Lynch’s of Main Street beautiful Christmas Windows 2020


Remembering Old Friends and Good Times

Knitting Group with Namir in Scribes at our Christmas Party in 2017


Billy McSweeney relives a 1940s Christmas in Listowel

I remember one Christmas eve in the days of Ration Books and deprivation of the 1940’s. Darkness had fallen and the Santa tension was building in our house.

My mother was out shopping for some last-minute necessities, when she 

suddenly burst in the front door screaming “Santey, Santey. Come quick, 

come quick !”

My young sisters and I rushed out the door at the top of Church Street 

to clearly hear harness bells jingling and trotting hooves clattering 

off the road just past McAuliffe’s corner, barely 100 yards away but 

already out of sight.

“Aw, you just missed him!”

When a chasing charge was obviously forming in our minds we were told:  

“Get your coats on or you will get your death of cold!”

A riotous melee formed around the coat stand and a number of 

half-attired children took off down the street. Alas, by the time we 

reached McAuliffe’s Corner the sleigh with it bells and reindeer had 

vanished and we trudged home elated that we had nearly seen him but also disappointed that we had missed him.

My mother had a joyous smile on her face that her timing was impeccable.


Ballybunion in the 1950s

Photo from Glin Historical Society


Another Eamon Kelly description of Christmases in  the 1920s

The Season of Light by Eamon Kelly from 

The Rub of the Relic 1978

No word of a lie but Christmas was something to write home about when I was small. Oh, the way we looked forward to twilight on Christmas Eve, for when darkness fell it was Christmas Night, the greatest night of all the year. We youngsters would be up at the crack of dawn that morning to have the house ready for the night.

Berry holly would have to be cut and brought in to deck out the windows, the top of the dresser, the back of the settle and the clevvy, We’d bring ivy too and put a sprig of laurel behind the pictures, above the lintel of the door and around the fireplace. But we wouldn’t overdo it for, if we did our mother would cut it down a bit, reminding us that she’d like to feel she was in her own home for Christmas and not in the middle of a wood!

Well The transformation we would bring about in the kitchen with all the greenery! But we weren’t finished yet The Christmas candles would have to be prepared; these were of white tallow as thick as the handle of a spade and nearly as tall. In some houses, they’d scoop out a hole in a turnip and put a candle sitting into it.  A big crock we’d use. We’d put the candle standing into that and pack it around with sand. If you hadn’t sand, bran or pollard would do.

When the candle was firm in position we’d spike sprigs of holly or laurel into the sand about the candle and we’d have coloured paper too to put around the outside of the crock to take the bare look off it. With that same coloured paper the girls in the family, if they were anyway handy, could make paper flowers to decorate the holly. Then what would cap it all was a length of young ivy to spiral up around the candle – it looked lovely. That done, we would go through the same manoeuvre until there was a candle in a crock for every window in the house.


I Saw a Stable     by Mary Coleridge

I saw a stable, low and very bare,

A little child in the manger.

The oxen knew Him, had Him in their care,

To men he was a stranger,

The safety of the world was lying there ,

And the world’s danger.


A Lovely tribute from a Listowel Connection Newbie

Words of praise and gratitude are so lovely to hear. This email made my day.

Hi Mary, 

I wanted to write just to say I’m glad that you chose to keep the blog open for a while.

Mr. Keane is correct. 

I realize I’m new to the blog and mostly an outsider, my connections are generational, and exist as almost genetic memory but, particularly in these hard times, those small connections are what define us. 

As leaves hanging from a thousand tendrils of web each helps us define our connection and place in the world. While one after another breaks or is cut, those that remain become that much more important, and strained.

In the same way that those disconnects make it ever more difficult for you to continue, it is also a stabilizing line to many that you do. Particularly for those most at risk in our troubling times.

I can not imagine the difficulty in finding stories each day, let alone in a world isolated from itself by the unseen, implacable, and terrifying enemy we now know.

I am heartened that your followers have reached out digitally to lighten your load. 

I shall hope that with their help you may continue to find ways to express our strengths, links, that at heart we are one and as in all things we are stronger and wiser together. That together we can protect each other, hold back the shadows, deny the mentality driven by fear that allows us to justify devaluing or taking advantage of those around us.

I do not intend to put more pressure on you, more to thank you for the connections you have strengthened, or maintained, and all the work you have put in over the years.

To quote one who is I think not well loved there “We need only to endure to conquer”, We need “continuous effort not strength”. It is our community and all the ways that we define it that makes us invincible.

I shall hope that you are well, that beyond all your troubles there are blessings to light your way, that you realize the unspoken gratitude of all those your life and generosity has touched.