Christmas in rural Ireland fádo, fádo (a long time ago) as it is depicted in Bunratty Folk Park, can only be described as utterly charming and ultimately heartwarming. There is a wave of proud austerity sweeping over Ireland right now in light of recent financial catastrophes and the desire to get back to our roots where hard work, neighbourly kindness and supporting the local community were the order of the day, has never been more keenly felt then at the end of 2010.

Ignore what the media are saying, there is no miserableness on the ground here in Ireland, despite the financial ‘hardship’. But a renewed sense of pride and resilience, we know we have a great country and even better people, and that we will show the world we are a force to be reckoned with in 2011. But first, we are going to enjoy Christmas probably more than ever before because we appreciate just how blessed we really are, by returning to the simple customs and traditions of the past. We have already had more than a ‘sprinkling’ of snow with lots more promised so the scene is set for…

Lighting a candle on Christmas Eve, just as it used to be in every household throughout Ireland, as a symbol of welcome to Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus, who would be born that night. The same welcome was extended to not only friends and neighbours but especially returning family, who were often ‘out foreign’ working which is sadly the case again in Ireland. But never mind, nobody in Ireland is going ‘to die with the hunger’ certainly not at Christmas, when there will be a nice fat, pasture reared turkey or goose on the table along with all the trimmings, including the Pudding and Cake.

I nearly cried when I saw the one at Bunratty, at least a foot square, and God knows how heavy, covered with no nonsense icing (frosting) and topped with the same little plastic Santy, reindeers and snowmen, fondly remembered from my childhood. And the plum pudding, well we never had one that big? topped with a decent sprig (small branch) of holly and standing proudly on a tinfoil covered platter, a whiff up close would be enough to knock anybody. It’s a lucky family that will be tucking into those two after 'the dinner' with a little whiskey beside the fire….

Nollaig Shona Dhuit (Happy Christmas)

Susan Byron author of

For more information on Bunratty Folk Park visit