Title: A Very Irish Christmas
Publishing House: New Vessel Press
Date of Publication: September 14th 2021
Rating: 5 stars
‘’ “But me,” was all that she said, and rubbed a dear space in the condensation on the glass as she tried to recompose in her head the dissonant notes that rose at intervals from the huddle of young carol singers in the darkness below.’’
Shopping for Christmas Dinner – Anne Enright: The marathon (and torture) of Christmas shopping in the supermarket, depicted with elegant irony and tenderness.
Frank Forrest’s Mince Pie – Canon Patrick Augustine Sheehan: A tender tale of kindness and Christmas dreams.
Whimsical Beasts – Aisling Maguire: A whimsical, tragic, incredibly beautiful story of a Pygmalion gone twisted and a young woman who wanted a child. A sensual, artistic modern fable.
The Christmas Cuckoo – Frances Browne: A story that has all the quintessential elements of an Irish folk tale. Cobblers, princesses, kings and golden leaves.
Christmas Pudding – Colm Toibin: A humorous story of Christmas pudding and family gatherings.
The Magi – W.B.Yeats: What would the Magi have thought if they had witnessed the horror that took place in Cavalry?
Candle and Crib – K.F.Purdon: Errr…This was not my cup of tea. Tasteless, vulgar and quite ridiculous.
The Troubles at Christmas (From Cal) – Bernard MacLaverty: A haunting extract from his excellent novel, Cal, one of the finest depictions of the Troubles.
Men and Women – Claire Keegan: I am sorry but Keegan’s writing doesn’t suit my reading tastes. Frankly? I find it atrocious.
‘’You never played games’’, he said, ‘’or believed in fairies, or anything. I’d have played any game your way; I’d have been good at them.’’
The Tommy Cranes – Elizabeth Bowen: A moving tale of young love, misfortune and obligations.
‘’You always looked back, she thought. You looked back at other years, other Christmas cars arriving, the children younger.’’
Another Christmas – William Trevor: A bitter tale set during the time of the Troubles about the wounds of the terrible fight which even Christmas cannot heal.
Christmas Eve – Máire Mhac an tSaoi: A beautiful poem about the night when Christ was born.
The Dead – James Joyce: Taken from The Dubliners, this is one of the most well-known storied by Joyce. Gabriel, a teacher and book reviewer, finds himself facing questions of Life and Death, of memories and what it means to ‘’serve the Irish cause.’’
‘’Frost continued to fall that night in greater profusion than it had before, and a greenish vapour pervaded every quarter of the city, merging with the scant light that showed through shutters and hallways. No traffic broke the quiet but, lining the streets, on doorsteps and on windowsills, stood a myriad of minute golden creatures, each one astir with the playful flicker of new life.’’