By Peg Prendeville

There will be a Remembrance Mass for all those who died during the year  in Ballyhahill next Sunday 3rd November. Now that the clocks have changed Masses in the Parish revert to Sunday Mass in Bally and Saturday evening Mass in Loughill from now til next Spring.

The Parish Hall annual Craft Fair will be on Sunday 24th November from 1pm to 4.30 pm. Your support will be greatly appreciated. This goes to the upkeep of the Parish Hall. The contact for booking the Hall  is Mary Stanley at 0871463208. Booking notice at least two weeks in advance please.

The Abha Bhàn Parish Park committee is hosting a Christmas Fair on Sunday 8th December. Santa will arrive at 4.30pm accompanied by our local wren boys. The Christmas lights will be turned on and there will be carol singing, face painting, storytelling and games. It will be a day not to be missed by all. Booking by emailing abhabhanpp@gmail.com or Abha Bhàn Parish Park Facebook page. Admission is €5 per child or €10 per family. If you would like to showcase your crafts please contact any member of the committee  or email abhabhanpp@gmail.com or Abha Bhàn Parish Park Facebook page.

It was interesting to watch a programme on RTE 2 last Sunday and see Pa O’Dwyer, originally from Rooska, win the title of Ireland’s Strongest Man for the 4th year in succession. It is amazing what the body can do with the proper training. Well done to Pa for putting Co. Limerick on the map. He is going on to the UK Strongest Man competition now and we wish him well.

I read the following on a Facebook page a few days ago and thought it worth sharing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I am not sure who the author is but she writes as follows:

Halloween celebrations in 1940’s South Kildare.

My mother’s recollections were not of buying fancy dress costumes and fireworks, but a simpler more creative time when Ireland was in the grip of rationing, and children looked forward to a night of fun, pranks, frightening the adults, general mischief and revelry.

The preparations by the local children began some weeks in advance, with collecting and carefully storing hazelnuts gathered from the hedgerows, selecting choice turnips from surrounding fields, and receiving gifts of apples from the convent orchard, smuggled out to the children by a friendly nun.

Precious cardboard, paints, paper and cloth accessories were hoarded to be used in mask making.

By the time Halloween arrived, turnips aplenty had been carved, candles lit and some placed in windows, while others were strategically placed at known scary haunted spots along the road. The children dressed in old clothes, donned their home made masks, tied white shirts to sticks, and hid in doorways and the greenery of the roadside hedges. From where they would jump out with howls and shouts, waving the white shirts, to frighten passers-by.

The adults too played their part, along with feigned fright (sometimes real) sweets and treats were purchased and laid out for party cuisine, coins and rings were hidden and baked in sweet currant cakes, and an occasional hard pea or rag were also wrapped in grease-proof paper and added to the mix. White enamel basins and tin baths were filled with water, apples and nuts added, along with pennies, thrupenny bits, shillings and sixpence coins. A line was attached from wall to wall in the kitchen, and apples were tied to it. Children were blindfolded and encouraged to bite the apples, the odd bar of soap was tied to the line too, for merriment value.

These Halloween games are similar to my own memories from the 1970’s, and akin to tales from other parts of the country too. Before the shops started selling the throwaway plastic Halloween tat, so popular nowadays. Saucers were laid out on the table, and one was filled with water, one with clay, others had a ring, a thimble and rosary beads placed on them.

Children were blindfolded and spun around, before being directed towards the saucers, if they chose the water they would travel abroad, the ring meant they would be married, the beads predicted a life in a religious order, the clay foretold early death, and the thimble represented either their future as a singleton or great skill as a dressmaker. 

Cousins and neighbouring children along the road would visit each others houses and delights and games galore were laid out in every home. Cakes, toffees, Peggy’s legs and gobstoppers were eaten, and an atmosphere of fun and laughter accompanied ducking for apples, nuts and coins, trying to bite apples on the line, and sometimes getting the soap instead. An evening of childhood happiness, and a lot of cleaning up, and drying of floors for the parents afterwards.

She recalls one night at a party in her grandparents, some men arriving later on, and warning that the Púca (Pooka) was out in the fields. His timely appearance was perhaps a convenient way of calling a halt to the children’s wanderings.

Turnips carved by me will be displayed on Halloween, where visiting small people will be rewarded with coins, nuts and apples, keeping some of the old traditions alive in South Kildare. Wherever you are in the world, I wish you a not too scary night, and Happy Halloween, to one and all.”

My wishes are similar. Enjoy the feast and keep safe.