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Colette Fitzpatrick: Sorry Jackeens, but December 8th is still Culchie's big day out

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Keep it country: December 8th is still the big day out

Keep it country: December 8th is still the big day out

Samantha Long

Samantha Long

Sinead O'Connor

Sinead O'Connor

Keep it country: December 8th is still the big day out

Keep it country: December 8th is still the big day out

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Keep it country: December 8th is still the big day out

Put up your Christmas tree last weekend? Well that's not very customary, is it? In fact it's a bit previous.

December 8th - last Monday - is actually traditionally viewed as the start of Christmas. It stems from the Catholic church holiday, the feast of the Immaculate Conception which celebrates the belief in the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. And of course the day when Culchies like myself used to descend on the capital to shop and visit Santy, not Santa mind, in Switzers.

It's no longer a thing apparently, that those of us with agrarian roots go to the big schmoke on the 8th. At least that's what we're told.

It's a day like any other with non-city folk going to 'retail destinations' across the country since November for Christmas fare. Not from where I was standing in my Tipp jersey.

This Irish Christmas tradition is one that some of us are schticking our Dunlop heeled wellies in. You can take the girl out of Thurles but you can't take Thurles out of the girl.

It's always been a sort of an Irish equivalent of Black Friday for me. And I always got the feeling that the Dubs believed the city belonged to us rural shoppers on this special day. That out of deference to our shopping needs, they didn't really go into town.

Maybe they were just trying to avoid us. And knew that they'd be clean out of buns, club orange, milky tea and sandwiches everywhere. And that we'd call the gardai to the scene after our meal, because what we were charged was daylight robbery.

Bar the GAA jerseys, we're easy to spot. We're the ones with cricks in our neck from looking up at the lights, saying it's "too could to snow".

We look for directions (please don't put us on a bus to Lucan) and gather in Arnotts, Clerys and the Kylemore Café on O'Connell street. Or Supermacs. Having a snackbox. Sort of tribal, like. The city centre is like an episode of Winning Streak colliding with Moore Street. Spud gobblers v traders. We're too cute now to be had, ya know.

SHOPPING

On our shopping list - books such as 'It's a Disgrace, Joe' by Fuschia MacAree, 'That's More of It Now - the second book of Irish Mammies' by Colm O Reagan and the Irish Mammies T towel with the slogan 'Those Biscuits Are for the Visitors'. You see, we come with money.

On the upside for Jackeens, they get to hear our dulcet tones. Something other than, 'in anyways and all, bud, storeeeeeeeeeee?'

There's a Facebook page for us too. 'December - National Irish Farmers Christmas Shopping Day Community' with 664 likes. We'll see your Black Friday and your Cyber Monday and raise you the Culchie Shopping Day. Sound. Keep her lit.

Samantha may well have the last laugh as Enda struggles with gender quotas

Somewhere Samantha Long must be fuming. The FG member was overlooked for a Seanad nomination that was controversially secured by John McNulty last September.  She eventually resigned in protest at the party's failure to put forward a woman candidate.

But this week it was revealed that the Taoiseach Enda Kenny is struggling to find enough female candidates to run in the next general election and meet the gender quotas that his very own Government introduced.

Women have to make up at least 30pc of every party's general election ticket to avoid losing half their State funding and the party is about seven or eight candidates short.

It's deeply disappointing now to hear that Enda simply can't get his hands on enough women to run. The problem isn't that they're not there. But rather those structural inequalities that keep them from running - culture, childcare and confidence - are still there.

PROBLEM

It seems obvious to me, that rather than scouring the ditches looking for women to run, that the Government should have looked at the things that prevent women from running in the first place.

Why bother setting targets when you don't actually tackle the root of the problem?

How can you possibly take up a career in politics, even if you wanted to, if you mind children and there's no plan on offer from this Government to help you with this, even in the form of a tax break?

Wherever quotas have been used they've spawned resentment. Jealousy amongst colleagues who didn't get the job and feel they were better qualified. Like social welfare, there will always those who abuse the system.

But we need quotas. We need women in politics. But there's no point in setting targets for the former if the Government can't come up with a plan to get the latter out of the starting blocks.

Sinead will sort out Gerry and the Shinners

* Cool the jets everyone. Sinead O'Connor has only applied to be a member of Sinn Fein, not run as a candidate. No track record in politics and never voted in an election. But that hasn't stopped her calling for resignations. Why Change a winning formula?

* Kate Middleton's New York trip has to be her most interesting. It's the most animated we've seen her. She's laughing and rolling her eyes on TV when the Today Show told her to "keep wrapping" presents. A sort of a Royal side eye. She even wore a hot pink coat at the September 11th memorial, which many questioned whether or not was respectful enough. Maybe it's the city. Maybe she's gone full New York and ditched 'nice' and 'decorous' for 'tough' and 'independent'.

* So the papers were full of headlines this week such as 'Angelina Jolie called minimally talented spoiled brat in hacked Sony emails'. Would have been a much more interesting story if the word Sony was replaced by say, Jennifer Aniston. Let's face it though, if private emails from any company were read, it would be embarrassing. And I can't see how newspapers can justify publishing the content from illegally hacked emails with no public interest defence?


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