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Hello and welcome to my June newsletter.

I hope that you are safe and well, and enjoying the improvement in the weather.
Boy, the month of May was miserable here in Ireland. It was cold and wet, but towards the end of the month we have had a bit of a dry spell and the evenings are stretching way past 9 pm, which is lovely.

As I mentioned before, June is one of the best month’s to visit Ireland .. so, between the fine weather and the long days you can see our countryside at its best. Of course overseas travel is still restricted so you will have to make a note to book for June next year ! It’s interesting that many of us Irish travel overseas for our own holidays  but due to the ongoing health concerns most Irish have chosen to staycation in Ireland this summer. You would not believe how many Irish have not visited some of the most beautiful places in Ireland , such as the Cliffs of Moher , The Rock of Cashel or the Ring of Kerry. These amazing sites lie hidden in plain sight !!

June is exam season in Ireland and during the month the State school examinations take place- I always pity the students slogging it out while we enjoy the sunshine.

My folklore archive reminds me that on June 3rd we celebrate the feast of St Kevin who founded the monastery in Glendalough in County Wicklow. Long ago it’s said that the locals honoured the memory of the patron saint by assembling in the churchyard to drink and fight! This custom was put to an end by the parish priest who, a few days before the feast day , had actually poured the whiskey into a stream, gathered the shillelaghs into a large bonfire and made wrathful and brutal men, who had been enemies for centuries, embrace each other in peace and goodwill over Kevin’s grave.

One of Irelands most popular saints, Columbkille has his feast day on The 9th of June and my folklore book tells me that the feast was observed most ceremoniously long ago in the parish of Glencolumbkill in County Donegal . The locals used to drive down their cattle to the beach on that day, and swam them in that part of the sea, into which runs the water of St Columb’s well.
Also there is a circular flat stone in the centre of the local church-yard, about fourteen inches in diameter, on which are two round hollow places, which they say are prints of Saint Columb’s knees and on that day mass was  celebrated.

We will celebrate the summer solstice on June 23rd, and this important date has been celebrated in Ireland for centuries. Bonfires are lit and there are so many traditions associated with the festival, it would fill a book. I can’t believe that this marks the midpoint of the celestial year .. where have the last six months gone ??
However it’s great that there will be real cause to celebrate this year, as we are seeing some easing with the current restrictions and we are getting closer to a return to normality as each day passes.

I do hope that wherever you live, the long days of June will treat you well, and with my best wishes from Ireland, Stephen

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Sláinte , Stephen.

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