‘Married women and girls kept a fast on St Catherine’s Day, November 25th, in order that they might get better husbands, after the death of their present ones; or at least, that they might procure an alternative in their living husband’s manners.’
Irish Folk Lore: Traditions and Customs from the Country
‘You must not be married on a Monday, because when St Patrick banished the reptiles from Ireland he said that they would return on a Monday, and what would be the use being married the day the snakes returned?’
‘In certain districts, especially in Connacht, north Munster and south Leinster, strange customs have been associated with the Feast of St. Martin on 11th November. On St. Martin’s Eve the blood of a farm animal or fowl was spilled and sprinkled in the corners of the house, on the door-posts and windows, and in the byre and stable. In some areas the blood was also used to make the mark of a cross on the forehead of each member of the household.’
‘The village of Lisssavohalane* has a great name for such things (unnatural). And it’s certain that once, one night every year, in the month of November, all the cats of the whole country gather round together there and fight. My own two cats were nearly dead for days after it last year, and the neighbours told me the same of theirs.’
Lady Gregory Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland 1920
* I have been unable to discover a village of this name, perhaps it is an imaginative spelling.
‘It is said that on this one day of the year the souls of the dead are allowed to re-visit their native districts*; and if only the human eye had the power to see them, they would be observed about one on every side “as plenty as thranteens in an uncut meadow.”
At night time it is customary in every house to light a candle in memory of each member of a family who has died. They are placed in an unused room and allowed to burn till midnight, when, after praying for the souls of the dead, they are extinguished, as by that time the souls themselves have returned to rest.
At the last thing at night the hearth is swept clean, and on it are placed three cups of spring water.’
* That the souls of the dead can visit the living is often said of Hallowe’en Eve, and sometimes extends for a two day period from Hallowe’en to All Souls’ Day.
Journal of the Kildare Historical and Archaeological Society, 1906-8.