May Eve and Saint Martin in the Field

Johnny and Ellen Reidy with their grandson, John Reidy at Knocknagore, Castleisland circa summer 1954
My grandparents, Johnny and Ellen Reidy with myself at Knocknagore, Castleisland circa summer 1954.

Older members of the community here will remember that bonfires were a great way of celebrating whatever was going on at a given time.

As a child I remember there was always a bonfire on the right hand side of the second bridge at Knocknagore at dusk on St. John’s Night, June 23rd.

I also remember St. Martin when he was only Blessed Martin. The good saint caused me untold confusion for a while in my boyhood.

A Bottle of Holy Water

On the eve of May day, as this evening is, my grandmother would walk around the corners of our little acre with a bottle of holy water.

She’d sprinkle away as she walked and all the while she’d recite the rosary and loads of beseeching prayers to the aforementioned, and by then, St. Martin.

She also had an annual habit of putting pictures of the saint into bottles or jam crocks and placing them at the corners of the acre.

These corners also got more sprinkles from the holy water bottle that the rest of the ditches. Her ’rounds’ on that particular evening would take in the length of the bohereen from Leane’s down to where it met the main Castleisland to Tralee Road – sprinkling as she went.

BBC Radio 4

Having spent some time in England, my parents were BBC Radio 4 listeners when they returned. Along with The Archers of Ambridge and Mrs. Dale’s Diary the station also featured classical music pieces. Among the performers were the London based Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields.

I was convinced that somehow the academy and our St. Martins in the field were linked or related but I couldn’t figure how. I grew out of it though.

Bring Flowers of the Rarest

Here’s wishing all MVP readers and followers everywhere a happy, healthy and safe summer.

Good health to Gay Byrne, but he always played Canon Sydney MacEwan’s version of Bring Flowers of the Rarest at this time of year on his RTÉ Radio One morning show. For the day that’s in it you can click on the link here to hear it:

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