From Korea to Corofin for Christmas Day

This article is from page 15 of the 2011-12-27 edition of The Clare People. OCR mistakes are to be expected so download the original SWF or the rendered page 15 JPG

WHEN North Clare man MacconFionn McNamara touched down in Shannon Airport earlier this week, he returned to a land where Christmas is king. After spending his last festive season in South Korea, the Corofin native was looking forward to all the home comforts that he missed last year.

Maccon-Fionn has been living in the city of Daegu in South Korea for the past two years. For the workobsessed people of South Korea, Christmas is a very different kind of holiday than what he was used to at home.

“There are decorations put up but only in the major, built-up shopping districts. Culturally it is not seen as a big deal” he said. “It is almost a totally commercial thing over here. There is nothing like carolling or any of the traditions that you would associate with Christmas. I would seriously doubt that many people would even have a Christmas tree in their apartment. I think it is the little things that you expect to see around Christmas, they just aren’t there.

“This country is very work-oriented – they don’t get that much time off and they generally work around the clock. Christmas is only a one-day holiday over here so everyone will be back to work on Stephen’s Day.”

With a growing Irish population in South Korea, Maccon-Fionn was able to come together with some fellow Irish men and women and celebrate Christmas Day last year. He shared the holiday with fellow Clare people Aidan O’Donoghue from Ennis, Alex Whyatt from Ennis, Maura Crawford from Inagh as well as Stephen and Mark Milliken.

“There is a good-sized Irish population over here and we come together to have Christmas dinner. There was good camaraderie, everyone made a special effort because we were not with our families,” he continued.

“We managed to track down some pre-cooked turkey and we all made a real effort to make it like home – I think we made a pretty good fist of it. But the atmosphere outside just wasn’t the same. We were making a bit of noise and having a little fun and some of the locals called the police on us and complained about the noise. They really don’t do the boisterous celebration that we would be used to. A lot of drink was flowing on the day, which we thought was perfectly normal, but the locals didn’t know what to make of us.”

Last Christmas was also Maccon- Fionn’s first Christmas spent away from his family in North Clare.

“Of course I missed my family on Christmas Day, but not as much as you would think. It’s the era of Skype and so on so I was able to call them and see them and talk to them. That was nice. We were all in the same boat over here as well, it was a shared experience and that was a help. Some people were feeling bad about it but I think when you’ve spent 24 or 25 Christmasses at home that something like this is just a new experience. The reason I wanted to come home this year was to have that coming-homefor-Christmas experience. If I wasn’t able to come home this year for some reason, I don’t think I would have been devastated by it.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *