Irish Christmas Poems

3 Wonderful Irish Christmas Poems for You to Enjoy

I have chosen three of my favourite Irish Christmas poems to share with you as we go into December 2018. They are…

“A Christmas Childhood” by Patrick Kavanagh

“Christmas Eve” by Celia and Ruth Duffin

“The Magi” by William Butler Yeats


From Patrick Kavanagh Collected Poems

Irish, Christmas, Poems, Patrick Kavanagh

A Christmas Childhood

by Patrick Kavanagh

This poem was shortlisted in the Top 10 of RTE’s Poem for Ireland competition in 2015.

‘One side of the potato-pits was white with frost –
How wonderful that was, how wonderful!
And when we put our ears to the paling-post
The music that came out was magical.

The light between the ricks of hay and straw
Was a hole in Heaven’s gable. An apple tree
With its December-glinting fruit we saw –
O you, Eve, were the world that tempted me.

To eat the knowledge that grew in clay
And death the germ within it! Now and then
I can remember something of the gay
Garden that was childhood’s. Again.

The tracks of cattle to a drinking-place,
A green stone lying sideways in a ditch,
Or any common sight, the transfigured face
Of a beauty that the world did not touch.

My father played the melodeon
Outside at our gate;
There were stars in the morning east
And they danced to his music.

Across the wild bogs his melodeon called
To Lennons and Callans.
As I pulled on my trousers in a hurry
I knew some strange thing had happened.

Outside in the cow-house my mother
Made the music of milking;
The light of her stable-lamp was a star
And the frost of Bethlehem made it twinkle.

A water-hen screeched in the bog,
Mass-going feet
Crunched the wafer-ice on the pot-holes,
Somebody wistfully twisted the bellows wheel.

My child poet picked out the letters
On the grey stone,
In silver the wonder of a Christmas townland,
The winking glitter of a frosty dawn.

Cassiopeia was over
Cassidy’s hanging hill,
I looked and three whin bushes rode across
The horizon — the Three Wise Kings.

And old man passing said:
‘Can’t he make it talk –
The melodeon.’ I hid in the doorway
And tightened the belt of my box-pleated coat.

I nicked six nicks on the door-post
With my penknife’s big blade –
there was a little one for cutting tobacco.
And I was six Christmases of age.

My father played the melodeon,
My mother milked the cows,
And I had a prayer like a white rose pinned
On the Virgin Mary’s blouse’.

From Patrick Kavanagh Collected Poems

From The Irish Christmas Book edited by John Killen

Irish Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

by Celia and Ruth Duffin

Celia and Ruth Duffin were both writers and poets and published two volumes of poetry together.

‘A cup of milk
And a wheaten cake,
And a spark of fire
For the Travellers’ sake.
A door on the latch,
A light on the pane,
Lest the Travellers pass
In the wind and rain.
Food for the fire
And candlelight
The Travellers’ Blessing
On us this night.’

From The Irish Christmas Book edited by John Killen

Irish, Christmas, Poems

From The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats

The Magi

by William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature.

‘Now as at all times I can see in the mind’s eye,
In their stiff, painted clothes, the pale unsatisfied ones
Appear and disappear in the blue depths of the sky
With all their ancient faces like rain-beaten stones,
And all their helms of silver hovering side by side,
And all their eyes still fixed, hoping to find once more,
Being by Calvary’s turbulence unsatisfied,
The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor.’

From The Collected Poems of W.B.Yeats




What part of the world are you in? Do you have a favourite poem you would like to share? I would love to hear from you!


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