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
By Marie (Canty) Sham
Maria grew up in O’Connell’s Avenue Listowel. Here she looks back on a very happy Christmas time
Going to the wood
to cut the holly which grew wild, and the moss to put on the crib.
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
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.
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.
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
Bed and looking
forward to St Stephens day and the Wren Boys, no cooking on that day we finished
up the leftovers.
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
running from Dublin to Kerry to raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis and Cancer charities.