Archive by Author

McCarthy Gathering for 2017

23 Jan

McCarthy Heritage Weekend in Dunmanway, Ireland 26-28 May, 2017

The weekend has been inspired by the life and work of Daniel MacCarthy Glas (1807, London – 1884, Southampton). The grandson of an emigré from Dunmanway, Daniel devoted many years to research into the genealogy of the MacCarthys in general and his own family in particular, without the benefits of indexed archives, the internet or Y-DNA. Apart from several books, including The Life and Letters of Florence MacCarthy Reagh and A Historical Pedigree of the Sliochd Feidhlimidh. The MacCarthys of Gleannacroim, his research, resulted in an enormous volume of correspondence not just with Irish addresses, but with McCarthys in North America and elsewhere, as Daniel himself lived at various times in England, South Africa, Italy and France. This correspondence was meticulously copied and retained in a family archive which has traveled the globe but, with the generosity of its most recent holder, is now to come to rest in the land of his paternal ancestors…..

 

Read more….

 

New Article posted on the NAMC site

9 Feb

This article has some excellent research and is a worthwhile read:

The Rise of Meic Carthaig and the Political Geopgraphy of Desmumu

To my sons…

22 Jul

In The Beginning…

joseph1

Joseph in Iraq

The climbing started around 20 years ago. Your uncle Joseph had signed up with the Marines and before he actually went to Boot the recruiters took him, a few other recruits and potential recruits out to some cliffs for some old-fashioned rappelling. I went along because – well why not, it seemed like a fun thing to do. There we learned to tie rope harnesses and rappel. We spent the day rappelling and generally horsing around. Apparently the whole thing was a ruse though – to show potential recruits that were not yet signed up just how fun being in the Marines was. The ploy worked for some of the naive ones; as history confirms, I was wise to their ways.

This newly acquired knowledge and skill was not forgotten on those cliffs. The next few months were spent roaming the town with various friends in the very early morning climbing various buildings and a sundry of objects; each new building climbed increased our confidence and caused us to set our heights anew…but it was not long until Joseph shipped off to boot camp. And it wasn’t long after that all four of us brothers had left Montana and went our separate ways in pursuit of our careers, education, and to build a life. Of course we stayed in touch and tried to see each other when we could. But the visits were almost always brief and not very involved. Each of us got married, and after 9/11 all three of your uncles went off to war, we had children of our own…

Now, almost 20 years later, your uncles are nearing their military retirements. The last 20 years have not been dull, they have been packed full of experiences for myself and your uncles. Our lives could never be described as “not fulfilling”. Sure, your uncles and I have seen our share of disappointments, experienced loss, and have been through some difficult times; but those things do not compare in scale to those things we have also been blessed with…

It is a McCarty trait to lean towards the adventurous side of life even from earliest times when our ancestors had rule of Southern Ireland. It was the valiant that achieved and maintained rule there and we did so for nearly three millennia. And when our ancestors were exiled by Cromwell, some sought continuance on the continent of Europe, but our family chose to forge a new life as common men on the frontier of the New World; not afraid of the ocean to get there nor what might await them on the other side. This example, and this history, is your inheritance and you need to take time and consider it. As you know, I too have traveled the world, hiked various mountains and canyons, run various mud races and marathons, and I have been on many other adventures you are privy to; this is my example to you. Your uncles also have experienced much in these ways in the military; this is their example to you. The willingness to endure hardness has been crucial to our success in life. If you learn this lesson, it will serve you well.

The Question and Answer

Last July your uncle Joseph attempted to summit Mt. Rainier; the attempt was not successful. He did not know it at the time but it was providential that it was not a success. Disappointed he planned to attempt again and asked me if I wanted to go. I ignored him as I always ignore such ludicrous requests; I live in Oklahoma. Mount Rainier is in Washington. I have a busy life; so many other things to do. There just wasn’t time unless I could find a three-day weekend. It would mean no family ski trip this year. But a seed of adventure was planted. For every reason I could think of not going a solution would work its way through. The last time your uncle and I went climbing together was a hot summer night in Montana. There was a group of 5 or 6 of us that night. The mosquitoes were out in force but the water tower would take all of ten minutes to scale. Several people started to ascend the tower, and right before your uncle Joseph and I went up, a police officer pulled over a speeder and they stopped right next to the water tower. We lay still in the grass for about 30 minutes, trying not to be detected, but being eaten by mosquitoes. Those already on the tower froze in position and hoped the officer didn’t look up at the brightly lit tower and see them. By the time the officer drove off our friends were in no mood to climb anymore. We called it a night and went home failing to achieve our objective. We never went back to climb that tower. By December of last year I had made up my mind. I told your uncle that I would climb Mount Rainier with him, and that this time, on this climb, it would be just the two of us and that we would not fail…

