By Sean Moriarty


It is one of the most loved Christmas favourites in Killarney for the past 46 years – St Mary’s Cathedral Christmas Crib – and once again it hasn’t disappointed.


A team of hard working volunteers come together every year to make it happen with the incredible, almost life-like display, admired by locals and visitors from across the country.


The artist behind the nativity scene in the cathedral, Rena Kennelly, has been creating magic for 46 years and hopes “health and god willing” she will make the half century in 2024.


The religious display wows every Christmas, but like everything else in life, Rena and other people behind the construction of the crib are finding it harder to deliver it each year without breaking some new rule or other.


This year the crib’s floor will be mostly made from wood mulch instead of the traditional moss. In years gone by Rena and her supporters would gather moss in the National Park to use as floor material in the crib.


However, since the discovery of rare spiders in the park, as reported in the Killarney Advertiser last month, certain areas of the park are now out of bounds for the moss gatherers.


“Since the creepy-crawlies are protected species we are not allowed take moss from anywhere near Muckross, the boatmen collect it from way further up the lakes now,” Rena told the Killarney Advertiser.


The boatmen are just a number of people she refers to as “her team” – people from all walks of Killarney life that work together to deliver one of most loved Christmas favourites in Killarney.


People like local builder Martin Walsh and local character Andrew Joy, better known for playing Santa Claus in the recent Christmas In Killarney events, are a great source of help to Rena.


“The lads do all the hard work now and I just turn up and tell them where to put things,” she explained. “Fr Gearoid told me this year that I would have to go for the 50 now. It was great fun in the beginning and I have a great team now.”