Much-loved RTE broadcaster Mary Kennedy fondly remembers her childhood Christmases growing up in Dublin, in conversation with Kay Doyle.
Christmas Eve just wouldn’t be the same for many hundreds of thousands of homes across the country without RTE’s Christmas Carol Concert on television as they prepare for the big day. Whether it’s Carols from Kilkenny, Cobh or Dublin the music played is as familiar, and as welcome, as the show’s presenter, Mary Kennedy.
Mary has been bringing the Christmas specials to our screens for many years now, along with the festive Nationwide programmes, highlighting the many events taking place across the country at this time of year.
Speaking with Mary, I can tell she’d already excited to begin filming the 2018 Christmas Carol Concert.
“We film the Christmas Carols, which I absolutely love, before December, to go out on Christmas Eve. We filmed slightly later this year because of the Presidential Election,” she says.
Mary Kennedy exudes a natural warmth and energy that is almost contagious and no doubt part of the reason she has had such a successful broadcasting career. She loves to talk to people, hear new stories and new voices. And thinking about her festive plans is bringing a smile to her face, as she remembers the plans her mother also made years ago.
“We had a tradition growing up in St Brigid’s Road in Clondalkin, Dublin,” she says, “we held Christmas in our house – number 31 one year and then number 33 the next year (her aunt, uncle and three cousins lived next door to her.)
“The beginning of Christmas was always my Dad and Uncle Tom going down to Carlow to get the turkey. My grandmother was from Carlow and we had relatives down there.
“Aunty Kate would then get the turkeys ready for eating, hanging them in the garage for ages. We’d all fight over the claws and frighten people with them. As I’m saying this I’m thinking of my youngest daughter who is vegan and imaging how horrified she will be!”