There's no Christmas like an Irish Christmas
Published 16/12/2015 | 02:30
Last year, we had the great pleasure of going home to Ireland and spending Christmas in the old homestead with our daughter and very large extended family in Greystones, Co Wicklow. The day after we arrived, fully recovered from the jet lag and with a great Irish breakfast inside us, my husband and I decided to go out for a drive along the coast road towards Wexford. It was five days before Christmas. We had no map in the car as our new cell phone had GPS and we were somewhat familiar with the terrain.
After driving for about two hours, enjoying the many rolling hills and green fields full of sheep and cows we decided we wanted to stop somewhere for a break and a cup of coffee. Mile after mile of very narrow roads we travelled watching out for the sharp bends, hoping to spot a pub or a coffee shop ahead. Finally, around yet one more steep, tight bend I spotted a car park and quickly told my husband to stop and pull over.
To our surprise and delight we had stumbled upon a small country church, surrounded by fields on all sides. We parked the car and ran towards the brown wooden door to get out of the cold and the rain.
When we opened the church door and peeked inside, we saw a grey haired woman, of very small stature, her arms full of holly and pine branches. We asked her if the church was open and if we could come in for a while as so many of the churches are now closed during the week.
"Of course! Come on in," she smiled happily to us and she welcomed us into the little church with a wave of her hand. The force of the wind outside caused the heavy door to slam hard behind us. There were two other local people kneeling quietly in prayer by the candles and nativity scene. Without any fanfare whatsoever, the little woman happily went about her job of cleaning and dusting and decorating the church, volunteering her time so that others could enjoy the beautifully decorated church for Christmas Mass.
We went up to the crib and lit some candles for our three sons who would be spending Christmas far away, in America. It was such an unexpected gift for us to be suddenly sitting there in that lovely place of solitude, out in the middle of nowhere.
On our way out we asked the lady if there was a coffee shop close by and she directed us to the Curracloe Hotel down the hill in the village and she wished us a "Merry Christmas".
We both enjoyed a lovely lunch and a pint of Guinness in the hotel, sitting by a big blazing fire.
We had a truly wonderful Christmas last year in Ireland, visiting our family and friends with lots of home-cooked meals, plum puddings, presents and parties and, of course, the friendly pubs. There is indeed, no Christmas like an Irish Christmas!
However, when I reflect back on the trip, the totally unexpected visit we had when we stumbled upon that beautiful little church in Curracloe, Co Wexford, stands out foremost in my mind.
In today's violent world, it would not hurt if we could give pause and light a candle for world peace this Christmas season.
Wishing everyone a safe and happy Christmas.
Bank Inquiry a waste of time
Now that the Banking Inquiry is at an end, what have we learned? Absolutely nothing. Another waste of €5m of taxpayers' monies on white elephants.
Surely one has now to ask why were the terms of reference so restrictive? Why could those responsible not be named, and why were outside experts not on this committee, instead of politicians with their own agendas? It was a an expensive waste of time for Irish taxpayers.
Kinsale, Co Cork
Myths about bra burning
I'm writing in reference to Miriam Donohoe's article 'It's time to consign the word 'feminism' to the dustbin of history' (Irish Independent, December 14) and her erroneous repetition of the myth that feminists burned bras.
The commonly repeated inaccuracy refers to protests against the 1969 Miss America Pagent by feminist and civil rights advocates, who felt the pageant represented outdated beauty standards and was tied to problems in their society around race, capitalism and war.
As part of this protest in Jersey City they threw items related to what they viewed as oppressive capitalist, euro-centric trappings of feminity into a trash can. Reporter Lyndsy Van Gelder drew an analogy between the protesters and the Vietnam war protesters who burned their draft cards. No bras were burned on the day.
However, like anything that challenges the zeitgeist and establishment this was seized upon by those wanting to keep the current order and used as a source of ridicule. The term 'bra-burning feminist' has become ingrained in our lexicon to represent the caricature of the angry, man-hating feminist.
Since this is still being repeated by an educated woman who describes herself as a strong believer in equality, I would argue that the prevalence of this myth so commonly used discredit those who sought to make their concerns heard is one example of why "feminism" is a word still very much needed to address one particular area of inequality.
Dennehys Cross, Cork
Ludicrous alcohol policy
The recent ludicrous proposal regarding the increase in price of alcohol is nothing more than yet another tax by the Government.
The suggestion that it will impact on the drinking habits of any individual is utter nonsense. It is, pure and simple, further taxation.
Who does Health Minister Leo Varadkar think he's codding?
Voters will give verdict on councillor
Councillor Hugh McElvaney has declared that he will "top the polls" in the next local elections in Monaghan (Sunday Independent, December 13).
This is the same councillor who demonstrated on the recent 'RTÉ Investigates' programme that he was nothing more than a buffoon. We were presented with a public official whose priority was to 'feather his own nest'.
The good people of Corcaghan and the wider Clones area will one day have the opportunity to respond to Mr McElvaney.
In the interests of local democracy, they should vote him out of our political system at the first opportunity.