ICCS Newsletter Summer 2005


1. Summer Programme
2. Chinese Banqueting
3. To Suzhou With Needle And Thread
4. Chinese Tea
5. ICCS New Year Dinner
6. Chinese New Year Cork 2005
7. Dublin Chinatown Festival
8. Love Without Boundaries
9. Language School
10. Practise Your Chinese
11. Information for Members by Email
12. Reminder -- Subscriptions

1. Programme

For information on our summer programme, click HERE.   

Remember our new meeting venue,

United Arts Club,
3 Fitzwilliam Street,

(just off Baggot Street,)
Dublin 2.

2. Chinese Banqueting - Customs And Etiquette

The January talk by Sharon Keilthy with Chef Yan Long

Sharon Keilthy gave a splendid talk on Wednesday January 26th . Her in-depth knowledge of her subject was very evident. She talked about using chopsticks, and how best to eat with the food on a revolving table. She educated us on how the host takes the lead at formal dinners.
She covered how best to succeed at making and receiving toasts. My parents always taught me to clean my plate at dinner to show how well I enjoyed my meal - not so in China: this will only embarrass my host who will think he hasn’t fed me and left me hungry.

After Sharon’s talk Chef Yan Long gave a demonstration of how to carve table decorations from vegetables, making birds and flowers emerge from carrots with apparent ease. He then showed us the expert way to bone a leg of chicken.

The night was a great event and enjoyed by all, thanks again Sharon & Yan.

3. To Suzhou With Needle And Thread

The February talk by Debbie Wilson

As one who had very briefly visited Suzhou, I was particularly eager to hear of the adventures of Deborah Wilson and her 13 companions, nine of whom were in Suzhou particularly to attend a ten day course in the unique Suzhou style of embroidery. The arrangements for the Irish group to attend the China Institute for Embroidery and Weaving were made by Deborah together with a Norwegian weaver.

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The first morning outside Li Xi Pavilion

The school, founded in the 1920s, is housed in a former home of Mme. Chiang Kai-shek, the group members doing their morning Tai-Chi in the lovely gardens. Deborah told us of the discovery of silk as thread some 5000 years ago when a Chinese lady noticed that when a silk-worm cocoon fell into her tea cup a very fine thread unravelled. Deborah had brought along a cocoon in a jar of water so that we could see this for ourselves.

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Close up of Weaver

Nowadays in Suzhou, this thread is dyed into 4 or 5 hundred colour shades, tones changing with the angle of the stitch. Suzhou has developed its own special embroidery style and stitch - the random stitch: layers of randomly laid straight stitches achieving tone and depth in an impressionistic manner. This is unbelievably skilful work and Suzhou's master embroiderer, Mme .Zhang Yu Ying, stitches sought-after masterpieces in the Suzhou style.

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Mme Zhang with Debbie

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Detail of End-wall Random Stitch Scene
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top left bit
I asked Deborah how the school managed during the Cultural Revolution. Mme. Zhang and her group were adept at doing portraits in silk on silk of the political leaders of the day, particularly Chairman Mao and therefore remained in demand. A tour-de-force of Mme. Zhang was a double-sided portrait of the Prince of Wales and Princess Diana, back to front on one piece of silk. Deborah hopes to try this on her next study trip. The Irish group, with only ten days at their disposal, were still required to finish a piece of work - a rose motif.

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Turquoise kimono back
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Debbie's Peony

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Double-sided Screen at the Institute

Deborah brought to the meeting a lovely canal scene worked by Mme. Zhang, as well as her own peony rose, mounted and framed. A master artist is also an invaluable member of the teaching team as it is he or she who produces the watercolour drawing for the embroiderer to interpret, though originality is apparently not encouraged. Visitors to Suzhou do prefer interpretations of local scenes as souvenirs of their visit and these predominate.

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Fancy stonework at Nan Yuan
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Intrepid Irish Cyclists!
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Overlooking the PortCullis for the WaterGate
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The Land Gate from the City Side

Deborah's group had some free time and managed to visit the superb museum in Shanghai, a weaving school, and surrounding villages, as well as doing a bit of shopping. Deborah's description of the workings of Suzhou's canal system would do credit to an engineer. Her talk was so well delivered, researched and illustrated and was of equal interest to the men and women in her fascinated audience. As for Suzhou embroidery, one can only be thankful that this painstaking and beautiful art is being kept alive in our hurried world.

Jane Almqvist

4. Chinese Tea

The March talk by Summy Sing Wong

The origins of tea go long back in Chinese legend. Boiled water was the only beverage, but when by chance some leaves from a tea bush dropped into the water of an early Emperor, he immediately noticed the flavour and refreshment. Tea took off from there.

