A Heart-Warming Christmas Story on Barrack Street

James O'Reilly, Barrack Street
Sculptor, James O’Reilly with a gabháil of the firewood he distributed along Barrack Street earlier this week. The grey, two-storied house across the street was where his grandparents lived. ©Photograph: John Reidy

Like most of the stuff that makes it into these pages, it starts with a telephone alert. Tips, we call them in this trade.
I got a call yesterday from a Barrack Street resident who thought I should know of a lovely Christmas Story which happened in her neighbourhood. And she and her friends along the street are all involved in it.
“Honestly, it’s the nicest gesture I have seen here or anywhere else and it’s like something out of a heart-warming Christmas story,” said my caller. It’s a heart-warming / hearth-warming story and my sincere thanks to my caller – who wished to remain anonymous but wanted to have the good deed made known.

Office on Barrack Street

O’Reilly’s Monumental Sculptors have a depot / office on the street and the business owner, James O’Reilly’ grandparents, Paddy and Johanna were residents there for a couple of generations up to the 1960s.
James has adopted Tournafulla as his home place now for reason of the heart but he stays very much in touch with his roots.
Enter the Christmas Spirit: James had to cut down a couple of trees at home earlier this year and he had them all chopped up and bagged as the year went on.

Barrack Street resident the late Paddy O'Reilly taken by my father, Michael Reidy with a 'Kodak Box Brownie' in the early 1950s.
Barrack Street resident the late Paddy O’Reilly taken by my father, Michael Reidy with a ‘Kodak Box Brownie’ in the early 1950s.

Coming up to the last couple of weeks he was at home one morning and did a quick calculation of his depot’s Barrack Street neighbours.

Seasonal Gift
He then loaded five bags of logs for each house on the street and delivered them to anyone who wished to avail of his seasonal gift.
“I’ll tell you now straight. I was on the flat of my back this time last year in hospital in Tralee and hoping I could die. I went from 16 stone to eight and I couldn’t see anyway I’d get back on my feet again like I am today. I had Cancer and I thought ’twas after getting the better of me.

Second Chance at Life
“I know now I’m after getting a second chance at life and the things that used to worry me don’t anymore. I lost my wallet there a while ago and there was a nice sum of money in it. That would have driven me mad a couple of years ago and it didn’t bother me now.
“As far as the timber is concerned I’m delighted the people here took it and are able to use it. They’re all my neighbours here on the street and it’s Christmas – and isn’t that what the whole thing is all about,” said James with the broad smile of a man who’s enjoying a new lease of a wonderful life.