A Very Irish Christmas

December 2018

Normally when we fly into Dublin it is not the end of our journey, but the beginning of the end – a 3 hour car journey awaits us back to Midleton.

This time would be different. We had one more stop to make before heading back to the Rebel County.

24km west of Dublin City, across the border in Kildare but just within the boundaries of the Pale, is the “plain of Nuadha”.  Nuadha was the first king of the Tuatha Dé Danann – the pantheon of gods of pre-christian Ireland. We came to visit the town that now stands in honour of his name and to visit Uncle Kevin at his place of work and worship – St Patrick’s College – Ireland’s sole RC Seminary.

We had been invited to attend the Christmas Carol Service in the Maynooth College Chapel – the 49th year it has been held.

Before the concert we settled in to our accomodation on-campus and let Kevin show us around the grounds and town. The college was established in 1795 after the introduction of a bill by the then Chief Secretary for Ireland – Thomas Pelham – for the establishment of a Catholic College and what would at one point in history be the largest seminary in the world. This was done as part of the wider Catholic Emancipation of the late 18th Century. In front of the college is a huge Yew tree – The Silken Thomas Tree. Standing at over 6m and with a girth of 1m it is estimated to be over 750 years old – Ireland’s Oldest Tree. It is aptly named after the 10th Earl of Kildare – ‘Silken’ Thomas Fitzgerald who staged a rebellion against the English Crown in 1534 after the execution of his father in London.

There is a plaque on the wall of a lecture hall as one enters the inner quad – St. Joseph’s Square –  in front of the main College Chapel dedicated to Rev Nicholas Callan who invented the first induction coil in 1836 and at one point built the largest battery in the world. Research into him is fascinating  – while studying Divinity in Rome he immersed himself in the works of Luigi Galvani and Alessandro Volta. A man of God and of science.

The newer parts of the  main college buildings were erected by Augustus Pugin in 1850. (Yes this is the same Pugin who designed the Westminster Houses of Parliament and 55 Main Street Midleton (aka Roses Coach Inn) and whose sons then went to Australia and designed buildings in Tasmania to name just some of their work.

The Service itself was quite amazing. The mix of the location, the time of year, the quality of the singers and the audience combined to create a special concert. President of Ireland – Michael D Higgins was in attendance as well as a number of Ambassadors and other dignitaries. The Homily centred on Christmas and Climate Change.

Photos and videos were not allowed in the church but the entire service is available on Youtube:

After the service there was a dinner in main hall (lots of Hogwarts feels) before we got a sneak peek into the private dining room for the clergy. (We had planned to have breakfast there the next morning but had to get to Dublin earlier to see Emmet).

After dinner and with the crowds dispersed into the cold December night – we were permitted a look back into the College Chapel to take some photos. The Chapel is in the Neo Gothic style and was designed by James Joseph McCarthy. The Chapel has 454 intricately carved oak stalls along both its walls. The main theme is ‘Laus Deo‘ or ‘praise God’ – The ceiling paintings illustrating god, the mosaic floor has a psalm worked through it. There are also flourishes of the ‘Fleur de lis’ – the everlasting symbol of France – a nod to the context of history in which the chapel was built – barely 6 years after the French Revolution and a testimony to the long historic links between the French and Irish branches of the church. (6 of the earlies professors came from the Sorbonne in Paris)

Down the Road

The next morning we said goodbye to Kevin and Maynooth and headed for Cork – via Dublin. Brother Emmet was not going to be able to come home for Christmas as he worked in hospitality and had to work over the holiday period. A shame but sure what can you do. At least he would not be alone on Christmas Day as the hotel he worked in would play host to some Dublin celebrities – Gay Byrne and Colin Farrell to namedrop a few 🙂

So it would be breakfast, a mini-catch up and a sneak peek at this “office” the InterContinental Hotel in Ballsbridge. (Full disclosure: None of us owned the yellow Bentley outside the doors)

The rest of the trip home was good fun. 11 Years after moving out of the family house – Mom decided it was time for John Jnr to go through his wardrobe and throw out some clothes – the only way she knew how – all of it dumped in the living room and going through the items as a family for the giggles and have a fashion show.

The Rose household is a board game household – so plenty of competitive games of Monopoly and Go For Broke, the introduction of the most dangerous game in the world – Pie Face and of course the new tradition of taking up the “good” living room table for the multi-day saga of Axis and Allies between Cameron and John – eventually we will get one of these finished properly 🙂

The weather did its usual trick of being awful but some breaks in the weather allowed us to go out and meet friends in Cork and Midleton, head down to Shanagarry and Ballycotton and get some photos. There was also a trip to Ballyannan Woods in Midleton to grab some items for a home made Christmas Wreath.

The highlight was the Escape Room up in Cork. Taking off a blindfold in a dingy room and seeing your family members all handcuffed to various items – yourself handcuffed to a sink is a very funny and random memory going forward. Suffice to say we managed to work together to escape – and it was interesting to see that Karen’s wrists were too small for normal handcuffs and she slid straight out of them- a handy skill to have 🙂

We don’t care what the Red Side say…

Cameron Rose is an avid Liverpool fan. By extension Dad and Mom and Charlie have all been co-opted as Liverpool Fans. This is normally not a problem until it comes into stark conflict with John – who is a diehard Everton Fan. It is a very difficult balance to maintain objectivity between the 2 factions so this year the Christmas Tree was host to not only a Mo Salah Santa Decoration but a Duncan Ferguson Snowman one too.


  1. All so wonderful! The Maynooth Chorus confirms beauty of life. Thank you for posting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No problem. Was a very special occasion indeed


  2. Great post John. Is the Gay Bryne you mention of the Late,Late Show fame. I remember watching that in my teens. He must be a big age now?


    1. He was 84 at that point. Yep had one of the longest spans as host of a chat show – 37/39 year stint.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Did a search and found out he passed away in 2019 😦

        Liked by 1 person

  3. maristravels · · Reply

    I’d give a lot for one of those football pictures (We marched on Rome …) with Jackie Charlton. I’ve never seen that one. Have you seen the one showing Wilde, Sheridan, Shaw and Joyce with the caption “There were these 4 thick Irishmen….”?


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