I am not a “mountain climber”. I have done my fair share of hiking and adventuring. I think that the closest thing to what I was about to do was hiking perhaps the toughest and most notorious route on the Southern rim of the Grand Canyon, the Tanner Trail. It was tough but it was certainly doable by most anybody with a moderate level of fitness. There is nothing technical about it. Rainier would be different – as Rainier is one of the tallest Mountains in the United States and the Grand Canyon, well it’s a canyon, which is kind of like a mountain in reverse without the thin air, but that was over 10 years ago…

Mount Rainier can be a dangerous mountain. The mountain claims people’s lives every year. There were six people who died just a few months before I went. Their bodies are still on the mountain. Naturally, your mother did not ask me not to go but she also did not want me to go. We discussed it at length. We discussed the risks, her fears, the silent mocking or ridicule from others should I lose my life on this quest. I explained that the virtues I wish to uphold, and for my sons to have, now require me to fulfill my word; if I were to live, or to die, my sons would never be without a Father, and she would never be without a Husband. The cowards who might mock me would be alive, but they would have to continue to live their petty existence; never venturing, and never achieving: never coming to know what living really is. So does one have to do hard things to be a man? The world will tell you, “No”, but that is a siren lie. The answer is, “Yes.” Of course this does not mean you have to climb a mountain, what it means is that you must learn to keep your word.

Preparing

Paradise Base Camp

Paradise Base Camp

I normally train for power to better compete in the Highland Games. But after the spring games in Yukon I switched to Crossfit in order to increase my overall fitness and most importantly my metabolic conditioning. To deal with the altitude I also started using special breathing exercises where you forcefully breathe through ever smaller straws in order to strengthen your diaphragm and increase lung capacity and efficiency. I reviewed various equipment recommendations, read some about the climb itself, and reviewed my knots focusing on self rescue. I did much research, but as is true of many things in life, only experience can bring you the true impact of the words of those that have gone before. My brother went out to the mountain several times as the time drew closer to get a view of what we were up against. We chose the weekend of July the 4th – the three-day weekend I needed. I would arrive on Thursday. The next few days would be for preparation and Rest. Sunday we would begin our ascent. We would summit the mountain in 2 days since we were on a time budget, though most people take 3 or 4 days. I did plan a third extra day in case something held us back.

The mountain report was positive. The rangers reported the route to the summit has “never looked better, with only one crevasse and it had a ladder bridge already over it”. The weather forecast was perfect. Now, the rangers turned out to be wrong on some points but they were immaterial. The crucial thing was the weather. Nobody makes it to the summit of Rainier if the weather does not cooperate. My brother and I had spent thousands of dollars up to this point and taken valuable vacation time to summit Mount Rainier, we trained and prepared but there is only so much a man can do alone. But I am not alone. There is a God in heaven, and as evidence of that weekend’s weather, He hears the prayers of faithful men. My sons, this too is a lesson that will serve you well.

The Mountain

Sunday July 6, 2014 about 5 AM

The alarm went off at 5 AM. We checked our gear one more time, loaded the truck and off we went only to return 30 seconds later to retrieve my hat…good thing, I needed that hat. We then drove the several hours to Paradise at Mount Rainier, elevation 5400 feet. Where we live in Edmond Oklahoma the Elevation is 1198 feet. Paradise is already a third way up the mountain. When I got out of the truck I could tell the air was thin. The smell of the pine and the thin air reminded me of Montana when I was young…and I realized for the first time that I can remember that I missed it. We put our packs on. Mine was 55 lbs and your uncle’s was 70 lbs. A bit on the heavy side, but it didn’t seem so at first.

