Bealtaine: May Day Beliefs and Practices

Play recording: Bealtaine: May Day Beliefs and Practices

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  • Teideal (Title): Bealtaine: May Day Beliefs and Practices.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 781505.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): none.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): English.
  • Catagóir (Category): lore.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Esther Warkov.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 07/03/1978.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): University of Washington, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): interview.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

Old people had a superstition that they wouldn’t get up on the first of May until mid-day; they would want someone – preferably a child – to waken them that day for good luck; on one occasion an old woman asked Joe to do this for her the following day, but when he told his mother she forbade him to have anything to do with it, condemning it as superstition. People also used to put the ashes from the fire around the house to keep it safe from any ill-feeling that anyone would have for them; the first milk of the cow on the first of May is supposed to ensure plenty milk in the coming year; they would tie a string around the cow’s tail and try to tie it to the cow’s ear, or tie red strips on the cow, in order to keep the fairies from milking that cow on May day.


This was recorded while Joe was Artist in Residence at University of Washington.