The Bealltainn bonfires in Ireland
With the move to the summer pastures,68 it was naturally a time to focus on the welfare of the livestock. From the earliest Irish sources that mention Bealltainn, the fires seem to come hand
in hand with the rites practised on that day, and more than any other time, the lighting of the fires was considered to be of the greatest significance, highly charged with meaning and danger.69
Like Scotland, the fires in the hearth were usually put out and then relit from the bonfire, and in the place of the fire’s protective flames the flowers, boughs and bushes that were used to decorate the houses stood in its stead.70
Driving the cattle between the Bealltainn fires, or over the dying embers, was common in Ireland as well as Scotland, but in many cases the rites associated with the day seem to have been shifted to Midsummer celebrations instead.71 One example of the Midsummer fires that bears a striking resemblance to the description of other Bealltainn bonfires can be found in Evans’ Irish Folkways:
“It is remembered that the oldest woman in town would go round the fire three times sunwise to ensure a year without sickness, and as the flames died down the cattle were driven through the embers and their backs were singed with a lighted hazel wand: the sticks were preserved and utilized for driving the cows. By tradition everyone carried home a burning stick from the fire, and whoever was first to take it into the house brought the good luck of the year with him. A glowing turf from the fire was carried three times sunwise round the dwelling house, and others were thrown into the growing crops.”72
The description is remarkably similar to those we’ve seen from Scotland: the circling of the bonfire, the driving of the cattle to sain them and the taking home of a burning stick to light the hearth at home, along with the walking of the boundaries. Wilde mentions straw being used to singe the cattle, rather than hazel,73 and gives perhaps one of the best descriptions of the festivities that accompanied the Eve of the festival:
“If there is any one scene in the Irish peasant’s life which approaches the description of the dance given in Goldsmith’s “Deserted Village,” it is that observed upon May Eve. At this time, also, small-plays and various rural games are resorted to, as “dance in the ring,” and “threading my grandmother’s needle;” in which latter the boys and the girls join hands and dance a sort of serpentine figure up and down the roads, sometimes for a mile in extent – the men generally carrying green boughs, or sprigs of sloe and white-thorn, then in blossom, and the girls decked with posies, wreaths of noneens (daisies), and garlands of May-flowers and buttercups.
“As the evening advances, and the assembly breaks up into small parties, lovers seeking the greenwood shade, and crones retiring to the hob, a few solitary individuals may be seen walking out in the gloaming, courting the moonlight by the ancient rath, or wandering into the lone fairy-peopled valley, or the dreary fell, in hopes of hearing the mystic pipers of the sheogues, which on that night, more than any other, are said to be on the alert, and to favour mortals with their melodies. Great is the agility and grace believed to be conferred on those who are fortunate enough to trip it to the music of the fairy pipes; so great that it has become a proverb in Connaught, upon seeing a good dancer, to say, ‘Troth, ma bouchel, you listened to the piper on May Eve.’”74
Elsewhere, Wilde describes how in Connaught the ashes from the bonfire are collected and mixed with water (presumably the first skim of the water from a holy well or local water supply – see below), which was then used as a wash to help treat and heal sores once the mixture had been allowed to sit for a few days.75
With the increase in urbanisation and the addition of English influences to the day like the May Queens and May poles, many cities lit their own fires using any combustible materials that came to hand. In Limerick, Danaher says that children would light their fires in side streets in honour of the May Queens, and as in cities like Dublin the fires would be the focus of much merry-making, with music, dancing and general debauchery ensuing.76
Sir William Wilde gives some of the greatest details on the Irish celebrations for the day, especially as far as more urban celebrations are concerned, and here it can be seen that many of the more traditional elements that focused on protection and ensuring the safety and prosperity of the household for the future were forgotten in favour of more general celebrations. Young men would prepare the bonfires days in advance, collecting money to buy drink to toast the fire, wood for the bonfire and materials to decorate the May bush.
