Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Happy Christmas

As Advent draws to a climax, I think it's time to wish my readers Nollaig Shona Daoibh as I probably won't post again between now and 2024.

It's been a strange year. Much of it was occupied with accommodation woes which, when told about them, provoke many people to say things like: "You should write a book about that", "You should make a podcast about that", or even stronger statements which I won't reproduce here.

Thankfully myself and Michelle are now safely back under the roof where we began the year, after several weeks spent sleeping in a hallway some months ago. We were the beneficiaries of extraordinary kindness from neighbours and friends, for which I am very grateful.

The year also involved getting caught up in a riot in O'Connell Street, and soon after that, finding myself a guest in Áras an Uachtaráin. So definitely a mixed year.

The Francis Wars continue in the Catholic Church. For my part, I'm always going to be loyal to the Pope and the Magisterium, perhaps even erring on the side of loyalty. But I think we could all have a lot more charity when it comes to such debates. I think many people come to very different positions with equally good intentions, following their conscience in good faith and striving to be loyal to the teaching of the Church.

God bless Pope Francis, God bless those who feel called in conscience to constructive criticism of him, God bless those (on both sides) who have strayed into bitterness and acrimony, God bless all of us.

Meanwhile, in our troubled world, the carnage continues in the Ukraine and Gaza. May the year 2024 bring peace, or at least an improvement, to these afflicted lands. And thank God that (relative) peace holds in Northern Ireland, and that we haven't seen a return to the horror of the Troubles.

In Ireland, the government becomes ever more authoritarian, seeking to clamp down on free speech and civil freedoms and to impose their woke agenda on the country. We all need to push back against this as much as we reasonably can. Thank God for people such as Professor Gerard Casey who are leading the defence of freedom. You should follow him on Twitter (or X, if you prefer).

The library is closing on Friday. I always get a bit sad as the holidays draw in. In truth I probably like Advent more than I like Christmas. I like the trees, the lights, the chocolates, the strangers wishing each other Happy Christmas. I like the public aspect.

I'm going to end with a Christmas poem which was the first poem I ever sent Michelle, indeed one of our very first communications. It wasn't written anywhere near Christmas. It may not be a great poem but I like it for sentimental reasons, and also because I smuggled lots of my favourite words into it. I'm sure I've posted it before. Happy Christmas!

(The image below is the crib in the church in UCD.)

On a Christmas Bauble

Gaze into the flickering flame
Of a homely hearth
Gaze through the world-creating frame
Of any window on the Earth.
Gaze in a grey or a hazel eye;
Gaze all night at the spangled sky;
But gaze at last, for a greater joy,
At the glow of a Christmas bauble.

This is the very mirror of mirth;
A light to proclaim
A winter's tale of a Virgin Birth
Making the world a fantastic game.
"God is the giddiest thought of all",
Says the tinsel hanging on the wall
And the twinkling of that jolly ball,
The glow of a Christmas bauble.

The season that bears the Holy Name
Is sending forth
The tidings we were born to proclaim;
The infinite worth
Of the soul of man, and the world of things;
The wild delight of all carollings
For the happiest hymn to the King of Kings
Is the glow of a Christmas bauble.


  1. Dear Mal,

    Thank you for this. Amen and amen. You are quite right about the accommodation woes, which are simply jaw-dropping.

    The poem is one of my favourites of yours.

    Nollaig Shona Daoibh!


  2. Merry Christmas to you Maolsheachlann and your family.