Is there only room in our hearts for humans?
The Blackberry Cafe on this country town's main street should be renamed 'The Beautiful Beacon Cafe', for its brilliant Christmas lights could guide ships into distant harbours. Other shop windows feature the Holy Family, surrounded by animals in the manger.
For the crib reminds us that we are connected to other sentient beings. Or so it should. After all, our pope took his name from St Francis of Assisi, who viewed our "brother and sister creatures" as part of God's family. Which is why St Francis is also patron saint of this column. Yet the shameful truth is that animal rescues in Ireland receive scant support.
I found out just how dire the situation is when I went to order calendars and Christmas cards from Paws - an animal rescue centre in a neighbouring county.