What did May Day mean in Irish folklore? How did our predecessors mark the passing of time? At a time of the year when the barriers between our world and other world disappear, what customs were practiced to ensure good luck?
Claire Doohan and Jonny Dillon, archivists in the National Folklore Collection speak about the 'blinding amount of material' surrounding May Day in Ireland and all over Europe.
The day is known as a 'quarter day' within calendar custom, in which festivals representing the essence of the season are celebrated. Other quarter days with particular resonance are Lughnasa (in August), Samhain (the festival of the dead at Halloween) and Lá Fhéile Bríde (St. Brighid's Day, known as a festival of fertility).
May Day, despite welcoming in the longer, brighter days also has a darker side. The other world is known to be very active at this time of the year, more malevolently than at Halloween when the dead are welcomed into our world, therefore ensuring one's luck is part of the customs practiced on the first day of May.
"The fairies are moving around, barriers between this world and the other world disappear"
Blúiríní Béaloidis is a podcast created by the staff of Cnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann- The National Folklore Collection, housed in UCD.