The West's Awakeby Cormac MacConnell
- Bishop Eamon Casey served us well, and deserves our prayers
- A lovely tale of island life in the paradise of West Clare
- The Boarding Out orphan was a wonderful pick
- How do the Irish regard their American visitors? With pride
- Absolutely no relation to US Republican politician Mitch McConnell
I hope ye are all having a serene season to date as we venture into that surreal limboland between the dying of an old year and the incoming of its successor.
These are beautifully gentle days and nights. This is the season, whatever the weather, which brings out the best of us, which gentles us, which writes smiles on our faces far more often than normal, which warms our handshakes and greetings.
I love these days leading into Christmas even more than I savor Christmas itself. Are you like that?
It is a fact, however, that in a Christmas season about 20 years ago I got a rush of creative blood to the head above in Connemara and wrote one of the most popular Irish Christmas songs in less than an hour.
It came to me, air and all, after I'd watched a poignant TV documentary about the spontaneous soldiers' truce in the trenches during World War I. Deeply moved and somehow inspired, I was walking through the living room singing it, tears streaming down into my beard, before that strange hour was over.
It was cold last weekend in rural Holland. I was visiting the warm-hearted family of the Dutch Nation in the eastern Gelderland region up against the German border.
There are dozens of picturesque little villages here. They are all crowned by a windmill which does not work any more but hallmarks the geography.