The Life family album 2015
Published 21/12/2015 | 02:30
Every year, we ask some of our favourite people, and those who have made an impact over the past 12 months, to share the memories and traditions of their family Christmas with you, the readers of LIFE.
This year, everyone from Grainne and Sile Seoige, to Vogue Williams and her sister Amber, and, of course, model-of-the-moment Gracie O'Mahony, and many more, tell Elle Gordon how they will be spending the festive season and just exactly what it is that they love about this time of year. Photography by Kip Carroll. Styling by Liadan Hyne
This was kind of a year of huge personal growth for me. I learnt an awful lot about myself. December was very busy for me with the People of the Year Awards, which I am always so humbled to be a part of.
I absolutely love Christmas. I love being in Galway just before Christmas; you walk down Shop Street and there is a magic in the air, and just a sense of goodwill.
We've got our nephew in the house this year, which means we have the flavour of Santy back in the house again.
There'll be about 12 people at the table this year. You can imagine how many potatoes we have to peel - you're talking boiled spuds, roast spuds, mashed spuds. So we all chip in with the jobs. But there'll be a glass of wine in hand, and it's all very easy-going and it keeps the merriment going; that's very important.
I think, as we get older, it's the gift of each other's time that's the biggest gift that you can get. The emphasis is on having that day out together, where we go to the beach or we play 25 on Christmas night. It's a great chance for us to sit around the table and really have the crack, messing and pulling cards out of each other's hands. It's wonderful, and every year we do it. It's all about family, and it's so precious.
Radio and TV presenter
This was a really good year for me, personally and professionally. I recently went to India with The Hope Foundation. It was incredible.
Christmas will be in Spiddal, Co Galway this year, and I'm really looking forward to that. Normally, you get home and just enjoy the simple stuff of having the roaring fire, and nice food in, chats and catching up.
I think because obviously our lives are so busy, it's really hard to just get the time to have the cup of tea or the glass of wine and the chats, really.
That tends to be the thing I look forward to the most; getting the family together and catching up with friends.
There's no traditions, as such; it's just getting home, really.
On Christmas morning, the last few years with the Christmas jumpers have been so handy; you don't have to worry about getting dressed up - you're at home, and you're comfortable.
Mom would have it fully under control in terms of getting the turkey in on time and all that, so it's really later on in the day that we'd help out with jobs, such as making the gravy and mashing the potatoes.
We're not huge television people on Christmas Day. When we are together, it's around the dining table. We'll be chatting or playing board games, or just telling stories, or laughing or slagging each other. Because we don't get together as often as we'd like, getting family time is a rarity; we just really value that. It's about us getting together.
This has been a really exciting year, full of surprises! Personal highlights for me were welcoming our new dog, Rubie, into our home; I made a fun-filled, festive return to Fair City; and I got engaged this year! It was definitely up there with one of my best years.
Christmas is really all about family for me. We always spend it in Doolin, Co Clare. This year, my fiance, John, and I will divide our time between both families. It's usually a bit of a panic before I head west, with the car loaded with pressies. But when I arrive in Doolin, the pressure is off! It's such an escape.
The same cannot be said for my mom, Clare - she's the one that makes Christmas happen, really. She's a perfectionist, and won't let anyone else in the kitchen! She's an amazing cook, so we don't complain.
Christmas Day this year will more than likely involve Mass, and possibly the Christmas Day swim in Lahinch - we've done it for a number of years now, and it's great, because I always feel like I've earned my dinner after!
Then my nana and granddad, Margaret and Chris, come over for Christmas dinner, and we tuck in. The rest of the evening involves soaps on the TV and chocolate binges.
Having Christmas in Clare allows our family to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and really immerse ourselves in some quality family time. We all live such busy lives, so getting away from the madness and arriving in Doolin always brings with it a sense of calm.
We have a room where the TV, Christmas lights and fire are always on, and it's my favourite place to curl up with the gang! Christmas is a time for our family to stop, and for me, that time together is precious.
