Supermarket Scramble

Here's our alternative take on supermarket branding, consider it a guide to saving money on your shopping!

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas and the country was creaking
From the havoc and turmoil the budget was wreaking
When Gilmore and Labour betrayed those who care
And shifted the boundaries of what they call fair.

At this time of year the 'Joy holds no white collars
Whose weapons of treason were Euros and Dollars.
If only those bankers had fiddled in garlic
For the lack of swift justice is making us all sick.

Our emigrants return and their families rejoice
During this brief respite from Noonan's "Lifestyle Choice".
Yet Michael's cuts limit the options before us,
Making "Hell or To Connacht" start to seem generous.

But now let us hope that in this festive season
Our leaders reflect and begin to see reason,
And think of the needy, the poor, the hard-pressed,
Whose burden is mighty, whose lives are distressed.

May they think with their hearts and ignore the strict German,
Who compounds a harsh bailout with sermon, after sermon.
We're tired of being good boys and doing what we're told,
Grow a pair Enda, be courageous, be bold!

Next year the diaspora will come for The Gathering,
Let's hope it is meaningful, that the people are welcoming.
Please Leo stop saying "Give our coffers a boost"
Lest rumours of a scam come home to roost.

But now let's be festive and try to unwind,
Think not of those fools who put us in this bind.
It can't last forever, may the end come in sight,
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Vintage Irish Tourism Posters

To view a larger version click here

The Gathering Booklist

It looks as though there will be quite a few people coming to Ireland for The Gathering next year after all. Putting our misgivings about the project to the side for a moment, we thought it might be nice to put together a "required reading" list for members of the diaspora coming here to trace their Irish roots or find out if they belong. 

We're looking for suggestions about books that tackle the themes of Irishness, emigration and belonging. If they hit on all three themes that's great but two out of three ain't bad. We'll start the ball rolling by suggesting two books from one of our favourite authors, Pete McCarthy:

Born in England to an Irish mother, McCarthy spent his childhood summers in West Cork. In these two books he travels around Ireland and the rest of the world exploring the Irish side of his heritage in a bid to find out if Ireland is the country where he belongs.

We'd like to hear about other books that might fit the bill so please get in touch with us:

Email your suggestions to:

Leave a comment on our Facebook page:

Tweet us your suggestion: @ForagingIreland

Winning the Poo - A positive guide to potty training

Although nappies are cosy and catch all your poo
It's high time that you learned how to use the loo
We'll start with the potty to ease you in gently
Then once you've that mastered you're ready for entry
To the glistening tiled kingdom you'll soon inherit
Where flushing and washing are duties of merit
At first you might struggle to go on your own
But before long you'll be a master of the throne.

Rabbitte claims puppy just for Christmas after all

Rabbitte - Puppy was a handful
The Minister for Straight Shooting Pat Rabbitte has launched a stinging attack on the naivety of the Irish people after the Labour Party admitted that it has discarded the puppy that it bought last Christmas. Speaking on RTE's The Week in Politics Mr. Rabbitte defended Labour's failure to look after the puppy and blamed its previous owners for the situation.

"Before we bought the puppy we fully intended to look after it for the rest of its life," said Mr. Rabbitte. "However, what we couldn't have predicted was how badly the puppy had been treated by its previous owners and, considering the emaciated condition in which the dog arrived, we feel that we've actually done a very good job in looking after him for as long as we did."

Mr. Rabbitte was then asked if he understood what kind of message this sends out about the Labour Party and its ability to fulfil its own commitments:

"Now, look here. Everyone wants to believe that a puppy is for life, not just for Christmas, but the stark reality is that once you own the puppy you have to feed it, wash it, clean up after it, take it for walks. Then the puppy grows up and becomes even more of a handful. The Labour Party couldn't have predicted it would have to deal with all these things."

Mr. Rabbitte was then questioned about how the Labour Party had gotten rid of the dog:

Labour Puppy - Moving to Canada
"Well we started to reduce its food in tiny increments until eventually it only had barely enough to survive. Then we started taxing the dog's water. We forced the dog to sleep outside in a cold shed and then we slapped a property tax on the shed too. The dog paid its taxes through its food allowance. We also started to use subliminal messaging to suggest to the dog that it might find a better life elsewhere. Eventually the dog just left us; it was essentially a lifestyle choice."