We trekked past a snow-covered meadow and some foot hills, past Pebble Creek and then we ventured onto the Muir Snow Field that would take us to Base Camp Muir. The snow field is where it got steep. It was slow going with your uncle setting the pace as his pack was heaviest. We stopped for lunch at some point, shared two quarts of water with a day hiker that was running low, and by the time we got to Camp Muir we had gone through about 4 to 5 quarts of water each.

It was almost 11 hours to Camp Muir. It took much longer than we thought it would and we were more exhausted than we thought we would be but no matter, we were only four hours to the summit. We were also out of water so we set up camp and began the slow process of melting snow to get more water for the summit climb. We ate dinner, checked in with the ranger. Our clothes were soaked with sweat so we changed into new clothes as soon as we could. Though it was fairly cold during the day we were mostly running hot from the amount of work we had to do carrying our packs up to Camp Muir. As the sun set and the wind picked up the temperature dropped quickly. The air was noticeably thinner now. Elevation: 10, 080 feet.

We got to bed around 9:30 or 10:00 PM. We slept for two hours, if you can call it that. It wasn’t good sleep – the cold prevented us from really sleeping well. I woke with an intense crick in my neck. Too many years of soft living I suppose. I remember being very hungry. My dinner had not filled me.

Monday July 7, 2014 Midnight

At midnight we got up; put our summit gear on, leaving most of our gear in the tent. Our packs were probably less than 30 pounds now. We took our ice axe but left our poles – we should have taken those. It was dark and you could see a string of lights out on the route under the rock fall area where paid guides were taking people up already. Some of them would make it, some would not. It was the first time I began to feel real excitement about making it to the summit.

We left at midnight because the snow is cold and stays in place, the crevasses are at their smallest and not as likely to widen. Looking back on it, it probably would have been better to climb the Muir Snow Field at night too since the snow would not give as much. The first place on the route that you go through is the rock fall area. We could hear the rocks falling the evening before. When there was a bunch of rock collapse off of the wall it sounded like thunder and we thought it was a distant avalanche at first. We began to realize it was the rocks and not the snow and that they were much closer than we thought. On this part of the route, since the rocks can fall on you, the instructions were to move through this area fast and we did so. Looking at some of the freshly fallen rock as we passed by I was thinking that if we were hit by those rocks it would not be survivable. That encouraged us to move with a little more speed.

After the rock fall area is place called Cathedral Gap. This is steep area of sharp rock. The Gap was easy enough to climb, but a little cumbersome with the crampons since there was no snow. It did not seem to take too long to cross it. From there we passed on to Ingraham flats – a very large Glacier. Some choose to stay here instead of Base Camp Muir. It puts them an hour or so closer to the summit. Here we came across our first crevasse. It was the one with the ladder bridge already over it so crossing was not a problem.

After passing Ingraham flats we came to a place called Disappointment Cleaver. Aptly named, it is like a never-ending Cathedral Gap – with snow. It is here that most people decide not to continue or turn back. As we began to reach the top of the Cleaver, the sun began to squint over the horizon. As beautiful as it was, it was not particularly welcome. We were supposed to be on the summit by now, it was past 4 AM. Elevation: 12, 300 feet.

Monday July 7, 2014 about 5 AM

At this point the elevation was proving to be a serious contender. Just walking normally required breathing like I was in a brisk run. Everything was taxing. We brought trail mix but found we could not eat it though we were hungry. The chocolate M&M’s we could get down, but nothing else, and we had very little of them. We were tired from lack of sleep and physically worn out from the climb thus far and the wind made it rather cold. But that was o.k. We had water and we could see the summit. We guessed perhaps it was an hour away; it was not.

Hour after hour we slowly climbed our way up across switch back after switch back and across 2 crevasses and 2 so-called ice bridges that were not supposed to be there. My right hip flexor cramped making it painful to move and even more painful to stop. It was six more hours until we rounded the last switchback and peered into the crater.

Monday July 7, 2014 Noon

Matthew Signing the Log Book

Matthew Signing the Log Book

That’s right – Mount Rainier is not really a mountain – it is a volcano. No lava in the crater though. It was just full of snow. We walked across the crater, found the log book and wrote our names down for posterity.

