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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Eve 2017

The Nativity,
depicted in stained glass at Thomastown's
Church of the Assumption, County Kilkenny.

Churches worldwide will celebrate the Nativity,
with beautiful cribs, large and small.

Portlaw's St. Patrick's Church,
will have it's ever-popular large crib, which will be
officially opened at this evening's Vigil Mass.

Probably the most unusual crib in the country,
and well worth travelling to see, will be
the MOVING CRIB, Dublin, which can be visited at
42 Parnell Square West, Rotunda, Dublin.
It's a sight to behold!!!
Check out website first at:

. . . and an exquisite nativity window in
The Church of the  Immaculate Conception, Kingscourt, County Cavan,
by the Clarke Studio, Dublin in the 1960s.

Kingscourt = Dun a' Rí = the Doonaree in the famous song of many years ago!

Photographed in June 2014


December 26th 2017:


Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first nativity scene in 1223 at Greccio, central Italy inan attempt to place the emphasis of Christmas upon the worship of Christ rather than upon secular materialism and gift giving.The nativity scene created by Francis is described by Saint Bonaventure in his Life of Saint Francis of Assisi written around 1260. Staged in a cave near Greccio, Saint Francis’ nativity scene was a living one with humans and animals cast in the Biblical roles. Pope Honorius III gave his blessing to the exhibit.

Such reenactment pantomimes became hugely popular and spread throughout Christendom. Within a hundred years, every church in Italy was expected to have a nativity scene at Christmastime.Eventually, statues replaced human and animal participants, and static scenes grew to elaborate affairs with richly robed figurines placed in intricate landscape settings.Charles III, King of the Two Sicilies, collected such elaborate scenes, and his enthusiasm encouraged others to do the same.

The scene’s popularity inspired much imitation in Catholic countries, and in the Early modern period sculpted cribs, often exported from Italy, were set up in Catholic churches and homes. These elaborate scenes reached their artistic apogee in the Papal state, in Emilia, in the Kingdom of Naples and in Genoa. By the end of the 19th century nativity scenes became popular beyond Catholic settings, and many versions in various sizes and made of various materials, such as terracotta, paper, wood, wax, and ivory, were marketed, often with a backdrop setting of a stable.   (off WIKIPEDIA).

Above:  A mixture of modern and 19th century Austrian figures.  
 One of the finest cribs around must surely be that at the Church of the Holy Cross, Tramore, Co. Waterford.
Donated in the late 1800s by the Empress of Austria (?), the wooden (?) crib figures originally amounted to approximately one hundred. In recent years the number has dwindled to about twenty, and these have been included in a Nativity scene with modern plaster (?) figures.  Those figures from the past are quite large and most life-like.  A visit is highly recommended.
                                                                                                                                                        Above:  Some of the original Austrian figures.

While there, it’s worthwhile studying the many large stained glass windows and the huge quilt-like tapestry on the chancel back wall. The Gothic Revival style church was designed by one of the leading architects of his time – James Joseph McCarthy, who designed many other churches including nearby Portlaw, Clonea-Power and Killenaule. The building commenced in 1856 on land donated by Lord Doneraile (St. Leger), a name associated very much with Tramore. 

(When using Blogger, the alignment of pictures and text can sometimes not turn out as hoped for.  Also, if typing lengthy articles, like the above, and you type initially into a WORD document, your work, when transferred to your Blog, can end up in a ticker-tape style. Thus the above problem, which now needs to be re-typed directly into the Blog!)

A nicely-housed crib
Dunhill Church.

A large crib,
which is surrounded with 
many stuffed or plaster
birds and animals
Fenor Church,
County Waterford.

A nativity scene
depicted in silhouette form,
outside the main door 
of the same church in
Best seen when lit up from the rear during darkness.

Crib at Ardfinnan Church.

Shepherd at Ardfinnan Crib.

Crib at Clogheen Church.

The three Wise Men awaiting their inclusion in the Clogheen Crib on January 6th.

Ballyporeen Crib.

This beautiful one at Ballylooby church.

Images 1522 to 1527 taken on a Suir Valley Photographic Group outing.
Much of the fine stained glass in the above churches was also photographed same day. 

Kilrossanty Church

Newtown (Kilmacthomas) Church.

A special 'Thank You' to the Kilsheelan gentleman
and the Newtown lady met at Newtown Church
for the enjoyable conversations and useful information!

-    oooOooo    -


St Joseph.

Three Wise Men, also known as the Three Kings,
looking in from outside the crib.
Three Kings celebrations from a number of countries, especially Spain,
were shown on TV on and after January 6th.
The Epiphany was also celebrated in a grand manner from Orthodox churches and cathedrals. These ceremonies could be seen from  worldwide TV stations on the Internet.

Much can be read about the Epiphany at: 

quick glance
these bagpipes,
suggested they might be
Such pipes are heard occasionally
on RTE Radió
trad music programmes.
Suggestions welcome!
Maybe the figures were made in Spain?
The headgear might well be a clue?

'Water Carrier'
in a 
Christmas crib!
Most unusual, surely, but a search for water carrier crib figures on the Internet showed one company supplying a female figure carrying two buckets with a yoke on her shoulders. A further search revealed that water carriers were quite common in China up to the 1400s. Then again, we are quite accustomed nowadays to seeing young African children on TV, who have to travel miles each day to source and carry home water, usually depicted as being polluted.
On the other hand this water carrier may well be carrying a jar of wine to celebrate the birth of Jesus?