Christmas in jeopardy as elves stage sit-in protest

[This article first appeared in The Spanner Magazine Christmas Edition]

Thousands of workers at the largest toy manufacturing facility in the North Pole have locked themselves inside the factory in protest at what they consider to be “grossly unfair redundancy packages.” Almost 3,000 elves were let go from the plant last month as part of a swathe of cost-cutting measures being implemented by The Toy Company Ltd.'s receivers KPMG.

KPMG took over the manufacturing section of the company when the owner, Santa Claus, was unable to repay debts on the international property portfolio he had accumulated during the boom years. Mr. Claus still maintains control of the distribution section of the company, although with the production of toys currently at a standstill it is doubtful that there will be any presents to distribute this Christmas.

Elves - Demanding fair treatment
The elves barricaded themselves inside the factory last month and have vowed to stay there “as long as it takes.” Some of them spoke to reporters through the barricades: “I've worked here for 400 years,” said one elf,” and they're only offering me half of what I'm entitled to through statutory redundancy.” Another elf remarked, “I'm 650 years old next week, I've worked for Mr. Claus all my life. How is someone my age supposed to retrain in the computers or internetwork?”

The local community in the North Pole has given its unconditional backing to the elves and Mr. Claus. A rally is being organised for next week so that local people can show their support for the Claus family, who claim they have been demonised by the Arctic Circle media. “The Clauses built up their business from nothing and created jobs in the North Pole when there was nothing here but snow and misery. They should be left alone,” commented a local reindeer, who refused to be named.

Santa - Feeling the strain
Residents of the wider Arctic Circle have derided the “gombeen antics” of those in the North Pole: “Everyone in the Arctic Circle is paying for what Santa Claus did. He gambled in the property market and now we're all paying for his bailout. He should be ashamed: They should all be ashamed,” said one angry polar bear.

Mr. Claus would not comment on the issue as he continues his boycott of the media but sources close to him have said that he has become withdrawn lately, spending hours alone in his study, drinking hot whiskies and listening to Fairytale of New York on repeat.

Labour look to Mayans for excuse to avoid Budget vote

Mayan apocalypse could be Labour's salvation
Labour backbenchers have put forward a motion in the Dáil to delay the vote on Budget 2013 until after December 21st, to see how the Mayan predictions of an apocalypse play out. They hope that if the world does indeed end on that date they can at least preserve their integrity and avoid displaying their complete lack of backbone.

Eamon 'Frankfurt' Gilmore
Labour TDs have faced a wave of criticism since the budget was announced, with party members forced to defend leader Eamon Gilmore's climbdown from his pre-election stance of "Labour's way or Frankfurt's way." Labour TDs have been quick to point out that Mr. Gilmore hadn't actually indicated at the time which direction he was going to follow, or whether both paths ran parallel to each other and led to the same destination. 

Last week's budget revealed the Labour Party to be just as toothless a lapdog as its predecessor in government The Green Party. It just goes to show that it doesn't matter whether you vote Red or Green; they're all Yellow in the end.

What is the Gathering 2013 all about?

A short compilation of explanations from Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar & Project Director of The Gathering Jim Miley.

The Foraging Ireland Alternative Budget

Seeing as everyone else seems to have put forward an utterly pointless alternative budget we decided to have a go at our own one. Here's what we've come up with:

 Irony Tax  There are so many ironies knocking about these days that we think they could turn a tidy profit if they're taxed. Examples include: Michael O'Leary accusing others of ripping people off; a government inviting the Irish abroad home next year, at a time when emigration is at its highest in decades; a Labour party agreeing to slash social welfare benefits while failing to tax the wealthy (as promised)

 Cliché Tax  We feel that, in light of the current economic climate, resulting from the mistakes of the previous administration, and with our hands tied, depending on Frankfurt, going forward, that a tax on clichés could only be profitable for the exchequer.