Summy explained, with the help of copies of ancient texts on tea, about the various types of tea, green, black, scented, and how the different regions and areas grow their own distinctive tea varieties, and the intensive process of tea-picking to get the most tender leaves, and the subsequent processing to prepare leaves to use. Jasmine tea became popular when it was discovered that the addition of Jasmine flowers to green tea gave that most scented and popular of teas.

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Summy showing how it should be done

There are hundreds of different tea flavours, and some of the most sought after sell for astronomical prices. Some teas were reserved solely for the use of the Emperor. Summy explained that the secret of a good tea drink comes not alone from good leaves, but also from using good water. Summy herself recommended the use of still Volvic water. Also, Chinese people quickly throw out the first injection of water, as they see this as cleaning the leaves of any dust or impurities, and it is the second infusion of water to cup that brings out the best taste.

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A specialist tea shop in Suzhou

Tea is not just used for accompanying Chinese food. Tea can have medicinal qualities with different teas drunk to assist or relieve various ailments. The border between tea and herbal medicines is a fuzzy one. The Tea House is a long standing social institution in China, where conversation and music can be enjoyed over a lengthy cup of tea. At the end of Summy's talk we were treated to a tasting of different tea varieties, and Summy had a wonderful collection of special Chinese tea-pots to use and admire.

Our thanks to Summy Sing Wong for a most enjoyable and informative evening.

5. ICCS New Year Dinner

The Irish-Chinese Cultural Society celebrated the Year of the Rooster with a banquet dinner at the Golden Jade Restaurant Churchtown Dublin on Thursday 10th February.

Over 90 members, guests and VIPs were treated with great hospitality by the staff of the Golden Jade under the stewardship of Denis & Hazel Tang. The guest of honour was His Excellency Dr Sha Hailin, the Chinese Ambassador.


The management and staff could not have been better with their courtesy and professionalism. Denis presented all the guests with a lovely gift (a conversation piece - a warning light for putting near your mobile phone, which flashes when you have an incoming call). The restaurant was splendidly decorated, giving a great atmosphere on the night.


First the speeches - in English, Mandarin and Cantonese - and then the food: delicious, with very generous servings.


Musical entertainment was provided by Ms Jiang Miao, who played magnificently on the xinzheng (the recently developed variant of the guzheng). We were fortunate indeed to have Miao, one of the major stars of the Liaoning school, with us.

This event is the highpoint of our calendar, and a lot of preparation is done to ensure its success. Many thanks must be expressed to all the committee members who worked hard, as always, to ensure that a great night was had by all.

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Above are some photos (photos courtesy of Mick Doolan) from the night: some more can be viewed HERE.

6. Chinese New Year Cork 2005

The ICCG Chinese New Year party was a huge success. This year the event was held in Blarney, Co. Cork and in all there were 380 people attending.


This included over 160 children including our children adopted from China and other countries and our many small and big brothers and sisters. The event featured a performance of an authentic Lion Dance from the Lung Ying Dragon Sign KungFu Group.


His Excellency Ambassador Sha Hailin and ICCG Chairperson Anne McKernan

We were delighted to welcome Cllr Sean Martin Lord Mayor of Cork and his wife and two daughters as well as His Excellency Sha Hailan Chinese Ambassador to Ireland as well as ICCS Hon. Secretary John Ryan and his wife Mary. Other guests included Mr. Kiernan Gildea Registrar of the Adoption Board, Mr. & Mrs. Pat & Helen O'Dwyer, Pat is Senior Social Worker with the Southern Health Board and Mr & Mrs. Joe Gavin City Manager Cork City.


The Lord Mayor of Cork and Lady Mayoress Cllr Sean and Mrs. Martin
with the young ladies of ICCG
at Chinese New Year Celebration Blarney 05

The event was held in Cork this year to mark the European Year of Culture and also the Twinning of Cork City with Shanghai.

7. Dublin Chinatown Festival 2005

The Dublin Chinatown festival was held from the 9th February to the 13th February at the National Museum, Collins Barracks, Dublin.

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Friendly Dragon

The event was staged over 5 days but the weekend brought the biggest number of visitors to the show. The number of visitors was well down on last year, the cold weather and the entrance fee per person were blamed for the reduced numbers.

Enjoying the Main Stage

There was a full programme of events planned with performances on the main stage. The Red Poppy Ladies Percussion Band from Beijing were the headline act but supporting acts of dance and music from the Chinese Irish Cultural Academy and the Dragon Dance performed by the Lung Ying Dragon Sign KungFu Group were also excellent.

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Christina Wu (CICA) performing "Spirit of the Bird"
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CICA Group

In addition to the activities on the main stage, there was a lecture programme: the ICCS sponsored two of these talks, "The Silk Road" by our members Tony & Yanyi Blake (repeated from last year by popular demand), and " A Year in China Can Change Your Life" by our Committee member Sharon Keilthy. Both were given to appreciative full houses, and provided a wonderful showcase for the Society.

