Thursday, 22 December 2016

Christmas memories and more

1909 Christmas Card  

(From the National Library's Collection)


Great Craic at Lyreacrompane Christmas Party

Fr. Seán enjoying the banter in Lyre at Christmas 2016


Memories of Christmas in Ireland in the 40 and early 50
By Marie (Canty) Sham

Maria grew up in O'Connell's Avenue Listowel. Here she looks back on a very happy Christmas time

I remember

Going to the wood to cut the holly which grew wild, and the moss to put on the crib.
Christmas Eve cleaning the house, the excitement of setting up the crib filling jam jars with sand and putting the candles in them, decorating them with crepe paper, putting up paper chains, my mother would have made a large Christmas pudding in a gallon and put it aside

The turkey or goose was bought at the local market and plucked by our neighbour Bill Boyle. He must have done it for everyone because the road would be covered in feathers. The innards were still warm when it was cleaned out, that was all on Christmas Eve so it was fresh.

We were not well off but we were lucky as my father was always working, we were not short of anything. At that time in Kerry there was a lot of unemployment.

The shops mam shopped in during the year gave a Christmas box. One shop would give tea, sugar and maybe a pot of jam. That shop was called Jet Stacks and it is not there now. The butcher Murphy’s would send Danny to deliver us maybe a large piece of lamb, of course it would be delivered by him on his bicycle with a basket in front

I can also remember a donkey and cart outside the shops with a tea chest and all the shopping would be put into it. These people would be from the country and would not come to town again until after Christmas.

There was a shop called Fitzgibbons and we would pay in whatever we could afford for toys or anything else. I paid in sixpence a week for a sewing box and I still had it when I got married. Mam paid every week for the Nativity figures for the crib I have never seen anything so beautiful since.

The ham would be on the boil and with the crib set up. The candles would be lit by the youngest member of the house, I think at 7o clock

Our clean clothes would be kept warm over the range ready for midnight mass.
Going out on the frosty night and seeing all the windows with lighted candles was wonderful.

Home after mass a warm fire in the range a slice of the ham or maybe a fry! Our stockings would be hanging at the end of the bed. We did not get much; my dad was very good with his hands and would make things for us. He made a scooter once and a rocking horse.

My brother Neil wanted a mouth organ and it was like the song scarlet ribbons, dad went to so many shops until he got one for him. I was too young to remember that but mam told that story.

Christmas morning I will never forget waking up to the smell of the turkey roasting.

Up quickly and look if Santa had come, our stockings might have an orange, we always got something. I remember getting roller skates; I also remember getting a fairisle jumper from Santa. The problem was I had seen my aunt knitting it. All the children would be out in the Avenue with their new toys to show off.

Before dinner our neighbour Paddy Galvin would come in to wish a Happy Christmas and mam would give him a bottle of stout. I think that was the only time he ever called in. We would have lemonade and stout in for Christmas.

Dinner was wonderful, our Mam was a great cook. There was Mam Dad, Nelie, Paddy, Doreen and myself. My brother Junie came along later, and after we would wrap up warm and visit the cribs; one in each church, hospital, convent and St Marys and bring home a bit of straw for our crib which I think was blessed.

More food when we got home
Bed and looking forward to St Stephens day and the Wren Boys, no cooking on that day we finished up the leftovers.

What wonderful times!


Giving Back at Christmas

The man on the left is Michael McEnery. He comes from Causeway and now lives in Dublin where he is president of his local Fingal Rotary Club.

This Christmas he is putting his passion for running to use to help others. He is currently undertaking

Kerry Crusaders 200 miles to Freedom

running from Dublin to Kerry to raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis and Cancer charities.

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