Dia is Mhuire díobh go léir a chairde, and welcome to my weekly report.
Welcome to the year of 2021. In the past couple of weeks we have come through some very unusual and strange events we had to do without many of the age-old customs and rituals which have been part of our Christmases since the Birth of Christ. To say it was challenging would be an understatement but at the end of the day we can pat ourselves in the back and say I did it, I did it my way and came out stronger as a result. Full of new determination to take 2021 by the scruff of the neck, take it on with all our might and the help of God.
One of the main highlights of our Christmas was the return of our beloved parish priest Canon John FitzGerald to our alter following some heartfelt weeks without him and while we are deeply grateful to the other clerics who looked after us so well in his absence, there was something special about having ‘the Boss’ the Father figure home. We wish Canon John all the best for the future. The streaming service in our Church made a huge difference to us over the Festive Season. There was a great attendance of those who were fortunate enough to be among the limited few who were allowed into the church on Christmas night, but for those of us who tuned in from home it was so special to be able to see the alter in all it’s splendour all lit up and the celebrant in full view, his words coming through as clear as crystal. Speaking for myself and I’m sure many more of my vintage I found it great to sit in the comfort of my own home for Mass and still feel a part of it all, joined by our people from all over the globe in one big celebration of the birth of Christ. The Christmas Crib all newly painted and surrounded by lush branches of green ivy was placed as usual at the bottom of the church where it is still intact and where people can pay homage any time as the church is open every day. Hand sanitisers available the whole time. There is a collection box at the Crib and the money raised there goes to good causes every year. In ways I suppose we are seeing our Alter for the first time in many ways. Never before has it been held in our full gaze for so long and it looks so beautiful. The mosaic walls, the marble pulpit, altar and steps, the brass candle sticks and flower vases filled with a profusion of fresh flowers and the overhead lighting casting lustre on it all, the huge picture window at the back. Whenever you hear something praised to the hilt, there is nearly always a BUT. I suppose it’s an age thing with me and with all health and safety regulations being drummed into us every day, I can’t but notice the absence of handrails on the steps of the altar to see the Padres negotiating them in their flowing robes makes me nervous. Every place we know that has steps even a couple has handrails. Our beloved clergy is going through very difficult times at the moment. It can’t be easy for them to come on the altar and minister to an empty house. We’ve heard of a flock without a shepherd, but a shepherd without a flock, can’t be easy .
Well what can we say about the garden. The fact that some of us have a garden is a big plus. This cold spell is making the little birds very tame, they won’t come close enough to be picked up but near enough to see them in more detail than in summer when they have food aplenty. As well as those who feed on peanuts there is another group who can only feed on small seeds, so for the first time I have taken to feeding them with their special grains. Maybe I was being mean when I placed the bird table less than ten feet from my window. It has a dual purpose result. For while a lot of new feathered friends have come to feast on my efforts I can view them in more detail from the comfort of my nice warm room. You’d wonder how they ever get to eat enough or digest what they eat. They are constantly on the watch. Pick up a tiny seed and check to see if there is any cat or bigger bird around before feeling safe to go for more.
We are well past the shortest day of the year and already the evenings are beginning the stretch a little especially the fine evenings. On clear days it’s well worth getting out the car and drive, within 5 kms and look around the country. The beautiful pictures that we see on our website are there in reality if we take the trouble to travel out and see them. With the passing of the month of January, the farming world will be waking up, the calving season will swing into action the little lambs will be coming into the world and there will be an air of rebirth all over the place. It is almost becoming the norm now for a mother sheep to have more than two lambs and as she has only the gear to feed two, pet lambs will be given away to people who might like to have one and what nicer gift can a little child get than a pet lamb all of its own. For a child to have a real warm living ,cuddly pet is magic. To learn how to feed it and care for it is education that can’t be found in any book.
Tomorrow Wednesday is Jan 6th. The Feast of the Epiphany. The day when the three Wise Kings came to visit the new born baby Jesus. In the old days it was a Holy Day of Obligation not sure if it still is and revered as was Christmas Day. Decorations were always left up until after that date and another goose met its fate for dinner in my young days. Known as the Women’s Christmas it was the day when the ladies stepped out, especially in latter years. For many years we had a wonderful party at the Wallis Arms Hotel. It was started by the popular Mairead Daly and was the first time that the Country women were on par with their city sisters. We turned out in style, and younger ladies used to occasion to treat their mothers to their very own Women’s Christmas. A wonderful meal followed by music and dancing until late. It was a lovely event and today I want to wish our ladies of every age race and colour a very Holy and Happy Women’s Christmas.
