Spring 2002


1. Spring Programme
2. ZhaoLiutao Killed in Dublin
3. A Personal Tribute to Dr Fergus Gaines
4. Glimpses of China - Book List
5. Cork New Year Party
6. January Talk: Seamus O'Brien
7. Jiaozi (Dumpling)
8. Year of the Horse
9. Language School
10. Reminder -- Subscriptions

1. Spring Programme

Please note that our evening events have been changed to SECOND WEDNESDAYS.

For the Spring Programme, click HERE   


2. Zhao Liutao Killed in Dublin.

Like most Irish people, the members of the Irish-Chinese Cultural Society were deeply shocked and saddened by the killing in Dublin of the Chinese student Mr Zhao Liutao, who died on January 24th after a fatal assault on January 21st.
The Society, through our Vice-President, David Judge, has written to Mr Zhao's family to express something of our feelings of sorrow and sympathy.
Part of the letter is reproduced here

Dear Mr and Mrs Zhao,

I am writing on behalf of the Irish-Chinese Cultural Society to express our profound and heartfelt sympathy with you and your family on the tragic death of your son. We know that you must be feeling indescribable grief that this beautiful young life has been extinguished in such a brutal, senseless and shameful way: we would dearly wish it were possible to give words of consolation at this terrible time for you.

May Heaven send peace to him, and some comfort to you in this tragic loss.

Yours sincerely,

David Judge,


3. Dr Fergus Gaines: - A Personal Tribute
by Tao Kiang

Fergus Gaines
Fergus Gaines, President 1997 - 1999, who died in November 2001

Dr Fergus Gaines went to China for the first time in 1990 when he led the Irish contingent for the Mathematical Olympiad held in Beijing. This trip, so Fergus's wife Marie tells me, changed his outlook on things Chinese: from mild reservation to all-out enthusiasm. After he came back, he kept up correspondence with the official interpreter, Ms Peng Wen, and, in the coming years, he became college Mentor to more and more Chinese students. Among such students was my nephew, Felix Hu Jiang, who has, like many of us, fondest memories of Fergus's warm personality.

Fergus had already been an accomplished Russian speaker, now he became a keen, spare-time student of the Chinese language. He joined my evening class in UCD, became a most active member of the Society, serving successively as Treasurer, Secretary, and finally, as President for 1997-1999.

Since his first trip, Fergus re-visited China many times, once as an invited speaker in his professional capacity as mathematician, once as a pure holiday with Marie, and several times when the Mathematical Olympiad took him to countries neighbouring China. In 1996, however, he went as part of our official delegation.

Back in the first years of this Society in the late 70s, a relationship was established with the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC, or Youxie, short for Youhao Xiehui, Friendship Association). This is an official body with a large staff and with branches in all major cities of China. The relationship takes the form of occasional toing-and-froing of delegations. Our 1996 delegation was led by the then President, Professor John O'Donnell, and Fergus was then Secretary. Fergus kept a detailed diary over the whole 10-day trip, and a copy was given to me on their return. An excerpt from the diary, the part that describes their visit to the Shashi No.3 Middle School near Wuhan, was reproduced in our Chinese Culture (No.,17). Fergus regarded that school visit as one of the high points of their whole trip. The school had a reputation of having very bright students. It gave our delegation a huge welcome, providing personal interpreters, from among the students, to each of the six of our party. At the end of the visit it was intimated that they would like to have an Irish teacher to come for a year to teach English.

It was a demonstration of Fergus's skill of getting things done, things that he considered of value, that that wish was soon fulfilled. Alan Graham, a teacher from Limerick, duly went to Shashi and taught there for a year. He reported his experience to the Society in our 1999 April Meeting.

There have been, by now, quite a number of official visits between our Society and the Youxie, but as far as I know, our 1996 visit is the only one that has generated something more than general expressions of friendship between our two peoples, that has produced some real contact at the grass roots level. For this, Fergus deserves full credit.. Hopefully, Fergus's example will be followed.

