May Day tradition alive in Boyle

Another old tradition that is alive and well in Boyle this year is the May morning leaving of flowers on doorsteps.

The tradition is still most popular in St. Patrick Street, Termon Road, Station Road and Plunkett Avenue and other areas, where bright flowers are left on private dwellings and some business premises.

It was traditional in Boyle that one would pick some May Flowers at Patrick’s Well to put on the doorstep.

May Flowers were traditionally picked on the evening before May Day or La Bealtaine. Yellow flowers, such as primroses, buttercups and marigolds were especially popular, possibly as they reflected the sun and summer. Furze and ferns were also put around the outside of the home.

The flowers were placed on the doorsteps of houses and on windowsills. They were believed to offer luck to the house and offer protection from mystical forces.

It was believed that the fairies could not enter the home as they could not pass such sweet smelling flowers.

They were often put on farm animals so as to protect them from being ‘overlooked’ by people with the evil eye, who might through envy, steal the productivity of the animals.

The tradition of spreading flowers at thresholds was most common in the northern half of Ireland, especially south Ulster. Throughout Ireland, there is a strong tradition of formally showing welcome, through the spreading of rushes.

Children often carried baskets of flowers and strew them in front of their neighbours’ homes as a gesture of goodwill and good luck.

Sometimes May flowers were placed in the local well so as protect the water supply and the livelihood of those who used it. The stealing or skimming of water from the well or dew from the fields of a neighbour, by those with evil intentions, was believed to result in a lack of produce achieved by the household or the community. Water or fire was generally never asked for or taken from the home on May Eve or May Day so as to retain the luck of the house.

Mayflower water taken from the well on May Day was said to offer protection and cures. This water and May morning dew was believed to be good for the complexion.

( photograph shows flowers on the doorstep of a house on St. Patrick Street earlier this morning)

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