I had my first baby 61 years ago tomorrow Wednesday January 6th. January 1959. I gave birth to Geraldine in Millstreet Hospital on that cold day with snow on the ground. It is impossible to draw any familiar lines between what life was like then and the way it is now. We had no car then and had to borrow the family van to bring our precious firstborn home. Following a week of wonderful care in the local hospital with it’s central heating etc we came home to our house which had no heating apart from the turf range in the kitchen. On our way through the town we stopped and Dan went to the shop for messages but when he came back and went to start up again, the car skidded into the side of the street and he had to get help to push it back on the road so we could resume our journey. The Climate was still fairly predictable then. Winters were cold and summers were warm. Very little was bought from the shop. For instance if people had a child or children who needed milk, then the farmer had to make sure that he had a milking cow in the winter months to supply the house because the shops didn’t sell milk then. Electricity had only arrived about two years earlier but there was no fridge, washing machine, cooker, electric iron nor any portable heater. In the morning there was no heat in the house until the fire was put down. The only fuel was turf for the Stanley 9 and if the fire went down the warmth of the house did also. This was long before the disposable nappy came along or anything disposable for that matter. Square terry towelling nappies were the norm, they were folded into a triangle put in place and secured with a large safety pin and a plastic pants fitted over it. An iron rack over the fire was a permanent fixture for drying clothes and it was a constant battle in bad weather. In time my family became complete with another girl and then a boy. Looking back I can’t believe how much we have changed since then. There was very little health care, if you had a toothache you went on yer bike to town and got it out. Lots of people had gaps in their teeth or had no teeth at all. Cows were milked by hand and the milk taken in churns to the creamery, hygiene was very lax all work was done by hand or horsepower. The land was tilled by horse power and all the weeding and thinning and harvesting ,done by man/woman power. It was a different world. Amid all the slavery it was a great life. people helped each other stopped and talked to each other went into each other’s houses. Called in to ask if somebody’s cold was better . People shared with one another. If one had spuds at the end of a season, they gave some to those whose supply had run out. There was no such thing as going to the shops for things that time. Shops didn’t sell vegetables like carrots and parsnips , etc. so everybody had to grow their own. Turnips were grown in large quantities and were used by the people and the animals. Cabbage was always a much sought after veg in the Spring. Because it had a short shelf life, after it was pulled. Some farmers would plant a field of cabbage called kale in the Autumn so as to have a crop for their cattle in the Spring. As well as it being mostly for cattle, it was also eagerly sought by people. I can still remember how Frank O’Riordan, being the lovely man that he was, would come round in the Spring and give out bags of beautiful curly kale from his own field and not an iota was ever wasted. We can’t roll back the tides of time, but who can blame us for feeling sorry for all that we have lost by way of simple living and close human contact. But we won’t be sad, life is still good young people are learning about life, they’re building their homes, bringing new life into the world and filling us all with hope for the future. Just to finish, I remember when we brought Geraldine home in her little carry cot, her caring granddad looked at her and said, how is that poor child going to live in the awful world that we have today. We thought it was great. I suppose it’s an age thing.
Here are the results of this weeks lotto draw which was held on Sunday. Numbers drawn were 6,7,27,32 and the Jackpot was not won. €100 went to Judy Murphy, Fairfield Rise, the seller was Colemans and they got €50 seller’s prize. €50 went to Shane Browne, Milllstreet, €20 each to Noreen and JJ Dineen, Incheleigh, Sinead Cremin, Killarney Rd, Catherine Cronin. Liscahane, The Twomey Family, Station Rd, Paula Healy, Murphys Tce, Jackson and Marie, Station Rd. Leah Tarrant, Dooneen. Barry and Ava Murphy, Killarney Rd. Due to present circumstances the lotto draw has been postponed until further notice.
I wish you all a very safe and healthy New Year. Please take good care of yourself and those around you. Keep on praying that this pandemic will soon pass into history. Slán agus Beannacht libh go léir