So on July 7, 2014 at Noon, two brothers, members of the Mac Cárthaigh clan, stood on top of Mount Rainier. For almost an hour the great Mount Rainier remained under the boots of the McCartys. Elevation: 14,500 feet. The view was spectacular. We could see Mt Adams, Hood and St. Helens in the distance and they were below us. The sky was clear…God delivered the perfect weather we needed. We took a drink of whiskey and rested.

Joseph Resting on the Summit

Joseph Resting on the Summit

Getting Off the Mountain

Monday July 7, 2014 about 1 PM

We began our descent amid some consternation. There were two guys already at the summit and they left about the time we got there. The only other person was a woman and she was a bit bewildered because she had lost her climbing partner. They had made an amateurish mistake and separated. She descended to Disappointment Cleaver more or less with us in sight in case something went wrong. At this point all we could do is tell the rangers once we got back to Muir Base Camp. None of us were in any condition to help her partner if he had fallen somewhere.

Going down was easier but not easy. The snow was soft and slushy at times, the crevasses were bigger, and every so often your leg would sink into the snow all the way and your foot would seem like it was free swinging as in a pocket of air. Which means there is probably an open chamber below you, who knows how deep? We were out of water by the time we reached Muir Base Camp.

Monday July 7, 2014 about 5 PM

At Muir Base Camp we melted more snow and broke camp. As interesting as it was, it would be a place I would not miss. I borrowed a ranger’s phone and left your mother a voice mail letting her know that we had reached the summit and would be home soon. Little did I know that you and your brother were at Paradise with your cousins hoping you might see us come down. I am glad you got to see some of the mountain close up while we were in Washington.

We brought thin plastic children’s sleds for the descent on the Muir Snow Field. After a few different tries we settled on the best way. Put the pack on the sled, lay on the pack and go…and go we did! I have never been sledding faster – that I remember anyway. It was at times rough going. Depending on the snow conditions it was like being punched in the stomach – but we had not any food in our stomachs so it turned out o.k. Besides, it was worth it not to have to trudge down that snow field.

We had to continue several more hours to Paradise. My hip flexor’s cramp finally came out about this time. The loss of that pain was welcome and I started to feel like I had more energy.

Monday July 7, 2014 about 8 PM

We finally arrived at your uncle’s truck. I was dehydrated, hungry, my shoulders were rubbed raw from my pack, various muscles hurt, I was tired from no sleep and just plain exhaustion from moving for over 30 hours in the past two days, my lungs were wheezy from breathing so hard at the higher altitudes but when I finally took my boots off I felt like a new man, at least for a little bit.

We didn’t need that third day.

Home

We arrived Home at about 10 PM that evening and your mom and your Aunt Angie were happy, but they were even happier when we told them that perhaps we were done with mountaineering. We were famished so we ate dinner and before bed had a last drink of whiskey.

It was good to see your mom, and it was good to see you boys. I look forward to the day I look upon you as men; and I wonder what heights you shall conquer…

Rainier

North American MacCarthy Clan Political Biographies Project

19 Mar

All,

The North American MacCarthy Clan has started a “Biographies Project” of Clan Politicians in North America and is calling on you to help.

If you ever wanted to become a biographer, or has a school aged child that needs a person to write a report on, we have a job for you!

The MacCarthy Clan not only ruled the South of Ireland for over a millennium, but they have also helped to rule North America and have contributed greatly to it’s good governance.  We want to document that service in more detail and we need your help.

Go here for details…

http://maccarthyclan.org/2014/03/19/maccarthy-political-legacy-project/

Senator Joseph McCarthy

12 Dec

It was inevitable, Senator Joseph McCarthy was bound to grace the pages of this blog at some point – today is that day.

