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Tag: Christmas 1920s

Christmas long ago, a Christmas poem and Knitwits Christmas get together

Photo: Chris Grayson


This year I’d love if people in the Listowel connection community would send me a picture of Christmas where they are and I could share them after Christmas.


Government Buildings at Christmas 2017

Political correspondent, Martina Fitzgerald, took this photo and shared it on Twitter. She was killing time while waiting for a Brexit briefing last week.


Christmas in the 1920s as remembered by Eamon Kelly

… (After the rosary) Our knees would be
aching as we got up off the floor and it would take my father a few hours to
get the prayer arch out of his back. Well, we wouldn’t be sitting down at the
supper and my mother would bless herself again, a preliminary to grace before
meals and you could hardly blame my father for losing his patience.”

“Is it in a
monastery we are,” he’d say. “Haven’t we done enough praying for one night?”

After the supper
there was Christmas cake for anyone with a sweet tooth. My father’d never look
at that. His eye would be on the earthenware jar beneath the dresser, and it
would be a great relief to him when my mother would say to us, “Go out there
one of ye and tell the neighbouring men to come in for a while.”

It was a custom
that night, Nollaig Mhór, big Christmas, for the men to visit one another’s
houses. The women were too busy to be bothered. They had their own night,
Nollaig na mBan, small Christmas for making tapes. In a while the men would
come in and at the first lag in the conversation my father’d take the cork off
the jar and fill out a few cups of porter. The men, by the way nit noticing
what was going on and then when they’d get the cups, all surprised they’d say,
”What’s this? What’s this for?”

“Go on take it,”
my father’d say; “It’s Christmas night, neighbours and good luck to us!”

Then the men’s
faces would light up and, lifting their cups, they’d say; “Happy Christmas.
Ned. Happy Christmas Ma’am! Happy Christmas everyone.”

“And the same to
ye, men,” my father would answer.

“May we all be
alive again this time twelve months.”

And my mother, who
was never too happy in the presence of strong drink, would direct her gaze in
the direction of the Christmas candle and say;

“The grace of God
to us all!”


A Christmas Poem

(one to set you thinking)

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

The safety of the
world was lying there ,

And the world’s


Knitwits Christmas Party

An occasion tinged with sadness on Saturday December 16 2017, as Namir cooked his last Christmas meal for the knitting group who have become his friends.


Irish Wit

Snapped last week on a van in Tralee

 Seán Mac an tSíthigh  spotted this one and posted it on Twitter.

@Aperture posted this photo of Cork in the fog on Twitter.

Eamon Kelly’s 1920s Christmas Customs, a poem and a photo for Christmas ’17

Love consists not in looking at one another but in looking together in the same direction.

Khalil Gibran

Photo taken in The Gap of Dunloe by Chris Grayson


Eamon Kelly Remembers Christmas Long Ago

…..Then we’d be
praying for night to fall. for you couldn’t see the right effect until the
candles were lit. The honour would fall to the youngest in the house. The
father would lift the child up saying “In the name of The Father, The Son….”
And when the child had blessed himself, he would put the lighting spill to the
candle, and from that candle the other candles would be lit, and he’s be half
daft with excitement, enjoying the blaze of light, and running fro the rooms
into the kitchen and out into the yard to see what the effect was like from the
outside. When we’d get tired of looking at the candles in our own windows, we’d
turn and try to name the neighbours’ houses as the bunches of lights came on,
two windows here and three windows there, across the dark countryside and away
up to the foot of the hills. And sure as anything, someone would be late and
we’d rush in to my mother saying, ”Faith then there’s no light on yet in

“Go n ye’re
knees,” my mother would say. The time she’d pick for the rosary, just when the
salt ling was ready and the white onion sauce and the potatoes steaming over
the fire. But I suppose there’d be no religion in the world only for the women.
The rosary in our house did not end at five decades. Not at all, after the Hail
Holy Queen our mother would start into the trimmings

“Come Holy Ghost,
send down those beams,

Which sweetly flow
in silver streams.”

