Y mis y gwelsom Iesuyn ei grud,
Â gwawl gras oi ddeutu,
Mis gwyn, a mis i ganu
Carolau a chlychau lu.
Mí na Nollag An mhí go bhfacamar Íosaina mhainséar,
Le luisne na ngrás uime,
Mí bheannaithe, mí i gcóir
Canadh na gcarúl is ceiliúradh na gclog go léir. (Anaithnid: ón Bhreatnais) December
The month we saw Jesusin his manger,
With a glow of grace around him,
A blessed month, a month to sing
Carols and to ring many bells.
(Anonymous: from the Welsh)
This site includes Irish but not Scottish Gaelic. ‘Happy Christmas!’ in that language so like Irish is, I believe, ‘Nollaig Chridheil!’.
‘Íosagán’ is a term of affection and of endearment in Irish which means something like ‘Little Jesus’. It is also the title of one of the best known and best loved stories in the whole corpus of Irish literature both English and Irish.
It is the first story in Íosagán agus Scéalta Eile (‘Iosagan and Other Stories’), a collection of four short
stories in Irish published in 1907 by the Gaelic League.
The stories had been written by Patrick Pearse, a scholar and teacher who was to become better known in due course as the leader of the Easter Rising of
Patrick Pearse, the son of an English father and an Irish mother, based his stories on his experience of Connemara which he had come to know intimately from his house in Rosmuc.
It is one of the stories by him included in this collection of all ten of his stories in English translations.
It remains one of the most touchingly beautiful Christmas stories to be found anywhere.
‘Jesukin’, a poem about fostering in early Ireland which brings with it the message of Christmas
This is the translation of a very old poem in Irish. The translator uses the word ‘Jesukin’ to translate the original title ‘Iosacan’, which is almost the same as the title of the modern story by Patrick Pearse presented above.
This poem, possibly the most enchanting descriptions in English of a rural Christmas, was written by John Clare (1793 –
1864). He is one of Northamptonshire’s most widely known and best loved local heroes.
Christmas TV Past
A selection of short video clips from the archives of RTÉ, Ireland’s public broadcasting service.
You may experience problems getting some of the clips to play correctly, with sound and so on.
More riches from RTÉ, this time a selection of seasonal broadcasts on RTÉ Radio 1 during December.
Naturally, by clicking on the ‘Christmas Miscellany’ link one gets to hear their very best!
Please note that each of the ‘Miscellany’ programmes begins with news headlines and other announcements...
On Wednesday 17 December 2008, during a short visit to friends, I attended the Christingle Service in the
Church in Wales church in Whitford, Flintshire. It was the first time I have ever been present during this
remarkable way of presenting the Christmas story. The children OF Ysgol y Llan Primary School, whose event it
was, were enchanting even – it was a heart‑lifting experience to see
the wonder and the joy on their enthusiastic faces...
I have nothing but praise for all concerned. Those schools who have not yet adopted this
beautiful way to celebrate Christmas – please copy...
From a packed Catholic Church in the USA comes this video showing the first few wonderful moments of a traditional High Mass in Latin.
A un Triunfo tan Feliz
‘To such a Happy Triumph’ is one of the most joyous pieces of celebratory music and song
Written and composed in 1789 by Francisco de la Huerta (1733 – 1814), it is performed by the choir
and orchestra of the Cathedral of Santa María, Pamplona.
Text in Spanish with a translation into English.
On the evening of Wednesday 14 December 2005, it was my privilege to be at Gaelscoil
Uí Chéadaigh in Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland for a celebration of Christmas.
There was a choir of infants who sang Christmas songs and carols. I noted two particularly pleasing lines
of a song in Irish I did not know at all. Here is my translation:
"The little stars up in the sky
‘Twas He who lit them bright and high... "
I went home in a glow!
Ar nos Fercher 14 Rhagfyr 2005 ces i’r fraint o fod yn bresennol wrth i Gaelscoil
Uí Chéadaigh, Bray, Swydd Wicklow, Iwerddon, ddathlu’r Nadolig.