 Sacred Cows  There are now so many sacred cows around the country that if they were rabbits we'd be considering the reintroduction of Myxomatosis. Our alternative is to sell our vast stock of sacred cows to a country that would really appreciate them: India. A tasty profit is guaranteed.

 The Table  In the run-up to a budget where there appear to be more topics off the table than on it, we have to call into question the viability of the table itself. A vote will be held on whether to sell the table or chop it up and use it as firewood to help heat the country through the fast-approaching bleak winter months.

 Ireland's Naming Rights  If you haven't already read about the government selling the naming rights of Ireland to Diageo, please do so: Govt sells national naming rights; raises vital funds for exchequer.

Kenny and Merkel at odds over where to spend Christmas

Angela - What's wrong with Hamburg?!
The blossoming relationship between Enda Kenny and Angela Merkel has hit its first speedbump as the two are rumoured to be in disagreement about where to spend Christmas this year. 

Having spent previous Christmases apart with their own families the couple now feel that their relationship is at the stage where they should spend the holiday together. However, a rift has developed between the two as Angela wishes to stay in Hamburg while Enda favours a traditional Castlebar Christmas.
Enda - Come to Castlebar you sexy divil.

Furious negotiations between the two parties have continued over the past few weeks, with Enda said to be unleashing his notorious charm offensive while Angela deploys her infamous cold shoulder tactics.  

Both sides are publicly trying to play down the spat but, with Angela reportedly spending the week at her sister's house and a bestubbled Enda spotted shopping for one in Tesco, this relationship, like the Eurozone that spawned it, looks to be very much on the rocks.

Govt sells national naming rights; raises vital funds for exchequer

Guinness Island launch at the Gravity Bar
The Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has announced that the government has sold Ireland's naming rights to corporate drinks giant Diageo in a deal thought to be worth up to €50 million annually. At a glitzy launch event held at the Gravity Bar Mr. Gilmore revealed that the naming rights will be held by Diageo for a period not less than 30 years and that Ireland will henceforth be known as Guinness Island. 

Mr. Gilmore accepts first symbolic payment
Mr. Gilmore said that the government had received significant bids for the naming rights from other corporate interests but Diageo had offered Ireland a "satisfactory and comfortable brand image through its Guinness connotations. Not only will we earn money by selling the naming rights, we will also save money by no longer having to promote 'Ireland' as a separate brand to Guinness. The two brands will finally be completely synonymous and this can only be a good thing for Guinness Island's economy."

The new national flag
As part of the deal the Irish Guinness Island tricolour will now carry the Guinness logo and Irish passports will be black in colour with 'Ireland' being replaced by 'Guinness' on the cover. The harp will remain, due to its common prominent place in both brands. Irish sports teams will also now play in the traditional black and white colours of Guinness, with the green strip being used as an away jersey only when necessary. Arthur's Day will become an official national holiday, as will the following day - National Hangover Day.

Tommy Bowe shows off the national rugby shirt
The sale of the national naming rights is the brainchild of the Minister for Innovation Richard Bruton, who pointed to the successful rebranding of The Aviva Stadium, The O² Theatre and the Bord Gais Energy Theatre as the inspiration behind the initiative. "The people of Guinness Island have shown their willingness to accept the rebranding of national icons to the point that geographical reference is no longer necessary and rebranding the country was the next logical step in the government's plan to pay back our debt," said Mr. Bruton. 

The motion to rebrand the country was swiftly and unanimously passed in the Dáil last Tuesday evening before all TDs retired to the Dáil bar where, allegedly, all slates have been wiped clean. One Dáil wag, who declined to be named, defended the sale of the naming rights thus: "Sure we've already sold our souls to Diageo, we may as well get paid for it."

In an act of defiance against the national rebranding, Cork County Council has sold the county's naming rights to Heineken, the owner of Murphy's Stout, and will now be rebranded as The People's Republic of Murphy's. Other counties are expected to follow suit.