A few months ago I approached Fergus with a question that had long fascinated me, why is it that the Chinese language, unlike English, does not have the definite article ``the'' ? His answer came in a short e-mail, but that brief communication amounted to a veritable natural history of the word, a nd its absence, across the whole gamut of Indo-European languages, living and dead. Inspired by the information and from talking to other acquaintances, I now speculate that, although there is no definite article in Chinese as is, there is probably one in the making.

On October 1, my nephew Felix was on a flying visit in Dublin with his wife and he insisted on going to see his erstwhile Mentor and latterly friend. Little did we know that that would be the last time we saw Fergus. But enough of expressions of regret: we can best remember the man by the work he did. Some time back Fergus sent me a list of Chinese books that he had read and commented on. Let me now share this List with Members of ICCS in his memory.
(Next item)


4. Glimpses of China
by Fergus Gaines

Isabella Bird. The Yangtze Valley and Beyond. John Murray, 1899. Published by Virago, 1985. --- A 64-year old Englishwoman, with a bad heart, spends 8 months travelling in China and recounts with great style all she sees of a now vanished era.
Chiang Yee. The Silent Traveller in Dublin. John Davey Co. New York, 1953. --- A charming book, beautifully illustrated with drawings and paintings by the author describing, through Chinese eyes, a Dublin that is also long gone. Unfortunately, long out of print.
Helene Chung. Shouting from China. Penguin Books Australia, 1989. --- Australian journalist recounts her three-year stint in China, reporting for Australian Radio.
Robin Hanbury-Tenison. A Ride Along the Great Wall. Arrow Books, 1990. --- Intrepid travel writer and wife travel the length of the Great Wall on horseback.
W.J.F. Jenner. The Tyranny of History. Penguin Books, 1992. --- A deep, provocative, rather pessimistic book about China and its future by the Professor Chinese at the Australian National University at Canberra. Everyone interested or concerned about China should read it !
Paul Theroux. Riding the Iron Rooster. Penguin Books, 1992. --- The author spent a year travelling around China by train. He is not always sympathetic to the people he meets, but his book is enjoyable. However, I shouldn't want to travel in his company !
Arthur Waldron. The Great Wall of China. Cambridge University Press. 1992. --- A scholarly work about the myth and the reality of the Great Wall and study of wall building throughout Chinese history. Challenges, with impeccable scholarship, many of the common beliefs about the Great Wall.
Robert Weil. Red Cat, White Cat. Monthly Review Press, New York, 1996. --- An American Marxist criticises the market reforms in China.
Zhang Xinxin and Sang Ye. Chinese Lives. Penguin Books. 1989. --- A superb collection of articles in which ordinary (and not so ordinary) Chinese people talk about their lives. The original book, entitled Beijing Ren, caused a great stir when it was first published in China.

Incidentally, members may like to know that a standard work, Fun Yu-lan's A Short History of Chinese Philosophy, is now available in reprint.

5.Chinese New Year Dinner Cork
by Michael Brennan

Hi All,

Just a note to say thanks to everyone who came and made a great night of it last Saturday (26th Jan). It was our second celebration of the Chinese New year since the group formed 18 months ago. In attendance was about 136 including the little ones.

Proceedings started about 7.30 and Michael Brennan formally did the welcome address and outlined a bit about the `Cork Chinese Contact group`; in particular highlighting the future name change, dropping the `Cork` in the working title, so that now, the group is officially the `Chinese Contact Group` reflecting the 115 families from all across the country that make up the group.

Minister Micheal Martin (Minister of Health and Children) then gave a very well received speech.

Senior social worker at the Southern Health Board, Pat O'Dwyer talked about Inter-Country adoptions and in particular how the recent news on the post placements was not so grim. All post placements in the Cork area are up to date and currently waiting times are among the shortest in the country at 8-12 months.

