Christmas Fare - 25th Dec. 1948


Christmas Fare: Text Version

25th December 1948


"Christmas is coming,

The geese are getting fat,

Please put a penny

In the old man's hat:

If you haven't got a penny

A ha'penny will do;

If you haven't got a ha'penny,

God bless you."

A week or a fortnight ago I should have written these lines, for Christmas is here now. However, they serve, I hope, to give these notes a Christmas atmosphere. The putting of the penny in the old man's hat may remind us to be as generous as we can with those whose Christmases, alas! are and cheerless.


As it is Christmas time, what about a song? Here is a fine one, collected by P.J. Lonergan of Herbertstown. Mr. Lonergan is the custodian of much precious lore. Contributions from him have appeared here from time to time, and will continue to appear in the future, I hope. The song is:-


There was a maiden fair and young,

But I can't tell ye her name;

She lived down by sweet Lough Gur's side,

That noted place of fame.

Where Desmond castles towering hight,

Where knights and chiefs did reside,

I'd long to stay with that maiden ,

Down by sweet Lough Gur's side.

This angel bright, her step is light,

As Knockainy's fairy Queen,

Who dances in the sunbeam's light,

All dressed in gold and green.

No fairy lass like my cailin deas;

In her heart your could confide;

I'd forever stray with that maiden ,

Down by sweet Lough Gur's side.

When summer comes, the oo's note

Is heard from tree to tree,

The lark sings soaring to the sky,

And the thrush notes merrily.

The feathered throng has no tune or song,

Nor the harp in all its pride,

As the charming lay that this maiden ,

Sings by sweet LoughGur's side.

Her hair is fair, I do declare,

Hey eye with love shines bright,

The app'e blush is on her cheek,

Her skin like snowy white.

No maiden fair e'er can compare,

From the Shannon to the Clyde,

With this lovely queen, mild and gentee',

Who lives by Lough Gur's side.

She loves old Ireland true and well,

As any I've seen;

She loves the bold true Fenian boys,

Who fought `neath the flag of green`.

If I could steal her heart away-

She has my soul annoyed-

It's then I'd stray with that maiden

Down by sweet Lough Gur's side.

Lough Gur is a charming place,

Where strangers come to view,

The romantic hills and valleys fair,

And the sunny waters blue;

Where Desmond spurs his enchanted steed

Through the shimmering waters wide,

I'd long to stray with that maiden fair

Down by sweet Lough Gur' side.


Now for something heavy and serious. Some of my highbrow readers may be interested to learn that the Ballygonanim Literary and Debating society have arranged for a series of lectures in Natural history to be held in Murphy's hay-barn, early in the New Year. The following lectures have been scheduled:-

  • The Anatomy of a Night-mare.
  • Affinity of Mad Dogs for the Human Calf.
  • How Fowls may spoil a Game.
  • Manners and Haunts of Bores.
  • Why Teachers are addicted to Whaling.
  • Elevating effects of the study of a Mule's Hind and Hoofs, with notes on the Ascent and Descent of a Man.


"Ceolta na Nollag go raibf it' chroidhe,

Gaire 'gus aoibhneas 'gus athas flor;

An dochas nar sgar leis na Gaedheala riamh

Go mbronnfar go fial ort, a chara dhil."

The four lines just five were written by "Brian na Banban," Brian O Higgins, one of the noblest of living Irishmen. The Ireland of 30 years ago knew him for his unselfish patriotism; the Ireland of today knows him for his exquisite Christmas cards, so full of the true spirit of Christmas, and breathing love of God and country. Here are another four lines from a short poem, in his "Little Book of Christmas".

"In the Name of God the Father,

Of the Son and the Holy Ghost!

May the light of our Christmas Candle

Reach those who will need it most."


Reminiscent of the Bardic Sessions of 200 years ago, must have been the Teanghbhail eadar Ghaeilgeoiri, in Croma an tSughachais-Croom of the Jubliations-, on the night of Wednesday, December 15th, when 80 of the Gaeilgéoiri of Kilfinane, Ballyorgan, Bruree and Croom came together for a night's sport is sceilp. Gearoid O' hAodha, in welcoming the visitors, reminded them of the time when Croom and the surrounding Maigue side were a stronghold of Gaeldom. It was a great night. First there was a debate: "Is fearr Bean na Spre"-which you might translate to mean: "The Woman is more important that nth eFortune". The home team, who spoke against the motion, carried the day.


For the motion the following spoke: Padraig Mac Eil, Brugh Riogh; Piaras Mac Siacuis, An Cheapach Mhor; Stiofain O Muineachain, Baile Orgain; Padraig O Conaire, Cill Fhionain; M. Seoighe, do. Those who spoke against-and won-were: Nollaig de Craih, Croma; Oilibhear O' Tuathail, do; Sean O Loinsigh, Brugh Riogh, agus Tomas Mac Curtain do. Padraig O Cearbhaill, Cill Chionain was an excellent Cathaoirleach. After the debate all sat down to tea, after which there was a most enjoyable ceilidhe, interspersed with songs and novelty items. One item, I must mention -a marvelous exhibition of juggling, by Irish speaking Padraig Mac Conbhuidhe, of Croma.


Here are some useful pieces of information for Christmas digestion:-

  • Charles 1 was beheaded by an axe of parliament.
  • Angle is a triangle with two sides.
  • Joan of Arc was Noah's wife.
  • Plural of child is twins.
  • Letters in sloping print are hysterics.
  • Wife of a Duke-a Ducky.
  • Primate is the wife of a Prime-minister.
  • Plural of "forget me-not" is "forget-us-not".


By now all my 28 prizewinners should have received their books, big and small. It is impossible to know everybody's taste; so I hope I haven't shot too wide of the mark.


There is nothing left to do now but to wish you all a happy and holy Christmas. Guidhim Nollaig fe shean, fe mhaise is fe shlainte dhibh go leir.

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