Many may be familiar with the senator. His name draws notoriety and memories of unjust persecutions, false accusations, wild and maniacal speeches. The term McCarthyism derives from him, meaning, “the practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism.[1]”  This is an unfortunate attribution to his name and ought not to be…

Context is Important to Facts

Today, when presented in history class or spoken of in many circles, his career is presented totally out of context of the day he was living.  Many dissenters of McCarthy, and other communist hunters, fail to grasp the true state of the world at this time. Communism, and the regimes that embraced it, had already taken over much of the population of the world. During times of “peace”, when McCarthy was a senator, communists had already killed over 7 million people in Russia alone. Over 80 million more would be killed by communists later in China, Tibet, Cambodia and other places. That does not include the millions killed in World War II by the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, commonly known in English as the Nazi Party. Notice that word “sozialistische”. That’s right, socialists, which is just another name for communists.  Communists and Nazi socialists have been responsible for the murder of over 100 million people in the last 80 years!

The United States was not left untouched.  20 years before WWII the U.S. had what is called it’s first “Red Scare”. This was not long after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. The first Red Scare was truly legitimate. Starting in 1914 and ending in 1932 there were wide spread bombing campaigns led by communists agitators. In April and June of 1919 alone (just two months) at least 44 dynamite mail bombs were posted to high ranking government officials. Unions with communist leanings were responsible for the Seattle General Strike and the Boston Police strikes which created a great deal of disruption and uncertainty. Many other nefarious activities by communists fueled both unrest and fear during this period. Only with the Immigration Act of 1918, and it’s aggressive enforcement, did the U.S. begin to effectively deal with the Red Tide. It allowed  for the deportation of the communist immigrants that had led these attacks and propagated the communist’s most extreme propaganda. Although this legislation helped to quell the most violent tides of communist activity in America, other activities remained in full swing…until this very day.

So with the communist murder of millions world wide underway and the initial Red Scare creating the most disruptive decade in the U.S. since the Civil War, Senator McCarthy makes his appearance in the decade of 1950 with a zealous fervor that would later bring scorn and ridicule.  Much later, KGB files uncovered after the Cold War and the declassification of the Venona project gave a fair bit of credence to McCarthy’s seemingly paranoid accusations.  His temper at those that resisted his efforts against the communists would finally be his undoing. True, a little more tact and wisdom would have netted far more progress in holding back subversive communists, but to vilify McCarthy today is to remain willingly ignorant of the context in which he lived.  I would also venture to say that if one asked the 100 million people that were murdered by communist philosophy if they thought he was being too zealous that they would give a resounding, “NO!”

It is generally recognized that his influence on the United States is still very much felt. There are plenty of federal and state laws still on the books that were inspired by him. His legacy has netted a few recent books and academic papers in his favor[2] and not so much[3] in his favor.  I encourage you to read these and the many other books written about him – as the bias can be hard to dissect without multiple presentations of his life.

It can not be disputed that Senator Joe McCarthy ranks as one of the most influential U.S. senators of the last century. Since the dawn of the Mac Cárthaigh clan there has not been a century where they have not left their indelible mark. May it continue…

“The Strong Arm Forever”!

1. mccarthyism. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved December 12, 2013, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse
/mccarthyism
2. Evans, M. Stanton. “Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies”
3. Schrecker, Ellen (Winter 2000). “Comments on John Earl Haynes’ The Cold War Debate Continues. Journal of Cold War Studies. Harvard University—Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Ireland Bound? Here is a guide to your trip…

7 Oct

Many of you who read this Heritage blog may at some time desire to go to Ireland. Therefore, to make your trip easier, cheaper and more productive I have put together a little guide for you.

How To Get There

The best way to get to Ireland in this day and age is via Airplane. I recommend flying into the Dublin Airport. However, check fares to Cork as well. They can be cheaper at times. However, before you buy those tickets you will want to make sure your rental car company of choice services the Cork airport.

As always, before purchasing an airline ticket, remember to double check travel dates and weigh the cost savings between various tickets with layover times, baggage fees and airplane seat selections. Note that on most international flights the 1st checked bag is free.

One could also get there by boat. There are freighters that offer very cheap rates and basic cabin accommodations. I do not recommended this option due to the time it takes and the harsh travel conditions.

Rental Cars

There are numerous ways to get around in Ireland, hired car (includes a driver), bus, and rental car. The best option for most is via rental car. Renting a car in Ireland requires some planning and precautions.

