Christ­mas gets touch of sea­sonal class at Elf School

Irish Examiner - County - - News - Áilín Quin­lan

Christ­mas is com­ing early to a ru­ral West Cork com­mu­nity.

The Sheeps Head penin­sula is plan­ning to es­tab­lish a sea­sonal Elf School for the hun­dreds of lo­cal chil­dren long­ing to be­come ex­perts in the cor­rect method of peep­ing in win­dows to see who’s be­ing naughty and who’s be­ing nice!

Fev­er­ish prepa­ra­tions are al­ready un­der­way by the com­mu­nity coun­cil of Muin­tire Bháire which is pre­par­ing to bring lash­ings of the Christ­mas spirit — along with Santa and Mrs Claus, their elves and a live crib — to a pic­turesque old house.

The prop­erty was do­nated to the com­mu­nity many years ago by artist Alice West.

Some 200 chil­dren from the area are ex­pected to at­tend Elf School.

There they will get the chance to meet Santa be­side a roar­ing fire, and visit a live crib at the Alice West House at the Black Gate, a few miles from the vil­lage of Kil­cro­hane.

Hot choco­late for chil­dren, and mulled wine for adults will also be on of­fer at the en­tirely vol­un­teer-run event which is be­ing or­gan­ised by the Muin­tir Bháire Com­mu­nity Coun­cil.

The 50-minute ‘Christ­mas ex­pe­ri­ence’ will re­quire the par­tic­i­pa­tion of some 15 ‘elves,’ and pos­si­bly a Grumpy Innkeeper, as well as Mrs and Mr Claus them­selves, along with the vol­un­teers who will look after the an­i­mal in­hab­i­tants of the live crib — a don­key, goats and sheep.

“It’s quite a labour-in­ten- sive event. “Christ­mas at the Black Gate re­quires a lot of or­gan­i­sa­tion and it is all vol­un­tary,” said Anne O’Dono­van of the com­mu­nity coun­cil.

Chil­dren who at­tend Elf School at the Black Gate, she said, would learn es­sen­tial Christ­mas skills like: how to jump like an elf, how to take a “pro­fes­sional” ap­proach to peep­ing in win­dows and pos­si­bly, most im­por­tantly, re­ceive the se­cret pass­word to Santa’s Kitchen.

Re­al­is­tic

“The fact that it is all set in a real house makes it very do­mes­tic and more re­al­is­tic, as we will have an open fire.

“On the way to see the live crib they might even meet a Grumpy Innkeeper” she joked.

The event is seen as be­ing “very much the start of Christ­mas on the Sheeps’ Head penin­sula”.

“It’s a real com­mu­nity event,” said Ms O’Dono­van.

Although the event ran on sev­eral oc­ca­sions in pre­vi­ous years, it was not held last year, so or­gan­is­ers are ex­pect­ing a big turnout this fes­tive sea­son.

In that con­text, Ms O’Dono­van em­pha­sised book­ing is es­sen­tial for any­one wish­ing to at­tend the event, which costs €15 per child, adults free, and runs on Satur­day, De­cem­ber 9 and Sun­day, De­cem­ber 10 from 2pm to about 7pm each day.

Any­one who wishes to book a ses­sion at Christ­mas at the Black Gate should email muin­tirb­hairecc@gmail.com or phone 086 3206045

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