Model, former Miss Universe Ireland, and health-food blogger
Rachel and Rozanna Purcell
Work-wise, 2015 was quite different because I didn't really do much modelling and focused on my blog, Natural Born Feeder. I also wrote my book, Natural Born Feeder this year, so that was really exciting.
This Christmas, I'm going to Thailand with my sister, Rachel, and we're staying in a healthy resort. It's a normal hotel, but just with quite nice healthy options, and it's on the beach. There'll be yoga, and you can do a bit of boxing.
Usually, I go away at Christmas with my family on a cycling holiday, but I kind of changed it up this year to something a little more relaxing. I suppose because I know it's going to be a very busy year ahead with my book coming out, I just want to come back really ready to go, and really relaxed.
This year, I'll probably be sitting on the beach, eating some pineapple and coconut. It's a proper holiday. It's funny, I always carry a selection box with me, so I'll keep that tradition up.
Before we go away, my family and I will have a Christmas dinner and give each other our presents.
I think it's great when you can get to an age where you can say, 'You know what? I want to go lie on a beach', and someone else says, 'I actually want to go away to a hotel'. It's quite refreshing, and we still always meet up and have a dinner together. Its stress-free, and everyone comes back so happy.
Digital account manager
I really enjoyed 2015 because a lot of my friends who were in Australia for the last few years, moved home. That's a highlight, having us all back together.
For me, at Christmas, I just love getting away. Roz and I are going to Thailand. It's just the two of us this year, which will be a bit strange, but it was a spur-of-the-moment decision.
We still do the whole traditional Christmas dinner; it just wouldn't be on Christmas Day. My dad, like Roz, enjoys the cooking, and the baking as well. Our aunties will come down, and we'll exchange gifts. It always feels like Christmas Day anyway, and it's really nice to have all the family around, catching up and having a few laughs before you go.
We'd have the turkey, the ham, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, the roast potatoes, the Brussels sprouts. My auntie will always bring loads of desserts, and then Roz will get in on the action as well.
This year, I'll probably be lying on a beach. I don't know if we'll get any good Irish dinner, but I'd say the fruit alone will be amazing, and we'll just be relaxing.
As sisters, we don't do typical Christmas. As a family, we spend a lot of time together, so it doesn't really matter what day Christmas falls on. Since we've started going away for December 25th, I can't imagine being at home for Christmas.
It's been great year career-wise, but not so great in my personal life. But I don't think anyone should regret an entire year of their life, so I don't think like that. I'm already looking forward to the new year.
Model, DJ, and TV presenter
Vogue and Amber Williams
This year, I'll be waking up with Amber on Christmas Day, probably hung-over. We'll have breakfast, maybe a little celebratory glass of Champagne. I will probably go down to my dad's grave. It's in Skerries, so I'll set it up with flowers, and I'll go and see my relatives in Skerries, then come back and have dinner in my mom's apartment. Dinner will be with my mom, stepdad, my little brother, his girlfriend, and Amber. My older brother and his wife will come over later in the day.
Brian [McFadden] is going to come down for Christmas because his family are away. I'd say dinner will be around 4pm, and it'll be my mom and myself cooking. Amber says she'll help, but she's lazy, so it will be left to us. After dinner, we will go for drinks in my uncle John's house. My little cousins will be there and all my aunties, and it's just so much fun. We're doing Kris Kindle. We'll just relax and graze on crisps and crap all day, like Ferrero Rochers. We're usually a couple of hours at the dinner table. I love all the veg, the Brussels sprouts with bacon, and the stuffing. I usually eat so much stuffing that I don't really have room for potatoes, which is quite handy. But then I love the selection boxes and Roses. It's Christmas - it's the one time of year that you can go wild and get away with it. It's sort of the unspoken rule.
It'll be a bit of a party then, with more drinks and playing games, and we'll scream at each other for a few hours with that.
This year has been busy, obviously, with the referendum, which was fantastic and a very emotional time, with people coming back from all corners of the world to vote.