In the rural areas, Danaher says the cattle being driven between the fires survived the longest in the south-eastern counties of Kilkenny, Tipperary and Waterford, but he doesn’t specify when the tradition died out there, or generally.78
As in Scotland the fires were often jumped over, but unlike most parts of Scotland the activity appears to have been open to anyone. Sir William Wilde recorded that jumping the fires was said to render the person invulnerable, so women would cross the flames to ensure a safe labour and childbirth or to procure a good husband. Anyone about to embark on a journey, or enter into marriage might also approach the fires, either circling them or jumping over them three times to ensure success and safety in their endeavours. Men tended to jump the flames, whereas the women would wait until the fires had died down, but both did it to the same effect. People would then daub themselves in the ashes, and any left over would be sprinkled over the herd, the fields and the houses, again to ensure protection and prosperity for the future. Water boiled on the fire might be sprinkled around as well, or else torches of burning sedge or heather would be taken around the livestock as well, all for the sake of protecting them against ealtraigh agus dosgaidh (mischance and murrain – disease) during the year. Finally, a little of the fire would be taken back to the household in order to relight the new fire in the hearth.79
Customs in the home
While few Irish examples of the fires have been recorded in any detail like the those found in Scotland, there are a wealth of other traditions which also share similarities with Scotland, specifically ones which focus on the homestead and family rather than the community. For
example, it was a matter of pride for the farmer to have hay left in the hayloft and flour or meal left over from the previous year with which to make bread and porridge. Even if it meant the household went without bread for a month or two in the run up to Bealltainn, enough flour would be held over to ensure that the “good wife” could make a meal of stirabout (or “hasty pudding”) for the household.80
The hasty pudding was originally a mixture of oatmeal and dripping or milk, but later in Ireland it became fashionable to use wheat flour rather than oats, which began to be perceived as being the meal of the poor. Wheat, being harder to grow in the wet climate of Ireland was more of a precious (and therefore prestigious) commodity. The Bealltainn stirabout was supposed to be the last time it would be eaten until harvest time when grain was available again (though it would probably symbolise more the end of a dietary reliance on the dish than an actual break from it). The diet during the summer months would be dominated by the ‘whitemeats’ – milk, cheese, butter, curds and any other dairy produce, – along with the fruit and vegetable crops as they became available.81
Some nineteenth century sources describe blessings which took place in the home, and one description sees the father of the household light candles in the house on May Eve, and then he blesses the threshold, the hearth and cardinal points of the house with Holy Water saved from Easter. The wife and children, sat around the fire, are then blessed with the water in order of age, followed by the animals in the byre and a field which is blessed for the whole farm.82 A more elaborate blessing is described by Nicholas O’ Kearney from the mid-nineteenth century:
“Farmers accompanied by their servants and domestics were accustomed to walk around the boundaries of their farms in a sort of procession, carrying implements of husbandry, seeds of corn, sgaith an tobair [the first skim of the well taken on Bealltainn morning], and other requisites, especially the sacred herb, bean mhin(vervain), if any person were fortunate enough to possess a sprig of it. The procession always halted at the most convenient stations facing the four cardinal points, beginning at the east, and went through several ceremonies, particularly that of digging a sod, breaking it fine, and then sowing seed, after which they sprinkled the globe with sgaith an tobair. They then drove all their cows into one place, and examined their tails, lest a witch or evilly-disposed person might there conceal a sprig of the rowan tree, or some other bewitched token. If any suspicious bramble were found attached to a cow’s tail, it was immediately taken and then burned, and a sprig of vervain, if convenient, or a branch of the rowan substituted instead; for the rowan was potent for good as well as evil, if it were cut before sunrise on Bealltainn morning. The cows were afterwards sprinkled with sgaith an tobair, preserved since last May Day, which ended the ceremony.”83
Danaher notes the absence of any mention of holy water being used to sprinkle over the crops, which is seen mentioned elsewhere, and comments that perhaps O’ Kearney missed this out purposefully, to emphasise the supposed pagan elements of the ritual being described, as was common for his time of writing.84
Protection from the supernatural
Unsurprisingly, Bealltainn in Ireland was considered to be a time of great danger from fairies and witches who might wish to take the milk or butter of a household. It was traditional to pour some milk on the threshold to keep the fairies away, or else the milk was poured on the roots of a fairy thorn, symbolically feeding them and giving their due in the hopes of keeping them away.85 In some parts, offerings of food were also left, either on the doorstep or at the roots of a fairy bush.86
In a similar fashion, according to the Town Clerk of Tuam:
“On May Day the good people can steal butter if the chance is given to them. If a person enters a house then, and churning is going on, he must take a hand in it, or else there will be no butter.”87
Another tradition observed in many parts of Ireland saw that nothing was thrown out or taken from the house on May Day, or May Day morning in particular when the dangers of the day were seen to be at their most potent. Certainly no ashes or cinder from the hearth were disposed of, and nor was anything lent to someone else since it was believed that the items could be used against the owner. As a matter of etiquette, it was considered polite to return any borrowed items to the owner before Bealltainn, in order to show good will. Failure to do so might be considered bad manners, or worse – the intent of witchcraft or the evil eye being used against them.88 All in all, these customs seemed to have been aimed at keeping a balanced order within the community. Relationships were maintained and reinforced within the community, and an ordered home would discourage unwanted attention from the good folk.
