Mayo Woman, Maudy Dooher talks about the upcoming Christmas celebrations at Irish Cultural Centre, Canton, Massachusetts

Posted in Connect on December 13, 2018.

For Maudy Dooher, an American Thanksgiving with people gathering together to celebrate a meal with family and friends reminds her of the Christmas celebrations she grew up with in County Mayo, Ireland.

“A gathering of people,” she said, “a big family meal on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. People putting on their best clothes and going to Mass. Growing up, a lot of us were involved with the Nativity. It’s part of the school system. And Santa Claus. Religion, family, and community. Christmas is just a very joyful holiday in Ireland.”

Now the director of programming and membership at the Irish Cultural Centre (ICC) in Canton, Dooher is hoping that people will take in some of the Christmas celebrations that are planned at the center throughout the month of December. “This is one of the more important holidays we celebrate,” Dooher said. “We want to include our neighbors and friends in Canton.”

She explained that the ICC has been in Canton for 25 years, during which time it has grown considerably. The center is reaching out to young families as it promotes Irish heritage and culture. One of their upcoming family activities is a breakfast with Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and the Irish Dancing Elves. The festivities will take place on Saturday, December 15, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and include a chocolate chip pancake breakfast, a hay ride on the grounds of the ICC, face painting and arts and crafts, photos with Santa, a sing-along in the authentic Irish cottage, and a gift for every child.

The next morning, December 16, there will be a Nativity play and children’s Mass at the ICC at 11 a.m. The staff is looking for young musicians, singers and actors for the roles in the play. The play will also have some non-speaking roles. “Whatever way we can include children,” Dooher said. All ages are welcome and a light lunch and refreshments will follow the Mass. That afternoon, Chloe Agnew of Celtic Woman will give a concert at the ICC starting at 4:30 p.m.

Tomorrow evening, December 7, at 8 p.m., the ICC will host a Christmas tree lighting and carol service. Mulled wine and mince pies will be served. The ICC pub is open to the public every Friday and Saturday evening and features open sessions with musicians performing Irish music. Some of those musicians will take part in the carol service.

Adults are invited to enjoy the 2018 Christmas drawing and open house this Saturday, December 8, from 5:30 p.m. until late. There will be a hot buffet dinner and desserts, live music in the ICC pub with Billy O’Neill, an open Irish music session, and music and dancing with DJ Dan Hallissey. The highlight of the evening will be the announcement of the $30,000 raffle drawing. Tickets are $100 each.

Irish tenor Ciaran Nagel and his wife, fiddler Tara Novak, will give a concert on Sunday, December 23, at 1:30 p.m. The concert will include songs, stories, and dance music of Ireland. A pre-show brunch starts at 11:30 a.m.

A New Year’s Eve party at the ICC will include dinner and music. The holiday celebrations will feature Irish music with singers and instruments, including fiddles, guitars, flutes, accordions, and the bodhrans, the Irish drums.

There will be film and cultural presentations on the first three Tuesdays of December. The film Brooklyn will be shown on December 4, historian Sean Murphy will give a presentation on the emergence of the Christian annual celebration in Ireland, and the film Evelyn will be shown on December 18. The Tuesday events begin at 12:15 p.m. Tea, coffee, Christmas cake, mince pies and homemade scones will be served.

Dooher is hoping that others can experience the Christmas memories that she treasures. “It’s just such a joyous, magical time,” she said. “Such a build up. When it comes, it’s just such a beautiful celebration.”

The Irish Cultural Centre is located at 200 New Boston Drive (off Route 138). For more information on the Christmas festivities at the ICC, including the admission costs of some of the activities, contact Dooher at 781-821-8291 or Tickets for events are available online at

By Mary Ann Price

Picture: Santa, Mrs. Claus and their helpers arrive at the Irish Cultural Centre last year.

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