Life on Main Street, Castleisland on December 8-1988

The Castleisland Presentation Convent Primary School Band marking the start of the 1988 Christmas season as they march and play their way up Main Street under the guidance of Mrs. Leahy. ©Photograph: John Reidy 8-12-1988.
Sisters, Kay Walmsley-O’Brien and Noreen Walmsley-Ryan with children: Cats, Eileen and Mary O’Brien and Donnacha Ryan chatting with Santa on Main Street, Castleisland in 1988. ©Photograph: John Reidy 8-12-1988
Castleisland sisters Mandy (left) and Marie Keane met Santa when he visited Garvey’s SuperValu on Main Street, Castleisland in 1988.
©Photograph: John Reidy 8-12-1988

It’s all so different now. But it’s only in fairly recent years that December 8th stepped back into the calendar and became just another ordinary day.

Once upon a time it was one of the great, stand out days of the year and a huge turkey market topped the events on the streets of  Castleisland.

The town would be black with people and rails of turkeys and geese would be the focus of their attention.

The Start of Christmas

People from the neighbouring villages came to town to observe the traditions of the day and because it was also a holy day of obligation, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

It was the day on which Christmas started – gently – and not at all like the headlong tilt at which it does now.

Apart from the town’s great survivor, the November 1st horse fair, the turkey market was one with the next best record of longevity.

A Busy Afternoon Street

While in a ‘negative’ mood and hunt a few evenings ago I came across a strip marked December 8-1988 and I decided to scan to remind myself what was on them.

In the mid-morning the band from the Presentation Convent Primary School took to Main Street and they played their way up town.

Soon after, Santa himself took the same route through an extremely busy afternoon street. He was heading, with a lengthening queue of fans behind him, for Garvey’s SuperValu at Upper Main Street.

Main Street in ’88

The buying and selling carried on all around on the street and in the shops and, as the afternoon wore on, the pubs of the town came into their own and people felt free now to begin wishing each other a Happy Christmas. 

That was Main Street, Castleisland on December 8th 1988. It’s all so different now.

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