Bing may have Killarney, but tonight, I had Skibbereen.
I was making my way back from the wet and soggy fields of West Cork and decided to get a latte. On the way into town, I noticed that strands of lights had been strung across the streets. Since everything was looking so cheery, I decided to grab my camera when I left the car.
Sipping my wonderful latte, I wandered the busy streets waiting for it to get a bit darker. As I walked along, the first thing I noticed was a man and a donkey. Odd. Even for a Saturday night I thought.
Further along, I noticed several teenage girls dressed as elves. Odder.I continued up the way until I got to the junction where Market, North and Main Streets all join together. At this point, the oddities became clear and the night took on a completely different feel and warmth.
I had just stumbled into the town of Skibbereen’s tree lighting party. Packed into this little area were a couple hundred people, and the St. Fachtna’s Silver Band playing honest to goodness Christmas carols. Off to the side was a very dark Christmas tree.A short while later, a man with a tractor came up Market Street pulling a wagon full of youngsters dressed as angels. This was followed by the aforementioned elves and two fire trucks.The trucks stopped and the man himself, Santa Claus, climbed down from the second truck to greet the anxious kids that mobbed him.The entire scene culminated with a “5-4-3-2-1″ and a blaze of Christmas glory. The tree and many other decorations in the area came to life. It was amazing. Clark W. Griswald would have had a tear in his eye.I experienced something tonight that was truly memorable. I suppose these little events happen in small towns all over America, but there was something just a bit more special experiencing it in a far off place at the tip of Ireland.
Merry Christmas Skibbereen!
Written by Grady Varner