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This is a monthly column that we hope parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or older siblings will share with children of all ages. Most are by our guest columnist, Grainne Rowland; a master spinner of stories who re-tells the tale so well they are once again fresh and new.
"There was a place in childhood that I remember well, And there a voice of sweetest tone bright fairy tales did tell."
Index of All Children's Stories
Kids' Ireland Library
by Grainne Rowland
It was Christmas Eve in the Galway countryside. Patrick, his young sister Kathleen, and their parents had just finished supper.
"Well," said Mother, "it is time to light the candle. Kathleen, come quickly. It is already dark."
Mother handed the match to little Kathleen. "Kathleen, you know it is the Irish custom for the youngest child to light the Christmas candle. Be careful, now!"
"Mother, why do we light such a big candle on Christmas Eve?" asked Kathleen.
"We light a large candle for Mary and Joseph to see. Perhaps they will come in tonight and rest from their journey to Bethlehem."
"Oh, Mother," said Kathleen, "didn't Mary and Joseph live a very long time ago?"
"Indeed they did," interrupted Father, "but miracles still happen on Christmas Eve."
"And," replied Mother, "do you not remember that only a woman called Mary may put out the candle?"
Patrick said excitedly, "Come on, Kathleen, light the candle! I must go out and make sure the animals have hay for the night. I always like to see the candle burning when I come back from the barn!"
With sparkling eyes, Kathleen slowly and carefully lit the candle. Father watchfully placed the candle in the window.
"Now we will put the bread and jug of milk on the table for any travelers that may need refreshment tonight," said Father. "And, Patrick, remember to leave the door unlatched when you come in, as is the custom on this night."
Patrick went out to take care of the chores in the barn.
The next morning, as the family sleepily came into the kitchen, Patrick hurried to feed the animals.
Kathleen's eyes got huge as she looked at the table."Mother, Father, the bread and milk are gone! And, look! There are fresh roses on the table!"
"What?" asked Mother. "Where in the world did the roses come from? There are no roses anywhere to be found this time of year!"
With wonder in his voice, Father said, "Look, the candle has been put out. And, besides Patrick's, there are tracks in the snow of two people and a donkey."
A minute later, Patrick breathlessly returned to the house."Father, there is a whole barn full of hay! Where did that come from? We had only a few days' worth of feed last night!"
Mother and Father looked at each other with amazement in their eyes."Do you think what I think?" asked Mother.
"It may be," replied Father.
"What do you think?" asked Patrick.
"Only a woman named Mary may put out the Christmas candle. We find fresh roses in the place of our bread and milk. Patrick finds the barn full of hay, and we see footprints in the snow of two people and a donkey. Who do you think came into our home last night?" asked Father.
Kathleen's eyes sparkled as she looked at the roses."Do you think Mary and Joseph were really here?" she asked.
Mother, Father, and Patrick just smiled.
Images: Christmas Roses from All Posters
Candle in window from a free card on Blue Mountain
Mary & Joseph with kind permission from The Jerusalem 30 AD Project
In keeping with the season the next story should be: The Day After.
Index of All Children's Stories
Mon, Jan 16, 2017
This statue of Annie Moore - the first immigrant to pass through Ellis Island - stands on the dock in Cobh. Co. Cork. She looks back towards the home she is leaving while her brothers look out to sea and, beyond the horizon, the New World, three thousand miles away.
Annie set off for America from here aboard the S.S. Nevada, on December 20th, 1891. Imagine how excited and nervous she must have been when she and her brothers arrived in New York on January 1, 1892. As the very first of 700 immigrants to disembark from her ship and two other boats that day, she was given a wondrous welcome - and also a $10.00 gold coin!
Click for More Culture Corner.
"No man ever wore a cravat as nice, as his own child's arm around his neck."
- Irish Proverb
In Ireland in the 1780s, a young boy and girl who find a wolf's den in the forest vow to protect the animals from the superstitious townspeople and the greed of the hunters. Rave reviews including this one from Booklist:
"Convincing characters, tense action, and powerful conflicts makethis book an outstanding choice."
To learn more or to purchase, please click The Last Wolf in ireland.
Children's Irish Dictionary
by Hippocrene Books
As a total beginner in Irish, this has taught me quite a few words. The illustrations are beautifully done, and best of all, each word is given a rough English spelling of its pronunciation. Edited from an amazon review.
Click here for Kid's Irish Dictionary.
A lovely collection of well known Irish songs from the turn of the twentieth century. This album was created as a gift to MaryLee's Nana, Rose Burke Duval. The first half are songs well known to grandparents and the second half are original and traditional songs for children.
Click here for Irish Songs.