Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas in the Fifties (in Rural West Cork)

by Nuala Ní Loinsigh © 2012

Christmas was a special time in my childhood, full of excitement and activity. In early December, the writing of letters and cards involved us children, as my mother gathered ideas from us. This task was done on a Sunday night, when Dad went for a scoráiocht (visiting the neighbours) and we had Mom to ourselves. The two most important letters were sent to Sr. Patricia in Manchester and Sr. Cecilia in Glasgow, my father's sisters. Her letters were not very long but conveyed the most recent news of the family. Each letter had a postal order for ten shillings enclosed, a generous sum from a family who had little to spare. 
The letter contained a comment on the price of cattle, pigs, milk and eggs. The weather of the previous summer and fall was described, in so far as it affected us, in saving the main crops of hay, turf and corn. Our stage in school was related and a comment on our diligence - or lack of diligence - with our lessons. We, as children, made suggestions and, as we got older and more mature, corrected my mother regarding commas and full stops. Mom had an idea that full stops were to be used sparingly and she would respond to our criticisms with "I have a full stop up there and that's enough".

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Musical Christmas

© 2012 Maírtin Ó Connallan

It was Christmas Evening
I settled softly into the old armchair
Sipping a glass of warm mulled wine
All was well
And God in his heaven
A huge yew log
Hissed and spat
Midst the dying embers
A gentle calmness lulled me
Into another place and time

A soft Overture of strings and wind and flute and drum
Then bodhrans
And amhrans
Then up they started
First on stage came
And then sweet Grieg
And next Rossini
Right behind Henry Mancini
What Christmas fayre
I did not dare
Disrupt the concert
of the old armchair

Wee Daniel and Big Tom
Accompanied Luciano with Nessuan Dorm-a'
Slackening of pace
Comes Chopin slowly
Then Schubert's "La Truite"
Wafted soft and lowly
Then Finbar singing Vogel's "Green Fields of France"
Followed up by Wogan
With "The Foral Dance"

Scott Joplin
In Rag time
Doing C and W
With Patsy Kline
Nigel Kennedy
And Liam Og Flynn
With a Celtic version
Of "The G String"
Max Boyce and the Welsh Male Choir
Hymns and Arias
By the Yuletide fire

Here's Michael Coleman
Backing Leonard Cohen
Fiddling his way
Through "Going Home"
On comes Edith with Eminem
Rapping out "Je ne regrette rien"
Is that Shane
With Johann Strauss
Backing Count John on
"Bless This House"

Boxcar Willie
And Finbar Wright
With a country version of
"Holy Night"
Janis Joplin high as a kite
Placido Domingo
In full flight
Haendel with "Messiah"
Tom Jones, "Delilah"

Rimsky Korsakov and Matt Molloy
With a Russian version of "Danny Boy"
Who's that with Callas
'Tis T.R. Dallas
Hitting high C's
At Caesar's Palace
Mirrors cracking from side to side
I bolted upright
Eyes open wide
In the hearth the shattered glass I spied

What a glorious musical Christmas