Cafowyd côr y babanod i ganu caneuon a charolau’r. Clywais ddwy linell
yn arbennig a oedd yn ddymunol iawn mewn un gân yn y Wyddeleg na chlywais
i erioed o’r blaen. Dyma fy fersiwn i ohonynt:
"Y sêr bychain yn y nefoedd fry
Y Fe a’u taniodd yn nerth eu bri... "
Fe es i adref o dan gwawl!
Ar oíche Chéadaoine 14 Nollag 2005, bhí sé de
phribhléid agam a bheith i láthair ag ceiliúradh na Nollag
i nGaelscoil Uí Chéadaigh, Bré, Contae Chill Mhantáin, Éire.
Bhí cór speisialta na aíonán ann le amhráin agus carúil na Nollag
Bhí dhá líne thar a bheith aoibhinn in amhrán nár
aithin mé. Thug mé aird faoi leith orthu:
"Na réaltaí beagaí ins an aer
Ba É a las iad go soiléir... "
Canon Seán Kearney, formerly of St. Mary’s Priory, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, and now living in
retirement in Ireland, takes another look at the Christmas Crib.
No Room at the Inn
The Reverend Denzil John of Cardiff again throws down the Christmas gauntlet.
Death at Christmas
There were precious few carols or Christmas trees in Skibbereen during Ireland’s Great Famine
(1845–1849) as this account of a time of utter wretchedness by teacher and local historian Patrick
The Huron Carol
This was the first Christmas carol to be written in Canada. Its author, Father Jean de Brebeuf
(1593–1649), was a missionary among the Huron in what was then called ‘New
France’. Captured and killed by the Iroquois in March 1649 he was canonised as a martyr in 1930.
His carol was written in Huron. About 100 years passed before it first appeared
A further two centuries were to pass before it was translated into its familiar
Christmas in the Cameroon A sermon for Christmas 2002 by Christopher Hancock of Cardiff, who was then studying with the Mill Hill
Fathers to be a missionary priest. He was ordained in June 2004 at St. Mary of the Angels Church, Canton,
Jimeen and the Gander
A delightfully humorous childhood memory of a long distant Christmas Day in County Kerry, Ireland, from
Jimín Mháire Thadhg, the classic story of childhood by Pádraig Ó
Siocfhradha (1883–1964), better known as ‘An Seabhac’(‘The Hawk’).
In Irish with a translation into English.
Remembrance of Christmas Past
"Then on Christmas Eve the same year I was on night shift but although it was
wartime we were to have a break of a couple of days – perhaps it was only one –
so I was having at least the Christmas Eve shift off..." An account of a bittersweet Christmas Eve in wartime Belfast by Samuel H. Boyd, Cwmbran,
Out for the ‘Cure’
Kerryman Maidhc Dainín Ó Sé was in his late teens while working in London in the
This is his story of how he spent one Christmas there. In Irish with a translation into English.
A Naoidhe Naoimh / O Holy Child
A poem for Christmas by Aodh Mac Aingil (1571–1626), a Franciscan from County Down who died in
Rome five months after being appointed Archbishop of Armagh.
The Pope said: “It is an angel, not a man, we have lost.”
This heartfelt and very personal piece is considered to be one of Ireland’s most tender and personal
Christmas Mass during Ireland’s Penal Days
A brief introduction to a painting showing a group of people hearing Mass as dawn
breaks on Christmas Day in eighteenth century Ireland. The priest is saying the Mass at a ‘Mass
rock’ high up in the snow‑covered hills. As he elevates the consecrated host the lookouts warn
of the approach of a group of armed redcoats...
This Christmas poem by Nancy Kelleher recalling Christmas Eve in Ireland
long ago is from an undated copy of Contact, a community magazine
published every year at Christmas in Rusheen, Coachford, County Cork.
The book, To School through the Fields, by Alice Taylor has sold more copies than any title in Irish
publishing history. She ends this wonderful book with her memories of Christmas in County Cork in the 1940s.
“The Wiree sang that Christmas Day...” in the golden sun of an Australian summer more than
a hundred years
ago as famously and poignantly remembered in verse by ‘John O’Brien’ (i.e.: Fr.