Bedsides the lecture programme there was a small film festival and a beautiful photo exhibition plus an art and craft workshop. If you throw in the various food stalls and the many traders selling all manner of Chinese artefacts it will give some flavour of the festival.

L to R: David Judge, Denis Mullen, Anita & Norman O’Galligan.

Our own society took up a stall (a roof and three canvas walls), jointly with our friends in the Irish Chinese Information Centre. Thanks go to the many volunteers who personed it over the five (very cold!) days. And special thanks go to Anita O'Galligan, who should win salesperson of the year for recruiting many new members to our society.

8. Love without Boundaries

“Alan is going to China to work with Love without Boundaries (LWB) on a cleft mission” … this was the email from an adoptive Mother, my cyber pal Heidi, that sparked it all off for me. Alan is an Anaesthetist.

With a life long interest in all things “medical” I was instantly tuned in to Alan’s mission. Five” Irish” cleft sponsor babies were healed on that May project, but hey, what a great feeling to know they also had a hug, kiss & Teddy delivered by Alan from us! They performed 42 cleft lip and palate repairs in 4 working days.
Summer passed and Heidi and I had offered our services on another mission. We were to meet up. 2 from Ireland and 2 from the USA met in the White Swan, Guangzhou, China on a “playroom” project!

Four women - Val & I, Heidi & Mary. We were on our way to Heidi’s daughter’s Social Welfare Institute to install an indoor playroom.
Over the next 18 hours we fixed the playroom and played and cuddled those children. Time line was becoming increasingly hard to determine. We were lost in a sea of children and having fun.
By 10.30 on day 3 we were xie xie'd and out the door to the airport having changed our tickets once again to a middle time flight that afternoon. We landed in our second city of work, dropped our luggage with the doorman in the hotel, barely drew breath At this point we felt like one of those TV teams, or on a challenge to make the Guinness Book of records - 2 Orphanage playroom makeovers in 1 day! PlayRoom.jpg
After lunch returning to the hotel to collect our luggage, we were once again off to the airport for a flight to Lou Di … it was my turn now. I was here with Love Without Boundaries to talk about helping with Local Foster Care for the SWI children.

It was such a wonderful trip, one that went beyond what I could imagine. Even though I am from Ireland a very big part of my heart is forever in China. The more I visit the more I want to return. This is land of my daughters’ birth.
We are connected forever.

Julie Flynn Coleman

(This piece, about the special talk in May, after the AGM, by Julie Flynn Coleman and Val Murphy, appeared in the printed version of the Newsletter before the talk, and acted as publicity for it. Because of the delay in getting out this Web version of the Newsletter, the piece now serves to give a flavour of Julie and Val's presentation: flowing over with huge-hearted caring, kindness - and energy.)

9. Language School

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10. Practise your Chinese with native speakers

Chinese Corners: Casual Practice for Learners of Mandarin

+ Chinese Language Meetup: 1st Sunday, 1pm. Location changes. www.chinese.meetup.com

* Chinese Corner at the Chester Beatty Library: Silk Road Café,
Saturday, 1pm, May 14 / June 11 / July 30

* Chinese language talkshow on AnnaLivia FM103.2: ‘ Chinatown Radio’.
Wed 20:30 - 21:00; Sun 09:00 - 10:00. Producer & Presenter: Mr Oliver Wang.

11. Information for Members by Email

The ICCS would like to set up an email data base of its members to keep them up to date on events which are happening in between issues of this newsletter. If you would like to get such information from the society would you kindly E-mail me at the address below and mark your reference ICCS E-mail data base.
This information will neither be shared with any other organisation nor passed on to any other external source.

E-mail: iccs@oceanfree.net

Colm Coleman

12. Subscriptions

The Subscription Year for the Society coincides with the Calendar Year, 1st January to 31st December. The Treasurer wishes to remind any members who have not yet paid their subscription for 2005 to do so now.

The annual subscription is €25.00 (covering two people living at the same mailing address),
with a reduced student rate of €8,
and a lifetime subscription of €250.

Subscriptions to be sent to:

Jane Almqvist, Hon. Treasurer,
73 Marlborough Road,
Dublin 4.

Cheques to be made payable to:
"Irish-Chinese Cultural Society".

This Newsletter is published by the Irish-Chinese Cultural Society.
Views expressed by individual contributors do not represent any official policy of the Irish-Chinese Cultural Society.
We would be delighted to receive articles, photos and stories for our newsletter.
The Editor welcomes all submissions, but cannot absolutely guarantee the return of any photos or documents supplied, and reserves the right to shorten or modify any letter or material submitted.
Please send to the Editor
Colm Coleman, 3 Pacelli Ave., Sutton, Dublin 13.
E-mail: iccs@oceanfree.net