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Burying the Baby Jesus
by Philomena Hill
Killimore, Ballinasloe, Co Galway, 1945
My dad, Guard John Murphy. Killimore. Ballinasloe, died in Our Lady's Hospice, Harold's Cross, Dublin, aged forty-four, leaving my mother, aged thirty-nine, with ten children, aged two and a half to eighteen years old.
On Christmas Eve of 1945, we spent most of the day playing outdoors in the snow while Mother stuffed a goose which had been hung on a nail out in the back kitchen for several days. Mrs. O'Mara had sent the goose up to her with a basket of groceries. In the basket were sweets, biscuits and a bottle of raspberry wine, and a sweet cake for all of us. Before we went to bed that night we had a small party. We prayed and asked Santa not to forget us and we asked Baby Jesus to help Santa with our toys. Mother hung up our small stockings with big safety pins on a clothesline that hung over the fireplace.
On Christmas morning we were all up bright and early. We tiptoed down the stairs and crept along the hallway so as not to awaken Mother. We took down our socks and in it was a pair of knitted socks, a few sweets and a pencil. Not one toy for any of us, not even the baby. After dinner we went to the church with the smaller children sitting up in the big pram. We looked into the manger crib. After all our praying Baby jesus sent us nothing so we decided to hide Him under the straw. We climbed into the crib, pulled the straw up and hid the Baby Jesus under the straw as far down as we could. We then went home satisfied that Baby Jesus was hidden away. We told Bab Flood what we had done and she just smiled. She felt sorry for us and gave us some apples and oranges . The next day we went to the church only to see Baby Jesus back in his crib again. This time we buried the Baby Jesus again, but this time we used our shoe laces and tied him to the straw so that he couldn't get out. Mother was very cross and wanted to know what happened to our laces but we never told her.
The Garda Superintendent heard about our dilemma and a few days later a phone call came to the barrack to say Santa hadn't forgotten us and a large parcel was on its way from the Guards in the Depot Training Centre in Dublin. The parcel contained a beautiful doll with a china face drums, bugles, games of all kinds, a big fruit cake and socks for all of us. We were overjoyed. Baby Jesus had loved us after all, even though he was a little late. We paraded up and down the street of Killimore to the delight of Mother and the neighbours. No-one could ever imagine the joy and happiness that parcel brought to Mother and her orphans.
Extract reproduced from 'No Shoes in Summer' with the permission of the publisher ©Wolfhound Press, 1995. All rights reserved. http://www.Merlinwolfhound.com
Image: Merry Christmas, Angels admiring Baby Jesus from All Posters and Prints
For more of our Holiday Stories click on the following links.
Time at this Point in the Year
An Advent Memory
Yes, Kelsey and Maddie, there is a Santa Claus
Waiting for St. Nicholas
Christmas - Preparing the Puddings
Christmas - Food for the Feast
An Irish Christmas - Then & Now
An Irish Christmas - The Day Before
Memories of Christmas Eve Past
An Irish Christmas - Ding Dong Merrily On High
Seasons Greetings in Irish
St. Stephen's Day to New Year's Eve
New Year's Day to Epiphany
Many Years Ago by John B. Keane
White Washed Walls
An East Cork Christmas
Sun, Dec 4, 2016
Holly and Ivy hanging up and
something wet in every cup*
Not so long ago, Irish Christmas decorations were much simpler than they are now. The children gathered holly and ivy for adorning, windows, doorways, mantles and pictures, and the father would carve out a turnip in which would be placed a large red candle. This would go in the window to light the way for the Holy Family on Christmas Eve. Only in relatively recent times did an Irish family have a Nativity scene and a decorated tree in the house. As for Mistletoe, it's quite rare in ireland and is generally associated with ancient Celtic and Druidic fertility celebrations; this is most likely where the custom of kissing under the mistletoe comes from.
*Old Irish Christmas toast
Image: Pashley Manor Gardens.
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March 4, 2011
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