Culchie shopping day alive and well -- for Dubs anyway
DUBS might call it Culchie Shopping Day. For the rest of us, it stands out fondly in the memory as the day we were taken to see Santa -- and then dragged around t he shops, whimpering as we sweated inside our woollen coats.
But that was many moons ago, before shopping centres spread their wings across the land and the trip "up to Dublin" became an unnecessary hassle.
We spotted just one man yesterday who seemed to have scheduled a meeting under the Clery's clock.
So, has the traditional shopping day now fallen completely by the wayside? And with the triple whammy of weather, Budget and recession, would anyone be shopping at all?
We set out on the hunt for people who had kept the faith and travelled the distance, for the sake of old times.
A quick scan of the streets proved fruitless. We country people don't have horns -- or a tail for that matter. Everyone's faces were pinched with the cold as street traders called out their wares of tinsel, Christmas cards and "balaclavas for €5".
In freezing temperatures, nobody was hanging around the bus or train stations. The pubs were practically deserted. So it was back to the safe option -- Arnotts cafe, which showed a reassuring bustle.
"Yes, we're up for the shopping. It's a bit of a family tradition, we come every year," confirmed Angela Marron from Monasterevin, Co Kildare, who was up with her husband Paul and daughter Julia (11) to meet her other daughters Alannah (17) and Emma (20) who are both in college in Dublin.
"We used to come for Santa but now they're all past that stage," said Angela. They always keep to the same schedule -- Arnotts first, then Grafton Street, a bit of dinner and then home by 6pm.
"We always did it and my parents always did it so it's nice to keep up the tradition -- we all have such good memories of it," she added.
Making plans by the stairs were Bernie Rice and her daughters Aoife (23) and Niamh (26), from Dundalk.
"There are four more of us -- we always make a day of it," said Bernie, adding that they were taking her grandchildren to see Santa. She noticed that the train wasn't as busy as other years and that the queue for Santa was shorter.
Pausing to admire Clery's window of toys, Norma Gavigan and her daughter Rhianne (12), from Celbridge, said they too had made the traditional trek to Dublin for old time's sake.
Heaving around large bags of Christmas presents, Dubliner Mary Kelly, from Collinswood, said she noticed that there was "not too many people from the country up today".
Carmel Meagher, from Drumcondra, was shopping with her granddaughters, Amy and Nicole. "It's a bit of a family tradition -- we do the same thing every year," said Carmel.
Not too many country people, then. But the 8th as a traditional shopping day still stands firm -- mostly in the hearts of Dubs.