Pressure on Government to legislate for terminations

The events of the past couple of weeks have brought the issue of proper regulation to a head and the government is now under serious pressure to bring clarity to the law surrounding the regulation of the banks. Ever since the news broke that Finance Minister Michael Noonan's hands were tied in relation to the pay of top bank executives there has been widespread condemnation of the lack of legislation for the termination of non-viable banks in cases where they threaten the well-being of their economy.

The government has been sitting on its hands ever since the famous 'A' Case in 2009, when a Finance Minister was unable to terminate a non-viable bank even though it brought untold pain to its already suffering economy. This was soon followed by the similar 'AIB' and 'BoI' cases, yet despite all of these unfortunate events, and the obvious need for regulation, last week we found ourselves back in familiar territory when it was revealed that top executives in a bank associated with the 'A' Case were receiving salaries of over €500,000 but the Finance Minister was again powerless to terminate their contracts.

Last week's events brought pro-economy demonstrators to the streets in protest at the government's reluctance to bring clarity to the legislation governing the regulation of the banks. A candle-light vigil was held in memory of the Celtic Tiger economy, one of the many boom economies that died as a result of insufficient bank regulation. The pro-economists claim that if the government doesn't act now future economies will be put in danger and a clear message will be sent out that the government values the banks more than it does the well-being of the economy. 

Conversely, the pro-bankers have claimed that the pro-economists have hijacked the recent pay scandal to satisfy their own agenda. The pro-bankers claim that there is sufficient legislation in place to regulate the banks and any further liberalisation of the laws would result in a free-for-all where banks could be discarded "willy-nilly".

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin has been quick to act on the issue, with deputy leader Mary Lou McBandwagon announcing that the party will bring a motion in the Dáil regarding bank regulation. She is scheduled to appear on Tonight with Vincent Browne to discuss the issue, where it is widely expected that Mr. Browne will completely ignore anything she has to say and instead overtly ridicule her for having no credibility whatsoever.   

The message is clear, the law is not.

Regardless of one's views on abortion the time has come to bring clarity to the law. The people have spoken. 

We're all over the Social Meeja...

Just to let you know, The Foraging Ireland is on Twitter & Facebook too, if you have an inclination to keep track of us:

Postcard Protest - Invite Them Home

People have been receiving free postcards to send to family and friends abroad to invite them home for The Gathering. If this sticks in your craw, as it does in ours, perhaps you'd like to take part in a small protest?

We're trying to encourage people to send their free Gathering postcards, en masse, to people who really deserve them: The Tax Cheats.

Some likely contenders include Bono & JP McManus but we're looking for suggestions, then we'll compile a list, obtain postal addresses for them (legally, hopefully) and people can send off the postcards as they wish.

Please help us share this idea! Tweet it, Like it, Share it, email it, get it out there! Thanks.

Government clarifies stance on Emigration

Government proposes Irish driving license agreement with Canadian cities - Sunday Times 11/11/12

Eamon Gilmore signs working holiday agreement with Canadian immigration minister -
Irish Times 5/10/12

Enda Kenny launches The Exodus Ireland 2013 emigration initiative -
The Foraging Ireland 7/11/12

Corrections & Clarifications

In a previous article we wrongly accused John Waters of being a "greasy-haired weirdo". He is, in fact, a lanky-haired weirdo. 

The Foraging Ireland apologises for any confusion this may have caused. 

Irish Media incredulous at Electorate's capacity to think for themselves

Average 'No' Voter
The Irish Media was today trying to come to terms with the fact that 42% of the electorate defied conventional wisdom and voted against the Children Referendum. This comes despite a Yes campaign that was supported by all Dáil political parties, various children's charities, and Denis O'Brien Inc. while the No campaign was led by a bunch of delusional crackpots and professional soap box merchants. And Dana.

In a display of arrogance that would put Pádraig Flynn to shame, members of the media have been displaying their incredulity at the high No vote. Some have even gone so far as to describe No voters as "weird" and "uninformed". A nationwide inquisition is being planned to root out the fascist No voters and bring them to summary justice. 