It was considered an ill omen if someone tried to remove fire from another person’s house on Bealltainn (or salt or water, or rennet for cheese-making), for whoever managed to do so would take the luck with them, and have power over that household – to the extent that anyone lighting a pipe would be obliged to finish it before leaving the house (because the pipe would have been lit from the household hearth, more than likely, and so it would have meant the smoker would be taking the household’s fire with him).89 And because almost anything taken from the house was considered to be at risk of being used for ill intent against the giver, it was considered to be extremely rude for any beggars to turn up and ask for anything – something that’s notably and completely at odds with the emphasis on such a thing at Samhainn and Là Fhèill Brìghde.
In parts of Connacht observed the Colladh Bealtaine – ‘the May Day sleep’ – whereby the family would sleep as late as possible so as not to be the first in the community to light the fire in their hearth, in the hopes of avoiding unwanted attention from charm-setters who might try to steal a household’s abundance of milk or butter from the smoke rising from the chimney.90 Elsewhere, it was customary to rise early and great the new day by climbing the hills, washing in the dew and gathering the flowers and wood for the decorations and charms, and so on, all before the sun rose.91
Anyone seen lurking on a property, or who was so impolite as to ask for fire or kindling on the day would be immediately suspected of being a witch, and would be lucky to get away with a few stern words from the householder:
“They take her for a wicked woman and a witch what ever shee bee, that commeth fetch fire form them on May-day (neither will they give any fire then, but unto a sicke body, and that with a curse). For because, they thinke the same woman will the next summer steale awaie all their butter.”92
Given that only those who were barred from taking part in the communal bonfire were likely to need to ask for a light, making such a request would not have done much for a person’s already low esteem from the rest of the community, and would affirm the belief that they meant only ill will.93
Since hares were often thought to be the animal of choice for witches to shapeshift into, any seen amongst the cattle on Bealltainn would be shot immediately in order to prevent the milk being stolen, and hedgehogs often met the same fate for the same reasons. There are plenty of tales that relate how a farmer shot a hare one Bealltainn and shortly after found an old woman in the village had suddenly developed a limp.94
Many charms were used for protection around the house and fields. Coals were set under the churn and crib to protect the milk supply and the children from the Good Folk,95 and in addition to the rowan being hung up in the house and byre, as in Scotland, sprigs of the rowan were also stuck upright into the midden in the Glens of Antrim, for: “The muck symbolizes the fertility of the farm.”96
Houses and byres in Ireland were often decorated with greenery and flowers such as primrose, cowslips, buttercups and marsh marigolds, mayflowers, furze-blossoms, and daisies,97 although in Munster, fresh boughs of newly sprouted holly, hazel, rowan, elder and ash were favoured as decorations; County Cork particularly favoured sycamore. These were hung in the house and byre in place of, or along with the flowers, as well as being placed at field boundaries and farmyard.98
Primroses scattered across the threshold were said to protect against witches trying to steal the milk and butter for the rest of the year, for the flowers were said to prevent the Good Folk from crossing the threshold.99 Wood-Martin adds that they were considered to be good protection against the evil-eye from strangers.100 Bunches of the flower were also tied to cows’ tails to the same effect. The marsh marigold was used in much the same way in Ireland, and Lady Wilde wrote that it was called ‘the shrub of Beltaine’. Instead of being scattered loose, however, Wilde says they were made into garlands which were hung on the door posts and around the cows.101 Wood-Martin also mentions this practice, and adds that sometimes bunches of gorse (which would be in full bloom, still) were used instead.102 Whitethorn could also be hung at the door for luck, although in some places the whitethorn it was considered to be an unlucky plant.103