She’d pray for
everyone in sickness and in need and the poor souls and the sinful souls who at
that very moment was trembling before the judgment seat above. She’d pray for
the sailor on the seas. “Protect him from the tempest, O Lord, and bring him
safely home.” And the lone traveller on the highway, and, of course, our
emigrants, and, last of all, the members of our own family

God bless and save
us all

St. Patrick,
Bridget and Colmcille

Guard each wall.

May the queen of

And the angels

Keep us and our

From harm this


A Christmas Poem

Twinkle Twinkle    by Jane Taylor

Twinkle twinkle
little star.

How I wonder what
you are.

Up above the world
so high,

Like a diamond in
the sky.

When the blazing
sun is gone,

And he nothing
shines upon,

Then you show your
little light.

Twinkle, twinklw
through the night.

Then the traveller
in the dark

Thanks you for
your tiny spark.

He would not see
which way to go,

If you did not
twinkle so.

In the dark blue
sky you keep,

And often through
my curtains peep,

Forr you never
shut your eye

Til the sun is in
the sky.

As your bright and
tiny spark,

Lights the
traveller in the dark.

Though I know not
what you are

Twinkle, twinkle, little star.


A Welcome Return

Jackie McGillicuddy made a welcome return to his old spot behind the counter at Corbett and Fitzgibbon’s. The shop now names McGillicuddy’s Toys is run by his son Seán who is with him in the photo which they posted on Twitter.


Thought for the Season    from Dr. Suess

Winter in Goa, Slimming World and Christmas long ago.

The timeless unspoiled beauty of the Gap of Dunloe is captured in December 2017 by a man who appreciates the beauty of Kerry and captures it lovingly in photos….Chris Grayson.


Winter in Goa

It’s a long way from O’Connell’s Avenue to Goa. Maria Sham is a loyal follower of Listowel connection and she has already shared her memories of a happy childhood spent in her O’Connell’s Avenue home.

Maria Sham today

I don’t know if Maria is in this photo but these are the people she knew growing up.

Maria now lives in England and from there she recently took the holiday of a lifetime to Goa. Here the weather, the lifestyle, the economy, everything is a world away from our side of the world. Here are some of  Maria’s photos.

As you can see she spent much of her time on the beach.

This last photo is of a young man harvesting betel nut. Betel is the main ingredient in paan.

“If you’ve never
tried paan — a post-meal mainstay at social gatherings
and banquet halls in India — it can be a bit hard to explain to
the uninitiated. Part breath freshener, part digestive aid, paan is essentially a wad of dried fruits, spices
and seeds wrapped into a large green leaf from the betel nut plant. Think of
those little candied fennel seeds you spoon into your hand at Indian
restaurant, times 1,000. With paan, you pick up
the entire triangular-shaped package and stuff it into your cheek pocket,
chewing a few times to get the juices moving. The betel leaf, a mild stimulant,
turns brick red as it’s masticated and puts a slight pep in your step. After
all the juices have been released, you spit out the mushy bolus and toss it in
the trash — breath fresher, stomach lighter and head abuzz.” Source: Wikipedia.


New Business on Charles St.

Do you remember I posted this photo and I told you I’d tell you what shop was going in here? Well the answer is that it is not a shop at all but Slimming World.


My Favourite Shop

When I visited my favourite shop recently I saw some new faces. It’s great to see some lovely sympathetic women joining the welcoming friendly and invariably cheerful staff in this excellent shop. You’d never know what treasure you will find in Listowel’s Vincent de Paul shop and at a very affordable price.


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.

(more tomorrow)


Christmas Jumper Day

Staff at Listowel Credit Union took part in Radio Kerry’s Christmas Jumper Day for St. Vincent de Paul and they posted this photo on Twitter.

Nighttime in Listowel December 2017

Listowel Castle at night


The very last of the exhibitors at the BOI Enterprise Town event


December 2017 Nightime in Listowel


Christmas in the 1920s by Eamon Kelly     Concluded

…..The hearth was the
friendliest place in the house. The place to talk, to sing and to listen to a
good story, to hear the conversation of the grown-ups and to let on not to hear
little bits of gossip or some scandal our elders seemed to take an unlaughing
pleasure in. The hearth was the place where the mother read out the American
letters from Aunt Margaret, Aunt Mary and our Aunty Bridgie, and counted out
the dollars they, and Aunt Liz, had sent us. We would all repeat the American
address where our aunts lived to see who’d remember it best. It was Ditmar’s
Boulevard, Astoria, Queens, Long Island, New York. The hearth was the place
where we knelt before the supper on Christmas Eve for The Rosary with the
trimmings we thought would never end.