It was no surprise that the highest proportion of subversive degenerates appears to be residing in Donegal, while in Cavan-Monaghan Sean Quinn received 57% of the vote and was deemed to be elected. The high No vote has led to much puzzlement within the media in general, which had predicted an overwhelming Yes vote based on the principle that a No vote was a vote in favour of child abuse and neglect. 

Waters - Brainwasher

John Waters, an advocate for the No vote and suspected child abuser, has come in for much scrutiny as to his motives. Some believe he was trying to rekindle a decades-old love affair with Dana, others suspect his motives were far less perverse. Either way, this greasy-haired weirdo will have to explain how he managed to brainwash 445,853 people into voting No.

With a legal challenge against the result expected shortly this story is likely to run and run, much like a 1960s Irish child trying to escape a parochial house. 

 Breaking News  Fianna Fáil offers John Waters position on party elections committee...

Gabriel Byrne to boycott Varadkar's Ma in protest over Gathering

V for Vendetta Varadkar
A transatlantic storm is brewing as the feud between Gabriel Byrne and Leo Varadkar escalated today. In response to Varadkar's comments describing him as "cynical" and "popular with women of a certain age" Mr. Byrne has announced that he will be boycotting Mr. Varadkar's mother with immediate effect. 

This comes despite Mrs. Varadkar fitting the profile of Byrne's romantic interests."I could have her anytime, any place. I'm her type. She adores me. But until she learns to control that son of hers she's barking up the wrong tree," said Byrne. Mr. Varadkar is said to be considering his position but is rumoured to have contacted the Minister for Communications, Pat Rabbitte, with a view to banning the broadcast of Mr. Byrne's image within the Republic. Mrs. Varadkar is said to be devastated by the rift.

Ryan - "I have no father."
In related news, former Minister Eamon Ryan today denied accusations that he is one of Gabriel Byrne's many lovechildren. The rumours surfaced as a new investigation into the awarding of the role of cultural ambassador to Mr. Byrne uncovered new evidence linking the two men. The results of a paternity test are expected to be released in the coming weeks. 

Here's an idea...

The Gathering Passport

We've come up with an idea that we think would incentivise foreign tourists to come to Ireland next year and makes The Gathering seem less like an overt rip-off. It's...The Gathering Passport.

What is it? It's essentially a loyalty card for anyone coming from abroad to take part in The Gathering 2013. 

What are the benefits? Let's start with:
  • 25% (50% for groups of 6+) off entry to any state-run tourist site. (This is up for debate; an argument could be made that it should be free entry)
  • Minimum 10% (up for debate) discount on payments & purchases in participating hotels, B&Bs, bars, restaurants etc.
  • Discounts on public transport
  • (We're open to further suggestions, please leave them in the comments section below!)
Who can apply? Anyone with an address outside of Ireland that's coming here between 1/1/13 & 31/12/13.

How to apply? Fill out a simple web form on The Gathering website: Name, address, phone no., dates of travel, specific Gathering you're attending (optional).

What does it cost? Potentially it's free. Perhaps a small fee (€5 max.) to cover printing, admin & postage costs would be acceptable.

How does it work? Present your Gathering Passport when paying in a participating venue to claim the relevant discount and get a unique stamp on your Gathering Passport at each venue (See below). The passport might have a unique number or barcode on the front which could be quoted for internet purchases such as booking accommodation in advance.

How do businesses take part? They apply online to become a participating Gathering Passport venue. After verification that they are a legit business they receive branding to mark themselves as accepting the Passport: e.g. window sticker, flying banner, web banners etc. Venues also receive a unique rubber stamp that they would use to stamp the Gathering Passports of customers.

How the stamp & window sticker might look

That's it! What do you think? Comment freely below.

If you like the idea SHARE IT! Tweet it, Like it, get it out there. 

The Gathering Song

@anniewestdotcom & @BrianNolan1974 alerted us to Clare County Council's tender for a Gathering 2013 song. Application deadline is 16/11/12 so get writing! It can only end one way...

The Gathering - Homeward Bound

As hard as we tried we found it difficult to be cynical about the recent Gathering documentaries on RTE. We think they send out the right message about The Gathering and are well worth the watch. Here's a snippet:

Three of the documentaries are still available on the RTE Player:

Leo defends The Gathering...sort of.

