Many ways to make merry over the festive season


Christmas and the equestrian world go hand-in-hoof, so to speak – not just at racecourses in Leopardstown and Limerick but at hunts around the country.

“It’s a huge part of our Christmas and everyone’s Christmas in Meath,” Meath Hunt chairman Graham O’Reilly said, after yesterday’s difficult combination of miserable weather and an 18-mile charge in the Royal County.

The spectator-friendly hunt runs for three days a week until the beginning of March, but it is the St Stephen’s Day ride that holds the tradition, yesterday being its 195th anniversary.

Horses’ bridles were festooned with holly and other decorations before setting off.

Perhaps as daunting to many as a gallop through the woods, Funderland continues this week, its annual arrival trumpeted by the illumination of the RDS in Simmonscourt with its brightly lit big wheels and rides.

By now a firmly established date on the calendar, the carnival runs until mid-January.

In Cork, the Everyman Christmas Panto production of Red Riding Hood is being staged twice daily until January 6th, while in Dublin, gripped as always by the same panto zeal, the Gaiety Theatre stages Cinderella until January 13th. Jedward and the Magic Lamp runs until January 6th at the Olympia Theatre.

It’s not all “look behind you” theatre. From tonight (and into next week) the National Concert Hall promises the “ultimate family Christmas musical” with The Sound of Music featuring an all-star cast. At the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Oliver will run until January 12th.

After touring the US, Irish singer-songwriter Mundy returns to the Dublin stage with an appearance at Whelan’s tonight. Mundy’s is an idealistic tale of “busking to breakthrough” – beginning his performing career in Grafton Street before achieving popular acclaim just two years later. Tonight’s show starts at 8pm.