For the first time in eight years, I won't be going to Spain for Christmas. Vogue and myself and my parents will be spending Christmas together in Ireland. There will be between six to 10 of us.
On Christmas Eve, I usually go over to my girlfriend Jill's family's house, and they do a big brunch. Christmas morning, Vogue and I will be waking up together. I think that we will do Kris Kindle, because there's such a big amount of us getting together later on Christmas Day for drinks in my uncle John's house. Vogue and I will get each other something small as well, just a gas present.
Family is very important to us; we'd be very tight with both sides of the family. I always have a blast with them. I would have as good a night out with them as I would if I went out with my friends.
We all have a big WhatsApp group, constantly sharing photos and updating each other on our lives. Christmas is just the chance to get together again; we are all spread all over the place, so it's a great opportunity to get everyone together.
TV presenter and journalist
Roisin and Maura Derrane
I had a great year. John and I had another little person in the family, our son Cal, and you can't compare anything to that experience. So really, being a mom was the highlight of my year.
I feel it's nice to be around your own home when you have a child at Christmas time; everything is more exciting now. The word is magical. Before, as an adult, I didn't feel Christmas was such a magical time. I enjoyed it, don't get me wrong, but I always felt it was really overly commercialised. So I'm excited about this year in a different way.
John and I are going to split our Christmas between Dungarvan, in Co Waterford, where we live, and Inis Mor in the Aran Islands, where I'm from. It's a different, magical place, and it's very pared back, because there are no shops, which is good. It's great to switch off.
We will have an outdoorsy Christmas. Usually, we go out for a walk by the sea, then come back and have the dinner. I love to get out on Christmas morning, because you're going to just gorge like a big piglet for the rest of the day, so it's nice to get the air, because soon you won't be able to move and get any air. We'll have traditional turkey and a nice bit of bubbles on the day. I think Christmas is about being around people you want to be around - that's just the bottom line for me.
Freelance make-up artist
This year was really busy. I'm a make-up artist, and I've been working on a lot of TV dramas and premieres.
I'm really looking forward to spending time with my mom, and going home to Aran and being outside a lot. We'll do lots of cliff walking, and enjoy a few drinks in the evenings. We go to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve - the service is in Irish, with lovely music.
We'll have dinner in mom's house, and there's a good few coming. Maura and her partner, John, and their little boy, Cal, and then my uncle Padraic is coming, so there's probably going to be seven of us in the house.
Christmas morning will be relaxed. We'll get the food prepared and then leave everything and go for a walk about a mile away from the house; it's a lovely walk in open fields by the sea. Then we'll probably have dinner, and take to the red wine nice and early. Then we might go for another walk.
I'm a vegetarian and my sister Barbara is a vegetarian, so that's an interesting one in that we still don't know what we're going to eat this year, but it will probably be a nice bake.
We'll all watch films together. We love that; we'll watch Inspector Morse and just totally chill.
I think, for me, Christmas is about taking a break from rushing around and leaving behind any pressures and just having a fun time with family and friends.
Gracie O'Mahony and Sam Johnston
This has been a really good year in terms of work. My mam and dad, my boyfriend Sam and I are going to New Zealand for a month on New Year's Eve. We've been working hard this year because we know we are going away, and we have been saving up for that.
On Christmas Eve, since we were children, instead of writing a letter to Santy, we would say what we wanted up the chimney, so he could hear. My mam still makes us do that. It's funny, because the youngest is 18, so people are starting to refuse to do it.
On Christmas morning, we all get up and we do the Santy presents. We'll eat breakfast, and then my dad would usually start cooking away at the dinner. It's a nice day. It's a lot of chilling, watching films, chatting, drinking tea and eating nice food. We usually have dinner in the evening, and then we always wait until after dinner to open all the presents from everybody. I love the dinner - the turkey, the stuffing, Brussels sprouts. I love the next few days as well, eating the turkey sandwiches.
