30 Jun 2022

Forget Christmas, autumn's the most wonderful time of the year in Kildare

Why are we rushing to get to the festive season, when there's so much to enjoy at the moment?

Forget Christmas, autumn's the most wonderful time of the year in Kildare

Enjoying the wonders of the changing autumn leaves colours in Newbridge

It’s an insidious creep that sneaks up on us at this time of year. It’s a quick snatch of festive music, a seemingly innocuous perfume ad on the telly, a chat with your hairdresser about what ‘the plans’ are this year.

There’s displays of panettone and funny foreign gingerbread cookies in Lidl — but that’s ok, because they have weirdly exotic stuff in there at all times of the year anyhow, so you wouldn’t be surprised to see such a display in the middle of June.

And then the first advance party of chocolate Santas arrive, sneakily, on the back shelves of Tescos and you know we’re done for.

Autumn is my favourite time of year — the glorious colours of the tree foliage, the rugby back on the telly, and even the stacks of back to school pencil cases and copybooks in Easons.

As a great writer memorably put it, “Autumn, season of new boots”. (Marian Keyes, not that Keats fella, obviously. Though even he probably appreciated the snugglier seasonal wardrobe options available as he was tramping around outside in the mists and mellow fruitfulness.)

Yet, it feels like autumn gets shorter and shorter every year — and the reason for this is the unofficial launch of the festive season sometime around the time the Rose of Tralee gets her crown, and its overshadowing everything from then on out to December 31. And it’s such a shame, because in our haste to get to Christmas, we miss out on the loveliest season of all.

There’s so much to enjoy about this season, especially in Kildare. Autumn is the perfect time to enjoy a tramp on the Curragh or through Donadea or Monasterevin woods. There’s crisp racing days to be enjoyed at Punchestown and Naas, as the National Hunt season gets underway again, and the last of the GAA club championship matches before the winter break.

If you want to get fit — or at least put in some groundwork to help you survive the festive booze and partying — ditch the gym, chuck on your runners and head out into the beautifully crisp October air. (OK, it’s also going to be drizzly, with a fair bit of horizontal wind — this isn’t a Hallmark movie set in New England — but that’s nothing a waterproof jacket won’t solve).

Our great houses and grounds are definitely worth a visit at this time of year, and they’re quieter now the summer crowds have died down.

Russborough House, for example, is hosting a magical-sounding candlelight walk through the grounds this Sunday, October 29, along with half-price tours of the house all this month.

And, to cap it off, at the end of this month we’ll celebrate that most Irish, spookiest, glorious Irish festival of all — Hallowe’en, or Samhain as we used to call it before the penny-seeking púca got hijacked by Americans and their trick or treating.

Now, believe me, I’m not a grinch. Come the first week in December I’ll be full of the festive joys, carolling from on high and making my patented ‘Cadbury’s Roses and Baileys porridge’ for breakfast (yes, it’s as unbelievable as it sounds…).

But Christmas has its place, and it’s not now. The next few months are for winding down from summer, enjoying the calm before the storm, and a glorious, slow autumn.

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