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Memotries of Christmas in Castlebar

Posted by Happy Christmas New Year in 2010 on December 27, 2009 at 20:15:56:

Well, as I sit here at my computer at my home office in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, reading all of the greetings on the Nostalgia Board I have to say that I am full of very warm memories of my Christmases spent on McHale Road. Being from a very large family, we did not receive a lot of presents, as the kids of today do, but, we always received some little thing and we were always very grateful for it, whatever it was. I can still remember to this day, and I am talking of maybe 50 odd years ago, my most treasured gift, a monkey on a stick. Yes, that's right, a monkey on a stick. It was a toy monkey hanging between two sticks and you had to bring the sticks together to make him flip over. It probably lasted all of 2 days after Christmas day, but the fun I had with it will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Then, we had St.Stephen's Day to look forward to. This is where we had a big advantage over most of the kids in Castlebar as my father, James, worked in the County Home with his best friend Willie Jordan. This meant that my twin brother, Brian,together with Paddy and Stephen Jordan could gain access to the County Home on St Stephen's Day. We would all go there with our homemade "honour the wren boxes" covered with many different coloured crepe paper (we never had a wren) and sing carols for the elderly residents. Paddy & Stephen played their guitars and Brian and I did the vocals. We may not have sounded too much like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but we were well received by our audiences. They were also very generous to us so we all came out of the Home, well compensated for our efforts. As I think about it now, perhaps our main reason for going there in those days long ago, and singing carols was to "make a few bob" but when I think back I can still remember the smiles on the faces of those "senior citizens" and I believe that we did bring a little joy into their lives, even if was only for that day. Many of these people were the last survivors of their families and I am sure that Christmas was not necessarily, a happy time for them.
One other very fond memory I have is when as a member of Father Shannon's boys choir we would go all over the town on Christmas Eve (or close to Christmas Eve) singing carols. We never had a problem getting into the "Christmas spirit" as this was a beautiful way of preparing us for the "birth of the Christ child".

Well these days, I re-live those days with my grandchildren and when I see the excitement on their faces on Christmas Eve,(the only day of the year when they ask to go to bed early), I can cast my mind back to our home on McHale Road when we were full of the same excitement and anticipation of Santa coming to our house that night.
For my family and friends in Castlebar I wish you all a Christmas and New Year full of excitement and blessings just like the ones I experienced living on McHale Road, those many long years ago. May the peace of Christmas stay with you all year round and may the New Year bring you joy, happinness and prosperity in the form of peace of mind and good health.

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