August Newsletter from Ireland with Stephen Walsh.
Hello from Ireland, and I hope that you are well, I don’t Know about you , but I can feel the evenings getting shorter as the month of August arrives, the height of the summer has passed as we head towards Autumn.
In fact, August the 1st is considered the first day of Autumn in the Celtic calendar and marks the beginning of the 30 day festival of Lughnasa.
Lughnasa is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and has pagan origins. The festival itself is named after the god Lugh. It involved great gatherings that included religious ceremonies, ritual athletic contests, feasting, matchmaking and trading. There were also visits to holy wells and evidence of religious rites including an offering of the ‘first fruits’, a feast of the new food bilberries, the sacrifice of a bull and a ritual dance-play in which Lugh seizes the harvest for mankind and defeats the powers of blight.
Much of the activities would have taken place on top of hills and mountains. A number of fairs are also believed to be survivals of Lughnasa, for example the “Puck Fair” which is held in the town of Killorglin in Co Kerry .
Of course, the harvest is gathered in August and the tradition of ” putting out the hare” still continues in many areas .
The tradition has its roots in the fact that small animals retreated from advancing harvesters by hiding in the remaining crop, and in the old days, every farmer went to great lengths to ensure that his last field would be harvested before a next door neighbour or other man in the village. Thus the call…”Have you put the hare out yet?”
How it worked was that a small portion of the crop – usually enough to make one sheaf – was left standing while the rest of the last field was finished. Before the final piece was cut, the workers raised a shout or made a noise to “put out the hare.” If a farm nearby still had a standing crop, the workers would then say “we sent you the hare.”
Traditions surrounding the cutting of the last sheaf varied from region to region. In places as far apart as Antrim and Down in the north-east and Limerick and Tipperary in the south-west, the workers stood back a short distance and each took a turn at throwing their reaping hook at it.
Meanwhile, back in Dublin the annual Dublin Horse show will take place from 7th to 21st of August . It’s great to see the horse show back on again after the pandemic and the event brings the finest bloodstock and their owners to the Royal Dublin Society showgrounds and there are show jumping, dressage and exhibitions that bring horse lovers from all over the world to compete and admire the finest of Irish horse breeding !
And finally, how could I not forget the Rose of Tralee festival that takes place from August 19th to the 23rd !!
This famous festival brings together contestants from all corners of the globe who will compete for the coveted trophy. Based around the famous song “The Rose of Tralee” this is essentially a competition where young women of Irish ancestry take part in a personality contest. Not a beauty contest, though the winner is likely to be at least very attractive. The ‘roses’ are feted during the week of the festival, each is accompanied by a male escort and they attend various events as VIP guests and parade the streets of the town to the cheers of the crowds.
And for my QVC friends – I am happy to tell you that the annual QVC Rose of Tralee celebration will be coming to your screen in September – stand by for more information and some exciting new things coming your way !!
I hope that you are enjoying the summer as much as I am ! We have some exciting new pieces across our site here at Connemara Marble which I hope you will take a closer look at !
Take care and all the best, Stephen
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