School: Carpenterstown (Templefanum) (roll number 5415)

Location:
Carpenterstown, Co. Westmeath
Teacher:
Mary Smyth

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May Day Customs

Archival Reference

The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0722, Page 141

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On the eve of May day a May bush is made. It is erected in Honour of the Blessed Virgin. A white thorn bush is got and (with) wild flowers are tied to it in small bunches with coloured ribbons. Sometimes a picture of the Blessed Virgin is hung on it. This is a very old custom. On May day morning the person who is up first places it in front of the door or over it. Long ago people believed that no thunder nor lightning nor evil spirits would interfere with the house that had a May bush placed before it. Long ago the May bush was set on fire and the people would dance round it and pass the young children through the smoke to protect them from the power of witch-craft.
(First m) Fire milk or butter were not given away on May day because they thought this would be giving away luck. Strange hands would not be allowed to milk a cow on May day because the fairies might take away her milk. People believe that if

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Informant
Christopher Farrelly
Gender
male
Age
47
Language
English