For 45 years one Killarney woman has been the inspiration behind a much-loved popular local attraction – St Mary’s Cathedral Christmas crib.


Local children and adults alike are intrigued by the now local annual tradition – and they have one woman in particular to thank – Rena Kennelly.


And this week, Rena told the Killarney Advertiser the remarkable history of the town’s favourite nativity scene.


“I remember Fr O’Keeffe was below in 1974 and I asked him if he had a crib,” Rena said. “He said, ‘Oh, we have of course’ – but all they had was an altar with tiny little archways, and they had a donkey and Mary and Joseph with a red light in front. So, I said I’d make one.


“I made the figures out of plaster and they were there for a good few years. Then Fr Gearóid Walsh came and he said he’d buy proper figures for it.”


The crib quickly grew to become a popular local attraction and although it has changed over the years, one part of the original set-up still remains in place.


“Johnny Coffey found a fawn that was killed on the Kenmare Road and he took him to the OPW to find out if he could get it stuffed,” Rena explained. “They said he could, and he gave it to me for the first crib I did 45 years ago. The family have given me that little fawn every year since and it’s still in the crib today.”


Rena says that people still enjoy the crib – but she also expressed fears that the tradition may not continue for much longer.


“I think people like it because it’s the only bit of religion left, but the way things are going I’d say there will be no more cribs in a few years. No one will want to do it. These days it’s all Santa and elves and what have you. But the kids who are in the little pageant, they always remember it. It’s nice for them.


“I’m doing it 45 years and I have great help; Martin Walsh and his men do all the heavy lifting. I love doing it, but it’s all for the kids really.”