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On the evening before May Day the wells were cleaned out. The man of the house would remain up till 12 o'clock. He would then go to the well for a can of water. Before returning he would drop a red hot coal into the well. This was to bring good luck.
On this evening some people would tie a piece of roantree and horse manure by means of a red string to the cow's tail. These are left on the cows' tails until the following year when fresh ones are tied on. This is also for luck. It is said to be unlucky to give anyone milk on May-day. Many people on this day would not give a neighbour milk for it takes away good luck.
May-flowers are gathered and thrown around the door of the dwelling house on May Eve.
Sometimes people who have become poor try to get back their good luck in the following way. On May Day they go to some neighbour's house and borrow a churn saying that their own is broken.
shamrocks some of them keep them to that night and then drown them in water for them to have good luck until that time next year.
On May Day the people scatter May flowers at the door for to have good luck. On May Day people also hang a horse shoe up over the door for good luck
On midsummer night the people light fires in the fields. The way they light them is: they get sticks and hay and put a match to the hay. Then they stay there to it goes out and then they go home.
Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday. The people make pancakes that night. On May Day they put rags on the ditches and they say if you done that you would not get a cold to the next May Day.
May Day used to be a day of great enjoyment in Ireland. The fun was started the evening before. They had a May Bush, which was a small shrub decorated with May flowers and lighted candles around which they danced. Some would have a May Queen or an effigy dressed up to represent a queen. They would set it beside the May Bush. There would be a dance at the May Bush until late at night.May Day is looked on the most important day in the year for practising charms and all kinds of witchcraft. This is the day for taking the butter from other people's cows - or for guarding against the spells of witchcraft. If there is a well used in common by a number of families the person who wishes to have the best luck for the ensuing year must be sure to be first at the well after Midnight and put May flowers into the water. Otherwise someone else will be there first and take all your luck for
There are many feast days namely St. Patrick's day. St. Johns day, May Day, Easter Sunday, Shrove Tuesday, Christmas and Halloweve.
On St. Patrick's day the shamrock is worn and on that night it is "drowned" by men getting drunk.
On St John's day there is nothing done during the day but that night there is a great bon-fire. There is music and all the people dance round the fire and have great fun.
On the eve of May Day mayflowers are gathered and thrown at every door and window. When you are throwing the mayflowers you say "To Keep away witches and "warkes" and all the nebbed things that crawl on the grass.
No one likes a child to be born on Whit Sunday
it is the sign of good luck. If you see a grey cat it is the sign of bad luck. If you kill a hairy Mary it is a sin. If a frog comes into the house it is the sign of good weather. If a foal is born on May day it will die.Supplied by Michael McShane, Lisglasson, Castleshane who heard them from her father.
On St. Patrick's Day every man drinks some whiskey to have it to say that they drowned their shamrocks.
Every May Eve everybody gathers May flowers and put them at every door. On May Day morning everyone ties to go to
In olden times the poeple would be full grown when they would start to wear boots. It was the costum that when May-day would come all the children would go barefoot in the Summer.
The shoes are only repaired in this locality. There are two shoemakers in this district. This was a tradition in the families, perhaps from their grandfather. There are people in this district who always fix their own boots.
In this district holly is placed on the mantlepiece and in the window for Christmas. On May Day mayflowers are scattered on the door step to keep away evil spirits. Pieces of bowood and laurel leaves are carried on palm Sunday.
These are never hung in the out houses.
men drink whiskey and they call this "drowning the shamrock." People wear shamrocks on that day. On St. Stephen's Day the people hunt the wren. On Ash Wednesday the people go to the chapel to get blessed ashes on their foreheads.
On Shrove Tuesday the people eat pancakes to their tea. On St. John's Day, the 24th June, the people light bon-fires. On the night before May Day the people put May-flowers on the door-step. People do not like to give away anything on New year's Day.
Everyone likes to eat as many eggs as possible on Easter Sunday. The people wear palm on Palm Sunday. People do not like to go near deep water on Whit Sunday.
Whit Sunday is an unlucky day to bathe on. If a person gets a cold, when bathing, he will never be cured of it. If a foal is foaled on this day, it will kill somebody. If a person flits from one house to another on a Friday, he will have good luck but if he flits on a Saturday he will have bad luck. People won't give money away on a Monday. It is said if a person gives away money on a Monday he will give away money all during the week. Many people think it unlucky to give away milk on New Year's day or May day. Good Friday is a lucky day for a man to put in his crops. It is said his crops will be good all year round.
Story teller: Mr. Wm Maguire, Fermanagh St., Clones
carrot and nettle.
On the eve of May Day the old people made their children gather bunches and bunches of May flowers These they placed outside their doors and on their window sills to keep away the fairies and the good people.
