17 December 2011

Carols in the dark in Marlay Park

Season lights on the former La Touche house in Marlay Park after the Ecumenical Carol Service this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

Patrick Comerford

I expect to be “all-carolled-out” within a few days. But meanwhile I’m still enjoying the season songs, and I took part in the local Ecumenical Christmas Carol Service in the courtyard in Marlay Park, Rathfarnham.

This service is organised each year by four neighbouring parishes in this part of south Dublin: Divine Word, Marley Grange; Good Counsel, Ballyboden; Saint John the Evangelist, Balinteer; and Whitechurch, Rathfarnham.

Normally the service is organised for the last Saturday afternoon before Christmas Day. But with Christmas Eve falling on a Saturday this year, the carol service was brought forward to this afternoon.

I arrived as the lights were beginning to twinkle on the facade of the grand 18th century house in Marlay Park and local producers and traders were beginning to take down their stalls from the Saturday market in the courtyard, which contains host of craft shops and where the stained glass artist Evie Hone once lived and worked..

The stalls at this farmers’ market include a range of artisan produce, including specialty and ethnic foods, craft works, and good coffee. After buying some Christmas presents in one of the shops in the courtyard, two of us just had enough time for coffee in the coffee shop nestled in among the trees behind the courtyard, just beside the walled garden.

As darkness fell, we joined the small crowd throng – some with lighted candles in jars and glass-holders – for the carol service, with music provided by the Marley and Ballinteer Youth Choir and the Ballyroan Recorder Group.

I took part in the Blessing with Canon Horace McKinley and other local clergy, before Dermot McGowan closed this service in the traditional way, leading us in the singing of Silent Night.

It was a cold evening. But on the way out, the old La Touche house was cheery in the dark, with lights draped on its facade. There’s another Carol Service in Christ Church Cathedral tomorrow afternoon, and I’ve been asked to read one of the lessons.

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