Just don't mention money or the economy in the same sentence as The Gathering, ok Leo?

You'll miss them when you're gone...

Come gather round people...

From @anniewestdotcom

Let The Exodus Campaign Begin...

Govt Launches The Exodus Ireland 2013

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny today launched a new national emigration initiative that will run in tandem with The Gathering Ireland 2013. The scheme aims to help young Irish people to leave the country in the hope of finding a brighter future abroad. 

A new dedicated semi-state agency, Exodus Ireland, will be created to coordinate and assist the emigration of Ireland's youth. The new agency will replace FÁS, the national training and employment authority, as the government changes its approach to tackling the unemployment crisis from one of creating jobs to one of eradicating the unemployed.

Exodus Ireland will organise emigration workshops in communities all over the country in 2013 as part of the initiative. These workshops aim to speed up the emigration process for the unemployed by providing references, documentation and small, high-interest loans to help emigrants get out of Ireland faster and sooner. A nationwide information campaign will also provide hints and tips for emigrants through various social media including an Exodus Ireland Blog, Facebook page and Twitter feed. The Taoiseach expects many benefits to the scheme, which he outlined at the launch:

"I believe the young people of Ireland are tired of being a burden on their parents, loved ones, and the State. They want to move on, to prosper, to ease the burden on their beloved country. To this end the government has developed the Exodus Ireland programme which will help the youth of this country to help themselves. The scheme will have two major benefits; the first will be to dramatically decrease unemployment in Ireland which will have many knock-on effects such as easing the pressure on the social welfare and public health systems.

The second major benefit will become apparent in the long term, and this is where the Exodus Ireland initiative ties in with the Gathering Ireland tourism programme. We see emigration not as a short-term loss but as a long-term investment in Ireland's tourism industry. The new generation of Irish that we are sending out into the world will join and expand the existing diaspora, thereby increasing the pool of tourists that we can draw upon for future Gatherings in 2018, 2023 and beyond."

The Taoiseach also announced that along with government financing the scheme will also have a number of corporate sponsors including Etihad Airways, Skype and Barry's Tea. A nationwide billboard campaign will also get underway in the coming weeks.

Leprechaun Breeding Programme On Track, says Minister

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar today announced that his ambitious Leprechaun breeding programme is running on schedule. The first leprechauns are expected to be released into the wild in early spring 2013 as part of The Foraging Ireland tourism initiative.

Varadkar was speaking at a press conference in the Smurfit School of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin, where the breeding programme is being carried out. The initiative, named Tuath Nua after the Tuatha dé Danann, was set up in early 2012 to fulfill a Fine Gael general election promise to "develop Ireland's potential as a tourist destination". Minister Varadkar explains the initiative as follows:

"Tourists come to Ireland expecting to see leprechauns but unfortunately the population of leprechauns in the wild has declined to such an extent that the last confirmed sighting of one was almost five years ago. To this end, we have put in place a programme that will create leprechauns, through genetic engineering, to replenish the natural population. We hope that this initiative will encourage overseas visitors to come to Ireland for a more authentic Irish experience. After the success of the National Leprechaun Museum this was the next logical step."

Today's press conference also marked the first time that journalists have been granted access to the secure genetic engineering facility at Trinity College. The head of the programme, Japanese Professor Ken Tekajoke, was on hand to explain the breeding process:

"We were unable to retrieve authentic leprechaun DNA due to the decline of the wild population so the first step was to collate the correct genetic material for building Leprechaun DNA. We did this by collecting DNA from hundreds of donors that matched some or all of the relevant characteristics: Small in stature, Irish, cunning, red haired, elusive, cute hoor etc. Once we had collected enough donor samples we were able to splice together the desired genetic elements to create the Leprechaun DNA. From there the process is identical to the creation of a test tube baby."

The identities of the donors are being kept secret but Prof. Tekajoke did release doctored photographs that explain the desired characteristics but protect the donors' anonymity. The first leprechauns are expected to be released in March 2013, as part of the St. Patrick's Festival.