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A toy truck, a stroller, 


and pub coasters


strung with dental floss…



A Christmas-in-Ireland Memory

(Featured Christmas Post for December 23- December 26, with no commercial interruptions. Fresh new daily blog posts on business and personal development will begin again on Monday, December 27th. Please return then, and please enjoy the archive insights anytime.)

Thank you for your visit!


  A few years ago, Kathy and I made a return trip to the West Coast of Ireland.  This particular visit was  inspired and romanticized by the classic Bing Crosby Christmas song, “Christmas In Killarney.”  We spent our first Christmas away from home in the Southwest (County Kerry) corner of Ireland, at Killarney Country Club. 


     Up a rocky, grass-between-the-tires dirt road from downtown Killarney, jockeying “the wrong side” car controls to bounce cheerfully along between the seemingly endless stone walls that separated cows from sheep, we drove under an archway and pulled into the courtyard of a two-story brick complex that reminded me of “Gone With The Wind.” 

     There was one other car at the far end.  We parked, followed the sign to the office, and at front desk found a smiling, green-eyed, freckled face young lady with what else but a bubbling thick Irish accent . 

     We registered and unpacked into a spacious two-bedroom upstairs arrangement, with living room and kitchen downstairs.  Our windows overlooked the courtyard and pathway to the Country Club Pub.  Farmland hills peppered the distant views.

     It seems when I think back –after the first day of being sneered at by a non-English speaking tourist family of six who seemed to resent us poking our heads in to take the front desk clerk’s invitation to check out the odd, three-foot-deep, indoor pool they had commandeered– that we were actually the only guests there for the rest of the (Christmas) week. 


     We made the bumpy drive into town every day, a beautiful, historic, bustling hub filled with happy holiday shopping locals who appeared to be warming up for the coming Saint Steven’s Day celebration that started the day after Christmas, and pretty much shut down the country for twelve days.

     Most of the shoppers we observed seemed to visit a shop or two, then stop in a pub, then visit a shop or two, then stop in a pub . . . you get the idea. So, “When in Rome…” or Killarney, as the case may be, we simply followed the crowd.

     I’ll always remember clusters of rowdy-looking teenagers huddled together on sidewalks, laughing and smoking and being teenagers, suddenly backing up out of the way as we approached (smiling, gesturing us past, saying “Good Marnin’ ta’ya!” and the boys actually tipping their caps) to let us walk through. Who knew?

     Of course we didn’t spend all of our time in town. We drove hundreds of miles of picturesque unspoiled (and un-littered) countryside during the week, meeting only pleasant, accommodating-to-a-fault natives all along the way. 

     Night driving seemed a bit perilous, so we opted for evening visits to the Country Club Pub.  The alternative was staying in our unit with three tv stations (two of which were broadcast in German from Germany! Go figure). 


     The only Christmas tree we could find to buy (for $45 American) made Charlie Brown’s famously forlorn little scrub pine look like Rockefeller Plaza.  I think the one we got was about thirty (“turtee”) inches tall and had about 16 (or maybe it was 14?) scrawny branches. 

     Back with the tree, but (Oh, yikes!) no ornaments!  We had managed to confiscate a wide range of cardboard pub coasters in our travels, and strung them up with pieces of dental floss. 

     We fashioned a homemade treetop star from a piece of aluminum foil the bartender scrounged up, and stuffed two ”Season’s Greetings”scrawl-imprinted plastic shopping bags with small sofa pillows, and hung them in our windows. 

     We grocery-shopped for the all-time elaborate Christmas morning brunch of Irish rasher (bacon), eggs, cheese, jam, butter, toast, fruit, crackers, caviar (no, I was not leaving caviar for Santa; this was, after all, vacation!), coffee, tea . . . and –being deeply entrenched in beer and ale country– a bottle of asti that at the price of about 67 trillion dollars American, tasted a lot better than it was. 


     We ended up exchanging gifts that we bought “secretly” as we walked down opposite sides of the downtown, waving across the road at one another between store visits while hiding shopping bags behind our backs — a book for me, a piece of Irish crystal and a little stuffed Irish Christmas Bear for her, plus some other goodies.  It was great! 

     Every minute there was great, even when fifteen native Killarney guys –the town butcher, a gooseneck twister (yucht!), dairy farmer, mailman, horseshoe maker, “tyre” changer, carpenter, and on and on– had us singing with them until 3am at the Country Club Pub (where most had hiked by flashlight from their nearby stone and clapboard farmhouses).  

     With the rows of “y’got tafinish ’em” topped-off pints of beer and ale lined up from one end of the bar to the other (planted there when 11:15pm closing time came and the lights were flickered, the doors locked, the lights turned back on and the singing began), we joined in the raising of glasses and voices. 


     It was this experience –as we worked our way through “I’ll take you home again, Kathleen” and “Danny Boy” to an endless string of Christmas songs– that led us to the astonishing discovery that no one in Killarney had ever even heard of the traditional classic Crosby song, “Christmas In Killarney” that brought us there in the first place!

     But it didn’t matter that no one knew Bing had celebrated their town, as long as we sang with them, and with some measure of gusto.  Well, sing we did!  Kathy (besides being only one of very few females who ever stepped up mto the bar there, even led a chorus of “Zippity Do-dah!” 

     Laughter rocked the pub all night. 

     Walking uphill between farms the next morning, a man about a hundred yards behind a crumbling rock wall, dropped his handheld plow, patted his horse and jogged across the field just to tip his hat, reach over the rocks to shake hands, and wish us Merry Christmas!

     So much for all that pleasant surprise stuff; we really did have a wonderful experience there. 


     Just one thing was missing.  Family.  We spent half of Christmas afternoon trying to phone home, with circuit connections going from where we were, to Northern Ireland, to Boston, to Florida, to New York, to the clan in New Jersey who sounded like they were in a tunnel. 

     It made us realize that all the happiness of the week we spent there was momentarily lost to being lonesome for family. 

     We managed to bounce back when the resort manager and his wife (who we suspect might have been listening in to our phone connection efforts) invited us to their home to see the doll baby stroller Santa brought for their daughter.  (Last Christmas, Santa brought the doll!). 

      Their son got a toy truck. 

     One single present each.  The two children were so thrilled, they thought they were in heaven! 

     T h a t   certainly gave us cause for pause. 



 We in America are so blessed with so much . . . and family is, well, what Christmas is all about now, isn’t it? 

     Kathy and I truly hope that you and yours

     enjoy what you have today, and every day,

and not take any of it for granted. 

     Oh, one last thing: Please remember to God Bless Our Troops for their eternal vigilance that grants us the freedom we have to celebrate this joyous Christmas day and holiday season! 


Enjoy, and Peace Be With You!

[The original of this Christmas story appeared on 12/25/08 on this blog site.]


 # # #

302.933.0116 or Hal@BusinessWorks.US

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You.

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson]

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

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