Fairhead village, Galway
Fairhead Village,  County Galway, 1902

As the first day of the week, Mondays were traditionally believed to hold an ominous influence over the following days of the week, with the old phrase ‘good Monday, good week, and bad Monday, bad week’ being universally popular throughout Ireland a century ago. As a consequence of this belief it was deemed to be unlucky to perform certain actions on that day. In many areas people objected to going into new situations or allowing anything to be borrowed on a Monday, from fear that in doing so they’d be giving away that week’s luck. The opening of graves on a Monday was avoided, whenever possible, as attending to a burial on a Monday was believed to encourage death during the remaining days of that week. While in County Leitrim, at least, it was considered unlucky to mention the Fairies on Monday, if one did mistakenly make reference to the fairies they should immediately say “My back to them and my face from them.” Many barbers still close their shops on a Monday and maybe it’s just as well as there is an old Irish belief that getting your hair cut on a Monday encourages baldness, with the curse Lomradh an Luain ort, “the shearing of Monday on you” being well known throughout Kerry a century ago.

 

attendingtothebride

The similarities between the Irish words for Monday ‘Dia Luain’ and Doomsday ‘Lá an Luain’ appear to have heightened Monday’s sinister reputation in Ireland. In some areas Monday seems to have been ill-favoured for contracting marriage; legend has it that Saint Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland barring their return until Judgement Day, but the confusion between Lá an Luain and Dia Luain resulted in a reluctance to get married on a Monday, as a Mrs Borland from Derrynane in County Kerry remarked just under a century ago, ‘what would be the use being married the day the snakes returned?’ In another legend, with a similar theme, Lough Foyle is said to mean the borrowed lake, in this legend a witch from Ulster asked her younger sister from Connacht into allowing her borrow the lough until the following Monday. The younger sister agrees to this request, rolls up the lake and carries it across mountains and valleys to her older sister in Ulster, but when Monday arrives the older sister refuses to return the lake insisting that she was promised the lake not just till Monday but until the day of judgement.

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