On Stephen's Day, we would have a nice lie-in, and then we might go for a walk all together. It's usually just a really chilled day. Usually, my sister and my brother and I will go out that night with our friends, so that's when I'll see Sam.
Christmas is a time for family and friends, so it's lovely to have someone like Sam. We'll go ice-skating, and go for hot chocolate. It reminds you of what's important, and it is such a coupley time. It's even nicer knowing that we will get to spend the whole of the New Year together.
This was a good enough year. It's my first full year after college, so I went out and got a job as a sales representative. It's a different experience, with more responsibility. But Gracie and I have been working hard this year to save for a month-long holiday to New Zealand in January, so it's great to have the freedom to do that.
I'm most looking forward to the whole build-up to Christmas. I like to get into the spirit early, listening to songs on the radio.
On Christmas Eve, I'll probably meet Gracie and spend some of the day with her. Then in the evening, we'll exchange presents.
Christmas Day in my house is very low-key, with my dad, mum and older brother. We have a tradition of seeing my godmother and her parents in the morning. Then in the afternoon, the rest of our family and my nanny and aunties and uncles come visit us for a couple of hours and have a drink or two.
Then we have the dinner, just the four of us. My mother would be tipping away on the dinner when the relatives are over. We don't have our dinner until six now, because there are a lot of people around during the day.
It's a great day. I like getting the presents, but it's nice to have the family. There haven't been many weddings really, in our family. We're all relatively young, so Christmas is when everyone gets together. It's nice.
This Christmas could be different, as my brother and his girlfriend are expecting a child together, so that is something to look forward to.
Food stylist and writer, pictured below with her daughters, Poppy (nine months) and Pearl (four-and-a-half)
I had my second little girl this year. Her name is Poppy. My other little girl, Pearl, is four-and-a-half, and she started school this year. I have my second cookbook coming out next June. To sum it up, it's been a great year.
We always tend to go down to my folks for Christmas; they're in Wexford. My family is usually scattered around the country, so Christmas Eve is really special. We sit down together on Christmas Eve. Everyone just kind of arrives, and my dad will have been cooking away and the house smells of spices.
On Christmas Day, as we all have young kids, we're woken at the crack of dawn. We wait to open our presents because the kids are so busy with the Santa gifts, and then we all sit down for a big breakfast, and then it's always the mad dash to Mass. We get up the road to Mass. Some of us make it, and some of us don't.
We eat our meal in stages. We literally spend from about one o'clock until about midnight, eating and drinking. About six o'clock, we finally sit down and have the main course. I have four brothers, so it depends on who has arrived home with their partners and children. It's usually around 10 people. This year, in fact, there will be all of us. We tend to have a nice rib of beef with all the trimmings.
My mother gets her hands on the sherry-trifle-making duty and she has, in the past, poured in a whole bottle on top of the trifle, to the point where it's swimming around in the bowl, so that's usually a bit dangerous. We just really enjoy sitting at the table together, and having a good laugh.
Actress, pictured below far right, with, from left, sister Robyn (13), mum Maria, and brother Dillon (nine)
This has been a great year. I've learned a lot, and I got to go to LA for work. I got to see what it's like over there. I have two agents who work together, so they set up meetings for me with lots of different casting directors, which was amazing.
On Christmas Day, I will be woken up at 5am by my little brother and sister. Watching them open all their presents has always been my favourite part of the day, knowing how excited I used to be in the morning. And it's still exciting to see them ripping open their presents with such happy expressions on their faces. We'll spend the day in our PJs, watch movies and play board games. My mum wraps up funny presents for me because, now that I'm older, I don't expect extravagant presents. I always look forward to that; it's always something really funny, like a Justin Bieber album or a can of deodorant.
It's really not about the presents for me, but about us all being together. We usually sit down for dinner quite early, around three or four o'clock. It will be the five of us on Christmas Day. We light candles, and there are no phones or TV allowed during dinner. After all, it's only for one day.
My family means everything to me and I spend as much time as possible with them. Christmas gives me a chance to do that.
