Friday, 13 December 2019

Mike the Pies, Old Drama Group photos and a daft Christmas story from the Dúchas collection

St.Mary's at Night, Christmas 2019


A Kerry Christmas Childhood

Garry MacMahon

Now I cannot help remembering the happy days gone by,
As Christmastime approaches and the festive season’s nigh.
I wallow in nostalgia when I think of long ago,
And the tide that waits for no man as the years they ebb and flow.
We townies scoured the countryside for holly berries red,
And stripped from tombs green ivy in the graveyard of the dead,
To decorate each picture frame a hanging on the wall,
And fill the house with greenery and brighten winter’s pall,
Putting up the decorations was for us a pleasant chore,
And the crib down from the attic took centre stage once more.
From the box atop the dresser the figures were retrieved,
To be placed upon a bed of straw that blessed Christmas Eve,
For the candles, red crepe paper, round the jamjars filled with sand,
To be placed in every window and provide a light so grand,
To guide the Holy Family who had no room at the inn,
And provide for them a beacon of the fáilte mór within.
The candles were ignited upon the stroke of seven,
The youngest got the privilege to light our way to Heaven,
And the rosary was said as we all got on our knees,
Remembering those who’d gone before and the foreign missionaries.
Ah, we’d all be scrubbed like new pins in the bath before the fire
And, dressed in our pajamas of tall tales we’d never tire,
Of Cuchlainn, Ferdia, The Fianna, Red Branch Knights,
Banshees and Jack o Lanterns, Sam Magee and Northern Lights
And we’d sing the songs of Ireland, of Knockanure and Black and Tans,
And the boys of Barr na Sráide who hunted for the wran.
Mama and Dad they warned us as they gave each good night kiss,
If we didn’t go to sleep at once then Santa we would miss,
And the magic Christmas morning so beloved of girls and boys,
When we woke to find our dreams fulfilled and all our asked for toys,
But Mam was up before us the turkey to prepare,
To peel the spuds and boil the ham to provide the festive fare.
She’d accept with pride the compliments from my father and the rest.
“Of all the birds I’ve cooked,” she’s say, “ I think that this year’s was the best.”
The trifle and plum pudding, oh, the memories never fade
And then we’d wash the whole lot down with Nash’s lemonade.
St. Stephen’s Day brought wrenboys with their loud knock on the door,
To bodhrán beat abd music sweet they danced around the floor’
We, terror stricken children, fled in fear before the batch,
And we screamed at our pursuers as they rattled at the latch.
Like a bicycle whose brakes have failed goes headlong down the hill
Too fast the years have disappeared. Come back they never will.
Our clan is scattered round the world. From home we had to part.
Still we treasure precious memories forever in our heart.
So God be with our parents dear. We remember them with pride,
And the golden days of childhood and the happy Christmastide.


Mike the Pies in December 2019

I love the new look.


Old Listowel Drama Group photos

Below is a great collection of old Drama Group photos that Maeve Moloney has sent us. We have no details of names or even the name of the play/plays or the year they were taken. We need your help.


A Dúchas Christmas Memory

Garret Stack went to confession Christmas Eve and he was to go to communion Christmas morning and the clock stopped during the night and he got up and went away thinking it was very late and when he was near Newtown he met a priest and he knew him and that priest was dead and he came down the road and went into Mc. Cabe’s and it was only one o’clock and he stayed there until morning.
Written by Con Shine, Kilbaha, told by his father John Shine.


A Minute of Your Time

 My photograph shows Diana having a quick look At A Minute of Your Time in O'Mahoney's Tralee. This is the latest outlet to sell it.
It's sold out in The Friary Bookshop, Killarney but it's available nearby in The Dungeon. Eagers and O'Connors also have copies.
It's proving popular as a Christmas present, suitable for young and old.

 Thank you to everyone who has supported me in this new venture.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

A Christmas wreath, some shop windows and Colourful Spirits exhibition

A Kerry Donkey: Chris Grayson


Cured, you say? Caused, more like!

Photo from Facebook


Some Christmas windows


 Tae Lane


A Christmas Wreath

My lovely daughter in law, Carine, treated me to a wreath making workshop in The White Horse in Ballincollig. Even if I say so myself, we made some lovely creations.

My Christmas wreath 2019


John Paul 2 Cemetery

I put my Christmas wreath on Jim's grave. The cemetery was looking lonely in the winter sunshine.

The burial ground is expanding rapidly with a whole new section opened up recently.


Colourful Spirits Exhibition in St. John's

I took the following photo s at the opening evening but the pictures will be there for the month. I'm delighted with my purchase. I'll leave it hang for a few more weeks but I'll have it in my home for Christmas.

Viveca Amato's Santa greeted us at the door.

I think most of the Spirits who were exhibiting are in one or other of these photos. The group does have a few more members but their work is not in this show. The paintings are lovely. Well worth a visit. These artists do commissions as well so if you like someone's work you could talk to them about doing something more special to you.

This mixed media picture is very eye catching.

This is me with my painting and the artist who painted it. Máire did a bad job on the photograph. I'll have to take it again when I get it home.

Máire bought Jim Dunn's Mad Hatter.   'nough said!

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Mike the Pies, Martin Chute, Mistletoe and Macroom

Wintry Listowel in December 2019


Mike the Pies Rebranding

Mike the Pies has been painted green for as long as I can remember. All that's changed in December 2019. This popular music venue, where half of Listowel would rather be, is now a sophisticated black.

There I was walking on Upper William Street when I spotted the sea change.

Returning later I saw Mr. Signs himself, Martin Chute, painting the new sign.

Doesn't his I look a bit like a glass at this stage?

Spotting his friend, Eileen Worths, Martin stopped for a chat.

I was anxious not to distract the master at work. But the ever affable signwriter took a minute to greet me.


Mattie's Letter takes a Tongue in Cheek Swipe


Uh! oh! The Mistletoe

( from Raymond O'Sullivan on Facebook)

When the kissing has to stop!

Mistletoe is a symbol of love, affection and friendship. It is also considered lucky and a protection from evil spirits and the devil, The origin of these associations goes back to Norse mythology and the legend of the goddess Frigg, wife of Odin, and their son Baldur - too long for a FB post. Google it! Suffice to say that Frigg’s tears transformed into the berries on the mistletoe, and, on the resurrection of her son from the dead, she was so overjoyed that she blessed the plant and vowed to kiss everyone who passed beneath it.
So the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe goes back a long way, though nowadays it is confined to the Christmas period. Some accounts say the proper procedure is that a berry is plucked from the plant each time a couple kisses and when all the berries are gone, the kissing has to stop. Ah, the bashful days of youth!
In the light of the almost daily charges of unwelcome and inappropriate sexual approaches in the workplace and elsewhere, this long-established tradition of kissing under the mistletoe must be in grave danger of being discarded. We can only hope that the coarse conduct and boorish behaviour of some, including those in high places, does not jeopardize this age-old, innocent Christmas custom and consign the blameless mistletoe to the compost heap of history.


Spotted In Macroom

Like Listowel, Macroom has retained much of its old character. When I stopped there for a spot of lunch lately (I highly recommend The Castle Hotel) I took a stroll around and spotted these gems.

A veritable old curiosity shop

Next door was a draper's shop which still hangs the merchandise outside the door.


An Appeal

Next year, 2020 Listowel Writers Week will celebrate its 50th birthday. I'm planning to post some photos of memories of the festival down through the years. So I'm appealing to my Listowel Connection family to help me out.

If you have a memory or a photo you would be willing to share please drop me an email.