Joseph Hartigan, 1878–1952) in his classic collection, Around the Boree Log.
The late Tom MacDonald tells how he, the Welsh‑born son of Irish tinkers who had found a permanent
in a rural village in Carmarthenshire before the First World War, won the medal for a recitation in Welsh at a
chapel eisteddfod during the Christmas season.
Who said Dickens invented Christmas! Who said the Irish invented hospitality! In Welsh, with a translation by New Yorker J.P.Clancy, of an account in verse of a splendid Christmas
in 14th century Wales.
A Christmas sermon in verse by 17th. century Welsh poet Henry Vaughan (1621–1695).
Short, theological, laconic: the late and great R.S.Thomas (1913–2000) at his enigmatic best.
Email to L.G. and Friends: December 22, 1998
The sender of this message to friends in Bucharest, David Reid, was born in
Hartlepool in February 1949 and died in New York on January 10, 2003. He is buried in Cardiff, the city which
was his adopted home for over 30 years.
His ‘Email’ was in fact a poem in which he considered the bleak realities of Christmas in the
brave new world of the late twentieth century.
Not many have anything interesting to say about Herod but the late Cornish poet,Charles Causeley
(1917–2003), one of the best writers of
poetry for children, does manage to present the infamous monarch in a fascinating way.
This was the heading above an editorial in the New York Sun in 1897. It was written by a journalist,
Francis P. Church, in reply to a worried letter to that paper written by a young girl. It was to become one of
the most famous editorials ever written.
Austrian Catholic writer Peter Rosseger (1843–1918), then the 12 year‑old son of a struggling
charcoal burner, did the Christmas shopping on a snowy Christmas Eve in the mid 1850s... In German with a translation into English.
This short piece, a Christmas Eve meditation about his dead mother, is another deeply felt
contribution by Peter Rosegger. In German with a translation into English.
A Child’s Christmas in East Prussia
This account of an almost unbelievably enchanting Christmas in the 1890s is from his autobiography,
Wälder und Menschen (‘Forests and People’), by Ernst Wiechert
When he was imprisoned by the Nazis for almost two years he lost the Lutheran faith that surrounded and
formed him in childhood and that had survived
his experiences as a soldier during World War 1.
It was Christmas Eve and the largely Christian armies of Austria, Britain, France, Germany and Russia were
engaged in deadly warfare.
No one would have been surprised if the birthday of the Prince of Peace had been completely ignored on all
Yet, against all the possible odds, a kind of miracle happened on the western front where British, German and
French frontline troops declared a
truce and celebrated the great festival with a brief period of decency, harmony and humanity that
would not be seen again during that most terrible of wars.
Joyeaux Noël / Merry Christmas
This is a feature film released just before Christmas 2005 that recreates that
"...it marks an ambitious and assured step forward for French director Christian
Carion, following his more modest debut picture, ‘A Girl from Paris’"
(The Irish Times, 16 December 2005, which awarded it a rare five stars rating).
Truce in the Forest
It is December the 24th, 1944. In the middle of the ferocious Battle of the Bulge three American
soldiers find themselves cut off behind enemy
They are spotted by four German soldiers who open fire.
One American is seriously wounded but somehow they manage to get away.
They find a small house and are admitted by a woman and her young teenage daughter.
Later the four Germans knock at the same door and ask if they could stay for the night.
How the mother persuades the mortal enemies to declare a Christmas truce makes
a gripping and heartwarming story as portrayed in this 40 minute film.
This film was available from visionvideo.com until late 2005 in VHS format. Unfortunately, it is no longer
listed in their catalogue.
Miracle at Moreau
In Vichy France as World War Two rages it is almost Christmas. A group of children and teenagers are being
cared for by nuns in a convent on the
slopes of the Pyrenees.
The local SS commandant is trying to close the escape routes used by those trying to escape their dreaded
clutches into neutral Spain.
Three Jewish youngsters elude the Nazis and succeed in getting into the convent where they receive
Using the ruse of a Nativity play in which all of the children, including the Jewish refugees, take part and with
the unexpected help of a kindly
German NCO, the three Jewish children succeed in reaching safety...