The fact that these flowers are all yellow may have been significant (perhaps relating to ensuring an abundant supply of milk, yellow being a sympathetic colour to the cause), but as Danaher points out, the majority of flowers available at the time were mostly this colour.104 While the flowers were considered to be for protection, they also had other associations: “Some say it is for the purpose of ‘pleasing the good people’; others that it is ‘to keep luck in the house’.”105
According to Henry Glassie, in Ballymenone:
“…Flowers sifted into the breeze at the old year’s other entrance – May Day, the first day of summer – also meant, Peter Flanagan said, luck and life. When the hearth was let cool, these flowers stood in the place of light and heat. Luck, they say, is “full and plenty,” the farmer’s success through which life continues.”106
It seems clear that these charms were considered to be potent because they represented the force of nature, the promise of growth and plenty to come in the near future. Traditionally it was imperative for the rowan and flowers to be collected before sunrise on Bealltainn morning, though eventually it became Bealltainn Eve before dusk as the custom fell mainly to children to carry out. The children would then make them into posies which were hung above doorsteps or window-sills, but in some households the flowers were strewn loosely on the floor of the house, byre and even around the well, to prevent the water from being skimmed and thetoradh being taken.107
Branches of greenery were also used to decorate the outside of the house. Writing in the late sixteenth century, Camden says, “And upon the Calends or first day of May, they fully beleeve that to set a greene bough of a tree before their houses, will cause them to have great abundance of milke all summer long.”108
Trees or shrubs of choice for the May Bush included the sycamore, rowan and whitethorn, whereas trees like the blackthorn were usually considered to be unlucky (though these traditions depended on the area). The boughs were cut and brought to the house where they would be decorated with brightly coloured ribbons, streamers, candles and scraps of material, and were then lit at dusk on the evening before Bealltainn. In some parts of Ireland, people would try to steal their neighbours bushes in order to ’steal’ their luck, sometimes as a form of friendly rivalry, or else with more serious connotations. Those who were lucky enough to keep hold of their May bushes might burn them at the end of the day on Bealltainn, but in some places the bushes remained until the end of the month.109
Somewhat related to this was the practice of the May balls, usually found in the south and south-east of Ireland, where hurling balls were decorated and then hung on a May bush and paraded through the town, being handed out to the young folk. The balls were invariably coloured gold or silver, decorated with lace or tissue paper of the corresponding colour, sometimes with tassles.110 In some areas, the balls were competed for as a prize in hurling matches – something which could often result in the teams coming to blows, as could the processions.111 In 1782 in Leinster, an order was made banning the giving of the May Balls or garlands.112
Sometimes procession were held that simply involved parading the May bush through the town to a spot where a mummers’ play would be given to entertain the crowds. The play was usually a comedy of some sort, generally involving romantic misunderstandings. In other places, the parades seem to have been more of a time honoured tradition to procure free alcohol…
“In the south, we understand, the May boys used to sport a female fool–a sort of Audrey for their Touchstone. Thus attired, and accompanied by fiddlers, fifers, and tambourine players, and escorted by a great concourse of idlers, the May boys used to perambulate the country for a week together at May time, visiting the different gentlemen’s seats, where they danced, repeated their rhymes, and were generally entertained with true Irish hospitality. They always got a bottle of whiskey and some money, with which they made merry at their resting-place in the evening. Some parties carried a May bush before them, and sometimes they managed to seat the piper on the bush, when they commenced their rhymes. In the county of Clare, about fifty years ago, the May boys used to mount their captain or king of the May on horseback, who carried in his hand a long pole decked with ribbons and flowers, and bearing a garland at the top.”113
