbsp redcurrant jelly 2 tbsp lemon or lime juice 2 tbsp orange juice 2 – 4 tbsp port 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard TO GARNISH: Salad leaves Orange slices.

        METHOD 1 – Put the meat in a large saucepan. Add the bay leaves, onion, carrots and cloves and cover with cold water. Bring slowly to the boil, cover and simmer for half the cooking time, allowing 30 minutes per 500g/1lb 2ozs plus 30 minutes. 2 – Drain the meat and remove the skin. Put the meat in a roasting tin (pan) or dish and score the fat. 3 – To make the glaze, combine the ingredients and spread over the fat. Cook in a pre-heated oven at 180C, 350F or Gas Mark 4 for the remainder of the cooking time. Baste at least once. 4 – To make the sauce, thinly pare the rind from half the orange and cut into narrow strips. Cook in boiling water for 3 minutes then drain. 5 – Place all the remaining sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and heat gently until the redcurrant jelly dissolves. Add the orange rind and simmer gently for 3-4 minutes. 6 – Slice the gammon or bacon and serve with the Cumberland sauce, garnished with salad leaves and orange slices.

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          The friendship started in high infants in Murlog School. I lived in Drumbuoy, just outside of Lifford. Alice lived in a townland called Moneen at the edge of the small village of Ballindrait.

          Every day, Alice and I met at a little crossroads about a quarter of a mile from the school. There was a shop at the bridge which was part of the crossroads. This emporium was owned by Bridget Donlon. Bridget was a woman of great integrity and generosity. To the school-going children of Murlog she was the Sunday in every week. Alice lived with her grandmother.

          Every day her granny gave her a penny to spend in the shop coming home from school. In rural Ireland in the early sixties, the recessionary climate had no line of correlation to the global economy. I remember Daddy giving us thrupence to spend when he received the monthly cheque from the creamery.

          After Easter each year Donlon’s shop would stock ice-cream and this extra goodie would be on sale throughout the summer. It was only once a month that I was in a position to treat my friend Alice. We would go into the shop after school, my thrupence clenched tightly in my hand. Bridget would peer over the counter at us with her kindly bespectacled face and her grey hair swept back into a tight bun. She always wore a floral wrap-around apron around her tall frame.

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          ELSPETH BROOKE was blonde and very, very angry. And with good cause, she explained, as she showed Inspector Carter and Sergeant Graham into the livingroom of her opulent seaside homxxe. A diamond necklace, conservatively valued at €50,000, had been stolen from her bedroom. To make matters worse, she had even heard the thief leaving the house – although he had slipped through the front door before she could catch a glimpse of him. “You see, I had been sunbathing on the terrace. Then it completely clouded over, and after about twenty minutes I felt a bit cold and came inside. That’s when I heard the footsteps going out of the house – and when I came up to my bedroom, I found the dressing-table drawer forced and the necklace gone!” Mrs. Brooke subsided into a chair and nervously fingered a ring. “The terrible thing is that only three people knew where it was,” she said.

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