All I Want For Christmas: What well-known Kildare faces want to find under the tree

Festive wishlists for 2020

All I Want For Christmas: What well-known Kildare faces want to find under the tree

Gail Doyle, Celine Byrne and Eric Donovan

Here's what some well-known Kildare people want to find under the tree this year!

JOHN FORDE, aka The Piano Man, is a musician and performer from Naas

What local gift would you like to find under the tree this year?
A gift voucher for Butt Mullins or Vie De Chateaux would be nice, followed by a few creamy pints in Tommy Fletchers!

Where will you be shopping locally this Christmas?
I just love the Main Street in Naas and it’s back to its best with Dunnes Stores and many new shops. The atmosphere is great with the lights, the Christmas tree at the town hall, and all the local shops and staff. You’ll always bump into someone you know.

What will you be doing differently for Christmas this year?
I’ll be doing NOTHING! Christmas has always been such a crazy time for me. Firstly in Top Twenty (the former music shop on Naas’ Main Street which John ran for 25 years) and then performing at so many events and weddings etc. But this year for the first time ever I am really looking forward to a relatively quiet Christmas and I can’t wait!

What is your favourite Christmas memory of growing up in Kildare?
That's easy. Watching my mother making the Christmas pudding in the kitchen. I couldn’t wait to lick the bowl! She is still making them at 89 years of age and they still taste amazing.

What was the most thoughtful Christmas present you ever received?
One year when my two girls were little, one of them painted a special picture for me, the other wrote me a song, and my wife gave me a ticket to see Leeds Utd at Elland Road. Leeds lost, so maybe I’ll go with the painting or the song!

GAIL DOYLE, of Gail's Rails, is an image consultant and fashion blogger living in Kilcullen

What local gift would you like to find under the tree this year?
A Mary Grant gift voucher.

Where will you be shopping locally this Christmas?
Whitewater Shopping Centre in Newbridge.

What will you be doing differently for Christmas this year?
This year will be a lot more focused on spending time with family. If there is one thing this pandemic has taught us, that is how precious family really is!

What is your favourite Christmas memory of growing up?
I’m a blow-in to Kildare! I grew up in Dublin but my fondest memory is my mum giving me the day off school just before Christmas to go to Grafton Street to buy me my Christmas clothes and then see the Brown Thomas window display.

What was the most thoughtful Christmas present you ever received?
I received an envelope on Christmas morning from my six-year-old daughter. It had hand written pieces of paper in it with jobs she would do for me to help me around the house. I thought it was the sweetest thing ever and she thought it up all on her own.

ERIC 'LILYWHITE LIGHTNING' DONOVAN, from Athy, is a professional boxer and former amateur national champion

What local gift would you like to find under the tree this year?
The Auld Shebeen in Athy is a new pub/restaurant that opened only recently and I’m hearing great reports about the food so a voucher for dinner there would be a great gift this year!

Where will you be shopping locally this Christmas?
A & A Pharmacy (William Street, Athy) do lovely gift sets, so I’ll be picking up a present for someone from there. Healthy Living (Duke Street) do lots of products and hampers for anyone interested in the area of health and fitness. Then for clothes, I think Manley’s Menswear (Leinster Street) or Shaw’s department store — they will have a variety of options available to suit everyone. Gillen’s Jewellers (Duke Street) always have a lovely range of jewellery for that special gift.

What will you be doing differently for Christmas this year?
We moved up to Drogheda last year, and I’ll be spending this Christmas with my fiancee Laura and my two sons, Jack and Troy, so I’m really looking forward to that.

What is your favourite Christmas memory of growing up in Kildare?
Growing up in Clonmullion in Athy, I loved the early Christmas mornings on the estate at stupid o’clock where dozens of kids were out playing on bikes, with roller skates, remote control cars, footballs etc and kitted out in the best of new clothes... those were the good old days!

What was the most thoughtful Christmas present you ever received?
There’s not any particular present, but Laura always spoils me and seems to get me something I really wanted or needed. So hopefully she’ll come up trumps again this year. I hope everyone in Kildare has a peaceful and happy Christmas!

MARK WALL is a Labour Senator from Athy

What local gift would you like to find under the tree this year?
Would it be too much to ask Santa for a photo of David Hyland lifting the Sam Maguire cup?

Where will you be shopping locally this Christmas?
Like every year I will shop in Athy. There are great shops like Gillen and Conroy jewellers, Manley’s Menswear, Card and Party Shop and Healthy Living, amongst many other great shops. I will also pick up some presents in the other great shopping towns of South Kildare.