A single left click on any image will show an enlarged copy.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Eight Days to Go!

Portlaw is looking great with Santa Claus and Reindeer all over the place, including the approach roads, but biggest surprise was when a whole mobile fun-fair arrived from this afternoon, Sunday 17th December.  They will only be here tonight for the arrival of the real Santa after 6.00 pm, so hurry along to Malcomson Square area to see the lot.  It's being said there will be a tractor-run also, all decorated with Christmas lights.

This short series of photos taken while there was still some light in the sky, 
as I was arriving home off the M9!                                             

 The fun-fair was provided by David & Rachel from
DMAXEVENTS based in Tramore.
Their slogan  -  "WE PROVIDE THE FUN!"

Trying to get a parking space in the town, after passing through the vast number of people  awaiting Santa, was extremely difficult, and I ended up in a space just near the Carrick Road, which meant I had to walk back hurriedly to Malcomson Square.
On the way I came across this group of young boys on these multi-coloured, lit-up vehicles,
who were to precede the illuminated tractors leading Santa.

It was bitterly cold and I wasn't well wrapped up,
and anyhow I need to be heading off at 7.05 to be at another function some miles away,
so I decided to try and get just a few shots and head off.

This young couple and their children, in Brown Street,
had obviously been around for quite a while awaiting that important visitor.

Likewise, in Brown Street, this group of young local girls,
were awaiting the start of the parade,
which they too would lead.

Photography was difficult due to the low street lighting.
In the background can be seen the fine Christmas tree and some of the overhead lights,
just some of the many festive adornments
erected by Portlaw Task Force.

As I rushed away, I managed to get just one photo from the Tractor Run,
and missed out on Santa,
except to see his arrival on video next day.
Thanks to Portlaw Task Force for the huge improvements they have introduced
in the area during the past two years or so!

Friday, December 8, 2017


Snow has already fallen in parts of the north-east, but heavier falls are forecast for this weekend over a wider area.

The above photo shows
Malcomson Square, Portlaw, on December 1st, 2010!

-    oooOooo    -

The above snow scene was well-timed, as snow fell for about half of yesterday (Dec. 10th).
Forecast by the Met Office as a 'snow bomb', it wasn't that bad here in the S.E.,
but bad enough to cause problems for traffic.  Rural roads were the worst hit, as is usual!

One of a short series of pictures taken today, Dec. 11th.
Problems with ice going downhill towards Clonagam church
and had to return via Whitestown Lodge avenue and part of Clonea road.

A snowman opposite top gate to Tower Hill.
A GIGANTIC snowball was to be seen a short distance away.
These were obviously constructed yesterday, Dec. 10th.

Looking downhill towards church.

Beeches in field opposite Clonagam church.
A number of such trees here lost to storms in recent years.

Polo ponies.Curraghmore.

Same ponies.  The hill, called Croughaun, in background.

Not too far away, this very old house was looking well in the snow.

(A single left-click on any image will show an enlarged copy)


Simply type out the website address provided
and paste into your browser!
The above statistics are from those supplied today, December 8th, 2017.

(One left click will show an enlarged image)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Séipéal Chluain na gCam

Clonagam Church, from a photo yesterday, Nov. 29th, 2017 . . . 

. . . in the bitter cold, with leafless trees.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Autumn - Winter . . .

Autumnal scenes abound all around but are to be seen mainly in sheltered areas.
The colourful Chestnut leaves and conkers, also Spanish Chestnuts, disappeared rapidly during recent stormy weather,
but Beech leaves have lasted just a little longer.
Powerscourt estate and Waterfall area in Wicklow looked wonderful just a week ago. 
Autumnal colours on some local garden shrubs are looking great at the moment and I have managed to capture a few such scenes.

This Acer was the best I have come across, yesterday November 20th,
but was shedding it's leaves rapidly.
Three days later, not a leaf was left on this tree!!!

Nearby, a different member of the Acer family was equally at it's best on November 16th. 

The leaves on some garden shrubs were struggling to survive.

However, this shrub (Nov. 16th) was coming into bloom for the second time!

Cotoneasters are always an addition to any garden.
This ground-hugging speciemen was a sight to behold.

In Curraghmore estate, yesterday's lack of sunshine (Nov. 20th), done little for these young Beeches,
but the woodland floor was covered in this magic carpet.

Beech leaves have almost disappeared here,
but the above low-lying branch still looked great.

The leaves and berries on this attractive plant at Tower Hill
were recovering from the morning's heavy frost (Nov. 16th),
but will endure much longer . . . right into heavier frosts and any snow that may arrive.
The plant can be found at quite a number of places in the area,
the seed probably carried by birds from Curraghmore over the years.
The plant's botanical name is: Leycesteria formosa, but is popularly known as Pheasant berry,
as these birds like to eat the fruit.
I have seen it in a number of gardens, where it looks great when confined to a large pot.
It is a native of China and Tibet.
It can be planted as seed or purchased in some nurseries.
(Not a very good photo of it in this case. Image No. 033 looks much better . . . and is differently described).

Berried Holly (Nov. 16th) can be found in numerous areas around,
and produces wonderful imagery, especially in sunshine.
Some years. few or no berries can be seen.

Finally, a superb pink Rose in a local garden on Nov. 16th. 
These and yellow Roses seem to survive right into January each year.
If you want to isolate such subjects from the background,
set an aperture of 5.6 or a flower symbol on your camera,
if that feature is available.