Monday, 30 April 2012

May Eve

"Up the airy mountain and down the rushy glen
We dare not go a hunting for fear of little men."

Today was a kind of red letter day in old Ireland. It was believed that the fairies became very active around this time. Almost anything could happen between sunset on May Eve and sunrise on May morning. Witches and piseogs were at work and dairy produce was particularly vulnerable. Any stranger seen about one's property on May Eve or May morning was thought to be working piseogs.

Piseogs were a kind of pagan charm or curse that caused your hens not to lay, your crops to fail or your butter not to keep.

One of the commonest tales from these times is the story of Kitty the Hare. The story goes that a farmer saw a hare sucking the milk from his cow on May morning. The farmer chased the hare away and injured him with a stone. The bleeding hare led the farmer to the cottage of an old crone who lived nearby. The farmer found her on the floor of her house, bleeding. She had assumed the form of a hare to steal the farmer's milk.
In my youth "A Kitty the Hare story" was a byword for any tale that was far fetched and incredible.

 There used to be a series in Ireland's Own called Kitty the Hare. I don't know if the stories are still going strong. Ireland's Own is still with us anyway.

Another piseog was worked by laying a spancel across a cow's back. That cow would abort her calf and the person who set the piseog would have healthy twin calves. Eggs or meat were sometimes hidden in the neighbour's field or barn and this scared the bejasus out of the poor farmer who found this on a May morning because it meant that his crops would fail.
Spooky times indeed!

"March will search, April will try
And May will tell whether you live or die"
May was a critical time for sick people and any injury acquired on May Eve of May Day was particularly difficult to cure.

So watch out!


Now for something completely different.

I snapped Cliff Gore on Charles Street. He was out and about with his lovely daughter, Helen, home with her family for a short visit.


Patsy O'Sullivan shared this photo with us. I hope you'll be able to read the names of the boys in his class in Clounmacon School.


I have to mention our little heroine at the U.N.

Picture: AP

Joanne, with hair dyed red to show her support for her beloved Cork wowed them all at the U.N. Here's hoping she gets her robot.

"Joanne, 16, is one of only seven people in the world with Total Amelia, a congenital birth condition causing the absence of all four limbs.

She told the gathered delegates: "I have always been breaking down barriers and overcoming obstacles. I do not look at the word ‘impossible’ and see it as ‘impossible’. I look at that word and my life and say ‘I’m possible!’"

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