What will you be doing differently for Christmas this year?
Like everybody, I suppose, I will be staying close to home. Is it the year of the Christmas family Zoom quiz? I’m looking forward to family time, it’s always a treat at Christmas.

What is your favourite Christmas memory of growing up in Kildare?
The annual Goose Club in Castlemitchell Hall — including the year I won the goose and took him home to the delight of my parents. Unfortunately, like so many other events, it will not be possible to hold it this year

What was the most thoughtful Christmas present you ever received?
A hand-made teddy bear, made locally, with clothes belonging to my late mother Anne.

FIONA O'LOUGHLIN is a Fianna Fáil Senator and former TD from Rathangan and Newbridge

What local gift would you like to find under the tree this year?
I’m always partial to my brother Brian’s bog oak sculptures! Aside from that, a diary (for a better year in 2021) from CarveOn in Kilcullen, and, sticking with the ‘wash your hands’ theme, Baressential soaps and oils made in Athy. And another gift I would love under my tree would be an original painting from the Book of Kildare by Josephine Hardiman — and two All-Ireland tickets with the promise that Kildare would be in it!

Where will you be shopping locally this Christmas?
Books and book tokens from Farrell & Nephew, Newbridge and Woodbine in Kilcullen; ; jewellery and gifts from Newbridge Silverware and from local craft artisans at our outdoor Christmas markets; and vouchers for local restaurants.

What will you be doing differently for Christmas this year?
This year, as opposed to 20 plus for dinner in my mother’s house in Rathangan, there will be only five because of Covid, which also means I get a bed! The last few years we donated to charities instead of buying presents for one another; but this year we agreed that while charities still need support, it is very important to support local businesses by buying presents locally.
Whether restaurants and pubs are open or not (and I hope they are), there will be fewer gatherings of friends and colleagues.

What is your favourite Christmas memory of growing up in Kildare?
Being considered ‘old enough’ and ‘grown up enough’ to go to midnight mass (which was at 8pm) and feel that level of anticipation about Santa’s impending visit, together with that unique sense of hope and gratitude at Christmas. Once, when I was about 8, Santa came to visit our home — he left his sled at Carthy’s Cross, a local landmark, and my Dad collected him there. I remember being enthralled and incredibly excited, whilst frustrated that I wasn’t allowed go to the cross to see the reindeers. In recent years, having the opportunities to go to Lullymore Heritage Park (pictured above) with nieces and nephews to see the magic of Christmas has been really special.

What was the most thoughtful Christmas present you ever received?
The most unusual one was when my younger sister Noelle was born on Christmas Day (and I tried to persuade my mother to call her Rosebud Marigold). I think the most thoughtful was when my Mam compiled photo albums for all 11 of us, comprising of photos of our younger years.

ALLAN SHINE from Naas is the CEO of Kildare Chamber

What local gift would you like to find under the tree this year?
A voucher for the new Golf Simulator experience in The K Club. I love my golf and the simulator in The K Club is an unreal new addition to the resort.

Where will you be shopping locally this Christmas?
This year, I am 100% buying locally. Its more important this year than any other. If we all can put on the Lilywhite jersey and support Kildare businesses, we are helping to keep businesses in business. Ensure that if you buy online that the website has a .ie domain address.
I will be taking a drive down to Kildare Village to shop for my wife, Sinead, and Newbridge Silverware will get a visit for presents for my parents.
We do a family Kris Kindle so I am tasked to look after presents for two nephews and my niece ( Harry and Tadhg and nice Zoe). I’ll delegate that to Sinead who is a much more experienced shopper than me!
Leather accessories maker Carve On in Kilcullen is an excellent option for readers to look at it ( www.carveon.ie and they have something for everyone.


What will you be doing differently for Christmas this year?
It's going to be a different Christmas for everyone this year. We have two small kids so it will be all about them and ensuring that they enjoy it as much as possible.
Visiting families and friends will be curtailed so it’s going to be strange. I think the onus on everyone is to abide by the Government guidelines and to ensure that we enjoy the break as best we can.
I’m looking forward to the break as 2020 has been a challenging year with very little rest time. I just hope the golf courses will be open!

What is your favourite Christmas memory of growing up in Kildare?
I’m the only son and have three sisters. They tell me I was always spoilt growing up. I’m not sure about that but I enjoyed every Christmas growing up and for me it was all about spending Christmas at home and then visiting my grandparents in Westmeath and Mayo the days after.

What was the most thoughtful Christmas present you ever received?
Years ago it was football jerseys and annuals. I used to love the soccer annuals. I remember getting a Commodore 64 when I was, I think, five or six.  That was great fun. Waiting 20 minutes for it to boot up and playing Pacman for hours!

