MIONNBHAR NA BOINNEFolklore Competition.I promised some time ago to say a word in this column on the Folklore Competition at Feis na Midhe. Since then the word has been said by an expert in the subject - a man to whom this work of saving the national tradition is indeed a labour of love. It is a thousand pities that every man, woman and child in the county had not the privilege of hearing Mr. Dulargey's lecture, or at the very least that there was not one old person from every parish in the county there. If there had been I am sure that within a month there would be enough material forthcoming to keep the Folklore Commission working overtime.Rhymes.
One point which Mr. Dulargey emphasised was the importance of recording facts, stories, rhymes etc. which seem to the ordinary person too trivial or too well known to be worth attention. He gave as an example the rhyme:-
"One moonlight night as I sat high,
Watching for one and two passed by,
The leaves did quiver and my heart did quake,
To see the cunning hole that the fox did make."Probably every reader has heard that. Nevertheless it is of interest to know the exact version of it that is current in each district and what explanation is given of it. How many know the very quaint prayer used to cure toothache, which embodies a dialogue between Our Lords and St. Peter.
"Oh, Peter, Peter, why do you quake?"
"Oh, my Lord and Saviour, my tooth does ache".A collection of such rhymes would in itself make a most interesting entry.Old Cures.
In one parish I know there is a traditional cure for almost every known disease from rheumatism to ringworm. Some are pure herb cures, others are charms like the mearing water (Uisce na dtrí-dteorann). A list of these from each parish would be most interesting, particularly if accompanied in each case by the name of the family who has the cure and how it has been transmitted as far as local memory goes. It seems that many of these cures are traceable to some great traditional healer, perhaps of pagan times, while others owe their virtue to some saint who left the cure to his family. In our days of specialists in every branch of medicine we are inclined to underestimate the deep knowledge of Nature and her cures which the learned men of old so painstakingly acquired and so jealously guarded. Fireside Stories.
Have we forgotten all the old stories that entertained our less sophisticated fathers on the winter nights? How many know "Hudden and Dudden" or "Mac a Ban Rian Dubh" or the story of the man who strayed into the house of the sheep-stealers? Even fragments of these are worth collecting as well as all the tales of ghosts and headless coaches and black dogs. They all have a meaning to the folklore expert. It will be most interesting to see how many parishes in the county will send us the story of the men sleeping under the ground waiting to be recalled to life. Who is the leader of the army? Who is the chosen spelled as well as you can according to the old pronounciation. You may be the means of helping to discover the site of some famouse fight of the Fianna or of the burial place of some saint or hero - it may be that in your own field is another Brugh as famouse as that of Aongus by the Boyne, or an ancient dwelling as worthy of excavation as the crannog of Lagore. Lastly, put doen the old names of fields, boreens, streams, etc. which are not recorded on the map. If they serve no other purpose they give a clue to the pronunciation of the Irish Language in Meath. How to Enter.
I hope I have said enough to awaken interest in this most fascinating of studies and that we will have collections pouring in from all over the county. Remember it is neither literary style nor learning that counts. If the older people supply the information, the school-children will write it down for them, and for their consolation I may add that there will be no teacher to comment on bad writing or spelling! When you have it all written down, put a pen-name to it: call yourself "Old Fogey" or "Daisy" or anything else you fancy. Enclose the pen-name and your own name and address in an envelope and send the lot to the Secretary of Feis na Midhe before the day of the Feis, or bring it with you that day and hand it in. Now, get to work at once, agus go muiridh dia rath ar an obair.Cu Midhe.