Tory Island, Marriages & Shrovetide

Donegal-

old-Tory-island

William Le Fanu, 1816-1894;

‘In the south and west of Ireland marriages amongst the peasantry, with rare exceptions, take place during Shrove-tide.* Many of the people think it would not be lucky to be married at any other time of the year; consequently the priest always, when it was possible, visited the island during Shrove for the purpose of solemnizing any weddings which had been arranged. It, however, sometimes happened that the weather was so stormy for weeks together that no boat could approach the island, so it had been arranged that, when this occurred, the engaged couples should at an appointed hour assemble on the east shore of the island, while the priest, standing on the shore of the mainland opposite to them, read the marriage ceremony across the water. As soon as the storm abated he went to the island and did whatever more was necessary to render the marriages valid in the eye of the law and of the Church.

I cannot vouch for the truth of this, though I heard it from a very trustworthy man. He said the young people were not considered really married till after the visit of the priest; but “that they liked to be, at all events, partly married before Shrove was over.”‘

Seventy Years of Life in Ireland, 1893

*Traditionally the period between Christmas and Shrove Tuesday was known as Shrove-tide throughout Ireland. Generally it was the most popular time to get married, as the Catholic Church refused to sanctify marriages during Lent and Advent, both of which were times of abstinence and devotion, while at other seasons the people were generally too busy with farm-work or fishing to contemplate marriage.

Incidentally William Le Fanu was the bother of the Irish Gothic writer Sheridan Le Fanu.

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The Feast of the Holy Innocent and Cross days

 Aran Islands, Galway –  28 December

Image of the Aran Islands between l898 and 1902 taken by the playwright John Millington Synge for Weekend Arts
Image of the Aran Islands, circa 1900, taken by the playwright John Millington Synge

 B. N. Hedderman, a nurse from County Clare, stationed on the Aran Islands in the first decades of the 20th Century;

‘The particular day of the week in each year is the one on which we keep the feast of the ‘Holy Innocents.’ If this feast happens to fall upon a Monday, for instance, then every Monday throughout that year will be a ‘Cross day.’ : On these days no person in the South or Middle Island would transact business, commercial or otherwise, have a marriage solemnized, or open a grave; neither would they start the spring planting or the harvest gathering. However, “Mother Nature’ dissents, and permits the arrival of births.’

Glimpses of My Life in Aran

Feeding Cattle between Old & New Christmas Day

Wicklow-

nathaniel_hill_bradys_farm (2)
Brady’s Farm – Nathaniel Hill, 1897

William & Mary Ann Hanbridge;

‘It was unlucky to give the stalled cattle food between Old Christmas Day and New Christmas Day, so the mangers in the sheds were made large enough to take the full supply of food for the twelve days. The mangers in some farms are still very large, but the superstition which began with the change in the Calendar* has died out.’

Memories of West Wicklow 1813 – 1939.

* The Georgian Calendar replaced the Julian Calendar in 1752, ten day were taken off the length of the  year.

 

Marriage on a Monday

Kerry –

attendingtothebride

 Mrs John Borland, Derrynane, 1920;

‘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?’

Folklore.