Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas in Kerry

Christmas Greetings

Listowel artist, Olive Stack's beautiful Christmas card

A Very Happy Christmas to all my blog followers and collaborators. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who helped me during the year by sending or giving me photos, stories, encouraging emails and helpful suggestions. I am grateful to everyone who interacts with me about the blog but I also appreciate all the "followers" who just use the blog to stay in touch with Listowel. 
This is the last blogpost for 2014. I look forward to getting back to work in 2015. Do remember that I can't do it without help so keep rummaging in those old photo boxes.


People love to hear this old Bryan MacMahon poem at this time of year

Kerry Candlelight

I am standing here in Euston, and my heart is light and gay,
For ‘tis soon I’ll see the moonlight all a-dance on Dingle Bay. 
So behind me, then, is London, with the magic of its night,
And before me is a window filled with Kerry Candlelight.

‘Tis the lovely light of glory that came down from heav’n on high,
And whenever I recall it, there’s a teardrop in my eye.
By the mountainside at twilight, in a cottage gleaming white,
There my true love sits a-dreaming, in the Kerry Candlelight.

She’ll be waiting by the turf fire; soon our arms will be entwined,
And the loneliness of exile will be lost or cast behind,
As we hear the Christmas greetings of the neighbours in the night,
Then our hearts will beat together in the blessed Candlelight.

Now the train is moving westward, so God speed its racing wheels,
And God speed its whistle ringing o’er the sleeping English fields,
For I’m dreaming of an altar where, beside my Breda bright,

I will whisper vows of true love in the Kerry Candlelight.


More Innocent Times    

This Christmas story comes from a Listowel emigrant who remembers happy times growing up in Kerry...

Now the tradition of Christmas and Santy Claus evidently is different in every house, but in the Stack house it was, is and always will be a big deal.
When I was a little boy Santy Claus personally delivered my presents every year. That didn't happen to all the boys in my class . And despite the strict criteria for the year of not being naughty and being nice,  which I might not always have adhered to, he never left me down. He would always call between 9 and 10 on Christmas Eve.

We would have all been washed and have the new Christmas outfit on and most years about 7 the whole family would take a drive and see all the lovely Christmas lights , That is a lovely single white bulb in the every window of every house and the odd posh one might have a red bulbs.
We would return home and instead of going to the living room we would retire to the sitting room  which we used to migrate to for the two week Christmas holidays. The rest of the year it was reserved for priests, guards or water bailiffs ( nothing to do with me) . 

We then would chose what to watch on TV1 or 2 but we were always a little anxious as we knew a special visitor would be calling. At some point either my mother or father would say “Be quiet. Was that a knock ?”  We would all freeze , then turn down 1 or 2 and listen and we might hear a faint bell or another knock this time much louder. We would run to the door, turn on the outside light and see large bags of presents spread all over the lawn. When we were very young Santy would be by the door and as we got older, I suppose he was getting older as well he would be further away each year until I remember him being at the front gate waving . While we were always grateful, as children we were normally more interested in the contents of the bags on the lawn than Santy himself.

Christmas 1983 the world changed forever. Despite several doubts there was always an explanation ! , Santy would always come to our house on Christmas Eve but people on our road could be Christmas Day. Santa doesn't use roads !!
At 6 o clock that Christmas Eve my father said he wanted to talk to me.
I was curious as we walked down the hall , to see what I had done wrong cos I'd usually pull up a couple of weeks before Christmas . We sat on my bed and he told me Santy wasn't real . Reeling from the shock as a 12 year old would I enquired was I still going to get presents this year. He said yes. That made me feel better and when I enquired who was the fellow calling to my front door banging windows and ringing a bell for the last few years he just said JET.

That was when Christmas began. As I had a younger brother and sister still not in the loop Santy was expected as usual. My father and I sneaked out of our house and went next door to Jet’s house , where it was like the The North Pole with bags of presents for different houses within a 10 mile radius.

Now at 12 I got to see Santy face to face. First he had granny's pinkish dressing gown on with a big pillow inside and a mask that was more like Freddie Kruger than Santy but a big red hat, plenty lipstick on the cheeks a bit of white paint for a beard . He was perfect. Unless there was a full moon then you'd want to stay well back from the front door. His first call that night was our house and after that I had the job of riding shotgun on Santa’s  sleigh, a Renault  9 at the time, of calling to about 9  or 10 houses in my locality, where there was small children waiting for Santy .

Years later after Jet , one of his neighbours and someone Jet had played Santy to, revived it and did a great job for a few years and when he went on to have his own family he roped some of his friends into the position . 

A relative of Jet Stack 


Christmas in Clounmacon

(Photo;The Advertiser)


Fungi at Christmas

His friends at Fungie Forever visit the Dingle dolphin almost daily so be sure to check in with them over Christmas.

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