The first thing you should do right now is pull your drivers license out and look at it to make sure it is not expired. Though this has not happened to me, it has happened to a many an Ireland bound tourist. Without a valid license they will not rent you a car.

When renting a car in Ireland you will want to rent it with a Credit Card that will cover the insurance in Ireland (A Master Card World Elite will cover Ireland rental insurance). Most standard credit cards do not. So many rental car companies will require a letter from your Credit Card company stating that it does cover insurance on rental cars in Ireland ( for example Thrifty does require a letter but Budget does not). So come prepared with this letter.

You may still elect to pay the insurance that the rental car company offers. There are reasons to do this: if you have the money to spare, and do not want the worry and hassle of actually working with the credit card company and getting the insurance claim filed. Also note if you decline insurance the rental agency will place a hold of $2000 to $5000 on top of the rental costs on your credit card, released back to you after the car is returned whole. If there is damage they will use this hold to pay for any damages and may charge the card for the total cost of the damages up to the cost of the car. It is then your job to work with the credit card company to issue an insurance claim and get your money/credit back.

Before you roll out of the parking lot be sure to carefully review any damage on your vehicle before you take it with the damage noted on the contract (yes, most cars are already damaged). Take pictures of your car as well and email them to yourself so they can be dated.

You will still need to pay Tolls. Be sure to get some Euro before you leave the Airport to do so. The M50 toll road in Dublin is an electronic toll and you will need to be sure that the rental agency provides you a way, and the instructions, to pay this toll as well.

I recommend you get a manual car. Automatic rental cars in Ireland tend to be damaged an under powered. You will want the manual flexibility as well for the different driving conditions and to help out on some of the steep inclines on the mountain roads you may find yourself on.  However, if you do not know how to drive a manual, Ireland is not the place to learn – get an automatic.

Most cars run on diesel – be sure to put diesel in the car when you fill up. If you accidentally put a few liters of gasoline in it, it should be fine, as long as it was just a few. Just fill the rest of the tank up with diesel and all will be good.

Do not be ashamed to have somebody from the car company show you the various controls for the car.  European cars have different ways of doing things and various features that may be confusing at first. It is best not to discover these things by accident.

One last, and very important, item. Make sure you have GPS. Go ahead and rent a GPS with the car if you do not have a phone with GPS maps.  They are worth their weight in gold.  I will have more to say on this item later though.

Driving Your Rental Car

Remember – in Ireland they drive on the LEFT.

When driving on the left – THINK about where you need to go before going there – specifically your right turns will cross the other lane. Ireland also has some very narrow roads. This requires that you be prepared to cooperate with other drivers that may be coming directly at you…and remember, that you should swerve (turn slightly) to your LEFT and not over correct. Drive slower than the posted speeds until you are comfortable with this unless you want to die.  Native Irish drivers will notice you are a tourist and will be understanding – kind of.

Roundabouts. Ireland has a lot of them. Sometimes they put a roundabout in a road just to do so. Read up on them and understand how they work before you find yourself in one. As a matter of fact it is a good idea to read up on all Ireland’s traffic/driving laws and regulations before you go there.

And one last time – Drive on the LEFT.

Parking Your Car

Parking in Ireland is free during certain hours, pay attention to the signs. During the paid period you may need to “Pay and Display” You can buy such “Pay and Display” tokens in certain shops, most notably the “Centras”.  Also many Parking areas have “Pay and Display” meters – some only take Credit cards and some only Euro. Many car parks provide a ticket that you pay and validate later when you are leaving – do not lose this ticket or you will pay an all day parking price for the mistake.

Also – if you are rusty on your parallel parking – get some practice in before going to Ireland.

GPS and Maps

As I mentioned before you will want to rent a GPS with your rental car if you do not have one. Be sure it has updated maps (ask them when the last update was). You will also want to bring a good map of Ireland, a good map of any cities you want to be in, and detailed maps of the areas and sites you want to visit. And I mean PAPER maps. GPS directions should be verified with your paper maps and your paper maps will be a valuable back up in the event that you can not get your GPS to work, and/or you can not get Internet access.

All this said, I have found in recent years that Google Maps is the best when it comes to getting around in Ireland; so a smart phone with a good International Data Plan is all you will need here; make sure though that you update you Google Maps App before you get to Ireland.

