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Hello and welcome to my June newsletter.
When people ask me when is the best time to visit Ireland I always answer “either June or September” and let me explain why. Usually the weather is dry and mild in June – we often call it “exam weather” as the State school examinations begin in the first week of June and run for two weeks. Spare a thought for the students sweltering inside the exam halls while we bask in the sunshine!
The summer solstice occurs on June 21st marking the longest day of the year. It’s really great to have such long days as it will be bright from 5am until well after 10pm and if you are a golfer it is said that you can fit a round in after dinner at this time of year!
If you plan to come to Ireland in June it is not too busy in hotels and resorts as most schools don’t close for summer until the end of the month. As I have a great interest in folklore and traditional customs, June 23rd is St. John’s Eve, or as it is known in many parts of Ireland , Bonfire Night.
It was traditionally marked by the construction of large fires throughout the countryside. These were lit at sundown and were the focal point of communal festivities. People gathered to dance and sing, while young men proved their bravery by leaping through the flames!
The night was also rich in folklore, much of it concerned with fertility. Prayers and rhymes were recited to ensure a plentiful harvest. Indeed, the fire itself was thought to have magical powers. Burning weeds in its flames would prevent arable fields from becoming overgrown, while scattering its ashes would guarantee the land’s fertility.
Similarly parading through the fields with lighted branches from the bonfire would protect the crops from disease and pestilence. It was also deemed particularly lucky to bring the ashes home to light the kitchen hearth.
Although most of these customs are no longer practised, lighting St. John’s bonfires still takes place in may parts of Ireland (especially the west). It is hardly a coincidence that these fires are lit so close to the Summer Solstice and it suggests that the custom may have ancient roots.
Here at home we are looking forward to a 3 day weekend as we celebrate our June bank holiday weekend. Let’s hope the sun shines so we can all get out in our gardens and enjoy the fine weather. I wish you all a lovely June from all of us here at www.connemaramarble.com
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