Given the dangers of witches and fairies being afoot, especially at night, it was customary in some parts of Ireland to stay indoors after dark, to avoid being involved with them – though given the traditions associated with the bonfires and wells, this custom probably developed as the fires began to become less common, and the old practices were turned away from and considered unseemly or backwards. Still, if it was absolutely necessary to leave the house after dark, though, iron (especially a black handled knife) or a charm of rowan woven into a circle were considered to be effective protection. The rowan charm, held up to an eye, would enable the traveller to see the Good Folk114 – and presumably therefore make a hasty exit – since otherwise people were at risk of getting lost or taken away.115 In Aran, women who weren’t given some butter straight after giving birth were considered to be in especial danger of being taken the following May Day, according to a former nurse who worked there.116
Hedderman also describes how cattle and horses were protected from being harmed by fairies by large crosses being smeared on them in their own dung, which would then ensure that no harm would come to them in the year, and that they would stay healthy.117 In a similar vein, the practice of bleeding cattle in places thought to be haunted by the Good Folk seems to have been widespread:
“On May Eve, the peasantry used to drive all their cattle into old raths and forts thought to be much frequented by the fairies, bleed them, taste them, taste their blood, and pour the remainder on the earth.”118
Fergus Kelly notes that such a practice was believed to be of benefit to the cattle’s health, as well as have an element of warding against the Good Folk, and it certainly seems to resemble an act of offering, to propitiate them. It’s notable that Kelly contradicts Evans and says that, “In some areas, the bleeding of cattle clearly had a ritual significance and the blood was not consumed.”119 This seems to reinforce the idea of the blood as an offering, since it was probably thought that the blood’s toradh would have been taken, and therefore there would have been no goodness to it. Sir William Wilde records a similar practice, where the blood was dried and then burnt and comments: “choosing that particular day, and subsequently burning the blood, were evidently the vestiges of some Heathen rite.”120
Holy wells, water and healing
Dew collected before sunrise on Bealltainn morning was considered to be as potent as it was in Scotland. Dr Gerard Boate, writing in 1652 notes that in Ireland:
“In the month of May especially, and also in part of the month of June, they would go forth betimes in the morning and before sun-rising, into a green field, and there either with their hands strike off the dew from the tops of the herbs into a dish, or else throwing clean linen cloaths upon the ground, take off the dew from the herbs into them, and afterwards wring it out into dishes; and thus they continue their work until they have got a sufficient quantity of dew according to their intentions. That which is gotten from the grass will serve, but the chuse rather to have it from the green corn, especially wheat, if they can have the convenience to do so, as being persuaded that this due has more vertues and is better for all purposes, than that which hath been collected from the grass or other herbs. The dew thus gathered they put into a glass bottle, and so set it in a place where it may have the warm sunshine all day long, keeping it there all summer…”121
Once bottled it was left to settle for a few days before it was strained and then strained again a few days later, until all the sediment had been removed. The dew was then kept for a year or two, and was considered to be especially potent for matters of healing and protection, as well as for preserving youthful looks and a fair complexion.122
The first butter churned on the day was considered to have great potency for healing and so it was put aside and often used as a base for healing ointments or salves,123 and Bealltainn (the eve or the day) was also considered to be an excellent time for gathering herbs for healing.124 This was presumably at least partly to do with the fact that by this time the plants would be sprouting new leaves which would yield the most potent properties for medicines.
