Page 6 - The Kerry News 2018
P. 6

An East Kerry Christmas Memory
 WGneeveguilla native, writer and historian Donal Hickey recalls christmas in the village
hen the bright lights to gaze on a selection of sharp-shooters in the films, of a village shop are toys which they might have you could load a circular
 turned off for the last time, part of the place dies.
So it was in my native Gneeveguilla earlier this year when one of the oldest shops, which those of us with white (or very little) hair remember as ‘’Maria’s’’, was locked up. The village crossroads is an even darker place now at night.
requested in their letters
to Santa. Board games
in multi-coloured boxes were displayed, including Draughts, Ludo and Snakes and Ladders.
Dolls were the main attraction for girls, while paint-sets, balloons, marbles, wooden building blocks, yo- yos, comics and balls were also popular.
Guns that fired corks attached to strings and cap guns that sent out a whiff of sulphur when the trigger was pulled were certain winners for boys. As a bonus, you might even get a holster set to carry your gun, a sheriff’s badge or a cowboy hat. Post-Christmas, enough boys had guns to make up the cast of John Ford western film. Cowboys and Indians was the favourite play, with fellows being shot all over the place. I can still remember a silver cap gun, which looked like
a genuine six-gun with a revolving chamber in the middle.
And, like the guns Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, the Lone Ranger and other
round of caps in the chamber when it opened. Just what we wanted.
In those days, Christmas
Our fondest memories of the shop are of Christmases in the 1950’s and ‘60’s, especially in the weeks preceding the great feast when Santa’s visit was excitedly anticipated. About a week before Christmas, the fairy lights went up in the big front window of the shop, then
As we pressed our noses
to the window, our breath clouded the glass and we just dreamed...and dreamed.
Toy racing cars, painted red with a helmeted driver behind the wheel, were at the bottom of the window, awaiting
a push from an eager boy imagining himself as Sterling Moss, a leading racing driver of the era.
was the only time of the
year when the vast majority of children got shop-bought toys. At all other times, they had to use their imaginations to amuse themselves. The post-war mentality still prevailed and nothing that could be used to create games and toys went to waste. Another thing about Christmas then was that, in most houses, the decorations were not put until Christmas Eve – always an occasion of unbridled excitement.
The shopping might have been done in the previous weeks, with December 8 always seen as the start of the annual spending spree, but Christmas didn’t really begin until darkness began to fall on December 24.
run by Maria Kate Moynihan and her nephew, Mikey Moynihan, known only as ‘’Mikey Maria’’.
They ran a splendid opecowboynd anything in
a small place by today’s standards. And if they didn’t have something you wanted, they’d get it for you promptly – always the signs of a well- run business.
Gneeveguilla Youth Folk in 1985
the chapel, began with the question: ‘’What did Santa bring you?’’
Sometimes we had white Christmases, though not as often as you might think from looking at traditional Christmas cards.
A bit like the bohemian
poet Dylan Thomas, in his nostalgic recall of a child’s Christmas in Wales, I can’t remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was 12, or whether it snowed for 12 days and 12 nights when I was six.
It was always cold, however, and you think of the rural poetry of Patrick Kavanagh:
 Both have long since departed to that mysterious emporium in the sky.
The village’s post office will close in February and only one shop, that run by Seamus and Noreen McCarthy, remains. We remember a time when the place had nine or ten shops.
On Christmas Eve, every child had chores to do. We would, for instance, bring in enough turf to keep us going until St Stephen’s Day and big fires would be lit.
liked to call on that special night to exchange greetings of the season. People who died during the year would
be remembered and hopes expressed that all in the house would still be around next Christmas.
‘’ One side of the potato pits was white with frost -
How wonderful that was, how wonderful!
But back to the Christmases of childhood. After nightfall, children would gather outside the window of Maria’s shop
The light between the ricks of hay and straw
Was a hole in Heaven’s gable.’’
As in every other house, mother did all the work and issued orders to everybody. The turkey would have to
be cleaned thoroughly and readied for the oven, the stuffing and vegetables prepared and enough potatoes peeled to feed half the parish. Any men visiting the house would be offered a bottle of stout to celebrate the season. Some neighbours always
Santa would arrive during the night, leaving toys in our bedrooms and whoever woke up first got everybody else out of bed.
We played with our toys for a few hours and then it was off to early Mass on Christmas morning. Every conversation with other children met
along the road, or outside
And when we put our ears to the paling post
The music that came out was magical.
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  Have you had your Credit ReUnion?
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     Telephone Email
064 663 1344 (dial 2 for loans)
                                      Loans are subject to approval. Terms and conditions apply. If you do not meet the repayments on your loan, your account will go into arrears. This may affect your credit rating which may limit your ability to access credit in the future. Killarney Credit Union Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
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Killarney Credit Union is inviting each and every one of its 32,000 members to have their ‘Credit Re-Union’ in time for Christmas 2018. Members can drop in to the branches in Killarney, Kenmare and Cahersiveen for their ‘Credit ReUnion’ in person, or can call up one of the friendly members of staff, and ask about budgeting tips, prudent spending and sensible borrowing over the festive period.
 Christmas ReUnion?
Killarney Credit Union is embarking on the pre-Christmas ‘Credit ReUnion’ as part of its ongoing commitment to tailoring services and products to the specific needs of its members.
Commenting on the festive Credit ReUnion, Helen Courtney Power, of Killarney Credit Union said: “We are looking forward to reconnecting with those we have not seen in a while, and chatting to those members we know well, and offering them any assistance and guidance they might need with budgeting and spending tips for the Christmas period. Our aim is to ensure that all of our members have a stress-free and enjoyable Christmas and that financial worries will be the last thing on their mind.”
Call Killarney Credit Union for more information on 064 66 31344
(dail 2 for loans)

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