The food was scrumptious! Towards the end of the meal, Anne McKernan (Chairperson CCG) and Maretta Brennan (Secretary CCG) made a special presentation of Hong Bao to all our adopted daughters (about 20 present on the night).

As was mentioned in the welcome address, this presentation was the focal point of the evening’s celebrations. If it were not for our adopted daughters, there would be no celebrations, no group or valued friendships!

Some novel spot prizes found their way to some lucky guests while the children and some of the adults danced the night away to the music by the very able and talented band ``After Lunch``.


6. The January Talk:Botanical Exploration in China
by Seamus O'Brien

Seamus O’Brien, our speaker for January, held a captivated audience with his talk on Irish Botanical exploration in China. There were two different strands, both fascinating, to the talk: an account of the work of his predecessors in the 19th and 20th centuries, and an account of his own expeditions.

It was an eye-opener for many listeners to see how truly significant the work of those connected with the Dublin Botanic Gardens (above all, of course, Augustine Henry) has been in bringing Chinese plant species and botanical knowledge to Europe; and it was a delight to see each part of the story fleshed out with illustrations from the archives of the Gardens, or from the present-day Gardens themselves. And true-life adventure abounded; it is surely not just coincidence that the rarest and most desirable specimens are to be found in the most inaccessible and dangerous places.

Seamus et al
An ICCS visit to the Botanic Gardens , May 2001: Seamus is third from the left.

Seamus himself is carrying on the tradition in a most impressive way. He showed a mixture of total professionalism with total enthusiasm about his work - as, for instance, when he and his group threw off a day's weariness to reach a real rarity that they spotted towards evening. But, overall, it was probably the sheer beauty of the many slides which he showed that made the biggest impact: all technical and artistic gems, photographed by Seamus himself. .

With a group of a dozen or more, he is going back to China this year on an expedition organised by the Botanic Gardens. He has kindly agreed to come back to the Society and tell us about it. Anyone who misses this next talk needs counselling.

Thank you very much, Seamus, for a memorable evening.


7. JIAOZI (Dumplings)

Jiaozi, or dumplings with meat and vegetable fillings, is a very popular dish at the New Year and at other festivals. It tops the list of delicacies of people in North China, where people eat jiaozi at midnight on New Year's Eve, for breakfast on New Year's Day.


The history of jiaozi dates back to ancient times. But the custom of making jiaozi a special dish during the Spring Festival, or the Chinese lunar New Year, started in the Ming Dynasty, some 500 to 600 years ago. The reason is simple. The appearance of jiaozi looks like the V-shape ( some say half- moon shaped) gold or silver ingot used as money in ancient China. As the Spring Festival marks the start of a new year, people choose to eat jiaozi to connote their wishes for good fortune in the new year.

Although time has changed, the tradition has remained. But today, jiaozi is considered more as a sign of propitious blessing than of fortune.

The Process of Making Jiaozi

Many families in China usually prepare enough jiaozi to last several days of the Spring Festival time. To make jiaozi, first of all, chop the meat into tiny pieces and mash them, then add salt, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, scallions, Chinese cabbage and MSG if you like.

Mix thoroughly the ingredients and meat filling, add two spoonful of water if necessary.

Jiaozi 1

In a big bowl, add water to flour gradually. ( caution: not too much at a time!) Mix and knead by hand to form soft dough, then cover it with towel and put it aside for about an hour.

Jiaozi 2

Then scatter some dry flour on the board, knead and roll it into a sausage- like dough about 5 centimeters in diameter, then chop it into small pieces. Press each piece with your hand and get a pancake. Finally, to hold the pancake with our palm and put the filling in the center and wrap it into half-moon shaped and seal the edges.

Jiaozi 3

The next step is easy. Put the dumpling into boiling water, when it is well cooked, it is ready to be served. However, before eating, you need to prepare some small dishes to contain the mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil or pepper oil ( to suit your own taste!)

