Christmas angels banish winter of discontent
TINY tots in angel wings, a hearty clatter of jingle bells and a jolly chorus of 'Deck the Halls'. Enough Christmas cheer to subdue the Grinches of Met Eireann, the Government and the IMF combined?
It's a tall order by any standard -- but at least it was a start, as Dublin launched into the season of goodwill yesterday.
The first lights to be set a-twinkle were those of the Mansion House as Lord Mayor Gerry Breen and the Irish Farmers' Association president John Bryan opened the Live Animal Crib -- a much-loved annual tradition featuring animals from Paul Finn's farm in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow -- along with balloons and face-painting.
"What sound does the tiger make?" prompted the face-painter as she painted stripes on the face of little Leo Kilroy (4) from Dublin. "Roarrrr," he yelled with relish, as his mother, Fiona, explained that they were making a day of it and going on to visit Santa afterwards.
Little children wearing angel costumes from St Joseph's Nursery on Morning Star Road, Dublin 8, shivered on the steps of the Mansion House as they launched into Deck the Halls.
"It's certainly our coldest ever opening of the crib," said the Lord Mayor.
In the afternoon, the action moved to Aras an Uachtarain where President Mary McAleese switched on the Christmas tree lights for her last time in the Park, with the help of Santa Claus, 130 children and their families.
"Where's the menu?" asked one little boy loudly, clearly thinking the swanky surroundings were those of a restaurant.
Racing commentator Tracy Piggott had brought along her daughter, Thea (3). "All she wants to do is meet Santa and eat chocolate," said Tracy, adding that she was very much looking forward to Christmas.
Little Mark Kavanagh (6) from Celbridge, Co Kildare, made the president smile with his reindeer antlers and flashing red nose before he went off to closely inspect a spectacular gingerbread house made and iced by the in-house chef.
The president paid special thanks to the people who had braved the weather to attend and all who had helped to keep footpaths clear and safe "and who showed what the spirit of Christmas is about."
Reminding everyone that it was her last Christmas in the Aras, she said all those who had attended had made the event very special.
And then it was out into the garden to light the lights -- and yes, for another rendition of 'Deck the Halls'.
The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear.
As Elf says himself.