Christmas in the Quare Old Times

Christmas '97 in Killererin - Pages 3 & 4

Martin Lyster

Martin Lyster
Killererin Heritage Society

Christmas in the Garda Síochána

Christmas is a time for reminiscing. I have survived through many Christmases myself and tend to let the memory stray. I spent over thirty five years as a member of the Garda Siochana in Barnaderg Station and can truthfully say that the Christmas periods over that span of time were happy, enjoyable and more importantly, peaceful. Christmas brought a certain amount of extra duty but this created no great panic and no major problems ever arose.

Easygoing pace of life

Life, was very much different then, than it is today, it was simple and easygoing and while there wasn’t very much money in circulation in these pre-“Celtic tiger” times, it did not prevent people from enjoying a happy time. The only “cowboys” around then were those encountered in the old Western films.

Looking forward to St. Stephen’s night

In those times most people ‘did the Advent’ – in other words, in the four weeks prior to Christmas, no drink was consumed and no dancing took place. So, there you have the picture, no dancing, no beer and no wild, wild women (I’m not too sure about this) for the four lean weeks, so come St. Stephen’s night everyone was looking forward to the Big Bash and ‘rarin’ to go. They all turned up on Stephen’s night and that’s for sure.

Trouble on the dancefloor

Occasionally , some disagreements would take place over perhaps, the tap-in dance, ladies choice (both highly dangerous) or whatever, and a bout of fisticuffs might well follow but this was accepted as part of the night’s ‘ entertainment’ and come tomorrow, it was forgotten. In those days the dance-floor received a liberal helping of crystals, etc, to have it in prime condition for the ‘Big Night’ with the result that very often some of the participants, who might not be too steady on the feet anyhow, came tumbling down, making it resemble the Grand National Day at Aintree.

Card playing

Another form of entertainment was card – playing, just as it is today but perhaps on a bigger scale in the old times. I was not an outstanding card player myself but I can recall some good stories about those games and one in particular is worth re-telling.

Christmas is gone and the “school” are assembled (with suitable refreshments of course) and playing for a goose. The “school” consisted of local residents including the local Sergeant. Also present was a non-playing person who was partial to the ‘black stuff’.

Battle for the Birds

The gentleman who I will christen Blackie had heard earlier that the Sergeant had received a present of two cocks which were housed in a shed at the back of his residence. Blackie slipped quietly away and before you could say cock a doodle doo, he had captured the birds and returned in triumph to the school. On conclusion of the ‘goose game’  Blackie innocently informed the company he had purchased two fine cocks that morning and would not be unreasonable money-wise if the school agreed to play for them. A bargain was struck and the battle for the  birds began.

I can’t say exactly how this game was played but by a remarkable coincidence the winner of the cock was – you’ve guessed it- the Sergeant. Now the Sergeant was not easily ‘foxed’ but on this occasion, he was up against an equally battle-scarred warrior and it has to be said that in this encounter Blackie won on points.


One can only imagine the consternation in the Sergeant’s house when the events of the previous night unfolded and the ‘fowl’ deed was discovered. Now you may think this fiction but my friends it did happen. I knew both the Sergeant and Blackie very well – regrettably they are no longer with us.




This page was added on 08/04/2021.

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