Putting up the Christmas lights in November 2023

Stained Glass in St. Mary’s

I returned to St. Mary’s in the afternoon of Tuesday, November 22 2023 because I knew that by then the beautiful window pane would be back in place.

This is the one that was removed and releaded.

The newly renovated one is not as bright as the pane on the far right.

Now that the donor’s dedication has been fully restored I see that it commemorates both the McAuliffe and Boylan families. These families were connected through marriage.

Dave O’Sullivan has done a bit of research and it looks like the Thomas MacAuliffe who donated the magnificent window is one of the famous McAuliffe family, plasterers.

The rose window at the top is lovely now.

Second Sign of the Approach of the Holy Season

I was in town on Thanksgiving Thursday and work was underway on several windows. The theme for this year’s Christmas windows is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The New Kingdom has gone for a jokey pun.

Harp and Lion Antiques never disappoints. The window was in the process of decoration by a delighted big child, who loves to give her creative talents free reign.

Mr. Duck was in his best Willy Wonka attire as he carried his golden ticket. BTW the tree is decorated with real sweets and the garland is made of candy canes and gold and silver chocolate coins. Gorgeous!

Another Listowel shop with a very creative owner is Taelane Store

Giant candy canes and muffins here.

Mags is in on the act as well with candy canes and treats galore.

Jade was just plotting out her window at Jumbos.

Christmas according to another Local Writer

Unfortunately the booklet gives the names of all the writers but it doesn’t say who wrote what.

A Fact

Today’s fact is a true Christmas story from a great storyteller, Mattie Lennon

My Best Christmas.

   It was mid-December in the third decade of the twenty-first century. I was at a Table Topics session. Because of my dubious ability to read upside down, I could make out the Topicmaster’s list of questions at the top table. One jumped out at me. “What was your best Christmas ever?”   I hoped I’d get that one. I had an answer.

    My best Christmas was Christmas 1956 but I didn’t know it at the time.  About the eighth of December that year I developed a pain in my stomach which didn’t feel all that serious. .  Various stages of discomfort, ranging from relatively mild to severe pain, continued until the end of the month.  By this stage a hard lump could be felt in my stomach. All kinds of remedies from the relic of Blessed Martin de Porres to Lourdes water to many folk “cures” were applied. None of them did me any harm. Medical intervention hadn’t been sought. And because of the thinking of the time and the climate in which we lived I don’t blame anyone. On Sunday December 30th Doctor Clearkin from Blessington was called.    As the December light was fading he examined me. His work was illuminated by lamplight as rural electrification was still in the future. . He told my parents that if it was appendicitis then I was “a very strong boy.” He was puzzled and didn’t make a Diagnosis. His best guess was that one of my testicles hadn’t descended and he insisted that I was too ill to be out of bed.

   He called the ambulance and on arrival I wanted to sit in the front but Mick Byrne, the driver, was adamant that I would be parallel with the horizontal in the back. I don’t know what time we arrived at Baltinglass Hospital but the doctor there was equally puzzled.

   I was loaded up again and hit the road for Mercer’s Hospital in Dublin. It was only my second visit to the Capital. The previous May my father brought me to  Frawleys in Thomas Street  to buy my Confirmation suit. Two years earlier I spent some days in hospital with a knocked-out elbow so I wasn’t all that perturbed by the clinical environment. My details were taken as well as  the name of the local postmaster as the post office in Lacken was our nearest phone.. I received a penicillin injection every four hours and I still remember the taste of liquid paraffin. Many doctors examined me and all were confused. One of them described me as “intelligent” but very few people have agreed with him since.

 Whenever I hear the ballad “Sean South from Garryowen” I’m transported back to the radio of Patsy Cavanagh from Craanford County Wexford, who was in the corner of the ward. It was New Year’s Day 1953 and the main news item covered the shooting of South and Fergal O’ Hanlon at Brookeborough, County Fermanagh.

   I’m not sure if I turned off the immersion this morning but I’m amazed at how many names of my fellow patients I can remember after more than three score years. There was Seamus  Osborne also from Craanford, Tony Hand, from Arklow, who was younger than me and whose father was in the army. Pipe smoking Kerryman, Tim Toomey, who was a guard in Enniskerry. When he learned that his father had died he asked me to say a prayer for him. George McCullough, a farmer,  from Goresbridge who was a seanachai and didn’t know it.  

As an eleven  year old rus-in-urbe, who had a sheltered childhood, I was mesmerised by the antics of  one patient, “Midget” boxer and aerial acrobat Johnny Caross. He died in the same hospital a few months later.

  Later, on the first day of the New Year, my father came  to visit me. He was able to tell me that one of the surgeons in Mercers had “his hands blessed by the Pope.”  When, not quite out of earshot, he asked a doctor about my condition, he was told. “Well, He’s an unusual case.” ( I was still a mystery to the medical profession.)  

  I was operated on the next day. They found an appendix abscess which was removed and arrangements were made to remove the appendix some weeks later. The second operation was duly performed and I didn’t ever ascertain how close to death I was. I meant to look for my medical records before Mercers Hospital closed in 1983 but procrastination got in the way.

   Oh, at the Table Topic session I was asked “If you had to cook for eight people on Christmas Day what would you do” .  I wasn’t disappointed. How would I have fitted my prepared answer, to the other question,  into two minutes? 

   So far I have lived through 77 Christmases. But the best one was in 1956, because I was alive to see it.