Credit Cards

You will want to bring a Visa, MasterCard, American Express if you have them and your bank’s debit card.  The primary card you will want to use is the one with the lowest Foreign Transaction Fee (FTF). Some cards have no transaction fee, and if you can, I would recommend getting a card without one if you can get one without paying a yearly fee for it. A Foreign Transaction Fee is a fee that the credit card issuer charges you for making a foreign purchase (anywhere from 1% to 3%).

Notify you card companies that your are traveling to Ireland before you go so they do not shut it off for fear of fraudulent use.

Sometimes, you will want to use a credit card and it will be declined. This is most likely due to the fact that your card does not support “Chip and Pin” which all European cards support.  In places like this – you will need to use cash.  Recently most U.S. credit card issuers have chips in them so this is less of a problem. However some places, like unattended gas stations, will not use credit cards at all and will require a chip enabled Debit card. So make sure you have one of those too.

Euro vs U.S. Dollar on Credit Card Purchases and ATM Withdrawals

Many establishments, and even Bank ATMS, will offer to convert your Euro to Dollars. Never accept this conversion to dollars.  This is a common, and legal, scam. Always request, and choose, to be charged in Euro (local currency). This “courtesy” conversion is offered usually at some percentage rate (about 3%) – this will be on top of your FTF fee. For example if your FTF rate is 3%, a $100 purchase will not cost you $103, but $106.

If you have an establishment that will not offer you the option to pay in Euro, then pay in cash. Don’t be mean to the person making the transaction for you – they usually do not understand what is going on with the FTF and “courtesy conversion”.  The easiest thing I have found to avoid any confusion is to request, before the purchase occurs, to be charged in Euro.

Cash

The best place to get Cash is from an ATM. They offer the best Exchange rate and will usually be cheaper than using your Credit Card (unless you have have a credit card with no no FTF).  Your bank will most likely charge you for an ATM withdrawal, but it will be a fixed amount (usually just $1) and not a percentage.

Because of this – it may be best to withdraw a bunch of cash and pay cash for most things.  You will need it anyway; as you will find many places in Ireland that you will want to go any many things you will want to do only accept cash.

VAT (Value Added Tax)

You don’t have to pay it. So whenever you make a purchase ask for a VAT receipt. You can get a VAT refund later when you are in the Airport or back in the states. Some items and services do not have a VAT tax assessed. It is too hard to remember which ones – so always ask for one (a VAT receipt).

Places to Stay

For the money, B&Bs (Bed and Breakfasts) are the best option. It is like staying in somebody’s home and getting a breakfast included. Hotels can not hold a candle to the services offered or value.

I recommend getting an Ireland B&B book and using that to set up your itinerary; just note that many good B&Bs will not be in the official book listing. No need to pre-book days or weeks ahead if you are traveling during the right time of year. Just make your booking the same day or show up and ask. This offers you the most flexibility in your Ireland travels. However, if you do book a B&B and can not show up, have the courtesy to call and cancel.

B&Bs are pretty much everywhere in the places you will want to go in Ireland.

Be careful to not plan your trip to be in Dublin the same time as the Hurling Championships, marathons, college breaks, etc. You will not find a place to sleep those nights.

Phones

If you plan on bringing a cell phone to Ireland make sure it is Internationally capable and that you set up an International calling plan for the time period you will be in Ireland.  Your other option is to use payphones, which can be hard to find, or rent a cell phone (which is also pretty easy and probably cheaper than what your cell phone company would offer but also not as convenient).  These days I opt to pay for an International Data plan on my phone.  Be sure to turn off any and all unnecessary apps using data though so your data does not get used up unnecessarily.

Also, at least for iPhones, to get data to work you will need to turn on WIFI Assist.  Just be sure to turn it off when you get back home.

Internet Access

See above if you expect your smartphone to have Internet access. Otherwise, almost every Hotel, Pub and coffee shop has free WIFI. Just ask them for the password.  Most B&Bs will also have free WIFI. Just be sure to verify that with them if this is important to you.