Probably the fun of eating jiaozi lies not only in the delicacy itself but also in the process of preparing for it: Everybody, the host and guests alike, rolls up his sleeves and wraps the pancake to cover the filling. What great fun! Besides, it is something of great significance: the hostess is freed from the drudgery of working in the kitchen alone and can carry on a lively conversation with the guests!


8. Year of the Horse

People born in the Year of the Horse are popular. They are cheerful, skillful with money, and perceptive, although they sometimes talk too much.

Year of the Horse

The are wise, talented, good with their hands, and sometimes have a weakness for members of the opposite sex. They are impatient and hot-blooded about everything except their daily work. They like entertainment and large crowds.

They are very independent and rarely listen to advice. They are most compatible with Tigers, Dogs, and Sheep.


Horses are very appealing people. They are warm and friendly and dearly love social gatherings with plenty of people. They are perceptive and enjoy talking. They have a high spirited nature and are changeable. This makes them hot-tempered, rash, and headstrong. They are always falling in and out of love. Quick to warm to someone, they are just as quick to lose interest. Here today and gone tomorrow-these are the Horses. Then when you decide not to see them again, here they come ready to pick up where they left off!

Horses are adventurers at heart, but they do have sharp minds and good abilities for managing money. They are self-reliant and energetic. They love exercise, both mental and physical. Their movements are rapid, yet graceful; their speech is quick, yet elegant.


Horses want things their way and they will become aggressive when all else fails. They value their freedom above all else. They are not possessive or jealous of others. Being moody creatures, Horses depend on the feel of things. They possess the ability to improvise while events are in motion and can handle several things at once.

Horses find it difficult to unwind. They keep strange hours and suffer from insomnia. When they stop, it is usually from exhaustion. It is hard for them to follow a schedule for they have no respect for routine. They need to keep busy but do best when given a free hand.

Horses are full of new ideas to solve tricky problems. When they have an idea, they want to get right to it. They work around the clock until they finish. Horses want you to come to the point quickly since they don't have time to spare. They will not care if you are blunt, just don't waste their time.

Horses must be allowed to show their emotions. They are hot-blooded, hot-tempered, and impatient, and they will gladly demonstrate. In love, Horses are quite vulnerable. They give up everything for the object of their affections. This causes them trouble since they are such impulsive creatures!

High Horse

They must learn to use caution. If one has a Horse in their house, you can bet the Horse receives most of the attention. Horses like being the hub and have everything revolving about them. In return, they work hard and share with everyone.

Horses don't mind starting over. They maintain their determination and enjoy new successes. They belong in careers where they are surrounded by people. They sway crowds and love being flattered. The willful Horses get into countless predicaments but they bail themselves out. They enjoy fighting their own battles.

Colorful and lively, they make many friends. If they could be in several places at once, they would be delighted!

Their spirit is restless and searching. Creativity is part of their being. They are talented writers and performers.


Year of the Horse

If you are born in the Year of the Horse then you are amazingly hard working and very independent. Although you are intelligent and friendly, you can sometimes be a bit selfish. Career wise you would make a good scientist or poet.

Famous People born in the Year of the Horse

Ian Cuthbertson, Robert Wagner, Rolf Harris, Helmit Kohl, Clint Eastwood,Barbara Streisand, John Thaw, Aretha Franklin.


9. Language School

Language School


10. Reminder: Subscriptions for 2002.

The Treasurer wishes to remind members that subscriptions are now due for 2002.

The annual subscription is €25.00,
With a reduced student rate of €8,
And a lifetime subscription of €250.

Subscriptions to be sent to:

Norman O’Galligan, Hon. Treasurer,
5 Claremont Road,
Sandymount, Dublin 4.

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


This Newsletter is published by the Irish-Chinese Cultural Society.
All views and contributions expressed are those of the individual contributors and 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 Hon. Secretary
Colm Coleman, 3 Pacelli Ave., Sutton, Dublin 13.
E-mail: iccs@oceanfree.net