CELINE BYRNE is a world-renowned soprano who hails from Caragh

What local gift would you like to find under the tree this year?
Perhaps some earrings from McIntyre’s in Naas (Paul has some amazing jewellery). My own stash of mince pies from the Soda Bread Shop (for my own consumption). Candles from Aria Boutique (they last forever and smell divine).

Where will you be shopping locally this Christmas?
I will be shopping in Richie Whelan’s because it’s the go-to shop for everything a man needs and I have three men in the house. Aria is a boutique that I shop from regularly, so I’ll buy a little something nice for myself and my daughter. They also have a great online shop. Then Jingles of course for presents for others and a little ‘bling’ for myself.

What will you be doing differently for Christmas this year?
Christmas will be different this year, not only because of restrictions, but because every year my mother-in-law and father used to come for Christmas dinner. This year there will be two empty seats as they both died six months ago (one week apart).
Normally I’m very busy over Christmas with concerts and my annual Christmas gala in the Bord Gais energy theatre. Obviously that won’t be happening this year.
We will maintain the same traditions and every Christmas as all my siblings and their families come to my house in the afternoon to exchange gifts which is so wonderful, especially for the children.

What is your favourite Christmas memory of growing up in Kildare?
My favourite Christmas memory is going to my grandmother’s at Christmas time, and meeting up with all my cousins, and playing board games in my grandmother’s ‘good’ front room that was only open for special occasions.

What was the most thoughtful Christmas present you ever received?
Everybody knows that I love music so the most thoughtful gift I ever got was from my son Noel (who incidentally has no interest in music).
He decided one year that as a Christmas present he would learn as Christmas song and perform it for me on Christmas Day.
This was a big thing for him as he is really not the ‘musical’ type.
Other lovely gifts I have received over the years have been handmade soap with music notes and special cards my children made.
The most special of all gifts was the one I received last year, it’s more precious than any diamond. It was a lovely green plastic daisy ring that my dad won in a Christmas cracker last year and gave to me.

VINCENT P MARTIN from Naas is a Green Party senator

What local gift would you like to find under the tree this year?
A hamper of local produce or piece of art depicting and celebrating our county.

Where will you be shopping locally this Christmas?
In as many of our local shops as possible and I will positively discriminate in favour of family-run businesses.

What will you be doing differently for Christmas this year?
There will be much more time spent outdoors and, unfortunately, due to Covid-19 paying less visits to friends and sadly not being able to receive as many visits to our home.

What is your favourite Christmas memory of growing up?
Family coming together from near and far spending a precious couple of days together, singing songs and enjoying the banter and memories.

What was the most thoughtful Christmas present you ever received?
As a child, I remember receiving Subbuteo (table football) which not just gave my brother and I weeks, but months and years of total fun. As an adult, I cherish a picture painted by my late father.

EMMA-JANE LEESON is a children’s writer and author of the Johnny Magory books who hails from Prosperous

What local gift would you like to find under the tree this year?
I would love to find a voucher for my favourite restaurant Las Radas in Naas and a voucher for my favourite hairdressers The Hair Studio in Clane, now that my hair is finally growing back after shaving it during lockdown!

Where will you be shopping locally this Christmas?
Clane is my nearest shopping town so I will be into Bob & Kates for special gifts. I will also support local artists and businesses such as Florence & Milly in Clane.
I am really making a conscious effort to reduce the amount of random stuff we buy and instead spend money on Irish made products and services that will mean something to those who receive it.

What will you be doing differently for Christmas this year?
Sadly, it’s looking like we won’t all get to gather in my parents’ on Christmas Day for the dinner this year so I think it will be a year of staying at home.
My sister is also stuck in South Africa so we’ll be Skyping her and her husband and my two nephews instead of seeing them in person.
It will be a different Christmas but we’ll make it magic nonetheless.


What is you favourite Christmas memory of growing up?
Christmas has always been so special in our house.
There have been some stand out memories of Christmas morning and nearly catching Santy throughout the years; but one of my favourite memories and traditions is on Christmas Eve when we would visit our Nanna and Granny and Grandad and aunts and uncles.
The buzz and excitement from the visit was electric, knowing that it was getting closer and closer to bedtime with every minute that passed.

What was the most thoughtful Christmas present you ever received?
My mam gave me a necklace over 20 years ago which a small cross on it. When you look into the centre of the cross you can see the Our Father printed inside.
It’s something I’ve always kept on me, especially when travelling. It remains in my wallet to this day.

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