Christmas in Castleisland Ushered in With Crib Blessing, Hope and Bright Lights

At the Blessing of the Crib in Castleisland on Friday afternoon were: Sr. Margaret O’Brien, Sr. Mary Buckley, Fr. Seán Horgan, Michael John Kearney, Annette O’Connell and Gerard Murphy. ©Photograph: John Reidy
The evening the lights came on. Cllr. Jackie Healy Rae with: Cllr. Bobby O’Connell, Cllr. Charlie Farrelly and Cllr. Fionnán Fitzgerald put out a joint call for people in the area to shop locally in the run up to Christmas as they posed by the just lit Christmas tree in Castleisland. ©Photograph: John Reidy
Twenty years down: Knocknagoshel native, Jim Regan (left) and John Baily from Ballymacelligott preparing Castleisland for its Christmas lighting show in mid November. ©Photograph: John Reidy 15/11/2020
Looking East: Castleisland bathed in the extra glow of its Christmas lights as we head into one of the most extraordinary Christmas seasons in living memory. Where there’s light there’s hope. ©Photograph: John Reidy

Today is December 8th and the traditional start to the Christmas time of trading and gathering the makings of the season.

The spiritual side of Christmas was launched in Castleisland on Friday afternoon at 2pm at the crib by the fountain.

There, just a handful of people and two small dogs gathered as Fr. Seán Horgan prayed and blessed the crib and those around it with holy water from a little glass bottle.

The commercial side of the season sped by at a pace which alternated between frantic and choking while vastly outnumbering the gathering around the crib.

Even allowing for the year that’s in it, it was probably a manifestation of how far we have been drawn and ushered away from the traditional and true meaning of the season itself.

Dan’s Crib Duties in 29th Year

But then, Castleisland Chamber Alliance Chairman, Michael John Kearney thanked Fr. Horgan for his services and told the brief gathering that Dan Lynch had been erecting the crib on this spot for the past 29 years.

Dan wasn’t there for the blessing this year but Fr. Mossie Brick got him last year with a cúpla focal of well deserved praise and an expertly directed sprinkle when larger gatherings were all the go.

Jim is Lighting Our Lives for 20 Years

And another story of long and dedicated service surfaced over the last couple of weeks: It emerged that electrician and Knocknagoshel native Jim Regan has been involved in the lighting magic-ification of the trees and lamp-posts on the streets of the town over the past 20 years as part of the John Keane Electrical team.

John Keane’s team has been involved in lighting the street here since the first system was installed by the firm 25 years ago.

It’s probably fair to say that Dan and Jim and John are entitled to take a virtual bow for their services to the town over all those years.

Councillors’ Appeal to Shop Local

In a joint appeal to the people of the Castleisland – Corca Dhuibhne Municipal District Electoral area, in which they trawl for votes, the four councillors on the Castleisland side are asking their supporters and voters to shop local when and where they can over this Christmas and new year.

Councillors: Charlie Farrelly, Fionnán Fitzgerald, Jackie Healy Rae and Bobby O’Connell – in the order they appeared on your ballot papers in May 2019 – met in Castleisland on the evening the town’s Christmas lights were set to come on.

Head Office Policy

Apart from following the policy of their ‘head office’ Kerry County Council, they wished to shine a light on the importance of supporting the businesses in the locality and the owners and people employed behind the facades of the buildings on the streets of our local towns.

The councillors also emphasise that it’s these businesses and the people behind them who come to the aid and support of local events spread over the entire length of the year.

Unwavering Support of Businesses

They feel that without this level of unwavering support we’d have nothing to celebrate and every year would be devoid of sporting and cultural events – just like this year. Imagine that !

Kerry County Council’s campaign emphasises that when shopping locally, everyone should adhere strictly to the government and public health guidelines on hand hygiene, cough etiquette, social distancing and the wearing of masks.

Council Support for Business

The council continues to support shops and businesses in Kerry in a number of other ways including the administration of the Business Restart Grant, a business support helpline, an online directory of shops and businesses which have reopened and a series of online webinars and training events.

Keeping Towns and Villages Viable and Vibrant

‘Spending locally in our shops and businesses across Kerry means supporting local jobs and maintaining employment in the local economy,” said Chief Executive of Kerry County Council, Moira Murrell.

“Every euro counts when it comes to assisting the economic recovery in our county. Keeping our towns and villages viable and vibrant is a central objective of the shop local message. The Covid-19 restrictions have raised people’s awareness of local businesses and the vital service provided by local shops. We are asking everyone in Kerry, when it comes to their shopping to think local and shop local,” said Ms. Murrell.

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