Bathrooms

Unlike most of socialist Europe, which claims to provide basic human care “for free” — but won’t let you use the bathroom without paying, you don’t have to pay to use most bathrooms in Ireland. Pubs will generally allow you to use their bathroom and of course there are plenty of green shrubs and trees in case you have to go on the side of the road.

Leaving Ireland

When you leave Ireland for the U.S., you will go through customs in Ireland if you fly out of the Dublin Airport.  This experience can be summed up as nothing less than hell itself.  American bureaucracy is the best in the world (that is not a compliment) and it has produced such a maddening system as to take all the joy from your life for the time you are subjected to it. So this is what you can expect:

You should arrive 3 hours before your plan departs; there are times when you will need all of this three hours depending on how many people are there.  You will need to check your bags immediately and then you will need to go to customs right away. To get there you will pass through two security checkpoints and several people asking for your boarding passes and passports.

The first checkpoint you will need to remove your shoes but not your small electronic devices from your bags. After that you can go into a shopping area full of things to buy and eat, but you can only briefly look at them because you need to keep moving.

Then you will come to the second checkpoint where you have to take out all of your electronic devices but you can keep your shoes on. Then you will come to a machine takes your smiling picture and scans your passport and gives you a receipt. After that you will wait in a line for customs. This wait can be long and tiresome and you will have no access to food, water or bathrooms so take care of all of that before you get to the customs line. The customs officer will ask some strange questions and may not even look at you all the while typing things on the keyboard; he will do this while mumbling to himself philosophical questions (yes, they too wonder what the madness is all about and how they managed to get where they are).

Then you will be released into the gate area. This gate area has just a small pittance of places to shop and eat as the area that you were presented with after the first checkpoint.  It is sad and bewildering…but hey, at least you will make your flight.

That is NOT all…..

I will add more to this blog post as I remember or as I learn more so before you go, check here for the latest information.

On Places To See and Things To Do…coming up in a future post…

Timothy J. McCarthy and the saving of an American President

11 Sep

The McCarthy clan has along history in the United States starting in the very beginning and in the highest of circles. Captain Daniel McCarty, Speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses and  Justice Sheriff of Westmoreland County had a son, Dennis McCarty who married Sarah Ball. Their children were cousins of President George Washington. This McCarty sept had a close relationship with General George Washington and is mentioned often in his diaries.  They lived among his circles and when the Revolutionary war came, they fought in his army.  Considering the admirable qualities of the McCarthy Clan, it wouldn’t be fate that would bring yet another person of the Clan to the side of an American President.

Timothy was the only son of Norm McCarthy. Norm was a WW II veteran and a member of the Chicago police force and was no stranger to bullets heading his way.  Little did he know he would produce a man that would save the life of the President. Norm raised Timothy  in the southern Chicago neighborhood of Ashburn.  Ashburn was originally populated with a large number of Irish. Ashburn was a prosperous and Irish-catholic area with well run Catholic schools. Timothy would graduate from St. Denis and Leo Catholic High Schools and would later go on to graduate from the University of Illinois and even later in life would obtain a Masters from Lewis University in Illinois.  So far….all marks of man with a keen mind.

While at the University of Illinois Timothy also played football. While a lot time is wasted watching football, and other games, not much time is wasted when actually playing football. Few games make one tougher, and the toughness is why few men venture to play.  The duel quality of toughness and intelligence is a rare thing…except among the McCarthy Clan. So it is no surprise that Timothy would find himself on the field…and later find himself “in the field” working for the most selective and elite protective services of all time, the United States Secret Service.

On March 30, 1981 Timothy’s keen mind and toughness would be put to the test. That day,  wearing a newly purchased suit, he would take a bullet for President Ronald Reagan. Timothy also knew full well that when getting shot – you also need to look sharp.  No one looked sharper that day than Timothy in his blue suit.

Heretofore, President Reagan and Timothy had not known each other; as there are many Secret Service agents on the president’s detail. In the hospital and during the recovery of President Reagan and Timothy – they were introduced one to another and thus began another special relationship between a McCarthy and a U.S. president.

Timothy spent over 10 more years with the secret service and is now Chief of Police for the Village of Orland park in Illinois. He and his wife has raised three McCarthy children…making the world a better place.