‘The fifteenth of July is St Swithin’s Day, and the belief that if it rains on St Swithin’s Day (Sweeten or Sweeteen as it is called in Munster), the succeeding forty days will also be wet, still prevails.
The folklore history is as follows:- when St Swithin, after being waked, was buried, by his monks, who dearly loved him, thought the simple “house of clay” was not befitting their lord abbot, so they determined to build a costly mausoleum which to their minds would more suitably mark his last resting-place on earth, and also show to the world how him they loved while living was venerated even in death.
But St. Swinton, who during his life detested ostentation or display of any kind, besought his divine Master (as it was afterwards revealed by one of his monks) to prevent such a useless expenditure of time and money which might easily be spent with more advantage in relieving the poor and needy. Accordingly when his monks had completed this beautiful and costly mausoleum they named a day (July 15) on which the mortal remains of the saint were to be publically exhumed and publicly transmitted to the new, as they considered, more befitting abode.
But the prayer of a humble servant of God prevailed, for early on that morning the floodgates of heaven were again, as of old, opened, and one continuous downpour of rain prevailed and thus continued without intermission for the succeeding forty days. The country for miles around was flooded, which gave all parties, St Swithin’s monks included, much concern. Thereupon they all prayed to God to lessen His anger against them, and earnestly besought their holy abbot, Swithin, to intercede for them. It was at this period he appeared to one of his monks and revealing to him how displeasing it was to God thus to spend their time in such a useless display, forbade ever interfering with his remains thereafter. The command was obeyed, and ever since (as a remembrance to St Swithin) when it rains on St Swithin’s Day, the succeeding forty days will be times of anxiety for the agriculturist for ever.’
Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, 1896.