The Irish Hygge? It’s time to get Cluthared

Banish Christmas anxiety with a dose of the Celtic cosiness

Comforting sight: The reindeer-like ‘sculpture’ at Ring of Kerry Equestrian Centre

Comforting sight: The reindeer-like ‘sculpture’ at Ring of Kerry Equestrian Centre

 

Driving over to Kerry last weekend, I was suddenly stricken with a new Christmas anxiety. Browsing the aisles of a petrol station for potential presents – yes, it’s come to that; and distracted by a large illuminated Santa for €199, I had the shocking thought: What if I’m insufficiently hygge?

Design and lifestyle trends come and go, and it’s easy to ignore a lot. Minimalism? Pah, I’ve got too much stuff. Bling? Not my thing. But who could feel good about rejecting cosy evenings with friends, open fires, plenty of candles, soothing lighting involving wood and copper fittings, and the kind of woollen socks that don’t fit comfortably into your usual boots?

A trip to Copenhagen some years ago showed me how lovely it can be to sit outside a café in January, keeping the sub-zero temperatures at bay with a blanket, flaming braziers burning (safely) nearby, and all lit by candles in lanterns. The thing is, Danish cold is dry cold. That sort of thing doesn’t work so well when there’s damp winds gusting droplets of slowly soaking air into your blanket, or threatening to send sparks and cinders flying from the braziers causing hazard to your not necessarily non-flammable hygge scarves, hats and mittens.

The truth is, we sell ourselves short. Arriving at my destination, the Ring of Kerry Equestrian Centre, for a glorious beach ride on friendly ponies, who mostly kept their opinions to themselves (086 608 9856 if you’re interested), I discovered that we’ve been pretty expert at our own version for some time. Perched at the entrance to the stables was a brilliant reindeer-like creature made from logs and twigs.

Grant Rogerson, who runs the centre, makes them. He showed me his collection of wood, picking out branches and bits that suggest more animal magic. “The best thing,” he said, “is that after Christmas, we can burn them on the fire.” A bracing gallop through the waves lapping at the endless expanse of Waterville beach later, and it was back for a hot bath in water gently peaty from the well, and after that, a big glass of wine. Cluthar is the Irish word for cosy. And yes, we got completely Cluthared.

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