Kelly's mum and manager
It's been a great and busy year, especially with Kelly's acting career, so I'm really just looking forward to relaxing at Christmas. We went out to LA, which was just amazing. It's been unbelievable and it's all so surreal. Kelly would see something about herself on Google and say, 'Mom, I don't even really believe that's me', and I think that's so cute; but truly, it has been a fantastic year.
What I'm most looking forward to this Christmas is that we will all just get together in one room, instead of doing different things at different times. I love it all. We'll get into our pyjamas early on Christmas Eve, and we'll watch all the Christmas programmes. I have another daughter, Robyn, who is 13, and then my youngest, Dillon, is nine. Robyn still plays along, but for Dillon, the excitement of Santa is fantastic.
On Christmas Day, I'll put on the dinner early in the morning. Just for the laugh, I'll do Brussels sprouts, because they all hate them. I'm the only one who eats them, but I'll still put them on their plate and they'll go crazy. We'll have our dinner, and it's so nice to sit around the table together. We'll play some old board games like Operation, because for me, interaction is a big thing at Christmas. Afterwards, we put on all the old movies. We'll watch Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory; we watch it every year and we love it.
Actress, pictured below with, from left, husband John, and sons Michael (7) and John (16)
My year has been good. Nothing really special happened, but it's not over yet.
I have two kids, so I've been very busy with them. Michael is seven and John is 16.
In Russia, Christmas is celebrated on January 7th, so really, December 25th means nothing to Russians. I celebrate it because of the kids and my husband John. He cooks turkey - and I don't even like turkey. I do everything for the kids and put up decorations, but for me, I'm just not used to it. When it gets here, I'm thinking, 'You're doing it again on the 25th?' It doesn't really feel like Christmas to me, but it feels like it in Ireland, because they brainwash you here since August.
On Christmas Day, my seven-year-old wakes up early and goes up to the living room and gets his presents, and then the older guy gets up. Then my husband gets up, so he can look at presents, and I'm already annoyed, looking at the spotless kitchen saying, 'Nothing is ready. Bullshit'.
They start opening the things and putting paper everywhere, and I'm just really stressed. My husband always offers me a drink, and then I'm smashed by 11 in the morning. All his family come; his mother, father and sister. This year, my mother is coming over, and she won't have a clue what's going on anyway.
We all sit and have dinner around two o'clock. They'll watch movies and if I'm really drunk, I'll dance, because that's what I do. I get into the spirit of things.
I have to take on the Irish traditions, because my husband is Irish and he loves it! Then I'll want to get out of the house because I am too drunk, or too much turkey is everywhere, so we might go for a walk.
Star of 'Meet the McDonaghs', pictured below with baby daughter Kayceline (13 months), and sisters Hannie (10) and Mary (seven)
I've had an amazing year working with the Holman-Lee Modelling Agency. I've done some modelling, and I've done some catwalks. I've loved the whole experience and hopefully there's more to come, because the last year has been amazing. The documentary Meet the McDonaghs went out this year, one of my sisters got married, and my other sister, Kelly, had a baby, and my own little girl turned one, so it really has been an amazing year.
Christmas Eve in our family will be spent preparing for the Christmas dinner the next day, and each of the children is allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve.
On Christmas Day, everyone goes to my mother's house. We all stay in the house with all the family. My mother loves Christmas. She decorates the house and it looks so lovely.
We all get up in the morning and the children come down. I think that even if you don't have much at Christmas, once you have your family, that's really all you need. It's just perfect, really. All of the adults love to watch their children open their presents; it might only be something small, but it's the excitement of it.
Then we will go get ready for Mass. We will all go as a family; none of us can miss it. Then we come back and we have a big dinner. We go all-out for Christmas; it's all about family. We might not have much, but it's all about getting together.
