‘Have you anyone for communion this year’ is a question that is surely echoing around the school gates about now, as mothers (and some fathers) compare notes and put the finishing touches to plans for The Big Day in May. Each time I hear the question, my heart soars as I remember again that my days of Communions Madness are now over! Halleluiah.

Communion Madness takes many forms. There is the Communion Dress Madness and the Communion Hairstyle Madness to mention just two. But the Communion Madness I am particularly glad to no longer be a part of is the Communion ‘Do’ Madness; the part of the day after the church bit. In my experience the preferred option nowadays, particularly in suburbia, is for a party at home. You can even buy Communion Party invitations. But the Communion Party is a peculiar beast because it comes in two phases.

Phase One is the family party. After the cuppa and buns in the church hall or school, the extended family and perhaps Godparents retire to the Communicant’s home for lunch. In the days of the Celtic Tiger this was often catered, or sometimes held in a local Golf Club, Yacht Club or restaurant. Nowadays the party at home is probably more likely catered by the lucky mammy of the Communion Boy or Girl. Phase One should also include entertainment for the youngsters; the popular option being a bouncing castle which always requires a leap of faith in the Irish weather that puts what the children have been through in the church to shame!

Once the family have been fed and watered sufficiently, some will leave just ahead of Phase Two of the Communion Do. Phase Two is when the neighbours and friends arrive to celebrate the child’s special day. A second wave of food will be provided and the drink restocked. These parties have been known to go to the wee hours of the following day.

I am genuinely in awe of mammies who can achieve all this in one 24 hours. Personally, being well versed in my own shortcomings I know such a gig is way beyond what I could ever hope to achieve. For me, getting myself and my children to the church on time and looking reasonably well turned out is about the height of it. I am a small bit embarrassed by the fact that for our daughter’s Communion, we all piled into the car after the church and left town. We decamped to the country hotel where we had lunch and by 6pm, just as we should have been beginning phase two, we were in the swimming pool! Selfish? Perhaps but I suppose I have a highly developed sense of self preservation as opposed to perseverance.

And after our swim we sat down to dinner and I regaled my girls with the story of how communions were done in the 70’s. A quick call (on your own) to a couple of neighbours to collect a few coins in your bag and then it was off to Dublin Zoo where along with viewing the animals, you also viewed all the other little girls in their white dresses. The Zoo was a lot more compact then and so there were no long walks over sandy savannah. On concrete footpaths our finery was unsullied by dust and our minds unburdened by the knowledge that a lot of the animals were more than a little ‘disturbed’ by their small enclosures. The highlight of the afternoon was an ice cream stop in the little café overlooking the flamingos. And we were delighted. Heady days indeed. So ‘anyone for Communion in your house this year?’
One of the nicest ‘concepts’ taught to children nowadays for Communion is that of connectedness. My youngest daughters both sang a lovely hymn at their Communions, called ‘Connected’. Long before this was introduced formally, back in 1996, Paul captured ‘we are all connected’ in this beautiful shot of eldest, Carla (third from left) and her friends on their Communion Day!

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Writing and Talking.... on the radio, on the telly and in the papers. Debut book out in Spring 2022

14 thoughts on “ANYONE FOR COMMUNION?”

  1. LOL., great post, it's that time of the year again. We have confirmation this year and we will be taking a leaf out of your book and going out somewhere.
    Now, can someone please explain to me what 'bouncy castles' have to do with Catholic Church sacraments? They'll have them at funerals next. I totally agree with you B, and think we will see less excess with the death of the Celtic Tiger, back to the Zoo for all of us, much better.
    Beautiful photo of the girs !

  2. Hi Barbara,

    Maybe we will say goodbye to the fake tans, tiaras and limos too! When Robin's grandfather died the night before his communion the 'do' had to be cancelled and I grabbed some young cousins and we headed to the amusements in Bray. Dodgem cars, waltzers, slot machines and a bag of chips – and one little boy who said he 'had a brilliant day!'. We forget sometimes how easily pleased children can be and that it is the wide circle of adults that we are trying to impress.
    Where is your beautiful photo of your own First Communion in Wynberg park I know you have it!!!!

  3. Loved the blog and it brought back memories not only of grandchildren's Communions but of course my children's and also of my own which took place during wartime. I remember the hassle my poor ma went through trying to get material with which to make The Dress. I think I must have had to borrow the shoes because a few days after the big event it suddenly dawned on my mother that they had forgotten to take photos. So I got back into my finery and was tastefully posed in the back garden but with assorted greenery spread around my feet to disguise the fact that I was wearing Clarke's sandals! Ah, happy days.

  4. Hi Brigid… glad to hear u are taking the stress out of the day by going out. Enjoy!
    Hi Talli – nice to have u at my kitchen table and glad you enjoyed the post about Communion madness Irish style!
    Hi Mol – you and Bray.. u sud be paid by the town council for always singing its praises. But I am sure that Robin loved an afternoon at the amusements. And that photo is on the wall in my hall for all to view as they enter my house! And right beside it is Noirin's photo complete with hidden feet… thanks for hsaring the memories Nor!

  5. This was so interesting! I grew up Methodist so we had a form of communion when we turned 12 but it was nothing like this. No big deal really, although I remember taking classes and getting a new dress. No part though. That party with your daughters sounds way more fun than having hoardes of people at the house. I'll bet they loved it too, and I bet they felt special that their party was just a bit classier!

  6. Beautiful photo Barbara. Communions are a thing of the past in our household. Our Irish communions, we and extended family headed to the local Country House Hotel for a meal. It was the most I could manage with a house full of visitors and three and eventually four small children. The American and last communion, had the large party at home. No country house hotels to retreat to here!

    What a wonderful way to relieve the stress and excitement of the day…a swim.

  7. I left the above comment ages ago, I must have forgotten to do the letter thing!!! It seems to be just one of those days.

  8. I really enjoyed reading this – I don't know anything about the rituals and traditions, but it's so interesting hearing about it. And what a beautiful photo of Carla and her friends!

  9. Hi Karen – thanks for the comment. Its great to get an outside view. I am trying hard not to be judgemental of others way of doing things… but there is a lot 'over the top' done mainly by the parents. I am not sure that our event was classier (some of the parties are very classy affairs) but it was fun and relaxing. And we all enjoyed it!

    Ann – am so glad you liked the photo – its one of my very favourite and Carla is still best buds with all the girls pictured. And I remember that country house hotel you refer to – I am sure it was the same one Siobhan had her Wedding Reception in! Ahhh memories!

  10. Ah Jayne – apologies – I only noticed your message after I had posted my response. Welcome to the kitchen table… and glad your liked the post and the photo – which is one I love very much!

  11. It's so different where I live. In Ireland the church is much more a part of everyday life. When I was a child, I remember being pulled from public school to go to the church once a week to get ready for my communion. We were definitely in the minority in my classroom.

  12. Confirmation in this house this weekend but guess what, we're heading to a hotel after lunch with the grandparents, godparents! Okay, lunch is in the golf club – but that's just because I don't want to have to cook on the day! After lunch we're hiding away for a few days – I totally agree with you – way too much fuss and partying goes on! We asked our daughter for her preference and it was to keep it quiet and relaxing …

    I went to the Zoo for my Communion too – way back in 1974! I can still remember the excitment!

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