Hello, and here is my May newsletter from Ireland.
It seems like Summer is on the way, the days are getting longer and I hope that the last of the April showers are behind us . Just the other day in Dublin city I saw the first of the swallows, they are back in Ireland after spending the winter in a warmer climate and their return is such a welcome sight .
My garden is coming into bloom and I’m waging my annual “ weed wars “ with the dandelions and prowl my flowerbeds every morning . Its lovely to see the perennial plants coming up again and a sign that summer is almost upon us.
Of course, the beginning of the month of May is associated with the Celtic festival of Lá Bealtaine . This marked the beginning of the season of blossoming fruit trees and flowers . Traditionally belfires are lit on the evening before May day . These belfires are large bonfire burning wood . The different types of wood had different spiritual meanings and were thought to play an important role in the fertility of land and cattle in the coming year.
Now back to the garden and flowers! In Ireland there are many traditions around flowers in May. Yellow flowers such as primroses, buttercups and marigolds are particularly popular – their bright colours reflect the summer sunshine. These flowers were made up using some furze and ferns into little bouquets and they were placed on the doorsteps or windowsills of local houses. These were said to wish good luck to the household and offer protection against evil and mystical forces.
May is the month of our blessed mother Mary and is the season for First Communion. For the first time since 2019 these celebrations can take place with full gusto and it will be fun to see the boys and girls all decked out in their First communion outfits celebrating the sacrament with family and friends. As the social distancing rules are now relaxed , the children can go calling to their relations to show off their outfits and get a present – usually money to celebrate the day. This money will be used to buy something really special – or if you are thrifty some can be saved up for a rainy day. In fact, there is often an expression for an adult who is extra thrifty or has saved a nice lump sum is to say “ he still hasn’t spent his first Communion money “ !! We still have our Mothers Love Pendant on Sale inspired by our Blessed Mother at https://connemaramarble.com/product…/mothers-day-gifts/
I was out and about the other day, and just like the return of the swallows, around the streets of Dublin I can hear more and more foreign accents as the tourists return. I even spotted an open topped tour bus – a sight that has not been seen in the city for two years !!
In early May the stinging nettles are in bloom , not nice to get a sting from them.. but here in Ireland in the past, nettles have been a source of food, of dye, and a useful fibre. They were used as tea and for brewing beer and were used in folk medicine. Nettles are associated with many of the Saints , in particular St. Kevin of Glendalough who was said to have lived on a diet of nettles for a time. St Bridget of Kildare was in a different league altogether and was known for her hospitality. She was attributed with creating a wonderful feast for visitors when the cupboard was empty, by magically transforming nettles into tasty food. In fact, I have enjoyed nettle soup on several occasions and would highly recommend it to you if you see it on a menu !
As a footnote , my folklore sources tell me that nettles have been gathered in early May for fertility games at the festival of Lá Bealtaine.