When it was time
for us all small lads to go to bed we’d hang up our stockings along the mantle
shelf and on the crane to make sure Daidí na Nollag wouldn’t forget us. Even if
was only a new penny it would be welcome. A penny was a great treat in those
days when you would get five bulls eyes for a half penny and two peggy’s legs
for a full penny. In the end we would have to be hunted to bed we would be so
lazy leaving the warm hearth. But the promise of driving in the pony and trap
through the dark to early mass in the morning would finally shift us, but we
weren’t gone yet. We’d all have to stand at the front door to admire the
bunches of lights in the houses down along the valley and up the rising ground
to Rossacrew, all the little lights winking and blinking through the dark
until, as the man said, the earth below looked like a reflection of the starry
Heaven above.


The Listowel Arms is looking very festive


The Catechism

Boy did people remember this! I think the following email sums up most of the feedback I got .

Hi, Mary, The Catechism had ‘all the answers’ – and was all black-and-white! No grey areas! O tempora O mores!

In my young days – 50s and 60s – religion was terrorised into us- often accompanied by a bit of pummelling, just to concentrate the mind!

Even to this day, churches can  inspire an atavistic dread of hell-fire and damnation. We must only trust that there is something better in store for us. We shall see…

The most-remembered thing about the Catechism for me is the phrase concocted from reversing its  letters: Master Sits In His Chair Each Time At Catechism. (Except when he rises to cuff home the message of love and forgiveness!).

Xmas, North Kerry Harriers, The Catechism, more Enterprise photos and Christmas in Ballylongford

Gurtinard Wood in Winter 2017


A Modern Christmas Poem

Xmas by Wes Magee

Not a twig stirs.
The frost bitten garden

Huddles under a
heaped duvet of snow.

Pond, tree, sky
and street are granite with cold.

In the house
electronic games warble;

Holly awaits the
advent of balloons

And the TV set
glows tipsy with joy.

This is a great
poem about the secularization of Christmas. Christ is taken out and the Xbox
takes his place centre stage.


It’s That Time of Year

North Kerry Harriers met in the grounds of Glin castle on December 3 2017. Local Limerick photographers, Liam Downes and Estelle O’Donoghue, took some  photos to record the occasion.

Estelle O’Donoghue  took this fabulous photo.


A Relic left behind from our Youth

Call it brainwashing if you like, but I and my school fellows had the answers to the questions set out in this green book so dinned into us in school that most of us could, to this day, with just a little prompting, reel off all those answers.

This copy turned up among the National Treasures collected recently. I’m sure the very sight of it will send shivers down a few spines.


Some More People at BOI Enterprise Town Evening


Christmas Long Ago

Christmas for us
Small Lads    by Eamon Kelly

Christmas for us
small lads growing up in the 1920s was a pool of light in the inky darkness of
the winter. A soft amber pool of light which came from three sources- the big
log and turf fire, the oil lamp with the hairpin straddling the glass chimney
and the stately white candles, one in every window, spreading their light out
into the yard and road and showing the way, the old people told us, to Mary and
Joseph should they be passing in search of shelter on Christmas night.
Although my father used to say that if they happened to be passing our house
the blessed pair would have strayed a tiny step on the road to Bethlehem.

In the month of
December there was no road darker than the road outside our house, for we were
living in the depths of the country, and as yet the ESB poles had not come
marching down the valley bringing a brighter but a harsher light. And it cuts
me to the quick today when I hear that instead of the old tallow candle there
is a new garish electric imitation lighting in many of the windows I looked on
as a lad.

(Continued tomorrow)


Ballylongford at Christmas 2017

They switched on their Christmas tree lights in Bally on Saturday December 9 2017 and Ballylongford Snaps took lots of great photos. Here are a few and there are lots more HERE

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