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False burials and dangerous water: Whit Sunday in Irish Folklore

Whit Sunday (or Whitsun) is an important Christian festival that celebrates the Pentecost. It normally falls on the seventh Sunday after Easter and in Ireland it was sometimes considered a ‘contrary day‘. As a result it was surrounded by a rich folklore tradition, much of it concerning ‘bad luck’. For example, people or animals born […]

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Animal ‘Sacrifice’ and Blood Letting, Saint Martin’s Feast in Ireland

Today, the 11th of November, is the feast of St. Martin of Tours. He was a particularly popular saint in Ireland and up until quite recently his feast (Martinmas) was surrounded by a number of superstitions and customs.  These included a rather gruesome tradition, at least to modern eyes, which involved animal ‘sacrifice’ and blood […]

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Churching the Cow: Folklore from Co. Galway

These two fascinating folklore accounts from Co. Galway detail a practice known as ‘churching the cow’. It was carried out immediately after calving and was believed to protect the cow from harm or evil. The name of the ritual, ‘churching‘, is taking from a contemporary religious rite that was carried out after childbirth. Churching a […]

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A Fairy Fort: Folklore from Co. Sligo

This Irish folklore account relates to a ringfort in Co. Sligo and is based on information supplied by Mary Brennan in 1938. Ringforts are the classic early medieval settlement type and were long abandoned by the early 20th century when they had become associated with the fairy folk. ‘One night many years ago a man named […]

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Our Farm Animals. Folklore from Co. Wexford

This early 20th century Irish folklore account details the animals found on a Co Wexford farm.  It is based on information supplied by Margaret Larkin of The Kyle, Gusserane in 1938. ‘The horses, cows, cattle, sheep, pigs, dogs, cats, ferrets, are the farm and domestic animals at home. The cows’ names are Rosemount, Whitney, Whelan, Carroll, […]

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