As we’ve seen, there are hints of the practice of ‘skimming the well’ in Scotland, which involved being the first to collect water from a well on Bealltainn. In Ireland, however, there is much more evidence for the custom being widespread. The first water from the well was said to hold the sgaith an tobair, ‘the luck of the well,’125 and it was usually collected right after midnight on Bealltainn Eve, or before sunrise on Bealltainn morning:
“The people of each village were in the habit of sitting up, that they might be the first to draw a pitcher of water from the nearest holy water; and it was considered that the water should be drawn furtively, many stratagems were devised to outwit the neighbours in procuring the earliest draught, or ‘purity of the well.’ Whoever succeeded in being the first to reach the spring, cast a tuft of grass into the water by which all subsequent arrivals were apprised that the spell was broken.”126
Danaher records a slightly different practice, where a primrose was left at the well to signify that it had already been skimmed, and while holy wells were considered to be more potent, being associated with a particular saint, any water supply seems to have been competed for, including the communal water pumps of later times. Not everyone had to share a water supply, though, and so under these circumstances wells were often heavily guarded against; while the first skim would bring luck and plenty for the owner of the well, if someone else were to get there first then that person would effectively take the luck and prosperity away with them.127
Wherever it came from, the first skim was kept for use throughout the year, for healing and saining rites, as well as for the many rites associated with Bealltainn, as we’ve seen above. It was also added to the first batch of butter that was to be churned on the day to add its potency to the butter and ensure a plentiful supply to come.128
Holy wells were visited at Bealltainn for healing, as they were in Scotland, and several sites are mentioned in the sources. Máire MacNeill describes how a well, dedicated to Saint Crobh Dear (Red Claw, sister to Latiaran), now known as the City Well and situated at the entrance of an old fort near the Paps in Kerry, was approached by visitors on May Eve. People from as far as twenty-five miles away would drive their cattle to the well, arriving in the evening with the intention of staying all night. With the amount of people that would arrive, much merrymaking took place as people made their rounds at the well, and then drank from it.129
The cattle took the benefit of the water as well, and this detail is not unique. Wood-Martin records how a well situated between Cork and Killarney, at the foot of the Paps (and so very possibly a well nearby, or even the same one):
“The pilgrims trudge to their destination, where having performed their devotions, they take away some water from the well in bottles for home consumption. The manner of using this water is peculiar. The operator – generally the person who performs the pilgrimage – commences first with the oldest cow in the byre, after which he takes the youngest, then the others are treated indiscriminately. He lets fall three drops of the holy water into the cow’s right nostril, then three drops into the right ear, and then three into the mouth, at the same time repeating certain formula. Cattle so treated are considered by the country people to be impervious to all disease.”130
Sir William Wilde mentions the driving of the cattle to holy wells as a general practice found across Ireland.131
Elsewhere, the waters were taken at Bealltainn as a cure for various ills, and here the ceremony often involved full immersion into a river or stream. Near Clandy, County Derry, a pool known as Turish Lyn was visited on Bealltainn Eve where the pilgrims would immerse themselves in the water and leave offerings tied to a nearby bush, in order to leave their ills behind. These offerings, Wood-Martin notes, included locks of hair, bits of cloth, or sometimes white stones which were found in the pool were left on the bank.132
There are some marked similarities and differences between the way Bealltainn was celebrated in Scotland and Ireland, and it’s probably no surprise to find that in broad terms the similarities outweigh the differences.
This obviously has a lot to do with the common heritage the two countries share, as much as the differences have to do with the way that Scotland and Ireland have evolved as separate nations with their own unique cultures, but it also says a lot about the tenacity and importance of the festival, but in looking at these similarities and differences, and drawing on what we know from early sources, we can see a remarkable consistency in the celebrations over time:
- Celebrating the start of the summer season and the move to the summer pastures
- The extinguishing of the hearth, and the relighting of it from the communal bonfire once debts have been settled and rents have been paid
- The saining of the livestock, house and land and the reaffirmation/warding of the boundaries
- Inherent danger from witches on the day, leading to the use of protective charms and precautions being taken against the milk being stolen
- The use of rowan and flowers (particularly yellow flowers) such as marsh-marigold, in decorating the house, hearth and especially the thresholds for protection
- Skimming the well and the potency of the first water collected on the day (often before sunrise)
- Visiting holy wells for healing
- Significance of the first butter churned on the day, especially its potency in salves, ointments and medicinal remedies
- Collecting of dew on May Day morning for protection, beauty and healing
- Parades, May Queens and May poles, though in both cases a likely result of English influences
- Emphasis on the Bealltainn bannocks and caudle in Scotland, along with their use in offerings and propitiatory rites
- Bleeding of cattle in Ireland
- The May Day Sleep being peculiar to parts of Connaught
- The crossed charms of rowan and red thread don’t seem to have been used (or as emphasised, at least) in Ireland
In looking at these, we can start building an idea of how to incorporate these elements – both general and more culturally specific – into our own practices.