The old people had great belief in holy water from certain wells. To these wells were attached the name of some great Saint a few years ago I visited one of these wells in the Derrymoore Parrish. The Saint attached to it was St. Mothna. Around this well are crutches , pins, needles, belts and old rags of every description. There were left by people as tokens of gratitude for being cured there. There are processions to this well. There are also lots of traditions attached to this well.
To find tobacco.
For a frog to come into the house.
To borrow or lend anything on May day.
To bring white thorn into a house.
To bring fairy fingers into the house.
To kill crickets.
If you stoop under nettingwire.
If you get sick at a funeral you wont get better.
If you dream about anybody getting married that person is going to die.
If a robin comes into the house.
To meet a weasel.
If you stoop under anything.
If anybody brings anything into the house on his shoulder.
To have a crowing hen about the house.
To have a whistling woman about the house.
If you break a mug or a plate you are sure to break three.
To put your shoes on the table.
To count the nails in your shoes.
To throw water out on May day.
To catch hold of the crook.
To meet a pig on your way to the market.
To drown a dog.
To kill a cricket.
On May eve it is the custom to collect May flowers and distribute them at the door of the dwelling house and outoffices. On May eve the well is cleaned out and so the fairies are kept away for the following years.
This is one of the big feasts of the year when a big supper in held in every house and games and tricks played both in the house and on the neighbours. In years gone by the young people often carried the "playing of tricks on the neighbour" too far with the result that the Gardai keep a strict look out on that night for those likely to be playing pranks
St Patrick's and St Brigid's crosses are made from rushes.
They are about a foot and a half each way.
These crosses are made for the feasts of St Patrick and St Brigid.
The people long ago used to hang the cross on the ceiling. The people decorate their houses with Holly at Christmas.
On May-Day the people have a May bush and decorate it with May flowers, and some times throw some of them on the house. The people long ago used to hang a branch of Palm on the door of each outhouse. The people long ago used make mattresses by plaiting straw.
saying that Saturday's flit is a short sit. Friday is also a lucky day for starting to plough.
An unlucky day to be born
Whit-Monday is counted an unlucky day on which to be born. It is said of old that those born on Whit-Monday are to kill or be killed. Locally old people were awestricken when a baby was born on this day and according to their superstitious belief had the new born to kill something such as a chicken by cutting off its head with a knife.
The first of May or "May Day" as it is generally known is a day much marked in some
when we get the crowd gathered. That was how the marketing of beasts was carried on in years gone by. Of course, pigs and sheep were disposed of in the same way; bonhams [?] being retailed in lots to suit purchasers, and there would always be 'haggling'; the farmer describing the good qualities of his pigs and also their age, which was always about ten weeks. He was always certain of that, and not a drop of milk ever crossed their trapples (throats) [?] and that's their age to an hour. They were farrowed the very night before Ketty ran away etc.
Of course there was one fair in Aughnacloy and no man would either ask or get anything on 'Tick' or 'Credit' that was the May fair. And there is an ancient custom prevailing in this and other localities, that nothing should be given away or loaned on May day.
There was a time when pedlars in all kinds of hardware, delph etc travelled around this district. They carried baskets, and sold pins, needles, hairpins and cheap jewellery. But the delph woman was a native of Aughnacloy, Alice Hagan by name.
Another class also went around collecting rags, bottles, jampots and old scrap. These people also worked barter or exchange. They came from Emyvale or Monaghan; and one old woman, partially blind, collected rags. She had an ass and creels, and gave
St Brigid's crosses are made from rushes.
They are made in different sizes
The crosses are made on the evening before the feast.
When the crosses are made they are suspended over doors
For May Day a small bush is stuck in the ground and flowers put on it.
May flowers are put on the roofs of the sheds and houses, over the doors.
Water is taken from St. Patricks well in Channonrock, Louth, Co Louth, and is sued as a cure for sore throat.
The only cross used in this district was St Brigid's Cross. This cross was made from rushes and placed over the fire-place on 1st Feb. every year. This custom does not still exist.
On Xmas Eve branches of holly were gathered and a small piece put in each window, and all the rooms were decorated with it in preparation for Xmas Day.
For May Day, mayflowers were gathered and a bunch left on the threshold and at the door of each house, and at the door of all the out-houses.
Palm that was blessed on Palm Sunday was also placed over the doors in all the out-houses as well as in the dwelling-house. This palm was believed to keep away diseases from the people living in the house, as also from all the animals.
On Ascension Thursday the farmers take home a bottle of holy water. They go to the fields that are under crop. From each corner of the field a drop of the water is sprinkled on the growing crops. This is for the production of good crops.