Maire Treasa Ni Dhubhghaill
TV presenter, pictured, below, centre with, standing, from left, brothers Eoin and Micheal, husband John, dad Mairtin, and seated, from left, Micheal's wife Paula, sister Aine, niece Roisin (two-and-a-half), mum Fil and niece Cliodhna (nine months)
This has been a great year. My husband John and I started off the year in our new house , which we renovated and moved into late last year. It's been a wonderful year as newlyweds.
I love Christmas. It's by far my favourite time of year. The biggest thing I love about it is spending time with my family. I have four brothers and one sister, and we always go home for Christmas.
Myself and John will spend Christmas Eve with my family in Galway. My brother, his wife and my nieces are going to be there, and we will do Santy presents.
It's our tradition to go for a Christmas swim every year on our local beach at home. My dad and my sister and I go down, and it's great to see friends and neighbours. Then we normally have a big dinner at home. My mam cooks the dinner, the whole shebang. I will have a bit of everything; all the potatoes - there's always about five different styles of potatoes.
I have a very sweet tooth, so dessert is my favourite thing about the dinner. My mam makes Christmas cake, chocolate log and trifles, so I sample all of them. Then it's just food coma, watching the telly and playing games for the rest of the evening.
This year, however, is going to be a bit different, as John and I are going to split time between our families. After spending Christmas Eve in Galway with my folks, on Christmas Day, John and I are going to drive down to Limerick and spend the day with his family. We couldn't choose. I couldn't imagine being away from my family for Christmas, and he's the same.
Christmas is all about being at home, everyone being together, eating as much as you can and giving presents, and of course the feeling of Christmas in the air. It's the spirit of Christmas; I just love it.
Vogue and Amber: Hairbands, Penneys
Gracie: Dress, Folkster, see folkster.com
Sharon's daughters, Pearl and Poppy: clothes, Monsoon
All others wear their own clothes
Additional Christmas decorations, Marks & Spencer
Photography by Kip Carroll, except for Kathleen McDonagh and family, photographed by Miki Barlok
Styling by Liadan Hynes
Hair and make-up by the team at Brown Sugar, 50 South William St, D2, tel: (01) 616-9967; and 36 Main St, Blackrock, Co Dublin, tel: (01) 210-8630, or see brownsugar.ie
Roisin and Maura's make-up by Roisin Derrane, using Clarins Jolie Rouge Collection
Kathleen's hair and make-up by Neisha Ahern, Catwalk Hair and Beauty, 56-57 Thomas St, Limerick, tel: (061) 481-890
Chris and Rosanna photographed at the Powerscourt Hotel, Powerscourt Estate, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, tel: (01) 274-8888. For the perfect gift, look no further than a Powerscourt Hotel gift card, available to buy online, see powerscourthotel.com
Grainne and Sile Seoige, Tatiana Ouliankina and family, Maire Treasa Ni Dhubhghaill and family, photographed at the Radisson Blu St Helen's Hotel, Stillorgan Road, Blackrock, Co Dublin, tel: (01) 218-6000. The Radisson Blu St Helen's Hotel is the perfect place to stay while you enjoy Leopardstown races, December 26-29. For special offers, see radissonblu.com/en/sthelenshotel-dublin/hotel-deals
Aoibhin Garrihy and sisters, and Kelly Thornton and family, photographed at 10 Ormond Quay, 10 Lwr Ormond Quay, D2, tel: (01) 878-7416, or see 10ormondquay.ie
Rozanna and Rachel photographed at The Morrison Hotel, Lwr Ormond Quay, D2, tel: (01) 887-2400. Celebrate Christmas with the 12 Cocktails of Christmas, see morrisonhotel.ie
Vogue and Amber, Maura and Roisin, and Grace and Sam photographed on location in the Sky Suite at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Dublin - a relaxed and elegant setting for classically chic get-togethers this Christmas and New Year's Eve. Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Golden Lane, D8, tel: (01) 898-2900, or see radissonblu.com/en/royalhotel-dublin
Kathleen and family photographed at the Savoy Hotel, Henry St, Limerick City, tel: (061) 448-700, or see savoylimerick.com
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