Saturday, 30 July 2011

This Weekend's The Festival Of Lughnasa


Here in Corca Dhuibhne the first weekend in August is the beginning of the fourth season of the Celtic year. It’s called Lughnasa. The ancient Celts held huge festivals to mark the turning points between one season and the next. They believed that the edges of the fabric of time weakened at turning points in the calender, allowing powerful forces to seep through. And they saw communal gatherings as a way to tap into the energy of the universe, and promote health and prosperity in the months to come.  

The word Lughnasa comes from the name of the Celtic sun-god, Lugh, and his story’s one of the oldest myths there is. The Celts saw harvest-time as a battle between light and darkness which frees the crops from the earth and allows us to gather them. So they imagined the earth itself as a fertile goddess, and the sun as a god who becomes her husband. Their union was a symbol of balance, which promoted health. Each year at harvest time whole communities climbed to high places at Lughnasa. It was a festival that had deep religious significance. But it was also a seriously big party. Huge crowds, tents, music, bonfires, eating, drinking and dancing till dawn. There was horse-racing on beaches too; extended families met and hung out together; marriages were arranged; and animals were bought and sold.

Here in Corca Dhuibhne the party’s still going on.

In the local tradition the sun-god Lugh strode up Mount Brandon from the east each year, with flashing eyes and hair, and a golden spear, and defeated Crom Dubh, ‘the crooked, black one’. His victory’s still celebrated every year in the village of Cloghane, on the east side of Mount Brandon. When I was in Cloghane a couple of weeks ago the festival programme was being printed, musicians were rehearsing, and everyone was keeping an eye on the weather, hoping there’d be a good day for the annual climb up Mount Brandon. 

Rain or shine, they’ll be walking a route that’s been walked here at Lughnasa for well over two  thousand years.


5 comments:

  1. We've a traditional river regatta festival on here this same weekend in Graignamanagh, Co, Kilkenny- at the foot of Brandon Hill! It's been running for about 150 yrs, not quite as ancient as Lugh's festival, an echo but of that same tradition, I'm sure. I'll be writing a post up on our local festival, but til then I'll share yours with some of our Facebook friends. Thanks! :) Susan

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  2. Great to have you stop by the blog! I'm in the process of having the blog transferred, & making a new website, so I'm not able to respond on there right now. My brain is a bit frizzled from it all! (Maybe I need a trip to Dingle!) Susan

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  3. Everyone needs a trip to Dingle :) Hope the transfer and new site work out ok.

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  4. I'm a North American native who loves Dingle ... have been there multiple times. Thanks for sharing about the festival.

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    1. Hi Diane, thanks for your comment. Since you know the area you might like the album of pictures showing the Irish launch of The House on an Irish Hillside, on June 15th in Murphy's pub in Ballyferriter. Lots of music and a great night had by all. Hope you get back to Dingle soon yourself. Best wishes, Felicity.

      http://www.facebook.com/TheHouseOnAnIrishHillsideByFelicityHayesMcCoy

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