Ease Yule tension with a cup of tea and this book

If Christmas preparations have been a little hectic in your house, then clearly it’s time to make a cup of tea and sit down with a light-hearted story set in the fictional Irish village of Ballybucklebo, in County Down.

An Irish Country Christmas

By Patrick Taylor

Forge Publishers

If Christmas preparations have been a little hectic in your house, then clearly it’s time to make a cup of tea and sit down with a light-hearted story set in the fictional Irish village of Ballybucklebo, in County Down.

The two Doctors who serve the village are doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly and Doctor Barry Laverty. The Medical Practice was begun by O’Reilly many years ago, and joined in 1963 by Dr Barry.

Now it is Christmas 1964. We follow the doctors around the village, where the “surgery” is busy with every condition known to mankind.

The little personal battles that occur in small towns, and the triumphs when good people try their best are all here.

O’Reilly has been a widower for some years, and now an old flame has come upon the scene ready and willing to provide some feminine companionship.

Dr Barry is not so lucky. His girl, whom he loves dearly, has taken herself off to University in Oxford.

The bright lights and new friendships may have shipwrecked the romance. Will she ever want to come to Ballybucklebo to be the Country Doctors wife?

There is a nice friendly old black Lab named Arthur Guinness and a white cat named lady Macbeth.

Though the cat keeps her place on the hearthrug, the dog is game to go out in a squally day and fetch a couple of mallard out of the slough, when O’Reilly dispatches them.

Of course the new Doctor in the area, Doctor Ronald Hercules Fitspatrick, may make a difference to the number of patients coming to O’Reilly’s surgery. Except that he has a few unorthodox cures, and an offensive personality so he may not be a problem at all. Who knows?

The cook, as cooks everywhere, is the star of the show.

Kinky Kincaid, turns out puddings, and roast hams, and barley soup to keep the Doctor’s household happy.

O’Reilly, who always plays the part of Santa Claus for the village will need a bit of alteration to fit into the red suit, but he does enjoy his table.

One scene is the Christmas pageant put on by the School children and attended by all the religious folk, both Catholic and Protestant.

This is surely one of the more peaceful towns in all of Ireland, but the whole story is a piece of Irish fluff, so don’t let the unlikely sweetness of the scene bother you.

One of the actors in the pageant, had hoped to play the part of Joseph.

He was given the part of the Inn-keeper, certainly a part with less prestige. He changes the course of the whole story when, he decides not to say, simply, “No room, no room.”

Instead he tells Joseph in no uncertain terms what he thinks of him. Mother Superior faints, and, as in every crises in the village, the doctors are called. That’s the way it is in Ballybucklebo. A good fun story.

Peggy Freeman is a freelance writer living in Red Deer.