via St. Ita’s Day

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The Fair at Greencastle

thefadingyear

Down, 12 January –

ram

Michael G. Crawford;

‘It was sometimes called ‘Ram Fair’ on account of a custom that prevailed for a great while of enthroning a great ram, high on the top of old Green Castle’s walls, when he presided over the greatest sheep fair in South Down, where thousands of his bleeting subjects from the surrounding mountains were penned in flocks beneath him, and jolly crowds and people at the Fair came to pay homage crying out ‘The King of the Benns’ for ever, and never did the Golden Ram of old receive greater homage from his worshippers, than did the Mourne Ram, from the jolly crowds that came to the Carnival at Greencastle.

The fair at Greencastle was revived by Arthur Bagnal, under patent granted by James the First in 1613, when it was held on 12th January and 12th August.’

Legendary Stories of the Carlingford Lough…

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Irish New Year’s Day Traditions & Beliefs

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Causeway cottages, Antrim Causeway Cottages, County Antrim, circa 1888.

In many areas of Ireland New Year’s Day is overshadowed by the traditional observances and festivities that accompany the Twelve Days of Christmas, which run from Christmas Eve to the Feast of the Epiphany, 6 January. In many Irish Protestant communities New Year’s Day  was traditionally believed to mark the end of the Christmas season, and was often referred to in nineteenth century sources as ‘Little Christmas’ – one of the many names applied to the Feast of the Epiphany, 6 January, which marked the end of the Christmas season in Catholic households.

As the first day of the year many traditions associated with New Year’s Day are tied up with encouraging luck for the coming year. No dust, dirt or slop should be brushed out of the house on New Year’s Day, as it was believed that in carrying out these tasks the…

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St Stephen’s Day and the Wren Boys

thefadingyear

Clare, 26 December –

Clare Wren Boys .

The Rev James Grahame, curate of Kilrush (Noted before 1816);

‘Formerly the youth of the whole district combined as wren boys, but now they go in bands of from two to six, and the wren bush is often a mere branch with a few rags and no wren. A structure of  evergreens, in general design like a crux ansate, covered with streamers and with the dead bird hung up or in a sort of cage, was till lately carried around. There is still to be found tolerable dancing and singing, as a break in the weary succession of small begging parties, shuffling and playing stupid bulfoonery.

The verses usually begin with:

“The wran, the wran, the king of all the birds,

On Stephen’s Day was caught in the furze.”

but the next lines are greatly varied:

“Although he is little his family is great,

And (or…

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