68 See Danaher, Irish Customs and Beliefs, 1964, p26ff.
69 Rees and Rees, Celtic Heritage, 1961, p158.
70 Glassie, Passing the Time in Ballymenone, 1982, p355.
71 Patterson, Cattle Lords and Clansmen, 1994, p120.
72 Evans, Irish Folk Ways, 1957, p274-275.
73 Wilde, Irish Popular Superstitions, 1849.
74 Wilde, Irish Popular Superstitions, 1849.
75 Wilde, Irish Popular Superstitions, 1849.
76 Wilde, Irish Popular Superstitions, 1849.
77 Wilde, Irish Popular Superstitions, 1849.
78 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p96.
79 Sir William Wilde, Irish Popular Superstitions, 1852, p39-40.
80 Evans, Irish Folk Ways, 1957, p272; Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p87, quoting Sir Henry Piers’ Description of West Meath (1682).
81 Evans, Irish Folk Ways, 1957, p272.
82 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p117.
83 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p116-117.
84 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p117.
85 Evans, Irish Folk Ways, 1957, p272; Wilde, Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms and Superstitions of Ireland, 1887.
86 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p121.
87 Evans-Wentz, The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries, 1911, p43.
88 Glassie, Passing the Time in Ballymenone, 1982, p534; Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p112. See also ‘And if fire is given away on May Day nothing will go right for the whole year.’ Evans-Wentz, The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries, 1911, p43; Wilde, Irish Popular Superstitions, 1849.
89 Wilde, Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms and Superstitions of Ireland, 1887; Wilde, Irish Popular Superstitions, 1849.
90 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p112.
91 Rees and Rees, Celtic Heritage, 1961, p92.
92 (Referring to sixteenth century Ireland), Sears, The Guide to Knowledge, 1844, p219.
93 Patterson, Cattle Lords and Clansmen, 1994, p140.
94 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p111; Wilde, Irish Popular Superstitions, 1849.
95 Wilde, Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms and Superstitions of Ireland, 1887.
96 Evans, Irish Folk Ways, 1957, p101.
97 Evans, Irish Folk Ways, 1957, p273, Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p88; Wilde, Irish Popular Superstitions, 1849.
98 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p89.
99 Wilde, Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms and Superstitions of Ireland, 1887.
100 Wood-Martin, Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland, Volume 2, p263.
101 Wilde, Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms and Superstitions of Ireland, 1972, p89.
102 Wood-Martin, Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland, Volume 2, p263.
103 Wilde, Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms and Superstitions of Ireland, 1887; Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p89.
104 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p88.
105 Wood-Martin, Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland, Volume 2, p263.
106 Glassie, Passing the Time in Ballymenone, 1982, p355.
107 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p88.
108 See paragraph 10. Retrieved March 7th, 2009.
109 See Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p90-94.
110 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p104.
111 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p104-105. See also, Wood-Martin, Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland, Volume 2, p265.
112 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p107.
113 Wilde, Irish Popular Superstitions, 1849.
114 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p121.
115 Wood-Martin, Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland Volume 2, 1901, p266.
116 Hedderman, Glimpses of my life in Aran, 1917, p103.
117 Hedderman, Glimpses of my life in Aran, 1917, p106.
118 Evans, Irish Folk Ways, 1957, p272.
119 Kelly, Early Irish Farming, p53-54.
120 Wilde, Irish Popular Superstitions, 1849.
121 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p108.
122 Ibid. See also Wood-Martin, Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland, Volume 2, 1901, p263.
123 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p119-120.
124 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p120.
125 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p113.
126 Wood-Martin, Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland, Volume 2, 1901, p280-281.
127 See Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p113-114.
128 Wood-Martin, Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland, Volume 2, 1901, p281.
129 MacNeill, The Festival of Lughnasa, 1962, p272.
130 Wood-Martin, Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland, Volume 1, 1901, p282.
131 Wilde, Irish Popular Superstitions, 1849.
132 Wood-Martin, Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland, Volume 1, 1901, p283.